Bowl Projections 2012: Week 13 Predictions for Every Bowl Game Matchup

T.J. McaloonContributorNovember 18, 2012

Bowl Projections 2012: Week 13 Predictions for Every Bowl Game Matchup

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    As we are just weeks away from the start of college football's second season—the bowl season—we are starting to get a clearer picture as to which games teams will be playing in. However, there are still some spots still up in the air, like the BCS championship game.

    That game, it seems like, is getting changed up every single week. 

    And who knows, we may see a completely different matchup Jan. 7 from what we would see if the title game was today with No. 1 Notre Dame taking on No. 2 Alabama.

    Here are predictions for all 35 bowl games. 

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 15 

    Time: 1 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Nevada vs. Arizona State

    This bowl game features the fourth or fifth team in the Mountain West conference versus the seventh team in the Pac-12. As it is right now Nevada is the fifth placed team in the MWC while Arizona State is the eighth best team in the Pac-12. 

    Air Force, who is in fourth place, has accepted a bid to play in the Military Bowl, which would open the spot to the Wolf Pack.

    I expect Arizona State to lose to its in-state rival Arizona when the two teams meet to end the season. A loss will keep the Sun Devils in the eighth spot, but they'll move in when the top two teams play in BCS bowl games.

Famous Idaho Potato

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    Date: Dec. 15 

    Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Ball State vs. Utah State

    The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl features the MAC third place team against a team from the WAC. With Ball State owning the tiebreaker over Toledo, after defeating them 34-27, they would be slotted as the third best team from the MAC. 

    Utah State would fall into this spot after winning the WAC. They do have one more game against Idaho so there is the possibility that the Aggies could give the division away with a loss. However, Idaho is 1-10 on the season and have lost its five games.

Poinsettia Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 20 

    Time: 5 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: San Diego State vs. BYU

    San Diego State should accept the invitation to play in this year's Poinsettia Bowl against BYU for one major reason. The bowl game is in San Diego, which would make travel for Aztec fans easier than playing in another bowl game that would take a MWC member.

    Fresno State does own the tiebreaker over San Diego State; however, if the bowl game promoters want to see the game filled up, they will invite the Aztecs over the Bulldogs. 

Beef O'Brady's Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 21

    Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

    Projected matchup: Middle Tennessee vs. UCF

    This bowl game should have the sixth team from the Big East going up against a member from the Conference-USA. 

    Well, the Big East will be lucky to get five members to qualify for a bowl game, but will more than likely get four. So with no members eligible I'd expect to see the bowl committee to reach out to Middle Tennessee from the Sun Belt to fill in. 

    UCF, on the other hand, will play in its conference championship game and should be able to grab fans to come to this bowl game that's played in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 22

    Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Boise State vs. USC

    The MAACO Las Vegas Bowl features the champion of the Mountain West Conference and the fifth placed team in the Pac-12. 

    Boise State has the inside track of winning the MWC, with a win in its final game against a good 7-4 Nevada Wolf Pack that will clinch the conference. The Broncos defense should be enough to carry the Broncos past the Wolf Pack and into the Las Vegas Bowl.

    The Trojans on the other hand have locked up the fifth spot in its conference. They should accept the bid for this bowl since its location to the USC campus and a majority of its fans. 

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 22

    Time: 11 a.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech

    The New Orleans bowl takes the No. 1 team from the Sun Belt and a member of the Conference-USA. 

    With Arkansas State needing just a win in its final game of the season, they should fill this spot as the champions of the Sun Belt. However, the Conference-USA will not have a team that will either be bowl-eligible or would be a big draw for this game.

    This is where Louisiana Tech would fill in. 

    They would be able to draw in a big crowd, and give us a great game with two teams with great records and offenses. 

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 24

    Time: 8 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Fresno State vs. Rice

    These two teams may have to play its bowl game on Christmas Eve, but they get a free trip to Hawaii, so that's gotta even out the bad with the good right? 

    Anyway, this bowl takes a team from the MWC or the WAC and puts them against a member of the C-USA. 

    With both of these teams being bowl-eligible and needing a place to go, they should end up in Honolulu. 

Little Caesars Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 26

    Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Kent State vs. Western Kentucky

    The Little Caesars Bowl has a team from the MAC going up against the eight placed team in the Big Ten. Well, because of NCAA bowl-bans, the Big Ten has two teams that could qualify for bowl (Penn State and Ohio State) but won't.

    Because of that they'll need a fill-in, and should go calling for Western Kentucky out of the Sun Belt. 

    Kent State should be able to bring its fans from Ohio up to Michigan for a potentially easy bowl game victory over the 6-5 Hilltoppers. 

Belk Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 27

    Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech

    The Belk Bowl may be odd in name, but it should be good in competition with the No. 3 team from the Big East going up against the No. 5 team from the ACC.

    Cincinnati has conference punching bags South Florida and UCONN to finish its season. With these wins they'll clinch the third spot in the conference ahead of Syracuse who they beat earlier this year.

    Georgia Tech will need to lose in the ACC championship game to clinch a spot. They do not have enough talent to overtake Florida State in this game, so they will be playing its post season game here. 

Holiday Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 27

    Time: 6:45 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Oregon State vs. Iowa State

    Normally, this matchup is between the Pac-12's third team in the standings against the Big 12's fifth team in its standings. With the Big 12 getting two teams in the BCS bowl games the standings will get bumped up.

    Plus, the Big 12 should send TCU to the Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl, which would open the door for Iowa State to play in the Holiday Bowl.  

    Oregon State should finish with the fourth-best record in its conference; however, with two of those schools playing in BCS games, the Beavers will get the call to play in this bowl game. 

Military Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 27

    Time: 3 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Ohio vs. Marshall

    Normally this matchup is between the eighth team from the ACC versus Army. Well, there aren't eight bowl-eligible teams and Army is 2-7. So with that being said, the game will be filled with two teams that are in need of a bowl game.

    Ohio has had a great season and should enter this bowl game with a 8-4 record. The same cannot be said about Marshall who will need a win in its last game to be bowl-eligible. Its passing attack that's averaging 360.2 yards should be enough to get past East Carolina and a return date against Ohio. 

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 28

    Time: 1 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Central Michigan vs. Virginia Tech

    This matchup is supposed to pit the SEC's 10th bowl-eligible team against the ACC's seventh. However, the SEC should only get eight teams into the bowl season, while the ACC will need Virginia Tech to win its final game against Virginia. 

    Central Michigan should get selected to fill in since they should get to six wins with its last game of the season coming against the 1-10 UMASS Minutemen. While Virginia Tech should beat Virginia to get to six wins and make this bowl game. 

Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 28

    Time: 9 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: TCU vs. Purdue 

    The Meineke Car Care Bowl is played in San Antonio so having TCU play in its home state makes sense. Plus, the game has the No. 6 teams from the Big 12 and Big Ten playing each other, which TCU and Purdue will finish at in their respected conferences.

    However, Purdue still needs one more win to become bowl-eligible. They have the chance to get to six wins if they can defeat Indiana. 

Russell Athletic Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 28

    Time: 5:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Rutgers vs. Miami (FL)

    The Russell Athletic Bowl has the No. 2 team from the Big East going up against the No. 3 team from the ACC. 

    Rutgers is good, however, they will not be able to slow down Louisville passing attack when they play in the season finale. The loss will put Rutgers into this bowl game as the second place finisher in the conference. 

    Miami, on the other hand, will finish with the third best record in the ACC. They may self-impose bowl bans which would end its season after the last regular season game. If they do not they should take the invitation to play in its home state of Florida.

Valero Alamo Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 29

    Time: 6:45 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Oklahoma State vs. UCLA

    The Alamo Bowl has a great matchup this year with Oklahoma State taking on UCLA. Even if Oklahoma State happens to lose to Oklahoma in its final game of the year, the Cowboys should not lose its spot in the Big 12 standings.

    UCLA would only lose its spot in the Alamo Bowl if they would win the Pac-12 championship. If that would happen then the Bruins would play in the Rose Bowl. However, this Bruins team is too young, and doesn't have the same talent that Oregon or Stanford has. 

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 29

    Time: 11:45 a.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Air Force vs. East Carolina

    Air Force has already accepted a bid in this bowl game, since the bowl is tailored for them. However, the opponent for Air Force will be a team from the Conference-USA. After East Carolina's 7-5 finish to its regular season, the Pirates should get selected as Air Force's opponents. 

    With each team playing each other already in the regular season it would be interesting to see them face off again 

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 29

    Time: 10:15 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Texas Tech vs. Wisconsin

    Texas Tech will end its season in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl as the fourth placed team in the Big 12 conference. They should beat Baylor next week clinching its spot against the Big Ten's fourth placed team, Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin can escape from this bowl if they can win its second straight Big Ten championship game.

    However, the Badgers do not have as much talent as they had last year, which will send them to Arizona and not the Rose Bowl. 

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 29

    Time: 4:00 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Arizona vs. Navy

    The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl already has Navy as its bowl team since the Midshipmen qualified for its own bowl game. 

    However, they'll need a team from the Pac-12 to play them. 

    Enter the Arizona Wildcats who should finish its regular season with a win over Arizona State and a record of 8-4. Plus Arizona will finish the regular season at No. 6 in the Pac-12 standings right behind Washington and USC. 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 29

    Time: 3:15 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Syracuse vs. West Virginia

    In an old Big East matchup I could see the No. 4 team from the Big East, Syracuse, take on the last bowl qualifier from the Big 12, West Virginia. 

    To make this happen WVU must win one of its final two regular season game. If they cannot beat Iowa State, then the Mountaineers should be able to get past a one-win Kansas.

    This should make for an interesting game between two former conference members who either left, or are leaving the Big East.  

Chick-Fil-a Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 31

    Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Clemson vs. Florida

    This year's Chick-Fil-A Bowl could easily be a BCS bowl game because of the talent that is on these teams. Clemson will finish the season as the ACC's second best team, while Florida will finish as the SEC's fifth best team.

    Both Clemson and Florida should come into these games off of losses in its final games, Clemson losing to South Carolina and Florida to Florida State. 

    That would entail that both teams would be looking to end its season on a positive note, instead of dropping a game to its in-state rival. 

Auto Zone Liberty Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 31

    Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Tulsa vs. Bowling Green

    In this year's Liberty Bowl the Conference-USA champion, Tulsa, should take on the eighth or ninth team from the SEC or Big East. But, because of poor performance from the bottom half of teams in these conferences, Tulsa will be in need of a competitor. 

    This is where Bowling Green of the MAC comes in. The Eagles have had a great year and should finish its regular season 8-4 record. Plus, with the game being played in Tennessee, it shouldn't be hard for fans of Bowling Green to travel from Ohio to the game. 

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 31

    Time: 12 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Duke vs. Vanderbilt

    This game should have an electric crowd as Vanderbilt will be a pseudo home team with the school and game both being in Nashville, Tennessee. For Duke, however, it shouldn't be that long of a trip for Blue Devil fans who want to make the trip from Durham, North Carolina to the game.

    With both teams being so close to the game, I expect these two teams to play in this year's Music City Bowl. 

Hyundai Sun Bowl

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    Date: Dec. 31

    Time: 2:00 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: North Carolina State vs. Washington

    The Sun Bowl features two fourth placed teams in the ACC and Pac-12. This year's game will feature the North Carolina State Wolf Pack going up against the Washington Huskies. 

    Both of these teams have had good seasons, as Washington has upset a number of ranked teams, like Stanford and USC. North Carolina State's signature win came at home against a then No. 3 Florida State Seminoles. 

Capital One Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 1

    Time: 1 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Michigan vs. LSU

    The Capital One Bowl will feature the top two teams in the Big Ten and SEC. Michigan will finish just outside of the Big Ten championship game, while LSU will be on the outside looking in to Georgia in a BCS bowl game. 

    The BCS at-large pickers should take Georgia over LSU due to how the teams played against common opponents. 

    Georgia handled Ole Miss and Auburn, while LSU struggled and Georgia beat Florida, while LSU lost to the Gators.

    With that being said, a LSU-Michigan matchup would be great to watch at home and in the stadium.

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 1

    Time: 12 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Minnesota vs. Mississippi State 

    In another SEC vs. Big Ten matchup we'll see Minnesota take on Mississippi State. Mississippi State will finish the regular season at sixth in the SEC standings, even with a 9-3 record. While Minnesota has the fortune of playing in the Big Ten where being 7-5 is good enough for the fourth best record.

    Mississippi State should be able to take care of an overmatched Minnesota in this bowl game. 

Outback Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 1

    Time: 1 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Northwestern vs. South Carolina 

    The Big Ten and SEC face off in its third New Year's Day Bowl Game as the No. 3 team from the Big Ten, Northwestern, takes on one of top teams from the SEC, South Carolina.

    Unlike the game before this one, the Gator Bowl, the Big Ten has a chance to sneak away with a victory. 

    Northwestern may have lost three games in 2012, but in each game the Wildcats had a lead in the fourth quarter. They could as easily be an undefeated team playing for the Big Ten championship, instead of the Outback Bowl. 

Heart of Dallas Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 1

    Time: 12 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: UTSA vs. Baylor

    This normally is a matchup between a member of the Big Ten and Big 12. However, the Big Ten has been in a down year and all of its members will already playing in bowls.

    The Big 12 on the other hand will be able to send a member, as once Baylor and its explosive offense beats Texas Tech in its final game will have six wins. With Baylor being so close to Dallas, and the University of Texas San Antonio also qualifying for a bowl game and being not that far off, these two teams should meet up in the Cotton Bowl. 

AT&T Cotton Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 4

    Time: 8 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Texas vs. Texas A&M

    The Cotton Bowl is in Cowboys Stadium and even that 100,000-plus seat stadium may not be able to contain the energy that these two teams will bring into the game. 

    The fan bases thought they were going to miss out on the annual meeting between these two rivals. However, with both teams playing so well, the Cotton Bowl has to select Texas A&M from the SEC to play the No. 2 team in the Big 12, Texas, in its bowl game. 

BBVA Compass Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 5

    Time: 12 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: San Jose State vs. LA-Monroe

    Just like a number of other bowl games this year, this one should have a member of the SEC going up against a member of the Big East or Conference-USA. But instead we'll see a member of the WAC going up against a member of the Sun Belt. 

    The game is played in Birmingham, Alabama, so the trip shouldn't be that far for LA-Monroe fans to make. 

    However, San Jose State will be chosen because they would have won nine games during the regular season.

GoDaddy.com Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 6

    Time: 9 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Toledo vs. LA-Lafayette

    In the final bowl game before the BCS championship game we'll get to see a member of the MAC, Toledo, take on a member of the Sun-Belt, LA-Lafayette. 

    LA-Lafayette almost took down the Florida Gators this season, while Toledo defeated Cincinnati and was ranked in the BCS for a week. 

The Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIO

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    Date: Jan. 1

    Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Nebraska vs. Stanford

    The first of the BCS bowl games will feature the champion of the Big Ten, Nebraska, going up against the champion of the Pac-12, Stanford.

    Stanford will win its regular season finale against UCLA setting up a rematch the following week for the Pac-12 championship. I don't expect the Bruins to be able to make up for the mistakes they'll make in its first meeting with the Cardinal. 

    While, Nebraska has too much talent to lose to a sub-par Wisconsin team in the Big Ten championship game. 

Discover Orange Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 1

    Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Louisville vs. Florida State 

    The Orange Bowl will feature the champions of the Big East, Louisville, going up against the champion of the ACC, Florida State. 

    FSU has already punched its ticket for the ACC title game where they will meet up with a lesser talented team from the ACC Coastal Division member. They should have no problems getting past whomever they will play in this game.

    Louisville passing attack should be enough to carry them past Rutgers in its final game of the regular season. 

Allstate Sugar Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 2

    Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Georgia vs. Oklahoma 

    This will be the first at-large BCS bowl game between two schools that did not win its conference. 

    Oklahoma's defense should carry the Sooners past its in-state rival Oklahoma State in the final game of the regular season. Because of its large fanbase the BCS committee should take Oklahoma as an at-large selection. 

    Georgia on the other hand will have to rely on its strength of wins against common opponents over fellow SEC teams: Florida, Texas A&M and LSU. 

    This is all dependent on if Georgia would lose to Alabama in the SEC championship game. 

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

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    Date: Jan. 3

    Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Kansas State vs. Oregon

    The funny thing about this bowl matchup is that for a week this was a potential BCS championship game. 

    Instead, it will be between the champion of the Big 12, Kansas State, going up against the at-large selection, Oregon. 

    Kansas State is undefeated at home this season, and with its final game of the season at home, and final game for quarterback Collin Klein, it will be enough of an emotional high for the Wildcats to get past the Texas Longhorns. 

    The win will give Kansas State the Big 12 title and a date in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon. 

Discover BCS National Championship Game

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    Date: Jan. 7

    Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

    Projected Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

    The BCS title game will be between two of the most storied schools in college football history, Notre Dame and Alabama. 

    Notre Dame has an easier path to the title game, as all they have to do is beat a struggling USC Trojans on the road. Once they do this, they will finish its regular season at 12-0, with no other games left on its schedule.

    Alabama should have no problem getting past Auburn in its regular season finale. However, the Crimson Tide will have its hands full with Georgia in the SEC championship game. Because of Alabama's physical secondary it will shut down Georgia's passing game. 

    Plus, Alabama has a steady hand at quarterback, as A.J. McCarron will play turnover free in the conference championship game, leading the Crimson Tide back to its second-straight BCS title game.