Bowl Projections: First Look At the 10 Biggest Upsets of Bowl Season
Bowl projections are here, and of course they're always a fun thing to do even if you turn out to be completely wrong.
Though the regular season is almost over, there's still a lot left to be determined during this weekend's slate of games.
BCS berths are on the line, and so are trips to some of college football's bigger bowl games.
I'm here to not only predict some of the possible matchups, but to predict some surprising finishes in those games as well.
Let's take a look at 10 possible huge upsets of the bowl season.
10. Syracuse Over Kansas State
The Game: New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 30, 3 p.m. EST, ESPN
The Line: Kansas State (-6)
Why We Like the Upset: All four of Syracuse's losses came against the teams who will be bowling this season, so the Orange should be battle tested. They also have an impressive win over West Virginia on the road, and they boast the nation's No. 14 scoring defense (18.1 points per game).
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: Syracuse is, um, offensively challenged, totaling just 308 yards and scoring just 21 points per game. The Orange have scored just 26 total points in their last three games, and it could be hard to keep up with a pretty good Kansas State offense.
Prediction: Syracuse 23, Kansas State 20.
9. Georgia Over UCF
The Game: AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
The Line: UCF (-3)
Why We Like the Upset: At 6-6, Georgia probably won't be favored in this game, but the Bulldogs put up a ton of points. They average 34.3 points per game, and have scored at least 41 points in each of their past five wins. Quarterback Aaron Murray is one of the best freshman players in all of college football.
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: Guess what happened to Georgia in the five toughest games on their schedule? They lost. It remains to be seen whether the Bulldogs are a good football team, or if they just beat up on weaker competition. Plus, UCF boasts a top 20 scoring offense and defense.
Prediction: Georgia 31, UFC 23
8. NC State Over West Virginia
The Game: Meineke Car Care Bowl, Dec. 31, Noon EST, ESPN
The Line: West Virginia (-5)
Why We Like the Upset: NC State can get it done on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Russell Wilson throws the ball very well (281.7 yards per game) for an offense that puts up nearly 33 points per game, and the defense is just good enough to slow down a very mediocre West Virginia offense.
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: The Wolfpack has lost pretty much every game it was supposed to lose, with the only exception being a win over Florida State. NC State's been pretty inconsistent as of late though, having lost three of its last six games.
Prediction: NC State 28, West Virginia 20
7. Tennessee Over Maryland
The Game: Music City Bowl, Dec. 30, 6:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
The Line: Maryland (-7)
Why We Like the Upset: Tennessee started at a lousy 2-6, but the Volunteers finished the season very strong. They won four straight games by scoring 37.5 points per game and limiting their four opponents to just 52 total points. Plus, the Volunteers are battle-tested: they've faced two No. 1 teams and five top-25 teams this season.
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: Tennessee was blown out of the stadium by every ranked team they played, and they're just 2-3 away from home. You also have to be wary of the fact that the Volunteers play a boatload of freshmen, and you never know how they're going to perform in the biggest game of their careers.
Prediction: Tennessee 34, Maryland 27
6. Michigan Over Missouri
The Game: Insight Bowl, Dec. 28, 10 p.m. EST, ESPN
The Line: Missouri (-10)
Why We Like the Upset: Michigan scores a lot of points (34.3 per game), and the Wolverines boast the nation's No. 11 rushing offense (251.1 yards per game). Denard Robinson has the potential to run wild on that Missouri defense like Nebraska did earlier in the season, and that would keep the Tigers' offense off the field.
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: Michigan's defense is flatout awful. The Wolverines' D ranks 102nd in the nation in points allowed, they've only given up less than 28 points twice this season, and they're the main reason why Michigan has lost five of its last seven games.
Prediction: Michigan 38, Missouri 35
5. Penn State Over South Carolina
The Game: Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. EST, ABC
The Line: South Carolina (-8)
Why We Like the Upset: Penn State has been a much better offensive team since Matthew McGloin has taken over at quarterback. He's thrown 13 touchdowns to just four interceptions, and it looks like the Nittany Lions have found their quarterback of the future. And of course, they still have Joe Paterno.
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: Penn State doesn't do anything particularly well. The Nittany Lions don't pass the ball a whole lot, they don't run very effectively and they give up almost as many points (22.6) as they score (24.6).
Prediction: Penn State 31, South Carolina 27
4. Mississippi State Over Florida State
The Game: Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31 p.m. EST, ESPN
The Line: Florida State (-4)
Why We Like the Upset: Mississippi State has the two ingredients you look for in a quality football team: the Bulldogs run the ball well (No. 16 in the nation), and they play very good defense, holding their opponents to 20.7 points per game. Mississippi State managed to do that despite taking on seven team's who'll be headed to bowl games.
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: The Bulldogs are not built to come back from any type of large deficit because Chris Relf is a run-first quarterback. Mississippi State lives and dies by the run, so it could be a rough go-round if they fall behind early to Christian Ponder and company.
Prediction: Mississippi State 28, Florida State 24
3. Alabama Over Michigan State
The Game: Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. EST, ESPN
The Line: Michigan State (-2)
Why We Like the Upset: I'm not so sure that Alabama wouldn't be the favorite in this one. I don't think many people could disagree with my argument that the Crimson Tide has the more talented team. Alabama is filled with guys who've won a national championship, including a former Heisman winner (Mark Ingram) and arguably the nation's most talented wide receiver (Julio Jones), not to mention a very good defense.
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: Michigan State has played a pretty rough schedule, and the Spartans have come through it with just one blemish. They could very easily be playing in a BCS bowl game if the system wasn't the way it is.
Prediction: Alabama 35, Michigan State 24
2. Texas A&M Over LSU
The Game: Cotton Bowl, Jan. 7, 8 p.m. EST, FOX
The Line: LSU (-4)
Why We Like the Upset: Texas A&M is one of the hottest teams in the nation. The Aggies have won six straight games after a 3-3 start, including two big victories over top-10 teams Nebraska and Oklahoma. Texas A&M is a much different football team now that Ryan Tannehill is behind center.
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: LSU may not have a great offense, but the Tigers boast one of the nation's best defenses. They give up just 17.8 points per game (No. 9 in the nation), and they have the ability to shut down the Aggies' passing attack.
Prediction: Texas A&M 31, LSU 23
1. Virginia Tech Over Stanford
The Game: Orange Bowl, Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
The Line: Stanford (-6)
Why We Like the Upset: This Virginia Tech team isn't anywhere close to the team that lost to James Madison earlier in the season. The Hokies have reeled off 10 straight wins, they can run the ball very effectively (No. 17 in the nation) and they give up only 17.9 points per game (No. 13 in the nation).
Why We Could Be Miserably Wrong: Stanford's lone slip-up on the season came against undefeated Oregon, who destroys just about everyone they play. Andrew Luck and the Cardinal offense can score with anyone (40.3 points per game), but they also play very good defense (17. points per game allowed).
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Stanford 28