2011 Bowl Predictions: Picking Winners for the First Week of Bowl Season
The first week of the college football bowl season is now upon us. The games don’t feature many of the nation’s top teams, but there is sure to be plenty of excitement and entertainment.
What results can you expect out of this first week? Here’s a rundown for all the bowls between December 17th and 24th.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
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Temple and Wyoming have the honor of playing in the year’s first bowl, but unfortunately this game doesn’t look terribly competitive.
Wyoming’s rush defense ranks 115th out of 120 teams, with 230 yards allowed per game. Temple has one of the nation’s best running backs in Bernard Pierce—who is averaging 125 yards per game by himself and has had a 267-yard game in his career.
It would be pretty shocking if the Cowboys beat the Owls.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
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This bowl could be one of the most exciting games of the week. Ohio and Utah State face off, and both teams were incredibly close to having stellar seasons—losing a combined seven games by seven or less points.
They only have nine total losses.
The X factor in this game is USU’s running back Robert Turbin, who has quietly rushed for over 1,400 yards and 118 per game. Ohio is one of the most balanced and complete teams in the country, and Tyler Tettleton could emerge as a star in the near future.
Based purely on momentum heading into the game, the edge goes to the Aggies because they have won five straight, whereas the Bobcats lost a heartbreaker in the MAC title game to Northern Illinois.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
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This should be another good game between two teams who flirted with the Top 25 this season in San Diego State and Louisiana Lafayette.
If for no other reason, watch this game for the Aztec’s Ronnie Hillman. This is his second 1,500-plus yard season rushing the ball. He will be one of the top picks in the NFL Draft when he declares. The team’s only real weakness is stopping opponents on the ground, but the Ragin’ Cajuns don’t have much of a ground game.
SDSU comes out with the win.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg
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Florida International and Marshall aren’t exactly college football powerhouses, but they have two special players: defensive end Vinny Curry and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.
This is Curry’s second consecutive season with ten or more sacks, but he has also accumulated 166 total tackles in that time—including over 40 for a loss. Hilton is a fantastic player in his own right, and is 50 yards away from his second 1,000-yard receiving season. He also is extremely dangerous returning punts and kickoffs.
At the end of the day, though, this game should be all FIU.
San Diego Country Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
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TCU will have to settle playing Louisiana Tech instead of a team like Michigan in the Rose Bowl this year. This could be a trap game for the team if it isn’t careful.
Tech hasn’t lost since the second week of October, and three of their losses are by six or less points. The problem is that Horned Frogs' quarterback Casey Pachall has been absolutely sensational this year—throwing for 24 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
If they come out and play the football they have the talent to play, Tech should be no match.
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
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Boise State may be ranked in the Top 10, but they have to play measly Arizona State in a bowl game because the Broncos finished behind TCU in the Mountain West.
ASU has been in complete free fall since the middle of October, losing five of its last six games. Dennis Erickson has been fired and Todd Graham is the new head coach, but there are simply too many injuries for this team to compete with Boise.
Unless the Broncos just don’t show up to Kellen Moore’s final collegiate game, there’s no way an upset happens in this one.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
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No Colin Kaepernick? No problem.
Nevada is once again one of the nation’s best rushing teams, averaging 250 yards on the ground and 522 total yards per game.
That said, Southern Miss is far and away the better team. It only lost two games all season and beat Houston for the Conference USA title. The Golden Eagles are one of the nation’s best at defending the red zone, while the Wolfpack have not been able to convert all of their yardage into points.
Southern Miss wins by a solid margin.