Professor’s Bowl Picks

2011-12 College Football Bowls

Welcome back to The Campus Game and the end of fall term.

With final exams a fast fading memory, students fleeing for home and the holidays, the college campus is a quiet, peaceful place over Christmas break.  Strolling along Lumpkin Street during a brief trip to Athens the past couple of mornings, the loudest sounds came from the football practice fields where the Bulldogs prepared for an Outback Bowl appearance against Michigan State.

Below is the lineup for all 2011-2012 college football bowl games (listing courtesy of the Rivals website).

Enjoy!

1/10/12 UPDATE: The Professor finished a respectable 23-12 in bowl picks but did miss the BCS championship prediction for the first time in eight years.

* All times Eastern

NEW MEXICO BOWL
Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 17, 2 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Albuquerque
COMMENT: Steve Addazio leads the Temple Owls to a bowl bid in the Land of Enchantment after a solid inaugural season.  Cowboys look to build momentum for 2012 when they’ll soon become a Mountain West power with the defection of Boise State and TCU.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: TEMPLE
RESULT: Temple 37-15 (Professor 1-0)

FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL
Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5)
WHEN: Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Boise, Idaho
COMMENT: Ohio comes into the game fresh from a tough MAC title game loss to Northern Illinois behind the leadership of dual threat QB Tyler Tettleton.  The US Aggies have won five straight entering the spud bowl and earlier in the season put a big scare into Auburn and BYU before losing close games.
PROFESSOR”S PICK: UTAH STATE
RESULT: Ohio 24-23 (Professor 1-1)

NEW ORLEANS BOWL
San Diego State (8-4) vs. LA-Lafayette (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 17, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: New Orleans
COMMENT: LA-L will be playing a virtual home game at the Super Dome and that crowd should be enough to get the Ragin Cajuns past Rocky Long’s Aztecs.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: LA-LAFAYETTE
RESULT: LA-L 32-30 (Professor 2-1)

BEEF O’BRADY’S BOWL
Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 20, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: St. Petersburg, Fla.
COMMENT: FIU and coach Mario Cristobal are both up-and-comers (the Panthers hope to hang onto to Cristobal during the on-going coaching carousel) and should get by Doc Holliday and the Thundering Herd.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: FIU
RESULT: Marshall 20-10 (Professor 2-2)

POINSETTIA BOWL
TCU (10-2) vs. Lousisana Tech (8-4)

WHEN: Dec. 21, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: San Diego
COMMENT: Nabbing TCU is a nice coup for the Poinsettia Bowl and playing the highly regarded Horned Frogs is a nice opportunity for Sonny Dykes and the LA Tech Bulldogs.  Expect the Frogs to get a big win before heading off to join the Big 12.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: TCU

RESULT: TCU 31-24 (Professor 3-2)

MAACO LAS VEGAS BOWL
Arizona State (6-6) vs. Boise State (11-1)
WHEN: Dec. 22, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Las Vegas
COMMENT: The Broncos return to Sin City a second consecutive time thanks to a tough loss to TCU (which knocked Boise from a BCS bowl).  The game with ASU marks the swan song for record-setting Broncos QB Kellen Moore … and also for Sun Devils head coach Dennis Erickson.  Boise agains shows it can whip the power conferences.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: BOISE STATE
RESULT: BOISE 56-24 (Professor 4-2)

HAWAII BOWL
Nevada (7-5) at Southern Miss (11-2)
WHEN: Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Honolulu
COMMENT: The USM Golden Eagles took an interesting path to the islands – thanks to bowl contracts between the SEC and Big East, and some nifty vacation planning by soon-to-be-former USM head coach Larry Fedora.  Typically, the Conference-USA champion would play an SEC team at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis (a nice, easy drive for USM fans).  However, since the SEC had only nine bowl-eligible squads this season (and thus could not place a team in the Compass Bowl in Birmingham), the Liberty Bowl contract called for an SEC-Big East matchup … so the Liberty could not invite Southern Miss and its thousands of fans to take on Vandy.  That left USM with the choice of any other C-USA bowl partner and Fedora (before taking the North Carolina job a few days later) acted like any good travel agent and opted for a week in paradise for his squad.  Can’t blame him!  Let’s say his team gets a win too.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: USM
RESULT: USM 24-17 (Professor 5-2)

INDEPENDENCE BOWL
Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5)
WHEN: Dec. 26, 5 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Shreveport, La.
COMMENT: A bonus SEC-ACC game as the Tigers of Missouri move to the SEC next season.  Changes will take place in beautiful Chapel Hill too as interim coach Everett Withers moves on to Ohio State and Larry Fedora takes over the Heels after this game.

PROFESSOR’S PICK: MIZZOU
RESULT: Mizzou 41-24 (Professor 6-2)

LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL
Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Detroit
COMMENT: WMU will want it more, but the Boilers should be a bit better.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: PURDUE
RESULT: Purdue 37-32 (Professor 7-2)

BELK BOWL
Louisville (7-5) vs. NC State (7-5)

WHEN: Dec. 27, 8:00 ESPN
WHERE: Charlotte
COMMENT: Up and down Wolfpack takes down Cardinals.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: NC STATE

RESULT: NC State 31-24 (Professor 8-2)

MILITARY BOWL
Toledo (8-4) vs. Air Force (7-5)
WHEN: Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Washington, D.C.
COMMENT: Falcons option attack should run over the Rockets.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: AFA
RESULT: Toledo 42-41 (Professor 8-3)

HOLIDAY BOWL
Cal (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5)

WHEN: Dec. 28, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: San Diego
COMMENT: Holiday Bowl is always a Professor’s favorite, but this matchup is not up to par.  Horns hook Bears.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: TEXAS

RESULT: Texas 21-10 (Professor 9-3)

CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL
Notre Dame (8-4) vs. Florida State (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Orlando
COMMENT: Game is a sellout, TV ratings should be boffo, and the setting is great.  Not so sure the game will live up though because FSU’s defense will be tough for Irish.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: FSU
RESULT: FSU 18-14 (Professor 10-3)

ALAMO BOWL
Washington (7-5) vs. Baylor (9-3)
WHEN: Dec. 29, 9:00 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: San Antonio
COMMENT: Think the folks at Valero are happy to sponsor this year’s Heisman winner?  Me too.  Robert Griffin III and the Bears should bring a whole bunch of fans down to the San Anton … and should whip the Huskies.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: BAYLOR
RESULT: Baylor 67-56 (Professor 11-3)

ARMED FORCES BOWL
BYU (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 30, noon, ESPN
WHERE: Dallas
COMMENT: Two pretty good offenses on display in big D.  Think it’s Tulsa Time.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: TULSA
RESULT: BYU 24-21 (Professor 11-4)

PINSTRIPE BOWL
Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 30, 3:20 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: New York
COMMMENT: The visuals alone make this game at Yankee Stadium worth watching.  If the East Coast gets a snowstorm, well – all the better.  Iowa State is better, but Rutgers is essentially at home so let’s go with the Scarlet Knights.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: RUTGERS
RESULT: Rutgers 27-13 (Professor 12-4)

MUSIC CITY BOWL
Miss State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)

WHEN: Dec. 30, 6:40 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Nashville
COMMENT: Two pretty solid coaches in Dan Mullen of MSU and Jim Grobe of Wake, but I like the Bullies team better.  This should be a very physical matchup.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: MISS STATE

RESULT: MISS STATE 23-17 (Professor 13-4)

INSIGHT BOWL
Iowa (7-5) vs. Oklahoma (9-3)
WHEN: Dec. 30, 10 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Tempe, Ariz.
COMMENT: The Hawkeyes return to Tempe for a second straight year and they are fortunate to be there having lost three of five to close the season, including double-digit losses to Michigan State and Nebraska.  Iowa should at least have the motivation edge over OU because the Sooners expected to be playing in “a” BCS bowl if not “the” BCS bowl.  Those hopes got gashed in a 44-10 season finale debacle against OK State.  I’m leery of teams that don’t want to be at their bowl, but will go with talent over motivation in this one.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: OK
RESULT: Oklahoma 31-14 (Professor 14-4)

MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS
Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Northwestern (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 31, noon, ESPN
WHERE: Houston
COMMENT: The Aggies enter the game with interim coach Tim DeRuyter at the helm. The A&M defensive coordinator takes over for the deposed Mike Sherman, and will take over as head coach at Fresno State after the bowl as the Kevin Sumlin era begins in College Station. The coaching situation couldn’t be more stable in Evanston as Pat Fitzgerald – always on everybody’s short list when vacancies arise – seems to be a potential lifer for the Purple. NU is plucky, but the Aggies are stronger and faster.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: TEXAS A&M
RESULT: Texam A&M 33-22 (Professor 15-4)

SUN BOWL
Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5)
WHEN: Dec. 31, 2 p.m., CBS
WHERE: El Paso, Texas
COMMENT: Utah finished the season winning four of five, but the last game was a stinker – a 17-14 loss to lowly Colorado. Tech struggled down the stretch. After a 6-0 start, the Jackets lost four of six and yielded over 30 points in the last three games. Although flinty Tech coach Paul Johnson never admits it, his teams struggle in bowl games because opponents have time to prepare for the triple option. I think it will happen again.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: UTAH
RESULT: Utah 30-27 (Professor 16-4)

LIBERTY BOWL
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m., ABC
WHERE: Memphis
COMMENT: Typically this game matches the C-USA champ with an SEC opponent, but due to some scheduling agreements (see Hawaii Bowl above), the Liberty gets a good Big East team in Cincy playing the home state Commodores. First year Vandy coach James Franklin is fiery and has done a find job in Nashville; watch QB Jordan Rodgers – he’s a good player (yes – he’s the brother of Green Bay’s Aaron). Bearcat coach Butch Jones had his team in contention for a BCS berth all season and actually tied for the conference championship behind dual threat QB Zach Collaros. This one should be pretty good, but I like Cincy.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: CINCY
RESULT: Cincy 31-24 (Professor 17-4)

KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER BOWL
Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7)
WHEN: Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: San Francisco
COMMENT: This games tests the old Professor’s theory that there is no such thing as a bad bowl game. UCLA got an exemption to play in the game with a losing record, and both teams can’t get to the New Year fast enough. I would suggest tuning to the Liberty Bowl instead.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: UCLA
RESULT: Illinois 20-14 (Professor 17-5)

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL
Auburn (7-5) vs. Virginia (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Atlanta
COMMENT: The old Peach Bowl has really taken off in popularity since Chick-Fil-A (America’s finest fast-service chain) became the primary sponsor, and solidified the New Year’s Evening date. I am nursing a bit of a grudge againts the Chick-Fil-A because their media folks have not approved my credentials the past few years (and I don’t think it has anything to do with me gobbling down several of those great chicken sandwiches in the press box that last time), but this is usually an exciting game to wrap up the calendar. Auburn is about what most people expected, and UVA is better than predicted. With the Tigers losing both coordinators, I think the Cavaliers win.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: VIRGINIA
RESULT: Auburn 43-24 (Professor 17-6)

TICKETYCITY BOWL
Houston (12-1) vs. Penn State (9-3)
WHEN: Jan. 2, noon, ESPNU
WHERE: Dallas
COMMENT: The saddest season finally ends for Penn State. Let’s go with the Lions since nothing has gone right for them in a long time.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: PENN STATE
RESULT: Houston 30-14 (Professor 17-7)

OUTBACK BOWL
Michigan State (10-3) vs. Georgia (10-3)
WHEN: Jan. 2, 1 p.m., ABC
WHERE: Tampa
COMMENT: After an 0-2 start, Georgia rebounded with ten straight wins before losing to LSU in the SEC title game. Head coach Mark Richt may have needed every one of those victories because the Bulldog faithful were very restless. Now, Richt is set to sign a contract extension, the Dogs return a bunch of talent in 2012, and the conference schedule for next season is very favorable (again). Quite a difference since early September. The Spartans also lost in a conference title game and they were one of the Big Ten’s best squads all season. State is rugged on both sides of the ball (I’m not convinced of Georgia’s toughness on offense), but the Dog defense may be a bit too fast for them.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: GEORGIA
RESULT: MSU 33-30 (Professor 17-8)

CAPITAL ONE BOWL
Nebraska (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)
WHEN: Jan. 2, 1 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Orlando
COMMENT: Yet another B1G vs SEC New Year’s Day game finds the old ball coach returning to his home state and trying to coax the USC Gamecocks to 11 wins – which would be a first in school history. They will need to get past a Nebraska team that runs the ball well but struggles in the passing game. I don’t particularly think either team is all that good, but will go with SC on a hunch.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: SOUTH CAROLINA
RESULT: South Carolina 30-13 (Professor 18-8)

GATOR BOWL
Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6)
WHEN: Jan. 2, 1:00 p.m., ESPN2
WHERE: Jacksonville
COMMENT: This is an intriguing matchup because of the Urban Meyer angle. The former Gator head coach accepted the Ohio State position a few weeks ago and has apparently been at least peripherally involved in preparation for this game (based on comments by Buckeye interim head coach Luke Fickell). I’m sure that sits real well with the Florida folks who were already mad at Meyer for returing to the sidelines less than a year after retiring for health reasons. On the field, both teams finished at .500 but State sure seems like the better team right now. QB Braxton Miller is stellar and should be a real force running Meyer’s spread attack the next three years. Florida was inept most of the season on offense and the departure of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to become head coach at Kansas was met with near glee in Gainesville. Gator coach Will Muschamp has his work cut out for him and it won’t get any easier if he loses to Urban Meyer’s new team.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: OHIO STATE
RESULT: Florida 24-17 (Professor 18-9)

ROSE BOWL
Oregon (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (11-2)
WHEN: Jan. 2, 5:00 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Pasadena, Calif.
COMMENT: A really nice contrasting matchup between the fleet Ducks of Oregon and the powerful Badgers of Wisconsin (returning to the granddaddy for a second straight season). For my money, this is the best of the BCS bowls outside the title game. I’ll go with Bucky.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: WISCONSIN
RESULT: Oregon 45-38 (Professor 18-10)

FIESTA BOWL
Stanford (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-1)
WHEN: Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Glendale, Ariz.
COMMENT: After suffering through a miserable pairing last year (Oklahoma vs U Conn), the Fiesta landed a dandy this time. OK State could make a legitimate argument for deserving to play in the BCS championship, but the Cowboys will have their hands full with Stanford and soon-to-be NFL #1 Andrew Luck. Use up your remote batteries early in the day, then set the channel to ESPN for a great double header of the Rose and the Fiesta. What a great day of college football!
PROFESSOR’S PICK: OKLAHOMA STATE
RESULT: OK State 41-38 (Professor 19-10)

SUGAR BOWL
Michigan (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)
WHEN: Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: New Orleans
COMMENT: I’ll repeat this complaint … call me old-fashioned but I prefer more games on New Year’s Day instead of spreading these major bowls out over several nights. The Sugar Bowl got the opportunity of offering two at-large bids due to the SEC placing two teams into the national championship game. Michigan, with the tradition and the large fan base, was pretty much a given even though the Wolverines did not get to the Big Ten title game. QB Denard Robinson – aka Shoelace – is perhaps the most exciting player in college football. The Sugar’s selection of Virginia Tech caused some backlash, even though the Hokies actually did make it to the ACC title game (where they were trounced by Clemson). The Big Ten suffered another ugly bowl day on Jan. 2nd, but I think Michigan pulls out the win.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: MICHIGAN
RESULT: Michigan 23-20 (Professor 20-10)

ORANGE BOWL
West Virginia (9-3) vs. Clemson (10-3)
WHEN: Jan. 4, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Miami
COMMENT: The least appealing of the BCS games on paper, this may turn out to be an exciting game. Keep any eye of Clemson’s explosive freshman WR Sammy Watkins – he’s big time. ACC teams have done little of note this bowl season, but I like the Tigers.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: CLEMSON
RESULT: WVU 70-33 (Professor 20-11)

COTTON BOWL
Kansas State (10-2) vs. Arkansas (10-2)
WHEN: Jan. 6, 8 p.m., Fox
WHERE: Arlington, Texas
COMMENT: Think the Jerry Dome will be rocking with these two fan bases filling the place on a Friday night. For a 2nd consecutive year, the Cotton Bowl lands a matchup of BCS worthy teams. Arkansas lost only to the teams playing for the national championship, and K-State had a strong case for landing the at-large Sugar Bowl bid that went to Virginia Tech. I think the Hogs are a better team, but do not always count on Bobby Petrino to have them ready.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: ARKANSAS
RESULT: Arkansas 29-16 (Professor 21-11)

BBVA COMPASS BOWL
SMU (7-5) vs. Pitt (6-6)
WHEN: Jan. 7, 1:00, ESPN
WHERE: Birmingham, Ala.
COMMENT: Pitt returns to Birmingham a second straight season … and again with a coaching staff issue. Last year, AD Steve Pederson (how does he keep his job) botched up things by firing solid coach Dave Wannstedt. After new hire Mike Haywood ran into legal issues, Todd Graham was hired from Tulsa. Graham bolted for Arizona State just a few weeks ago. Paul Chryst of Wisonsin takes over after this one. Meantime, the Mustangs also had some coaching angst as June Jones thought he had an offer for that same Arizona State job only to have it pulled and given to Graham. Whew! I think Junie makes a statement in this one, although SMU will struggle with the Pitt rushing attack.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: SMU
RESULT: SMU 28-6 (Professor 22-11)

GODADDY.COM BOWL
Arkansas State (10-2) vs. N. Illinois (10-3)
WHEN: Jan. 8, 9 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Mobile, Ala.
COMMENT: Some coaching turnover in this game too as Auburn OC Gus Malzahn takes the helm at ASU after the game, replacing Hugh Freeze who’s on his way to Ole Miss. I don’t think it will matter because NIU is very good.
PROFESSOR’S PICK: NIU
RESULT: NIU 38-20 (Professor 23-11)

BCS Championship Game (see post for full breakdown)
PROFESSOR’S PICK: LSU
RESULT: Alabama 21-0 (Professor 23-12)

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