New Year’s Day and BCS Bowls
Happy New Year!
Hope you are enjoying this bowl season and your picks are going well. After starting an ugly 3-4, I have climbed back to 10-7 heading into the New Year’s Eve bowl schedule.
Below are picks for New Year’s Day bowls (and post-New Year’s), including all the BCS games – except the title game which will be posted next week.
To find any bowl prediction for earlier games, simply keep scrolling down until you find it or click on the post title to the right … bowls are listed in chronological order within each post.
* All times Eastern
Iowa (8-4) vs. South Carolina (7-5)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
Jan. 1 at 11:00 AM ESPN
Expect a low scoring game between two of the nation’s stingiest defenses (SC ranks 11th in overall defense and Iowa is 12th). The Gamecocks never could find any offensive consistency, especially at QB, and were not competitive in losses at Florida and Clemson to close the season. SC must try to stop Iowa junior RB Shonn Greene, who scored 17 TDS and rushed for over 1700 yards.
Professor’s Pick: Iowa
Capital One Bowl
Georgia (9-3) vs. Michigan State (9-3)
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Jan. 1 at 1:00, ABC
Run, Run Rudolph could be the official carol of this game because two of the nation’s best runners will be in the Cap One. State’s Javon Ringer may be licking his chops to run against a Dog defense that allowed over 400 yards to Georgia Tech in the season finale, and surrendered 38 points or more in four of UGA’s last five games. Georgia counters with RB Knowshon Moreno and a cast of dangerous offensive playmakers. This may be the last game for Moreno and QB Matt Stafford and they want to go out with a win.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia
Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
Nebraska (8-4) vs. Clemson (7-5)
Jacksonville Municipal, Jacksonville
Jan. 1 at 1:00 CBS
Clemson was a bit of a surprise pick over Florida State for this game, but attribute that to the Tigers great fan base. Nebraska has a balanced offense that should be the difference in the game if the Huskers avoid turnovers (they were -10 in turnover margin). Two of the nation’s best fan bases will fill the Gator Bowl.
Professor’s Pick: Nebraska
Rose Bowl (BCS)
Southern Cal (11-1) vs. Penn State (11-1)
Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Jan. 1 at 4:30 ABC
The Granddaddy is the top bowl this season other than the BCS title game … and it might be just as compelling as the big one. Remember back in late summer when the college football world fretted as to whether Joe Paterno was still up to coaching the Nittany Lions? When ESPN did a semi-ambush job on JoePa on one of those Outside the Lines shows? When Joe hurt himself demonstrating (!) on-side kick techniques and was banished to the press box? My, what a difference a season makes. The plain helmets from Happy Valley are a last-second Iowa field goal from being in the national championship game, roll into the Rose with a high octane HD offense, and the great Paterno has signed on for three more seasons. The mighty Trojans were never seriously mentioned with Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas in the national title discussion even though SC has been the dominant program of the decade. Many expect the vaunted SC defense to shut down the Staters in a blowout, but I expect a close and exciting Rose Bowl.
Professor’s Pick: USC
FedEx Orange Bowl (BCS)
Virginia Tech (9-4) vs. Cincinnati (11-2)
Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Jan. 1 at 8:30 Fox
Most consider the Orange Bowl to be the least attractive of the BCS bowls this season, but it may be a compelling game. The UC Bearcats won the Big East under second-year coach Brian Kelly and seemed to use everybody on the roster at QB before Tony Pike settled in. The Hokies won the ACC for the second straight season and will be trying to break an eight-game BCS bowl losing streak for the conference.
Professor’s Pick: Cincinnati
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Ole Miss (8-4) vs. Texas Tech (11-1)
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Jan. 2 at 2:00 Fox
Ole Miss finished the season with five straight wins in Houston Nutt’s first year at the helm, and the Rebs boast a solid QB in Jevan Snead, several playmakers on offense, and good fronts on both sides of the ball. Texas Tech answers with one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, led by QB Graham Harrell and future all-pro WR Michael Crabtree, an outstanding offensive line, and an underrated defense. This might be one of the most entertaining bowls of the holiday season, and because of the unusual date (Jan. 2) the Cotton Bowl will have the attention of the entire college football spotlight.
Professor’s Pick: Texas Tech
Auto Zone Liberty Bowl
Kentucky (6-6) vs. East Carolina (9-4)
Liberty Bowl, Memphis
Jan. 2 at 5:00 ESPN
ECU upset Tulsa in the C-USA championship game to earn the Liberty Bowl berth. The Pirates are accustomed to playing big-name opponents (they whipped ACC champ Virginia Tech and West Virginia of the Big East this season), so an SEC team will not intimidate them. The Wildcats needed a break to regroup after stumbling to four losses in five games down the stretch. This would be a mild upset, but UK gets the job done in Memphis.
Professor’s Pick: Kentucky
All State Sugar Bowl (BCS)
Alabama (12-1) vs. Utah (12-0)
Super Dome, New Orleans
Jan. 2 at 8:00 Fox
The Sugar is a premier post-season pairing between a team that was #1 for much of the late part of the season and one that has not lost. Alabama will have had time to recover from the emotional SEC title game loss to Florida. Utah is the most legitimate threat of all the non-BCS schools, going undefeated twice in the past five seasons and winning the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. However, the Utes have not faced a defense like Bama brings, nor have they tried to slow a power running game like that of the Tide.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama
Buffalo (8-5) vs. Connecticut (7-5)
Rogers Centre, Toronto
Jan. 3 at Noon ESPN
Buffalo’s fine turnaround season and MAC championship seemed almost an afterthought in the Turner Gill coaching sweepstakes. The Braves head man was mentioned for every prominent position – most notably at Auburn – but in the end was offered nothing better than his current position alongside Niagara Falls. The short trip to Toronto will allow Buff fans the opportunity to turn the old Skydome into a nice home field advantage, but U Conn is probably the better team.
Professor’s Pick: Conn
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (BCS)
Texas (11-1) vs. Ohio State (10-2)
Phoenix Stadium, Glendale
Jan. 5 at 8:00 Fox
The Fiesta Bowl locked up two of the nation’s most loyal fan bases by choosing Texas and Ohio State (selecting the Buckeyes over an undefeated Utah team) and the game should be a great duel in the desert. OSU still seeks to prove something on the national stage after getting hammered in the past two title games, while Texans are feeling the sting of being passed over for this year’s title tilt in favor of an Oklahoma team the Longhorns handled on a neutral field. Hey, life ain’t fair sometimes.
Professor’s Pick: Texas
Ball State (12-1) vs. Tulsa (10-3)
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile
Jan. 6 at 8:00 ESPN
For much of the season these two mid-majors (to borrow a March Madness term) made noise as long-shot BCS busters, but both fell hard and fast. Tulsa started giving up points in bunches and lost the C-USA title game. Ball State lost the MAC championship to Buffalo, then the Cardinals lost their coach (Brady Hoke) to San Diego State. Expect plenty of offense and for Tulsa to carry the day.
Professor’s Pick: Tulsa