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A casual fan predicts all 35 bowl games

The college football regular season has come to a conclusion. It's all about the bowl games now 35 of them in all. That means 70 different teams are looking to end their season with a victory. Some have more to play for than others, but every single one of these teams is looking to go out with a bang.

As a casual fan, I don't claim any special knowledge regarding most of these games. After hours of exhaustive research, the only thing I can say with any certainty is this:

Your guess is as good as mine.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl Saturday, Dec. 15; 1 p.m.

Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)

It was a disappointing season for both of these teams, as neither managed to get past the .500 mark in conference play. It's a matchup of dominant rushing attacks; both teams are among the highest scoring in the country. However, they are also both near the bottom in points allowed. This one looks like a high-scoring affair.

Winner: Nevada

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Saturday, Dec. 15; 4:30 p.m.

Utah State (10-2) vs. Toledo (9-3)

Utah State is coming off one of the best seasons in the history of the program; they're also looking to avenge a loss in this game last year. Toledo was in the Top 25 at one point and even broke into the BCS at one point the first time in school history. This is a matchup of two very good teams with the potential for some fireworks.

Winner: Utah State

Poinsettia Bowl Thursday, Dec. 20; 8 p.m.

San Diego State (9-3) vs. BYU (7-5)

This game looks to come down to a matchup of strength against strength. San Diego State put up a robust rushing attack, averaging well over 200 yards a game. Meanwhile, BYU's defense has been their calling card almost all of their losses were close and they gave up less than 15 points a game. It all comes down to whose strength is strongest.

Winner: BYU

Beef O'Brady's Bowl Friday, Dec. 21; 7:30 p.m.

Ball State (9-3) vs. UCF (9-4)

Two school subjects have stacked the deck against Ball State in this one history and geography. Ball State has never won a bowl game in their team's history, while the game (located in St. Petersburg) is practically being played in UCF's backyard. Add to that UCF's strong offensive attack and it doesn't look good for Ball State.

Winner: UCF

New Orleans Bowl Saturday, Dec. 22; 12 p.m.

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. East Carolina (8-4)

This is another matchup of strong offensive squads. Louisiana-Lafayette has rolled up a ton of yardage, averaging almost 450 per game. But East Carolina has scored plenty of points as well, led by quarterback Shane Carden, who has accounted for nearly 30 touchdowns this season. It will all boil down to which defense can step up biggest.

Winner Louisiana-Lafayette

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Saturday, Dec. 22; 3:30 p.m.

Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5)

While Boise State has built a reputation as a bit of a 'BCS Buster,' the fact remains that this is their third straight trip to Las Vegas for this game. They put up yet another dominant season, albeit not quite as strong as years past. Washington started strong, but their team has been wildly inconsistent in finishing 7-5. Look for that inconsistency to continue.

Winner: Boise State

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Monday, Dec. 24; 8 p.m.

SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3)

Fresno State might have aspired a little higher than this, residing as they do in the Top 20 in both offense and defense this season. They'll face off against SMU, whose primary claim to being in this bowl rests with their coach June Jones, who coached at the University of Hawaii for nine years. This one might get lopsided.

Winner: Fresno State

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Wednesday, Dec. 26; 7:30 p.m.

Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)

Central Michigan gets to play in a bowl game in their backyard the game is played in Detroit but they face a tough upstart opponent. Western Kentucky has only been competing at the FBS level for four years; this is their first trip to a bowl game. Look for Central Michigan to take advantage of familiarity as Western Kentucky might be just happy to be here.

Winner: Central Michigan

Military Bowl Thursday, Dec. 27; 3 p.m.

San Jose State (10-2) vs. Bowling Green (8-4)

Army's struggles this year along with a dearth of candidates from the ACC, the game's conference partner have resulted in this oddball matchup. Still, it's not all bad San Jose State is the first ranked team to play in the bowl's history. Bowling Green had a nice season, but they'll likely have a tough time against the Spartans.

Winner: San Jose State

Belk Bowl Thursday, Dec. 27; 6:30 p.m.

Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6)

The big story here is the mere presence of Duke; they've long been a bit of a college football punchline. This is their first bowl trip since 1994. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is playing in their sixth in the past seven years. Duke overachieved to get here; it seems likely that the feel-good story will come to an end against the Bearcats.

Winner: Cincinnati

Holiday Bowl Thursday, Dec. 27; 9:45 p.m.

Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4)

UCLA comes into this game ranked 17th in the polls; they've had a phenomenal year with some big wins. Baylor has been inconsistent defensively, but their offense has been amazing they are first in total offense and fifth in scoring, averaging over 44 points per game. This has the potential to be one of the best games of the entire bowl season.

Winner: Baylor

Independence Bowl Friday, Dec. 28; 2 p.m.

Ohio (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (8-4)

Louisiana-Monroe is playing in their first-ever bowl game, with the added bonus of playing in Shreveport, a mere two hours from their campus. Ohio has scored a ton of points over 35 a game but they've also lost four of their last five games. Despite the de facto home field advantage, Louisiana-Monroe likely won't be able to stop the Bobcats attack.

Winner: Ohio

Russell Athletics Bowl Friday, Dec. 28; 5:30 p.m.

Rutgers (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)

Virginia Tech might be one of the bigger disappointments in college football this season, beginning the season ranked 16th but struggling to even reach bowl eligibility. Rutgers, meanwhile, put up a strong season led by an imposing defense and opportunistic special teams play. VT's inconsistency will likely spell their downfall.

Winner: Rutgers

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Friday, Dec. 28; 9 p.m.

Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

Texas Tech brings their high-octane offense to the table in a game played in their home state. Meanwhile, Minnesota has made it here on the strength of balanced offense and strong defense. However, while the Minnesota D looks good, they may find the Red Raider attack too hot to handle.

Winner: Texas Tech

Armed Forces Bowl Saturday, Dec. 29; 11:45 a.m.

Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6)

The combined record of these two teams is 12-12. In a lot of ways, this matchup is an indictment of the watered-down nature of the current college bowl system. Rice comes in as the hotter team, winners of four straight. That's about the only distinction between these teams in terms of quality; this game is the definition of a coin flip.

Winner: Air Force

Pinstripe Bowl Saturday, Dec. 29; 3:15 p.m.

Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

This one has the potential to be a really exciting game. West Virginia's offense has been thrilling fans and chilling opponents all season; QB Geno Smith was even an early Heisman contender. But Syracuse is no slouch when it comes to putting points up on the board. This is another game where a few big defensive plays could well make the difference.

Winner: West Virginia

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Saturday, Dec. 29; 4 p.m.

Arizona State (7-5) vs. Navy (8-4)

It's always interesting watching a team like Navy. Their option offense put up over 285 rushing yards per game good for sixth in the nation. Arizona State overachieved a bit this year, thanks to a balanced offense and the presence of Will Sutton, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. This could be a surprisingly watchable matchup.

Winner: Navy

Alamo Bowl Saturday, Dec. 29; 6:45 p.m.

Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3)

Oregon State came out of nowhere this year, riding the strength of a pair of 1,000-plus yard receivers. It was an impressive turnaround. Texas, on the other hand, was viewed as a disappointment at 8-4. They're dealing with both a quarterback controversy and a porous defense two problems that might make for a tough road to victory.

Winner: Oregon State

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Saturday, Dec. 29; 10:15 p.m.

Michigan State (6-6) vs. TCU (7-5)

With the video game numbers that we've started seeing in college football, this game has a good chance of seeming like a throwback of sorts. These two teams feature some of the stoutest defenses in college football this year. However, they also feature mediocre offenses. The over/under is set at 41.5; you'd be wise to take the under.

Winner: TCU

Music City Bowl Monday, Dec. 31; 12 p.m.

North Carolina State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4)

Vanderbilt hasn't been known for football success, but this time they get to not only play in a bowl, but play in one that is in their backyard. They're going up against a team that will be led by an interim coach; the Wolfpack fired their head coach after the completion of the regular season. It looks like the deck is stacked in favor of the Commodores.

Winner: Vanderbilt

Sun Bowl Monday, Dec. 31; 2 p.m.

Georgia Tech (6-7) vs. USC (7-5)

If one only goes by the records, this game doesn't look like much. However, the USC Trojans should be playing for pride after an extremely disappointing season. However, their defense may not have the playmakers necessary to contain Georgia Tech's triple option offense. There's a chance we might be in store for some surprises.

Winner: Georgia Tech

Liberty Bowl Monday, Dec. 31; 3:30 p.m.

Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3)

Tulsa may have 10 wins, but they also have three losses one of which came at the hands of this same Iowa State team. However, that was the season opener; the teams have definitely gone in opposite direction since then. Iowa State has been on a skid the second half of the season; look for Tulsa to take advantage.

Winner: Tulsa

Chick-fil-A Bowl Monday, Dec. 31; 7:30 p.m.

Clemson (10-2) vs. LSU (10-2)

This might be the first really top-tier matchup of the 2012-13 bowl season. These are two teams that have a lot going for them, teams that are both sitting in top-15 positions in the polls (LSU is at nine while Clemson sits at 14). These are elite programs that would seem to deserve better than a bowl named for a fast food restaurant.

Winner: Clemson

Heart of Dallas Bowl Tuesday, Jan. 1; 12 p.m.

Oklahoma State (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

Purdue is a 6-6 team that has showed itself to be wildly inconsistent this season. They also fired their head coach, leaving the squad in the hands of an interim coach. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State had its own struggles, using three different starting quarterbacks at various points in the season. Still, talent and leadership tend to win out.

Winner: Oklahoma State

Gator Bowl Tuesday, Jan. 1; 12 p.m.

Northwestern (9-3) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)

Mississippi State started the season strong with seven straight wins, but things quickly fell apart as they lost four of their last five to finish the year. Northwestern had an atypically strong season thanks to a top-15 rushing attack. However, Northwestern has gone over 60 years without a bowl win; that's a lot of history to overcome.

Winner: Mississippi State

Outback Bowl Tuesday, Jan. 1; 1 p.m.

South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4)

South Carolina has one of the most iconic coaches in college football in Steve Spurrier. They also have one of the game's most dynamic defensive players in Jadeveon Clowney. Michigan will look to ride their solid defense and the explosiveness of Denard Robinson to victory. This one looks like it might contain some fireworks.

Winner: South Carolina

Capital One Bowl Tuesday, Jan. 1; 1 p.m.

Nebraska (10-3) vs. Georgia (11-2)

Two of the most iconic franchises in college football are meeting up in this game. Georgia just missed out on a spot in the national championship game when they narrowly lost to Alabama in the SEC title game. Nebraska got run off the field in the Big Ten championship game, but they still have to be considered one of college football's elite teams.

Winner: Georgia

Rose Bowl Tuesday, Jan. 1; 5 p.m.

Wisconsin (8-5) vs. Stanford (11-2)

Perhaps the most revered of the bowl games, this year's Rose bowl features a wonderfully old-fashioned matchup. These are two grinding down and dirty teams. Stanford has showed surprising fortitude all year, while Wisconsin took advantage of the ineligibility of undefeated Ohio State to win their conference. This might be one for the ages.

Winner: Stanford

Orange Bowl Tuesday, Jan. 1; 8:30 p.m.

Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2)

This year's 'bowl buster' is Northern Illinois, who earned their spot by just barely cracking the BCS top 16. Meanwhile, Florida State flashed some serious talent on both sides of the ball in earning their way to the nearby bowl. It will likely boil down to the effectiveness of FSU's staunch second-ranked defense against the top-10 scoring attack of Northern Illinois.

Winner: Florida State

Sugar Bowl Wednesday, Jan. 2; 8:30 p.m.

Louisville (10-2) vs. Florida (11-1)

Florida ranked fourth overall - was one of the most dominant teams in the SEC this year, with their one loss coming to powerhouse Georgia. Louisville, on the other hand, sits way down at 22 in the rankings, getting this spot as the highest ranked Big East team. All wins are not created equal a truth that Louisville, to their chagrin, is soon to discover.

Winner: Florida

Fiesta Bowl Thursday, Jan. 3; 8:30 p.m.

Oregon (11-1) vs. Kansas State (11-1)

Excitement is likely to be abundant in this matchup. Oregon's high-speed, high-scoring offensive attack is one of the most prolific in all of college football. Meanwhile, Kansas State has ridden the exceptional play of quarterback Collin Klein in creating its own powerful offense. These two just missed their own chances at the national championship; this shootout should make for a sweet consolation prize.

Winner: Oregon

Cotton Bowl Friday, Jan. 4; 8 p.m.

Texas A&M (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)

Oklahoma just missed out on their BCS bowl chances thanks to Northern Illinois, so instead they'll head to Texas to take on Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and the vaunted Texas A&M offense. The Sooners will likely be playing with a chip on their collective shoulder, but Manziel and the Aggies are as exciting as any team in college football. Put it all together and it seems likely that this will be one of this year's must-watch games.

Winner: Texas A&M

BBVA Compass Bowl Saturday, Jan. 5; 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6)

Make no mistake; there's no way this game can be anything other than a letdown following the potential explosiveness of the BCS bowls. This matchup of .500 teams doesn't look like anything more than a placeholder. Pitt and Ole Miss both showed flashes of excellence this season, but only flashes. Unless you're an alumnus or a family member, don't bother.

Winner: Pittsburgh Bowl Sunday, Jan. 6; 9 p.m.

Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Kent State (11-2)

This is another space-filler intended to get us to the championship game. However, at least this one offers potential watchability. Both teams have highly rated offenses, so the entertainment quotient is there at the very least. Additionally, Kent State is going for their first bowl win in 40 years, so there's a chance to witness some history as well.

Winner: Kent State

BCS Championship Bowl Monday, Jan. 7; 8:30 p.m.

Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)

Here we are. The big one. This one is for all the marbles. There are plenty of people out there who shortchange the Fighting Irish this year despite their undefeated record. While their schedule wasn't necessarily as tough as that of Alabama, they still won all 12 of their games no easy feat in today's college football universe behind elite linebacker (and Heisman finalist) Manti Te'o. Of course, they put that record on the line against Alabama, the preseason consensus pick to win this game. Bama's one loss came at the hands of the red-hot Texas A&M Aggies and their Heisman Trophy-winning QB Johnny Manziel. Under coach Nick Saban, Alabama has consistently shown themselves to be an elite team, dominating in all facets of the game. Expect that trend to continue.

Winner: Alabama

Last modified on Thursday, 13 December 2012 12:30


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