Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Bowl Games 2013: All Is (Not) Quiet on New Year's Day

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Wednesday, January 1
  • Nebraska vs. Georgia (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN2): Even with their backup quarterback, I still feel like Georgia is more competent on offense than Nebraska is.
    Previous meetings: Two. The first meeting was a 1969 Sun Bowl matchup that Nebraska won 45-6. The most recent was technically a year earlier in the Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31. Georgia's defense can be a bit of a liability, but Nebraska has looked so lost at times on offense this year that they should be able to hold them off.
    Last bowl game: This is Nebraska's sixth straight bowl game, and it'd be longer if not for two sub-.500 seasons in 2007 and 2004, because then the streak would stretch back to 1969. This streak is even more impressive when you consider the explosion of the bowls in the past ten years. As-is, the current run dates back to the 2008/9 Gator Bowl, a 26-21 win over Clemson. Last year, well, see above. Georgia is tied for the third-longest active streak with Georgia Tech, having made seventeen straight bowl games. Their streak dates back to the a 33-6 win over Wisconsin in the 1997/8 Outback Bowl. As for last year, well, see above.
    Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham
  • North Texas vs. Nevada-Las Vegas (Heart of Dallas Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPNU): The Mean Green sport the country's ninth-ranked scoring defense. I don't think UNLV is going to test whether that is legitimate or not.
    Previous meetings: Four, and North Texas has lost all of them. The first was in 1986, a 27-26 UNLV win. The most recent was in 2000, a 38-0 UNLV win.
    Last bowl game: UNT went to four straight New Orleans Bowls from 2001 to 2004, but they haven't been to a bowl since. They lost 31-10 to Southern Mississippi in that 2004 New Orleans Bowl. UNLV had the longest drought of any team appearing in this year's post-season, last appearing in the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl. They beat Arkansas 31-14 in that game.
    Announcers: Clay Matvick and Matt Stinchcomb
  • South Carolina vs. Wisconsin (Capital One Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): Both of these teams are pretty close, statistically. The key for Wisconsin may be for them to somehow forget their otherwise inexplicable loss to Penn State to close out the season. Overall, I like the Gamecocks here. Wisconsin arguably played two or three teams with functioning offenses and lost/should have won two of them (Arizona State and Ohio State).
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
    Last bowl game: This is the Gamecocks's sixth straight bowl game. The current run started with the 2008/9 Outback Bowl, a 31-10 loss to Iowa. Last year, they won the Outback Bowl 33-28. Wisconsin is appearing in their 12th straight game, dating back to the 2002 Alamo Bowl. They beat Colorado 31-28 in that game.
    Announcers: Dave Pasch and Brian Griese
  • Iowa vs. Louisiana State (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN): Speaking of non-functioning Big Ten offenses, Iowa comes in ranked 74th in the country in scoring offense. I'm also having a hard time figuring out how they can score against LSU's defense, even though that unit isn't as elite as it's been in the past. Conversely, at least according to the stats, Iowa's defense is really good and allows only 18.8 points per game. That said, once again, this was such a bad offensive year in the Big Ten (for teams that weren't Ohio State) that it's hard to figure out how meaningful that number is. In the end, I have to go with the team that might actually score three touchdowns, and that team figures to be LSU.
    Previous meetings: One, in the 2004/2005 Capital One Bowl. Iowa won 30-25.
    Last bowl game: Iowa's last bowl appearance was the 2011 Insight Bowl, where they lost 31-14 to Oklahoma. LSU is appearing in their fourteenth straight bowl game, dating back to a 24-14 win over Georgia Tech in the 2000 Peach Bowl. They lost last season's Chick-fil-A Bowl 25-24 to Clemson.
    Announcers: Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden
5:00: Michigan State vs. Stanford (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): This is being billed as an old-school, smash-mouth football game and honestly it's hard to figure that's wrong. I have Stanford here, but this game figures to be very tight, especially if both offenses disappear as they have at times during the season.
Previous meetings: Five. The first two were back to back Michigan State wins in 1955 and 1956 (38-14 and 21-7, respectively). Stanford split the 1961-1962 series, as well as the most recent win: a 38-0 Sun Bowl win in 1996.
Last bowl game: Back in 2007, Sparty began a run of seven straight bowl games with a 24-21 loss to Boston College in the Champs Sports Bowl. Last season, Sparty prevailed in a 17-16 victory over TCU. Stanford's current five game streak began with a 31-27 loss to Oklahoma in the 2009 Sun Bowl. They beat Wisconsin 20-14 in last season's Rose Bowl.
Announcers: Brent Musbuger and Kirk Herbstreit

8:30: Baylor vs. Central Florida (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): I actually don't have a very good read on this game. The easy way out would be to say sure, Baylor's going to struggle early and then drop 70 on them. But UCF did play South Carolina, and they gave the Gamecocks absolutely everything they wanted in what wound up being a 28-25 South Carolina win. Baylor also looked lackluster in their last three games, and with mounting injury issues they got blown out by Oklahoma State, barely beat TCU, and then solidly beat Texas, but they "only" scored 30 points. Nonetheless, it is difficult to see how UCF will be able to keep up with Baylor's offense, but if Baylor's offense gets off to a slow start this game could get interesting and stay interesting.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Baylor's four game bowl streak began with a 38-14 loss to Illinois in the Texas Bowl back in 2010. Last season, they smashed UCLA to the tune of a 49-26 win in the Holiday Bowl. UCF won the 2012 Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl over Ball State 38-17.
Announcers: Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman

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