It’s been a mixed bag for me so far in the prediction game, but the next four days is the bulk of the activity. So I’m currently 9-7, but that can change quickly.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Saturday, December 29
11:45: Rice vs. Air Force (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): A few years ago, Rice started to sling the ball around and got back so something resembling competence before fading away again. This year they’re back, but now they run the ball. Not quite as much as Air Force, though, which in terms of passing yards is 122nd in the nation. That said, I’m going with a narrow Air Force win.
Previous meetings: These two have met 6 times previously, with all meetings happening between 1985 and 1998. Air Force is 5-1, and won the last game 22-16.
Last bowl game: The Owls last appeared in a bowl in 2008, where they beat Western Michigan 38-14 in the then-Texas Bowl. This Air Force’s sixth straight bowl game. They’ve actually appeared in this bowl 3 time already from 2007-2009. Last year, though, they lost to Toledo 42-41 in the Military Bowl.
Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway
3:15: West Virginia vs. Syracuse (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): West Virginia may have the worst defense of any bowl team this year, which is probably why after their hot start they’re now in the Pinstripe Bowl. I still have them beating Syracuse, but for some reason I predicted the scoring margin on this one to be a lot larger than it probably actually will be.
Previous meetings: With both being Northeastern independents at one time or another and then members of the Big East, they’ve met 59 times dating back to 1945. Syracuse has the slight edge all time (32-27) and won their last regular season meeting last year, 49-23.
Last bowl game: WVU has been in a bowl every year since 2002. Last season was their savage 70-33 beatdown of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Orange missed a bowl last year, and so their last appearance was the 2010 edition of this bowl, where they beat Kansas State 36-34.
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer
4:00: Arizona State vs. Navy (Fight Hunger Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN2): I thought all year that this edition of the Sun Devils was underrated and the expanded Pac-12 schedule does them no favors. This version of Navy (lacking any marquee wins this year) probably isn’t good enough to beat them.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: ASU got trounced by a jilted Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, 56-24. Before last year, Navy had made 8 straight bowls, but missed out last year. They lost to San Diego State in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl, 35-14.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese. Note that this the first game scheduled to be on at the same time as another game and that’s on ESPN2 and not ESPN.
6:45: Oregon State vs. Texas (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): I have this as an easy win for Oregon State, as I just don’t see how Texas’s utterly disjointed 2012 offense will be able to keep up with the Beavers’ attack. Also, as a school that rarely has off-field distractions, the news out of San Antonio the past day has to be a shock, which may well be reflected on the field.
Previous meetings: Two, and Texas won both times: 35-0 in 1980 and 61-16 in 1987.
Last bowl game: This is the Beavers’ first appearance in a bowl since the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl, where they lost to BYU 44-20. Texas won last year’s Holiday Bowl, beating Cal 21-10.
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman. At least, that’s the schedule, but that mostly depends on how McDonough’s trial run doing a NBA game last week went.
10:15: Texas Christian vs. Michigan State (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): Sparty has a pretty good defense, but offensively Michigan State is just, well, woeful. TCU also had a mediocre offense against the generous defenses of the Big 12, so this one could actually be a lot closer than I originally predicted. Nonetheless, I’m sticking with TCU.
Previous meetings: Just one, in 1953. Sparty won 26-19.
Last bowl game: TCU would have a pretty healthy bowl streak dating back to 1998 had they not missed out in 2004. As it is, they beat Louisiana Tech in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl, 31-24. Sparty’s been to a bowl every year since 2007, and beat Georgia in the Outback Bowl last season, 33-30.
Announcers: Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge