2011-12 Bowl Schedule: The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Every Bowl

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2011

2011-12 Bowl Schedule: The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Every Bowl

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    After a long year of college football, the bowl season is finally upon us. 

    Two teams will compete for the BCS national championship, but there is more than just the title game to keep you entertained. Seventy teams still have one more game to make their mark on this season.

    There are 35 games from Dec. 17 to Jan. 9, and each one has its own unique story.

    With this guide you can follow everything, as all the information you will need for the next month will be right here.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Wyoming vs. Temple

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    When: Dec. 17

    Where: Albuquerque, N.M.

    Stadium (Capacity): University Stadium (38,634)

    Payout: $750,000

    TV: ESPN

    The Skinny: Temple kicks off the bowl season in New Mexico, and it will bring one of the best defenses in the country. The Owls are behind only LSU and Alabama in points allowed per game and won eight games out of the MAC.

    Wyoming should have a lot to be proud of this season as well, as it finished third in the Mountain West Conference behind Boise State and TCU. The school does not have much history, so this should be a good steppingstone.

    Early Prediction: 20-6, Temple

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Utah State vs. Ohio

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    When: Dec. 17

    Where: Boise, ID

    Stadium (Capacity): Bronco Stadium (34,000)

    Payout: $750,000

    TV: ESPN

    The Skinny: Utah State represents the WAC after winning five straight games to end the season. The Aggies have one of the best rushing attacks in the nation, led by Robert Turbin, and they will be tough to contain.

    If anyone can do that, it will be Ohio, which narrowly lost in the MAC championship game to Northern Illinois. A solid defense helped win nine games this season and an East Division championship.

    Early Prediction: 28-24, Ohio

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. San Diego State

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    When: Dec. 17

    Where: New Orleans

    Stadium (Capacity): Mercedes-Benz Superdome (76,468)

    Payout: $500,000

    TV: ESPN

    The Skinny: This bowl is usually reserved for the Sun Belt champion, but Arkansas State elected to go to the GoDaddy.com Bowl instead, so eight-win Louisiana-Lafayette will represent the conference in New Orleans.

    San Diego State receives an at-large bid to this game after having a successful year in the Mountain West Conference. With the two top teams being Boise State and TCU, finishing fourth is not too shabby.

    Early Prediction: 27-17, San Diego State

Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl: Florida International vs. Marshall

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    When: Dec. 20

    Where: St. Petersburg, FL

    Stadium (Capacity): Tropicana Field (40,000)

    Payout: $500,000

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Florida International is assisted by the lack of eligible teams from Conference USA, so the Golden Panthers will be able to continue its season close to home. The tough defense has helped the team be 8-1 when allowing less than 30 points. 

    Marshall barely got to this point, as it needed an overtime win over East Carolina to become eligible for the postseason. However, the team got its necessary sixth win and will travel to St. Petersburg to prove it can do.

    Early Prediction: 27-21, Florida International

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. TCU

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    When: Dec. 21

    Where: San Diego

    Stadium (Capacity): Qualcomm Stadium (70,561)

    Payout: $500,000

    TV: ESPN

    The Skinny: After starting the season 1-4, Louisiana Tech reeled off seven straight wins to take the WAC crown for the first time since 2001.

    The Bulldogs will take on TCU, a team that was hoping to reach a BCS bowl this season despite two losses. TCU swept the Mountain West Conference with a 7-0 record, but an overtime loss to SMU and a two-point loss to Baylor ended up holding the team back.

    Early Prediction: 41-17, TCU

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Arizona State

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    When: Dec. 22

    Where: Las Vegas

    Stadium (Capacity): Sam Boyd Stadium (40,000)

    Payout: $1.1 million

    TV: ESPN

    The Skinny: For the second year in a row, Boise State misses out on an undefeated season by a single loss due to a missed field goal. It may not be the way the team wanted, but Kellen Moore will get one more opportunity to defeat a team from a major conference.

    Arizona State looked like a tough matchup earlier in the year but has lost four straight to end the season. After firing Dennis Erickson, it will be difficult to imagine the team rebounding in the bowl game.

    Early Prediction: 37-17, Boise State

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Nevada vs. Southern Miss

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    When: Dec. 24

    Where: Honolulu

    Stadium (Capacity): Aloha Stadium (50,000)

    Payout: $750,000

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Southern Miss pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the season when it defeated then-undefeated Houston to win the Conference USA championship. The 11-win team has a good, balanced offense that can score on anyone in the country. 

    Nevada also has a good offense but was inconsistent and finished with five losses. Still, I bet the team will not mind a trip to Hawaii. 

    Early Prediction: 38-21, Southern Miss

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Missouri vs. North Carolina

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    When: Dec. 26

    Where: Shreveport, LA

    Stadium (Capacity): Independence Stadium (50,000)

    Payout: $1.15 million

    TV: ESPN2

    The Skinny: Missouri takes an at-large bid from the MWC after finishing fifth in the Big 12. The team is led by one of the nation's better dual-threat quarterbacks in James Franklin.

    North Carolina receives the last spot among ACC teams since Miami has decided to not accept a bowl bid. However, this team will not be a pushover with talented players including receiver Dwight Jones and his 11 receiving touchdowns.

    Early Prediction: 31-24, Missouri

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Purdue

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    When: Dec. 27

    Where: Detroit

    Stadium (Capacity): Ford Field (65,000)

    Payout: $750,000

    TV: ESPN

    The Skinny: Western Michigan takes the No. 2 spot from the MAC despite losing five games this season. The team had an up-and-down season, but quarterback Alex Carder has put up some great numbers this season.

    Purdue is at the bottom of the barrel among qualified Big Ten teams, but the fans do not have to travel that far to Detroit to see the team play in Ford Field. 

    Early Prediction: 24-21, Western Michigan

Belk Bowl: Louisville vs. North Carolina State

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    When: Dec. 27

    Where: Charlotte, NC

    Stadium (Capacity): Bank of America Stadium (73,298)

    Payout: $1.7 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Louisville earned a share of the Big East championship along with Cincinnati and West Virginia but missed out on the automatic bid due to the BCS standings. The Cardinals will settle for the third-best bowl for the Big East.

    North Carolina State ended its season by defeating highly ranked Clemson and then scored 42 straight points in its season finale against Maryland in a comeback win. It also moved up in the bowl projections due to Virginia Tech receiving an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl. 

    Early Prediction: 34-24, North Carolina State

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman: Air Force vs. Toledo

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    When: Dec. 28

    Where: Washington, D.C.

    Stadium (Capacity): RFK Stadium (45,596)

    Payout: $862,500

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Both these teams receive at-large bids to a bowl usually reserved for Navy and an ACC team. Air Force fills the military requirement for Navy, as well as the ability to run for 300 yards.

    Toledo takes the place of an ACC school since there are not enough qualifying teams. Fortunately for fans in Washington, D.C., Toledo can light up the scoreboard at 42.3 points per game. 

    Early Prediction: 51-45, Toledo

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: California vs. Texas

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    When: Dec. 28

    Where: San Diego

    Stadium (Capacity): Qualcomm Stadium (70,561)

    Payout: $2.15 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Despite being picked apart by Robert Griffin III and Baylor, Texas still has one of the toughest defenses in the country. The offense struggled to get going this season, but the team should be proud of getting the fifth spot in a quality Big 12.

    California also had a solid season but built up its wins by beating up on the lower-quality teams in the Pac-12. Still, the Golden Bears have a very balanced offense that can beat you in many ways. A win at Arizona State in the last game of the season helped secure this bowl.

    Early Prediction: 20-14, Texas

Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State vs. Notre Dame

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    When: Dec. 29

    Where: Orlando, FL

    Stadium (Capacity): Florida Citrus Bowl (70,188)

    Payout: $2.325 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Florida State gets the third spot from the ACC, as it has one of the best defenses in the country. It came into the year with lofty expectations but could have finished much worse after starting the season 2-3.

    Notre Dame receives the invite because every bowl loves to get Notre Dame. Its fans are nationwide, and an 8-4 record is enough to put on a show on the field.

    Early Prediction: 20-17, Florida State

Valero Alamo Bowl: Baylor vs. Washington

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    When: Dec. 29

    Where: San Antonio

    Stadium (Capacity): Alamodome (65,000)

    Payout: $3.175 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: The Alamo Bowl has the reputation of hosting the second-best Pac-12 team; however, two teams reached BCS bowls, plus USC is still on probation. This leaves Washington to travel to San Antonio after an average season.

    It will most likely be a heavy underdog against a red-hot Baylor team that finished third in the Big 12. Robert Griffin III is a serious Heisman candidate and leads one of the most exciting offenses in the country. He alone is worth the price of admission.

    Early Prediction: 45-24, Baylor

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: BYU vs. Tulsa

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    When: Dec. 30 

    Where: Dallas

    Stadium (Capacity): Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000)

    Payout: $600,000

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: BYU receives an automatic bid to the Armed Forces Bowl if eligible, and the Cougars did more than enough this season to earn this spot. The team used a balanced approach to finish the regular season 9-3, including close losses to Texas and TCU.

    Similarly, Tulsa has very respectable losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Houston. Unfortunately, the Conference USA team does not have too many quality wins to hang its hat on. 

    Early Prediction: 31-27, BYU

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa State vs. Rutgers

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    When: Dec. 30 

    Where: New York City

    Stadium (Capacity): Yankee Stadium (50,285)

    Payout: $1.8 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Iowa State finished with only six wins but did well against a very tough schedule. The Cyclones faced seven teams that were ranked at the time and defeated two of them, including No. 2 Oklahoma State.

    Rutgers only faced one ranked team throughout the season, and that was a loss to West Virginia. Still, the team should get a boost from local fans while playing in Yankee Stadium.

    Early Prediction: 20-14, Rutgers

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Mississippi State

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    When: Dec. 30 

    Where: Nashville, TN

    Stadium (Capacity): LP Field (68,804)

    Payout: $1,837,500

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Each of these teams had a solid start but stumbled as the season progressed. Mississippi State barely reached the postseason at 6-6, needing a win over hapless Ole Miss to reach that mark. 

    Still, the team gets to play relatively close to home against an average ACC team in Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons had five of their six wins within the conference but struggled in non-conference games. 

    Early Prediction: 24-17, Mississippi State

Insight Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Iowa

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    When: Dec. 30

    Where: Tempe, AZ

    Stadium (Capacity): Sun Devil Stadium (73,379)

    Payout: $3.35 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Oklahoma has to be disappointed to find itself in the fourth-rated Big 12 bowl after starting the preseason ranked No. 1. However, the three losses force the Sooners into an earlier, less prestigious bowl.

    On the other side, Iowa should be happy at this placement. The Big Ten was very top-heavy this season, and the Hawkeyes fought their way up the list of quality programs.

    Early Prediction: 28-17, Oklahoma

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas A&M vs. Northwestern

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    When: Dec. 31

    Where: Houston

    Stadium (Capacity): Reliant Stadium (72,000)

    Payout: $1.7 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Texas A&M was as high as No. 8 in the nation before faltering in the tough Big 12 conference. The offense was good, but the team could not play enough defense to win more than six games.

    Northwestern does not have as good of a history but will be in a bowl game for the fourth year in a row. Unfortunately, the Wildcats have lost in every appearance except for the 1948 Rose Bowl. This trend will probably not change any time soon.

    Early Prediction: 41-27, Texas A&M

Hyundai Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Utah

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    When: Dec. 31

    Where: El Paso, TX

    Stadium (Capacity): Sun Bowl (51,500)

    Payout: $2 million

    TV: CBS

    The Skinny: Georgia Tech looked good at times and really bad in others. It used the option offense to be the third-best rushing attack in the country.

    Utah will attempt to contain the Yellow Jackets after finishing its first season in the Pac-12. The Utes performed well but failed to defeat Colorado in a game that would have put them in the conference championship game.

    Early Prediction: 31-20, Georgia Tech

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt

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    When: Dec. 31

    Where: Memphis

    Stadium (Capacity): Liberty Bowl (62,380)

    Payout: $1.7 million

    TV: ABC 

    The Skinny: Cincinnati missed out on a chance to reach a BCS game due to the standings, although it still ended the season with a share of the Big East title. 

    Vanderbilt learned that it is hard to play in the SEC and finished with a 2-6 conference record. Fortunately, it went 4-0 outside of the conference to become bowl-eligible.

    Early Prediction: 24-21, Cincinnati

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: UCLA vs. Illinois

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    When: Dec. 31 

    Where: San Francisco

    Stadium (Capacity): AT&T Park (40,184)

    Payout: $837,500

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: The NCAA ruled that UCLA will be allowed to participate in a bowl game despite having a losing record. The Bruins only played in the Pac-12 championship game due to the fact that USC is on probation, and the team would have been 6-6 without it.

    Illinois limps into the postseason, as it lost its last six games after winning its first six. It would be a stretch to believe the team can turn it around after such a poor finish to the season.

    Early Prediction: 31-20, UCLA

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia vs. Auburn

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    When: Dec. 31 

    Where: Atlanta

    Stadium (Capacity): Georgia Dome (71,149)

    Payout: $3,967,500

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Virginia gets to play in a very respectable bowl game thanks to the fact that the ACC is sending two teams to the BCS. 

    Auburn jumped in and out of the rankings throughout the season and ends as the last-ranked team still in the BCS. The Tigers had a solid year with a very inexperienced team.

    Early Prediction: 27-24, Virginia

TicketCity Bowl: Penn State vs. Houston

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    When: Jan. 2 

    Where: Dallas

    Stadium (Capacity): Cotton Bowl (92,200)

    Payout: $1.1 million

    TV: ESPNU 

    The Skinny: Both teams were hoping for much more but will have to settle for the TicketCity Bowl. Despite the numerous distractions that I will not get into, Penn State was still only a few games away from the Rose Bowl.

    Houston had dreams of an undefeated season and a BCS appearance but came up short in the Conference USA title game to Southern Miss. Case Keenum should still have a great finish to his career against a major opponent.

    Early Prediction: 31-28, Houston

Outback Bowl: Michigan State vs. Georgia

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    When: Jan. 2 

    Where: Tampa, FL

    Stadium (Capacity): Raymond James Stadium (65,647)

    Payout: $3.5 million

    TV: ABC 

    The Skinny: Tampa gets treated to one of the best non-BCS bowls on the slate. Both Georgia and Michigan State lost in their respective conference championship games and are looking to end their season on a good note.

    This will be a big game for the Big Ten as it tries to prove itself against a quality opponent. 

    Early Prediction: 31-30, Michigan State

Capital One Bowl: Nebraska vs. South Carolina

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    When: Jan. 2 

    Where: Orlando, FL

    Stadium (Capacity): Florida Citrus Bowl (70,188)

    Payout: $4.6 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Nebraska has a very solid backfield between Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead, but the team lost a few games when the defense struggled to slow the opponent down.

    South Carolina has no problems on defense but wishes it did not lose its starting quarterback and running back for the season. This will be another notable game for the Big Ten to prove its abilities.

    Early Prediction: 21-13, South Carolina

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: Ohio State vs. Florida

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    When: Jan. 2 

    Where: Jacksonville, FL

    Stadium (Capacity): EverBank Field (76,867) 

    Payout: $2.7 million

    TV: ESPN2 

    The Skinny: The Gator Bowl gets a great matchup in name but a much worse product on the field. Each team comes into the game at 6-6, but the programs have plenty of fans that will sell out the stadium and make the game worth Jacksonville's time.

    Ohio State has a marquee win over Wisconsin this season but little else to be proud of. This game will not remind anyone of the two teams that faced each other in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game.

    Early Prediction: 28-20, Florida

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio: Oregon vs. Wisconsin

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    When: Jan. 2 

    Where: Pasadena, CA

    Stadium (Capacity): Rose Bowl (94,118)

    Payout: $17 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Oregon lucked out by getting to face UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game but did not have an easy road to get there. After losing to LSU in Week 1, Oregon used its great rushing attack to win nine straight games, including a win at Stanford.

    Like Oregon, Wisconsin also had early-season title hopes, but those were dashed by two tough losses in October. The Badgers were able to avenge one of those losses, as they beat Michigan State to win the Big Ten championship. 

    This game will be a great ground battle between two of the top running backs in the country.

    Early Prediction: 45-38, Oregon

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford

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    When: Jan. 2 

    Where: Glendale, AZ

    Stadium (Capacity): University of Phoenix Stadium (63,400)

    Payout: $17 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Oklahoma State wanted to play in the BCS National Championship Game, but the loss to Iowa State proved to be the thing that ended its hopes. 

    Fans will still be treated to an excellent game, as the high-scoring Cowboys will face another high-scoring team in Stanford.

    The quarterback battle between Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden will also be fascinating to watch.

    Early Prediction: 45-35, Oklahoma State

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Michigan

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    When: Jan. 3 

    Where: New Orleans

    Stadium (Capacity): Mercedes-Benz Superdome (76,468)

    Payout: $17 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Each of these teams was somewhat of a surprise for getting an at-large bid.

    Michigan finishes at No. 13 in the BCS, one inside the mark needed to qualify for this type of bid. The Wolverines have a strong enough fanbase to put them in over other quality teams.

    The same can be said about Virginia Tech, which lost its chance at an automatic bid when it lost to Clemson for the ACC championship. It was selected over both Kansas State and Boise State.

    Early Prediction: 37-21, Michigan

Discover Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. West Virginia

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    When: Jan. 4 

    Where: Miami

    Stadium (Capacity): Sun Life Stadium (74,916)

    Payout: $17 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: West Virginia tied with Louisville and Cincinnati for the Big East championship but received the automatic bid due to its ranking in the final BCS standings. Its respectable showing against LSU might have put the team over the edge.

    Clemson redeemed a poor end to the season by routing Virginia Tech for the second time this season and winning the ACC championship. There is a lot of young talent, like sophomore Tajh Boyd and freshman Sammy Watkins, that can lead the team back to the BCS a few more times in future seasons.

    Early Prediction: 35-13, Clemson

AT&T Cotton Bowl: Kansas State vs. Arkansas

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    When: Jan. 6

    Where: Arlington, TX

    Stadium (Capacity): Cowboys Stadium (88,175)

    Payout: $3.625 million

    TV: FOX

    The Skinny: This is a matchup of two teams in the Top 10, but neither reached a BCS bowl.

    Arkansas was ineligible due to the fact that two other SEC teams received bids (Alabama and LSU), but this is a quality bowl for the young team.

    Kansas State should be much angrier about this spot, as it deserved a bid over either team in the Sugar Bowl. Quarterback Collin Klein is one of the most underrated players in the country and will be a Heisman candidate next season.

    Early Prediction: 30-24, Kansas State

BBVA Compass Bowl: SMU vs. Pittsburgh

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    When: Jan. 7 

    Where: Birmingham, AL

    Stadium (Capacity): Legion Field (70,100)

    Payout: $900,000

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: SMU receives an at-large win despite an average season, as there are not enough SEC teams to fill the regional bowl game.

    Pittsburgh also had a less-than-stellar season, needing a win over Syracuse to qualify for the postseason. It had a chance at the Big East title if it had beaten West Virginia the week before but lost by one point on the road.

    Early Prediction: 28-17, Pittsburgh

GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois

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    When: Jan. 8 

    Where: Mobile, AL

    Stadium (Capacity): Ladd-Peebles Stadium (40,646)

    Payout: $750,000

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: Arkansas State chose this late bowl after rolling through the Sun Belt this season. Quarterback Ryan Aplin led the Red Wolves to 10 wins this season, only losing on the road to Illinois and Virginia Tech.

    They will face a team that also dominated its conference in Northern Illinois. The Huskies went 7-1 in the MAC and won the conference championship with a win over Ohio.

    Early Prediction: 41-31, Northern Illinois

Allstate BCS National Championship Game: LSU vs. Alabama

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    When: Jan. 9

    Where: New Orleans

    Stadium (Capacity): Mercedes-Benz Superdome (76,468)

    Payout: $18 million

    TV: ESPN 

    The Skinny: There will be plenty of arguments about this game, but the fact is that voters rated these teams as the two best in the country.

    LSU not only won the SEC championship but also defeated the champions from the Big East and the Pac-12.

    Alabama does not have the marquee wins but held LSU to nine points in an overtime loss. This was the Crimson Tide's only blemish of the season, so they will get another chance to defeat their conference foe.

    Fans of offense are extremely disappointed.

    Early Prediction: 20-7, LSU