Bowl Schedule 2010: Predictions From the View From Victoria Street
There have been a number of predictions here on Bleacher Report that have previewed the 2010 college football bowl season. I have decided to give this one a shot as well.
Anyone can make a prediction, but not anyone can get a prediction right. The fun part in all of this is the gift of gab that comes from taking a stab at 35 games of uncertainty, 35 pigskin clashes, 35 last chances for its participants to end their season on the right track.
Before I became a soccer columnist for Bleacher Report, my first love was the American code, and it's still one of my favorites. I present to you 35 predictions for the 2010-11 college football bowl season.
New Mexico Bowl
Texas El-Paso will be making its first-ever bowl appearance since 2005, and became bowl eligible after routing several cupcakes on its schedule. Brigham Young's Riley Nelson was sidelined with a shoulder injury, forcing true freshman Jake Heaps to take over at quarterback. This should be the coming-out party for Heaps, who will slice and dice a Miner defense that will literally be walking wounded in Albuquerque.
BYU 45, UTEP 21
UDrove Humanitarian Bowl
The Huskies will be without the services of Jerry Kill, who accepted the position as head coach of the University of Minnesota. They are led by a strong running attack, ranked seventh in the country, paced by Chad Spann. Fresno State's Ryan Colburn is the Bulldogs' main playmaker, but the heart of this team is its defense. Defensive linemen Chris Carter and Logan Harrell combined for 21.5 of Fresno's 37 sacks this season. If the Bulldogs can stop the run, Fresno's passing game should have a field day on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium.
Fresno State 38, Northern Illinois 20
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
The New Orleans Bowl will be a battle of quarterbacks. Troy's Corey Robinson has passed for 3,320 yards, 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions as the Trojans' main signal caller. Meanwhile, the Bobcats have their own dual-threat man in El Camino transfer Boo Jackson. Jackson passed for 1,688 yards and 15 touchdowns while running for 325 yards and seven scores this season.
Frank Solich's Bobcats have been winless in their bowl appearances, going 0-4 all time. That drought will end tonight, as Ohio will prove that Troy's defeat to Florida International was not a fluke.
Ohio 35, Troy 31
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg
The Golden Eagles are led by Austin Davis, who passed for 2,898 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Defensively, USM are a babyshambles, with at least 30 points surrendered in four of their last five games this year. Tailback Bilal Powell did well toting the rock for the Cards, rushing for 1,330 yards and 10 scores.
Nationally, Louisville are 12th in total defense, and this is where the game will be won for Louisville. Also key to UL's chances is the health of quarterback Adam Froman, who passed for 1,633 yards and 11 touchdowns this season before sitting out the latter third of the regular season with a thigh injury. The Cardinals will be motivated to take this one.
Louisville 28, Southern Miss 14
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
Here is one of the first big blockbuster bowls of the season, featuring two of the best from the non-AQ conferences. Put this in your list of bowls to watch. Utah had a shot at cracking the BCS standings, but were denied by Rose Bowl-bound TCU 47-7 and had to eat humble pie against Notre Dame to the tune of 28-3. Shoulder surgery to Utes starting QB Jordan Wynn places backup Terrance Cain on the hot seat.
Kellen Moore was a bonafide Heisman contender and will look to help end the season on a winning note for Boise. Look for the Broncos to give their would-be Mountain West foe a nice sendoff to the Pac-12 Conference. And let's hope that this time, Kyle Brotzman does not incur the wrath of the masses and miss a kick in Sin City...
Boise State 45, Utah 17
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Local, local and local. For Brady Hoke's San Diego State Aztecs, they get to stay local and play a glorified home game at the confines of Qualcomm Stadium, while a naval base in San Diego will make this a home game to a degree as well for Ken Niumatalolo's Midshipmen.
Aztecs QB Ryan Lindley has thrown for 3,554 yards and 26 touchdowns against 14 picks, with the receiving tandem of DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown being his favorite targets. The X-factor offensively will be Mountain West Freshman of the Year Ronnie Hillman, who set a new record for rushing by a freshman with 1,304 yards while scoring 14 touchdowns.
The Naval Academy's triple-option scheme will need to incorporate more of the pass from quarterback Ricky Dobbs to prove successful against San Diego State's defense. Aside from Dobbs, Alexander Teich paced the ground game for Navy.
On Dec. 23, however, Navy will be in for a rough go against the Aztecs, who are making their first appearance in a bowl since 1998. Twelve years is a pretty long wait. The patience of the red and black faithful will be rewarded...with a win.
San Diego State 40, Navy 27
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Fire your guns! It will be a festival of aerial football on the way come Christmas Eve.
Tulsa rank fifth in the country in total offense (503.5 yards per game), while Hawaii rank eighth (496.9 yards per game). The Golden Hurricane's GJ Kinne has passed for 3,307 yards with 28 touchdowns and only 10 picks. Kinne will be the focal point of Hawaii's defense because, like Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, he is a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 557 yards and seven scores. The Hurricane's receiving trio of Damaris Johnson, Charles Clay and Trae Johnson are Kinne's favorite targets.
Meanwhile, the Warriors' Bryant Moniz has flourished in Greg McMackin's run-and-shoot system, passing for a nation-leading 4,629 yards, 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Key receivers to watch out for are the Warriors' receiving duo of Kealoha Pilares and Greg Salas. Hawaii has shown they can also put the run in the run-and-shoot, through the legs and shiftiness of tailback Alex Green.
Essentially this will be a glorified home finale for the Warriors, so expect Hawaii to win a slugfest of a match through some key plays on defense.
Hawaii 59, Tulsa 30
Little Caesars Bowl
After four seasons at the helm as head coach, Mario Cristobal has finally led the FIU Golden Panthers not only to a conference championship, but also their first-ever bowl game. FIU tested the likes of Rutgers and Texas A&M this season and have done well enough to earn the most wins in school history. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has caught 56 passes for 816 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 278 yards and four more scores this season.
The Golden Panthers, unfortunately, will be running into a buzzsaw in the form of Tim Beckman's Toledo Rockets. Redshirt freshman Terrance Owens has passed for 1,112 yards and 12 touchdowns in relief of injured start Austin Dantin. His go-to guy is Mid-American Conference special team player of the year Eric Page. He took returned three kickoffs for touchdowns this year and caught 94 passes for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns. Defensively, Archie Donald and Dan Molls anchor a strong Rocket defense. The Owens-to-Page connection will be on display in the Motor City.
Toledo 41, Florida International 17
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Fresh off of prying the Commander-in-Chief's trophy from the hands of Navy, Air Force ends its season in the bayou, and Shreveport, Louisiana. The Falcons jumped off to a 5-1 start, with their lone loss being a well-fought match against Oklahoma. After going through the gauntlet of toughies that were San Diego State, TCU and Utah, the Falcons rebounded to head to a bowl game against a virtual image of themselves in Georgia Tech.
Tim Jefferson will look to spearhead the Zoomies' triple-option scheme. Having set career highs for rushing yards (769), rushing touchdowns (15), yards per rush (5.4), passing yards (1,342) and touchdown passes (10), Jefferson will look to use his arm against a Yellow Jacket defense that is 60th in the country in scoring defense, allowing 26.17 points a contest. Tailback Asher Clark will also spice things up on the ground for Air Force.
As for Georgia Tech, losing Joshua Nesbitt for the season added insult to injury for a defense that has had issues stopping the run, allowing 169.67 yards a game. Their triple-option is potent, however, as GT leads the country with 327 rushing yards per game. Watch for first-team AFCA All-American and first-team Mountain West cornerback Reggie Rembert to make a statement against the Georgia Tech offense.
Air Force 24, Georgia Tech 17
Champs Sports Bowl
Oh, what could have been.
Losses to Syracuse and Connecticut destroyed West Virginia's chances to lock up the Big East's BCS bid, albeit they won a share of the league title. But the Mountaineers picked themselves up from their horrible performance against the Huskies to win four straight.
North Carolina State, led by quarterback Russell Wilson, had their chance to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game if they defeated Maryland, but were unable to do so. Turnovers and dropped passes have stymied the Wolfpack in their defeats. This could be magnified against one of the staunchest defenses in the country in West Virginia.
The Mountaineers are 11th in the country in pass defense and second in scoring defense, allowing a stingy 12.75 points a game. Watch for the ball hawks donning the blue and gold to be out for a feast in Orlando, with quarterback Geno Smith putting the disappointment of being given the shaft behind him.
West Virginia 45, North Carolina State 21
One border leads to another border war...only this time, it's on neutral territory. Many years ago, Iowa tried to schedule Mizzou, but an agreement fell apart on the 11th hour. This time, there can be no shying away.
The Tigers are led by quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who passed for 2,752 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Hawkeyes counter with Ricky Stanzi, who passed for 2,804 yards and 25 scores this season.
But the X-factor for Missouri will be the defense. The Tigers rank sixth nationally in fewest points allowed (15.2 ppg) and sacks (3.1 per game) and will look to take advantage of the poor form exhibited by Iowa in November. And with the Insight Bowl committee finally giving the nod to Mizzou, watch for the Tigers to show their gratitude in due course.
Missouri 34, Iowa 24
Military Bowl Presented By Northrup Grumman
It's fitting that this bowl is aptly named the Military Bowl, because there will be guns, guns and more guns! I'm talking about the aerial attacks that will come from East Carolina's Dominique Davis and Maryland's Danny O'Brien. Davis passed for 3,699 yards and 36 touchdowns, with Dwayne Harris hauling in the lion's share of those yards and scores (1,055 receiving yards, 10 TD).
As for O'Brien, the ACC Rookie of the Year, he passed for 2,257 yards, 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Torrey Smith is the Terrapins' leading receiver, with 1,045 yards and 12 scores.
Davis will have the test of his life against the Maryland defense, coached by defensive coordinator Don Brown. The Terps are ninth in pass efficiency defense, while outscoring their last four bowl opponents 151-73. As for the Pirates, being 118th in scoring defense and giving up an appaling 76 points to Navy is a recipe for disaster, and it will all come to a head in the nation's capital.
Maryland 42, East Carolina 28
This is sure to be a glorified home game for the Baylor Bears, who are bowl-eligible for the first time since 1995. And its fans stormed the pitch of Floyd Casey Stadium after they downed Kansas State in October. In spite of losing momentum late in the season, the opportunity to be in a bowl game—in Texas—serves as a key motivator for the Green and Gold.
The Bears are led by quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Jay Finley. Griffin passed for 3,195 yards and 21 touchdowns while Finley rushed for 1,155 yards and 11 scores this season.
Illinois, however, has been on a dangerous path of inconsistency, with two BCS bowl appearances to go with eight losing season in the last decade. And the Fighting Illini's last postseason win came in 1999—the MicronPC.com Bowl.
Still, Illinois possesses some talented players on offense, led by tailback Mikel Leshoure averaging 126.1 yards a carry, good for eighth in the country. Gunslinger Nathan Scheelhaase provides another dimension to the Illini attack, passing for 1,583 yards and 17 touchdowns this year. Defensive tackle Corey Liuget, and linebackers Martez WIlson and Nate Bussey anchor Illinois's defense, and will have a tough assignment in stopping Griffin.
There will be no complaints from Baylor indeed regarding the destinations. In fact, the only complaint that will be heard at Reliant Stadium are the faithful donning the orange and blue.
Baylor 45, Illinois 27
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma State came close to competing for the Big 12 Championship, but lost out to rival Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series. Still, a historic 10-2 season is not too dang shabby, especially when you are led by a few special players on offense.
The players? Quarterback Brandon Weeden, wide receiver Justin Blackmon and tailback Kendall Hunter. Weeden passed for 4,037 yards and 32 touchdowns, Blackmon caught 102 passes for 1,665 yards and 18 scores and Hunter rushed for 1,516 yards and 16 TDs this year.
And the Cowboys should be able to make Arizona pay for lack of form in November, as the Wildcats had dropped their last four games prior to the Alamo Bowl. While Wildcat QB Nick Foles passed for 2,911 yards and 19 TDs on the year, a suspect running game and inconsistency on both sides of the ball made life miserable for Mike Stoops.
Look for Mike Gundy to take Bob's brother out of his misery.
Oklahoma State 49, Arizona 21
Armed Forces Bowl
It's back-to-back bowl berths for the first time in a long time for Peruna as former Hawaii coach meets former Hawaii coach in Big D. June Jones's run-and-shoot vs. Rich Ellerson's triple option attack (by the way, Ellerson was one of Dick Tomey's assistants at UH early in his career).
Army, who returns to bowl action for the first time since 1996, is led by quarterback Trent Steelman and tailback Jared Hassin. Steelman passed for 837 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 620 yards and 11 scores. Hassin, a former Air Force cadet, ran for 881 yards this year.
SMU has been inconsistent this season, and a great deal of that has to go on the shoulders of QB Kyle Padron. In spite of missing the mark quite a few times, Padron has passed for 3,526 yards and 29 touchdowns on the year. Now the Mustangs have had their problems stopping the triple option before, but that was against Navy, who throttled Army last weekend. This young Southern Methodist side will be be keen to not let that happen again when they take on Army.
SMU 38, Army 14
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Yankee Stadium is generally a baseball lover's paradise, but on Dec. 30, the outfield will transform into a gridiron. For one night, New York City is the home of two Manhattans: Manhattan proper and the Kansas State Wildcats of Manhattan, Kansas, as they take on the Syracuse Orange. Well, that and aside from the Cats strutting the stage on Broadway, there are these Cats...oh, never mind.
Tailback Daniel Thomas leads the Kansas State ground game with 1,495 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
As for Syracuse, Doug Marrone has led the Orange to their first bowl game since 2004. This will essentially be a glorified home game for the Orange, who don't have to leave their own state. In spite of a stingy defense led by linebackers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, Syracuse need to crank the heat up on offense, as the Wildcats averaged 33.5 points per game this year.
Ryan Nassib leads Syracuse with 2,095 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. Tailback Delone Carter has also been instrumental this season rushing for 1,035 yards and seven scores.
Syracuse 28, Kansas State 24
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
North Carolina are led by quarterback T.J. Yates, who passed for 3,184 yards and 18 touchdowns. Yates is also second nationally in passing efficiency and passing average per game. This has not been the nicest of years for the Heels, who have seen seven of their players out for the entire season due to an NCAA investigation. But the fact that North Carolina gets to appear in a bowl game in spite of the injuries and suspensions it has accumulated is welcoming news indeed.
In Derek Dooley's first season, a terrible October gave way to a better slate of results in November and an appearance in the Music City Bowl. True freshman QB Tyler Bray has passed for 1,537 yards and 14 touchdowns this season and has a solid set of options to throw to in receivers Denarius Moore, Gerald Jones, Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers.
However, the skill and precision of Yates should win the day for Carolina, and bring closure to a trying year for the Tar Heels.
North Carolina 34, Tennessee 20
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
It's another exciting episode of "You Again..." as the Nebraska Cornhuskers clash with the Washington Huskies in the Holiday Bowl. In their previous meeting, the Huskers thrashed Washington in Seattle 56-21. It was not the prettiest of sights, with 383 yards on the grounds for the men of Lincoln combined with a dismal 4-for-20 for Washington quarterback Jake Locker.
The schedule did ease up for the Huskies late in the year, in spite of a babyshambles defense that was exposed in blowout defeats to Arizona, Stanford and Oregon. While they do get their chance at redemption, it probably will not come to fruition on Dec. 30.
That's because Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu, Jr. form a strong triple threat for the Nebraska ground game. Helu ran for 1,211 yards and 11 scores this seaon, Martinez has picked up 942 yards and 12 touchdowns and Burkhead rushed for 912 yards and seven TDs.
Martinez has also been lethal with his arm, passing for 1,578 yards and nine touchdowns. This will not be close. It's a matter of "second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder...and a little bit worse."
Nebraska 63, Washington 21
Meineke Car Care Bowl
Ah, the things you do for your team. It could have been a Rocky Mountain High for Kyle Parker, who chose to forego a contract to play with the Colorado Rockies to play one last time with the Clemson Tigers. But it wasn't the prettiest of seasons for Clemson, who struggled with the loss of C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford to graduation.
As a matter of fact, Parker—who passed for 2,079 yards and 12 touchdowns this season—could have jettisoned the bowl game altogether to join the Rockies. But the urge for redemption proved too strong, and Clemson's signal caller gets his shot against the South Florida Bulls, who also are struggling with their offensive production as well.
While the Bulls have a solid defense in store for the Tigers, this should be a victory for Clemson.
Clemson 27, South Florida 10
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Brian Kelly's Notre Dame Fighting Irish were on the verge of not going bowling this season after a 4-5 start. But in came November, and ND scores big victories over Utah, Army and Southern California, the latter for the first time in eight years.
Starting quarterback Dayne Crist, leading rusher Armando Allen, star tight end Kyle Rudolph and standout nose tackle Ian Williams injured? No problem. Leave it to true freshman Tommy Rees to pick up the pieces, if you please. Rees passed for 905 yards and 10 touchdowns, and the defense went more than 12 quarters without surrendering a score in November.
They are taking on a Miami Hurricanes side that is in a state of flux. After losses to Virginia and South Florida, Randy Shannon was fired and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland took over as interim head coach. Miami will need to rely on its defense to stop red-hot Notre Dame. The Hurricanes are second nationally in pass defense, sixth in sacks and first in tackles for loss.
Watch for a close one here, and the Irish prevailing in the renewal of a rivalry that has seen its highest points in the 1980's and 90's.
Notre Dame 21, Miami 17
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
This is sure to be a New Year's Eve dandy. Georgia, which battled to earn its 14th consecutive bowl appearance, is taking on Conference USA champions Central Florida.
The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Aaron Murray, who passed for 2,851 yards and 24 touchdowns this year. Wide receiver A.J. Green atoned for selling his game jerseys early in the season by blooming late in the season, catching 49 passes for 771 yards and nine scores. The defense is led by outside linebacker Justin Houston, who finished second in the Southeastern Conference with 10 sacks and possesses excellent speed and acceleration.
As for Central Florida, they have been seeing rival schools like Florida, Florida State, Miami and South Florida garner the headlines. The Liberty Bowl is a chance for the Golden Knights to come out of the woodwork and make a name for themselves.
True freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey has passed for 2,042 yards and 13 scores, and the running back tandem of Latavius Murray and Ronnie Weaver is equally impressive. Weaver rushed for 890 yards and 11 touchdowns this year, while Murray chalked up 533 yards and 10 scores.
But they may not be ready for a Georgia side that will look to end their season on a winning note. Watch for Murray's playmaking ability to come in the clutch for the Bulldogs.
Georgia 45, Central Florida 21
Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks return to the scene of the crime—the Georgia Dome, where they got run over by gunslinging Auburn hitman flashing a Heisman pose weeks ago by the name of Cameron Newton—for the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Florida State.
At the heart of the Gamecocks offense is tailback Marcus Lattimore, who rushed for 1,198 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Alshon Jeffery adds another wrinkle to the arsenal, with 79 catches for 1,387 yards and nine scores this year.
In Jimbo Fisher's first season, the Seminoles won the ACC Atlantic Division and played for the league title. However, they were without the services of starting QB Christian Ponder, who passed for 2,038 yards and 20 touchdowns this year. If the defense can't stop Tyrod Taylor, they probably will have a tough time stopping Lattimore and Jeffery. And they won't.
South Carolina 45, Florida State 31
The Northwestern WIldcats have struggled to execute on both sides of the ball after starting quarterback Dan Persa was lost for the season due to a ruptured Achilles' tendon on Nov. 13 against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Not only was backup quarterback Evan Watkins thrown to the wolves, but defensively, they surrendered 118 points, 848 yards on the ground and 10 rushing touchdowns in their setbacks to the Illinois Fighting Illini and Wisconsin Badgers.
It's not going to get easy against a Texas Tech side transitioning to life under new head coach Tommy Tuberville. The Red Raiders are the only team to qualify for berth every year since the Big XII was formed, but they have had their issues with consistency as well.
Nonetheless, this is a chance for quarterback Taylor Potts to rectify these issues. Potts passed for 3,357 yards and 31 touchdowns this year. Wide receiver Lyle Leong is Potts' main target, hauling 64 passes for 808 yards and 17 scores this season.
The Wildcats have not won a bowl game since 1949. That drought is going to continue for at least one more year.
Texas Tech 42, Northwestern 24
Throw some shrimp on the barbie and relax with your home brew; we have a bonzer contest on the gridiron in Tampa!
The departure of quarterback Tim Tebow has forced the Gators to take several steps back, but it took a huge step back with Urban Meyer stepping down as Florida's head coach. Quarterback John Brantley has struggled to execute in the spread offense, passing for 2,020 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. Not even forming a three-quarterback system with Trey Burton and Jordan Reed helped matters much for Florida, and the pedestrian production will mean that Penn State's healing defense could be smelling blood in the water.
Sophomore quarterback Matt McGloin has passed for 1,337 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Nittany Lions. Evan Royster is the main provider for Penn State's ground game, having rushed for 916 yards and six touchdowns this year.
This should be a defensive feast and a low-scoring affair with Penn State scrapping it out.
Penn State 27, Florida 21
Capital One Bowl
An Alabama school will be contending for the National Championship, just like last year.
Only this year, it will be the other Alabama school.
Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide have paid the price for the lack of experience in the secondary and inconsistency on both sides of the ball. This was greatly highlighted in their match against Auburn, which saw them lead 24-0 before losing 28-27. And to add insult to injury, they will be without safety Mark Barron due to a torn pectoral muscle.
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy passed for 2,767 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and fellow running back Trent Richardson were slowed down by injuries this year.
In spite of a team-record 11 wins, a co-Big Ten championship and a victory against Rose Bowl-bound Wisconsin, the Spartans are relegated to the Capital One Bowl. Michigan State has an excellent chance of earning their first bowl win since 2001 and first Jan. 1 bowl win since the same bowl (then known as the Citrus) in 2000 through signal-caller Kirk Cousins.
Cousins passed for 2,705 yards and 20 touchdowns this year.
Michigan State 31, Alabama 20
Mississippi State is led by quarterback Chris Relf, who passed for 1,508 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 683 yards and four scores. The Bulldogs have been bolstered by a run of six straight victories in the middle part of the season and head coach Dan Mullen recommitting himself to the team. A new contract is in the works down in Starkville.
Mississippi State is 16th in the country in rushing offense, averaging 215.8 yards per game.
As for the Wolverines, flaws on defense and special teams have resulted in a 7-5 record, and even though Michigan is still bowl eligible, head coach Rich Rodriguez's tenure could be on the make even if the Maize and Blue prevail.
Michigan is led by QB Denard Robinson, who passed for 2,316 yards and 16 touchdowns and is also fourth in the country in rushing average (136.9 yards per game).
Look for Mississippi State to make the decision easier for the admins running the show at Ann Arbor.
Mississippi State 35, Michigan 10
Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO
This will be Wisconsin's first-ever trip to Pasadena in 11 years as they take on the Texas Christian Horned Frogs. They are led by quarterback Scott Tolzien, who has passed for 2,300 yards and 16 touchdowns, and the rushing triple-tandem of James White, Montee Ball and John Clay.
White has rushed for 1,029 yards and 14 touchdowns, Ball ran for 864 yards and 17 scores, and Clay added 936 yards and 13 TDs. Defensively, the Badgers are also stout, with 23 takeaways to their credit, and are led by defensive end J.J. Watt.
As for TCU, QB Andy Dalton passed for 2,638 yards and 26 touchdowns with just six interceptions. But it is the ground game that Gary Patterson centers his offense on. At the helm of the rushing attack are Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Jeremy Kerley.
Wesley ran for 1,065 yards and 11 TDs this year, Tucker rushed for 694 yards and seven scores, and Kerley added 517 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. The defense is ranked first in the country and is led by safety Tejay Johnson and linebackers Tank Carder and Tanner Brock.
It will be close, and it will be fun to watch. Wisconsin by three.
Wisconsin 45, TCU 42
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
A husky is breed of dog. In Connecticut's case, these Huskies come into the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl as massive underdogs against the Oklahoma Sooners. They are led by tailback Jordan Todman, the country's second-leading rusher, who ran for 1,574 yards and 14 touchdowns this year.
After a 3-4 start, the cries for head coach Randy Edsall's dismissal rang very strong. And yet, these underdogs from Storrs shut them up quite nicely with a solid offensive line, an impressive ground game, and a no-name defense bound by good old-fashioned hard and determination.
As for the favored Sooners, they are looking to end a five-game BCS losing streak. QB Landry Jones may be the talisman to break the hoodoo. Jones passed for 4,289 yards and 35 touchdowns this year.
Oklahoma knows very well that perceived mismatches can be deceiving. Case in point: 2007, when they fell to Boise State in the same Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners will be wise not to let deja vu happen all over again.
Oklahoma 45, Connecticut 20
Discover Orange Bowl
It's a shame that the Heisman Trophy will not go to Andrew Luck if the ineligibility accusations against Auburn's Cam Newtorn were indeed true.
That won't stop Luck from making a case to be the top overall pick in next spring's NFL Draft in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech. Luck passed for 3,051 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for 438 yards and three more scores. As always, he will benefit from one of the most consistent offensive lines in the country, made in the mold of Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh's mentality.
ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor spearheads the attack for the conference champion Virginia Tech Hokies. Taylor has passed for 2,521 yards and 23 touchdowns this season, and the Hokies also have a trio of running backs Taylor can hand off to.
Darren Evans ran for 817 yards and 11 touchdowns, Ryan Williams rushed for 473 yards and nine TDs and David Wilson carried the ball for 616 yards and five scores this season.
But the Hokies may not be ready for what should be a solid outing for Stanford's defense, ranked 11th in the country in scoring with three shutouts this year. Look for Luck to impress the scouts once again in a good one.
Stanford 45, Virginia Tech 31
AllState Sugar Bowl
This will be another close, exciting affair. Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett has posted impressive numbers: 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns with a quintet of weapons thrown to along the way. Tailback Knile Davis has run for 1,183 yards and 13 touchdowns this year.
The Razorback receiving corps is led by Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Cobi Hamilton, Jarius Wright and D.J. Williams. Childs has caught 46 passes for 659 yards and six touchdowns, Adams hauled in 41 passes for 693 yards and five scores, Hamilton caught 31 passes for 609 yards and 6 TDs, Williams caught 49 passes for 589 yards and four touchdowns and Wright caught 38 passes for a team-leading 718 yards and four TDs.
Defensively, the Hogs have improved from 89th in the country last year to 34th this year.
As for Ohio State, they are looking to end a winless streak against SEC teams in bowl games, as they are currently 0-9. Chimdi Chekwa and Jermale Hines lead a defense that will look to stop Mallett and Arkansas's passing attack.
Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor passed for 2,551 yards and 25 touchdowns this season and will need to rely on his mobility to elude the Razorback pass rush.
Ohio State 40, Arkansas 34
This will not be close. In fact, go ahead and put this farce of a matchup as a win for the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks. Without a doubt. The RedHawks will feast on the turnover issues that the Blue Raiders have been dealing with all season. Miami's Austin Boucher has done well calling the signals in place of injured starter Zac Dysert, passing for 831 yards and four touchdowns.
Look for Miami's defense to clamp down on the run game of Middle Tennessee State early...and often.
Miami (Ohio) 52, Middle Tennessee State 6
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Here is a fun one for you guys and gals to watch on Fox: A Cotton Bowl that won't be at the Cotton Bowl, but rather Mr. Jerry Jones's "Eighth Wonder of the World in Sports Entertainment," the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
Jordan Jefferson leads the Louisiana State passing attack with 1,253 yards and four touchdowns, but it's the ground game that keeps the Tigers marching up and down the field. At forefront of this Tiger ground game is tailback Steven Ridley, who ran for 1,077 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Texas A&M is led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a converted wide receiver. Tannehill has passed for 1,434 yard and 11 touchdowns and has done well in relief of Jerrod Johnson. Tailback Cyrus Gray ran for 1,033 yards and 12 touchdowns this year after taking over for injured starter Christine Michael.
In what will be a classic out in Dallas, look for LSU to prevail and bounce back from their regular season finale against Arkansas, which took the Tigers out of BCS consideration.
LSU 38, Texas A&M 30
BBVA Compass Bowl
It's one last hurrah for outgoing Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt, who will coach his last game with the Panthers against the Kentucky Wildcats. And like many of the 7-5 or 6-6 teams this year, inconsistency has been the mantra. Wannstedt has not been known to be reliable in game-time situations, and the lack of execution has doomed Pitt's BCS prospects.
Sophomore quarterback Tino Sunseri has passed for 2,476 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, while tailback Dion Lewis rushed for 956 yards and 12 scores. Jon Baldwin is Pitt's leading receiver, with 810 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
As for the Kentucky Wildcats, quarterback Mike Hartline passed for 3,178 yard and 23 touchdowns. His favorite target: wide receiver and special teams returner Randall Cobb. Cobb has scored 16 touchdowns this season and is second in the country in all-purpose yards with 2,192.
This time, though, look for Lewis to help put the pieces together and send Wannstedt off into the sunset the right way.
Pittsburgh 30, Kentucky 17
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Some like to call it the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Bowl. Some like to call it the Kraft Cheese and Macaroni Bowl.
Nevada will be happy to call it a rout of Boston College.
The Wolf Pack, masters of the Pistol offense, are led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He became the third player in NCAA history to rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in the same season in the victory over Louisiana Tech. Kaepernick, who will be the key to victory for Nevada on Jan. 9, has passed for 2,830 yards and rushed for 1,184 yards this season.
Aside from Kaepernick, tailback Vai Taua is another player to watch for in the blue and silver. Taua rushed for 1,534 yards and 19 touchdowns this season.
Nevada has an excellent chance of ending its slump of four straight bowl defeats against the resurgent Boston College Eagles. Freshman quarterback Chase Rettig has proven instrumental in turning the fortunes of BC, passing for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns. Backup tailback Andre Williams has done well taking over for the injured Montel Harris.
Key to Boston College's fortunes is its ability to stop the running aspect of the Pistol. The Eagles lead the country in rushing defense, 962 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, a 2.7 average per carry and 80.2 yards per game on the ground. Leading the defense is linebacker Luke Kuechly, who led the country in tackles this year.with 171.
Boston College, however, may not be ready for this type of attack. This will be Nevada's to lose. They have shown they can silence quality opponents like California and Boise State. Why should the Eagles be any different?
Nevada 35, Boston College 17
Tostitos BCS National Championship Game
And now, the finale. Sure, Cam Newton has won the Heisman Trophy in spite of all the investigation that may render him otherwise, but it's an entire team that wins a crystal football. And it ain't gonna be Auburn that's gonna get it.
It will be Oregon.
Sure, everyone knows about the 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns that Newton amassed this year. But what about the Ducks' Darron Thomas, who, along with tailback LaMichael James, forms the nucleus of the "Hard, Fast, Finish" spread no-huddle offense courtesy of Chip Kelly?
Thomas passed for 2,518 yards and 28 touchdowns this year while James ran for 1,682 yards and 21 scores. Meanwhile, Oregon's defense is ranked 14th nationally in scoring while helping outscore its foes 277-77 in the second half.
And while Auburn can make a stop or two defensively, it won't be enough. You can have the Heisman while you still can, Cam Newton. Oregon will settle for the crystal football.
Oregon 49, Auburn 42