As the bowl season starts this Saturday, I will go and ahead and take a look at each game and make a prediction on the final outcome. I hope you enjoy reading and watching the bowls this December and early January.
New Mexico Bowl - Fresno State vs. Wyoming
Fresno State might be one of the more underrated teams from the non-BCS, as they played three close games with BCS conference teams—all on the road. Wyoming put together a solid season of 6-6 in the Mountain West, where 4-4 is respectable. This game will come down to when Fresno State has the ball. If Wyoming's solid defense can step up and stop the Bulldogs than they can pull it out. In the end, the Bulldogs down the Cowboys in the opening act of the bowl season.
Fresno State 31, Wyoming 24
St. Petersburg Bowl - Rutgers vs. UCF
The Scarlet Knights head to Florida coming off an inconsistent season. The Knights continue to build their program and have a big win over Houston to hang their hat on this season. Rutgers' offense can come and go depending on the opponent's defensive abilities. UCF's defense isn't good enough to keep the Scarlet Knights in check, who can be explosive at times. UCF though is a good enough to keep this interesting, but Rutgers should be good enough to come out on top.
Rutgers 27, UCF 17
New Orleans Bowl - Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee
Southern Miss came into the season with high expectations, but they hit some bumps in the road and in the end came away with a 7-5 record. The Blue Raiders lived up to and exceeded their expectations this year with an explosive offense that rolled through the Sun Belt, falling one game short of becoming league champs. This game will be all about offense, and the Blue Raiders escape the Bayou with a victory and a 10-win season under Rick Stockstill.
Middle Tennessee 34, Southern Miss 31
Las Vegas Bowl - Oregon State vs. BYU
An intriguing matchup down in Sin City pitting the Beavers and Cougars should be a bit of shootout. The Beavers put together another good year that feel just one win short of the Rose Bowl. The Cougars started the season with the huge win over Oklahoma, and had people thinking of crashing the BCS. The rest of the season went well, but the defense was the difference between a trip to Vegas and a trip to a BCS bowl. That will be the difference, as a balanced Beaver offense will exploit the Cougar's D.
Oregon State 31, BYU 24
Poinsettia Bowl - Utah vs. California
Another matchup pitting the Pac-10 and the Mountain West will be another opportunity for conference bragging rights. The Utes were pretty consistent all year, losing to lose ranked ahead and beating who they were supposed to—all based on a balanced product. The Golden Bears were an enigma as usual as they gave flashes of being one of the top teams, while falling flat on their face at other times. The loss of Javid Best to injury was disappointing and could have fueled that. This should be a real close matchup that comes down to the final quarter.
Utah 31, Cal 28
Hawaii Bowl - Nevada vs. SMU
The Wolfpack have had a very good year led by their explosive offensive running attack. SMU also had a promising season, as they have clinched a winning record. The difference in this one will come down to the Mustang's ability to stop the three-headed rushing attack of Nevada. The Mustangs have had trouble stopping the better offenses this year and that won't change in this one.
Nevada 38, SMU 24
Little Caesar's Bowl - Marshall vs. Ohio
To the average college football fan, this matchup looks like one of the least intriguing of the bowl season. On the other hand, the game features two passionate fan bases who are excited to return to a bowl game. Ohio fell 10 points short of the MAC Championship against a very solid Central Michigan team. Marshall managed to gain bowl status with six wins in CUSA. Ohio appears to have the advantage in this one, but the regional battle of green should be a good game.
Ohio 27, Marshall 20
Mieneke Car Care Bowl - Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina
Early word from most out there is that this will be an easy win for the Panthers of Pittsburgh. I quickly disagree, Pittsburgh played one of the easiest schedules this year, and eventually feel to an O.K. West Virginia team and an overrated Cincinnati at home. Don't forget the road loss to an awful NC State team out of conference. North Carolina is very inconsistent on offense, but defensively are just as good as Pitt, if not better. This game will be a great defensive battle.
Pittsburgh 20, UNC 17
Emerald Bowl - Boston College vs. Southern California
Boston College somehow managed to pull eight wins out of nowhere again this year with a disciplined and tough team. USC finally managed to slip up and miss out on a BCS bowl, but still the talent and speed advantage in this game is tough to ignore. BC put together some terrible offensive performances against solid defenses on the road at Clemson and Virginia Tech. This will practically be a true road game for the Eagles and the chances they fair well are slim.
USC 31, BC 10
Music City Bowl - Clemson vs. Kentucky
The Wildcats had another year under the radar where they managed seven wins again and earned yet another trip the Music City Bowl. The Wildcats have a great history of winning the bowl games under coach Brooks. The Tigers have been tough to judge under first year head coach Dabo Swinney. They have showed the ability to be dominant on both sides of the ball, but haven't put it together the whole year.
The Wildcats will be a very good opponent for the Tigers and it should be a close game because the Tigers are down after losing their last two. Once again C.J. Spiller comes up with the big plays and shows why he should have been in New York for the Heisman presentation.
Clemson 24, Kentucky 17
Independence Bowl - Texas A&M vs. Georgia
This matchup will pit two teams that are coming off inconsistent seasons and are heading in two different directions. The Bulldogs offense will likely be good enough to roam the field at will against a poor Aggie defense. The Aggies do have a mobile star quarterback capable of scoring in bunches. The difference in this one is the fact that Georgia is more talented on both sides of the ball, and Mark Richt will have this team ready to finish the season the right way coming off the upset of cross-state rival Georgia Tech.
Georgia 34, Texas A&M 20
Eagle Bank Bowl - UCLA vs. Temple
The coaching done by Al Golden at Temple is very impressive as the Owls won nine games this season for the first time in a long time. UCLA started the season hot and looked like they might be really good before falling into a tailspin that almost ended in them not reaching a bowl game. The Bruins will be traveling all the way across the country to play in the less than impressive RFK in the cold. They have already made the impressive trip across the country to upset the Vols and can do it again here.
UCLA 27, Temple 21
Champs Sports Bowl - Miami vs. Wisconsin
This game might be another nightmare for Wisconsin as they make the return trip to the same bowl that they got destroyed in by a fellow ACC Florida based team in FSU. The Hurricanes are close to breaking out and being a dominant team again and this game should get them to the 10-win mark for the first time in a few years.
Next year should be even better for the Canes, while the Badgers come into this game as one of the least impressive Top 25 teams of the season as they feasted on an easy non conference schedule. The Canes still have some holes on defense which should keep this one close.
Miami 24, Wisconsin 21
Humanitarian Bowl - Idaho vs. Bowling Green
Idaho was one of the worst division one teams last year but completely turned it around this year with a healthy offensive attack. Bowling Green will have a long trip to Boise in this one, but Idaho being a short trek from Moscow shouldn't help either. Despite all this Bowling Green is the hot team and Idaho has faltered down the stretch.
Bowling Green 31, Idaho 27
Holiday Bowl - Arizona vs. Nebraska
Both teams hang their hats on the defensive side of the ball this year, as both came close to crashing the parties of the conference champs. Arizona has continued to improve under coach Stoops and should feel more at home in San Diego.
The Nebraska defensive effort put forth during the Big 12 championship was one of the best I've ever seen and DT Suh deserved every bit of respect he earned that day. The Cornhuskers might be coming off the very tough loss, and Arizona off the big win over USC, but Nebraska should pull this one out.
Nebraska 16, Arizona 14
Armed Forces Bowl - Houston vs. Air Force
The high flying passing offense of Houston has pulled off alot of victories this season, but on the other hand a little defense might have gone a long way. Despite victories over two Big 12 South opponents, it appears in the end Houston wasn't ready to play with the big boys quite yet. Air Force was a team that narrowly lost alot of game against good teams. All 5 loses were to quality teams and most very close. The Air Force defense should pose a problem for Houston, but it'll all come down to turnovers for the Cougars.
Houston 38, Air Force 35
Sun Bowl - Oklahoma vs. Stanford
This was definitely not a matchup many expected at the beginning of the year, as Oklahoma's National Championship hopes were doomed, while Stanford stepped up and surprised a lot of people. Oklahoma has relied on defense all year as their top play makers have gone down. On the other side, Stanford has a healthy dose of offense anchored by fullback-looking Toby Gerhart. This game will come down to that matchup, as Oklahoma's offense will be able to step up to the competition.
Oklahoma 34, Stanford 24
Texas Bowl - Missouri vs. Navy
This matchup should be another high scoring matchup because of Missouri's proficiencies on that side of the ball and inabilities on the other side. Navy is a tough team to tag on any particular day because it comes down to stopping the option. If Missouri can stop the option at all, they should be victorious, but that's no easy feat. Teams like Ohio State can tell you that. Expect this Missouri to have their share of problems stopping the Navy offense, but to come out on top in a close game.
Missouri 31, Navy 27
Insight Bowl - Minnesota vs. Iowa State
This particular bowl game might be the best chance for the Big Ten to become victorious during bowl season. The Cyclones deserve alot of credit for finding six wins on the schedule this year, especially after combining for four wins the last two years under now Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. The Golden Gophers had an inconsistent season but ended in the middle of a big pack of teams in the Big 10. Expect more defense than offense in this one, with the Gophers coming out on top.
Minnesota 20, Iowa State 10
Chick Fil A Peach Bowl - Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee
The final game of 2009 should be a great battle of a couple of very talented defensive teams. Both squads have found offense on occasion this year but the defense is the season for racking up the wins for each team.
The Vols can consider their first season under Lane Kiffin a success, while the Hokies are disappointed after climbing as high as No. 4 in the rankings this year. The Hokies and Vols are surprisingly evenly matched squads that should put on a show in a packed Georgia Dome. The difference will be turnovers and special teams where Virginia Tech does it better than anyone else, giving a dose of Beamer Ball to Lane Kiffin and the Vols.
Virginia Tech 23, Tennessee 17
Outback Bowl - Auburn vs. Northwestern
The bowl season always puts together some surprising matchups and this is definitely one of them. The Tigers started the season hot and looked like a big success under a new offense, but after a 2-5 finish the enthusiasm has tailed off a bit. Northwestern looked destined for another six or seven win season, but with some big wins down the stretch, most notably the slaying of undefeated Iowa, the Wildcats reached 8-4. The Wildcats and Tigers both boast very potent offenses, although with some problems on the other side of the ball. Expect fireworks from both offenses, but in the end the Tigers will come out on top as there defense make more plays.
Auburn 34, Northwestern 24
Capital One Bowl - Penn State vs. LSU
A very fund matchup of two legendary program should offer the fans in the Citrus a nice treat on New Years Day. The Tigers have shown inconsistencies throughout the year as they didn't quite live up to expectations in Baton Rouge. The Nittany Lions came into the year with title hopes as well, and ultimately fell short. LSU comes to play in bowl games under Les Miles, and expect this year to be no different as they take down a Penn State squad with no real quality wins all year.
LSU 21, Penn State 13
Gator Bowl - West Virginia vs. Florida State
The final curtain call for legendary coach Bobby Bowden will take place against his former employer, the Mountaineers. It didn't come without controversy as the Gator Bowl bended the rules and shunned a couple of other teams from the ACC that deserved to be in Jacksonville instead. Despite that, Bowden deserves to go out on top and is one of the nicest and classiest men ever to coach.
In terms of the game, the Seminoles will come in without star quarterback Christain Ponder, who was lost for the season to injury. The Noles have a great offense but it will be tough to run effectively with a freshman back there. The Mountaineers should have no problem moving the ball against the terrible Seminole defense, but don't expect a blowout.
West Virginia 38, Florida State 31
Rose Bowl - Ohio State vs. Oregon
The first BCS bowl game will feature a new matchup out in Pasadena after years of USC beating up on Big Ten teams. The Ducks come into this game off a year where the Chip Kelly offense really worked some magic. After falling in their first game to Boise State, the offense came alive and powered them to win 10 of the next 11.
Ohio State had a ten win season in which they lost a couple games to mediocre teams, while still managing to beat all of their better Big Ten counterparts. OSU features a team that relies more on defense and Oregon is the exact opposite. The Buckeyes offense will be able to score enough in this game, but they have struggled against option based offenses in the past and Oregon comes out on top because of it.
Oregon 35, Ohio State 28
Sugar Bowl - Cincinnati vs. Florida
The same night the second BCS bowl will take place down in New Orleans as a couple of teams with interesting issues arrive to square off. The Bearcats arrive coming off a great 12-0 season, but now stroll into New Orleans without the coach that led them there.
On the other hand, the Gators are coming off there first loss in a long time, and in the grand finale for alot of seniors it'll be tough to rebound with the NFL in plain sight. The Gators possess more talent on both sides of the ball and are going to be by far the best team the Bearcats have played all year. The Bearcats might come in more motivated, but talent wins out in this one as the Gators end Cincinnati's perfect season.
Florida 31, Cincinnati 21
International Bowl - South Florida vs. Northern Illinois
The Bulls come into the game after struggling down the stretch of their schedule, but they will be facing off against a middle of the pack MAC conference team. Northern Illinois comes off a successful season in which they won seven games. The Huskies beat Purdue and also came up just short against a solid Wisconsin team—both on the road.
The Bulls and Huskies will both be making a strange and long trip up to Canada for the International Bowl, the question is will it cause any effects for either team. South Florida has a good defense and a good enough offense to come out on top.
South Florida 27, Northern Illinois 17
Papa John's.com Bowl - UConn vs. South Carolina
The Huskies had an emotional season that led them to seven wins and this opportunity against an SEC school. UConn had alot of close games this year against some solid Big East competition but came up short in the biggest games. The Gamecocks continue to start fast and fade as the season goes on. They did manage to beat rival Clemson in the final game to come into the game feeling good. The Gamecock defense is very good and should be able to stop up a pesky UConn team.
South Carolina 24, UConn 14
Cotton Bowl- Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss
Ole Miss returns to the Cotton Bowl for a second straight season to face off with a high-powered Big 12 offense. The Rebels feature a very good defense and an offense that has been inconsistent all year. The Cowboys came in with high expectations as well but finished up by faltering to their in-state rival as well. The game feature two teams that have had injuries falter championship hopes throughout the year and will be hungry to finish on a good note. The Rebels can find ways to score against an O.K. Cowboys defense, but the Cowboys might be surprised with how good the Rebels are defensively.
Ole Miss 23, Oklahoma State 20
Liberty Bowl - Arkansas vs. East Carolina
The Razorbacks had a great season under Bobby Petrino as they moved one step closer to being back in the elite of the SEC. Quarterback Ryan Mallet has showed flashes of being the best QB in the country and next year should be even better. The Pirates of ECU have continued their success as well under coach Skip Holtz. Another nine wins this year and a CUSA title has them primed to take a shot at a BCS conference power. This game should be a good one, but the explosiveness of the Razorback offense is enough to offset the experienced ECU defense.
Arkansas 29, ECU 20
Alamo Bowl- Michigan State vs. Texas Tech
The Red Raider offense that has been churning for years just keeps on going. While Texas Tech is not a good as last year, and the defense is still very shaky, the Raiders are still winning games and succeeding at high levels. The Spartans of Michigan State had a rough start to the year, and rallied to win seven games. The Spartans defense isn't great and could have big problems traveling down to Texas and stopping the Red Raider offense. Expect another Texas shootout with the Red Raiders coming out on top.
Texas Tech 38, Michigan State 27
Fiesta Bowl - Boise State vs. TCU
The Broncos finished another season undefeated but once again came at the expense of only one quality win. You can debate whether or not that was a fluke or not, but you can't deny the fact the Broncos struggled to beat bad WAC teams the rest of the way. The Horned Frogs beat three Top 25 teams this year, two on the road and blew out about every team in there way. They only had one close game all year—on the road at Clemson—all while leading the nation in defense and showing a lot on offense, too. TCU beat the Broncos last year in the Poinsettia bowl and is much-improved this year.
TCU 31, Boise State 16
Orange Bowl - Georgia Tech vs. Iowa
The Yellow Jackets continued to improve under the triple options offense of Paul Johnson this year. The Jackets offense can be practically unstoppable at times, but their defense has been a liability all year. The Hawkeyes strung together alot of wins before finally falling twice down the stretch. They could get their QB Stanzi back for this one, but it might not be enough to overcome the impressive Georgia Tech offense.
Georgia Tech 31, Iowa 27
GMAC Bowl - Central Michigan vs. Troy
The second to last bowl game of the year will feature the conference champs from the MAC and the Sun Belt. Both teams feature talented offenses that can exploit each others defenses. Central Michigan has more firepower, but are losing their coach to Cincinnati, again. It should be a nice warm up for the big game in Pasadena.
Central Michigan 31, Troy 30
BCS National Championship- Alabama vs. Texas
So its the grand finale and its the best two teams in the country goin at it. The Crimson Tide have an amazing defense that shut down everyone all year, including the Gators in the SEC Championship. The Longhorns escaped Nebraska, but they too have a great defense.
This game should be a battle of the defenses and if it is anything like the last National Championship in the Rose Bowl, then we'll be in for a treat. The Tide's offense has been inconsistent all year and the game will come down to if they play like they did against Florida, or like they did against Tennessee. They play well enough and win a close one over the Longhorns, who won't find the magic like Vince Young again.
Alabama 20, Texas 17
Records By Conference:
BIG 10: 1-6
BIG 12: 4-4
BIG East: 5-1
PAC TEN: 4-3
Sun Belt: 1-1