On the 10th Day, ESPN Gave Me...10 Teams Bound for the Same Bowl
Bowl season is underway. Last night, BYU throttled Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Wyoming, Rutgers, and Middle Tennessee State are also bowl winners this year.
Ten teams return to the same bowls as they played in last year. I will briefly preview each bowl. The teams are Air Force, BYU, East Carolina, Fresno State, Houston, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Southern Mississippi, and Wisconsin.
Obviously, Fresno State, Southern Miss, and BYU have played already. BYU made Oregon State look completely unprepared.
Wyoming and Fresno State played a great game, ending in double-overtime when Austyn Carta-Samuels threw a touchdown pass to David Leonard. Fresno State could not answer in the second overtime.
Southern Miss lost an upset to Middle Tennessee State. Southern Miss just could not contain Dwight Dasher, who ran for 201 yards, a bowl-record for a quarterback. He ran for two touchdowns and passed two more to down the Golden Eagles.
North Carolina faces a top 25 team in Pittsburgh. The Panthers are coming off a tough loss to Cincinnati. North Carolina is also coming off a tough loss to North Carolina State.
Both teams are looking to rebound. Pittsburgh could have their first 10-win season since Dan Marino played there. They face a top 10 defense in the Tar Heels.
Pittsburgh features the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Dion Lewis. Look for them to ride Lewis. Lewis finished the regular season with almost 137 rushing yards per game and 17 touchdowns.
North Carolina will ride their defense, which ranks sixth overall. They are ninth against the run and 16th against the pass.
Prediction: Pittsburgh wins on their final drive.
Champs Sports Bowl
The Champs Sports Bowl features a top 25 matchup with No. 14 Miami and No. 24 Wisconsin.
Miami began the season on a rough note, but ended the season winning four of their last five games.
Much of their season improvement is due to sophomore Jacory Harris. He finished the season with 3,164 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. He also had 17 interceptions, which Wisconsin will look to use to their advantage.
Wisconsin has a plus-six turnover margin. They used a bruising running attack to win four of their last five games as well. The Badgers feature John Clay, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
The two teams are evenly matched, both averaging over 30 points per game. Their defenses are both ranked in the top 25.
Prediction: Wisconsin will win due to turnovers and their bruising rushing game.
Armed Forces Bowl
Houston and Air Force face off again in this year's Armed Forces Bowl. Last year, when these two teams played, Houston won, ending their eight game bowl losing streak.
Junior Case Keenum leads the nation in total offense (429.3 yards per game), total passing (419.2 yards per game), and touchdowns (43). He will face an Air Force defense that ranks first against the pass.
On the other side of the ball, you will see more of a ground game than air attack. Air Force features the fourth ranked rushing attack. This is bad news for the Cougars, who rank 112th against the rush.
This will be a good matchup, featuring strength versus strength. Look for a high scoring game.
Prediction: Houston takes it with Keenum's arm.
The bowl in Tempe, Arizona features two 6-6 teams that live about 200 miles apart.
Iowa State is playing in its first bowl game since 2005 when they lost to TCU. Minnesota will play in the Insight Bowl for the third year in a row, losing the past two years to Kansas and Texas Tech.
Iowa State finished 11th in scoring offense in the Big 12. They also ranked eighth in total offense.
Minnesota was even worse. The Gophers finished last in both categories in the Big Ten.
Each team had a good win this season. Iowa State beat Nebraska, who finished second in the Big 12. Minnesota beat Northwestern, who finished with eight wins.
Prediction: Minnesota, because third time's a charm !
East Carolina beat Houston in the Conference USA Championship Game to get the berth to the Liberty Bowl.
They face Arkansas from the Southeastern Conference, who finished the regular season at 7-5.
Arkansas is led by Ryan Mallett. They finished first in the SEC in scoring (37.3 points per game), passing (303.3 yards per game), and passing touchdowns (31). The Razorbacks have scored at least 30 points in nine of their 12 games.
East Carolina could have their first 10-win season since 1991. East Carolina has won six of their last seven games. Their only loss came to Virginia Tech the first weekend in November.
Prediction: Mallett's arm will be too much for East Carolina to handle.
In a matchup of Big 12 versus SEC, Ole Miss takes on No. 21 ranked Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
Oklahoma State was hoping for a BCS bowl game before they lost to Oklahoma the last week of the regular season. The Cowboys have a stingy defense, allowing less than 88 yards per game rushing and less than 22 points per game.
The Cowboys face an SEC team coached by Oklahoma State alum, Houston Nutt. Nutt is making his second Cotton Bowl appearance. He coached Ole Miss to victory against Texas Tech last year.
The Rebels come off a game against rival Mississippi State which they lost. Jevan Snead threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns in that game, but was intercepted three times. Dexter McCluster was held to only 82 yards on the ground.
This does not bode well for an offense facing that Oklahoma State defense.
Prediction: Oklahoma State gets three turnovers, pushing them to victory.
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