Bowl Predictions, Volume 2

And it can’t be any worse than the first version. After watching the first three games, the tallying of the picks just stopped. It was a 180 degree flip from the success picking regular season games. These will go through Dec. 31, at which point the real games begin.

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Georgia – Dec. 28: Most likely this year’s winner for most ridiculously named bowl. It could also quite likely be the highest scoring game. Defense? We’re talking about defense? C’mon man. Okay, so maybe there was some creative editing there, but seriously. Georgia has the 30th-ranked defense in the country, which makes it good that they punt it better than anyone else. Of course, that doesn’t seem so bad, but they are going up against the 5th best offense in A&M. Remember all those point the Aggies poured on Texas? Right. In the same total defense stat, A&M is 107th. Ouch. So even Georgia’s 73rd-ranked offense should score some points. Honestly, this one is a toss up. The Bulldogs got a couple of nice late wins, against Auburn and Georgia Tech, but A&M very nearly clipped Texas, which is better than any team mentioned so far. Plus the A&M offense is deadly.

Texas A&M 45, Georgia 35

Eagle Bank Bowl: UCLA vs. Temple, Dec. 29: The Bruins travel all the way to Washington, D.C. to play in this one, in a game they probably shouldn’t even be in. A nice win at Tennessee made believers out of some, before a five-game losing streak was ended by the Washington schools (how many teams can say THAT in the last couple of years). Temple has some good wins as well, including Navy, but lost to FCS Villanova. They come in 112th in passing, against one of the best secondaries in the country. Try to throw and Rahim Moore, the nation’s leader in interceptions, may make you pay.

UCLA 24, Temple 17 – (And hold your breath picking the Pac-10)

Champs Sports Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin – Dec. 29: This one should be fun. You have the young, upstart Miami team (by the way, the ESPN 30-for-30 on Miami is a must-see, very well-done piece), against a Wisconsin team that does nothing exceptionally well, except stop the run. Well, this isn’t a Big Ten team. The Badgers can’t stack the line knowing their opponent is going to play smash mouth football. That was learned the hard way against Ohio State and Northwestern, both of whom run some version of the spread. Miami is in the top-30 in a bunch of categories and is going to spread the field and out-athlete Wisconsin considerably. And the game is in Orlando.

Miami 29, Wisconsin 20

Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Idaho, Dec. 30: So yes, that should say “@ Idaho”, given the quick flight the Vandals will take to a place they have already played this year. The Vandals started the season 6-1, losing only to Washington, before dropped four of their last five. The nation’s 10th-best offense is led by senior Nathan Enderle, which should give the Vandals an advantage. That and Bowling Green lost to every good team it played this year, including a drubbing at the hands of Boise State.

Idaho 31, Bowling Green 20

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Arizona vs. Nebraska, Dec. 30: A game in which both teams were simply seconds away from so much more. By all accounts Nebraska and Bo Pelini’s second-ranked scoring defense had Texas beaten in the Big-12 title game. It was not to be. The same can be said about Mike Stoops’ Arizona team that needed only to beat Cal or Oregon to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. Late in the Oregon game, the ‘Zona fans lined the field, ready to rush, but were held back, forced to wait for two overtimes and then disappointed. This comes down to whether Arizona can score on a good defense, because Nebraska probably won’t light it up. Nick Foles has proven to be an elite level quarterback since taking over the job, but the Wildcats’ running game is still a question. Plus, this just seems like one of those games the Pac-10 has been losing this bowl season.

Nebraska 17, Arizona 14

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Air Force, Dec. 31: While Air Force is playing in this game, the air attack will be coming from the other side and a kid name Case Keenum. Keenum threw for 5,449 yards and 43 touchdowns, with just nine interceptions. Houston was the best passing and total offense team in the country and the second-highest scoring. Their defense is awful, 108th, and they have some inexplicable losses (UTEP anyone?), but some very good wins against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Those two triumphs had Keenum in the Heisman conversation for a while. What makes this such an interesting matchup is that Air Force is the best pass defense team in the land, allowing just 149 yards per game. Houston averages 450 yards in the air. Unstoppable object meets immovable force. However, in AF’s last game, Max Hall threw for 377 yards and five touchdowns. That is closer to what Keenum might do than the 149 yards.

Houston 38, Air Force 21

Brut Sun Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Stanford, Dec. 31: First get one thing clear, El Paso is actually a great place to watch a bowl game. And that’s about it. But this is an intriguing matchup of a team that just had a frustrating season against one that was a revelation. Stanford and their Heisman finalist running back Toby Gerhart, were the darlings of the Pac-10 this fall, running over USC and Oregon, only to fall to Arizona, Cal and Oregon State. Oklahoma is still fairly depleted and frankly no one has been able to stop Gerhart, who has rushed for at 123 yards in eight of his last nine games. In his last four games he has 13 touchdowns. And one more as a passer. Yeah, stop that. This would be a good win for the Pac-10 regardless of how bad the Sooners are.

Stanford 29, Oklahoma 20

Texas Bowl: Navy vs. Missouri, Dec. 31: The spread against the triple option. Either old football coaches are rolling over in their graves or brimming with excitement. Navy has a couple of awful losses, Temple and Hawaii, with wins over Notre Dame, Air Force and Wake Forest. Missouri has been much easier to figure out, beating everyone they are better than and losing to everyone that is better than them. Navy, if they play like it, is better than Mizzou.

Navy 25, Missouri 24

Insight Bowl: Minnesota vs. Iowa State, Dec. 31: Paul Rhoads is the 2009 coach of the year, taking maybe the worst BCS program and winning six games, after Iowa State had seen some of the worst football ever. They were so bad that their last coach, Gene Chizik, didn’t even get blamed when he got a promotion to Auburn. Problem is, ISU isn’t really good at anything, ranked 75th or worse in total offense and total defense. Their bad at special teams too, ranking 104th in punt returns. Minnesota isn’t a whole lot better, having scored just 13 points in their last two games. Here’s guessing this one is won on special teams, with the good Gopher return game.

Minnesota 19, Iowa State 17

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee, Dec. 31: Call this the one where you just throw the two names into a hat. Honestly, Tennessee is on the way up under Lane Kiffin. But when you are getting caught cheating so much in recruiting that your coach is trying to spin it as a good thing, something is going wrong. Not only that, but the fans in Knoxville love it. The Vols had a rough start, but won four of their last five and six of their last eight, while only losing to Alabama thanks to two blocked field goals. They lost to Florida and Bama by a combined 12 points. They are average at just about anything, but very good at defensive pass efficiency, which won’t mean a whole lot against VT. Tech is on a four-game win streak, having beaten no one, and have a much better defense that offense. In reality, both of these teams have strong defenses, who’s speed will probably neutralize both offenses. Here is the detailed prediction: somewhere in the third or fourth quarter, Eric Berry, maybe the greatest safety in SEC history (numbers-wise anyway) will make a big play, an interception, and get a defensive score. That will decide a great game.

Tennessee 19, Virginia Tech 17

Things are gonna be better this time. More later.

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