Bowl Projections: Predicting 10 Biggest Shockers of the Bowl Season

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2010

Bowl Projections: Predicting 10 Biggest Shockers of the Bowl Season

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    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Cornerback Tyrone King #20 and wide receiver Earl Alexander #82 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate during the Citi BCS National Championship game against the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, C
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Bowl Projections are in full swing with only one more week remaining in the College Football season.

    What a wild ride it has been.

    With the National Championship picture still possible to change, the dominoes might not end up falling perfectly into place.

    But that doesn't mean we can't predict what could happen in late December and early January.

    Since there's a whopping 35 bowl games on the docket this year, there will be plenty of chances for upsets and surprising story lines.

    Here's a look at a few surprises you might see during the bowl season.

No. 10: Hawaii and Tulsa Will Play the Most Enjoyable Bowl Game of the Season

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    HONOLULU - SEPTEMBER 2:  Quarterback Bryant Moniz #17 of the University of Hawaii Warriors makes a pass against the University of Southern California Trojans during first half action at Aloha Stadium September 2, 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Kent N
    Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

    Hawaii likely will be staying home for the holidays and welcome Tulsa on Christmas Eve in the third cousin of them all, the Hawaii bowl.

    As trash flutters across the field and about 10,000 spectators look on, G.J. Kinne and Bryant Moniz will absolutely light up the scoreboard.

    With two of the best offenses in the country facing overmatched defenses, it's not unrealistic to expect both teams to score around 50 points.

    If you don't feel like hanging out with the in-laws, grab a six-pack and enjoy the show.

No. 9: The Big East Champ Will Hang Around in the BCS Game

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    EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 27:  Jordan Todman #23 of the Connecticut Huskies carries the ball around the Cincinnati Bearcats defense on November 27, 2010 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Huskies defeated the Bearcats 38-17.  (Photo
    Elsa/Getty Images

    There's plenty of reasons to dislike the BCS, and the Big East getting a coveted automatic bid is one of the biggest injustices of all.

    They certainly won't deserve a spot, but that doesn't mean they can't contend or even prevail in the bowl game.

    No matter which Big East team ends up in the BCS, there is a good chance they will face Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

    Let's be honest, the ACC hasn't exactly been a dominant force on the College Football landscape this season either.

    Look for the Big East team to be very competitive against the ACC Champion.

    It should be interesting to see what kind of television ratings the game will get.

No. 8: Notre Dame Finishes the Season With a Big Bowl Win

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Brian Kelly and quarterback Tommy Rees #13 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish embrace after the game against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  No
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Finally, Notre Dame has started to play defense and find ways to win.

    The Irish had a mediocre season under Brian Kelly, but will get the chance to gain some momentum heading into next year with a postseason win.

    Behold the magic of the 35-bowl system.

    Notre Dame could get a few different invites, but it seems the Irish will be headed to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando.

    With Maryland as the likely opponent, Notre Dame has a good chance to compete and cap off the season with four-straight wins.

No. 7: Jake Locker Has a Fantastic Game in His Finale

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    TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 44-14.  (Photo by Ch
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Washington needed to beat Cal to ensure a spot in the postseason.

    It took four tries, but the Huskies punched it in from one-yard out to collect their fifth win on the season heading into this weekend's Apple Cup.

    Thanks to two Pac-10 teams making the BCS, the Huskies could actually get an invite from the Holiday Bowl.

    It really has been a strange year in College Football.

    After a brutal senior season, Jake Locker has one more chance to show he can play and improve his draft stock.

    Facing Oklahoma State's defense should help the former Heisman candidate find success.

    Look for Locker to throw for over 300 yards and keep Washington within striking distance of Okie State.

    Just don't look for the Huskies to pull off the upset.

No. 6: Ron Zook Saves His Job By Beating Baylor

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    CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 02: Head coach Ron Zook of the Illinois Fighting Illini watches as his team takes on the Ohio State Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 24-13. (Photo by Jonathan Dani
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Ron Zook's Illinois team had some nice moments this season, but his job doesn't seem to be completely safe.

    With a powerful offense at his disposal, the Zookster's team is a frightening bowl foe.

    If the Illini secure a bid in the Houston Bowl as expected, they could face a Baylor team that is also capable of scoring tons of points.

    Mikel LeShoure would have a field day against the Bears' struggling defense, giving Illinois an eight-win season.

    With promising redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase returning, there is no way the administration would make a change in Champaign.

No. 5: Missouri Crushes Michigan to End Rich Rod's Run

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 27:  Head Coach Rich Rodriguez of the Michigan Wolverines watches one of his assistants send in a play against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Among the more uneven match-ups this bowl season, Michigan could end up facing a powerful Missouri team in the Insight Bowl.

    In the interests of getting a win, maybe the Wolverines should decline the invite and lobby to play in the Motor City Bowl.

    Missouri's defense has good speed and figures to at least contain Denard Robinson.

    On the other side of the ball, there is no way Michigan could stop Missouri's offense.

    A blowout loss would likely be enough to end Rodriguez's stay in the Big Ten.

No. 4: Andrew Luck Torches Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl

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    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Andrew Luck #12  of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after they scored a touchdown during their game against the Oregon State Beavers at Stanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Get
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Andrew Luck doesn't get nearly the attention of Cam Newton, but if this was any other year, he would be the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

    Luck's dynamic Stanford team will almost certainly end up in the Fiesta Bowl, setting up a match-up against a Big 12 foe.

    Look for Oklahoma to beat Nebraska and earn another trip to Arizona.

    Arguably the best pro prospect in College Football, Luck should have has way against Oklahoma's secondary.

    Look for Stanford to outlast Oklahoma in an exciting Fiesta Bowl.

No. 3: Boise State Decides to Stay Home for the Holidays

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    BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 19:  Winston Venable #17 leads the Boise State Broncos onto the field before their game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Bronco Stadium on November 19, 2010 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
    Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

    Barring a colossal slip up against Utah State, Boise State is likely to get an invitation to the legendary Fight Hunger Bowl.

    Instead of spending early January in San Francisco, the Broncos might as well save on travel expenses and play their bowl game on the blue turf.

    If the Humanitarian Bowl extends an invite, Chris Petersen might have a difficult time saying no.

    Get ready for a MAC opponent to serve as the sacrificial lamb in mid-December.

No. 2: Oregon Will Win Big in the National Championship Game

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    EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 26:  LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks celebrates a touchdown run against the Arizona Wildcats on November 26, 2010 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Regardless of who they will face, Oregon has the personnel to run circles around the competition in the National Title game.

    For the sake of argument, let's assume Auburn manages to beat South Carolina and punch their ticket to Glendale.

    Get ready for another shootout to wrap up the bowl season.

    Sure, the SEC is much, much stronger than the Pac-10.

    But Auburn hasn't faced any team with the tempo or talent remotely similar to Oregon.

    With a defense that has struggled all season, there is no reason to expect the Tigers to suddenly figure things out.

    For the first time all year, a high-scoring game wouldn't favor Cam Newton and Auburn.

No. 1: Joe Paterno Coaches His Final Game As Penn State Loses to Florida

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    STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 27: Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions stands on the sideline during a game against the Michigan State Spartans on November 27, 2010 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Spartans won 28-22.
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Joe Paterno has said he hasn't thought about retirement, and he might be telling the truth.

    Despite a rocky season, his Penn State is a big enough draw to possibly get consideration for the Gator Bowl.

    That could set up a match-up against the Florida Gators.

    Paterno's future probably has almost nothing to do with what happens with in game itself, but there have been increasing signs that he is doing less to oversee the program than ever.

    The Lions are a young team probably one more year away from contending in the Big Ten, and it seems like the perfect time for Joe Pa to walk away.

    Despite his stubborn, competitive nature, Paterno realizes he can't coach forever.


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