College Football Bowl Predictions: Predicting The Remaining Games
It's a few days into 2011 and sadly, the college football bowl season is almost over. The only remaining BCS game is the National Championship on January 10th between the Oregon Ducks and the Auburn Tigers.
Still, some intriguing bowl games remain. The Cotton Bowl features two top 25 teams in the LSU Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies.
Highly ranked Nevada takes on an ACC foe in Boston College in the Fight Hunger Bowl. The Big East and the SEC match up as Kentucky plays Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
And of course, who can forget the GoDaddy.com Bowl? Well, it may not be that great, but you might catch a Danica Patrick commercial or two.
Here are predictions for the remaining bowl games of the college football season.
This game features Miami (OH) and Middle Tennessee State. Miami surprised many in the MAC this season by winning nine games after a 2009 season that saw the Red Hawks lose 11 times.
In 2010, Miami finished the season by winning five in a row after a 4-4 start. The Red Hawks's eight win improvement is the largest turnaround in college football this season.
Middle Tennessee State, on the other hand, barely became bowl eligible with a 28-27 victory over FIU on December 4th. The Blue Raiders find themselves in the GoDaddy.com Bowl despite a third place finish in the Sun Belt conference.
The Blue Raiders will have to rely heavily on their two pronged, 31st ranked rushing attack that features Phillip Tanner and quarterback Dwight Dasher.
Miami, on the other hand, will attempt to move the ball through the air with a passing offense that averaged over 250 passing yards per game.
Prediction: Miami 23, Middle Tennessee State 17
LSU and Texas A&M face off in the Cotton Bowl this year in what promises to be one of the best non-BCS bowl games of the season.
LSU, despite a 10-2 record, were relegated to the Cotton Bowl with Auburn and Arkansas taking the two SEC spots in the BCS bowl games. Don't feel too bad for LSU though. Both of the Tigers' losses came to Auburn and Arkansas during the regular season.
The 17th ranked Texas A&M Aggies come into the Cotton Bowl with a 9-3 record this season. The Aggies are currently on a six game winning streak that includes victories over Nebraska, Texas, Texas Tech and eventual Big 12 Champion Oklahoma.
The Aggies may be over-matched in this one. The 18th ranked passing attack has inflated numbers due to some weaker Big 12 defenses. Over a third of Ryan Tannehill's passing yards this season came in one game versus Texas Tech.
While the Aggies' defense has been impressive, it has not been nearly as good as the LSU defense, which is allowing the 11th fewest points per game this season. The Tigers' offense, particularly the passing game, is questionable, but LSU is still the better team.
Prediction: LSU 27, Texas A&M 17
BBVA Compass Bowl
The Pitt Panthers will take on the Kentucky Wildcats in the BBCA Compass Bowl.
Pittsburgh has been in the news more for controversy than actual football this season. The Panthers had hired Mike Haywood to replace Dave Wannstedt as head coach, but fired him several days later for criminal allegations of assault.
Now the Panthers will have to refocus on playing football. Pittsburgh had seven victories this season, but was not especially impressive on offense. Defensively, the Panthers were a solid team. However, it is difficult to measure their success since their lone ranked opponent this season was the Miami Hurricanes, a team they allowed 31 points at home.
Kentucky navigated its way to bowl eligibility based on its out of conference schedule. Winning only two SEC games, the Wildcats went undefeated against non-SEC opponents en route to the six victories needed.
Kentucky is a solid offensive team, but the defense leaves much to be desired. Still, Kentucky should pull this one out in a high scoring affair.
Prediction: Kentucky 34, Pittsburgh 31
Fight Hunger Bowl
The one-loss Nevada Wolf Pack will play the Boston College Eagles in the Fight Hunger Bowl on January 9th.
The Wolf Pack feature one of the best offenses in college football. Nevada averages 42.6 points per game this season, the fifth most points in the NCAA. The offense is mostly derived from the running game which combines running back Vai Taua and mobile quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick is a four year starter who has had five games with 100 plus rushing yards. Additionally, he has 40 total touchdowns, 20 through the air and another 20 on the ground. The Nevada defense isn't too shabby either, allowing just over 22 points per game.
Boston College turned their season around after losing five of their first seven games. Since then, the Eagles have won five straight to become bowl eligible.
The Eagles will rely heavily on defense to stop Nevada because their offense is unimpressive. Boston College is 109th in points scored per game with just 18.9. Defensively, however, the Eagles are allowing just 19.5 points per game, putting them in the top 20 in college football in that category.
Prediction: Nevada 30, Boston College 16
BCS National Championship
Finally, we get to the BCS National Championship between the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks on January 10th.
This game features two of the best statistical offenses in college football, as well as two very underrated defenses.
Auburn has already won 13 games this season, including victories over ranked teams South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina again. The offense is led by Heisman winner Cameron Newton, who is one of the most dynamic offensive threats of recent years in college football.
Newton leads the team in both passing and rushing with 48 total touchdowns. Auburn is the fourth ranked offense in college football, mostly through production from Newton.
Defensively, the Tigers allow 24.5 points per game, but do have some playmakers such as defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who projects as a top 10 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Oregon, technically the second ranked team in the country behind Auburn, boasts the best offense in college football, averaging an unbelievable 49.3 points per game.
The Ducks are led by super sophomore LaMichael James, who was a Heisman candidate as well. James led the Ducks with 1682 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns this season.
However, the Ducks seem to have a more balanced attack, with more playmakers than the Tigers. Darron Thomas and Kenjon Barner, as well as Jeff Maehl provide supplemental roles in an offense that seems unstoppable at times.
Defensively, Oregon is also a talented squad, allowing just 18.4 points per game.
Prediction: Oregon 41, Auburn 38