Bowl Schedule 2010-2011: Predicting the Winner of Every Bowl Game
Well, the weeks of speculation are finally over about the 2010 bowl games.
We now know who's going where and who's playing for what (or in the case of 8-4 Temple, not playing) after the last weekend of the regular season played out as expected.
It's hard to believe that we're now less than two weeks away from the first of 35 bowls taking us all the way to the BCS National Championship Game and the awaited showdown between Auburn and Oregon.
Without further ado, here's who I believe will win every bowl.
New Mexico Bowl
When: 2 p.m. December 18
Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Who: BYU vs. UTEP
Two teams historically known for offense struggled through a tough season. Both are 6-6, and both are near the bottom of the nation in points scored per game.
BYU's passing offense has particularly struggled, ranking near the bottom of the nation. However, the Cougars can run the ball and have been a little better on defense, while the Miners have been in the middle of the pack in most major statistical categories.
The Cougars can run the ball and play defense. That gives them a little advantage and the edge in this matchup.
uDrove Humanitarian Bowl
When: 5:30 p.m. December 18
Where: Bronco Stadium, Boise, ID
Who: Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State
The Huskies are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Miami (OH) in the MAC title game, while Fresno State knocked off Illinois for the second straight year. The Huskies have had a very strong year and will want to play hard for whoever is coaching the bowl game after Jerry Kill took the Minnesota job.
Pat Hill put together another strong season in Fresno behind the play of quarterback Ryan Colburn and will be looking for a signature win on the season.
Prediction: Northern Illinois
The Huskies will want to play hard for their new coach and were ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2003 for a reason. They're pretty good.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
When: 9 p.m. December 18
Where: Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Who: Ohio vs. Troy
The Bobcats have put together a nice season after Ohio State and the mascot debacle, winning six conference games, including wins against Temple and MAC champion Miami (OH).
But they'll be facing one of the better offenses in the nation in Troy, who led the Sun Belt in passing offense and points per game. The Trojans also came within three points of knocking off Oklahoma State. If there's such a thing as a good loss, that might be it.
Ohio put together a nice season, but Troy's offense can throw it up and down the field. Unless the Bobcats can get strong secondary play, the Trojans can run away with this game.
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg
When: 8 p.m. December 21
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
Who: Louisville and Southern Miss
This bowl features two teams who put together some nice wins. Louisville is bowl-eligible again and had wins over Syracuse and BCS-bound UConn, while Southern Miss gave C-USA champ UCF its only loss of the season.
The Golden Eagles have one of the best offenses in the country, averaging 37.6 points per game. But they're also 81st in points allowed. That means it could be a big day for Cardinals running back Bilal Powell.
Five of Louisville's six losses came against bowl-eligible teams. They've learned a lot from that, one would think. Plus Powell has the ability to run wild on Southern Miss' defense.
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
When: 8 p.m. December 22
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Who: Utah vs. Boise State
These two teams had much bigger aspirations than the MAACO Bowl. Both were ranked in the Top 10 before devastating losses—Utah was demolished at home by TCU and fell apart after that, while Boise State was a short goal post away from us talking about them in the Fiesta Bowl today.
Anyway, both rebounded with wins in their final games and now face each other in one of the better matchups in the bowl schedule.
Prediction: Boise State
Look for Kellen Moore to have a big day against the Utes' secondary.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
When: 8 p.m. December 23
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Who: Navy vs. San Diego State
It seems like the Midshipmen are in this bowl every year. Nevertheless, they're back again, led by leading passer and rusher Ricky Dobbs, and could be 9-3 depending on what happens against Army this weekend.
However, the Aztecs are a much better team than advertised. Their four losses were by a total of 15 points (Missouri, BYU, TCU, Utah). Not a bad list. Not to mention they have one of the best pass offenses in the nation, led by quarterback Ryan Lindley.
Prediction: San Diego State
It's a home game for the Aztecs, and the fanbase is excited. I think they're going to pull off the upset.
Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl
When: 8 p.m. December 24
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
Who: Hawaii vs. Tulsa
Get ready, because these are a lot of numbers. Hawaii is first in the nation in passing offense; Tulsa is 16th. The Warriors are ninth in points per game; Tulsa is 10th. Hawaii is 42nd in points allowed per game; Tulsa is 84th.
If you feel dizzy or discombobulated after reading those statistics, it may mirror what you'll feel watching these teams go up and down the field every possession on Christmas Eve.
Tulsa can run the ball but has the worse defense. When all else fails, go with defense. That's why I'm leaning towards Hawaii.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
When: 8:30 p.m. December 26
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Who: Florida International vs. Toledo
Perhaps the best thing to say about Florida International is that the Panthers started the season 0-4 (granted, those four losses were to Rutgers, Maryland, Pitt and a close loss at Texas A&M) and won six of their last eight games to be bowl-eligible.
Toledo has a win at Purdue and actually had a chance at the MAC title game until Northern Illinois ran them right off the field.
The Rockets are just the better team.
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
When: 5 p.m, December 27
Where: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
Who: Air Force and Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech had much bigger expectations this season after winning the ACC last year under Paul Johnson, but it was a tough season for the Yellow Jackets. Air Force has come close against Oklahoma and Utah but wasn't able to close the deals, so the Falcons will be looking for a signature win.
If nothing else, it will be fun watching two option teams and the two best running teams in the FBS playing on the same field.
Prediction: Air Force
Falcons have had two near upsets against the Sooners and Utes. Georgia Tech hasn't come close against a good team all year. It could get ugly.
Champs Sports Bowl
When: 6:30 p.m. December 28
Where: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
Who: West Virginia vs. NC State
Two of the more on-target and accurate passers in the country face off in Geno Smith and Russell Wilson. Between the two of them, there's a combined 49 touchdowns.
However, while NC State is one of the better throwing teams in the country, the Mountaineers have one of the best defenses in college football. WVU only allows 12.8 points per game, second in the FBS. Plus West Virginia has a big playmaker in running back Noel Devine.
Prediction: West Virginia
The Mountaineers play strong defense and don't turn the ball over. That's always a winning combination.
When: 10 p.m. December 28
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Who: Missouri vs. Iowa
Two more teams that had higher aspirations this season. Missouri might be wondering where it would've ended up if not for a two-game stretch that saw the Tigers fall at Nebraska and at Texas Tech after beating No. 1 Oklahoma.
A few weeks ago, Iowa was part of a four-way tie for first atop the Big Ten. But a loss to Northwestern and it all came crumbling down. A three-game losing streak to finish the year dropped Iowa to 4-4 in the conference, and subsequently Penn State and Illinois passed them for better bowls.
Kirk Ferentz doesn't have four-game losing streaks, and his defense is too good to let Iowa stumble again.
Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman
When: 2:30 p.m. December 29
Where: RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
Who: East Carolina vs. Maryland
The Terrapins weren't expected to be in bowl contention but surprised for most of the year and even had a shot at the ACC championship before dropping a tough game at home to Florida State.
East Carolina lost all but two starters on defense and its head coach in Skip Holtz but still managed to go 6-6 in Conference USA and make it to a bowl game under new coach Ruffin McNeill.
More magic for the season that might have (at least temporarily) saved head coach Ralph Friedgen's job.
When: 6 p.m. December 29
Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
Who: Illinois vs. Baylor
Want to see how crazy of a football season this was? You try remembering the last time Baylor went to a bowl and Texas didn't. Heck, try remembering the last time Baylor went to a bowl, period (it was 1994, for those of you wondering). Despite the struggles at the end of the year, it was still a great season for the Bears.
It was a good one in Champaign as well, where the Illini were much better than people thought, especially after Illinois went into Happy Valley and beat down the Nittany Lions.
It's hard not to go with one of the feel-good stories of the year.
Valero Alamo Bowl
When: 9:15 p.m. December 29
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
Who: Oklahoma State and Arizona
After the dust settled on Oklahoma State's loss at home to Oklahoma that knocked the Cowboys out of the Big 12 title game, the Alamo is where the 'Pokes finally landed.
The Wildcats somewhat landed here as well, after a disappointing season that ended when Arizona's kicker couldn't get two kicks over the defensive line of Arizona State, finishing off a tough end to a once-promising season.
Prediction: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys offense will be hard to stop, and they'll want to prove they were as good as their ranking for most of the season.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
When: Noon December 30
Where: Gerald L. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
Who: Army vs. SMU
It's very fitting Army's first trip to a bowl game in more than a decade (and a year where all three academies made a bowl) will be in the Armed Forces Bowl. Although I'm sure Army fans won't care about the bowl, they're just happy to be winning again.
The same can be said for SMU, who has finally seemed to escape from the shadow of the Death Penalty to make a bowl for the second straight year.
Would like to go with the Black Knights here, but SMU has too good of a passing attack.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
When: 3:20 p.m. December 30
Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
Who: Kansas State vs. Syracuse
New York's other major college football team is going bowling once again as well, after a long absence and bout of obscurity. The Orange seems to have finally found its man in coach Doug Marrone, and the fans were rewarded with a couple of upset wins.
Kansas State might be on the way back as well after Bill Snyder is rebuilding the program, again.
Ryan Nassib's a good quarterback, and the Orange just have a good feeling of confidence about themselves this year.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
When: 6:40 p.m. December 30
Where: LP Field, Nashville, TN
Who: North Carolina vs. Tennessee
It's interesting to wonder what might've been for the Tar Heels if half the starting defense wasn't involved in that fateful trip to Miami in the offseason. Considering what they were missing at the beginning of the year, it's something that Carolina almost pulled off an upset of LSU and made it to a bowl.
Tennessee needed a late-season run to make themselves bowl-eligible, as Derek Dooley tries to rebuild the program.
Prediction: North Carolina
If it's any consolation for Volunteers fans, at least they made it to a bowl. Lane Kiffin can't say that.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
When: 10 p.m. December 30
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Who: Nebraska vs. Washington
After a long absence, Steve Sarkisian has brought the Huskies back to a bowl game. Their reward is a trip to San Diego and a rematch with the Cornhuskers, who beat them soundly back in September.
Nebraska might be looking for blood as well, considering the way they choked away a 17-0 lead to rival Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.
The 'Huskers ended up here against Arizona last year. They blew the Wildcats out of the water. This game might not go any differently.
Meineke Car Care Bowl
When: Noon December 31
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Who: Clemson vs. South Florida
With these two programs, you wonder when they will get it together and finally meet expectations.
Clemson had an up-and-down season, as did South Florida. Clemson ended it with a loss to rival South Carolina, while USF had an overtime win at Miami and a three-point loss to Connecticut. Two teams with pride on the line, looking to take the next step.
This game isn't so much about this year as it is building for next year under Skip Holtz.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
When: 2 p.m. December 31
Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
Who: Notre Dame vs. Miami
Two of the more storied programs in college football history meet in El Paso before the schools renew their rivalry later on down the line in the regular season.
One school fired its coach last year; the other fired its coach this year. It used to be headline news whenever these two teams met. Now it's an exercise in how irrelevant each one has become.
Projection: Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish are playing better at the end of the season, even without the starting quarterback. Meanwhile, it's definitely looking like Miami was not as good as the preseason polls said it was.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
When: 3:30 p.m. December 31
Where: Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN
Who: UCF vs. Georgia
They fought and clawed and sometimes looked bad doing it, but Georgia made it back to a bowl game and possibly saved Mark Richt's job. Having A.J. Green back helped, and he provided a big spark to the offense once he returned.
Meanwhile, George O'Leary, the Notre Dame coach for all of 10 minutes, has all of a sudden built a budding powerhouse in Conference USA. The Knights are coming off their second C-USA title in four years, though they are 0-3 all-time in bowls.
The Bulldogs are too talented, and UCF will have to go another year without a bowl win.
When: 7:30 p.m. December 31
Where: Georgia Dome. Atlanta, GA
Who: South Carolina vs. Florida State
Steve Spurrier against the Seminoles. It just feels right. The two schools will meet after getting soundly beaten in their respective conference title games, although the fact that these two schools made their conference championship games is an accomplishment in and of itself.
It'll be a matchup of a great running back (Marcus Lattimore) against a good quarterback (Christian Ponder).
Prediction: South Carolina
Spurrier finds a way to beat FSU again. What is this, 1997?
When: Noon January 1
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Who: Northwestern vs. Texas Tech
Northwestern heads back to a bowl game under Pat Fitzgerald, but it's hard not to think about what might've been for the Wildcats, who let numerous games slip away before getting beaten soundly by Wisconsin.
Texas Tech seemed to slip under the radar under Tommy Tuberville. Other than an upset win of Missouri, the Red Raiders had a quiet 7-5 season.
They have to win a bowl game eventually. Right?
When: 1 p.m. January 1
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Who: Penn State vs. Florida
Another matchup between two name-brand, big-time programs, both with quarterback issues. It was expected to be rebuilding year in Happy Valley, but it looks like Matt McGloin might be the real deal at quarterback.
The Gators were expected to struggle without Tim Tebow, but I don't think anyone expected 7-5 for a preseason Top Five team.
Prediction: Penn State
It'll be a battle of defenses, and whoever can get the most out its offense will win.
Capital One Bowl
When: 1 p.m. January 1
Where: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
Who: Michigan State vs. Alabama
Perhaps the best game of the bowl season that's not in the BCS features the defending national champs and the team with the biggest beef against the BCS this season.
If Alabama has Greg McElroy, it has a pretty good shot with its running game. But Michigan State will be looking to prove it should've been in the BCS.
Michigan State is good. Alabama is a little better though.
When: 1:30 p.m. January 1
Where: Memorial Stadium, Jacksonville, FL
Who: Mississippi State vs. Michigan
Rich Rodriguez finally got his team to a bowl and did while almost breaking his quarterback, carrying one of the worst defenses in college football and tearing up to Josh Groban while doing so.
Denard Robinson has the ability to be effective when he has room, but can he constantly score when his defense has more holes than Swiss cheese?
Prediction: Mississippi State
You know Dan Mullen's got to be licking his chops about facing this defense.
Rose Bowl Game Presented By Vizio
When: 5 p.m. January 1
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Who: Wisconsin vs. TCU
The first of the BCS bowls, and perhaps the most intriguing matchup outside of the national championship.
Is Wisconsin's offense really as good as it looked when it was putting up numbers like it was NCAA 11 on rookie mode? Can TCU play with the big boys on one of the biggest stages in school history? Will the Horned Frogs prove they belong in the same breath as the big boys? It'll all be answered.
The difficulty will be ratcheted up, but Wisconsin will find a way to hold on. TCU will prove a lot to the college football world as well though.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
When: 8:30 p.m. January 1
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Who: Oklahoma vs. Connecticut
Oklahoma heads back to the Fiesta Bowl, trying to erase the memories of the Sooners' last two trips to Glendale and trying to win a BCS bowl game for the first time since the 2003 Rose Bowl.
Connecticut is making its first ever trip to the BCS and also has the expectations of trying to validate why the Big East still gets an automatic bid.
If the Sooners want to break the drought, this is the best chance to do so.
Discover Orange Bowl
When: 8:30 p.m. January 3
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
Who: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
Stanford makes the BCS for the first time in more than a decade and as its reward gets to travel cross-country and play a Virginia Tech team that has won 11 games in a row and has looked pretty solid running and throwing the football.
Tyrod Taylor is having a strong season throwing the football and handing it off to one of three strong running backs.
Virginia Tech is hot, but it hasn't faced a team as good as Stanford in that streak either.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
When: 8:30 p.m. January 4
Where: Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Who: Ohio State vs. Arkansas
Arkansas might have had its championship hopes dashed by the state of Alabama, but a win against LSU gave the 'Hogs their first-ever BCS berth.
Waiting for them is Ohio State, going to the BCS for the sixth straight year under Jim Tressel with a confident quarterback in Terrelle Pryor and a strong defense that can shut down Ryan Mallett.
Prediction: Ohio State
If Pryor plays like he did in the Rose Bowl, it could be a long day for Arkansas.
When: 6 p.m. January 6
Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL
Who: Middle Tennessee State vs. Miami (OH)
The Blue Raiders take the 33rd-best running attack in the nation into Mobile to face the MAC champions, who upset Northern Illinois last week.
Neither team puts up a lot of points—in fact, the RedHawks are near the bottom in points per game—so it is a very even matchup.
Prediction: Miami (OH)
In a close game, the RedHawks find a way to win.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
When: 8 p.m. January 7
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Who: LSU vs. Texas A&M
The Aggies are one of the hottest teams in the nation, running off six straight wins and knocking arch-rival Texas out of a bowl. They were slighted by their early-season struggles.
LSU was one of the hottest, and perhaps luckiest, teams in the country early on, but a loss at Arkansas in the last game of the season knocked the Tigers out of the BCS. Instead, it's a trip to the Cotton Bowl for the Bayou Bengals.
Prediction: Texas A&M
There may not be many teams in the country who want to face the Aggies right now.
BBVA Compass Bowl
When: Noon January 8
Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
Who: Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky
The Panthers were expected to be the BCS representative from the Big East. But another season of high expectations turned into a trip to another mid-level bowl.
Kentucky surprised many when, spurred by an upset of South Carolina, it became bowl-eligible. The Wildcats are one of three 6-6 SEC teams to make a bowl. All three came from the East.
Until the Panthers prove they can win a big game, I'm going with Kentucky.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
When: 9 p.m. January 9
Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
Who: Nevada vs. Boston College
Two of the best stories of the year. The Wolf Pack, who upset Boise State to win the WAC, has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation with quarterback Colin Kaepernick leading the way.
The Eagles are led by the inspirational story of linebacker Mark Herzlich, who battled back from cancer to get back on the field.
The Wolf Pack is one of the best teams in the country and one of the most fun to watch.
Tostitos BCS National Championship Game
When: 8:30 p.m. January 10
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Who: Oregon vs. Auburn
What else can be said that hasn't already been said? This game features two of the best offenses and some of the most exciting and electrifying players in the country and the possible Heisman winner wearing Auburn blue and orange.
It'll come down to whatever defense can make a stop and who can make the biggest play that will decide the game.
Cam Newton has won every big game he's played in this year. I'm betting this won't be any different.