Bowl Projections 2012: Favorites That Will Destroy Overmatched Opponents
Ostensibly, the bowl slotting system with bowl games is ostensibly meant to keep matchups as even as humanly possible. However, all it takes is one quick look at the schedule of games to see that isn't always the case.
Overwhelming talent disparities between teams and conferences come to the forefront during bowl season, and oddsmakers always adjust their lines accordingly. There may be massive upsets at times, but when the talent chasm is deep enough, the results go as planned for the most part.
To put it another way, sometimes a bowl matchup is preordained to be an obliteration from the beginning.
With that in mind, here is a look at favorites that will cover their spread and handily defeat their overmatched opponents.
(Note: Teams in italics are being chosen to cover the spread and all betting lines are courtesy of Vegas Insider.)
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Duke Blue Devils (+11)
Butch Jones' departure may be a massive red flag, but remember, Cincinnati is just four points away from playing in a BCS bowl game. The Bearcats went down to Louisville 34-31 in overtime on Oct. 26, a loss that ultimately cost them the Big East crown.
Since that loss, Brendon Kay has taken over the starting quarterback position and been mostly sensational in the role. Taking over for an ineffective Munchie Legaux, Kay threw for 966 yards and six touchdowns with just two interceptions, both of which came in a critical loss to Rutgers.
With the always underrated George Winn manning the backfield, Cincinnati has a balanced enough offense that it could compete in an elite bowl game.
Duke, on the other hand, is nowhere near BCS consideration. The Blue Devils have lost four straight games and only one loss has come by fewer than 18 points.
The wide receiver combination of Jamison Crowder and Conner Vernon will present big problems for the Bearcats secondary, but Duke's defense has given up 45.6 points per game over its past six games.
Even with a lame-duck coach, the Belk Bowl could get ugly quick.
Score Prediction: Cincinnati 38, Duke 17
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (-11)
Spurred by a passing offense that averages 361.9 yards per game, Texas Tech comes into its matchup against Minnesota as heavy favorites—and with good reason.
Minnesota made a bowl game essentially due to its cakewalk of a non-conference schedule. The Gophers' best opponent on their early-season slate was a Syracuse team that didn't round into form until the end of the season. In fact, the combined record of FBS teams Minnesota has beat this season is 21-40.
Texas Tech hasn't been a bastion of schedule strength either, but the team has been competitive against the heart of the Big 12 and has offensive firepower that Minnesota simply cannot match. The Gophers have scored over 20 points just once in their last nine games and have neither a 1,000-yard rusher nor passer this season.
Minnesota's strength is on defense. However, its offense simply cannot sustain drives, which should lead to beau-coup opportunities for Texas Tech.
Look for Raiders quarterback Seth Doege to finish his career in style, going over the 4,000-yard plateau for the second-consecutive season in an easy win.
Score Prediction: Texas Tech 42, Minnesota 13
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. USC Trojans (-10.5)
A late-season tailspin made the Trojans the first preseason No. 1 to finish outside the top 25 since Ole Miss in 1964 and is the reason one of the nation's most talented teams is slumming in the Sun Bowl.
Those struggles won't matter come New Year's Eve. USC is more talented in every facet of the game and should be extremely motivated to come out on top.
After missing out on his last chance to beat Notre Dame, quarterback Matt Barkley will want to finish his collegiate career in style. This will be the first bowl game that the senior quarterback has started since his freshman season, where he threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns in an Emerald Bowl victory over Boston College.
What's more, Lane Kiffin will certainly be pushing his team for perfection. Though he's expected back in 2013, a loss in a second-tier bowl against a team with seven losses may just put him back into the line of fire.
Georgia Tech's triple option offense may cause some problems on a weekly basis, but there's a reason the Yellow Jackets are 0-4 in bowl games under Paul Johnson.
USC prepares defensively, dominates offensively and comes away with an easy Sun Bowl win.
Score Prediction: USC 38, Georgia Tech 10
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