Here we go...the 2008-2009 college football bowl season is about to begin. Here are my picks for what should be yet again another exciting bowl season.
EagleBank Bowl: Navy vs. Wake Forest
Navy beat Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, has a better record, and will be playing in front of essentially a home crowd in Washington, DC. The Midshipmen should easily run away with this one.
Prediction: Navy 34, Wake Forest 10
New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State vs. Colorado State
Fresno State had a lot of hype coming into the season, and things looked decently good for the Bulldogs after barely losing to Wisconsin in non-conference play. Then, things fell apart. Somehow, I don't think that will happen in their bowl game. It helps somewhat to play Colorado State.
Prediction: Fresno State 27, Colorado State 23
St. Petersburg Bowl: USF vs. Memphis
South Florida is basically playing at home, just like Navy. Also, like the Midshipmen, they should have a very easy time beating a struggling Memphis team. There's an upside for the Tigers though—college basketball season is well underway.
Prediction: USF 38, Memphis 13
Las Vegas Bowl: BYU vs. Arizona
This will be the first intriguing game of the bowl season. BYU is one of three good Mountain West teams, but I think that an upstart Arizona team will upset the Cougars in Vegas.
Prediction: Arizona 28, BYU 27
New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Troy
Now we go from the most intriguing matchup of the bowl season so far to one of the least. Southern Miss battles Troy in a game that could get the worst TV ratings of the bowl season, even though no other games are being played that day.
Prediction: Troy 31, Southern Miss 17
Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. TCU
This should be a good game featuring two good teams from two decent non-BCS conferences. Sorry Boise State, but after all that complaining about not getting into a BCS bowl, they'll still lose.
Prediction: TCU 30, Boise State 27
Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii vs. Notre Dame
It looks as though Notre Dame finally has a chance to win a bowl game. But I wouldn't bet on it...it's Notre Dame. Hawaii will be playing at home, and Notre Dame has plenty of issues it has to deal with.
Prediction: Hawaii 21, Notre Dame 10
Motor City Bowl: Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
The Chippewas lost a heartbreaker last year in this same game to Purdue, 51-48. This game should be just as entertaining, but Central Michigan should end up on the winning side.
Prediction: Central Michigan 41, Florida Atlantic 31
Meineke Car Care Bowl: North Carolina vs. West Virginia
This is not where either of these teams envisioned themselves a few weeks into the season. West Virginia started the year ranked in the top 10 and North Carolina was off to a big start. The Meineke Car Care Bowl isn't much of a prize for either of these squads. Still, this figures to be a pretty good game.
Prediction: West Virginia 21, North Carolina 17
Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State vs. Wisconsin
Like West Virginia, Wisconsin envisioned themselves in a New Year's Day bowl, possibly even a BCS bowl, not playing on Dec. 27. The Badgers fell apart this year after a promising 4-0 non-conference start. The turning points of the debacle were blowing a 19-point halftime lead at Michigan and getting blown out 38-16 by Iowa in Iowa City. Things don't look to be getting any better.
Prediction: Florida State 24, Wisconsin 21
Emerald Bowl: Miami vs. Cal
This should be a decently good game. It should be interesting to see how the average teams of the ACC and the Pac-10 stack up against each other. While neither conference is that good this year, I'll take the ACC.
Prediction: Miami 23, Cal 20
Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois
The Independence Bowl is meant to be played between a team from the SEC and a team from the Big 12. This is what you get when neither conference has enough bowl eligible team. Sucks to be the Independence Bowl right now.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 28, Louisiana Tech 24
Papajohns.com Bowl: Rutgers vs. NC State
Both teams started the year out horribly, and both ended it well. Now it's time to see who's for real and who's not.
Prediction: Rutgers 24, NC State 23
Alamo Bowl: Missouri vs. Northwestern
Northwestern isn't as good as they think they are. Missouri is better than most people thing they are. This seems like an epic blowout waiting to happen. While Pat Fitzgerald says he's excited about a national prime time TV audience, I think he better rethink that statement.
Prediction: Missouri 45, Northwestern 17
Humanitarian Bowl: Nevada vs. Maryland
Maryland is a strange team. They have beaten really good teams and lost to really bad teams. They have also been very streaky. Nevada's right in the middle, so this should be an interesting game. I think the Terps prevail though.
Prediction: Maryland 31, Nevada 28
Holiday Bowl: Oregon vs. Oklahoma State
Every year there is one "sleeper bowl" that turns out to be one of the best of the bowl season. This one figures to be that "sleeper bowl," with two high-scoring offenses. It should be a great close shootout.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 48, Oregon 45
Texas Bowl: Rice vs. Western Michigan
This should be yet another great game with two very high-scoring offenses and evenly matched teams. I'm going to go with the team with more signature wins, that being the Broncos.
Prediction: Western Michigan 51, Rice 48
Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs. Houston
When you are playing in a game called the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl, it's pretty obvious that there are too many random, meaningless bowl games. This being one.
Prediction: Houston 38, Air Force 31
Sun Bowl: Oregon State vs. Pitt
Oregon State is playing without star running back Jacquizz Rodgers and is coming off of a heartbreaking loss to archrival Oregon that knocked them out of the Rose Bowl. The bright side: They're playing a very inconsistent team in Pitt.
Prediction: Oregon State 30, Pitt 17
Music City Bowl: Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Like Oregon State, BC was a win away from playing in a BCS bowl game, but instead they get the Music City Bowl vs. Vanderbilt. Some consolation prize.
Prediction: Boston College 31, Vanderbilt 17
Insight Bowl: Minnesota vs. Kansas
Minnesota started off the year great after a 1-11 season. Then after a 7-1 start, they fell apart, losing their last four games, including a 55-0 drubbing to Iowa at home in the last game ever at the Metrodome. Kansas, on the other hand, has turned their season around with a win over archrival Missouri. Say hello to another Big Ten-Big 12 blowout.
Prediction: Kansas 55, Minnesota 14
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. LSU
An upstart Georgia Tech team will play a reeling 7-5 LSU team in essentially a home game for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech's defense will manhandle LSU's interception-prone offense.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 34, LSU 10
Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. South Carolina
South Carolina has a pretty good defense but will be without their leading tackler and have to face the best running back in the country in Shonn Greene, who has rushed for 100 yards or more in every game this season. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks' offense is horrible and will have to face a good Hawkeyes defense, led by defensive lineman Mitch King. Iowa will give the Big Ten their only win of the bowl season.
Prediction: Iowa 24, South Carolina 10
Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. Georgia
This will be a battle of two good but overrated running backs. In the second SEC-Big Ten game of New Year's Day, the SEC (Georgia) will prevail and show the Spartans what a real "premier" team looks like.
Prediction: Georgia 45, Michigan State 21
Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. Clemson
At 7-5 in the ACC, underachieving Clemson doesn't deserve to be in a New Year's Day Bowl. Then again, neither does Nebraska.
Prediction: Clemson 27, Nebraska 7
Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State
Simply put, USC dominates Big Ten teams. While Penn State is good, USC is one of the top three teams in the country. This should be another beatdown in Pasadena by the Trojans.
Prediction: USC 34, Penn State 24
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
This is by far the worst BCS game this year, as I could name four teams that are playing in January in non-BCS bowls (Texas Tech, Georgia, Michigan State, and Iowa) that could beat both of these teams. Ahh...the Orange Bowl has seen better days.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 17
Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss
While Houston Nutt has really turned the Ole Miss football program around this year, I don't realistically see them beating Texas Tech. In my mind, the Red Raiders are still one of the best teams in college football.
Prediction: Texas Tech 42, Ole Miss 28
Liberty Bowl: Kentucky vs. ECU
The Pirates started off the year great, beating Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Then, they fell apart. On the plus side for ECU, they should be able to close out the year with a win, as Kentucky isn't they best team they'll ever face.
Prediction: ECU 27, Kentucky 21
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Utah
Just announced today—Utah is asking Alabama fans to take some of their tickets because they can't sell all of theirs. With no crowd, the Utes stand no chance at beating the Crimson Tide (not that they ever did). While Utah is better than Hawaii of last year, both will share the same fate in the Superdome.
Prediction: Alabama 45, Utah 24
International Bowl: Buffalo vs. UConn
Buffalo will be attending their first bowl game in 104 years. They were invited to the Tangerine Bowl in the 1950s but turned down the invite after the Tangerine Bowl said that it wouldn't allow Buffalo's two black players to play. This game should be a nice reward for their good deed over 60 years ago.
Prediction: Buffalo 34, UConn 31
Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Texas
Ohio State has been able to ride their young superstar quarterback Terrelle Pryor to their third BCS bowl game in a row. And like the other two, this game will end in an utter disaster for the state of Ohio.
Prediction: Texas 33, Ohio State 20
GMAC Bowl: Ball State vs. Tulsa
After a heartbreaking loss to Buffalo in the MAC Championship game to end their bid for a perfect season, the Cardinals find themselves playing in January nevertheless, although they were hoping for the BCS rather than the GMAC Bowl. Still, they have to be happy with the season they had.
Prediction: Ball State 38, Tulsa 35
BCS National Championship: Florida vs. Oklahoma
While many people are going with Florida in this game, I'm going to have to go with Oklahoma. The Sooners' offense has been unstoppable this year behind Heisman trophy winner and All-American quarterback Sam Bradford. While the SEC is a good league, Florida has seen nothing like Oklahoma's offense all year. It may very well be the best offense in history.
Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Florida 27