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Going Bowling 2013

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Going Bowling 2013 Going Bowling 2013

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. I tried to predict them all last year with some success.

I clearly got lucky.

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 that your guess is as good as mine.

Non-BCS bowls

Gildan New Mexico Bowl Saturday, Dec. 21; 2 p.m.

Colorado State (7-6) vs. Washington State (6-6)

The 2013-14 bowl season kicks off with a pair of teams returning to bowl season after a lengthy absence CSU last played in a bowl in 2008, while it has been a decade since the WSU Cougars played in December. Washington State has a dynamic passing attack that will likely overwhelm the stout rushing attack of Colorado State.

Winner: Washington State

Las Vegas Bowl Saturday, Dec. 21; 3:30 p.m.

Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4)

This is a surprisingly good game for this early in the list. Fresno State just missed out on the big-boy bowl mix with a late loss to San Jose State, but they came back to take the Mountain West title. Quarterback Derek Carr leads the FBS with 48 TD passes and nearly 5,000 yards. However, USC a team left for dead after the midseason firing of coach Lane Kiffin came alive under interim coach Ed Orgeron. Their defense has been especially surprising and effective. Still, look for Fresno State to prove that they belonged with the big dogs.

Winner: Fresno State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Saturday, Dec. 21; 5:30 p.m.

San Diego State (7-5) vs. Buffalo (8-4)

Neither one of these teams looks particularly impressive, but both overcame a lot to get to this point. San Diego State lost their first three including a home game to an FCS school before storming back into eligibility. Meanwhile, this is only the second-ever bowl for Buffalo and their second winning season in their decade-plus back in the FBS. SDSU might be the better team, but you can't help but root for the Bulls.

Winner: Buffalo

New Orleans Bowl Saturday, Dec. 21; 9 p.m.

Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)

Louisiana-Lafayette is making their third straight appearance in this bowl game; there are no surprises in store for the Ragin' Cajuns. However, Tulane back in the bowls after a decade-long absence are playing on their home field. The Green Wave offense is borderline terrible, but their defense should help keep things close. There's no reason to think Louisiana-Lafayette won't make it three in a row.

Winner: Louisiana-Lafayette

Beef O'Brady's Bowl Monday, Dec. 23; 2 p.m.

East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5)

One wouldn't think of East Carolina as a powerhouse, but this team led by quarterback Shane Carden has put up more than 40 points per game. The Pirates will score points. And when you take into account the just-happy-to-be-here Ohio Bobcats, you can probably count on big numbers on the scoreboard. Ohio's D has been suspect against much weaker teams than East Carolina.

Winner: East Carolina

Hawaii Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 24; 8 p.m.

Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6)

These are two teams who tend to aspire a little higher than the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State has faded back to the pack after a few seasons as the BCS-buster du jour. This team isn't quite as strong as squads past and they have the added burden of playing for a lame duck coach Chris Peterson is off to Washington. Meanwhile, Oregon State looked like a major player in the FBS mix until midseason; they lost their last five in a row. Look for Oregon State to break their streak against a demoralized Broncos team.

Winner: Oregon State

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Thursday, Dec. 26; 6 p.m.

Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)

Pitt had to come on strong at season's end just to become bowl-eligible. They managed, despite finishing sixth in the ACC's Coastal Division, to make a bowl for the sixth straight season. On the other side, you've got MAC champion Bowling Green. They burst Northern Illinois's BCS bowl hopes with a solid offense and an elite defense. With that kind of combination, expect the Falcons to walk all over the Pitt Panthers.

Winner: Bowling Green

Poinsettia Bowl Thursday, Dec. 26; 9:30 p.m.

Utah State (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1)

This is not the season-ending game that Northern Illinois was hoping for. Until their MAC championship game loss to Bowling Green, this team led by quarterback (and fringe Heisman hopeful) Jordan Lynch - had a legitimate shot at a non-automatic qualifier slots in a BCS game. So now, they settle for this matchup against Utah State. The Aggies had a nice season in the Mountain West, but they'll likely be steamrolled by an NIU team with a powerful offense and a chip on its shoulder.

Winner: Northern Illinois

Military Bowl Friday, Dec. 27; 2:30 p.m.

Maryland (7-5) vs. Marshall (9-4)

Maryland and Marshall both come into this game having hoped for something more from their respective seasons. Maryland has some top-notch victories, but they have also been inconsistent. Marshall was hot late, but still lost to an inferior Rice team in their conference championship. It could go either way, but look for the Thundering Herd's offense to pave the way over the Terrapins.

Winner: Marshall

Texas Bowl Friday, Dec. 27; 6 p.m.

Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4)

While both of these schools carry a lengthy football tradition, this year was not a stellar one for either program. Despite eight wins, the Golden Gophers were fourth in their division, their inconsistent offense buoyed by steady defense. The Orangemen somehow achieved bowl eligibility despite one of the most anemic offensive attacks in all of FBS. Look for Minnesota to take it in a low-scoring affair.

Winner: Minnesota

Fight Hunger Bowl Friday, Dec. 27; 9:30 p.m.

Washington (8-4) vs. Brigham Young University (8-4)

It's Cougar versus Husky in the Fight Hunger Bowl. Washington has had an up-and-down season they were considered a contender at one point and is in coaching limbo since their old coach has left and their new one hasn't yet arrived. On the other hand, BYU played a relatively soft schedule and got beat when they played up. All in all, look for Washington to muddle through for the win.

Winner: Washington

Pinstripe Bowl Saturday, Dec. 28; 12 p.m.

Notre Dame (8-4) vs. Rutgers (6-6)

This is not where Notre Dame wanted to be a year after playing for the national title. Still, considering their inconsistent year, they could have done worse. Meanwhile, Rutgers barely squeaked in, needing a win in their last game to gain eligibility. It's odd to say this about any game involving the Fighting Irish, but this is a contender for 'Least Interesting Bowl' on this year's docket.

Winner: Notre Dame

Belk Bowl Saturday, Dec. 28; 3:20 p.m.

North Carolina (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)

Cincinnati's record might look impressive, but the truth is that they haven't really beaten anybody of note, though they did take Louisville to OT. On the other hand, North Carolina had to win their last five games just to make it into the bowl mix. The Bearcats have a good quarterback in Brendon Kay and a solid defense; they likely have the Tar Heels outclassed. Cincinnati's lucky this isn't basketball.

Winner: Cincinnati

Russell Athletic Bowl Saturday, Dec. 28; 6:45 p.m.

Miami (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1)

Louisville is another team that is disappointed with its landing spot. Up until a tough loss to UCF, the Cardinals led by future first-rounder QB Teddy Bridgewater were very much in the BCS title hunt. Now, they face a Miami team whose nine wins bely a season that was disappointing overall. The Hurricanes have been decent this season, but look for the combination of Bridgewater and a strong Louisville defense to effectively bury any hopes Miami might have of a win.

Winner: Louisville

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Saturday, Dec. 28; 10:15 p.m.

Kansas State (7-5) vs. Michigan (7-5)

What we have here is a matchup of mediocrity. Kansas State had some good games, but they also started lost four of their first six, including one to an FCS team. Meanwhile, Michigan won four straight to start before fading as the season progressed (their near-upset of Ohio State notwithstanding). On paper, this game looks uninteresting so it'll probably be one of the best of the year.

Winner: Kansas State

Armed Forces Bowl Monday, Dec. 30; 11:45 a.m.

Middle Tennessee State (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)

For fans of the ground game, this could be the best bowl of the season. Middle Tennessee has a well-rounded rushing attack, one that averaged more than 40 points per game in their season-closing five-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Navy's vaunted triple option churns out more yards than almost any other scheme. Expect a lot of big plays from both teams in this one. And in the Armed Forces Bowl, don't you have to go with Navy?

Winner: Navy

Music City Bowl Monday, Dec. 30; 3:15 p.m.

Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Ole Miss (7-5)

Here's another triple option team; Georgia Tech put up over 300 rushing yards per game this season. Meanwhile, Ole Miss had a woefully inconsistent season, losing its last two games as it stumbled to the finish line. However, while the Yellow Jackets can run it, Ole Miss has been battle-tested in the crucible that is the SEC. Look for the Rebels to do just enough to win a close game.

Winner: Ole Miss

Alamo Bowl Monday, Dec. 30; 6:45 p.m.

Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon (10-2)

This is probably the most eagerly-anticipated non-BCS bowl. It's certainly the best game happening before January 1. Oregon's season ended in disappointment after a pair of losses took them out of the championship conversation, but they still have one of the most explosive offenses in the country led by QB Marcus Mariota. Texas didn't have the same level of expectations, but they still just missed on the chance to take the Big 12 title. Longtime coach Mack Brown is stepping down after this game after 16 seasons. While emotions will run high for the Longhorns, it won't be enough to stop the Ducks.

Winner: Oregon

Holiday Bowl Monday, Dec. 30; 10:15 p.m.

Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Arizona State (10-3)

ASU made some noise in the Pac-12 before losing to Stanford; their offense looks very impressive. Texas Tech won their first seven and lost their last five. They've got a top-10 offense, but their defense has allowed nearly 50 points a game during the losing streak. You can expect some fireworks as the Sun Devils win in a game that manages to be a shootout and not all that close simultaneously.

Winner: Arizona State

AdvoCare V100 Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 31; 12:30 p.m.

Boston College (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)

This game features perhaps the top two running backs in all of college football in BC's Andre Williams and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey. While that matchup will be compelling, the game likely won't be all that close. While the teams sport identical records, all wins are not created equal. The Wildcats have some legitimately impressive wins, while the Eagles have been ho-hum. Williams is the better back, but Arizona is the better team.

Winner: Arizona

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

Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3)

This one might prove to be a defensive battle, as both teams have put up excellent performances on that side of the ball. It will come down to which team performs better on offense, and while Virginia Tech has some solid playmakers, the level of offensive talent that UCLA brings to the table should prove too much for the Hokies.

Winner: UCLA

Liberty Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 31; 4 p.m.

Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (6-6)

This is a classic case of deceptive records. While Rice has 10 wins, not one has come against an elite opponent. And while Mississippi State sits at a mere 6-6, every one of their losses came at the hands of a team currently in the Top 25. Six wins in the SEC is a heck of a lot more impressive than 10 in Conference USA. The Bulldogs should win in a walk.

Winner: Mississippi State

Chick-fil-A Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 31; 8 p.m.

Duke (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)

This game is basically the bon voyage party for Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football and his Texas A&M team didn't have quite the year everyone expected, but they are more than good enough to handle a fluky Duke team that lucked its way into an ACC title game where they got blown out by Florida State. The Blue Devils should be proud of their season, but it won't end with a win; look for Manziel to go out in a blaze of glory.

Winner: Texas A&M

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

Nebraska (8-4) vs. Georgia (8-4)

Two classic football powerhouses take the field for the Gator Bowl. Unfortunately, due to injuries and ineffectiveness, neither team had nearly the strong season that fans might have hoped. While there's a lot of history in both of these programs, history will not be made at the Gator Bowl. This is going to be a defensive battle; whichever team manages to run the most effectively will win.

Winner: Georgia

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

UNLV (7-5) vs. North Texas (8-4)

Here's one that will be tough to care about. While both teams are returning to bowls after lengthy absences UNLV since 2000, North Texas since 2004 it's hard to find much else interesting here. Call it a coin flip; mine landed on UNLV.

Winner: UNLV

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

Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)

This has the potential to be one of those great strength-against-strength matchups, with the vaunted Wisconsin ground attack of Melvin Gordon and James White going against the Jadeveon Clowney-led defense of South Carolina. Both teams had excellent seasons marred by losses that were essentially hiccups; this could be a really good game. It'll come down to the Gamecocks offense against Wisconsin's very good defense a battle South Carolina will win.

Winner: South Carolina

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

Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3)

These two teams might have seven losses between them, but almost every one of those losses came to an exceptional squad. LSU is the only team to beat championship contender Auburn this season; Iowa's four losses came to Top 25 teams. If Iowa's stout defense (18.8 points per game) can hold in check an LSU offense missing starting QB Zach Mettenberger, they'll have a shot. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, the Tigers still have a wealth of offensive weapons likely too many to overcome.

Winner: LSU

Cotton Bowl Friday, Jan. 3; 8 p.m.

Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2)

Here's another outstanding matchup that wouldn't look out of place on the BCS stage. Oklahoma State missed out on the Big 12 title with their loss to Oklahoma; while the Cowboys offense isn't quite as explosive as it has been in recent years, the improved defense makes up the difference. The Missouri Tigers have made themselves into a legitimate force in the difficult SEC, with an effective balance between offense and defense. This one's hard to call, but when it doubt go SEC.

Winner: Missouri

BBVA Compass Bowl Saturday, Jan. 4; 1 p.m.

Houston (8-4) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4)

It's hard to care too much about these bridge games that exist only to keep fans engaged until the championship. Houston, Vanderbilt does it matter?

Winner: Houston

GoDaddy Bowl Sunday, Jan. 5; 9 p.m.

Ball State (10-2) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)

See above. This game exists only because the NCAA wants to keep football on our minds. But Ball State is a pretty decent team.

Winner: Ball State

BCS Bowls

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

Michigan State (12-1) vs. Stanford (11-2)

This has all the makings of a throwback-type Rose Bowl. These teams have very similar styles of play, built around the running game and good defense. It's all going to come down to which team best can execute its game plan. Stanford has some tough losses, but they also beat top-tier teams like Oregon and UCLA. All Michigan State did to get here was end Ohio State's undefeated run toward the national title. These are great teams; look for Stanford to eke out a win in a tough, low-scoring affair.

Winner: Stanford

Fiesta Bowl Wednesday, Jan. 1; 8:30 p.m.

Baylor (11-1) vs. Central Florida (11-1)

On the flip side, you have a game like this one, which looks to be a freewheeling shootout. Baylor only has the best offense in the country, putting up a staggering 600-plus yards and 53.3 points per game. They might have gotten a little help to earn their Big 12 title, but they deserve this spot as much as anyone. The Knights of Central Florida have had a great year in the AAC; quarterback Blake Bortles can really chuck it. However, there's little chance that UCF can keep up with the video-game offense of the Baylor Bears.

Winner: Baylor

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

Alabama (11-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)

We all just assumed that Alabama would be contending for yet another national title this season. Alas, Auburn thought differently. So the Crimson Tide has to settle for this Sugar Bowl matchup against another not-quite contender in the Oklahoma Sooners. It might be hard for Alabama to get up for this game after missing out on the three-peat opportunity, so Oklahoma might have a puncher's chance. Still, while Bama isn't playing for the title, there's little doubt in the minds of most that they are the best team in college football. Look for that belief to ring true in this game. Later, Sooners.

Winner: Alabama

Orange Bowl Friday, Jan. 3; 8:30 p.m.

Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio State (12-1)

Ohio State is another team that isn't happy with its bowl. The Buckeyes had a real shot at the national title game before a loss to Michigan State dropped them down a notch. Meanwhile, Clemson is sitting in as the ACC representative here since Florida State is playing for the title. Both of these teams are wildly talented, bringing a lot to the table on both sides of the ball. But with Clemson ranking in the Top 20 nationally in both offense and defense, the slight edge goes to the Tigers.

Winner: Clemson

BCS Title Game Monday, Jan. 6; 8:30 p.m.

Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1)

As recently as a few weeks ago, the lineup for this game seemed almost to be a foregone conclusion. What a difference a month makes. Alabama and Ohio State both fell, opening the door for Auburn a team that was winless in the SEC just a year ago to take a swing at the national title. And as the SEC representative, they'd ordinarily be the favorite. However, the Seminoles have a few distinct advantages: they've got the newly-minted Heisman Trophy winner in freshman QB Jameis Winston and a punishing defense that gave up a scant 10.7 points per game this season. While Auburn has a great offensive attack especially on the ground led by back Tre Mason and QB Nick Marshall, it likely won't be enough to overcome FSU.

Winner: Florida State


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