As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Saturday, December 28
Noon: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): I had this second in my confidence picks, so I guess I felt pretty good about Notre Dame at the time. Nonetheless, it’s not like Rutgers is very good, so provided that Notre Dame’s offense doesn’t screw up too badly they should be able to see it through.
Previous meetings: Four, and Rutgers, in a testament to their historical ineptitude, has failed to win all of them. They first met in 1921 (a 48-0 Irish win) and then took a 75 year break. Notre Dame won that 1996 contest 62-0. 2000 saw the closest game in the series, a 45-17 Notre Dame win, and their last meeting was in 2002, when the Irish shut Rutgers out again, 42-0.
Last bowl game: The Irish have played in three straight bowls going back to the 2010 Sun Bowl, where they defeated Miami 33-17. Last year, they got routed by Alabama in the national title game, 42-14. This will be the third in a row for Rutgers. Back in 2011 they beat Iowa State 27-13 in this very same bowl. Last year they lost last year’s dreadful Russell Athletic Bowl, 13-10 to Virginia Tech.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Jesse Palmer
3:20: North Carolina vs. Cincinnati (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Generally picking a 9-3 team over a 6-6 team would be a slam dunk, but the hitch is Cincy’s awful schedule that was literally one of the worst in the country. UNC has only one maybe “bad loss” (a 55-31 rout at the hands of East Carolina) but Cincinnati three losses are a blowout to an awful Illinois team, a close loss to a really bad South Florida team, and an overtime loss to the best opponent on their schedule, Louisville. So I basically feel about as bad about a 9-3 team over a 6-6 team as one can possibly be.
Previous meetings: Just two. The first was a 1979 win for Carolina, 35-14, and the second was in 1991, which the Tarheels also won, 51-16.
Last bowl game: Due to pre-emptive probation, the Tarheels didn’t go bowling last year, killing a four-year streak. Their last bowl appearance was the 2011 Independence Bowl, which they lost to Missouri 41-24. This is the Bearcats’s third straight appearance. They won last year’s Belk Bowl over Duke, 48-34.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn and Danny Kanell
6:45: Louisville vs. Miami (Russell Athletic Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): These two schools have a lot in common. Well, at the very least, both their programs were built by Howard Schennellenberger and both will be in the ACC last year. Either way, this will arguably be Louisville’s stiffest test of the season. While they still only had one loss, they did have some closer-than-they-should-have-been November games that raised a few eyebrows. Nonetheless, I’m sticking with the Cardinals here.
Previous meetings: Louisville and Miami have met 11 times, and Louisville has only not lost twice. Why not lost? Well, there was a 13-13 tie back in 1950. Their first meeting was in 1933, a 33-7 Miami victory. The met regularly through the first half of the 80’s, all Miami wins. Their last meeting was in 2006, and was also Louisville’s first win in the series, by a margin of 31-7.
Last bowl game: This is Louisville’s fourth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2010 Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl. They won that contest over Southern Mississippi 31-28. Last year, they appeared in the Sugar Bowl, wherein Teddy Bridgewater became a household name in a 33-23 defeat of Florida. Miami, like UNC, missed out on a bowl last year due to pre-emptive probation, as well as the year before, so this is their first bowl since the 2010 Sun Bowl, where they lost to Notre Dame 33-17.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Rod Gilmore
10:15: Kansas State vs. Michigan (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): This game is basically a toss-up to me. If the Michigan offense that played against Ohio State shows up, they have a pretty good shot, but otherwise I think K-State guts out a close win.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is K-State’s fourth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, which they lost to Syracuse 36-34. They didn’t stand much chance in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, losing 33-17 to Oregon. This is Michigan’s fourth straight game as well. Their current streak started in the 2010/2011 Gator Bowl, a 52-14 rout at the hands of Mississippi State. They lost last year’s Outback Bowl, 33-28 to South Carolina.
Announcers: Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman