Bowls to New Year’s Eve
The college football bowl season now swings into the post-Christmas peak period.
Below are Professor’s Picks for all the bowls through December 31st.
Predictions for New Year’s Day and BCS bowls will be posted by the first of the year.
The pre-Christmas bowls were more Scrooge than Santa as the old professor has bah-humbugged to a 3-4 record so far.
Maybe the Motor City Bowl will provide me a bailout to get going.
Motor City Bowl
Central Michigan (8-4) vs. Florida Atlantic (6-6)
Ford Field, Detroit
Dec. 26 at 7:30 ESPN
The Motor City could use good news and CMU QB Dan LeFevour might be just the man to provide some. He’ll have to lead the Chippewas past FAU coach Howard Schnelleberger, who sports an unbeaten (5-0) record in bowls.
Professor’s Pick: Central Michigan
Meineke Car Care Bowl
North Carolina (8-4) vs. West Virginia (8-4)
BOA Stadium, Charlotte
Dec. 27 at 1:00 ESPN
A match-up of two unpredictable teams. West Virginia will bid farewell to QB Pat White, the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks. White combines with RB Noel Devine to provide the Mountaineers a lethal rushing combo. Heels are better against the pass than run, so expect WVU to make big plays on the ground.
Professor’s Pick: West Virginia
Champs Sports Bowl
Wisconsin (7-5) vs. Florida State (8-4)
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Dec. 27 at 4:30 ESPN
The Badgers started and finished strong, but lost five of six in the middle of the season. The Seminoles were less streaky, but very inconsistent down the stretch alternating wins/losses in their last six games. Both teams run the ball well, but expect home state FSU to get the win in the land of Mickey Mouse.
Professor’s Pick: FSU
Cal (8-4) vs. Miami (7-5)
AT&T Park, San Francisco
Dec. 27 at 8:00 ESPN
With a chance to win the ACC Coastal Division, Miami fell apart in the last two games, giving up a combined 79 points and 957 yards in losses to Georgia Tech and NC State. Cal finished strong versus weak opponents Stanford and Washington but at least has some momentum. Watch the contest between Cal RB Jahvid Best against Miami’s young but good defensive front.
Professor’s Pick: Cal
Louisiana Tech (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois (6-6)
Independence Stadium, Shreveport
Dec. 28 at 8:15 ESPN
La Tech coach Derek Dooley is one of my favorite up-and-comers and leads his Bulldogs to a first bowl appearance since 2001. First-year NIU coach Jerry Kill got the Huskies to a bowl only one season after the team posted two wins. The pro-La Tech crowd might play a big role because the game is only an hour away from the Dog campus.
Professor’s Pick: La Tech
NC State (6-6) vs. Rutgers (7-5)
Legion Field, Birmingham
Dec. 29 at 3:00 ESPN
This game is somewhat intriguing because neither squad appeared bowl-bound to start the year. Rutgers stumbled to a 1-5 start and then stormed to six straight wins to close fast. State also struggled out of the gate at 2-6 before winning its last four. Rutgers looked awfully good in winning by nearly 30 points a game during the late streak. Go with the Knights.
Professor’s Picks: Rutgers
Valero Alamo Bowl
Missouri (9-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)
Alamodome, San Antonio
Dec. 29 at 8:00 ESPN
Missouri enters the game after falling well short of pre-season expectations. The Tigers should beat Northwestern, although the motivation levels of the two teams may be far different. In contrast to the disappointment of Mizzou not reaching a BCS game, the NU Wildcats arrive in San Antone excited at the prospect of reaching 10 wins for only the second time in school history. Tigers are still the better team however.
Professor’s Pick: Missouri
Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl
Nevada (7-5) vs. Maryland (7-5)
Bronco Stadium, Boise
Dec. 30 at 4:30 ESPN
The blue field bowl will host the Nevada dynamic duo of QB Colin Kaepernick and RB Vai Taua. Both rushed for more than 1000 yards, and Kaepernick threw for another 2479. The sophomores also accounted for a combined 49 TDs. Maryland is another of the unpredictable ACC teams, so this one could be entertaining, but go with the Pack from the WAC.
Professor’s Pick: Nevada
Western Michigan (9-3) vs. Rice (9-3)
Reliant Stadium, Houston
Dec. 30 at 8:00 NFL Network
The Texas Bowl may be most notable for being one of the few post-season games not televised by ESPN. Those who can tune in to the NFL Network should see the Rice Owls throw the ball around on the way to a first bowl victory since 1954.
Professor’s Picks: Rice
Pac Life Holiday Bowl
Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Oregon (9-3)
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Dec. 30 at 8:00 ESPN
One of the better non-BCS games, this matchup pairs two top-ten scoring offenses, each averaging over 40 points per game, that are terrific on the ground and good through the air. The Cowboys of OK State feature an All-American combo in RB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant. The Ducks counter with a red-hot attack that scorched rival Oregon State in the season finale.
Professor’s Pick: OK State
Armed Forces Bowl
Air Force (8-4) vs. Houston (7-5)
Carter Stadium, Ft. Worth
Dec. 31 at Noon ESPN
Do you prefer ground or air travel? The AFA Falcons bring their land-based option game to the Lone Star State where they will face an explosive Houston squad. The Cougars led the NCAA in total yards and passing. Call me a traditionalist, but I prefer to watch the option.
Professor’s Pick: Air Force
Oregon State (8-4) vs. Pitt (9-3)
Sun Bowl, El Paso
Dec. 31 at 2:00 CBS
The venerable Sun Bowl (ok, the sponsor is Brut but I like the sounds of just plain old Sun Bowl), pairs OSU and Pitt teams that came close to winning the PAC-10 and Big East respectively. The Beavers were a victory from the Rose Bowl, but got blown out by Oregon to close the season. Pitt finished second in the Big East to Orange Bowl-bound Cincinnati and comes into the game having won four of five. Two outstanding runners could be the focus: LeSean McCoy of Pitt and Jacquizz Rodgers of State (if he’s healthy).
Professor’s Pick: Oregon State
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Boston College (9-4) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
The Coliseum, Nashville
Dec. 31 at 3:30 ESPN
Talk about opposites in recent bowl history. The big story here is that Vandy is in a bowl for the first time since 1982, and the Commodores are trying to win one for the first time since 1955. The bad news is that the team doesn’t even get to travel and they have to play a BC team that won nine games, made it to the ACC title game, and has the nation’s longest bowl winning streak at eight. Let’s make it nine?
Professor’s Pick: Boston College
Kansas (7-5) vs. Minnesota (7-5)
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe
Dec. 31 at 5:30 NFL Network
These teams stumbled to the post-season instead of storming to a bowl. Iowa humiliated Minnesota 55-0 to close the season. Kansas fared much better by beating Missouri in the finale, but the Jayhawks lost four of their last six overall.
Professor’s Pick: Kansas
Georgia Tech (9-3) vs. LSU (7-5)
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Dec. 31 at 7:30 ESPN
Tech blistered Miami and Georgia the last two weeks of the regular season and many consider the Jackets the best team in the ACC right now. The triple-option attack is difficult to defend if turnovers are minimal, and LSU ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring defense. With several weeks to prepare, the Tigers may play better than most expect, but the hometown Wreck should ramble.
Bowl Ball: Georgia Tech