2010 Bowl Matchups: Locks, Shockers and Predictions For All 35 Bowls

Ross ColemanAnalyst IDecember 17, 2010

2010 Bowl Matchups: Locks, Shockers and Predictions For All 35 Bowls

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Bowl Matchups: Locks, Shockers and Predictions For All 35 Bowls

    It's the most wonderful time of the year.

    That's right, bowl season is here.

    For the next few weeks 70 teams will try to put an exclamation point to their season.

    While the BCS National Championship is the marquee game, there are tons of other games worth watching.

    Read on to get a closer view of the 35 bowl games.

35. New Mexico Bowl: BYU Vs. UTEP

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    How each of these teams earned bowl berths and Temple didn't, I'll never understand.

    BYU, led by true freshman quarterback Jake Heaps, has struggled this year to match their success in recent years. The fact that the Cougs are in a bowl is pretty amazing, considering that they started the season 1-4.

    UTEP is almost the polar opposite of BYU. After starting 5-1, the Miners finished 1-5 to close out the season. Only three conference wins in Conference USA, yet a bowl berth? Wow.

    Prediction: BYU is coming off a one point loss to Utah after winning four in a row. Heaps has been on a roll during the second half of the season. Of his 11 touchdown passes, 10 have come in the last five games.

    I think Heaps stays hot against a pretty porous pass defense from UTEP.

    Score: BYU 38, UTEP 14

34. UDrove Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois Vs. Fresno State

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    This game might not catch your attention right off the bat, but this is actually a really good match up.

    Northern Illinois has been the best team you never heard of this year. The Huskies have 10 wins. Yes, 10 wins. If it wasn't for a loss to Miami (OH) in the MAC Championship game, they would have 11 wins and would be ranked.

    Running back Chad Spann is the name to look for on the Huskies. The senior has nearly 1,300 yards this year with 20 touchdowns.

    Fresno State looked like one of the teams that could have been a BCS Buster coming into the season. However, the Bulldogs dropped four games, three of which came to the WAC Co-Champs.

    Prediction: Spann is star for the Huskies, he does have some big games this year, but he hasn't been over 100 yards since October. I expect him to be hungry in this one.

    However, Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn has had some huge games this year and this game is another impressive performance for the senior in a venue the Bulldogs know well.

    Score: Fresno State 28, Northern Illinois 24

33. New Orleans Bowl: Ohio Vs. Troy

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    Ohio was one of the hotter teams down the stretch this season. The Bobcats won seven in a row before losing at Kent State to finish the season.

    The Bobcats have a great running game, but a fairly poor passing game.

    However, with a Troy team facing them that lost two games in the Sun Belt, the Bobcats look like favorites in this one.

    Prediction: Ohio sticks to the running game and slows down the Trojan's high powered passing game.

    Score: Ohio 35, Troy 21

32. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl: Southern Miss Vs. Louisville

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    While the name Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl might turn a lot of people off from watching this one, the matchup of Southern Miss and Louisville won't be a boring one.

    Southern Miss is led by Austin Davis who is close to 3,000 yards through the air with 18 touchdowns plus another 10 touchdowns on the ground.

    Louisville may have had a disappointing season in the Big East, only winning three conference games, but running back Bilal Powell has passed 1,300 yards and 10 scores on the ground.

    Prediction: Southern Miss puts up a ton of points, Louisville does a pretty good job preventing points.

    I think Davis makes the difference in this one and the Golden Eagles turn this one into a shoot out.

    Score: Southern Miss 41, Louisville 34

31. Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Boise State

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    Nothing against the The Las Vegas Bowl, but it is a far cry from the BCS Bowl that Boise State was expecting this year.

    In fact, Utah thought they had a chance at BCS bowl too.

    However, with only three losses combined between these two, it is a pretty good matchup.

    Prediction: Many thought Boise State was the best team in the country.

    Utah has had a real tough time against good quarterbacks.

    Kellen Moore is a great quarterback. Look for a career day for him against the Utes.

    Score: Boise State 52, Utah 21

30. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy Vs. San Diego State

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    Of the three college football teams in Southern California (San Diego State, UCLA, and USC), who would have thought San Diego State would be the team with the best record and the only team bowling.

    The Aztecs have been turned around by head coach Brady Hoke who looks like he is sticking in San Diego for the time being.

    Navy has won nine game this year and has been one of the best rushing teams in the country.

    Prediction: San Diego State uses this game, in their home town, as a stepping stone forward.

    While I am sure Navy will get a lot of fan support from the many members of the Navy stationed in San Diego, I just think the Aztecs are one of the better teams that people haven't seen.

    Score: San Diego State 35, Navy 24

29. Hawaii Bowl: Tulsa Vs. Hawaii

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    Hawaii, along with Nevada and Boise State, is a WAC Co-Champion this year. The Warriors leads the FBS in passing yards this year and is a top-10 scoring team.

    The fact they are playing at home in this game for the sixth time in the nine year history of the bowl needs to be changed, but I guess it is understandable. However, if I were another coach there is no way I would go play at Hawaii in this one.

    Prediction: Bryant Moniz is a great quarterback that should get some more exposure next year. He will throw the ball all over a pretty balanced Tulsa team that won nine games, but that won't be the deciding factor.

    The fact that Hawaii gets a virtual home game helps them to pull this one out.

    Score: Hawaii 59, Tulsa 49

28. Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Florida International vs. Toledo

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    The fact that Toledo stole this bowl invite from Temple is criminal. In fact I think the NCAA should pass a rule saying if you lose at home to Wyoming, you automatically drop out of bowl contention.

    In three of Toledo's four losses, they were outscored 163-46. And this is a team that won eight games? Wow, how bad is the MAC?

    Then again it's not like the Sun Belt is lighting the world on fire.

    Prediction: T.Y. Hilton of Florida International will have a big game against Toledo and make the difference in this one.

    Score: Florida International 27, Toledo 24

27. Independence Bowl: Air Force Vs. Georgia Tech

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    If you are a fan of physical running games, this is the bowl game for you.

    Georgia Tech leads the FBS is rushing, Air Force is second.

    For old school triple option, wishbone fans, this is a dream game.

    Prediction: This one is a pretty even. Both teams are built almost the exact same. The only real difference is the level of athlete at Georgia Tech is slightly higher than at Air Force.

    Score: Georgia Tech 21, Air Force 20

26. Champs Sports Bowl: West Virginia vs. NC State

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    West Virgina came within an overtime loss to UConn from going 10-2 and heading to a BCS Bowl.

    In recent years, the Mountaineers have been known for high powered offenses and speed, this team is known for a great defense.

    NC State finished second in the ACC Atlantic and was pretty close to playing in the ACC Championship game.

    Quarterback Russell Wilson is over 3,200 yards passing and has 26 touchdowns.

    If the Wolfpack win, he will be the reason.

    Prediction: Wilson has a tough time with the fast West Virginia defense.

    The Mountaineers force a few turnovers and capitalize on them in a win.

    Score: West Virginia 28, NC State 17

25. Insight Bowl: Missouri vs. Iowa

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    In October these two teams looked like they could be in BCS games.

    Missouri was undefeated and just knocked off top-ranked Oklahoma.

    Iowa had a single loss to Arizona.

    However, Missouri lost two straight after the win over Oklahoma. Iowa lost to Wisconsin, then lost three straight to finish up the season.

    Prediction: Iowa is in this game without their top running back and one of their top wide receivers.

    Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, despite not matching his big numbers from last year, has been solid this year. The junior has a building block game and Missouri becomes a hot team heading into 2011 with this win.

    Score: Missouri 35, Iowa 17

24. Military Bowl: East Carolina Vs. Maryland

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    East Carolina may be in the top-10 for passing yardage per game and top-15 for scoring offense, but the reason for that is because they give up so many points that they need to score a lot to win games.

    Maryland is led by freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien who has thrown for over 2,200 yards and 21 touchdowns.

    Prediction: East Carolina loses this one because they couldn't stop a team even if they knew what was coming.

    Maryland will put up a lot of points in this one.

    Score: Maryland 49, East Carolina 21

23. Texas Bowl: Illinois vs. Baylor

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    While this game might not be that sexy of a match up, it should prove to be an entertaining one.

    Robert Griffin is one of the most exciting players in the country that people have never seen.

    The only thing really keeping Baylor from being one of the better teams in the country is its Defense.

    Illinois was never able to build on a Rose Bowl berth a few years ago and with a 6-6 record this year, Ron Zook might have be looking for a new job were it not for this bowl berth.

    Prediction: Baylor is a balanced team with a solid offense. Illinois is a power rushing team with little to no passing game.

    I think Griffin makes the difference in what will be a very entertaining game.

    Score: Baylor 42, Illinois 38

22. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State Vs. Arizona

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    Just a few weeks ago many people figured that Oklahoma State was looking at a Big 12 championship game berth and a possible BCS game. However, after losing in the Bedlam game to rival Oklahoma, the Cowboys are looking at an Alamo bowl game against an Arizona team that has lost four in a row.

    Arizona started the season 7-1. Since then, they haven't won a game yet.

    Prediction: Arizona is reeling and despite a great quarterback and a solid defensive line, they struggle to keep this one close.

    Score: Oklahoma State 31, Arizona 17

21. Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs. SMU

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    SMU is playing in its second straight bowl game for the first time since making three straight bowls from 1982-84.

    Head coach June Jones was brought in from Hawaii to help return SMU to prominence after the Mustangs were given the Death Penalty in 1987.

    Army is back in a bowl game for the first time since 1996. In fact all three service institutes are in bowl games at the same time for the first time in history.

    Prediction: SMU's offense is too much for Army to get over.

    While it remains to be seen if they will be able to stop the Army rushing attack, SMU quarterback Kyle Padron and running back Zach Line form a great one-two punch for the Mustangs.

    Score: SMU 34, Army 20

20. New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Kansas State Vs. Syracuse

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    Kansas State has been one of the more schizophrenic teams this season. After starting 5-1, the Wildcats finished 2-4 with some pretty bad losses.

    Running back Daniel Thomas has been a legitimate star for Kansas State. He has rushed for nearly 1,500 yards (ninth in the country) and 16 touchdowns (tied for ninth in the country).

    Syracuse is an old school Big East team with a tough defense. However, the question will be if they can shake off two straight losses where an anemic offense prevented them from winning.

    Prediction: I don't see how this game doesn't end with Thomas having a big game. I think even though the Orange have a good defense, their offense isn't good enough to allow the defense to get some rest.

    Score: Kansas State 24, Syracuse 16

19. Music City Bowl: North Carolina vs. Tennessee

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    When I originally looked at this matchup I was surprised to see that Tennessee was bowl eligible.

    The Vols started the season 2-6 and needed four straight wins to get to the six wins needed to be in a bowl game.

    Coming into this season North Carolina was considered ACC title contenders. However, when 13 players were suspended before the season opener that status as contenders was suddenly clouded.

    Prediction: The Vols may have won four in a row to become bowl eligible, but I just don't see how they will be able to beat quarterback T.J. Yates and a skilled Tarheels team.

    Score: North Carolina 34, Tennessee 17

18. Holiday Bowl: Nebraska Vs. Washington

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    This game is actually a rematch of a Sept. 18 game between the Huskies and the Huskers.

    In the first game, Nebraska went into Seattle and ran all over the Huskies.

    Washington's Jake Locker had the worst game of his career. He completed just four of his 20 pass attempts for 71 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

    Meanwhile his counterpart, Taylor Martinez, completed seven of 11 for 150 yards and a touchdown. He also added 137 yards on the ground and three more scores.

    Nebraska walked away with a 56-21 win.

    Prediction: These are two teams headed in different directions. Washington has won three in a row to get a bowl game.

    Nebraska has lost two of three and questions about Martinez feuding with coach Bo Pelini have been brought to light.

    Jake Locker needs a big game to set himself up for a high draft spot. I think he does enough to help the Huskies get the win.

    Score: Washington 38, Nebraska 35

17. Meineke Car Care Bowl: South Florida vs. Clemson

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    In bowl matchups where there is not a clear cut favorite, playmakers are the deciding factor. Clemson has probably the best defensive player in college football right now.

    Da'Quan Bowers has 15.5 sacks and will be a top-five draft pick in the NFL Draft this spring.

    Neither team is really hot right now and with two good defenses in this one, this game could be the lowest scoring of the 35.

    Prediction: Bowers makes South Florida's offense look worse than it is.

    Clemson's offense isn't that much better, but they are good enough to pull this one out.

    Score: Clemson 13, South Florida 10

16. Sun Bowl: Notre Dame Vs. Miami (FL)

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    Criminals vs. Convicts is back!

    Wow CBS lucked out. The only bowl game they are televising is also probably one of the most interesting games.

    The question is which team will seize the moment and build on to next year.

    Prediction: Notre Dame is coming off a big win over rival USC. Brian Kelly has been in South Bend almost a year now. Tommy Rees looks like the Irish quarterback of the future.

    In Miami, Randy Shannon is out and it will be interesting to see how the Hurricanes respond.

    Ultimately I think it boils down to continuity which the Irish have and the Canes don't.

    Score: Notre Dame 27, Miami 23

15. Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. UCF

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    This has not been a good season in Athens, Georgia. Mark Richt's seat is heating up. But they still have a lot of talent, especially on offense with A.J. Green and Aaron Murray.

    UCF nearly got out of Conference USA without a loss. But they finished the season with 10 wins.

    Prediction: UCF doesn't have a quality win this year. Conference USA isn't very good and the Knights lost to NC State and Kansas State, not exactly powerhouse teams.

    Georgia has a legitimate playmaker in Green.

    I think Georgia throws it to Green 20 times and the Bulldogs win because UCF has no answer for him.

    Score: Georgia 27, UCF 17

14. Chick-Fil-A Bowl: South Carolina Vs. Florida State

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    Both of these teams had a chance to make BCS bowls, but they both got blown out of their respective conference championship games.

    South Carolina has transformed from a team that throws it all over the field to a team with a great running game.

    Prediction: This game comes down to Marcus Lattimore. If Florida State's below average defense can slow him down, they have a chance.

    Even then, there are still other weapons on the Gamecocks' roster that will be tough to stop.

    Score: South Carolina 42, Florida State 28

13. TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern vs. Texas Tech

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    If there was one bowl game I have always dreamt of going to, it is the TicketCity Bowl.

    Or not.

    But in this matchup of a Red Raiders team that has struggled under first year head coach Tommy Tuberville takes on a Northwestern team that has lost five of their last seven.

    Prediction: I think Texas Tech's passing game is just too much for Northwestern to handle in this one.

    Throw in the fact that they have been struggling badly the second have of the season, and I think this could get ugly.

    Score: Texas Tech 38, Northwestern 21

12. Outback Bowl: Florida Vs. Penn State

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    Who would have thought of the two coaches in this one, it would be Urban Meyer's farewell game?

    Despite the rough seasons from both teams, this is still a pretty good match up and had a few things gone differently, it could have been a much more marquee matchup.

    Prediction: This Florida team lacks the heart that Tim Tebow brought to the table the last four years, but they still have a ton of talent.

    I also find it hard to believe Urban Meyer goes out with a loss here.

    Score: Florida 28, Penn State 20

11. Capital One Bowl: Michigan State Vs. Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Here is another matchup between two teams that could have been in BCS games had a few things been different.

    Michigan State is the left out in the cold after Wisconsin and Ohio State were picked for BCS games, yet the Spartans weren't.

    Alabama is the reigning champs and could be the most talented team in the country, but three losses knock them down a few.

    Prediction: As much as I would like to pick Michigan State in this one, i think Alabama has just too much skill to lose a fourth game this year.

    Score: Alabama 28, Michigan State 24

10. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Nevada Vs. Boston College

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    Nevada has 12 wins and just a single loss. They beat the fourth ranked team in the country and they are third in the country in rushing. Their reward? The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Boston College.

    Prediction: Colin Kaepernick is a college legend. His stats are mind boggling. Nevada's head coach Chris Ault designed the Pistol Offense to match his skill set.

    Until you see Kaepernick run the Pistol in real life it is almost impossible to see just how good he is with it.

    Boston College is going to have a really tough time slowing down Kaepernick.

    Score: Nevada 41, Boston College 21

9. BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky

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    This is another of the historical bowl games.


    Oh, it's not? Oh.

    Well, Pittsburgh is hoping to end a disappointing season on a high note and Kentucky is hoping to springboard to next year.

    Prediction: I know Pitt is making a coaching change, but I still think they have two of the best running backs in the country.

    I think those two backs lead the Panthers to a win.

    Score: Pittsburgh 24, Kentucky 14

8. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Middle Tennessee State Vs. Miami (OH)

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    Middle Tennessee is another team that I am astounded got a bowl bid over Temple.

    However, it's not like Miami (OH) is a powerhouse team either.

    Prediction: A 6-6 team with a decent running game against a 9-4 team with a decent defense and a better passing game.

    I'll pick the 9-4 team.

    Score: Miami (OH) 24, Middle Tennessee 21

7. AT&T Cotton Bowl: LSU vs. Texas A&M

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    This is an interesting bowl game.

    I think LSU is overrated and Texas A&M is underrated.

    LSU has snuck out with some wins this year that they should have lost.

    A&M has won six in a row after starting 3-3.

    Prediction: As much as I would like to pick A&M in this one, I think the playmakers on LSU are too good.

    Patrick Peterson will do something in this game to affect the outcome and I am inclined to think that the Tigers win this one.

    Score: LSU 24, Texas A&M 21

6. Gator Bowl: Michigan vs. Mississippi State

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    This game is going to be a shootout in every sense of the word.

    Both teams have good offenses. The question is will the Bulldog's defense be able to slow down Denard Robinson?

    Prediction: After starting this season looking like the class of the NCAA, Robinson and Michigan have lost five of their last seven to end the season.

    However, I think Robinson shines brightest on the big stages.

    The Bulldogs haven't quite arrived yet, but they are on their way.

    Score: Michigan 38, Mississippi State 35

5. Fiesta Bowl: UConn vs. Oklahoma

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    UConn is playing in its first BCS game in school history, but there is no way they come close in this one.

    Prediction: Oklahoma is a complete team with stars in every unit.

    If this game is within 21 points, Randy Edsall should get Bob Stoops' job.

    Score: Oklahoma 52, UConn 14

4. Orange Bowl: Stanford Vs. Virginia Tech

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    I have been touting Stanford all season. They are one of the best teams in the country and I think if the game between them and Oregon was played at Stanford or even on a neutral field, the Cardinal would have had a great chance to win.

    Virginia Tech has won 11 straight including the ACC Championship game.

    They are a nice team but Stanford is just too good.

    Prediction: Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck have formed a great duo that has turned Stanford into a marquee football program.

    If Harbaugh stays at Stanford they have a chance at a National Title soon.

    I think Virginia Tech has a hard time keeping up with those two.

    Score: Stanford 38, Virginia Tech 21

3. Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State

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    This is a great matchup between two great offensive teams.

    If you are looking for a legit bowl game, look no further.

    Prediction: Ohio State was touted as the National Champ favorites to start the season. While it may not be a BCS Championship game, the Buckeyes have a chance to make their mark with a win over a good Hogs team.

    Score: Ohio State 31, Arkansas 27

2. Rose Bowl: TCU vs. Wisconsin

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    While this might now be the normal Pac-10 Big 10 matchup we are used to in the Rose Bowl, this could be the most interesting bowl game.

    Wisconsin, the traditional power out of the Big 10. With a great running game and a team that scores a ton of points I am intrigued to see if TCU can prove it belongs in a game like this.

    Prediction: While I think Wisconsin is a beat able team, I don't think TCU is the team to do it.

    While TCU does have a good, fast defense, they are better suited to go against a spread offense, not the power rushing of Wisconsin.

    Score: Wisconsin 45, TCU 31

1. Tostitos BCS National Championship Game: Oregon Vs. Auburn

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    It isn't every year that the BCS gets it right, but this is one of those years.

    Oregon and Auburn are clearly the top two teams in the Nation and they get a chance to really get a legit opponent in the top bowl game.

    Prediction: I have watched both of these teams this year and while Cam Newton is by far the best player in the country, the Oregon scheme is just too hard to game plan for.

    This one will come down to Auburn outscoring Oregon, not stopping them. And I don't think they will be able to do that.

    Score: Oregon 49, Auburn 45