Bowl Schedule 2010: 25 Bold Predictions, Shockers and Surefire Upsets
Bowl Schedule 2010 is out as we're less than a week away from the first of 35 bowl games.
Over the next few weeks, we'll find out a lot about these teams, especially the 6-6 and 7-5 teams, considering there are quite a few of them in this bowl season and quite a few playing each other.
Because of that, finding a classic "upset" in terms of records is tough to find among this year's bowl games. It doesn't mean they're not out there.
So with that in mind, here are 25 bold predictions for the bowl season.
25. Connecticut Will Play Well Against Oklahoma
It's not exactly going out on a limb and saying the Huskies will beat the Sooners. But it's hard to buy into Oklahoma when we've seen this before from them, getting to a BCS bowl and then losing badly to a team they're supposed to beat: LSU, USC, Boise State, West Virginia.
Now, those teams were more talented than Connecticut, but I have a feeling they can give the Sooners trouble.
24. Notre Dame Will Beat Miami
It's not Catholics vs. Convicts, as the rivalry was once named, but Notre Dame and Miami are two programs that are trying to get back to the level each once enjoyed.
Right now, the Irish look more stable than the Hurricanes, who have underwhelmed this season and seen Randy Shannon fired for it.
Miami is a program in chaos, and Notre Dame seems to be playing its best football of the year.
23. Army Will Beat SMU
Army still hasn't beaten Navy in nine straight tries, but in the first bowl game for the Black Knights since 1996, the Knights will beat the Mustangs.
Army has one of the best defenses in the country and SMU is not a run-first offense like Navy was. If the Knights can put up some points, then they have a real shot at a victory.
22. Mikel LeShoure Will Play His Way Into This Year's Draft
LeShoure is one of the better backs in the nation and draft gurus across the nation have noticed as well, if not fans who are outside the Big Ten.
But in front of a national TV audience and with a porous Baylor defense in front of him, LeShoure will have a big day and make the decision to declare for this year's draft or come back for another year a very big (and tough) one.
21. UCF Will Beat Georgia
Georgia has disappointed all year, and needed to win in its last game just to be bowl-eligible. Yet the Bulldogs are still six-and-a-half point favorites against the C-USA champion.
But UCF has one of the best defenses in the country and a pretty good dual-threat freshman quarterback in Jeffrey Godfrey. I really like the Knights in this matchup.
20. A.J. Green Will Have a Field Day
That being said, I'm expecting Green to have a big day. He's already projected to be a high first-round pick and one has to wonder if a big game would push him even higher.
Mark Sanchez became a top-five draft pick after having one of the best performances by a quarterback in a Rose Bowl. Green has that type of opportunity in front of him now.
19. The Name's Watt, J.J. Watt
With all the firepower on Wisconsin's offense, sometimes non-Wisconsin fans either forget or don't notice the Badgers defense or Watt. It's time to break the trend.
Watt is one of the better defensive players in the Big Ten, with seven sacks on the season. He's the catalyst on the defensive side for Wisconsin and will need to have a big day for the Badgers.
18. TCU's D Will Be Tested
All year, TCU's faced pretty good competition. But the Rose Bowl might be the first time the vaunted Horned Frogs defense goes up against an offense as good and balanced as Wisconsin.
The Badgers can run the ball with their triumvirate of backs, and can also attack downfield with Scott Tolzien at quarterback and Nick Toon on the outside.
17. San Diego State Is Much Better Than Its Record
The Aztecs have four losses this season by a combined 15 points. The four losses were all to bowl-bound teams and three of those four teams (TCU, Missouri, Utah) went on to win 10 or more games.
The Aztecs have one of the best passing attacks in the country and could very well pull off the win against Navy on the Aztecs' home turf.
16. Steve Spurrier Beats Florida State...Again
The Ol' Ball Coach against Florida State. It just seems right. It hearkens back to the glory days of the '90s when Florida-Florida State was the Game of the Year in college football and there always seemed to be national championship implications.
Spurrier struggled against those Florida State teams, but that was a long time ago. His South Carolina team is the better team and will win this game.
15. Hawaii-Tulsa Will Be the Most Exciting Bowl Game
A lot of throwing the ball, a lot of going downfield, a lot of points and very little defense to be found. Little else needs to be said about two of the best offenses in recent years (who are near the top once again) facing off in the Hawaii Bowl.
Think of it as a scaled-down version of what many expect the National Championship Game to look like.
14. West Virginia Might Be the Only Big East Team to Win a Bowl Game
Odds are they won't be. But it's definitely not out of the realm of possibility.
Pittsburgh could very well not show up against Kentucky, Clemson could beat South Florida, Daniel Thomas and K-State could beat Syracuse, and Southern Miss could just run over Louisville.
Out of all the Big East teams, West Virginia has a favorable matchup and matches up extremely well against NC State.
13. Florida and Penn State Will Not Combine for 40 Points
Two traditional powers happen to have two offenses that, well, aren't good. Penn State's been much better of late and more stable with Matt McGloin, which is why I'm giving them the edge in this matchup.
Florida hasn't been able to find a quarterback, can't go downfield, and if the Gators look like they did against Florida State, then it could be really ugly.
12. Arkansas Will Put Up Points Against the Buckeyes
I've said previously and am saying again now that Arkansas is the most balanced and explosive offense Ohio State will face this year.
Earlier in the year, I might've said Michigan, but the Wolverines turned out to be one-dimensional and were completely shut down.
The Razorbacks can go vertical and run wild on the ground as well, and present major speed issues for the Buckeyes. This will be the biggest test for the Ohio State D.
11. Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson Will Be Held In Check
This is not the same old Sparty defense.
The new Spartans defense attacks, gets to and surrounds the ball and can defend the pass on the perimeter. Of course, they haven't seen the athletes that Alabama has.
But Mike Dantonio and his staff will be keying in on Ingram and Richardson, and expect Greg Jones to play a big role to try and stop the Crimson Tide's dual threat.
10. Tyrod Taylor Raises His Draft Stock
Taylor always had the ability as a dual-threat quarterback but has really opened eyes with his passing game this season, moving him up some draft boards.
You can expect Stanford's defense to prepare to stop him the same way it did for Oregon's Darron Thomas, but Thomas and the Ducks shredded the Cardinal like they did everyone else.
Taylor's not just playing for his team, he's playing for his NFL future as well.
9. LSU's Quarterbacks Will Do Them In
LSU's offense has been much better of late, as has the quarterback play. But Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee have both shown to be inconsistent during their careers in Death Valley and both are prone to make mistakes.
LSU, for the most part, has been able to survive because of its running game and the defense. But I'm not completely sold on LSU and their two quarterbacks yet.
8. Denard Robinson Will Finish the Game
Robinson is one of the more exciting players to watch in college football, but his style and the amount of hits he takes has banged him up pretty good during the season, bringing Tate Forcier in on a number of occasions.
With his job possibly on the line, Rich Rodriguez needs to put his best players on the field and if he can stay healthy, Robinson is his best player. He needs all the help he can get with that defense, anyway.
7. Iowa Will Beat Missouri
Iowa is too good and Kirk Ferentz is too proud of a coach to end the season on a four-game losing streak.
Perhaps the magic the Hawkeyes had last year finally ran out in Evanston, but Iowa will come out firing and hungry for a win to end the season on a good note.
They still have one of the better defenses in the country, if that helps.
6. Andy Dalton Will Be the Reason TCU Wins
TCU might have to get into a shootout in Pasadena with the firepower Wisconsin has. If that's the case, then Dalton, one of the best passers in school history, might have to carry the offense and win the game for the Horned Frogs.
He's a good quarterback and a pretty dependable one, but would he be able to lead a game-winning fourth-quarter drive? I think he might, and might possibly have to.
5. Ohio-Troy Will Be the Most Intriguing Matchup of the Non-BCS Bowls
One of the better defensive units around in the Bobcats, led by head coach Frank Solich, will meet with Troy and one of the most dynamic offenses in the nation, especially in the air.
It's the classic battle of the Unstoppable Force meeting the Immovable Object, in the pageantry and tradition of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
4. Colin Kaepernick Is the Best Player in the Non-BCS Bowls
Kaepernick perhaps earned this title last month, in one of the best games ever to finish at close to 2 a.m. Eastern Time when Nevada upset Boise State.
Kaepernick gets his chance to cement his title against a pretty good Boston College defense, but it doesn't hurt to have the rushing attack that Kaepernick is part of as well, either.
3. Boise State Will Be the Most Impressive Team in the Bowl Schedule
It's tough for fans and players of the Broncos to think they were inches away from a trip to the BCS, and now they're all heading for Las Vegas for a pre-Christmas bowl.
They'll be motivated and looking to make a big impression on the rest of the country. It doesn't hurt they're facing an Utah team that was ripped apart the last time it faced a big-time program in TCU.
2. Nebraska Will Have a Letdown to Washington
Yes I know, this is the same Nebraska team that blew out Washington earlier. And yes, this is the Washington team that needed to win its last three games just to get in.
But Nebraska choked away a shot at the BCS and might have a big letdown against the Huskies. I'm not saying the Huskers will lose, but this will be a lot closer than one might think.
1. Oregon-Auburn Will Be Won by Defense
Most people are expecting the National Championship Game to be a shootout of epic proportions. But even with two high-powered offenses, I've yet to see a high-scoring shootout National Championship Game in my lifetime that wasn't a blowout.
I have a feeling it's going to be much more low-scoring than people think, and that the defenses will win the game.
Of course, I could be wrong and it could come down to the defense that makes one stop. But, that's just me.