2010 Bowl Matchups: Picks, Predictions and Shockers for All 35 Bowls

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2010

2010 Bowl Matchups: Picks, Predictions and Shockers for All 35 Bowls

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    2010 Bowl Matchups are here. Meaning, it's that festive time of year again where we make picks for all 35 postseason games.

    From the third cousin, twice removed, New Mexico Bowl to the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, there will be plenty of entertaining action for college football fans to enjoy during the holidays.

    The BCS gets all of the hype, but there are several postseason matchups worth watching throughout the next few weeks.

    So curl up on your couch, watch for those NFL prospects playing for small schools and feast on the 2010 bowl season.

    Here's a closer look at each of the 35 bowl games on the schedule.

No. 35 New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs. UTEP

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    The New Mexico Bowl features two teams that had tremendously disappointing campaigns.

    Thanks to the ever-expanding bowl circuit, they still managed to earn a postseason berth.

    Mike Price's UTEP team always seems to have a few big-time players, but it almost never translates to wins.

    Meanwhile, BYU looked like a sleeper BCS team after knocking off Washington early in the season.

    That was before we found out just how bad Jake Locker and the Huskies were.


    Prediction: The Cougars looked like a different team down the stretch this season, with the defense finally stopping opponents and hot-shot freshman Jake Heaps playing better.

    Expect a nearly full stadium in Albuquerque and an easy win for BYU.


    Score: BYU 31, UTEP 17

No. 34 UDrove Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State

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    That's right, the Humanitarian Bowl is sponsored by something called uDrove.

    If you don't have any plans for Saturday, you should tune in for an interesting matchup between Northern Illinois and Fresno State.

    The game features two fantastic running backs in NIU's Chad Spann and Fresno State's Robbie Rouse.

    Prior to falling to Miami of Ohio in the MAC title game, few teams played better than Northern Illinois down the stretch this season.


    Prediction: Both teams have a decent collection of talent, but NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish gives the Huskies the edge.

    There's nothing like traveling to a frigid climate for a bowl game.


    Score: Northern Illinois 27, Fresno State 24

No. 33 New Orleans Bowl Ohio vs. Troy

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    Ohio quietly put together a great season in the MAC, while Troy had no problems in the weak Sun Belt Conference.

    With a veteran team, Frank Solich's Bobcats look like the favorite.

    Keep an eye on Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan, who should be in the NFL next year.


    Prediction: Ohio will get off the bus running the ball and will run away with an easy win.


    Score: Ohio 30, Troy 20

No. 32 Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Louisville

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    Who's hungry for some football?

    Before you immediately write off this game as being a boring contest not worth watching, consider the amount of talent on both teams.

    Southern Miss boasts dual-threat QB Austin Davis, while Louisville RB Bilal Powell can be a game-breaker.


    Prediction: Don't expect much defense in this contest.

    Coming from Conference USA, where defense is optional, a high-scoring game probably would favor Southern Miss.


    Score: Southern Miss 44, Louisville 28

No. 31 Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Boise State

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    It could be worse for Boise State.

    At least they get to spend the holiday break in Las Vegas, instead of staying home in Boise.

    Kellen Moore has compiled legendary stats once again this season, and he won't face much resistance from the Utes in the bowl game.

    Utah's offense picks on bad defenses but tends to struggle against more physical teams.

    Things could get out of hand in the Vegas Bowl.


    Prediction: Utah's secondary was gashed by Andy Dalton and TCU and yielded over 500 yards against San Diego State.

    Get ready for Moore to produce some gaudy numbers.


    Score: Boise State 49, Utah 26

No. 30 Poinsettia Bowl: Navy vs. San Diego State

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    Thanks to the strong Navy presence in San Diego and the Aztecs playing in their home stadium, the Poinsettia Bowl should be a sold-out affair.

    The game should be worth watching, with San Diego State freshman Ronnie Hillman running for daylight and Ricky Dobbs leading Navy's attack.


    Prediction: Navy's offense creates nightmares for opponents, so San Diego State figures to struggle to stop the Midshipmen's attack.

    If the Aztecs have an edge, it's at receiver with Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson.

    That might not be enough to pull out a win over the Naval Academy.


    Score: Navy 34, San Diego State 31

No. 29 Hawaii Bowl: Tulsa vs. Hawaii

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    Get ready for flying trash, an empty stadium and almost no defense.

    There's nothing quite like the Hawaii Bowl.


    Prediction: Bryant Moniz is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation, and he has the weapons around him to drop 50 on anyone.

    Especially Tulsa.

    Meanwhile, G.J. Kinne and the Hurricane are also used to scoring tons of points to win.

    By virtue of playing the coveted home bowl game, Hawaii should be able to pull of the victory.


    Score: Hawaii 60, Tulsa 49

No. 28 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Florida International vs. Toledo

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    This year's Little Caesars Pizza Bowl features two mediocre teams that are lucky to be in a bowl game.

    Toledo got the nod over Temple, thanks in large part to a dazzling conference season.

    We won't bring up that puzzling non-conference home loss to woeful Wyoming.

    Florida International tied for the Sun Belt title to earn a bowl bid.


    Prediction: If you need a reason to watch this game, then you can look forward to watching Florida International receiver and return man T.Y. Hilton.

    The record-setting jitterbug gives FIU a slight edge.


    Score: Florida International 24, Toledo 16

No. 27 Independence Bowl: Air Force vs. Georgia Tech

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    If you like old-fashioned, smash-mouth football, then this is the game for you.

    Air Force actually throws the ball a little better than Georgia Tech.

    That's how bad things have been for Paul Johnson this season.


    Prediction: Both teams run nearly an identical offense, but the edge in athleticism clearly goes to the Yellow Jackets.

    In the end, Georgia Tech should be able to pull off a close win.


    Score: Georgia Tech 17, Air Force 14

No. 26 Champs Sports Bowl: West Virginia vs. NC State

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    Despite West Virginia's struggles, the team was only one win away from sneaking into the BCS this season.

    Meanwhile, North Carolina State nearly made the ACC Championship Game.

    With a great offense, the Wolfpack weren't far from a BCS game themselves.


    Prediction: West Virginia has a fast defense, but they haven't faced a quarterback like Russell Wilson all year long.

    The Wolfpack should have no difficulty running up the score against the Mountaineers.


    Score: NC State 34, West Virginia 20

No. 25 Insight Bowl: Missouri vs. Iowa

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    Missouri and Iowa were both close to making considerable noise nationally before encountering some bumps in the road.

    Although Iowa might have looked like the more talented team when the matchup was first announced, it's difficult to ignore a glaring lack of chemistry and execution that plagued Kirk Ferentz's team all season long.

    The absence of all-time leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is only a small part of Iowa's issues.


    Prediction: Missouri's offensive attack will spread the Hawkeyes out and neutralize the pass rush of Adrian Clayborn and the outstanding defensive line.

    Look for Blaine Gabbert to have a huge night in Arizona.


    Score: Missouri 38, Iowa 20

No. 24 Military Bowl: East Carolina vs. Maryland

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    No matter how bad your favorite team's offense is, it could probably put up 50 points against East Carolina.

    The Pirates have a decent offense of their own, with former Boston College QB Dominique Davis and star receiver Dwayne Harris.


    Prediction: The same team that gave up 76 points to Navy figures to give up at least 40 to a talented Maryland team.

    It's safe to say Ruffin McNeill needs to focus on recruiting the defensive side of the ball.


    Score: Maryland 51, East Carolina 28

No. 23 Texas Bowl: Illinois vs. Baylor

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    Ron Zook might have saved his job, thanks in large part to the heroics of Mikel LeShoure and talented freshman Nathan Scheelhasse.

    Meanwhile, Baylor's Robert Griffin is one of the more exciting players in the country.

    It doesn't sound very sexy, but the Texas Bowl could actually be entertaining.


    Prediction: Illinois is a powerful running team, and Baylor is a fast running team.

    The Bears have shown the ability to throw the ball with more consistency than the Illini, giving them the edge.


    Score: Baylor 34, Illinois 26

No. 22 Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona

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    Another outstanding matchup in the state of Texas.

    Oklahoma State was just one win away from the Big 12 championship game.

    After a promising start to the season, including a win over Iowa, Arizona has fallen on hard times down the stretch.


    Prediction: Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon is on the verge of history.

    The star receiver needs one more game of at least 100 yards and one touchdown to accomplish that feat in all 12 games he played this season.

    Going against Arizona's defense in the bowl game should help him write his name in the record books.

    The Wildcats have a good pass rush, but they really struggle in coverage.

    Okie State wins relatively easily as Mike Stoops throws tantrums on the sideline.


    Score: Oklahoma State 45, Arizona 31

No. 21 Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs. SMU

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    Another decent game with some interesting subplots in the state of Texas.

    June Jones has returned the SMU program back to the postseason, thanks to a scrappy quarterback and a converted linebacker running all over opponents.

    Army's program has endured decades of losing, but things are looking up.


    Prediction: SMU's Zach Line should be able to dominate Army's undersized defense.

    The Mustangs struggle early before pulling away late.


    Score: SMU 36, Army 23

No. 20 New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Kansas State vs. Syracuse

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    If you enjoy watching games played at a cool venue, then this is the game for you.

    With Yankee Stadium likely to be frigid at kickoff, the tougher team might have the edge in this contest.


    Prediction: When it comes to running the ball, few teams do it better than Kansas State.

    Syracuse is a rugged team, but the Orange might not be physical enough to contain Daniel Thomas and the Cougars.

    Look for K-State to control the ball to keep their horrid defense off the field.


    Score: Kansas State 23, Syracuse 20

No. 19 Music City Bowl: North Carolina vs. Tennessee

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    It's been a rough season for both programs, but it could have been worse.

    With most of its best players suspended, North Carolina found some new stars and got a great season from T.J. Yates.

    Meanwhile, Derek Dooley appears to have a great quarterback-in-the-making in Tyler Bray.


    Prediction: The Vols are still a work in progress, while the Heels have more experience on both sides of the ball.

    Look for Yates to finish his career in style with over 300 yards and a bowl win.


    Score: North Carolina 35, Tennessee 21

No. 18 Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. Washington

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    Talk about a David vs. Goliath matchup.

    Nebraska and Washington met earlier this season, with the Huskers winning in impressive fashion.

    Meanwhile, the Huskies are very lucky to even be playing in a bowl game.


    Prediction: If you sensed some doubt about the enthusiasm surrounding this contest, you were correct.

    Rematches in bowl games are always strange, especially when it's a complete mismatch.

    Nebraska makes Washington look silly yet again.


    Score: Nebraska 50, Washington 16

No. 17 Meineke Car Care Bowl: South Florida vs. Clemson

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    South Florida had a rocky season under Skip Holtz, while Clemson's Dabo Swinney endured criticism after the Tigers suffered a number of difficult losses.

    Frankly, neither team has played well down the stretch.


    Prediction: Clemson has never been able to be consistent offensively this season, but the running game is good enough to get the job done against the Bulls.


    Score: Clemson 30, South Florida 13

No. 16 Sun Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Miami

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    Two storied programs that have fallen on hard times meet in El Paso.

    Incredibly, the game sold out in almost no time at all.


    Prediction: Miami has more firepower on offense, but execution is always a major concern.

    Notre Dame plays like the more focused team to get the win.


    Score: Notre Dame 28, Miami 22

No. 15 Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. UCF

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    Georgia circled the wagons and managed to make the postseason, while UCF stormed through Conference USA.

    Aaron Murray gets his last chance to look to A.J. Green down the field.


    Prediction: Perhaps because of his resume gaffe a few years ago after taking the Notre Dame job, George O'Leary rarely gets credit for building a solid program in Orlando.

    The Knights manage to establish the run and beat Georgia, capping off a strange season for the Bulldogs.


    Score: UCF 24, Georgia 21

No. 14 Chick-Fil-A Bowl: South Carolina vs. Florida State

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    Two losers in conference titles games clash in Atlanta.

    Get ready for lots of blown coverages, missed tackles and huge offensive numbers.


    Prediction: South Carolina simply has too many weapons for Florida State's average defense to contend with.

    If Marcus Lattimore doesn't beat the 'Noles, then Stephen Garcia should get the job done.


    Score: South Carolina 36, Florida State 28

No. 13 TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern vs. Texas Tech

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    That's right, it's the famed TicketCity Bowl, featuring two of the more underachieving teams in college football.


    Prediction: Northwestern is horrible at stopping the run, which could be a problem against Baron Batch and the Red Raiders.

    Making matters worse, quarterback Dan Persa was lost for the season in November, leaving the Wildcats offense in disarray.


    Score: Texas Tech 40, Northwestern 21

No. 12 Outback Bowl: Florida vs. Penn State

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    Urban Meyer's final game as a college head coach is just another game for good ole Joe Paterno.


    Prediction: The Gators have been searching for answers on both sides of the ball all season, while Penn State has been very inconsistent.

    Of all the games on the bowl schedule, this contest is one of the hardest to predict.

    Look for Evan Royster to have a big performance and help the Lions escape with a close win.


    Score: Penn State 20, Florida 19

No. 11 Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. Alabama

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    The reigning national champions meet a feisty Michigan State team that was one bad loss away from playing in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.


    Prediction: The Spartans have a powerful running game, but Kirk Cousins has been up-and-down all season long.

    Look for Alabama to roll on the ground and through the air to record an easy win.


    Score: Alabama 30, Michigan State 14

No. 10 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Nevada vs. Boston College

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    Just when you're getting hungry for the bigger bowl games, we bring you the highly-anticipated prediction for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.


    Prediction: Colin Kaepernick has only one more chance to show the world how good he really is.

    Although Boston College possesses more size and speed than the Wolf Pack are accustomed to seeing, Kaepernick's talent should prevail.


    Score: Nevada 35, Boston College 20

No. 9 BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky

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    The Panthers have a chance to at least have something to smile about this season, while Kentucky looks to springboard into next year.


    Prediction: Dion Lewis has had a disappointing season, but his performance against Cincinnati showed he still has the ability to take over games.

    Look for Lewis to run wild and the Panthers to win a tight contest.


    Score: Pittsburgh 28, Kentucky 24

No. 8 GoDaddy.com Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs. Miami of Ohio

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    Finally, we've arrived at the final bowl game you had no idea even existed.

    Miami of Ohio won the MAC championship, just one year after winning only one game.

    Talk about a turnaround.


    Prediction: Middle Tennessee State's Dwight Dasher has the physical tools to cause the Redhawks' improved defense problems, but he hasn't produced as expected this year.

    After not running the ball early in the season, Miami has started pounding opponents on the ground in recent weeks.

    Look for that trend to continue and the Redhawks to roll.


    Score: Miami of Ohio 34, Middle Tennessee State 16

No. 7 AT&T Cotton Bowl: LSU vs. Texas A&M

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    Mike Sherman might have saved his job by moving receiver Ryan Tannehill back to quarterback. 

    Meanwhile, Les Miles' team has started to get decent quarterback play from Jordan Jefferson down the stretch.


    Prediction: Aside from Nebraska, the Aggies haven't faced a defense as close to the collective talent of LSU's unit.

    Tannehill is a great story, but he can't be expected to have a huge game against the Tigers.


    Score: LSU 31, Texas A&M 20

No. 6 Gator Bowl: Michigan vs. Mississippi State

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    Denard Robinson faces Mississippi State's tough defense in an interesting matchup in Jacksonville.


    Prediction: The Wolverines can score on just about anybody, but the defensive side of the ball remains a huge problem.

    Mississippi State's workmanlike offense has the chance to explode against Michigan.

    Look for four touchdowns by "Shoelace" in a close loss.


    Score: Mississippi State 38, Michigan 31

No. 5 Fiesta Bowl: UConn vs. Oklahoma

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    Sure, UConn might be the worst BCS team in history, but they've earned the trip to the Fiesta Bowl.

    Now, it's time for Randy Edsall's team to prove it belongs.


    Prediction: Landry Jones, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles headline the bevy of weapons for the Sooners, who remember what happened the last time they faced an underdog in the Fiesta Bowl.

    Even a monster game from Jordan Todman won't be enough to prevent UConn from being overwhelmed.


    Score: Oklahoma 49, UConn 21

No. 4 Orange Bowl: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech

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    After dominating the Pac-10 all year long, Heisman Trophy runner-up Andrew Luck gets the chance to show how he can handle an ACC defense.


    Prediction: Tyrod Taylor doesn't have the overall numbers of Luck, but he has plenty of talent and experience.

    He also has a great running game.

    Stanford's offense is more balanced than it gets credit for, which should allow Jim Harbaugh's team to pull off the victory.


    Score: Stanford 33, Virginia Tech 26

No. 3 Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Arkansas

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    Ohio State is loaded with its usual assortment of weapons, while Arkansas has a star in the making in Knile Davis.

    What a great game this should be.


    Prediction: Ohio State's defense has the size, speed and depth to bother Ryan Mallett.

    When Mallett gets time, his arm strength and improved accuracy makes him absolutely lethal.

    Look for Ohio State to bring more blitzes than usual, to help force several turnovers.


    Score: Ohio State 28, Arkansas 24

No. 2 Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU

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    The Rose Bowl features speed vs. power and two steady quarterbacks who almost never lose.


    Prediction: Wisconsin has three dynamic running backs capable of attacking TCU's stingy defense, making for a fascinating game to watch.

    If the Horned Frogs can find a way to shut down the ground game, they have a good chance to win.

    Aside from Michigan State, nobody has managed to hold the Badgers ground game in check all year long.

    With the massive offensive line leading the way, there is no reason to believe that will change in the Rose Bowl.


    Score: Wisconsin 31, TCU 21

No 1 Tostitos BCS National Championship Game: Auburn vs. Oregon

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    The BCS system is inherently flawed, but at least the two best teams are playing each other for the national championship.

    Get ready for what could go down as one of the most memorable BCS games ever played.


    Prediction: Oregon looks like the better defensive team on paper, but the Ducks haven't faced a dynamic running quarterback like Cam Newton this season.

    On the other side of the ball, Auburn is strong against the run and has a solid front four.

    The Ducks offense will need to run the ball, otherwise they will be fighting an uphill battle all night.

    Look for Auburn to win the game with a fourth-quarter comeback.

    What better way for the Cardiac Cam to finish the final chapter of this season's legacy?


    Score: Auburn 45, Oregon 42