Today’s Bowl Picks – Best Day of the Year
Saturday didn’t start out the way I had planned. Northwestern battled back and looked like a sure victory until Texas A&M converted on two long 3rd downs and kicked a devastating field goal with 30 seconds left in the game. Those three points me caused me to lose by a point, a hurtful setback after my experiences with Iowa the night before. In the next set of games Vanderbilt, Utah, and Illinois all trailed in the second half and I began to panic. Thankfully the Utes and Illini rallied to victories in the 4th quarter getting me back to even on the day. At night, Auburn gave me a great New Year’s Eve gift with an impressive performance in an exciting win over Virginia. My love for Auburn and all things War Eagle continues to grow. The Tigers win left me with a 3-2 record Saturday, moving the overall mark to 12-10-1 for bowl season. While I’m still frustrated that the win total isn’t higher thanks to a handful of final minute losses, I’m happy that I have improved on my results from the regular season. With six more chances to win today my focus has never been stronger. My New Years resolution is to handle losing with more maturity, but hopefully I won’t have to start practicing that this early in the year. Today’s matchups are as good as it gets in college football so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Ticketcity Bowl
Houston -7 vs Penn State MONDAY – 12pm – ESPNU
Rob Bolden will start at QB for Penn State with starter Matt McGloin still injured after a fight with a teammate. Penn State is dealing with more distractions than any team in the history of bowl games and the program still hasn’t named a new head coach yet. PSU has a talented defense, but focus may be lacking for the matchup with Case Keenum and Houston. The Cougars offense was unstoppable all season until Southern Miss shocked them in the C-USA title game. Penn State’s offense doesn’t have enough firepower to stay with Houston, especially with the inconsistent Bolden in control. Keenum will bounce back from a poor performance and showcase his skills for NFL scouts against an elite defense. Houston makes the game a track meet and WR Patrick Edwards has a big game. The coaching stability at Houston is an advantage, with interim coach Tony Levine recently being named Head Coach for 2012.
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Ohio State +2 vs Florida MONDAY – 1pm – ESPN2
This strange game between two 6-6 teams is difficult to predict given the distractions of future Ohio State HC Urban Meyer. Florida’s offense was horrendous this season and that shouldn’t improve in the bowl game with the loss of OC Charlie Weis to Kansas. While the Gators have superior speed, QB John Brantley will struggle against a solid Ohio State defense. The reason I am confident in this pick is because of the improvement and development of OSU QB Braxton Miller. He played extremely well against Michigan and his dual threat ability will keep the Florida defense off balance. Miller will be more comfortable with his gamebreaking WR Devier Posey and will connect on a long touchdown this afternoon. This game will be low scoring and Ohio State will grind out a win in the 2nd half, relying on its powerful offensive line.
photo credit: draftbreakdown.com
Georgia -3 vs Michigan State MONDAY – 1pm – ABC
I’m very interested to see how the SEC matches up with the Big 10 this bowl season. Both teams suffered disappointing losses in the conference title games and are looking to finish the season with 11 wins. Georgia’s defense will step up today and force a couple mistakes from QB Kirk Cousins. UGA QB Aaron Murray and his receivers will bounce back from a game of missed opportunities against LSU. Michigan State has lost four straight bowl games under Mark Dantonio and while UGA lost last season’s, the Bulldogs have won 11 of their last 14 bowl games. Expect a back and forth battle early, with Georgia taking control in the 4th quarter.
Capital One Bowl
Nebraska +3 vs South Carolina MONDAY – 1pm – ESPN
South Carolina hasn’t performed well in bowl games under Steve Spurrier. SC did manage to beat Clemson to end the season, but are not the same team without star RB Marcus Lattimore. Nebraska will be able to run the ball successfully with Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez. This is my least confident pick of the day so I’m going with my gut. The Huskers win by a field goal helped by a few mistakes from SC QB Connor Shaw.
Wisconsin +6 vs Oregon MONDAY – 5pm – ESPN
Somehow despite their incredible season offensively, people are underestimating the abilities of Russell Wilson and Montee Ball. Wisconsin is two fluke plays away from being undefeated and I expect the Badgers to play well, fueled by the disappointment of last year’s Rose Bowl loss. I think this game will be decided on the final possession and don’t expect either defense to come up with many stops. Oregon shouldn’t be favored by anywhere near 6 points. Chip Kelly’s offense is explosive and exciting, but Oregon has come up short in its last two bowl appearances partly because defenses have extra time to prepare for the uptempo pace the Ducks employ. I think Wisconsin had a great shot to win outright and if they lose, it will only be by a FG.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma State -4 vs Stanford MONDAY – 830pm – ESPN
This is one of the most exciting games of the bowl season. I’ve relied on both of these teams all season, but I’m confident that Oklahoma State is the horse to ride in this matchup. Stanford struggled against the speed of USC and Oregon, and OK State has similar athleticism at the skill positions. While I fully expect that Andrew Luck and the Stanford running game will be productive tonight, they’ll need methodical drives to score. OK State will have explosive plays from WR Justin Blackmon and RB Joseph Randle en route to a ten point victory. The Cowboys are eager to prove they deserved a shot at the national title and will play with the same intensity they used to embarass rival Oklahoma.
@Jpickens 15 Flying to 10 college football games a year isn't easy, but someone's gotta do it. I'll be striving to make sure you are on the right side of every 28 point blowout this season. My team biases and over-analysis blind me sometimes but you'll learn to deal with it.