Bowl Games 2012: Predicting Biggest Upsets During Bowl Season

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 01: James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a fourth quarter touchdown with teammates while playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 1, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Wisconsin won the game 70-31. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The reason bowl season is regarded as the most wonderful time of the year is because of all the upsets, or potential upsets, that we will see. 

In fact, we all tune in with the hopes of seeing an upset. We remember Boise State defeating Oklahoma in one of the greatest games ever played. We remember Utah knocking off the mighty Alabama team in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. 

With 35 bowl games taking place over the span of three weeks, the upsets will come fast and furious. Here are the looming upsets that will remind us why we love to watch the bowl games. 


Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Stanford

Stanford was supposed to take a huge step back after losing Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck to the NFL in consecutive seasons. Instead, the Cardinal are making their third straight appearance in a BCS game. 

Wisconsin is always at the top of the Big Ten standings but had to squeeze into the conference title game thanks to Ohio State and Penn State being on probation. The Badgers silenced their critics with one of the most impressive offensive displays you will ever see against Nebraska in a 70-31 victory. 

Yes, that was just one game against a Nebraska team that has had defensive issues and big-game problems all year. But still, 70 points in a game against a Top 25 team is impressive. 

What gives the Badgers the edge in this game is their prowess on the ground. Neither team is known for lighting up the scoreboard, so you have to find the advantage in the little things. 

Stanford and Wisconsin are near the bottom of the rankings in passing this season. The Cardinal are 51st running the ball; Wisconsin is 12th. 

Losing Bret Bielema to Arkansas might have some impact on the way Wisconsin plays—I always think of Brian Kelly leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame and the Bearcats getting destroyed by Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

After a slow start this season, Montee Ball is having an incredible run, no pun intended, to close out his college career. He has run for at least 160 yards in five of the last seven games and scored 13 touchdowns in that span. 

I don't expect a lot of points, but if I am betting on an offense in this game, it would be Wisconsin's. 

Wisconsin 17, Stanford 14 Bowl: No. 25 Kent State vs. Arkansas State

The inclusion of Northern Illinois in the BCS made Kent State one of the biggest talking points when the bowl games were announced. 

No one is talking about Arkansas State, not even people in the team's own state, because Arkansas just hired Bret Bielema. This is a really good, balanced team that can play with a lot of teams in the country. 

The Red Wolves did get humbled in the season opener against Oregon and struggled against Nebraska two weeks later, but everything else on the schedule was spotless for them. They weren't playing elite competition, so we need to keep some things in perspective. 

That said, Arkansas State's losses look a lot better than Kent State's 33-point thrashing at the hands of a Kentucky team that won two games. At least Arkansas State challenged itself with big-time competition, even if it didn't pan out. 

Even though Kent State is nationally ranked, this game should easily go in Arkansas State's favor. 

Arkansas State 34, Kent State 14


BCS Championship Game: No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama

This pick needs a little explanation, I know, because it is hard to call a game between the two best teams in the country a potential upset, no matter which direction it goes. 

However, if you are looking at the current odds being put out for this game, Alabama should destroy Notre Dame. According to Vegas Insider, the Crimson Tide are a 9.5-point favorite in this game. 

Looking at a line like that, I wonder if people believe Alabama is just that good or if Notre Dame isn't as good as its record shows. 

If you think Alabama is that good, you are basing it off the reputation Nick Saban has built the last four years. But this is a different team, loaded with younger players who haven't been on this stage before. 

The Fighting Irish haven't been in the national title picture in over 20 years, so it's not like they are experts at this. However, we should not be so quick to dismiss their chances in this game. 

We praise Alabama for making it through the SEC all the time, yet Notre Dame beat three teams that finished in the Top 25 of the BCS. The Fighting Irish had the top scoring defense in the country and held 11 of 12 opponents under 20 points. 

Even if Alabama wins, there is no way it is by 9.5 points. But I don't see Notre Dame losing. This team has dealt with skepticism all season from fans and analysts. Who will be laughing when the Irish are smiling after the BCS Championship?

Notre Dame 17, Alabama 13