Bowl Games 2012: Part 2

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Wednesday, December 26
7:30: Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): I’m once again finding myself in the odd position of predicting a Sun Belt team to win, but the Hilltoppers were pretty good on the season, while CMU barely got into a bowl.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Western Kentucky’s first ever bowl game. Central Michigan last appeared in the 2009/10 GMAC Bowl, where they beat Troy State 44-41.
Announcers: Mark Neely, Ray Bentley
Fun facts: Western Kentucky’s mascot is an amorphous blob named Big Red. Yes, really.

Thursday, December 27
3:00: Bowling Green State vs. San Jose State (Military Bowl @ Washington, DC; ESPN): I have this being a close game with San Jose State coming out ahead. It’s hard to get a feel for these WAC teams, after all. That said, I’m not going back on my prediction here.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: SJSU’s last bowl was the 2006 New Mexico Bowl, where the beat New Mexico 20-12. BGSU’s last appearance was the memorable wacky 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, which they ended up losing to Idaho 43-42.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Danny Kanell

6:30: Duke vs. Cincinnati (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): I don’t think Duke really has much of a shot in this one, then again, I didn’t think Kent State had much of a shot against Cincy either. That’ll teach me to have any confidence at all in a Big East team, I suppose.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Duke’s last bowl game was the 1994/5 Hall of Fame Bowl, where they lost 34-20 to Wisconsin. Cincy dispatched Vanderbilt in last year’s Liberty Bowl, 31-24.
Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham

9:45: California-Los Angeles vs. Baylor (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): I have this as 31-28 UCLA on my predictions page, but I’m still afraid that’s not going to be enough points. That said, the odds of the Baylor “defense” getting enough stops to make a difference is pretty low.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: We can only hope that this game is as memorable as Baylor’s last encounter with a Pac-12 team. This is their third straight bowl. The beat Washington 67-56 in last year’s Alamo Bowl. UCLA appeared in last year’s Fights Hunger Bowl, which they lost to Illinois 20-14.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese

Friday, December 28
2:00: Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN): Ohio looked to be a force in the MAC this year, that is, until they dropped 4 of their last 5 conference games. Whoops. While in general these things don’t make that much of a difference, here it’s enough for me to take a Sun Belt team by a slight margin.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is the Bobcat’s fourth straight bowl. They beat Utah State 24-23 in last year’s Potato Bowl. This is Monroe’s first ever bowl game.
Announcers: Dave Lamont, Kelly Stouffer

5:30: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech (Russell Athletic Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): I hope you don’t like points, because this could get ugly. It’s almost mind-blowing how bad the Virginia Tech offense was this year. Maybe they’ll figure out it for the bowl game, but, well, I’m thinking they probably won’t. Still tough to pick a Big East team here, though, so my confidence here is low.
Previous meetings: There were two one-off meetings in 1920 and 1953, but after that all meetings where in the framework for the Big East from 1992-2003. VPI leads the all-time series 11-3, with them winning the last 11 in a row.
Last bowl game: Rutgers beat Iowa State 27-13 in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. This is VPI’s 20th straight bowl game, with their most recent postseason effort being a 23-20 loss in last season’s Sugar Bowl.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen

9:00: Texas Tech vs. Minnesota (Car Care Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): I had TTU winning big originally, but I wonder how bad Tommy Tuberville’s hasty exit will affect the team. Then again, there are still players on this team that remember how unceremoniously Mike Leach was fired, so perhaps they’ll still have the mental fortitude to go out and dismantle the Golden Gophers (reminder: they were 2-6 in Big Ten play this year) like they should.
Previous meetings: These two teams have met exactly once, in the 2006 Insight Bowl. Texas Tech won in overtime, 44-41.
Last bowl game: This is TTU’s first bowl appearance since 2010, where they beat Northwestern 45-38 in the Ticket City Bowl. Minnesota also makes their first appearance for a while, with their last postseason effort being a 14-13 loss to Iowa State in the 2009 Insight Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard