Bowl games really start to get into the swing of things here. We’ll examine the next five bowls and then do Saturday’s in another post.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Thursday, December 26
6:00: Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; EPSN): Bowling Green sports a 10-3 record and some gaudy defensive numbers, but one of those three losses was a 42-10 blowout at the hands of Indiana. I’m going with Pitt in this one, though it could be close.
Previous meetings: Three, all the in regular season. Pitt won back-to-back games in 1999 and 2000, but lost in 2008, 27-17.
Last bowl game: Bowling Green lost last year’s Military Bowl to San Jose State, 29-20. Pitt is making their sixth bowl appearance in a row, dating back to 2008’s Sun Bowl (most famous for being a 3-0 tragedy against Oregon State in which all of us lost, but especially Pitt). The lost last year’s BBVA Compass Bowl to Ole Miss, 38-17.
Announcers: Dave Lamont and Ray Bentley
9:30: Utah State vs. Northern Illinois (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): Both these teams are coming off winnable letdowns in their conference title games, though it was NIU that suffered the most grievously in their 47-27 rout against Bowling Green. That said, Jordan Lynch’s final ride should be a success, though I don’t now how much of one, or even if it’ll be enough for the Huskies to win. I’m giving them a slight edge here.
Previous meetings: Only one, back in 1995. The Aggies won 42-7.
Last bowl game: Utah State is making their third bowl game in a row, and after two straight trips to Boise I’m sure they’ll relish the weather in San Diego. They beat Toledo 41-15 last year. This is NIU’s sixth bowl game in a row, dating back to a 17-10 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. They lost 31-10 to Florida State in last year’s Orange Bowl. The Huskies would have one of the nation’s larger bowl streaks if it weren’t for a lost 2-10 campaign in 2007 and not making a bowl in 2003 despite being 10-2. (Or, to be even more generous, they were 8-4 before that and 6-5 in 2000 and 2001.) That’s a pretty good run for any team, much less one from the MAC.
Announcers: Joe Davis and Mike Bellotti
Friday, December 27
2:30: Maryland vs. Marshall (Military Bowl @ Annapolis, MD; ESPN): I picked Marshall here in what I’m guessing a slight upset. I guess another way of saying that is I don’t think Maryland is very good.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is Maryand’s first appearance in a bowl since the 2010 edition of this game, which was played at RFK Stadium. They beat East Carolina 51-20. This is Marshall’s first bowl since the 2011 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, which they won 20-10 over Florida International.
Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham
6:00: Syracuse vs. Minnesota (Texas Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): I wouldn’t expect a lot of offense in this one. Problem for Syracuse is that a) their offense is worse than Minnesota’s and b) that their defense is a lot worse. This would seem to spell trouble for the Orange, but, well, there’s a reason why I put that disclaimer at the top.
Previous meetings: Four, three of which have been won by Minnesota. The first meeting and only Orange victory was in 1995. They last met last year, where the Gophers won 17-10.
Last bowl game: Syracuse beat West Virginia 38-14 in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. Minnesota lost 34-31 to Texas Tech in last year’s Car Care Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Brock Huard
9:30: Washington vs. Brigham Young (Fight Hunger Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN): It’s generally not a good sign when you go back and look at your ESPN Bowl Pick ‘Em picks and are surprised at who you picked. We’ll roll with it anyway. At any rate, these are both teams that can run the bowl, but Washington has been more adept at offense over the season. Neither defense gives a lot of points, though, so BYU will definitely be hanging around. I think this game will be one of the closer, tighter ones, but I’m going to stick to my pick.
Previous meetings: Eight of ’em, and the series is evenly split between the two. They split back-to-back games in 1986 and 1987, but Washington won three of the four games played from 1996 to 1999. BYU has won the last three meetings, including a 23-17 victory in 2010.
Last bowl game: This is U-Dub’s third bowl in a row, going back to 2010’s Holiday Bowl. They lost to Baylor 67-56 in last year’s defense optional Alamo Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Pasch and Brian Griese