10 Bold Predictions for 2012-13 College Football Bowl Season
With the college football bowl season set to begin in less than two weeks, it's prediction time.
But never mind those ordinary predictions. Anybody can make those. It's the bold predictions that count the most.
After all, in a season that has featured Stanford win the Pac-12, a freshman emerge as the likely winner of the Heisman and Notre Dame earn a berth in the national championship game, anything is possible.
So enough with predicting which team is going to win each matchup. Here are 10 bold predictions that should knock your socks off and keep you entertained before all of the fun begins.
1. Georgia Tech Rushes for More Than 300 Yards and Beats USC
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: Rushing for more than 300 yards in any game is quite an accomplishment. The defense has to be pretty bad, the opposing team has to have a great running game, and there needs to be a little luck involved.
Why This Will Happen: Have you seen USC play this year?
The Trojans' defense has allowed six teams to gain more than 400 total yards. That includes the Oregon game, when the Ducks dropped more than 700 yards on this team. It was enough to make defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin skip town and take his knowledge back to the NFL.
Simply put, the defense of USC is no bueno.
Georgia Tech, on the other hand, is committed to running the football. It actually averages more than 300 yards on the ground and was able to rush for 183 yards against a tough Florida State defense in the ACC Championship Game.
USC won't be thrilled to play this game whatsoever, and uninspired teams usually are used to mop the floor. This was a squad that expected to contend for a national championship, but is now playing in the Sun Bowl.
Expect an ugly game as Georgia Tech runs all over the Trojans, which is only going to add to a season of disappointment for USC.
2. Baylor and UCLA Top Last Year’s Record for Most Combined Points
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Note: This record is for a bowl game that ends in regulation.
Why This Is Bold: Remember the Washington and Baylor game from a year ago? Um, yeah, that is a lot of points.
Why This Will Happen: This has the look of another explosive game that will feature many fireworks. Baylor may not have Robert Griffin III anymore, but the Bears still produce a ton of points and their defense couldn't stop a runny nose.
With Baylor ranked 117th in points allowed, this plays right into the hands of UCLA's offense. The Bruins are averaging 35 points per game with one of the nation's most balanced attacks.
UCLA's defense is much better than Baylor's, but the Bears have an offense that hasn't been slowed down much this year. With Baylor's speedy wide receivers stretching the defense, this may be the UCLA defense's toughest test.
With these high-powered offenses, these teams could combine for 200 points. OK, maybe not that much, but they will surpass the 123 everybody saw last year in Baylor's 67-56 win.
3. Georgia Holds Nebraska to Its Lowest Rushing Total of the Season
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: Nebraska has the eighth-best rushing offense in the country, averaging more than 250 yards a game.
Why This Will Happen: Unfortunately for the Cornhuskers, we finally saw the Georgia Bulldogs play defense we all knew it was capable of in the SEC Championship Game. Players were flying to the football, limiting big plays and playing an inspiring brand of football.
I know they still allowed 350 rushing yards against Alabama, but it was the Crimson Tide. Almost any team in college football is going to eventually give in to Alabama's punishing running backs after having to bully your way through the Crimson Tide's powerful offensive linemen for 60 minutes.
Nebraska isn't nearly as physical as Alabama and does a lot of its running with quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Georgia may not be as ready for this bowl game as it was the conference championship. But there's no way Nebraska runs wild on the Bulldogs.
4. Denard Robinson Scores Four Touchdowns vs. South Carolina
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: Denard Robinson has been hurt the last few weeks and has had to watch Devin Gardner take over games at quarterback.
Why This Will Happen: It isn't known whether Robinson will be the starting quarterback or whether he will continue to be used more as a running back in this bowl game. I do know that head coach Brady Hoke has finally found the right way to use his playmaker, and it is paying off in a big way as of late.
Robinson has rushed for more than 200 yards combined in the last two games, and the Michigan offense has taken off as a result. With him taking more of a running back approach, Robinson has made plays with his legs. And there aren't many guys on defense who have the speed or athleticism to keep up with him.
This will be Robinson's last game for Michigan. The coaching staff will want him to go out with a bang. Look for him to get the ball as much as possible, as he will leave college football with a performance that fans won't soon forget.
5. Clemson Beats LSU in the Chick-Fil-a Bowl
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: LSU is an elite team in the SEC and features a defense that is made to shut down flashy offenses.
Why This Will Happen: Believe it or not, Clemson is a pretty good team. Despite not being talked about much this season, the Tigers did finish with a 10-2 record and averaged 42 points a game. The offensive weapons on this team are endless and should create problems for LSU.
If you think the defense of LSU is too good, well, Clemson did score 37 points against Florida State and racked up more than 300 yards against South Carolina. The overall speed and playmakers on this Clemson offense are not something LSU is used to seeing every day in the SEC. It could cause problems for a defense that hasn't been consistent throughout the year.
As for the Clemson defense, it is a unit that does scare me. However, LSU hasn't been a scoring machine against anybody on its schedule, which does give me hope that Dabo Swinney and company can pull off the upset.
6. Duke Wins a Bowl Game
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: Usually a team winning a bowl game is no big deal. However, Duke hasn't played in a bowl game since 1994 and hasn't won one since 1960. The curse will no longer continue for the Blue Devils.
Why This Will Happen: I'm not much of a believer in Cincinnati. Its quarterback situation is a mess. When teams aren't used to playing each other, quarterback play can be the difference between victory and defeat.
Duke has an experienced quarterback in Sean Renfree, who is completing better than 66 percent of his passes and has thrown for more than 2,700 yards. He should carve up a Bearcats secondary that has been shaky at times and will be the difference in the game.
The Blue Devils have lost five of their last six games. But this team will be ready to go and should bring home an important and rare bowl victory.
7. Oklahoma Beats Down Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: Johnny Manziel is the likely Heisman winner and has faced many tough defenses this season.
Why This Will Happen: Right now Manziel, who is on the verge of making college football history, is being treated like a king. But the hype and off-the-field distractions will begin to add up and will take their toll on the first-year player.
There is a long history of Heisman winners not performing well in bowl games, from Sam Bradford to Troy Smith to Reggie Bush, Jason White and Eric Crouch. The list goes on for players who have won the award.
I blame the media and everything that comes with winning the hardware.
Not to mention, Oklahoma has a solid team and the most experienced quarterback in the country in Landry Jones.
The honeymoon will soon be over for Manziel.
8. Mike Gundy Beats Purdue and Then Leaves for Tennessee
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: Mike Gundy has built Oklahoma State into the program it is today and actually went to school there. Although there were rumors he was interested in the Tennessee job, this ESPN.com report indicates that he isn't going anywhere. As for beating Purdue, well, that isn't part of the bold prediction.
Why This Will Happen: Gundy interviewed for the head coaching job at Tennessee and was actually offered the gig, according to reports. It doesn't matter what sources are saying now that he is going to stay true to his alma mater. The fact is, he was pondering leaving, which tells me that he isn't 100 percent happy at Oklahoma State.
Gundy has turned the Cowboys into a winning program and has proved to be one of the brighter offensive minds in college football. He is obviously looking for a challenge and it doesn't get much bigger than taking a coaching job in the SEC.
Tennessee hasn't experienced much success over the years, but it remains a quality program where you can succeed.
I have heard coaches say over and over that they aren't interested in a job. Guess what? They end up leaving for the same job that didn't interest them.
Gundy will be singing "Rocky Top" by the end of the month.
9. Notre Dame Holds Alabama to Fewer Than 150 Rushing Yards
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: Alabama is ranked 20th in the country in rushing and has an offensive line that is nearly unstoppable. Just ask SEC fans. They will be glad to talk your ear off for a couple of hours.
Why This Will Happen: Notre Dame has a run defense that is holding teams to 92 rushing yards a game. It faced talented running backs and massive offensive lines throughout the year and didn't budge.
The front seven of the Irish is truly as good as it gets. It includes a great combination of size and athleticism, led by Heisman finalist linebacker Monti Te'o. This defense is quick to the ball, sheds blocks well and is about as solid in tackling as it comes.
Notre Dame has only allowed eight runs of more than 20 yards and only two rushing touchdowns.
Yes, I know about Alabama's powerful running game, but we need to treat this Irish defense with the same respect.
10. Northern Illinois Knocks off Florida State
Dave Reginek/Getty Images
Why This Is Bold: Northern Illinois is the MAC champion, but only defeated one ranked team this season, topping Kent State in the conference championship game. Florida State's defense is ranked second in the country and should make this by far the most lopsided BCS bowl game.
Why This Will Happen: I love a big underdog and it doesn't get any bigger than picking the Huskies over the Seminoles. We have seen this many times throughout BCS history, where teams that aren't given a shot find a way to win. Utah wasn't supposed to beat Alabama, Kansas wasn't supposed to beat Virginia Tech and there was no way Boise State was going to beat Oklahoma.
They all happened.
All month long, Northern Illinois will hear how terrible it is and that it has no chance whatsoever. This will inspire the Huskies. Florida State has been inconsistent while Northern Illinois has been terrific on both sides of the ball by MAC standards.
I have been called crazy before, but I don't mind rolling the dice in this game.