Friday, December 31, 2010

Bowl Games 2010: Actually, Now It's 2011 But Let's Just Roll With It

Well, it's all going downhill now. The predictions are still here. Let's get this over with.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, January 1
Noon: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern (TicketCity Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPNU): This is definitely one of those occasions where I look back at the predictions I made and wonder what, if anything, I was thinking. Okay, well, neither of these teams are exactly world beaters. But I have TTU by 13 here and by golly I guess I'll stick to it.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: TTU beat Michigan State 44-31 in last year's Alamo Bowl. For the first time in their history, Northwestern has made three bowl games in a row. They were last seen in last year's Outback Bowl, a thrilling 38-35 loss to Auburn.

  • Florida vs. Pennsylvania State (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ABC): I'll spare you the usual platitudes about Urban Meyer and Joe Paterno. I expect this to be a pretty tight game, as both teams have unstable QB situations and neither has done much to impress on offense. I like UF in a close one.
    Previous meetings: Just two: the 1962 Gator Bowl and the 1997 Citrus bowl. Florida won both games.
    Last bowl game: Florida pounded Cincy 51-24 in last year's Sugar Bowl, and this year is their 20th consecutive bowl (good for second longest in the country). Penn State beat LSU 19-17 in last year's Capital One Bowl.
  • Alabama vs. Michigan State (Capital One Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): Nick Saban made a name for himself back at MSU. I've maintained all year that this year's Alabama team is not last year's Alabama team, and they finally got around to proving me right. That said, I think they're still good enough to be a slightly overrated Michigan State.
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
    Last bowl game: Alabama played in last year's national championship game, which they won over Texas, 37-21. Sparty appeared in last year's Alamo Bowl, where they lost 41-31 to Texas Tech.
1:30: Mississippi State vs. Michigan (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL: ESPN2): Dan Mullen has the Bulldogs going in the right direction. Not that I think Michigan is going in the wrong direction, and I can't really understand why RichRob is under such intense heat. (General twitter consensus seems to be that he's out.) I don't really think this game will help his cause, as I don't think the Wolverine defense will be able to make the couple of stops they need against MSU's explosive offense.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Miss State was last seen in the 2007 Liberty Bowl, in which they beat Central Florida 10-3. Michigan, which had gone to a bowl every year from 1975 to 2007, is back in the fold. They won that 2007 Capital One Bowl 41-35 over Florida.

5:10: Wisconsin vs. Texas Christian (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): I've had an extremely hard time reading this game. Wisconsin has run over a lot of teams, but those were teams like Indiana and Purdue. TCU has one of, if not the, top defenses in the country and a decent offense to go with it. I'm predicting TCU here, but I don't feel great about it.
Previous meetings: Precisely one, in 1970. They tied 14-14 in Madison.
Last bowl game: TCU lost year's Fiesta Bowl, 17-10, to Boise State. Meanwhile, I'm sure Wisconsin is just glad to be somewhere other than Orlando, the site of their last two bowl games. They won last year's Champs Sports Bowl over Miami 20-14.

8:30: Oklahoma vs. Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): Well, most of the other games I've felt really good about have been absolute busts so far this year. But this is easily the biggest on-paper blowout of the bowl season. If UConn wins it may be the upset of the year. It may even be a minor victory if they can even keep it within a couple of scores.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: OU beat Stanford 31-27 in last year's Sun Bowl, helping us erase the memory of the awful 2008 edition. UConn meanwhile makes their third straight bowl, and they beat South Carolina last year in the Bowl, 20-7.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bowl Games 2010: You Hopefully Can Start Watching Bowl Games Now

The last couple of days have had some real blowouts, haven't they?

I haven't been doing so well myself, either. After a blazing 5-2 start, I've gone 2-5 in the last seven games to drop me to an even 7-7. Let's hope things improve.

As usual, all times Eastern and predictions wrong.

Thursday, December 30
Noon: Army vs. Southern Methodist (Armed Forces Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPN): Perhaps this isn't a terribly great place to start, but you go to the couch with the bowl games you've got... or something like that. Army's stats against teams that are worth a darn are pretty abysmal. Now, I'm not sure if SMU is worth a darn, but I'm reluctantly going to take the Ponies here.
Previous meetings: These teams have met exactly twice. The first meeting was in 1928, which Army won 14-13. The second was in 1967, which Army also won, 24-6.
Last bowl game: Army breaks a pretty long bowl drought, which dated back to the 1996 Independence Bowl. They lost to Auburn 32-29. SMU broke their own bowl-less streak last year, beating Nevada 45-10 in the Hawaii Bowl.

3:20: Kansas State vs. Syracuse (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): There may not be snow on the ground in the House Steinbrenner Built, but it'll still be cold, with a projected high of 40 tomorrow in the Bronx. (Of course, at least the field fits (barely) in this particular ballpark.) Syracuse's 5th ranked defense is somewhat deceiving considering their competition, which is why I like K-State here. This could be low scoring but I don't think it'll be low scoring enough for the Orange to win. But hey, at least they probably won't give up 51 like last time (see below).
Previous meetings: These teams have met twice previously, both in bowl games. The first meeting was the 1997 Fiesta Bowl, which K-State won 35-18. The second was the 2001 Insight Bowl, which KSU lost 26-3.
Last bowl game: Kansas State's last bowl the 2006 Texas Bowl, where the lost 37-10 to Rutgers. Meanwhile, Syracuse provides one of my favorite cautionary tales, most recently demonstrated by Tennessee in a classic case of "you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone". Syracuse got pounded by Georgia Tech 51-14 in the 2004 Champs Sports bowl, and I'll never forget the in-booth interview with Syracuse's then new athletic director, who basically fired long time coach Paul Pasqualoni on air. What followed was the Greg "Gerg" Robinson era, which was probably most notable for a Syracuse blogger's longing for the now-defunct International Bowl than anything else. (Indeed, in the first two years of the post-Gerg era the 'Cuse has already won more games than they did during his four year tenure.)

6:40: Tennessee vs. North Carolina (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): This game happened essentially because of a game that won't happen next year: Tennessee had a home-and-home with UNC starting next year but backed out to soften the schedule. (They don't really even deny it, but it's late so you can Google that yourself.) This was something of a lost season for UNC, but they pulled through and got to a bowl. Tennessee finished strong, but you should finish strong when your last four games are Memphis, Ole Miss, Vandy, and Kentucky. I think the Tarheels are an overall better team and I like them here.
Previous meetings: These teams have played each other 28 times, but they haven't met since 1961. The first meeting was a 1908 contest the Vols won 12-0, while the last was won by the Tarheels 22-11. Tennessee holds a 20-7-1 overall record in the series.
Last bowl game: Tennessee inexplicably appeared in last year's Chick-fil-a Bowl, where they were pounded 37-14 by Virginia Tech. UNC appeared in both of the last two Car Care Bowls, and even appeared in the 2004 Continental Tire Bowl (without appearing in a bowl in between), making this their first trip to a different bowl since the 2001 Peach Bowl. Carolina lost last year's Car Care Bowl 19-17 to Pittsburgh.

10:00: Washington vs. Nebraska (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): Husky Stadium is, generally, considered one of the loudest venues in major college football. Which doesn't seem to help the eponymous home team much, especially back in September when Nebraska pounded them in Seattle. In certain situations, bowls don't mind re-matches of oft-met or regular season foes. This isn't one of them. I'm not big on "moral victories" but it will be one for Washington if they don't get blown out here. I picked Nebraska to only win by 10 because I'm not sure of Taylor Martinez's ankle, or after this Big 12 Championship Game, his brain, but we'll see.
Previous meetings: September 18th of this year was the most recent meeting between these two, where U-Dub got pounded 56-21. They'd met 7 times before this year, in 1925, 1926, 1967, 1991, 1992, 1997, and 1998. Including this year, Nebraska holds a 4-3-1 series lead.
Last bowl game: Nebraska won last year's Holiday Bowl, beating Arizona 33-0. Meanwhile, Washington is making their first postseason appearance since the 2002 Sun Bowl, which they lost to Purdue 34-24.

Friday, December 31
Noon: Clemson vs. South Florida (Car Care Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): I have Clemson by the thinnest of margins here. Which Clemson team you get on a given day is always something of a crapshoot. I expect this game to be pretty low scoring, but provided the Tigers show up they should win.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Clemson won last year's Music City Bowl 21-13 over Kentucky, while USF won the last-ever International Bowl over Northern Illinois, 27-3.

2:00: Miami vs. Notre Dame (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): It's Catholics vs. Convicts again! Well, kind of, since the one thing that could be said about Randy Shannon was that he did generally keep his guys out of trouble. (I'll spare you a "speaking of trouble" segue that has to due with the players not being allowed to cross the border into Jaurez.) Motivation will be a factor here, I suspect, but the problem is I'm not sure whom it'll be in favor of. I'm going with "da 'U'" for now.
Previous meetings: These two former independent powers first met in 1955, which Miami lost 14-0. The real fun began in 1971, when they played each other every year until 1990, when Miami lost 29-20 in South Bend. ND leads the overall series 15-7-1.
Last bowl game: Miami lost last year's Champs Sports Bowl to Wisconsin 20-14. Notre Dame didn't go to a game last year even though they could have, so their last appearance was the 2008 Hawaii Bowl, which blew out the home team 49-21.

3:30: Central Florida vs. Georgia (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): In addition to the uniforms, George O'Leary has done his best to recreate late-90's Georgia Tech down at Central Florida. (Hopefully the administration is actually keeping the kids eligible this time.) If he could also recreate great victories over UGA that would also be just peachy. I've cheekily picked the Knights, who've actually been pretty decent this year. Well, at least in C-USA. I'm not terribly comfortable with this, of course, but hey, UGA's lost 6 games this year and I'm pretty sure they could out-athlete any of those teams, A.J. Green or no, except maybe Auburn.
Previous meetings: Once, in what was presumably a guarantee game in 1999. Georgia won 24-23.
Last bowl game: UGA beat Texas A&M in last year's Independence Bowl, 44-20. UCF lost last year's St. Petersburg Bowl 45-24.

7:30: Florida State vs. South Carolina (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): It's the ACC-SEC runner-up show-down! Nonetheless, this should be a pretty decent matchup of two teams that can score and old visor wearin' ballcoach against his former arch-rival. Also, South Carolina has Marcus Lattimore, who is pretty much the human personification of a freight train. As a freshman, hopefully he's been able to use the break to recharge a bit. Also, while they may not have been able to stop Cam Newton (hardly something unique to them) South Carolina's defense has held up well against other opponents. Suffice it to say, I like the Gamecocks here.
Previous meetings: These two have played 18 times, all between 1966 and 1991. FSU won the 1991 contest 38-1 and holds a 15-3 series lead. The Gamecocks haven't beaten FSU since 1984.
Last bowl game: FSU won last year's Gator Bowl 33-21 over WVU, and also owns, by far, the longest consecutive bowl streak in the country at 29 years in a row. South Carolina, meanwhile, lost last year's Bowl to UConn 20-7.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bowl Games 2010: Winding Toward the New Year

I'm off to a much better start this year as compared to last, but will it hold up over the next week (when the vast majority of games are)? Stay tuned and see!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Sunday, December 26
8:30: Florida International vs. Toledo (Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): It's tough to really do predictions for these sorts of games, as they're not exactly teams I spend every week of the season watching. When it comes to teams like this, one has to sort of ignore how badly they get beat up by the teams they collect checks from and look at their conferences, which is the reason why I like Toledo here.
Previous meetings: Somewhat surprisingly, these teams have met twice, with FIU winning at Toledo in 2008 but losing at home last year, 41-31.
Last bowl game: Given their short history (DI-A since 2004) it's perhaps not a surprise this is FIU's first bowl game. Toledo had a pretty good thing going back in the late-90's and early 2000's but they haven't been a bowl since the 2005 GMAC Bowl, wherein they beat UTEP 45-13. This is also their 4th appearance in what used to be the Motor City Bowl, which they last made the trip to in 2004.

Monday, December 27
5:00: Georgia Tech vs. Air Force (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN2): As all three of my readers have probably noticed, I generally avoid picking Tech games. This is mostly because of two reasons. First, well, it's just bad form to root against your own team, even if logically they are underdogs. Second, I don't generally like picking them to win because I think it'll jinx them even though I know better. So, when it comes to situations like this, I decide the latter is the lesser of the two evils and predict a narrow win for the good guys. We'll see if it works.
Most of the talk surrounding this game has been related to the two option offenses playing each other in a bowl game that could actually run under three hours. This is possible, for sure. But these are also two different option offenses. Georgia Tech runs what Paul Johnson calls the "spread option", which is an option offense run from the "flexbone" formation that has more in common with the run-n-shoot principle of "getting the ball to players in space" than with the 1970's Oklahoma wishbone (or the 1950's GT wishbone, for that matter). Air Force will also run some flexbone, but they have a more "pure" historical option family tree and also mix in some option plays from other formations, from the classic wishbone and I-formations to the shotgun.
Georgia Tech will be missing at least 5 players. The first and foremost is senior QB Josh Nesbitt, who is still out from the broken arm he suffered in the Virginia Tech game. Tech will also be missing two starters and two backups due to academic issues. Mario Edwards is the missing starting safety, which is bad due to the general lack of talent and depth on defense. Stephen Hill has not had a great year, but he is a tall physical presence at WR that will be missed.
Air Force has given up around 22 points per game but allows close to 5 yards per carry. While they shut down the Navy offense earlier this year (which is still very similar to Tech's) I'm not sure how much of that was AF or how much was bad play on the part of the Midshipmen. Tech's defense isn't very good, but you already knew that.
So what do I expect here? Well, anything really. I'm just going to pull for the Jackets and hope for the best.
Previous meetings: Georgia Tech has played Air Force 3 times overall, all from 1977-1979. Air Force was pretty bad back then and GT made quick work of them, to the tune of a 3-0 record by which GT outscored them 93-24. The 1978 game in Colorado Springs featured GT running back Eddie Lee Ivory setting what was then the NCAA single-game rushing record.
Last bowl game: Georgia Tech is making its 14th consecutive bowl appearance, a streak which dates back to the 1997 Carquest Bowl. Only 4 other schools have as long or longer streaks (Georgia, VPI, Florida, and FSU). GT played in last year's Orange Bowl and lost 24-14 to Iowa. Meanwhile, AF is in its 4th consecutive bowl game, the previous three of which were the Armed Forces Bowl. Last year they pounded Houston 47-20.

Tuesday, December 28
6:30: West Virginia vs. North Carolina State (Champs Sports Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): Despite his general lack of coaching prowess, I'm not sure anyone really deserves the treatment Bill Stewart has gotten lately from the WVU athletic department. That's part of the reason why I've picked them to win. The other is that West Virginia has quietly had an awesome defensive year. They rank 3rd in the country in total defense and have allowed an average of less than 13 points per game. I think NCSU will manage to score more than that, but one side has a great defense and is playing for their embattled coach, while the other had a shot at getting to the ACC title game but blew it in an inexplicable loss to Maryland.
Previous meetings: These schools have met a total of 9 times in what appear to be one off home-and-homes and a couple of Peach Bowls. The first meeting was in 1914, which NC State won 26-13. They would meet again in 1917 and then  in three straight years from 1953-1955. Then there were the 1972 and 1975 Peach Bowls, after which they'd get together for a home-and-home in 1978 and 1979, the last of which WVU won 38-14. They haven't met since. Overall, WVU holds a slim 5-4 lead in the series.
Last bowl game: West Virginia has a decent little streak going, starting with the 2002 Continental Tire Bowl, which they lost to UVA 48-22, and lost to FSU last year in the Gator Bowl, 33-21. NCSU last went bowling in 2008, when they lost 29-23 to Rutgers in the Bowl.

10:00: Missouri vs. Iowa (Insight Bowl @ Temple, AZ; ESPN): Iowa's had a boatload of issues so far this offseason, while Mizzou hasn't. Missouri also still boasts a pretty good offense and had decent, if not great year, while Iowa's was mostly disappointing. Going with the Tigers here.
Previous meetings: These two met 7 times from 1902 to 1910 and haven't played each other since. In what was surely an exciting game, Mizzou won the 1910 game 5-0 and holds a 4-3 lead in the series.
Last bowl game: This will be Mizzou's 4th straight bowl game. They lost 35-13 to Navy in last year's Texas Bowl. This would be Iowa 10th straight game, but they didn't go to one in 2007. They beat Georgia Tech 24-14 in last year's Orange Bowl.

Wednesday, December 29
2:30: Maryland vs. East Carolina (Military Bowl @ Washington, DC; ESPN): I've got Maryland here, mostly due to the non-strength that is ECU's defense. With the 108th ranked defense nationally, even the Terps should be able to put up some points here.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Maryland was last seen in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl, where they beat Nevada 42-35. This is ECU's 5th straight bowl game, and last year they lost 20-17 to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl.

6:00: Baylor vs. Illinois (Texas Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): I normally say about these sorts of games "which Illinois team will show up here?" but I think that's an ultimately futile effort. That said, Illinois's wins include both directional Illinoises, Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue, and Penn State. Baylor faded down the stretch, but at least they didn't lose to Minnesota. Taking the Bears here.
Previous meetings: These teams have met exactly once, in a 34-19 Baylor win at Illinois in 1976.
Last bowl game: Baylor, as you might've heard, has not been very good for most of the of the past two decades. Their last bowl appearance was actually with the SWC, when they lost 10-3 to Washington State in 1994 Alamo Bowl. This is Illinois's first bowl since the Zooker's magical run to the 2007 Rose Bowl, where they (unsurprisingly) got pounded by USC 49-17.

9:15: Arizona vs. Oklahoma State (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): Arizona actually has a decent offense and defense, but OSU has a serviceable defense and the nation's leading offense. Most notably, the the Wildcat defense got torched by fellow offensive juggernauts Stanford and Oregon, so there's not reason Oklahoma State shouldn't be able to do the same.
Previous meetings: These two have met 6 times and are 3-3 all-time. All 6 meetings were between 1931 and 1942, the last of which Arizona won 20-6.
Last bowl game: This is Arizona's third straight bowl game. They got blown out 33-0 in last year's Holiday Bowl. This is OSU's 5th straight game (their only miss of the past decade was in 2005). They lost 21-7 to Ole Miss in last year's Cotton Bowl.

Friday, December 17, 2010

On TV This Weekend: Playoffs?!?

I meant to include this in my bowl post but I completely forgot! Probably because I won't be able to watch these games, but alas I will do my duty and bring them to you here.

Right now, of course, there's Eastern Washington and defending champs Villanvoa on ESPN2 in a semifinal match.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

11:00: Delta State vs. Minnesota-Duluth (Division II Championship @ Florence, AL; ESPN2): All the marbls here once again in Florence. Both these teams are prior champions (Delta St. in 2000, Duluth in 2008) so they've got the credentials.

Noon: Georgia Southern @ Delaware (ESPNU): This is the other DI-AA semifinal. Supposedly due to the confluence of Christmas and New Year's Day on consecutive Saturdays this year the title game won't be held until January 7th. Whatever you say, NCAA. Anyway, this will be Southern's 4th game to Delaware's 3rd, a consequence of the 20 team bracket this year (in which Delaware was also the third seed).

3:30: Wisconsin-Whitewater vs. Mount Union (Division III Championship @ Salem, VA; ESPNU): Business as usual in the Division III final. These two have met every year since 2005, and both have been dominant in their runs to the title game once again.

I also wanted to comment on UMass saying they're trying to join the MAC for 2013. That's a long ways off, but the MAC goes to 14 teams that could resolve some of their infamous scheduling issues with 13 teams. To create balanced divisions, I suspect one of the Ohio teams would be asked to move to the west. But, still, the NCAA has to lift its moratorium for schools trying to make the jump to I-A (which is also an issue for the schools the WAC wants to invite).

Bowl Games 2010: Opening Slate

It's that time of the year again, folks! I had an abysmal year last year (50% overall) so I'm hoping to improve on that this year. For now, we'll start with this year's pre-Christmas bowls.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 18
2:00: Texas-El Paso vs. Brigham Young (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): UTEP had a fairly typical year for UTEP, beating up on patsies and getting an inexplicable win over a C-USA favorite (in this case, their win over SMU). BYU's year appeared to be going off the rails until they rediscovered their offense. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is also when they started playing the bottom dwellers of the Mountain West, though they did put up a fight in their 1-point loss to bitter rivals Utah. That said, I'm buying stock in the BYU offensive renaissance and hoping to see it pay off against UTEP.
Previous meetings: These former WAC foes met every year from 1966 to 1998 (skipping 1995), and BYU holds a commanding 28-7-1 lead, including a 31-14 win in their last meeting in 1998.
Last bowl game: This is BYU's 6th straight bowl game, a streak starting in 2005 with a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl. Every trip thereafter also was to the Las Vegas Bowl, so this marks the first time since 2001 they've gone somewhere else. Last year, they trounced Oregon State 44-20. Meanwhile, this is UTEP's first trip to a bowl since the 2005 GMAC Bowl, which they lost to Toledo 44-13.

5:30: Fresno State vs. Northern Illinois (Humanitarian Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): Northern Illinois was having the season this year. The kind of year where everything was coming together, including an undefeated run through the MAC and a rushing offense that just ran every which way against everyone. Well, except Miami (of Ohio) in the MAC title game, which they lost. Then they lost their coach to a team they beat this year. I think Fresno is probably more talented, but let's face it, no matter what they say this is a major let down.
Previous meetings: Somewhat surprisingly, these schools have met 4 times, though not since 1991. The series is split at 2-2.
Last bowl game: Fresno sports a 3 game bowl streak coming into this one, starting with a (sigh) 40-28 win over Georgia Tech in the 2007 Humanitarian, and then two trips to the New Mexico Bowl, where they lost last year to Wyoming 35-28. NIU has a two year bowl streak, including last year's 27-3 loss in the last ever International Bowl.

9:00: Ohio vs. Troy (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Troy didn't win the Sun Belt this year, but they still get to go New Orleans. There's worse things in the world. Ohio heads down from the MAC thanks to some last minute bowl swapping shenanigans. Troy had a relatively disappointing year (mostly because they're favorites for the Sun Belt crown every year these days). Ohio lost their shot at the MAC East due to a shocking upset of them by Kent State, allowing Miami to sneak in and then upset NIU. Crazy. Anyway, Troy doesn't play much defense seemingly but they do score a whole ton of points and I don't think the Bobcats will be able to keep up. Both teams may score more than 30 though.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Ohio lost last year's Little Ceasar's Bowl 21-17 to ex-MAC team Marshall and Troy lost last year's GMAC bowl 44-41, but extends their bowl streak to three. In fact, including this year is Troy's 5th bowl game. Not bad for a program that started playing major college football in 2001.

Tuesday, December 21
8:00: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville (St. Petersburg Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL): Even if that league is the Big East, giving up less than 20 points per game is a pretty good defense. And that's exactly what Louisville's done. Southern Miss can score, but they've struggled a tad against better opponents. I expect a 17-14 like contest here.
Previous meetings: These two played every year from 1978 to 2002 first as independents, and then as members of the old pre-Big East poached Conference USA. Southern Miss leads the all time series 15-8-1. They last met, though, in 2009 where Louisville won 25-23.
Last bowl game :Louisville was last seen beating Wake Forest 24-13 in the 2006 Orange Bowl, where after they disappeared into the wilderness. Southern Miss is would be there in the consecutive bowl game lists, having been every year since 1997 except for 2001 (though since they were 6-5, they would've gone these days, but that's another discussion). Anyway, the last two years they were in the New Orleans Bowl, where they lost to Dwight Dasher and MTSU last year 42-32.

Wednesday, December 22
8:00: Boise State vs. Utah (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV): Boise recovered from their disastrous loss to Nevada by getting back to what they did several other times this year: pound their WAC opposition into the dust. Utah, meanwhile, has only two losses but I feel they're very telling: a blowout losses to TCU and Notre Dame. Not encouraging. I like Boise in a rout here (and with the current line I even have Boise covering the 18).
Previous meetings: Their last meeting was in a 2006 game at Utah, which Boise won 36-3. The two also met in 1998 and 1999, with Boise winning both those encounters as well.
Last bowl game: Utah beat Cal in last year's Poinsettia Bowl, and has been to a bowl every year since 2003. Boise beat TCU in last year's Fiesta Bowl and sports its own streak dating back to 2002. (It'd be two games longer if they had to gone to a bowl in 2001, which they didn't despite being 8-4.)

Thursday, December 23
8:00: Navy vs. San Diego State (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): San Diego State is pretty decent this year, which is why you keep hearing Brady Hoke come up in coaching rumors. I ordinarily like Navy teams in bowl games, but I don't think SDSU will be taking anything for granted against the home crowd, and should have a size advantage on the lines and the passing game that can expose Navy's secondary. I don't think SDSU will win going away, but I think they will win.
Previous meetings: They've met twice, in 1994 and 1997. SDSU won both games, the latter 45-31 and the former 56-14. Remember, Navy wasn't very good back then.
Last bowl game: Navy defeated Missouri 35-13 in last year's Texas Bowl, and has gone to a bowl every year since 2003. Meanwhile, this is SDSU's first appearance since the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl, which they lost to UNC 20-13.

Friday, December 24
8:00: Hawaii vs. Tusla (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Both these teams can score. Hawaii, of course, likes to throw the ball and the Tulsa defense has been awfully obliging this year, yielding 305.7 yards/game (good for 119th nationally). Tulsa may keep it close early put Hawaii should be able to pull away.
Previous meetings: Hawaii is 5-2 all-time against Tulsa, with all but their first appearance in 1992 coming from Tulsa's stint in the WAC. Their last meeting was in 2004, a 44-16 Hawaii win.
Last bowl game: Hawaii was last seen in a 49-21 loss to Notre Dame in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl. Their sub-.500 record in 2009 snapped a modest 3-game streak. Tulsa also lost their 4-game streak last year, with their last bowl appearance in the 2008 GMAC Bowl, in which they handily beat Ball State 45-13.

The bowl predictions page should be updated with all predictions soon!

Friday, December 10, 2010

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

With one DI-A game this weekend various sorts of playoffs, I figured I would go ahead and write up a post for this weekend. I'm just going to do a cursory overview of most of these games, because above all I really just want you to watch them. People say this weekend is dead-football wise and I couldn't agree less. I think one of my favorite games last year was the Appalachian State-Montana playoff game, and that's what's great here: a real, honest-to-goodness playoff.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: New Hampshire @ Delaware (ESPN2): We'll start with a pair of DI-AA quarterfinals (the other two won't be televised). This particular match features a pair of CAA rivals that did not play this past season. The quick overview here is that UNH has 3 DI-AA losses on the year, which Delware only has two, and those two were narrow losses to fellow conference foes (and tournament teams) Villanova and conference champ William & Mary.

Noon: Villanova @ Appalachian State (ESPN): Speaking of the Wildcats, here's probably the DI-AA team most people have heard of: Appy State. I was hoping there'd be some snow for this game, but maybe better luck next round as the high in Boone, NC will projected to be a balmy 43 degrees Saturday. Anyway, while the Mountaineers are the #1 seed in the tournament both teams are coming off blowouts of their competition from the previous round. I would expected a pretty decent game here.

  • Alabama State vs. Texas Southern (SWAC Championship @ Birmingham, AL; ESPN Classic): Again, I'm not sure why the SWAC plays a championship game. Okay, I actually do know why (it's tradition) but in the process they forfeit their bid to the playoffs, making them and the Ivy League the only conferences to do so.
  • Delta State @ Shepard (CBSCS): Yes, that's right, it'd Division II semifinal action, only on CBS College Sports! Catch the fever!
2:30: Navy vs. Army (@Philadelphia, PA; CBS): Army has to come into this year's edition more optimistic than ever. This is the first year since 1996 they've qualified for a bowl, and it's the first time in forever that Navy isn't playing to clinch the Commander-in-Chief's trophy (as Air Force already has). Oh, another fun fact: this is also the first time ever all three academies have qualified for a bowl in the same year. (Note that the Air Force Academy has only existed, in football terms, since 1957.) At any rate, I still have to favor Navy here, statistically and subjectively they still appear to be the better team.

6:00: Minnesota-Duluth @ Northwest Missouri State (CBSCS): More DII action! Hey, it's still college football, and in the end, that's all that really matters, right?

Also, recommended viewing Saturday night is ESPN's last "30 for 30" feature, Pony Excess, detailing the pay-for-play scandal that lasted the better part of the 80's at SMU. I haven't seen it, of course, but I suspect that there will be even more people wondering how Craig James is still employed at ESPN afterward.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Bowl Predictions 2010: Final

Hopefully uploading this early enough that it’ll get posted to Facebook before tomorrow evening. (Oh snap!) Anyway, here’s my final take on trying to figure out who is going where. (Note that the main page will be updated as announcements are made throughout the day.)


Nothing changes here except the conference winners are now known. I’m actually pretty excited about Wisconsin-TCU and VPI-Stanford, not to mention the title game. I’m trying to figure out how UConn isn’t going to get obliterated by Oklahoma, but them’s the breaks for the Fiesta, but don’t feel to sorry for them as they’ll get first crack at this thing next year. (And, honestly, you shouldn’t really feel sorry for big bowl games anyway. Being a BCS bowl game commissioner is probably the cushiest job on the planet.)

For the below I’m going to start with conferences where things are well-known and go from there. At this point, the ACC and SEC probably have the most uncertainty, so I’ll do them last.

Big East

With UConn’s 19-16 win over South Florida, all Big East teams should get into Big East affiliated bowls, provided the Champs Sports likes its chances with West Virginia over Notre Dame. Since the Champs only gets to take Notre Dame once every four years under their new deal with the Big East, they may elect to take a well-traveling Mountaineer posse and try their luck with ND next year. From there, it’s pretty much just letting things fall where they may. Pitt will probably head to the Car Care Bowl, and Syracuse has already accepted an invite to the Pinstripe Bowl. The only other question is how the Compass and St. Petersburg Bowls shake out. Right now I have the St. Pete wanting to get USF (again), and so sticking the Compass with Louisville. It could easily work out the other way, though.

Big 12

Oklahoma won the whole thing, and the Cotton has already grabbed Texas A&M. So we first go to the Alamo, which is basically picking between Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Since the Alamo just started a new deal with the Pac-10 and Big 12, I have to think they’ll grab their last chance to take the Cornhuskers, which relegates Oklahoma State to the Insight. That said, those two could easily switch places. Either way, though, I think Missouri lands in the Holiday Bowl. With Kansas State already in with the Pinstripe Bowl, this leaves two slots (the Texas Bowl and TicketCity Bowl) for two teams, Baylor and Texas Tech. I think they’ll go in that order.


The Pac-10 managed to avoid its nightmare scenario Saturday, with Oregon beating Oregon State and Washington managing to hang on for dear life in the Apple Cup. Oregon and Stanford will be in the BCS barring any shenanigans that see Stanford getting passed in the polls, so that leaves Arizona and Washington for two bowl spots, the Alamo and Holiday. I don’t really know why, but I’m putting Arizona in the Alamo and Washington in the Holiday. I don’t think Arizona fans will be particularly excited with their overtime loss to Arizona State, while after the thrill of victory Washington fans may realize beating Wazzou by a touchdown isn’t really that much of an accomplishment. However, among bowl types I think Arizona probably has the better reputation and the Alamo gets first pick.

Mid-Majors and Independents

Several mid-major conference games are basically set. The New Mexico Bowl will pit UTEP and BYU, Utah will (probably) face Boise State in Las Vegas, Navy will face San Diego State in the Poinsettia, Hawaii will face Tulsa, and Army will play Southern Methodist at the Armed Forces Bowl in SMU’s home stadium. The other WAC bids are basically set as well, with Nevada going to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, leaving Fresno to head up to Boise.

The Mountain West already announced its bids earlier this week. The only one I didn’t mention above is Air Force in the Independence.

After its win in the C-USA title game, Central Florida is headed to the Liberty Bowl. From there, the other C-USA bids fell into place, with Tulsa heading to Hawaii, ECU heading up to the Military Bowl, and Southern Mississippi headed to the St. Petersburg. Astute readers will note that the C-USA slot in the New Orleans Bowl is not filled- this is due to SMU going to the Armed Forces Bowl, filling a slot left open by the lack of a Mountain West team.

With MTSU beating FIU yesterday, the Sun Belt has three bowl eligible teams: those two and Troy. Thanks to the Big Ten being a team short, this gives the Sun Belt three slots to fill: New Orelans,, and Little Ceasars. I’m currently putting Troy in the as it’s in nearby Mobile, AL. From there, I’m sending MTSU to the Little Ceasars since they went to New Orleans last year, leaving FIU to go to the Big Easy.

What about Notre Dame? Well, if the Champs takes West Virginia, most sources seem to think the Sun Bowl will take the Irish. I agree with this train of thought, especially if it sets up the Notre Dame-Miami matchup that the Sun Bowl folks really coveted (until Miami lost last weekend and fired their coach, anyway).

This leads us to the MAC. The MAC has six qualified teams: conference champ Miami, runner-up Northern Illinois, and then Ohio, Temple, Toledo, and Western Michigan. The MAC has three guaranteed bids (Little Ceasars,, and Humanitarian) and due to shortages in other conferences there’s one overall at-large bid (New Orleans) after I take care of the major conference teams plus any backup tie-ins. Right now, I’m putting Toledo in the Little Ceasars due to a rumored need to sell tickets and Toledo is the closest team to Detroit. I’m then putting the champ in Mobile, followed by NIU to the Humanitarian. This leaves three teams for the one New Orleans slot, and of those three I’m picking Ohio. This means the only two eligible teams not in bowls this year, according to me, will be Temple and Western Michigan.

Okay, those were the easy ones. Let’s talk about the Big Ten, SEC, and ACC, in that order.

Big Ten

The Big Ten is extremely likely to get two teams into the BCS. Of the three co-champions, Wisconsin will go to the Rose barring any poll shenanigans tomorrow. The Sugar will get the first two picks from the at-large pool regardless of how Auburn and Oregon finish as the Rose is expected to take TCU. This puts Ohio State into the Sugar for me, leaving Michigan State to lament its fate in the Capital One Bowl.

Following the top three, we have the remaining five eligible teams. Three of them were 4-4 in conference (Iowa, Illinois, and Penn State) while the other two were 3-5 (Michigan and Northwestern). A lot of signs have flipped recently, pointing Penn State towards the Outback bowl, where I originally had Iowa slotted. This gets us to the Big Ten #4/5 slot, occupied by the Insight and Gator Bowls. The Gator wanted to make a splash with Florida-Penn State in its first year of its Big Ten-SEC matchup, but it looks like the Outback will steal that. Fair or not, I think they’ll reach for the Michigan “name”, sending Iowa to the desert. The Texas Bowl is then left to contemplate Illinois and Northwestern, with the TicketCity picking after. Despite losing at Fresno Friday night, I’m still putting Illinois in Houston, leaving Northwestern for the TicketCity.


It starts easy. Auburn in the title game, Arkansas to the Sugar, Alabama in the Capital One, and LSU in the Cotton. Things start to get screwy in the Outback. I originally had South Carolina slotted there, but the Internet has exploded with rumors that the Outback execs want to matchup Florida with Penn State. I’ve bowed to this pressure, leaving the Chick-fil-a with a tough choice. I’m not aware of any SEC rules that say the championship game loser must go to a certain level of bowl, but the conventional wisdom says South Carolina will go there. Personally, I don’t like it because it’s in the same building where they just got demolished by Auburn, and I’ve had Mississippi State pegged to this game for awhile because they had a good year and a bright future with a pretty energized fanbase (that also hasn’t been since 1999). I’m overriding my gut on this one and putting South Carolina here, though.

The Chick-fil-a’s pick also affects the Gator and Music City Bowls. If the Chick-fil-a takes South Carolina, then the Gator will take Tennessee and the Music City will take Mississippi State. If the Chick-fil-a takes Mississippi State, then the Gator would probably take South Carolina, putting the Vols in the Music City. Regardless of any of the above, I have Georgia in the Liberty and Kentucky in the BBVA Compass.


My teams’s conference is also the most complicated. I can’t find anything concrete on which way any of the ACC bowls are leaning other than the Chick-fil-a, which said it’d take the title game loser, so that’s where Florida State is going. As I lamented Friday, I have no idea what is happening with anyone else. At this point I’m just sticking to my guns. I’m putting NC State in the Champs Sports and thinking the Sun will stick with its original idea, Miami, since they will probably get Notre Dame. The Car Care is finally tired of UNC it seems, so I’m slotting Clemson into there. This leads us to the Music City. This is sort of the most desired bowl for Georgia Tech fans at the current moment, so most of the message board rumors I’ve seen focus on this. I still don’t really think it’s going to happen, so I’m putting North Carolina there, putting us in the Independence. The Military will be overjoyed that Maryland is still available through all that (and really, the Terps are the wild card here, but they had abysmal attendance (around 30,000 a game) at home this year so that’s not helping them), once again exiling Boston College out to San Francisco. Note that if the Champs or Sun gets frisky and takes the Terps or Canes before I project that really jumbles things up.

That’s all I have for now. Note at the top I linked to the final set of predictions, any changes and awarding of asterisks will happen on the main page that will be updated throughout the day as I hear more confirmations. And, of course, the ESPN bowl coverage kicks off at 8:15 Eastern tomorrow night, starting with the BCS bowls for 45 minutes and then the overall bowl selection show. Many major conferences will embargo their bowl announcements until then, so we may not hear anything other than the MAC and Sun Belt announcements until then.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As promised, this weekend's guide. I'll do another normal one for next weekend (for Army-Navy and the NCAA playoff games), and then we'll get into our bowl coverage.

As usual, all times Eastern and predictions wrong.

  • Rutgers @ West Virginia (ABC): Well, here's one part of your Big East conference champion scenario. West Virginia should win, though, which eliminates Pitt from contention.
  • Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (ESPN): As much as I make fun of the Big East (again, this is generally in the same way we made fun of Mississippi back in Alabama), they did provide us the thrilling Pitt-Cincy game last year for the conference crown. This year's edition, though, will likely prove less exciting as Cincy was 4-7 on the year an a meager 2-4 in Big East play. That said, as mentioned above WVU victory eliminates Pitt from the Big East running, so that may dampen the Panthers' spirits a bit. They should still win, though.
  • Southern Methodist @ Central Florida (Conference USA Championship; ESPN2): SMU has been inconsistent, but they did come out on top of the C-USA's west division somehow. UCF had no such issues, though, with only a minor bump in the road against USM while they for the most part pounded their C-USA comrades. Of course, this logic didn't do me any good for the MAC title game, but UCF does have home field advantage and should be able to take advantage of it.
2:00: Troy @ Florida Atlantic (ESPNU): Troy will actually not win the Sun Belt this year, due to their loss to eventual champion FIU. FAU has been less fortunate this year, though, as Schnelly's lost 7 games and only boasts a now-inexplicable win over FIU. At any rate, I'm just going to keep trucking with Troy.

3:30: Oregon @ Oregon State (ABC): This game could potentially blow everything up, though really it probably won't. The Ducks may struggle in the first half due to the crowd, but should be able to get the offense in gear in the second half and be able to put the Beavers away.

4:00: South Carolina vs. Auburn (SEC Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): This game could really blow everything up. I tend to agree with the expert-types that say an Auburn loss would probably keep them in the BCS title game anyway, which I think would do more to rile folks up than Oregon losing (leading to a fairly direct TCU-Auburn matchup). That said, I don't really see it happening.

7:00: Washington @ Washington State (Versus): It's the Apple Cup. The Pac-10 has to be desperately be hoping Washington wins, which would give the Pac-10 a 4th bowl eligible team (assuming Oregon State doesn't win). Fortunately for the conference, Wazzou is just dreadful enough that the desired result should be able to happen without any shenanigans. (Besides, I think the Cougars already used up their shenanigans quota when somehow beat Oregon State 3 weeks ago. Somehow, that's also the last time they played. Perhaps their year would've gone a little more smoothly if they'd spread out their bye weeks a bit?)

7:45: Virginia Tech vs. Florida State (ACC Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): The ACCCG is finally where it should have been all along. While I thought last year's game was reasonably well attended, this year's edition will actually sell out! What a concept, having a title game somewhere most of the member schools can drive to in probably the only state that actually really cares about the ACC! Anyway, VPI has been an unstoppable juggernaut in ACC play, reeling off 10 straight wins (8 in conference) since the JMU debacle. Florida State's had a fine year, but they really backed into this game. Sure, they did just score a big win over their in-state rival, but they still needed Maryland to upset NC State last weekend to even get in. I really like VPI here.

  • Nebraska vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 Championship @ Arlington, TX; ABC): I can't help but think that when the Big 12 divisions were first drawn up that the folks in both sides of this rivalry thought that this was how it was going to be every year, to make up for the loss of their classic Big 8 rivalry that was played every year from 1929 to 1997. Alas, these two sides have met in the Big 12 title game only once, in 2006 when OU won 21-7. (That said, boy am I pissed off if I'm a Texas A&M fan, since TAMU beat both of these teams this year.) Anyway, Nebraska's had a few dicey encounters this season, with occasional offensive outages and a defense that doesn't measure up to the standard set by last year's. Oklahoma's been more consistent on both sides of the ball and I think they've gotten their mojo back, so to speak. I think the Sooners will win the last Big 12 Championship Game.
  • Connecticut @ South Florida (ESPN2): For simplicity's sake, UConn should win this game. A loss, along with losses by WVU and Pitt, could set up a potential 5-way tie atop the Big East. I think they'll win as well, but if you really want chaos on this day and are disappointed by the results in Corvallis and Atlanta, this is your last shot.
10:30: Southern California @ California-Los Angeles (FSN): Well, the football monopoly in LA hasn't exactly been busted, but both the established monopoly and the pesky upstart have both had bad years this year. That said, UCLA's offense has been AWOL since the 42-28 win back in October over Wazzou. I've got USC winning here.

Well, pay attention to the twitter feed and this site throughout the evening tomorrow night as I line up the final bowl predictions before the BCS and ESPN reveal all Sunday night. Until then, enjoy the last real weekend of the regular college football season!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Bowl Predictions 2010: Week 7

Late once again, but it did at least give a chance to absorb all the bowl announcements from this week. So let's do this.


As usual, we'll start with the BCS. With Boise's upset, there were a few changes, to say the last. The top of the pile stays the same, though Auburn did finally pick up enough votes to pass Oregon. With Arkansas upsetting LSU, that also set up the Razorbacks to get into the Sugar Bowl, which will still probably take Ohio State as an at-large. From there, things get tricky. Wisconsin and TCU slot into the Rose, the winner of the Big 12 title game will go to the Fiesta, and the winner of the ACC title game to the Orange. This leaves two slots, one in the Orange and one in the Fiesta. The Orange gets first crack at the remaining pool of teams. However, this pool, as things currently stand, is limited to two teams. Stanford is currently #4 in the BCS, and as such is guaranteed a BCS bid. The Big East winner is as well. Neither is a super attractive option for either bowl (and until Boise and LSU lost I thought Stanford was going to be shut out of the BCS). Conventional wisdom at the moment says that if UConn wins the Big East, then the Orange will take the most attractive TV match-up and get Stanford, leaving the Fiesta with UConn. However, if West Virginia emerges at the top of the Big East pile and Virginia Tech wins the ACC, then the Orange could set up the first meeting of VPI and WVU since 2005. Right now I think UConn will tomorrow so the latter scenario is a moot point.


The ACC is a jumbled mess right now. Well, not at the top: the winner of the title game will go to the Orange and the loser will go to the Chick-fil-a. From there, it's an absolute mess. I'll just go down the list of ACC bowls and say which teams I think are possibilities for each game:
  1. Champs Sports Bowl: NC State, Maryland, Miami
  2. Sun Bowl: Miami, Maryland, NC State
  3. Car Care Bowl: NC State, Clemson, North Carolina, Maryland
  4. Music City Bowl: Clemson, North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia Tech
  5. Independence Bowl: Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina
  6. Military Bowl: Maryland, Clemson, North Carolina, Boston College
  7. Fight Hunger Bowl: Boston College, Georgia Tech
The rumor mill isn't much better. What you see on the page are my best guesses, but really almost anything could happen. NC State's loss to Maryland combined with Miami's loss and subsequent firing of Randy Shannon really wrecked the ACC bowl picture and it's tough to say what will happen to those three schools. (Somewhat ironically, the fact that GT didn't get blown out as most folks predicted may have actually helped them in light of the above and also Clemson's blowout loss to South Carolina.)

Big East

Ugh. With Notre Dame's win over USC last weekend I expect them to get an invite to the Champs Sports Bowl, which pushes everything else in the Big East down and even gives them an extra team in Louisville. Otherwise, I don't really want to talk about this much because all the teams play tomorrow and everything could change.

Big 12

At this point, the Big 12 almost certainly won't get two teams into the BCS, so the Cotton went ahead and grabbed Texas A&M. This means the Big 12 title game loser will probably end up in the Alamo Bowl. At issue now are the Insight and Holiday Bowls, which will likely be choosing between Oklahoma State and Missouri. From there, the Big 12 should shake out predictably, with K-State already in the Pinstripe Bowl and Baylor and Texas Tech remaining for the Texas and TicketCity Bowls. I like Baylor getting rewarded for their good season by getting the Texas Bow bid, leaving Texas Tech for the game in the Cotton Bowl that isn't the Cotton Bowl.

Big Ten

The Big Ten is pretty straightforward. Wisconsin and Ohio State go to the Rose and Sugar, leaving the Capital One for Michigan State. I then like Penn State to the Outback Bowl, but they could swap places with Iowa and end up in the Gator Bowl. I then like Michigan for the Insight, Illinois to the Texas, and Northwestern left at the TicketCity. Easy. (Now watch me be totally wrong.)


Arizona State is 6-6, but played 2 DI-AA teams (despite the fact that Pac-10 teams only have 3 OOC games anyway) and is not eligible. This means there are currently 3 Pac-10 teams eligible: Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona. Washington and Oregon State can both get eligible with wins in their rivalry games, but I think it goes without saying that one of those teams is a lot more likely to win tomorrow than the other.


So the SEC will probably get its customary two BCS bids barring disaster in the SEC title game tomorrow. From there, Alabama will probably get the nod for the Capital One, leaving South Carolina for the Outback and LSU for the Cotton. I like Mississippi State to get the invitation to the Chick-fil-a, followed by the Gator reluctantly taking Florida. The rumor mill really likes Tennessee to the Music City, so that works for me, followed by UGA to the Liberty and, finally, Kentucky to the Compass.


Many mid-major bids have gone out already. The problem is the rumored moves and moves that have already happened. For instance, UTEP (from Conference USA) is in the New Mexico Bowl, which means that there was likely a swap with the New Orleans Bowl which will probably send a WAC team there. (The details of the swap are not yet known for certain though. There could be other swaps as well, engineered by the conferences and the bowls owned by ESPN (which are many). Also, it looks like Boise will likely end up at the Fight Hunger Bowl, eschewing the home blue turf, which may send Nevada there. Miscellaneous MAC teams will probably fill the gaps left by the Pac-10 and Big Ten, though I don't know which ones will go where. Fortunately for bowl directors, though, there will be enough teams, and I predict there will be one extra.

Look for the final predictions to go up late Saturday or early Sunday, as by the time ESPN goes on the air with their selection show most of the bids will probably already be known.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

This Week in College Football: Week 14

The final actual week of the regular season is here!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Arizona State @ Arizona (ESPN): Even with a win, ASU won't be granted an exception to count both of their wins against DI-AA teams, meaning they would finish with a 5-6 record for bowl purposes. So all that's left to play for is pride. That's a pretty good motivator, but the Bearcats should still take the Territorial Cup.

7:00: Northern Illinois vs. Miami (MAC Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): FRIDAY NIGHT MEGA-MACTION. Yes, that's right kids, it's some heavy duty MACtion up in the land of Michigan. Honestly, on paper this isn't really even close. NIU rampaged through MAC competition, scoring 382 points while only allowing 127 on their way to an 8-0 MAC record. The only MAC team that even came within one score of beating the Huskies was Western Michigan, the second most prolific offense in the conference. Miami University, meanwhile, needed an inexplicable Ohio loss for them to even get into the title game, though their only conference loss was to that same Ohio team. Suffice it to say, though, I'll take NIU here.

10:15: Illinois @ Fresno State (ESPN2): You're 5-3 and 3-2 overall in the Big Ten after destroying the two Indiana teams, and you're feeling pretty good. Okay, you just lost to Michigan in a barn burner triple overtime game. Fine, but life is still good. And then you go and lose to Minnesota, at home. Whoops. But then you recover by beating your rival in a baseball stadium and you don't really know what to make of yourself. So you take a break to eat some turkey and prepare for a roadtrip to the nothingness of the Central Valley and Fresno, CA, home of the team that beat you in Champaign last year. All that said, this year hasn't really gone that great for Fresno, with a major conference scalp (a first-week win over Cincy) but a lackluster WAC showing, with a loss to all the teams above you in the standings and barely speaking by teams like Louisiana Tech and Idaho. I guess what I'm getting at here is that this game could probably still go either way, mostly depending on which Illinois team shows up. If it's the one that showed up at Wrigley Field, they'll probably win. If it's the one that lost to the Golden Gophers, they probably won't. But that said, tradition says I have to make a pick here, so I'll take the safe way out and take the Illini.

Stay tuned for bowl predictions and this weekend's forecast...