Bowl Bonanza

Welcome to The Campus Game bowl bonanza.

Here are previews and a professor’s pick for bowls through December 30th. New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and BCS bowls will be added after Christmas.

If you’d like to visit the actual bowl website, simply click on the name of the bowl.

Enjoy and happy holidays!

Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 20 at 9:00 (ESPN)
Navy (8-4) vs. Utah (8-4)
The Middies will be without head coach Paul Johnson (gone to Georgia Tech), while the Utes have won six straight bowls (second longest streak in nation). Utah defense (first in Mountain West vs. the rush) will be tested by the Academy.
Prof’s Pick: Utah

New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 21 at 8:00 (ESPN2)
Florida Atlantic (7-5) vs. Memphis (7-5)
This bowl is worth tuning in just to see if FAU Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger gets another gatorade shower on one of his thousand dollar suits. Expect the Sun Belt champs to handle the Tigers from Conference USA in a close game. Prof’s Pick: Florida Atlantic

Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 22 at 8:00 (ESPN)
BYU (9-2) vs. UCLA (6-6)
UCLA Bruins fired head coach Karl Dorrell after a .500 season, while the Cougars of BYU roll into Vegas as Mountain West champs. Mormons in Las Vegas may seem an odd pairing, but my guess is they will feel at home between the sidelines. Prof’s Pick: BYU

New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 22 at 4:30 (ESPN)
Nevada (6-6) vs. New Mexico (8-4)
The Nevada Wolfpack prowls into scenic Albuquerque to take on the hometown team. The Lobos lost New Mexico Bowl I to San Jose State and look to make amends this season. Prof’s Pick: New Mexico

Papajohns.com
Dec. 22 at 1:00 (ESPN2)
Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
One of the better games of the early bowls, these are two rugged teams. Jeff Bower will end his 17 year reign as coach of the USM Golden Eagles in the same stadium where he started it … Legion Field. On the Cincy side, head man Brian Kelly has been linked as a candidate with several big time jobs but remains in the Queen City for now. Prof’s Pick: Cincinnati

Hawaii Bowl
Dec. 23 at 8:00 (ESPN)
East Carolina (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-2)
Last year’s BCS darlings, the Boise State Broncos, make a return trip to Waikiki. The opponent will be making the longest trek of any bowl bound squad this season, but don’t expect the Pirates of ECU to complain about a Christmas visit to paradise. The setting may be much better than the game. Prof’s Pick: Boise State

Motor City Bowl
Dec. 26 at 7:30 (ESPN)
Central Michigan (8-5) vs. Purdue (7-5)
Any bowl is a good one in my book, but this is perhaps the least appealing matchup of the holiday season from an excitement standpoint since the two teams played earlier in the season (Purdue won 45-22). The game itself may turn out to be pretty good because the Chippewas of the MAC are tough in big games, excited to be playing a rematch, and eager to beat a Big Ten team. Prof’s Pick: Purdue

Holiday Bowl
Dec. 27 at 8:00 (ESPN)
Texas (9-3) vs. Arizona State (10-2)
This Big 12 – PAC 10 pairing provides one of the better matchups of the bowl season, including the BCS games. Both head coaches have national titles on their resumes. Dennis Erickson of ASU won two with Miami (1989 and 1991) and Mack Brown’s Longhorns captured the 2005 title. Arizona State (10-2) flirted with a Top Five ranking most of the season losing only to PAC-10 champ USC and on the road at Oregon. Expect Sun Devil QB Rudy Carpenter to fill the southern California night with footballs because Texas yields over 275 yards passing per game. Carpenter finished strong, throwing only one INT in his last five regular season games. Texas (9-3) will counter with the 1-2 offensive punch of TB Jamaal Charles (1458 yds) and QB Colt McCoy (21 TD passes). McCoy did throw 18 interceptions and that is worth watching against a pretty good ASU secondary. Arizona State might be disappointed by not getting to a BCS game, but San Diego for the holidays (and Holiday) is a nice consolation. Let’s go with the Sun Devils in a shootout. Prof’s Pick: Arizona State

Emerald Bowl
Dec. 28 at 8:30 (ESPN)
Maryland (6-6) vs. Oregon State (8-4)
These two teams arrive in beautiful San Francisco from opposite directions (in more ways than geographically). Oregon State (8-4) won six of its final seven games and comes into the bowl soaring like one of those hang gliders cruising past the Golden Gate Bridge. After starting the year 2-3, Mike Riley’s Beavers lost only to USC the rest of the way, a span that included road wins at Cal and Oregon. While OSU soars into the Emerald, Maryland’s route was more like an escape from Alcatraz. The Terps (6-6) went 2-4 down the stretch, clinching a bowl bid only after beating NC State in the season finale. Both teams prefer to move the ball on the ground. Maryland boasts two running backs (Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball) with over 750 yards rushing, while the Beavers will be rejuvenated with the return of senior RB Yvenson Bernard (1037 yds) who missed the season finale. These teams also play well in the post-season and each comes in with a three-game bowl win streak. We’ll pick OSU in a close one. Prof’s Pick: Oregon State

Champs Sports Bowl
Dec. 28 at 5:00 (ESPN)
Boston College (10-3) vs. Michigan State (7-5)
BC flirted with a Top Five ranking for part of the season and came within an ACC title game loss of making it to the Orange Bowl. QB Matt Ryan was a Heisman hopeful much of the year but faded late. These teams are both on the rise and led by excellent first-year coaches in Jeff Jagodzinski of BC and the Spartan’s Mark Dantonio. Prof’s Pick: Boston College

Texas Bowl
Dec. 28 at 8:00 (NFL)
Houston (8-4) vs. TCU (7-5)
You may need to be deep in the heart of Texas to see this one since it airs on the NFL network. These teams are very familiar with each other (having played 25 times), but the Cougars will be playing under interim head coach Chris Thurmond (Kevin Sumlin was named new Houston coach on 12/14 but will not coach the bowl game). The Horned Frogs of TCU will be looking for their third straight bowl win. Prof’s Pick: TCU

Meineke Car Car Bowl
Dec. 29 at 1:00 (ESPN)
U Conn (9-3) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)
Maybe we should call this one the “Coach Care” bowl because both Randy Edsall of UConn and Jim Grobe of Wake have been wined, dined, and listed on the job grapevine often since the end of the regular season. Edsall was most closely linked to Georgia Tech before removing himself from consideration to stay with the Huskies (9-3), co-Big East champions after only their fourth year in the conference. His team relies on a balanced attack as junior QB Tyler Lorenzen (2269 yards, 13 TDs) leads an offense that also features sophomore running backs Andre Dixon and Donald Brown II who combined for 11 TDs and more than 1500 yards rushing. Down at Wake (8-4), Grobe’s name has been linked with coaching vacancies at Michigan, Nebraska, and Arkansas among others, and it’s easy to understand because he led the Deacs to an ACC title last year and followed up with another solid effort. QB Riley Skinner ranked 2nd in the nation in pass completion percentage (behind Graham Harrell of Texas Tech), but the large contingent of Wake fans who make the 80 mile trek to Charlotte might be the real difference in this one. Prof’s Pick: Wake Forest

Liberty Bowl
Dec. 29 at 4:30 (ESPN)
Mississippi State (7-5) vs. Central Florida (10-3)
A fine matchup in a historic bowl. Sylvester Croom’s State Bulldogs pulled off some big wins in the rugged SEC, while George O’Leary and his Golden Knights captured the tough C-USA championship. UCF is lead by record setting tailback Kevin Smith (2448 yards and 29 TDs) but the State defense is good enough to contain the rushing game and force the Knights to throw. Prof’s Pick: Miss State

Alamo Bowl
Dec. 29 at 8:00 (ESPN)
Penn State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
Was State coach Joe Paterno at the original Alamo battle in 1836? No, but he probably remembers it … and if Joe Pa had been there, you can bet Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and the boys would have fared better against old Santa Anna and his Mexican marauders. There will actually be some history in this game. Paterno will be coaching his 500th game for the Nittany Lions; interim A&M coach Gary Darnell will be leading the Aggies for the first (and only) time. Penn State (8-4) came into the season with great promise, but once again could not get past the Big Ten’s big two – Ohio State and Michigan – and also lost to Illinois and Michigan State (in a disappointing final game). The Lions are led by senior QB Anthony Morelli (2508 yards passing, 18 TDs) and workhorse senior TB Rodney Kinlaw (1186 yds, 10 TDs). The Aggies (7-5) finished the season on a high note by beating arch-rival Texas in the season finale, but the win was not enough to save ousted coach Dennis Franchione. Coach Fran’s secret email scheme (where big money boosters paid a premium for inside information) sealed his fate before that last game ever kicked off. The Aggies have great fans and they will be out in force, but at such a historic location give me the guy that has coached 500 games. Prof’s Pick: Penn State

Petro Sun Independence Bowl
Shreveport Dec. 30 7:00 ESPN
Alabama vs. Colorado
This is must see TV because we want to be watching if one of the head coaches says something funny and/or stupid. Will it be Colorado’s Dan Hawkins of “This is Big 12 Football!” and “go play intramurals brother!” fame? Or Alabama’s Nick Saban of “change usually occurs after catastrophic events like 9/11 … or Pearl Harbor … (or losing to Louisiana-Monroe)” fame? Either way, these two guys are worth the three hours of tube time. Alabama (6-6) finished with three straight losses, but the Crimson Tide is having a stellar recruiting year, and you can bet Saban and his Red Elephants will be using this game (and the practices preceding it) to kickoff what many expect to be an SEC West title challenge in 2008. This may be a high-scoring affair as Colorado (6-6) is fresh from scoring 66 on Nebraska, and Alabama has plenty of fire power with QB John Parker Wilson and a stellar group of receivers. Expect the Tide to roll. Prof’s Picks: Alabama

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