December 19, 2011
College football’s bowl season will officially kick off this weekend. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on when it comes to the BCS, bowl games are one reason college football is such a great sport. The system matches two teams that may never play otherwise and with 35 games, chances are that your favorite team ended up in one.
Last week, we broke down the first 18 games. (For Part II, click here.) Here’s a quick look at the next 8 games.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Texas A&M vs. Northwestern): After playing a brutal schedule that included six ranked teams, the Aggies should have a home-field advantage against Northwestern. They lost four of them by a total of only ten points, including a one-point nail-biter to Oklahoma State and a four-point loss to Arkansas – both top five teams a few weeks ago. Texas A&M is better than their record indicates and should win this game.
Hyundai Sun Bowl (Georgia Tech vs. Utah): New Pac-12 team Utah will have its hands full trying to contain Georgia Tech’s dynamic quarterback Tevin Washington. Washington does almost as much damage on the ground (rushing for 890 yards in 2011) as he does in the air. Utah has a top 20 defense but struggled in their last two games against Washington State and Colorado – two of the worst teams in the conference this season. I’ll take the Yellow Jackets.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt): The Commodores are playing in their home state, but I’m not sure that will be enough. Cincinnati won nine games this season and averaged nearly 35 points a game. The Bearcats will be at a bit of a disadvantage, though, if they can’t get quarterback Zach Collaros on the field, who’s been out due to injury. He’s been at practice, but if he can’t go, Cincinnati will start Munchie Legaux. Either way, though, I think Cincy’s high-scoring offense gets the job done in a close one.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (Illinois vs. UCLA): Illinois will make the cross-country trip to play on New Year’s Eve. To make matters worse, after starting out 6-0, they dropped their final six games. UCLA, though, hasn’t been all that great this year, being blown out at times. This is one of those coin toss kind of games, but I’ll take the Illini.
Chick-fil-A Bowl (Virginia vs. Auburn): Both of these offenses have had difficulty scoring points at times this season, but the Cavaliers’ defense has been strong. Auburn is a difficult team to get a good handle on, because of their average record and a rugged SEC schedule. They still managed to win seven games playing in the conference and are my pick.
TicketCity Bowl (Houston vs. Penn State): Houston appeared headed to the BCS until they were throttled in their final game against Southern Miss. Playing in the TicketCity Bowl has to be a bit of a disappointment, but they’ll be facing a tough test against Penn State. The Cougars had the highest scoring offense in the FBS this season averaging more than 50 points per game, but they haven’t seen a defense nearly as good as the Nittany Lions’. Penn State’s defensive squad gives up just over 15 points per game, ranking fifth in the country. Even with the game in Texas, I like Penn State in this game.
Outback Bowl (Michigan State vs. Georgia): Here’s another tough one to call. Both squads have good defenses and won ten games this season. Kirk Cousins is one of the best passers in the nation, throwing for 24 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards. The Spartans get the nod here in a close contest.
Capital One Bowl (Nebraska vs. South Carolina): This is another Big Ten-SEC matchup. I typically favor the SEC in these types of games, but not this one. Nebraska’s dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez has really become a player and other than a three-point hiccup to Northwestern, the Cornhuskers were impressive most of the season. The Gamecocks, meanwhile, avoided many of the top guns in the SEC West and haven’t shown as much as I’d like. I’ll take Nebraska in another narrow Big Ten win.
For “College Football’s Bowl Games: Part IV”, click here.