When College Football Bowl Predictions begin to pop up, you know what time of year it is.
As the college football regular season wraps up, championships are being won, dreams are being dashed and people are complaining about the BCS system.
After championship week passes, the selection process will begin for the 35 different bowl games over the next month.
Yes, there are 35 bowl games. Some say that there are too many, but it is a huge draw money-wise. It doesn't help matters that a team only needs six wins to qualify, as well.
Nonetheless, there will be a wide variety of matchups, enough to satisfy anyone's taste for football, with matchups featuring dynamic offenses and tough defenses alike.
The following slideshow will not only project the 35 bowl games and who will be in them, but will pick a winner for each as well.
In the first bowl game of the season, the two teams actually match up fairly evenly. Fresno State's offense averages slightly more yards a game, while BYU's defense allows slightly fewer yards a game.
Fresno State lost this bowl last year against Wyoming, and it was much better than Wyoming. Given that, I'm expecting another Mountain West victory, which would be BYU's last.
There are multiple teams that could be picked for the MAC representative. In the end, though, they'll go with the Toledo Rockets and their 8-4 record. The WAC representative will be Nevada and its dynamic offense.
Realistically, I couldn't see any MAC team beating Nevada, so the Wolf Pack will win easily against the Rockets.
In a battle of Conference USA against the Sun Belt, the selection is easy. The New Orleans Bowl will get the lowest qualified team from C-USA, which would be UTEP and its 6-6 record, and the Sun Belt rep will be the its champion, Florida International and its 6-5 record.
The difference here is that FIU went winless outside of the Sun Belt, and as a result I have to give the win to UTEP.
Two conferences will duke it out that should be better than they are, Conference USA and the Big East.
Two of South Florida's losses came against West Virginia and Florida. They sounded good when they happened, but it's not as big of a deal now. Southern Miss has more to fight for, and after losing to Tulsa, they'll try to rebound.
Southern Miss, which has already been confirmed in this bowl, will win.
The Utes looked like a superior team a month ago; now they look a lot more even against the Bobcats. Both have very good defenses, but in the end, Utah realizes it has to kick itself back up again, so it'll easily beat Ohio.
The 8-3 Midshipmen have one of the best running attacks in the country, while the 8-4 Aztecs have one of the best passing attacks. San Diego State has beaten Air Force, while Navy lost against them, and the Aztecs have also faced TCU.
I'm going to give the win to the Aztecs, but it'll be a tough one.
Featuring two powerful teams that play very well against weak opponents, Tulsa has won six straight games, but Hawaii did beat Nevada.
Both have top-10 offenses and love to throw the football, so this will be a high-scoring adventure. If you love scores running back and forth, this will be the game for you, as Hawaii will outlast Tulsa.
In this matchup, the cream of the MAC crop, Northern Illinois, takes on a .500 Big East team, Louisville. On top of that, Northern Illinois' wins have been fairly dominant.
They have this matchup well in hand.
Three of Air Force's four losses came against Top 10-ranked teams, while Clemson had losses to Auburn and South Carolina. The teams are evenly matched schedule-wise, but the Air Force just seems to be the stronger team; they'll win it against the Tigers.
Notre Dame is coming off a recent win against Utah, while Maryland is coming off a recent win against NC State. Both teams are fighting to get back to their former glory, or even to where they were 10 years ago.
The Fighting Irish have won one bowl games since the early '90s, while Maryland has won the Champs Sports Bowl once before. The Irish are young and hungry, and they want this win badly enough that I'm actually going to give it to them.
A 10-2 Missouri Big 12 team against a 7-5 Michigan Big Ten team? Sounds more obvious than it is. Remember that Michigan has a top 10 offense. If only their defense was in the top half of the nation, then they'd have a shot against a tough Missouri team.
This bowl hosts two teams whose 6-6 records barely qualify for a bowl game. Georgia Tech has beaten North Carolina this year and now looks like it will beat East Carolina as well in the Military Bowl. East Carolina's invitation here has now been confirmed.
The Baylor Bears finish the season with three tough ranked losses and face the Illinois Fighting Illini, who had to beat Northwestern to stay in the bowl hunt. I see Baylor pulling this out and reversing its losing trend against Illinois.
A surprisingly high-level matchup given how early it comes. The Arizona Wildcats and Nebraska Cownhuskers both were highly ranked, but three straight losses and a loss to Texas will knock one down a peg. Both teams have had a tough run, but Nebraska is more balanced, and I see them winning this.
A classic battle of rushing (Army) vs. passing (SMU). The Mustangs have lost against Navy, but they are a tougher team than the Army. Neither side has faced a real tough team except for SMU's blowout loss to TCU.
When neither team has much of an advantage, I'll take the one with the better record, which is SMU.
Here we have two 7-5 teams, one from the Big 12, the other from the Big East. Kansas State did not face Oklahoma but still had a tough schedule, while Syracuse beat West Virginia to make the championship picture in the Big East a bit more muddled.
Syracuse has one of the best defenses in the country, while Kansas State has one of the worst. That will be the difference maker in this game as Syracuse upsets Kansas State. At least, an upset as much as a 7-5 team beating a 7-5 team is.
The NC State Wolfpack football team's loss to Maryland in the final game drops them into the Music City Bowl against a Tennessee team that won its last four games to squeeze into the bowl picture. The Wolfpack should be able to win fairly easily here, but I think the game will end up being pretty close.
The Texas A&M Aggies, a team that has beaten Oklahoma and Nebraska, faces a Washington team that could potentially not qualify for a bowl game still. Needless to say, if you want to see a blowout, enjoy.
This would be far more enjoyable if it was a basketball contest, but nonetheless it could still be a good game.
Connecticut, likely disappointed about not getting a January bowl game, will be facing North Carolina, a team that's had some great moments yet at other times has been bad. The Huskies have been on a tear lately, and I think they'll carry it over and beat the Tar Heels.
Miami of Florida, who struggled in the ACC this year, gets to play against a team from the MAC, the Temple Owls. Both teams have nearly identical defenses, with only half a yard difference allowed per game.
Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes know they need a win to salvage the season, and they'll get it against the Owls. Given the trouble in the coaching department, however, there could always be an upset.
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl will pit two very different teams. On one side you have Georgia, who only hit .500 in the SEC, and on the other side you have UCF, whose 9-3 record is marred a bit by the fact that they played no one, sans perhaps a loss against Southern Miss.
It's those games that make the process interesting; how would a middle of the road team in a good conference fare against a top team from a weak conference?
In this case, I think Georgia will squeak this out.
This could be a very tough battle. While Mississippi State is 1-4 against ranked teams, they have kept Auburn and Arkansas close. Florida State will lose against Virginia Tech or else they'd be in a different bowl game, but they clearly have shown that they have firepower, and Christian Ponder is better than people credit him for.
I'll pick Florida State to win, but don't sell the Bulldogs short; they're a very good team.
As many ESPN personalities are Northwestern alumni, there will be a good deal of publicity for this game.
If any game in this series is a shootout, it's this one. Both schools have good offenses and are in the bottom fifth in total defense, with Tech ranking 117th. It'll be exciting to watch even though neither team's particularly great.
I'll pick Northwestern to win, but it could go either way.
The SEC East champion South Carolina Gamecocks will be facing the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Outback Bowl. Not the best matchup, but the top Big Ten Teams were already taken by later bowl games.
Despite rather similar records, if any Big Ten-SEC matchup will be a blowout, it's this one with a South Carolina win.
Yet another exciting Big Ten-SEC matchup pits Michigan State against Alabama. Despite three losses, Alabama has been one of the great teams in the country, while Michigan State has quietly been a force, only losing one game this season.
This will be a tough game, and I don't expect much scoring. I think Alabama will pull this one out though.
Three weeks ago, this would have sounded amazing. Alas, Iowa lost three straight to end their season, and Florida couldn't beat South Carolina or Florida State to wrap things up. Nonetheless, we could have a war of attrition going, as both defenses are highly regarded.
All of Iowa's losses have been close, while Florida has been blown out before. As such, I'll pick Iowa to pull it off.
We have the Miami RedHawks and their losses to Florida and Missouri against the Troy Trojans and their losses to Oklahoma State and South Carolina. This can also be called the day you take off from watching college football to get prepped for the championship game.
I pick Miami to win since the MAC is a bit tougher than the Sun Belt.
Both these teams are tough and are coming off tough losses in what will be an exciting game. Oklahoma State has one of the best offenses in the country, but its defense leaves something to be desired. Can LSU exploit that, or will their defense crumble under the heel of the Cowboys?
I've always found LSU a bit overrated this year. I'm going with Oklahoma State.
Kentucky will be selected to this as one of the lower-ranked SEC teams, while the Big East representative will be Pittsburgh. Not an overly interesting matchup, but Kentucky did beat South Carolina, so keep an eye on them. They'll probably get the win.
I feel bad for the Broncos; one loss and they're stuck fighting the ACC's leftovers. Alas, they have no one to blame but themselves for that. Kellen Moore and the Broncos will be looking for redemption against Boston College. Normally it's a Pac-10 opponent, but they don't have enough teams.
BC lost to Virginia Tech; Boise State beat them. It's going to be a blowout. BC doesn't have the tools to hang with the Broncos.
Now this will be an exciting game. On one side you have the Big Ten champ Wisconsin Badgers, led by the power running game of John Clay, and on the other side you have the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs, led by their nation-leading defense.
The matchup will be a very exciting one; will Wisconsin be able to use its experience in beating a tough Ohio State defense and apply it here?
As much as I like Wisconsin this year, I'm going to go with my gut and pick TCU.
This is unlikely to happen, as it would require a Connecticut upset in the final game, but I think it could happen. It would relieve the Big East at least, since they'd have a ranked team in that January bowl game. On the other side will be Oklahoma so long as they beat Nebraska.
While Oklahoma's potent offense has been great in the Big 12, the Mountaineers have a lockdown defense that has been flying under the radar. Can the Sooners topple it?
I think so—easy win for Oklahoma here.
Virginia Tech will get the win over Florida State and get the automatic bid. As for their opponent, it will be the Stanford Cardinal, a top team whose only loss comes to Oregon.
Yes, the Hokies lost to James Madison, but they've clearly rebounded from that and shown themselves to be a great team. Nonetheless, Stanford seems to be the more complete team out there on the field, and I trust Andrew Luck more than Tyrod Taylor.
Look for a hard-fought effort but a Stanford win.
An SEC team against a Big Ten team...at least it's not the national title game, so Ohio State has a chance.
Both teams played very well in their conferences, and their only losses came against very tough teams (Alabama, Auburn and Wisconsin). It will be a battle of Ryan Mallett vs. Terrelle Pryor, or more accurately the great passing team of Arkansas versus the great running team of Ohio State.
Defense will be the deciding factor, and I have to narrowly give this to the Buckeyes in a great, close matchup.
The BCS National Championship Game has pretty much been decided, as TCU isn't going to make it in barring an Auburn upset. The two teams have very dynamic offenses, yet enough defense so that the score won't be overly high.
This has the potential to be one of the best title games in some time, and I think Auburn will end up taking home the title.