Buell's Eye: Bowl Season Predictions
Perhaps more than ever, this year's Bowl Season provides us with so many possibilities and story lines.
The Florida Gator reign is over.
A new National Champion will be crowned.
A coaching legend will roam the sidelines for the final game of his career.
And, at least two teams, with the possibility of a third, will inevitably finish the season with a flawless, undefeated, perfect record.
I take a 219-59 record into the Bowls with me, while calling several upsets along the way.
Let's go Bowl-ing!
New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4) vs. Wyoming Cowboys (6-6)
Dec. 19: A miraculous last-second, offensive lineman's catch heading into the endzone off of a deflected pass led Fresno State to a victory in their final regular season game.
That momentum leads them into battle against the Wyoming Cowboys in the New Mexico Bowl.
They emerge victorious 31-23.
St. Petersburg Bowl: UCF Knights (8-4) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-4)
Dec. 19: In the battle for Medieval Times, otherwise known as the St. Petersburg Bowl, armor clashes, helmets are gouged, turf is trampled, and the countrymen rejoice.
The Knights in Scarlet, however, are too much for the Knights from Central Florida, overtaking them in this match 34-17.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (7-5) vs. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (9-3)
Dec. 20: These may be two teams that you aren't all that familiar with, but make no mistake, they come to play, and they'll be ready for each other.
Trying to add to a terrific season, the Blue Raiders put their good record on the line but come up short as the Golden Eagles take this one 30-17.
Maaco Las Vegas Bowl: No. 18 Oregon State Beavers (8-4) vs. No. 14 Brigham Young Cougars (10-2)
Dec. 22: Oregon State was impressive as they came up just short against the Rose Bowl-bound Oregon Ducks, their intrastate rival in the recent classic and traditional "Civil War."
Meanwhile, Brigham Young's lack of challenges this season has led to a lofty 10-2 record, but will pave the way to their demise, as well.
The Beavers outscore the Cougars 41-33.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: No. 23 Utah Utes (9-3) vs. California Golden Bears (8-4)
Dec. 23: Say that Bowl name five times fast.
You'll be able to do it, but you'll wear yourself out in the process.
I picked this particular caption of California's RB Jahvid Best because he's returning to the playing field for the first time since this horrific, concussion-suffering incident.
And, anyone that can lead his team to a win in a Bowl game after an injury like that deserves recognition.
California upsets No. 23 Utah, who is enjoying another impressive year, 34-27.
Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl: Nevada Wolf Pack (8-4) vs. Southern Methodist Mustangs (7-5)
Dec. 24: After some well-speculated hype that Nevada would have something for Boise State a few weeks back, they really didn't.
Nevada should prove to be the dominant team in their Bowl game against SMU, however, and take the victory 28-17.
Little Caesars Bowl: Marshall Thundering Herd (6-6) vs. Ohio Bobcats (9-4)
Dec. 26: If I follow College Football closely, (and I like to think that I do), I honestly can't remember Marshall University being anywhere close to relevant since when QB Byron Leftwich took the snaps behind center.
He's played for about half of the NFL teams already so I'm thinking it has been long enough.
Now, the Thundering Herd have a new coach and they are in a Bowl game against the Bobcats from the great state of Ohio.
In case you were wondering, that new coach's name is "Doc" Holiday.
I really don't think you pick against a man with that name, so I'll be taking Marshall to win this one 20-17.
Meineke Car Care Bowl: No. 17 Pittsburgh Panthers (9-3) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4)
Dec. 26: Anyone else catch that Big East Conference finale between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati?
And, I know that North Carolina has a stellar defense, but there is no way that they are going to be able to shut down the Panther's freshman phenom RB Dion Lewis, or outscore him, for that matter.
Pittsburgh beats North Carolina 31-20.
Emerald Bowl: Boston College Eagles (8-4) vs. No. 24 USC Trojans (8-4)
Dec. 26: This certainly isn't the Bowl game that Head Coach Pete Carroll envisioned his USC team playing in, but everyone else in the country loves to see the mighty Trojans fall.
However, despite everyone's wishes, a fifth loss in 2009 isn't in store for USC.
They take on Boston College in a game that could easily be considered "home field advantage."
USC wins 28-24.
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl: Kentucky Wildcats (7-5) vs. Clemson Tigers (8-5)
Dec. 27: The Wildcats are getting pretty accustomed to this Bowl, and they definitely play with a lot of heart.
But, Clemson has C.J. Spiller.
Arguably, Spiller could have been sitting in New York with consideration for the Heisman Trophy, but 5 losses normally can hurt the chances of your name being called, or obviously, even nominated.
However, Spiller has a Heisman-like performance in this one as he leads the Tigers to a win over the Wildcats 34-24.
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl: Texas A&M Aggies (6-6) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (7-5)
Dec. 28: I don't know about you, but I know when I think of "Independence", I think about "Advocare V100."
Despite the profound Bowl name, I love this match-up.
The Aggies vs. the Bulldogs; two classic teams laying it all on the line.
In one of the best Bowl games of the season, Georgia wins a close one over A&M 34-31.
Eagle Bank Bowl: UCLA Bruins (6-6) vs. Temple Owls (9-3)
Dec. 29: This is where I give kudos to Temple for their appearance in a Bowl game.
Really, it's great.
However, that's the only place.
Even though UCLA is only 6-6, there is absolutely no way I can pick the Temple Owls to beat the Bruins on the football field.
UCLA defeats Temple 23-17.
Champs Sports Bowl: No. 15 Miami Hurricanes (9-3) vs. No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers (9-3)
Dec. 29: This is kind of like a home game for Miami, meanwhile Bucky the Badger is a long way from home, himself.
The U's QB Jacory Harris shines in this one, giving Hurricane fans everywhere a bright hope for 2010.
Miami takes down Wisconsin 27-14.
Roady's Humanitarian Bowl: Bowling Green Falcons (7-5) vs. Idaho Vandals (7-5)
Dec. 30: Not exactly the most fascinating match-up in the world, is it?
Well, somebody will be watching, though, and that somebody will most likely be me.
As I pay the bills and clean the house with the play-by-play blasting from this game on my television, preparing for the much more intriguing Bowl game being played later that night, (see next slide), Bowling Green goes on to beat Idaho 27-21, and all the countrymen rejoice.
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: No. 20 Arizona Wildcats (8-4) vs. No. 22 Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-4)
Dec. 30: The man you're seeing on your computer screen right now scares me.
I mean, for the first time since Ray Lewis. Seriously.
He almost stole the Big XII from Colt McCoy.
He almost led his team to a BCS Bowl.
He was the first defensive player nominated in the Heisman Trophy consideration in over a decade.
And, I don't know how they do it, but this Holiday Bowl seems to have one of the best slated games each and every year.
Nebraska takes on Arizona, and Ndamakong Shu leads the Cornhuskers to a Bowl victory 21-20.
Watch out, NFL QB's.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Houston Cougars (10-3) vs. Air Force Falcons (7-5)
Dec. 31: Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of the "Armed Forces", I actually DO think about "helicopters"!
Hooray for Bowl names that make sense, and hooray for high-powered offenses!
Case Keenum had a tremendous season at the helm for Houston and hopes to end the year on a high note against Air Force.
It'd be only right for one of the branches of the Armed Forces to win this one, but Mr. Keenum ruins that as he passes for over 500 yards, again, in a 42-34 defeat of the Falcons.
Brut Sun Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners (7-5) vs. No. 21 Stanford Cardinal (8-4)
Dec. 31: A much-maligned, injury-plagued, underacheiving season for the Oklahoma Sooners is almost, and finally, over.
To finish it off, how about a healthy dose of Heisman Trophy runner-up RB from Stanford, Toby Gerhart, to add insult to injury?
Well, that's the medicine prescribed by the Dr.'s from the BCS, (specializing in mental insanity, evidently), as Gerhart shreds the Oklahoma defense in a 37-24 Cardinal victory.
Texas Bowl: Navy Midshipmen (9-4) vs. Missouri Tigers (8-4)
Dec. 31: No, there's nothing quite like a "Texas Bowl" where neither team playing in the game is actually from Texas.
But, I've heard that Missouri is close.
Speaking of Missouri, they defeat the Navy Midshipmen in this one 24-17.
Insight Bowl: Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (6-6)
Dec. 31: These two teams could play 100 times and they'd probably still break even.
Don't expect a lot of thrills in this one, as I have the final score 14-10 and one of the two punters receiving the game ball.
The Gophers withstand the Cyclones by 4.
Chick-fil-a Bowl: No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3) vs Tennessee Volunteers (7-5)
Dec. 31: My favorite fast-food joint is affiliated with one of the best Bowl games of the season.
As I "eat more chicken," Tennessee tries to eat more Hokie, and they do a pretty good job of it.
Beamer-Ball outlasts a terrific, Kiffin-led upset bid, however, in a classic 36-33 showdown.
Outback Bowl: Northwestern Wildcats (8-4) vs. Auburn Tigers (7-5)
Jan. 1: In the first football game of 2010, we have a catfight.
The Wildcats from Northwestern square off against the Tigers from Auburn.
Both teams have had their upset bids in recent weeks, as Northwestern handed Iowa their first loss of the 2009 season, and Auburn nearly ended Alabama's perfect season in the "Iron Bowl."
Auburn scratches and claws its way to a 24-20 victory over N'Western.
Capital One Bowl: No. 13 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2) vs. No. 12 LSU Tigers (9-3)
Jan. 1: At the same time on the same day, the two winningest coaches in College Football history will roam the sidelines in two very different match-ups.
Joe Paterno leads his Penn State Nittany Lions into, yet another, catfight against Les Miles' LSU Tigers.
I know the caption obviously depicts Joe Pa, but, unfortunately for him, it was only out of honor and respect.
Les Miles takes his LSU team to victory over Penn State 23-13.
Konica Minolta Gator Bowl: No. 16 West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3) vs. Florida State Seminoles (6-6)
Jan. 1: On that other sideline, the other living legend, coaching for the final time, is Head Coach Bobby Bowden.
I've never once shown favoritism in any game I've ever picked, but as a Florida State Seminole fan, (it's something you're born into), our Coach will be missed.
Although West Virginia absolutely should win this game and they are also led by a great coach in Bill Stewart, Florida State has shown glimpses of what type of play they are capable of.
In Bobby's final hoorah, I cannot see them allowing him to walk off the field anything but a winner.
The Seminoles win it for Bobby, 28-27.
Rose Bowl: No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2) vs. No. 7 Oregon Ducks (10-2)
Jan. 1: This is obviously one of the more intriguing Bowl games of the year, featuring two of the most dominant programs all year long.
Ohio State QB Terelle Pryor is still very raw, and with the amount of points this Oregon offense can score, I don't see the Buckeyes outscoring them.
The Ducks beat the Bucks 34-27.
AllState Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Florida Gators (12-1) vs. No. 3 Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0)
Jan. 1: An Ode to Tebow: all good things must come to an end.
For him, it means his collegiate career.
The Gators' 22-game winning streak? Gone.
Their chances of repeating as National Champions? Gone.
Cincinnati's Head Coach, Brian Kelly? Gone and Notre Dame-bound.
Therefore, with a Coach-less Bearcats team and an angry Gators team coming off a stunning defeat with Tim Tebow running the offense in his very last game as a Florida Gator, can I really pick against Florida?
Florida wins 34-28 over Cincy.
International Bowl: South Florida Bulls (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (7-5)
Jan. 2: An impressive year for Northern Illinois, and yet another disappointing ending to a promising season for South Florida.
But, can the Huskies really stop Bulls' QB B.J. Daniels from running all over the field and all over them?
I don't see it, and I give the victory to USF 28-14.
PapaJohns.com Bowl: South Carolina Gamecocks (7-5) vs. Connecticut Huskies (7-5)
Jan. 2: Better teams. Better game.
How many close losses has Connecticut had, anyway?
I mean, they beat Notre Dame.
But, then again, so did everybody else.
This is a good team hidden in a mediocre 7-5 record and in the thick of the second best Conference in all of College Football.
For South Carolina, they are in the middle of the pack, as well, in THE best Conference, still, in College Football.
So, who wins, you ask?
It's a tight one, but the edge goes to the Huskies from Connecticut 27-24 over Spurrier and the Gamecocks.
AT&T Cotton Bowl: No. 19 Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-3) vs. Mississippi Rebels (8-4)
Jan. 2: I like this one.
I like it a lot.
Oklahoma State was virtually strong all year, while Mississippi did prove, in fact, to be overrated from their lofty preseason Top 10 rankings.
Ole Miss finished at 8-4 and were led by one of the better QB's in the country, Jevan Snead.
Snead proves to be the difference in this one and leads the Rebels to an upset victory over the Cowboys 30-27.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Arkansas Razorbacks (7-5) vs. East Carolina Pirates (9-4)
Jan. 2: You may be right.
I may be crazy.
But, it just may be a lunatic you're looking for.
I just don't see East Carolina being able to hang with Arkansas and their highly-touted QB, Ryan Mallett, for very long.
However, for the sake of their 9-4 record and upset of Houston to claim the Conference USA title, I'll spot them 24 and keep them in the ball game.
Arkansas wins by ten, 34-24.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Michigan State Spartans (6-6) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-4)
Jan. 2: So, apparently, half of the Michigan State football team decided to take up boxing recently.
The only problem with that is that by participating in two sports at the same time, they are apparently no longer eligible for the Bowl game against Texas Tech.
And now, one of the most prolific offenses in the nation will be going up against about seven Spartans on defense.
Somehow, I just don't see that working out so well.
Sorry, Sparty, but the Red Raiders blow you out 45-24.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: No. 6 Boise State Broncos (13-0) vs. No. 4 Texas Christian Horned Frogs (12-0)
Jan. 4: This just in: the BCS is stupid.
Year in, and year out, we always have the discussion about whether or not the Boise State's and TCU's of the College Football world are worthy of being on the same level as the big dogs.
Can they compete?
Would they produce the same win-loss record if they played through the same schedule as the Texas', the Florida's, and the Alabama's?
So, how do we find this out?
We let Boise State play Oklahoma.
We let Utah play Alabama.
They won, too.
Yes, Boise State and TCU played against each other last year in a Bowl game that meant nothing.
So, in the rematch, with both teams undefeated and it being officially imminent that one of them will obviously stay that way after the conclusion of this season, how sad it is that the BCS does their part in covering themselves to avoid the ridicule and controversy by pairing these two teams up against each other again while the whole world learns nothing about them.
So, at the end of this season, Texas or Alabama takes the crown, and another worthy and deserving team is left on the outside looking in.
These two teams can compete and would beat the "legitimate" teams.
Let them play.
Give them the accolades and recognition they deserve.
And let the countrymen rejoice!
TCU defeats Boise State in a game that means everything to both Universities, and to every fan that has a brain and a passion for this game, 36-27.
FedEx Orange Bowl: No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2) vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-2)
Jan. 5: Iowa survived with a perfect record for as long as it could during the regular season.
An injury to their starting QB didn't help, but a major BCS Bowl still awaits them.
Georgia Tech had a great season in Head Coach Paul Johnson's first year at the helm in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets' Spread Offense is dangerous and the Hawkeyes simply won't be able to keep up.
Tech outscores Iowa 27-17.
GMAC Bowl: Central Michigan Chippewas (11-2) vs. Troy Trojans (9-3)
Jan. 6: Nothing says "Happy New Year" quite like having the GMAC Bowl right before the National Championship game, is there?
Fortunately for us, Central Michigan's QB Dan Lefevour is one of the best in the business and is the reason behind the Chippewas' 11-2 record.
Head Coach Butch Jones is on his way to Cincinnati as the "coaching carousel" continues, but Lefevour will certainly be the difference-maker in the outcome of this one.
LeFevour and the Chippewas defeat the Trojans of Troy in bit of a shootout 42-31.
Citi BCS National Championship Game: No. 2 Texas Longhorns (13-0) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0)
Jan. 7: They both won their Conferences.
They're both undefeated at 13-0.
And they will both play in the final game of the 2009-2010 season to decide who will lift the BCS National Championship trophy.
For Texas, it has only been since the 2005 season when Vince Young led the charge against the USC Trojans to win it all.
For Alabama, they haven't celebrated since 1992.
Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban is proving exactly how good of a coach he really is, and RB Mark Ingram will try to deliver a Heisman-caliber performance to wrap up a dream season for the University of Alabama.
The dream comes true, and Alabama wins the BCS National Championship over the Texas Longhorns 31-24.