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Going Bowling 2015

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Predicting the outcome of every college bowl game

It's that time of year again that time when I use every bit of knowledge I have accumulated in another season of college football half-fandom and try to predict the winners of every bowl game.

I've had some success in the past, but make no mistake I have no idea what I'm doing.

Joining in the fun this year is The Maine Edge's own Ryan Grindle. He and I differ on a fair number of these games, so I think we can safely say that he either knows what he's doing or REALLY doesn't. I'm hoping it's the latter.

It's a chance to see some college football teams that you know nothing about. You never know if you might stumble upon a game where something unprecedented takes place. If nothing else, there's a whole lot of football to be watched.

Let's go bowling.

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Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 19 2 p.m.)

Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5)

This is the first time New Mexico has been any good in ages and this is a de facto home game for them. Arizona's Pac-12 mojo won't help them much, though if they get healthy, they'll be tough. It'll be close, but the Lobos will end this comeback season with a bowl win.

Allen's pick: New Mexico

Ryan's pick: Arizona

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 19 3:30 p.m.)

#22 Utah (9-3) vs. BYU (9-3)

Definitely a highlight of the early part of bowl season, this game promises to offer a hard-fought battle between two long-time rivals. In the end, expect the Utes to come out on top in this latest edition of the Holy War, though a lot depends on the health of RB Devontae Booker.

Allen's pick: Utah

Ryan's pick: Utah

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Dec. 19 5:30 p.m.)

Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (10-2)

Appalachian State is a newcomer to the world of FBS football, but there's no doubt that they can hold their own. Ohio is a good team, but look for App State QB Taylor Lamb to put the Mountaineers efficient passing game on display in the team's first bowl win.

Allen's pick: Appalachian State

Ryan's pick: Ohio

AutoNation Cure Bowl (Dec. 19 7 p.m.)

San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6)

Georgia State spent the past two seasons managing just a single win total before bouncing all the way back to bowl eligibility. Sub-.500 San Jose State is just happy (and maybe a little embarrassed) to be here. Georgia State will complete the comeback to respectability with a victory.

Allen's pick: Georgia State

Ryan's pick: San Jose State

R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 19 9 p.m.)

Louisiana Tech (8-4) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)

This one is going to be super fun an indoor shootout of the type that we always see at some point during bowl season. Arkansas State has a high-octane offense, but Louisiana Tech is no slouch in that department either. Add to that a close-to-home venue and everything comes up Louisiana Tech.

Allen's pick: Louisiana Tech

Ryan's pick: Louisiana Tech

Miami Beach Bowl (Dec. 21 2:30 p.m.)

Western Kentucky (11-2) vs. South Florida (8-4)

This is another one that promises to be entertaining. There's coach drama and high-energy offensive schemes. South Florida closed strong, winning seven of their last eight. The WKU Hilltoppers will score a ton, but the Bulls of USF will score just a bit more.

Allen's pick: South Florida

Ryan's pick: Western Kentucky

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 22 3:30 p.m.)

Akron (7-5) vs. Utah State (6-6)

Akron comes into this game on a four-game winning streak, but there's a good chance that the streak ends here for the Zips. Utah State has the dynamic but injury-prone QB Chuckie Keeton; it seems likely that Keeton will go big in his final game for the Aggies.

Allen's pick: Utah State

Ryan's pick: Utah State

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 22 7 p.m.)

Toledo (9-2) vs. #24 Temple (10-3)

This is a showdown between some decent defensive teams the Rockets and the Owls have both looked good on that side of the ball. However, Temple has shown itself to be just a bit more adept at generating the big plays necessary to triumph in a defensive struggle.

Allen's pick: Temple

Ryan's pick: Temple

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 23 4:30 p.m.)

Boise State (8-4) vs. Northern Illinois (8-5)

It hasn't been the best of seasons for Boise State, but even after their up-and-down year, they should have more than enough to take down the Northern Illinois Huskies, who have been dealing with quarterback issues. The Broncos should easily handle the run-first tendencies of Northern Illinois.

Allen's pick: Boise State

Ryan's pick: Boise State

GoDaddy Bowl (Dec. 23 8 p.m.)

Bowling Green (10-3) vs. Georgia Southern (8-4)

This one is even more of a hunch than most I think that despite a solid offense and veteran QB, Bowling Green will struggle after losing their coach. Coaching is huge when preparing for an option attack like the one Georgia Southern brings to the table; the Eagles will rush for more than 300.

Allen's pick: Georgia Southern

Ryan's pick: Bowling Green

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Dec. 24 12 p.m.)

Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Middle Tennessee (7-5)

Both teams average five touchdowns a game, so we can probably expect some fireworks in this one. MTSU features a prolific quarterback, but the real stars will be the Western Michigan wide receiver corps led by Daniel Braverman. There will be a lot of points, but just a few more for the Broncos.

Allen's pick: Western Michigan

Ryan's pick: Middle Tennessee

Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24 8 p.m.)

Cincinnati (7-5) vs. San Diego State (10-3)

Despite what the records might indicate, it is Cincinnati that is the more explosive team, but the Bearcats will likely be unable to generate that explosiveness against the staunch defense of San Diego State. The Aztecs won't dazzle fans in this game, but they will win it.

Allen's pick: San Diego State

Ryan's pick: Cincinnati

St. Petersburg Bowl (Dec. 26 11 a.m.)

Connecticut (6-6) vs. Marshall (9-3)

Considering their difficult schedule, 6-6 is pretty good for UConn. They've beaten some really good teams and played others tough. The Marshall Thundering Herd have an excellent offense, but they won't be able to muster up enough against this battle-tested Huskies team.

Allen's pick: Connecticut

Ryan's pick: Connecticut

Hyundai Sun Bowl (Dec. 26 2 p.m.)

Miami (8-4) vs. Washington State (8-4)

This has the potential to be a great game featuring two teams that had late season resurgences. The WSU Cougars need their injured QB to come back strong against Miami, but the Hurricanes have seen strong play on both sides of the ball. This will be a close one, but it'll be Miami.

Allen's pick: Miami

Ryan's pick: Washington State

Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26 2:20 p.m.)

Washington (6-6) vs. Southern Miss (9-4)

Washington's defense took a step back this year no surprise after losing a handful of NFL-caliber talents but they still looked good. Good enough to stymie the surprising Southern Miss offense? Actually, yeah the Huskies will shut down the Golden Eagles with ease and grab the victory.

Allen's pick: Washington

Ryan's pick: Washington

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 26 3:30 p.m.)

Duke (7-5) vs. Indiana (6-6)

The Hoosiers lost six in a row midseason, but they lost to some really strong teams by surprisingly small margins. Duke football is no longer the punchline it was for many years, but neither do they have nearly the personnel to take down a far-better-than-its-record Indiana squad.

Allen's pick: Indiana

Ryan's pick: Duke

Camping World Independence Bowl (Dec. 26 5:45 p.m.)

Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Tulsa (6-6)

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is a college football legend and this is his final game. Tulsa has one of the most potent offenses in the country in terms of yardage, but you can expect the Tech defense to prove capable of containing them. The powers that be will smile on the Hokies.

Allen's pick: Virginia Tech

Ryan's pick: Virginia Tech

Foster Farms Bowl (Dec. 26 9:15 p.m.)

Nebraska (5-7) vs. UCLA (8-4)

This is one of the easier games to pick. UCLA hasn't lived up to expectations this year, but they've still had a good season and shown some flashes of excellence. Nebraska, meanwhile, has a struggling offense and only won five games all year. This one will be all Bruins.

Allen's pick: UCLA

Ryan's pick: UCLA

Military Bowl (Dec. 28 2:30 p.m.)

Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. # 21 Navy (10-2)

Pitt had a very good year, all things considered, but they have drawn very poorly here. Navy's option offense led by down-ballot Heisman hopeful Keenan Reynolds has been excellent all year. Not to mention the fact that this game is being played on Navy's literal home field. This'll be all Midshipmen.

Allen's pick: Navy

Ryan's pick: Pittsburgh

Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 28 5 p.m.)

Minnesota (5-7) vs. Central Michigan (7-5)

It's very possible that Minnesota is a better team than Central Michigan. It doesn't matter I can't bring myself to pick a sub-.500 team to win a bowl game. If I could, however, this might be the one; still, Central Michigan should manage just enough to win.

Allen's pick: Central Michigan

Ryan's pick: Minnesota

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 29 2 p.m.)

California (7-5) vs. Air Force (8-5)

I love picking the service academies to win these games. I think Cal might well be a stronger choice, but there's something wildly entertaining about watching option-oriented offenses. Plus, Cal's coach wants out and everyone knows it. Air Force will take advantage.

Allen's pick: Air Force

Ryan's pick: California

Russell Athletic Bowl (Dec 29 5:30 p.m.)

#10 North Carolina (11-2) vs. #17 Baylor (9-3)

These are two of the highest-scoring offenses in the country, so it stands to reason that we could be in store for a shootout. However, Baylor has dealt with some serious injuries at the QB position; they'll likely struggle to score at the rate they'd need to win. The Tar Heels will score over 40 and win.

Allen's pick: North Carolina

Ryan's pick: North Carolina

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl (Dec. 29 7:30 p.m.)

Colorado State (7-5) vs. Nevada (6-6)

Two teams from the same conference in a bowl game how boring. Still, the two squads didn't face off this season and both have a fair amount of offense to offer. In a world where no one cares about bowl games, literally NO ONE cares about this one. Colorado State, I guess?

Allen's pick: Colorado State

Ryan's pick: Colorado State

AdvoCare Texas Bowl (Dec. 29 9 p.m.)

Texas Tech (7-5) vs. #20 LSU (8-3)

LSU features one of the country's most dynamic players in RB Leonard Fournette and the Texas Tech defense has been soft all year you can probably guess how this will play out. The Red Raiders will chuck it up, but they won't be able to score nearly enough to offset Fournette and the Tigers.

Allen's pick: LSU

Ryan's pick: LSU

Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 30 12 p.m.)

Auburn (6-6) vs. Memphis (9-3)

It's the battle of the Tigers. The Auburn Tigers had big expectations this year, but were resoundingly mediocre. The Memphis Tigers managed to carry forward last year's success with a good offense and another nine wins. Expect Memphis to make it double-digits as they handle Auburn easily.

Allen's pick: Memphis

Ryan's pick: Memphis

Belk Bowl (Dec. 30 3:30 p.m.)

Mississippi State (8-4) vs. NC State (7-5)

In a bit of an upset, I like the NC State Wolfpack to come out on top in this battle between excellent college quarterbacks. Their Jacoby Brissett is a force on the field, but Mississippi State's Dak Prescott is awfully good too. They'll both have strong performances, but Brissett's will be slightly better.

Allen's pick: NC State

Ryan's pick: Mississippi State

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Dec. 30 7 p.m.)

Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Louisville (7-5)

Neither of these teams had the seasons they hoped for. As far as this game, it's hard to look at the turmoil surrounding Texas A&M and pick them to win anything, let alone a tough matchup with a Louisville team playing strong football right now. The Cardinals will win going away.

Allen's pick: Louisville

Ryan's pick: Texas A&M

National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30 10:30 p.m.)

Wisconsin (9-3) vs. #25 USC (8-5)

This one is a hard call. The Wisconsin defense has been as good as any in the country this season, but their offense has struggled to put up points. USC has a clear advantage in terms of skill position talent. The Badgers will keep it close, but a handful of big plays will lead to a USC victory.

Allen's pick: USC

Ryan's pick: USC

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1 12 p.m.)

#13 Northwestern (10-2) vs. #23 Tennessee (8-4)

Northwestern has made it this far almost solely on the strength of their defense; their offense is anemic. Tennessee, meanwhile, is packed with talented (albeit underachieving) skill position players and can put up points. It all boils down to whether Northwestern can keep it a low-scoring affair.

Allen's pick: Tennessee

Ryan's pick: Northwestern

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1 1 p.m.)

#14 Michigan (9-3) vs. #19 Florida (10-3)

This one promises to be a bit of a slugfest, with both teams possessing top-flight defenses. Neither team is particularly flashy on the offensive end, so it will likely boil down to which team is able to pull off a few big plays. It's hard to doubt Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in this spot.

Allen's pick: Michigan

Ryan's pick: Michigan

Tax Slayer Bowl (Jan. 2 12 p.m.)

Penn State (7-5) vs. Georgia (9-3)

Penn State's done well with a good defense and an inconsistent offense. Georgia said goodbye to longtime coach Mark Richt, but in truth, the Bulldogs will still be able to take care of business. My guess is that Georgia wins in a game featuring higher-than-expected scoring.

Allen's pick: Georgia

Ryan's pick: Georgia

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Jan. 2 3:20 p.m.)

Kansas State (6-6) vs. Arkansas (7-5)

K-State's coach Bill Snyder is one of the game's best. However, there's a talent gap here that will be difficult to overcome. Arkansas has some big playmakers; for the Wildcats to have a shot, they'll need some turnover help. Expect Arkansas to take care of the ball and win with relative ease.

Allen's pick: Arkansas

Ryan's pick: Arkansas

Valero Alamo Bowl (Jan. 2 6:45 p.m.)

#11 TCU (10-2) vs. #15 Oregon (9-3)

This game promises to be a nicely entertaining offensive battle in which the teams will combine to score approximately infinity points. Both teams feature high-octane offenses and so-so defenses the perfect formula for a 52-49 double OT instant classic. I'm picking Oregon, but really, everybody wins.

Allen's pick: Oregon

Ryan's pick: TCU

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (Jan. 2 10:15 p.m.)

West Virginia (7-5) vs. Arizona State (6-6)

The last of the bowl games (not counting the National Championship Game) sends us out with a whimper rather than a bang. Both teams are inconsistent, but at least the Arizona State players get to sleep in their own beds they're just a few miles from their home turf.

Allen's pick: Arizona State

Ryan's pick: Arizona State

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Big Six Bowls

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (Dec. 31 12 p.m.)

#18 Houston (12-1) vs. #9 Florida State (10-2)

Houston is this year's outside-looking-in team, but there's no question that they have a very good football team. The problem is that Florida State is an incredibly athletic and explosive team whose strengths should largely negate those of the Cougars. It will be tight, but FSU will prevail.

Allen's pick: Florida State

Ryan's pick: Florida State

Capital One Orange Bowl (Dec. 31 4 p.m.) Playoff semifinal

#1 Clemson (13-0) vs. #4 Oklahoma (11-1)

A lot of people think this might be the best game of the entire bowl season. Excellent quarterbacks on both sides, good running games and talented defenses - it all adds up to a great contest. The Sooner defense is great, but Clemson's offense is clutch when necessary. It has a chance to be a high-scoring game, but in the end, the Tigers will come out on top.

Allen's pick: Clemson

Ryan's pick: Oklahoma

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (Dec. 31 8 p.m.) Playoff semifinal

#2 Alabama (12-1) vs. #3 Michigan State (12-1)

These teams have a similar vibe run-first teams with strong defenses. The difference is simple Alabama is better at both of those things. Not a lot better, but the combination of running back Derrick Henry and an outstanding defensive line will prove to be enough for the Crimson Tide to come out on top. The Spartans led by Connor Cook - will acquit themselves well, but all for naught.

Allen's pick: Alabama

Ryan's pick: Alabama

BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1 1 p.m.)

#8 Notre Dame (10-2) vs. #7 Ohio State (11-1)

With just a few different bounces, we could have seen these two teams in a playoff matchup. As it is, these two wildly talented teams just missed. Both have exceptional offensive weapons, but Buckeye Ezekiel Elliott is the best player on the field. He'll be the difference maker in a game that promises to be fairly close.

Allen's pick: Ohio State

Ryan's pick: Ohio State

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual (Jan. 1 4:30 p.m.)

#5 Iowa (12-1) vs. #6 Stanford (11-2)

I'm picking Iowa with my heart when my head says Stanford. The Cardinal might have Heisman finalist Christian McCaffery, but the Rose Bowl will be rocking with Iowa fans who have waited for a Hawkeye return since the early 1990s. Plus, Kirk Ferentz used to be the coach at UMaine. That's enough for me Iowa in a close game.

Allen's pick: Iowa

Ryan's pick: Stanford

Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1 8:30 p.m.)

#12 Ole Miss (9-3) vs. #16 Oklahoma State (10-2)

Oklahoma State has a great defense with a knack for forcing turnovers, while Ole Miss is excellent against the run. It's going to come down to which team's offensive talent can better execute; Ole Miss might be the more talented team, but if Oklahoma State's injured QB comes back, it'll be the Cowboys pulling out the win.

Allen's pick: Oklahoma State

Ryan's pick: Oklahoma State

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College Football Playoff National Championship (Jan. 11 8 p.m.)

Matchup to be determined

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 21:37

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