2011-2012 Bowl Predictions


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(NOTE: All times listed are Central Time.)

With the regular season of college football all wrapped up, only 35 FBS games remain. It's bowl season, which has a perfect mix of joy, misery, scandal, controversy and entertainment. Here are my picks for all 35 games:

December 17, 2011

New Mexico Bowl (1:00, ESPN): Temple vs. Wyoming

The bowl season is kicked off in Albuquerque, New Mexico, between the Wyoming Cowboys and the Temple Owls. In a mild upset, I like Wyoming to win. Wyoming 31, Temple 24

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (4:30, ESPN): Ohio vs. Utah State

This game will be played on the infamous blue turf at Bronco Stadium between the Aggies and Bobcats. I give Utah State the edge because they'll be more inspired. Utah State doesn't make bowl often. Ohio may still be stunned after giving up a 20-0 lead in a 23-20 loss in the MAC title game against Northern Illinois. Utah State 37, Ohio 21

New Orleans Bowl (8:00, ESPN): San Diego State vs. UL-Lafayette

The Ragin' Cajuns have the home-field advantage at the Superdome, but San Diego State is more talented and explosive. I call for the Aztecs win rather easily. San Diego State 41, UL-Lafayette 14

December 20, 2011

Beef O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl (7:00, ESPN): Florida International vs. Marshall

If it weren't for Marshall, Southern Miss would likely be in a BCS game. FIU has greatly improved as a program under Mario Cristobal. The Golden Panthers struggled in the second half of the 2011 season, but they should win this game. Florida International 31, Marshall 20

December 21, 2011

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (7:00, ESPN): #18 TCU vs. Louisiana Tech

TCU fell just short of a BCS bid, but the Horned Frogs won the MWC to earn a spot in this bowl. Louisiana Tech won the Boise-less WAC, but TCU should run away with this one. TCU 35, Louisiana Tech 10

December 22, 2011

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl (7:00, ESPN): #7 Boise State vs. Arizona State

Boise State, if not for a loss to TCU, could have made the BCS Championship Game this year. Arizona State was one of the nation's most disappointing teams. The Sun Devils were heavy favorites to represent the Pac-12 South in the Pac-12 title game. However, they finished just 6-6 in perhaps the worst division in any BCS conference. Kellen Moore will go out a winner. Boise State 44, Arizona State 27

December 24, 2011

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (7:00, ESPN): #21 Southern Miss vs. Nevada

The Golden Eagles should have gone unbeaten, but they had two unexplicable losses to Marshall and UAB. But they found their swagger against previously unbeaten Houston. However, they are too inconsistent, and I will actually call for Nevada to pull off the upset. Nevada 35, Southern Miss 33

December 26, 2011

Independence Bowl (4:00, ESPN): Missouri vs. North Carolina

Mizzou plays their final game before joining the SEC against the Tar Heels, who have dealt with NCAA issues left and right. The Tigers are stronger and, while inconsistent defensively, will end this season with a win. Missouri 23, North Carolina 17

December 27, 2011

Little Caesars Bowl (3:30, ESPN): Purdue vs. Western Michigan

Purdue surprised some people and jumped into a bowl this season. The Boilermakers will win this game, but it will be close. Western Michigan is a pretty solid team. Purdue 31, Western Michigan 16

Belk Bowl (7:00, ESPN): NC State vs. Louisville

Charlie Strong has done a terrific job at Louisville, leading the Cardinals to a share of the Big East title this season. NC State ended the season with an epic 56-41 comeback win over Maryland (a game they trailed 41-14). I'll give it to the Cardinals in OT. Louisville 34, NC State 28

December 28, 2011

Military Bowl (3:30, ESPN): Toledo vs. Air Force

Air Force is the only armed forced academy in a bowl game this season. The Falcons are led by Tim Jefferson, a dangerous dual-threat QB. This will be a shootout, but I like the Falcons to win. Air Force 45, Toledo 42

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (7:00, ESPN): #24 Texas vs. California

Both of these teams are returning to the bowl season after missing out in 2010. The Longhorns have one of the nation's best defenses, and they should be able to stop the Maynard brothers and the Golden Bear offense. Texas 17, California 13

December 29, 2011

Champs Sports Bowl (4:30, ESPN): Notre Dame vs. Florida State

Both of these teams entered the season highly ranked only to disappoint their respective fanbases and fall from relevance regarding the 2011 season. Florida State could be playing their last game with DC Mark Stoops, but despite the fact the Seminoles are favored, I think Notre Dame shows up in a big way. Notre Dame 24, Florida State 7

Alamo Bowl (8:00, ESPN): #12 Baylor vs. Washington

Led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, the Baylor offense should roll through this weak Husky defense. However, Baylor's defense is weak as well, so the Huskies can pull the upset. I think Baylor survives in a wild shootout. Baylor 55, Washington 48

December 30, 2011

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (11:00, ESPN): BYU vs. Tulsa

To a lesser extent, this game resembles Baylor-Washington. Neither team is dominant defensively, but both feature good offenses. BYU's offense started the season rusty but they've recently found their stride. Give me the Cougars to get their 10th win of the year. BYU 41, Tulsa 30

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (2:20, ESPN): Rutgers vs. Iowa State

Rutgers has had a great bounce-back season from 2010, returning to the bowl season. Iowa State made a bowl thanks to a shocking 37-31 win over Oklahoma State that drastically changed the course of the 2011 season. However, I think that will go down as the Cyclones' last win this year. Rutgers 28, Iowa State 20

Music City Bowl (5:40, ESPN): Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest

I know Auburn fans reeeeeeeeealllllly hate it, but Dan Mullen's Bulldogs didn't have a very good year. (By the way, that was sarcasm). Starting the season in the top 25, the Bulldogs went winless against every SEC West team not named Ole Miss. Under Mullen, MSU is 3-0 against Ole Miss but 0-12 against Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. But they'll beat Wake Forest, who was once in contention to win the ACC. Mississippi State 21, Wake Forest 9

Insight Bowl (9:00, ESPN): #14 Oklahoma vs. Iowa

Oklahoma became the second consecutive preseason #1 to go 9-3, losing to Texas Tech (who went 5-7), Baylor and Oklahoma State. How will they play against Iowa? Who knows. Maybe they'll be flat, or maybe they'll play inspired. I'm betting on the latter. Oklahoma 42, Iowa 17

December 31, 2011

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (11:00, ESPN): Texas A&M vs. Northwestern

A&M was one of the most disappointing teams of 2011, blowing countless double-digit leads (and apparently becoming the inspiration of the Dallas Cowboys) and finishing 6-6. Northwestern is still trying to get their first bowl win since the 1949 Rose Bowl. I say Pat Fitzgerald's Cats get it done this year. Northwestern 30, Texas A&M 27

Sun Bowl (1:00, CBS): Georgia Tech vs. Utah

The Utah Utes ended their first year in the Pac-12 on a nice run, contending for the Pac-12 South title. Georgia Tech started the year 6-0 but finished just 8-4. The Yellow Jackets are 0-3 in bowl games under Paul Johnson, as the long layoff allows teams to prepare to stop the option. This year, Georgia Tech breaks through for a win in an ugly, ugly game. Georgia Tech 7, Utah 3

Autozone Liberty Bowl (2:30, ABC): Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt has made huge strides under James Franklin, reaching the postseason and reeling in big-name recruits. In this game, however, the 'Dores may not be able to get past the Big East co-champion Bearcats. Cincinnati 24, Vanderbilt 17

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (2:30, ESPN): UCLA vs. Illinois

Both schools are in need of a coach. UCLA, despite winning the Pac-12 South, fired Rick Neuheisel after finishing 6-7. Illinois started 6-0 but finished 6-6 and Ron Zook was fired. This will be perhaps one of the ugliest games of the postseason, but I like UCLA to win in a mild upset. UCLA 24, Illinois 13

Chick-Fil-A Bowl (6:30, ESPN): #25 Auburn vs. Virginia

Auburn finished 7-5 after a national title run, which some would consider a success under the circumstances. The Tigers are without RB Mike Dyer, which means Tre Mason will be the power back in this bowl game. Mike London has done a great job at Virginia, but I think Auburn will be too strong for the Cavaliers. It will be a close game, though. No 2010 Outback Bowl, but a close game. Auburn 27, Virginia 20


January 2, 2012

Ticketcity Bowl (11:00, ESPNU): #19 Houston vs. #22 Penn State

Obviously, this game really isn't the top priority for Penn State University. We all know about the Sandusky mess. But in terms of this game, I think Penn State's defense will rattle Keenum and hand Houston their second loss of the year. Penn State 27, Houston 24

Outback Bowl (12:00, ABC): #16 Georgia vs. #17 Michigan State

The Bulldogs and Spartans both fell short in their respective conference title games, so both teams will be looking for season-ending momentum. Michigan State has more experience, so I'll give them the nod. Georgia is poised for a run next year, though. Michigan State 28, Georgia 21

Capital One Bowl (12:00, ESPN): #9 South Carolina vs. #20 Nebraska

The Gamecocks are a 10-win team for just the second time in school history, and the future looks bright for Spurrier's team. The Gamecocks are in prime position to lose this game, though. I'll take the Gamecocks to win an OT thriller. South Carolina 27, Nebraska 24

Gator Bowl (12:00, ESPN2): Ohio State vs. Florida

The "Urban Meyer Bowl" pits Meyer's former team against his future team. Ohio State is favored to win, but I think Will Muschamp will have these Gators ready to go. Florida wins over Ohio State, meaning Ohio State will still be winless against SEC teams in bowls. Florida 20, Ohio State 17

Rose Bowl (4:00, ESPN): #5 Oregon vs. #10 Wisconsin

The Rose Bowl features two explosive teams, the Ducks and the Badgers. Both teams are questionable on defense. I give the edge to Wisconsin in Pasadena because, like Oregon's last two bowl opponents (Ohio State and Auburn), the Ducks are too small to get their offense clicking. Wisconsin 35, Oregon 24

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (7:30, ESPN): #3 Oklahoma State vs. #4 Stanford

The Cowboys barely missed out on a berth in the national championship game, so they'll have to settle for Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal in the Fiesta Bowl. Stanford's defense will have no answer for Weeden-to-Blackmon, which will put on a show in its finale. Oklahoma State 49, Stanford 31

January 3, 2012

Allstate Sugar Bowl (7:30, ESPN): #11 Virginia Tech vs. #13 Michigan

Brady Hoke has done a wonderful job in his first year at Michigan, leading the Wolverines to a 10-2 season and a Sugar Bowl berth. Virginia Tech's selection for this game was controversial. I think the Hokies will put up a fight, but Denard Robinson and the Maize and Blue will pull it out late. Michigan 34, Virginia Tech 27

January 4, 2012

Discover Orange Bowl (7:30, ESPN): #15 Clemson vs. #23 West Virginia

The Clemson Tigers made up for lost time, winning their first ACC title in two decades and doing it in convincing fashion. West Virginia took advantage of a weak Big East and got the BCS bid. This game will be close in the first half, but Clemson's speed will eventually blow past the Mountaineers. Clemson 38, West Virginia 22

January 6, 2012

Cotton Bowl (7:00, FOX): #6 Arkansas vs. #8 Kansas State

Bill Snyder is one of the most undervalued coaches ever. What he's done for Kansas State football is unbelievable. The Wildcats went 10-2 this year behind a determined defense and strong running by QB Colin Klein. However, I don't think the Cats have enough to hang with the Hogs. Arkansas 37, Kansas State 28

January 7, 2012

BBVA Compass Bowl (12:00, ESPN): SMU vs. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is playing with an interim coach. Todd Graham left under the cover of night to become the head man at Arizona State. Pitt should still win this game, though. Pittsburgh 31, SMU 14

January 8, 2012 Bowl (8:00, ESPN): Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois

How is even in business? Eh, nevermind. Arkansas State is being coached by an interim coach in this game before our beloved Gus Malzahn becomes the head coach. I like the Red Wolves to win. Arkansas State 42, Northern Illinois 31

January 9, 2012

Allstate BCS National Championship Game (7:30, ESPN): #1 LSU vs. #2 Alabama

This is it. The big game. The crystal ball is on the line. LSU was my preseason pick to win it all, and I think they will get it done here. This won't be a 9-6 game like it was in November, but I do believe LSU's defense and special teams will once again decide the outcome. I like LSU to win the national championship! LSU 21, Alabama 13

Enjoy the bowl season, everyone! War Eagle!

We're all just trying to have a good time here. Don't be a jerk, and we won't have a problem with you. War Eagle!

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