Bowl Predictions 2012: Complete Projections for Every Bowl Matchup
The final weekend of the college football regular season is now complete, and everybody can take a deep breath.
All of the bowl matchups are set, and the final BCS standings have been released.
There are no more bowl projections to announce; instead, it is time to start making some predictions on the matchups.
The first game is less than two weeks away, so let's break down each of the 35 bowl matchups.
Here is information, analysis and a prediction for every bowl game, from the New Mexico Bowl to the BCS National Championship.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. Arizona
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When: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
Nevada is only 7-5 but has played a very challenging schedule this season. The losses for the Wolf Pack have come to the likes of South Florida, San Diego State, Air Force, Fresno State and Boise State.
They have a very talented running back in Stefphon Jefferson. The junior has rushed for over 1,700 yards with 22 touchdowns.
Arizona is also 7-5 with most of its losses coming to very talented teams. In his first year as the head coach, Rich Rodriguez has done quite well, particularly on offense.
The Wildcats rank 17th in the country, averaging over 37 points a night. That could pose a huge threat to an average Nevada defense.
Prediction: Arizona 35, Nevada 27
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Utah State vs. Toledo
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When: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
For the first day of bowl games, this is a very good matchup. Both of these these teams have Top 25 talent, including some skill players that are very good.
Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is one of the best-kept secrets in the country. He helped Utah State win the WAC on its way to a 10-win season.
Toledo has won nine games and has knocked off some pretty stiff competition.
The Rockets are led by quarterback Terrance Owens and running back David Fluellen. Both missed the season finale against Akron, but they should be ready to go against Utah State.
This is going to be close, but there might be too much talent for the Aggies.
Prediction: Utah State 27, Toledo 21
Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State vs. BYU
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When: Thursday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
San Diego State is one of the hottest teams in the country. The Aztecs have won seven straight games and finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Mountain West Conference.
The Aztecs will have home-field advantage going for them in this one. They will also have a balanced offensive attack led by a strong running game. Sophomore Adam Muema has totaled 1,355 yards and 16 touchdowns this year.
That running game will be tested against a BYU defense that is one of the most stout in the nation. The Cougars are 7-5 and rank in the top 10 in the country in allowing less than 15 points a game.
BYU has lost to some very good teams and has beaten the ones they were supposed to. This could be close, but San Diego State has a little too much talent for the Cougars.
Prediction: San Diego State 24, BYU 17
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl: Central Florida vs. Ball State
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When: Friday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Central Florida fell just short of the Conference USA title, losing to Tulsa in overtime of the championship game.
The Knights rank in the top 30 nationally in both points scored and points allowed. This is a very complete team that is 9-4, with its losses coming to Ohio State, Missouri and Tulsa (twice).
They mix the run and the pass real well, but they will be taking on a Ball State squad that is one of the hottest teams in the country.
The Cardinals have won six straight, with their losses coming by way of Clemson, Kent State and Northern Illinois.
While Ball State does struggle a little bit on defense, they are the slightly better team than UCF and should come out victorious.
Prediction: Ball State 31, Central Florida 27
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
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When: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
At 8-4 and 7-1 in Conference USA, the Pirates are by far the third-best team in the conference. There are not many teams in the league hotter than East Carolina, as the Pirates have won three straight.
Louisiana-Lafayette has also won three games in a row and finished the season very strong. They can put some serious points on the board.
This one has the potential to be very high scoring, and it features two relatively evenly matched teams.
Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 34, East Carolina 30
Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Washington
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When: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
This is a very intriguing matchup, as these are two very talented teams.
The strength of both of these teams is its defense, particularly Boise State. The Broncos rank sixth in the country, allowing only 14.9 points a game.
Even though it was a down year, the Broncos are still sitting at 10-2, and the only losses have come at Michigan State and against San Diego State by a combined six points.
Washington started off the season slow, in large part because of a brutal schedule. After winning four straight, the Huskies lost their final game of the season to rival Washington State.
Quarterback Keith Price will be the key. If the Huskies can avoid the turnovers, they have a good shot at the upset.
Prediction: Boise State 21, Washington 20
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: SMU vs. Fresno State
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When: Monday, Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
SMU is one of five Conference USA teams to earn a bowl bid, and one of two to do it with wins at the end of the season.
The Mustangs finished the year with a huge win over Tulsa to become bowl eligible. They are certainly not one of the premier bowl teams and appear very overmatched against Fresno State.
The Bulldogs are 9-3 and have a lot of talent, particularly at the skill positions. That group is led by quarterback Derek Carr.
He is one of the best-kept secrets in America. The junior has passed for 3,742 yards with 36 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has six games with four or more touchdown passes.
The offense is averaging over 40 points a game, and the defense is not too bad either. This could get real ugly.
Prediction: Fresno State 41, SMU 20
Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky
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When: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Some people did not expect Central Michigan to qualify for the postseason after Pittsburgh won and Georgia Tech was ruled bowl eligible.
Western Kentucky was the other team many thought would be left out.
As it turns out, both are in. Central Michigan won its last two games to get the necessary six wins, while Western Kentucky has been solid all season with a 7-5 mark.
The Chippewas struggle on the defensive side of the ball, allowing over 33 points a game. That does not bode well.
The Hilltoppers do not do anything special. They just win games. That has been enough to get them this far.
This could be close and should be decided by turnovers.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 28, Central Michigan 27
Military Bowl: San Jose State vs. Bowling Green
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When: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN
San Jose State is one of the most talented teams in the country, and a lot of people do not know too much about them.
The Spartans are winners of six straight games, and at 10-2, they have only lost to Stanford by a field goal and Utah State. They rank in the top 30 nationally in both points allowed and points scored.
Bowling Green is 8-4 but has come on strong near the end, winning seven of its final eight games, with the only loss coming to Kent State.
The Falcons have one of the most stout defenses in the country, allowing less than 16 points a game, ranking ninth in the country.
These are two talented teams, but San Jose State is the slightly better of the two.
Prediction: San Jose State 24, Bowling Green 21
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Duke
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When: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Good thing the Duke Blue Devils became bowl eligible in the middle of October, because they have not won a game since.
Still, at 6-6, it is a very impressive season for the perennially weak program.
The defense has struggled most of the season for Duke, while the offense can put some points on the board.
Just the opposite is true for Cincinnati, as the defense of the Bearcats is a strong point. The group ranks in the top 15 in the country, allowing only 17 points a game. The offense has been solid for most of the year, averaging over 30 points a night.
Expect Cincinnati to have too much for Duke, even if the game is close by in Charlotte.
Prediction: Cincinnati 28, Duke 20
Holiday Bowl: Baylor vs. UCLA
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When: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 9:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
Baylor has been on a recent hot streak, winning three straight to finish the regular season 7-5.
The Bears do it with an offense that averages over 44 points a game, good for fifth in the country. They do struggle a little bit on the defensive end, allowing over 38 points a contest.
UCLA is a little different. The Bruins are 9-4, but they have played a fairly challenging schedule. The running game of UCLA, led by Johnathan Franklin, should have no trouble putting up yards against the Baylor defense.
If quarterback Brett Hundley can avoid turnovers, UCLA should be able to hold off Baylor in what promises to be an exciting Holiday Bowl. Maybe not quite as good as the Bears' bowl game a year ago, however.
Prediction: UCLA 42, Baylor 30
Independence Bowl: Louisiana-Monroe vs. Ohio
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When: Friday, Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
This is a battle of two evenly matched teams from conferences that were much better than originally anticipated this season. Their resumes are also very similar.
Both teams had signature wins this season. Louisiana-Monroe knocked off Arkansas in the season-opener, while Ohio beat Penn State.
They are each 8-4 overall, but they might be headed in opposite directions. After starting the season 7-0, the Bobcats have lost four of five.
Louisiana-Monroe, on the other hand, has won two straight and seven of nine. This is a very talented team that can hang around with nearly anybody in the country.
Expect the Warhawks to knock off Ohio in a close one.
Prediction: Louisiana-Monroe 28, Ohio 21
Russell Athletic Bowl: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
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When: Friday, Dec. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Rutgers was a field goal away from winning the Big East and going to a BCS bowl game. Instead, it will end up in a much lesser bowl against a 6-6 Virginia Tech team.
The Scarlet Knights have one of the premier defenses in the country. They struggle at times on offense. Quarterback Gary Nova is a turnover machine at times, and that has been the reason why Rutgers has lost the games it has.
Virginia Tech is one of the most disappointing teams in the country, but it did manage to win its final two games of the season to finish the year 6-6.
Quarterback Logan Thomas has not had a solid season, but he has the talent to explode at any time.
Rutgers will likely win the turnover battle and come out with a victory.
Prediction: Rutgers 16, Virginia Tech 13
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
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When: Friday, Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
Minnesota is one of the fortunate Big Ten teams, as the Gophers used a very weak schedule to win six games and qualify for a bowl game.
The Golden Gophers started the season strong, but they lost six of their final eight games. Despite that, they will still be going bowling.
Their opponent will be the struggling Texas Tech Red Raiders. At 7-5, Texas Tech has lost four of its past five games, with the only win during that time coming in overtime at home against Kansas.
This team is very capable of putting points on the board and should not have much trouble scoring against Minnesota.
This is another bowl game that could get ugly quickly.
Prediction: Texas Tech 38, Minnesota 17
Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs. Rice
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When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11:45 a.m. ET on ESPN
Air Force and Rice might be two of the weaker bowl teams, but at 6-6, both are both eligible.
It is no secret that Air Force loves to run the football. The Falcons went an entire game against Hawaii without throwing a single pass. They were second in the nation, averaging over 328 rushing yards a game.
They are led on offense by quarterback Connor Dietz and running back Cody Getz.
The Rice Owls are very hot. After starting the season 2-4, they came on strong, winning their final four games of the season to become bowl eligible.
They only played three teams all season with a winning record, and they were manhandled in each of those games.
It will be interesting to see how the Rice defense fares against the Air Force rushing attack. The Owls love to run the football as well, so it will be a battle of wills.
Expect a quick game that is extremely close.
Prediction: Air Force 24, Rice 21
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Navy vs. Arizona State
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When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN2
Navy still has the annual season finale remaining against Army, but it is already bowl eligible at 7-4. The Midshipmen love to run the football, and stopping that will be a tall task for Arizona State.
The Midshipmen average over 285 yards rushing a game, and they hardly ever pass the ball.
Arizona State has been solid all season on defense. The Sun Devils won their final two games of the season after four straight losses to finish the year 7-5.
The offense ranks in the top 25 nationally, averaging over 36 points a game. This looks to be another mismatch of sorts.
Prediction: Arizona State 35, Navy 14
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse vs. West Virginia
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When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN or ESPN2
In what is essentially the only northern bowl, two old Big East rivals will do battle as Syracuse takes on West Virginia.
The Mountaineers rebounded nicely to finish 7-5, winning their final two games of the season after a five-game losing streak in the middle of the year.
Geno Smith is still one of the best quarterbacks in the country despite the struggles of his team, and Tavon Austin is as explosive as any player in the country.
Syracuse also finished 7-5 and remembers how bad it beat West Virginia last season. The Orange will be looking to do the same in this one.
They have a very talented quarterback in Ryan Nassib, and this one is going to be very close. The Orange have been playing very well lately with wins over Louisville and Missouri late in the season.
It could go either way, but West Virginia might have too much in the end.
Prediction: West Virginia 31, Syracuse 28
Valero Alamo Bowl: Oregon State vs. Texas
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When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 6:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
This is a very interesting battle, as two talented defenses will take center stage.
Oregon State has been very consistent all season long and is allowing less than 20 points a contest.
Where the Beavers have struggled is on the offensive side of the ball, particularly with the run. They do love to throw the ball around and have put up some decent offensive numbers.
The key for Texas will be the quarterback situation. The Longhorns have struggled on and off this season, particularly against talented competition.
Offense has not been a problem for the Longhorns. They are averaging over 36 points a game, ranking 24th in the country.
That offense will be tested against a stout Oregon State defense.
Oregon State is very talented and might just have too much talent for Texas to contend with.
Prediction: Oregon State 21, Texas 17
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan State vs. TCU
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When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
Both TCU and Michigan State have had a few gut-wrenching losses this season, leading to disappointing campaigns.
At 6-6, the Spartans had to scrape and claw their way just to get to a bowl game.
No team has lost more close games than Michigan State, as the Spartans lost five conference games by a total of 13 points.
TCU, on the other hand, has had to deal with a few injuries and other issues, ultimately finishing 7-5.
The loss of quarterback Casey Pachall midway through the season has been costly, and injuries at the running back position have further complicated things.
These teams are equally matched. Expect a hard-fought defensive battle that will almost certainly come down to who wins the turnover battle.
Prediction: TCU 20, Michigan State 16
Music City Bowl: North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt
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When: Monday, Dec. 31 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
When was the last time a Vanderbilt football team won eight regular-season games? That is precisely what the Commodores did this season, and with six straight wins, they are playing excellent football.
Like many other teams in the SEC, they do it with defense. The group is only allowing 18 points a game.
Quarterback Jordan Rodgers has come a long way, and running back Zac Stacy has been consistent all season long. The emergence of wide receiver Jordan Matthews has been the difference on offense. He has gone over 110 yards in six of the final nine games of the season.
North Carolina State is 7-5 and has a premier win against Florida State. Senior quarterback Mike Glennon has had an up-and-down season, but he has as much talent as almost any quarterback in the country.
A win over Florida State shows North Carolina State has enough talent to play with anybody.
The Wolfpack have an explosive offense, but the Commodores and that stout defense will be too much.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 27, North Carolina State 13
Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. USC
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When: Monday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. ET on CBS
USC is without question the biggest disappointment of the season, and at 7-5, it is hard to imagine many fans getting too excited for this game.
The Trojans do have the best player in the country in wide receiver Marqise Lee. He is worth the price of admission all by himself.
There are many other weapons on the USC offense, and it is hard to imagine Georgia Tech being able to hang around too long.
Georgia Tech hardly deserves to be in this game at 6-7, but similar to UCLA last year, the Yellow Jackets were granted a waiver.
The Yellow Jackets will try to run the football with quarterback Tevin Washington and control the time of possession.
With that being said, USC is much more talented and should have no trouble dealing with Georgia Tech.
Prediction: USC 42, Georgia Tech 24
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Tulsa vs. Iowa State
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When: Monday, Dec. 31 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
With nine Big 12 teams going to bowl games, Iowa State moves over to the Liberty Bowl.
The Cyclones will take on Conference USA champion Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes defeated Central Florida in the Conference USA title game to get here.
At 6-6, Iowa State only won three conference games, but it did what it had to do to become bowl eligible. There is nothing that stands out about the Cyclones except they generally win the games they are supposed to.
Tulsa is 10-3 and has won 10 of its final 12. The loss in the season-opener came against Iowa State.
This is a rare bowl rematch, and the result should be similar to what we saw in the first game of the season.
Prediction: Iowa State 30, Tulsa 24
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Clemson vs. LSU
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When: Monday, Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
This is a battle of the Tigers, as well as two teams that were very close to qualifying for a BCS bowl game.
It is one of the more intriguing matchups of the bowl season. The powerful Clemson offense will go up against the ultra-talented LSU defense.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is one of the best in the country, and he has a lot of weapons, including running back Andre Ellington.
When Clemson passes the ball, wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins are one of the best duos in the nation.
The teams have identical 10-2 records.
LSU has been steady all season on defense, but quarterback Zach Mettenberger has improved in recent weeks. That has been the difference for LSU.
As the old saying goes, defense wins championship. Well, it also wins bowl games. The result here will be no different.
Prediction: LSU 24, Clemson 20
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Purdue
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When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPNU
This is looking like another potential blowout. The Big Ten will once again be overmatched, as the conference has teams playing in bowl games that do not belong (due to sanctions to Ohio State and Penn State).
Oklahoma State can put up points in a hurry. It is averaging nearly 45 a game, good for fourth in the country.
Purdue is only 6-6 and has already fired its head coach Danny Hope. It does not seem like Purdue is going to have its head in this one.
With that being said, the Boilermakers did win their final three games of the season to become bowl eligible and even received a New Year's Day bowl game.
That is where the fun stops. Go with Oklahoma State big here.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 40, Purdue 17
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
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When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2
These are two of the surprise teams in the country, and they will meet in a rare New Year's Day bowl game.
Northwestern won nine games this season, including some pretty impressive victories. The Wildcats have defeated the likes of Vanderbilt, Syracuse and Michigan State.
They love to run the football and rank 14th in the country, averaging nearly 231 yards rushing a game.
Mississippi State has lost four of its past five games, but it still finished the year 8-4 and in the middle of the pack in a talented SEC.
They have struggled mightily against talented competition, and Northwestern is just that. The Bulldogs are very solid on defense and will be able to hang around because of that defense.
This will be very close, but Northwestern is the more complete of the two teams.
Prediction: Northwestern 24, Mississippi State 21
Capital One Bowl: Georgia vs. Nebraska
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When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET on ABC
This is a battle between two teams that suffered heartbreak on Saturday.
Nebraska laid an egg against Wisconsin, as the Cornhuskers were dominated 70-31 in the Big Ten title game.
At 10-3, Nebraska had by far the best BCS resume of any bowl-eligible team from the Big Ten before the loss to Wisconsin.
Nobody thought that was going to happen, but it is not too much of a surprise; a collapse by the defense seemed imminent coming into the game.
Georgia was a few yards away from going to the national championship before falling 32-28 to Alabama.
There is a lot of talent, but Georgia is beatable and has struggled against top-level teams.
It will be interesting to see who recovers better from Saturday's devastation and can move on. The team who gets up for this bowl game will be the one to come out on top.
Prediction: Georgia 34, Nebraska 24
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina
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When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
Michigan might be the most talented team in the Big Ten with the exception of Ohio State, and it could give South Carolina fits in this one.
The Wolverines are only 8-4, but they have lost to some very talented teams, including Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Nebraska.
South Carolina has put together a 10-win season and has fared well in the absence of star running back Marcus Lattimore.
South Carolina is nearly as good as the top teams in the country that Michigan has lost to, and the Wolverines will likely have a hard time moving the football.
The defense for South Carolina will be the difference. The Gamecocks should be able to shut down the Wolverines offensive attack.
Prediction: South Carolina 24, Michigan 13
At&T Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M
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When: Friday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox
This is without question one of the most intriguing bowl games of them all.
Both teams enter 10-2, and each features one of the best quarterbacks in the entire country.
It will be a battle between Johnny Manziel and Landry Jones. Who would not want to tune in for that? These are certainly BCS-caliber teams going at it.
The entire country will be tuning in to see if Manziel can have one more outstanding game and lead his team to a dramatic victory.
Oklahoma will have to play a near-perfect game to hang around. The key will be whether or not Landry Jones can limit his turnovers.
This should be a fairly tight game, but Texas A&M is much more talented on the defensive side of the ball.
Prediction: Texas A&M 30, Oklahoma 17
BBVA Compass Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Pittsburgh
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When: Saturday, Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
Both of these teams won their final game of the season to become bowl eligible.
Ole Miss is certainly the more battle-tested of the two, but Pittsburgh has some talent at the skill positions.
The Panthers will need to limit their turnovers, and that has hurt them on more than one occasion this season.
The Rebels will have to try to keep Panthers running back Ray Graham in check. If they can do that, the game will be theirs to lose.
Even though Ole Miss does not do anything special on either side of the ball, the Rebels beat the teams they should, similar to what Iowa State has done this year.
Either way, this one is going to be very close and will likely come down to turnovers.
Prediction: Ole Miss 24, Pittsburgh 17
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Kent State
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When: Sunday, Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
Kent State was an overtime loss away from going to the Orange Bowl, but now it will have to settle for the GoDaddy.com Bowl against a solid Arkansas State team.
The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt with a convincing victory over Middle Tennessee in the season finale, and they have played a very challenging schedule.
They love to run the ball, and they score a lot of points doing it, averaging over 36 a game.
Kent State can also play a little bit. The Golden Flashes have some marquee wins. The running back combination off Dri Archer and Trayion Durham is one of the best in the country.
Archer is one of the most explosive players in the MAC, and Durham is a bull when the ball is in his hands.
How the team responds to the disappointment of not qualifying for the Orange Bowl will be the determining factor in this one.
Prediction: Kent State 30, Arkansas State 28
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
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When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN
Who would have expected the Wisconsin Badgers to be here? After finishing the regular season 7-5 and 4-4 in Big Ten play, the Badgers throttled Nebraska in the Big Ten title game.
Stanford, on the other hand, knocked off UCLA twice in the span of six days to get here.
The 11-2 Cardinal have defeated four ranked teams over the past four weeks, and they are solid on both sides of the ball right now, led by freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan.
Wisconsin will try to run the football down Stanford's throat. With Montee Ball and James White, Wisconsin has a running back combination that no other team in the country can match.
Throw in Melvin Gordon, and there are three guys with over 570 yards.
This one has all the makings of being extremely close.
Prediction: Stanford 28, Wisconsin 27
Orange Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State
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When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Florida State Seminoles managed to hold on for a 21-15 victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, and they will now take on Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl.
Florida State is the only FBS team in the country which ranks in the top 10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
Northern Illinois is the biggest surprise of them all. The Huskies defeated Kent State in the MAC title game and jumped up six spots to No. 15 in the BCS standings.
Since they are ahead of Louisville, that puts them here.
Superstar quarterback Jordan Lynch will get a chance to showcase his talents. He will certainly be fun to watch, but the Huskies will not have enough to hang with the Seminoles.
Prediction: Florida State 31, Northern Illinois 17
AllState Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Louisville
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When: Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
There is no question that Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would have loved a homecoming in the Orange Bowl in Miami.
That will not be the case, as the Cardinals were selected to take on Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Still, at 10-2, it was quite a season for Louisville. The Cardinals avoided disaster by beating Rutgers to win the Big East. A loss would have been three in a row to end the regular season.
The Gators have one of the top three defenses in the country, and Louisville is going to have a lot of trouble putting points on the board.
What Florida feasts on is turnovers. If the Cardinals want to stand a chance in this one, they are going to have to win that battle.
If Jeff Driskel plays well, this one will be over quick.
Bridgewater will need to have the game of his life for Louisville to have much of a shot here.
Prediction: Florida 24, Louisville 10
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Oregon
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When: Thursday, Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
These are two of the premier offenses in the country, and it will be all about points.
The team who has the ball last might be the team who is victorious when time runs out in this one.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is one of the best players in the country. He will need to score points nearly every time he has the ball.
The reason for that is the Oregon offense is as good as it gets.
With the running back duo of Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon scores, and it scores fast.
Will the Wildcats defense be able to slow that group down enough to stay in the game? It might take a turnover or two, but something tells me this is going to be close from start to finish.
Expect a lot of points and a game that could go either way.
Prediction: Oregon 45, Kansas State 37
BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Notre Dame
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When: Monday, Jan. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
The BCS National Championship will feature two of the premier football programs in all of college football. They are also two of the most hated.
Alabama narrowly squeaked by Georgia in the SEC title game to earn the spot in this game against the undefeated No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
This is a battle of the two best scoring defenses in the country. Notre Dame ranks No. 1, allowing 10.3 points a game, and Alabama is second, allowing 10.7 points a contest.
There is no question that whoever wins this game will likely win the battle up front. The talented Alabama offensive line will be going against a Notre Dame front seven that is the best in the country.
Expect a low-scoring defensive battle similar to what fans had to endure last year.
In the end, Alabama has too much talent and will repeat as national champions.
Prediction: Alabama 20, Notre Dame 10