Once again, it’s time for post-season football. (Note that I have predicted all winners and losers already, I just need to fill in the scores, which requires slightly more research. These will be up soon.)
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Saturday, December 21
2:00: Washington State vs. Colorado State (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Wazzou makes it back to a bowl for the first time in the Mike Leach era. I think that excitement will translate into a slight win for the Cougars.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: Yes, it really has been 10 years since Wazzou last appeared in a bowl. They beat Texas 28-20 in the Holiday Bowl. After a five year drought themselves, the Rams make a return trip to this very game. The last time they were here in the post-season, they beat Fresno State 40-35.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Brock Huard
3:30: Southern California vs. Fresno State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ABC): USC’s defense will be, bar none, the best defense the prolific Fresno State offense has faced all year. I think that will be enough for the Trojans to hold them off, but it’s kind of dicey because a) USC still has to adjust to the idea of playing in minor bowls b) DaCoachO was, by all accounts, very popular and resigned after USC hired Steve Sarkisian and c) depth.
Previous meetings: These two in-state foes have met only twice. The first meeting was in 1992, where the Trojans lost 24-7 in the Freedom Bowl. The last was more memorable, perhaps for Fresno’s plucky performance at what was being called at the time the Team of the Century. USC would win 50-42, preserving their undefeated season so they could lose to Vince Young in the Rose Bowl.
Last bowl game: This will be the second to last time I get to say this, most likely: USC lost to Georgia Tech in last year’s Sun Bowl, 21-7. Fresno lost last year’s Hawaii Bowl to SMU, 41-10.
Announcers: Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack
5:30: Buffalo vs. San Diego State (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): In what is annually one of my favorite bowls for reasons mostly related to the name (it just feels right for bowls to be named after agricultural products, you know?). As for the game itself, I don’t have a good feel for this at all. Looking at the stats, and then looking my predicted winner, I guess I’m basically just saying SDSU is going to get lucky. Again, because they did beat some solid Mountain West teams and almost knocked off Fresno State themselves.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Bulls haven’t been to a bowl since their somewhat improbable run to a MAC championship in 2008, after which they lost to UConn in the International Bowl, 38-20. This will be the Aztecs’ fifth fourth bowl. They lost last year at home in the Poinsettia Bowl to BYU, 23-6.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Matt Stinchcomb
9:00: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Tulane has a surprisingly good defense, but they are inept offensively. The Ragin’ Cajuns meanwhile have an okay defense and a good offense. These games, as one might suspect, are relatively hard to predict, but I gave a slight edge to the Cajuns.
Previous meetings: These in-state rivals have met only 26 times, and the Green Wave own the overall series 21-5. Lafayette won the last meeting last year, 41-13.
Last bowl game: This is Tulane’s first bowl game since the 2002 Hawaii Bowl, where they beat their hosts 36-28. Meanwhile, this is Lafayette’s third straight New Orleans Bowl. Last year they beat East Carolina 43-34. (The game is completely sold out, so apparently they’re not tired of going back yet.)
Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham
Monday, December 23
2:00: East Carolina vs. Ohio (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): The nation’s 11th ranked scoring offense against its 66th scoring defense does not augur good tidings for the Bobcats.
Previous meetings: Two of ’em, actually, in 1996 and 1998. East Carolina won both, 55-45 and 21-14.
Last bowl game: The Pirates lost to the aforementioned Ragin’ Cajuns in last year’s New Orleans Bowl, 43-34. The Bobcats, meanwhile, are playing their fourth straight bowl game. They beat UL-Monroe 45-14 in the Independence Bowl last year.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Joey Galloway
Tuesday, December 24
8:00: Oregon State vs. Boise State (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Both these teams were rebuilding this year, so a trip to Hawaii after a pair of trying seasons has to be a bit of a relief. I think by the end of the year Boise was a slightly better team, so I have them as an appropriately slight winner.
Previous meetings: Seven times, with the Beavers holding a slight 4-3 edge. Boise has won the last two meetings, which were in 2006 and 2010. The 2010 win had a 37-24 margin.
Last bowl game: Oregon State lost last year’s Alamo Bowl to Texas, 31-27. This is Boise’s 12th straight bowl game, dating back to the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl, where they won 34-31. They also won last year’s Las Vegas Bowl over a Pac-12 opponent, beating Washington 28-26.
Announcers: Steve Levy, Lou Holtz, and Mark May