Thanks to Rogers (Sportsnet) and Bell (TSN) dragging their feet on bringing out TV schedules for bowl games, I will do my bowl outlook and predictions now and hopefully have a bowl schedule up by Thursday. Really there is no reason why they can’t have the TV schedule out considering it will probably look very similar with every ESPN game save a couple on either TSN (more like TSN2) or Sportsnet (more like 360) as last year’s schedule was.
Along with predictions, I will rank the games on a sliding scale…like a slip and slide on a backyard with a hill towards a wooden fence. We’re going to do the following announcers’ ranking scale out of 5:
- 5 – Brent Musburger Gameday quality
- 4 – Top BCS level game. Think Gus Johnson, Brad Nessler or Joe Tessitore even. Throw in Rece Davis here as well.
- 3 – Mid-level BCS game or big-time non-AQ conference game. Carter Blackburn, Sean McDonough, maybe even Mike Patrick. Toss in Verne Lundquist since he does big games but is one step away from the Alzheimer’s ward.
- 2 – Low-level BCS game or normal non-AQ conference game. Beth Mowins, Craig Bolerjack, or perhaps a Mark Neely as long as he’s not doing HBCU football
- 1 – Worth watching only if nothing else is on. Anyone who works with Dan Hawkins, Dan Hicks/Tom Hammond (I always feel sorry for Mike Mayock…and Alex Flanagan), or when Tim Brando has to call a game (great in the studio, awful on play-by-play).
Alright, here we go…in chronological order:
Dec. 21 – New Mexico Bowl – Colorado State (7-6) vs. Washington State (7-6). The only redeeming thing about this bowl is we get a first-hand look, without any other college football viewing options, into how good Mike Leach’s offense is and how bad Mike Leach’s defense is. Look for Connor Halliday to throw the ball about 83 times. Prediction: Washington State 45 Colorado State 44. Ranking: 1 out of 5.
Dec. 21 – Las Vegas Bowl – Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4). The Bulldogs were a terrible game against San Jose State away from possibly busting the BCS. Instead they get easily the best pre-Christmas (and possibly pre-New Years) bowl game against the USC Fighting Sarkisians. Over/under on Lane Kiffin mentions during the broadcast is currently 5 (slightly under the Ed Orgeron over/under of 6). Prediction: Fresno State 30 USC 24. Ranking: 4 out of 5.
Dec. 21 – Idaho Potato Bowl – Buffalo (8-5) vs. San Diego State (7-6). The last chance to see a sure-fire first rounder in the Bulls’ Khalil Mack. If Buffalo decides to play, this game should be over relatively quickly. Prediction: Buffalo 33 San Diego State 10. Ranking: 2 out of 5.
Dec. 21 – New Orleans Bowl – Tulane (7-5) vs. UL-Lafayette (8-4). The only redeeming quality of this game is that it is sure to get a lot of fans. Having two in-state teams is a sure-fire way of packing the stadium. Can you imagine if Texas A&M faced Texas at the Cotton Bowl? Think that only on a much smaller scale for this one. Otherwise, this might be a chance to see Tulane in a bowl game for the first time in years (and the last time in years). Prediction: UL-Lafayette 28 Tulane 16. Ranking: 2 out of 5.
Dec. 23 – Beef O’Brady’s Bowl – East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5). I thought and thought and thought. I can’t see one reason, other than it’s football and I love football, to watch this game. The Pirates should make quick work of the Bobcats in this one. Prediction: East Carolina 40 Ohio 6. Ranking: 1 out of 5 (and dead last).
Dec. 24 – Hawaii Bowl – Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6). I sure hope Chris Pedersen is going to coach this game. I mean, it’s Hawaii. What a great way to close out your Broncos’ coaching career. For once, the last game before Christmas (when you are frantically wrapping the rest of the presents) should be a good one. Prediction: Oregon State 30 Boise State 27 (OT). Ranking: 4 out of 5.
Dec. 26 – Little Caesar’s Bowl – Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3). I am still sure that Pitt will find a way to switch spots and land in the BBVA Compass Bowl. The A stands for Always Pitt. The Falcons should have no problem with the Panthers but these AQ vs. non-AQ matchups (what can we call them next season?) have a funny way of not playing out the way many people think they will. Except for this time. Pitt is going to get smoked. Prediction: Bowling Green 44 Pittsburgh 19. Ranking: 2 out of 5.
Dec. 26 – Poinsettia Bowl – Utah State (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1). Oh so close to busting into the last BCS. They had to choose the MAC championship to play below their potential. But hey, it’s Jordan Lynch and that’s fun right? Too bad Chuckie Keaton wasn’t here. That would have pushed this game almost into must-see territory. Prediction: Northern Illinois 36 Utah State 21. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Dec. 27 – Military Bowl – Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5). The poor Terps players. A chance to go away for a bowl and they get to travel to Annapolis…and probably by bus (and it may not be a chartered bus either). Another bowl game with very little going for it other than it should have a relatively full stadium thanks to Maryland’s quasi-home field advantage. Prediction: Marshall 26 Maryland 15. Ranking: 1 out of 5.
Dec. 27 – Texas Bowl – Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4). Gotta love Jerry Kill and the entire Gopher coaching staff. What they went through this year was tough but they perservered. Plus they have a damn good team. The Orange limped into a bowl game and probably could have been left home for another school but get in because they’re Syracuse and not Toledo. Prediction: Minnesota 46 Syracuse 27. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Dec 27 – Fight Hunger Bowl – BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4). BYU always looks like they are on the cusp of something great. I guess you could also describe Washington in that way. Winner here has all the momentum to…win 8 games next year (or something like that). Prediction: BYU 20 Washington 16. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Dec 28 – Pinstripe Bowl – Rutgers (6-6) vs. Notre Dame (8-4). This game should get a large crowd. There are Irish fans everywhere and Rutgers is playing next door. That doesn’t mean it will be a good game. The Irish should destroy the Scarlet Knights in their last game as a member of the American conference. Prediction: Notre Dame 49 Rutgers 20. Ranking: 2 out of 5.
Dec. 28 – Belk Bowl – Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6). A case of what looks like mismatched opponents. The Bearcats should mop the floor with the Heels but I can smell a bit of an upset here, especially since the Fighting Fedoras came back from a horrendous start of the season to salvage a bowl game. Prediction: North Carolina 20 Cincinnati 17. Ranking: 2 out of 5.
Dec. 28 – Russell Athletic Bowl – Louisville (11-1) vs. Miami (9-3). A great early bowl game that rivals the Las Vegas bowl in terms of watchability. Final college game for Teddy Ballgame? You better believe it. Should be the number one pick in the next NFL draft but he may have his hands full with a game Miami squad who wants to show that their mid-season collapse was an aberration. Prediction: Louisville 31 Miami 24. Ranking: 4 out of 5.
Dec. 28 – Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5). One team was great last year and lost their leader to graduation. The other was supposed to be better this year and shit the bed multiple times. Momentum may be the only thing riding on this one in the latest start among the bowl games this year (10:15 pm EST). Prediction: Kansas State 41 Michigan 27. Ranking: 2 out of 5.
Dec. 30 – Armed Forces Bowl – Navy (8-4) vs. Middle Tennessee (8-4). The Blue Raiders surprised many, becoming bowl-eligible in their first Conference USA season. And Navy is Navy. Win enough to become bowl-eligible, cough up enough games to consider the season closer to mediocre. This game could be over before you finish lunch (it starts at 11:45 am EST). Prediction: Navy 39 Middle Tennessee 34. Ranking: 1 out of 5.
Dec. 30 – Music City Bowl – Ole Miss (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5). Two teams that are always considered pretty good but always land outside the top 3 or 4 spots in their respective conferences. Ole Miss is building towards challenging for SEC West dominance while the Jackets just hope that enough teams in their division blow a gasket. The second consecutive game of the day featuring some good old-fashioned option offense. Prediction: Ole Miss 35 Georgia Tech 17. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Dec. 30 – Alamo Bowl – Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4). This will be the site of Mack’s Last Stand. The final game of Mack Brown’s Longhorns coaching career comes here against a team I thought should be in the BCS ahead of Oklahoma. This should be an awesome game and a close one at that. Definitely a must-watch. Prediction: Oregon 41 Texas 33. Ranking: 5 out of 5.
Dec. 30 – Holiday Bowl – Arizona State (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5). ASU ran into Stanford at the wrong time in the Pac-12 title game. The way the Sun Devils were playing towards the end of the season, you figured they had the Rose Bowl spot in their grasp. Unfortunately they end up here against Kute Kliff’s Red Raiders. Don’t expect Tech to put up gaudy numbers in this one. Prediction: Arizona State 37 Texas Tech 14. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Dec. 31 – AdvoCare V100 Bowl – Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5). If you like good ground games, you are in for a treat. The two best running backs this season, Ka’Deem Carey and Andre Williams face off. First to 300 yards wins. Prediction: Arizona 46 Boston College 34. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Dec. 31 – Sun Bowl – Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3). Two of the better coaches in college football face off. Not the bowl either coach wanted to be in but it has to be better than the last few Sun Bowls which have been terrible. I still don’t get why the only bowl game CBS gets is this one and it doesn’t feature an SEC team. Does that make any sense to you? Prediction: UCLA 25 Virginia Tech 10. Ranking: 4 out of 5.
Dec. 31 – Liberty Bowl – Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (6-6). The Bulldogs had an exciting Egg Bowl game against Ole Miss just to get to a bowl. Problem is this is the best Rice team in a long, long time. They should mop the floor with Dan Mullen’s boys pretty easily in this one. Prediction: Rice 34 Mississippi State 7. Ranking: 2 out of 5.
Dec. 31 – Chick-fil-A Bowl – Duke (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4). Remember what I said about the Sun Bowl? This game has two coaches that are even better in David Cutcliffe and Kevin Sumlin. This should be Gianni Futbol’s final college football game so it will be memorable and a must-watch if the Blue Devils can keep it close. The Aggies have to get out fast because Duke is the best fourth quarter team in college football by a country mile. Should be fun for the last college football game of 2013. Prediction: Texas A&M 34 Duke 20. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Jan. 1 – Gator Bowl – Nebraska (8-4) vs. Georgia (8-4). Most years you’d see this matchup and think “Holy shit, this will be awesome!” And if you are standing beside Bo Pelini you would still say that. Otherwise this sets up as a somewhat medicore game. Two teams that should have been much better just trying to salvage a down year (for these two programs). Prediction: Georgia 24 Nebraska 13. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Jan. 1 – Heart of Dallas Bowl – UNLV (7-5) vs. North Texas (8-4). OK, look, I get that North Texas is close to home in this one. But you’re telling me you couldn’t get at least one better team than the Rebels or the Mean Green? C’mon I call shenanigans on this one. If it wasn’t on when three other bowl games are on, I would watch it. Unless it’s close, forget it. Prediction: North Texas 32 UNLV 23. Ranking: 1 out of 5.
Jan. 1 – Outback Bowl – Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3). Man, was I ever wrong about Iowa. I had them winning one game this year. And then they go and win eight. Way to make me look like a jerk. However, I will not get this one wrong. I’m sure of it. Bank on it! Prediction: LSU 35 Iowa 13. Ranking: 4 out of 5.
Jan. 1 – Capital One Bowl – Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2). One of the best non-BCS games and the last time we will se Jadeveon Clowney before he shuffles off to the NFL. Expect a great game here as Wisconsin might run for 400 yards and still lose. Prediction: South Carolina 43 Wisconsin 31. Ranking: 5 out of 5.
Jan. 1 – Rose Bowl – Michigan State (12-1) vs. Stanford (11-2). This should be a classic. The Spartans have the best defense in football and the Cardinal are always good offensively. Expect a close one in the 100th Rose Bowl game. Prediction: Michigan State 13 Stanford 10. Ranking: 5 out of 5.
Jan. 1 – Fiesta Bowl – UCF (11-1) vs. Baylor (11-1). I don’t think Baylor would have stood a chance against Florida State in the BCS championship. They can put up buckets of points but so can UCF. All of a sudden, Blake Bortles is the hot, chic pick in the NFL draft. If he plays well, don’t be surprised to see him bust through into the top 10 and become an instant franchise quarterback. If it wasn’t for the sheer offensive numbers, I would have put this lower. Prediction: Baylor 50 UCF 40. Ranking: 4 out of 5.
Jan. 2 – Sugar Bowl – Alabama (11-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2). I’m still not sold on the Sooners being in the BCS. And I think Senor Saban and his Tide will show everyone why the Sooners don’t belong here. Or maybe why the Tide are the best team not in the championship game. Alabama 45 Oklahoma 17. Ranking: 5 out of 5.
Jan. 3 – Cotton Bowl – Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2). The best non-BCS bowl game and it’s not even close. Here are two programs that were within sniffing distance of the BCS Championship at various points during the season. Missouri really came out of nowhere to claim supremacy in the SEC East, whereas the Cowboys stumbled in the game they needed most at the end of the season. Expect a very good game and should be even better than the Orange Bowl game at the same time. Prediction: Missouri 32 Oklahoma State 27. Ranking: 5 out of 5.
Jan. 3 – Orange Bowl – Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio State (12-1). Is it just me or were the Buckeyes exposed during the Big Ten Championship? I just don’t buy that they are as good as their record was. I see Tajh Boyd having a good day and pulling a (minor) upset in this one and giving Urban a (gasp!) two-game losing streak!!! Prediction: Clemson 38 Ohio State 28. Ranking: 5 out of 5.
Jan. 4 – BBVA Compass Bowl – Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. Houston (8-4). Many figured Vandy would be in a better bowl and the Cougs wouldn’t be in a bowl at all. And that Pittsburgh would be here. Anyway, should be a decent game, especially now that the Dores have lost their starting QB for this one. Prediction: Vanderbilt 24 Houston 13. Ranking: 3 out of 5.
Jan. 5 – GoDaddy Bowl – Arkansas State (7-5) vs. Ball State (10-2). Arkansas State will have another new coach for this one. They go through coaches like Larry King went through wives (and Liz Taylor went through husbands…if anyone has a less dated reference than this one please let me know…oh wait I got it! Like how Taylor Swift goes through boyfriends and writes songs about them. Good stuff). Ok where was I……..oh yeah, Ball State in a walk. Prediction: Ball State 40 Arkansas State 14. Ranking: 1 out of 5.
Jan. 6 – BCS National Championship – Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1). I am kind of relieved Ohio State didn’t show up here. Then we’d hear how the Big Ten was an inferior conference and then when tOSU gets destroyed we’d hear the whining from the SEC camp. Now it’s put up or shut up. The mighty SEC has their rep and they get to face Jameis Heisman and the Noles, who ran roughshod through every opponent. I can’t see a way the Tigers win this. The SEC streak should end…finally. Prediction: Florida State 34 Auburn 30. Ranking: 5 out of 5 (and the best bowl game).
There you have it. All 35 bowls. Done. Now sit back and enjoy the games. I will have a TV schedule out hopefully by Thursday that will make it that much easier to find these games on your cable box.