I thought it would be fun to take a look at each bowl game and make predictions on the outcomes of the games. We will go in order from the 35th ranked bowl down to the 1st ranked bowl. Since Miner Rush has not compiled its own ranking of the bowl games, we will go ahead and use ESPN's list. Here we go.
35.) R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Ohio vs. Troy December 18th 8:00 p.m. et
Ohio, out of the MAC, finished the season at 8-4 (6-2). The Bobcats had reeled off 7 in a row before dropping the season finale to Kent St 28-6, causing them to miss out on the conference championship game. Troy 7-5 (6-2), won the Sun Belt Conference, but could never get into true rhythm all season. The Trojans lost a close one at Oklahoma St, but also got blown out of the water at South Carolina.
Outlook: Ohio wins it 31-21.
34.) GoDaddy.com Bowl - Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (OH) January 6th 8:00 p.m. et
Miami has reeled off five in a row including a win over then no. 25 Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game. Middle Tennessee sputtered throughout the season finishing 6-6 with a loss to 1-11 Memphis, and blowout losses to Arkansas St, Troy, and Georgia Tech.
Outlook: Miami (OH) wins it big 41-21.33.) Little Ceasar's Bowl - Florida International vs. Toledo December 26th 8:30 p.m. et
Geez, from talks of the Sun Bowl to the walks of the Little Ceasar's Bowl. Toledo finished third in the MAC at 8-4, picked up a good win at Purdue, and won 5 of 6 to end the season. Florida International finished second in the Sun Belt at 6-6, but the record doesn't tell the story. The Golden Panthers lost to Rutgers by 5, at Texas A&M by 7, and at Maryland by 14 to start the season. They started 0-4, then won 6 of 7 before losing their finale to Middle Tennesse by 1.
Outlook: FIU finds a way, 27-24.
32.) New Mexico Bowl - UTEP vs. BYU December 18th 2:00 p.m. et
The game all of us here in El Paso have been waiting for. These two teams both finished 6-6 but have very different stories. BYU started out slow after knocking off Washington in the opener, but won 4 of 5 to end the season and become bowl eligible. UTEP was plagued with injuries all season, including starting RB, QB, WR, LB, and O linemen. The Miners started 5-1, before finishing 1-5.
Outlook: UTEP plays up to their opponent, and the ghosts of football past (1985) come to help, UTEP 30-28.
31.) Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl - Army vs. SMU December 30th 12:00 p.m. et
SMU was fairly unpredictable all season, but finished at 7-5 and won C-USA west. They lost 17-7 in the conference championship game against UCF. Army will try and run you to death, but was just as unpredictable as SMU finishing the season at 6-6.
Outlook: June Jones revs his Ponies in their home stadium, 27-17 final.
30.) BBVA Compass Bowl - Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky January 8th 12:00 p.m. et
Pittsburgh lost all its big games, and its coach, as Dave Wannstedt "resigned" after his 7-5 season. Kentucky finished at 6-6, but only 2-6 in the SEC. They do however have a big win over then no. 10 South Carolina to hang their hats on.
Outlook: Kentucky proves how much better the SEC is than the Big East, 28-17 final.
29.) uDrove Humanitarian Bowl - Northern Illinois vs. Fresno St December 18th 5:30 p.m. et
Fresno St. finished the season at 8-4, but did pick up a big win over Illinois to finish the season, and lost to no. 15 Nevada 35-34. Northern Illinois had just cracked the top 25 after winning nine in a row, but lost to Miami (OH) in the MAC championship game. Northern Illinois also lost to Illinois early in the season 28-22.
Outlook: Should be one of the better games this bowl season, Bulldogs on the Blue Turf 34-31.
28.) Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman - East Carolina vs. Maryland December 29th 2:30 p.m et
ECU showed that they can put up points with 54, 51, 49, and 44 point outings. They also showed how many they can give up by allowing 76, 62, 49 3 times, 43, and 42 twice. None of those were OT games. Maryland had a chance to win the ACC but dropped 2 of 4 to end the season. Regardless, they finished 8-4 with a win over NC State.
Outlook: Maryland outlasts ECU 45-38.
27.) Beef 'o' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl - Southern Miss vs. Louisville December 21st 8:00 p.m. et
Southern Miss has another high powered offense, but a little better defense than ECU. They won three out of 4 to finish, with a 56-50 loss to Tulsa to end the season. Louisville snuck into bowl eligibility at 6-6 winning its season ender over Rutgers. They had lost the two games before that to almost miss out on a bowl.
Outlook: Southern Miss QB Austin Davis stays on fire, Southern Miss 34-24.
26.) Ticket City Bowl - Northwestern vs. Texas Tech - January 1st 12:00 p.m et
Northwestern started out 5-0, but ended the season 2-5, including two blowout losses in the last two games of the year. Texas Tech had two very winnable games to start the season, which they won, and two winnable games to end the season, which they won, those four sandwiched a 3-5 Big 12 campaign.
Outlook: Northwestern hangs in, but Texas Tech wins this one, 35-24.
25.) Texas Bowl - Illinois vs. Baylor December 29th 6:00 p.m. et
Baylor was 7-2 before dropping their last three games. Sure, those games were against Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, and Texas A&M who are all ranked, but they pretty much got handled in all three. Illinois finished 6-6 overall including a season ending loss at Fresno St. A classic matchup between middle of the road teams from power conferences.
Outlook: Baylor snaps its losing streak, 31-20.
24.) San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl - Navy vs. San Diego St. December 23rd 8:00 p.m. et
Navy ranks 2nd to last in passing yds per game, but is 5th in the nation in rushing yards with nearly 290 yds a game. They also finished 9-3 on the season with wins over Notre Dame, SMU, East Carolina, and Army (all bowl teams). San Diego St finally broke through with an 8-4 season, and a win over then no. 23 Air Force. Also, its 4 losses were by 3 at no. 12 Missouri, by 3 at BYU, by 5 at no. 3 TCU, and by 4 vs. no. 24 Utah.
Outlook: SDSU is almost perfect at home, where they're playing this one, but they won't stop the run. Another heartbreaker, 28-27.
23.) Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - Nevada vs. Boston College January 9th 9:00 p.m. et
Nevada will come into this game almost a month and a half removed from the programs biggest win ever, a 34-31 OT win over Boise St. What hasn't been mentioned is that Nevada was 6 points away from a 12-0 season as their only loss was at Hawaii (an extremely tough place to play) 27-21 midway through the season. BC, 7-5, always has a good program, but finished 4-4 in a mediocre ACC. They are riding a 5 game winning streak, though none of them are big wins.
Outlook: Nevada closes the book on its dream season dropping BC, 27-20.
22.) Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - North Carolina vs. Tennessee December 30th 6:40 p.m. et
North Carolina finished 7-5 even after losing a handful of starters to suspensions and other issues. Tennessee started the season 2-6, before winning four straight to finish bowl eligible. Tennessee played some teams tough, but could never pick up the big win.
Outlook: North Carolina has elevated its program in recent history. They continue to rise, 30-20.
21.) New Era Pin Stripe Bowl - Kansas St. vs. Syracuse December 30 3:20 p.m. et
Kansas St finished the season at 7-5, but could only pick up three Big 12 wins, over Iowa St, Kansas, and Texas. They just got past North Texas in the season finale. Syracuse also finished 7-5 with a good win over West Virginia, but the Orange are ranked near 100 in rushing yds, passing yds, and points for.
Outlook: K-State wins this one, 24-10.
20.) Autozone Liberty Bowl - Central Florida vs. Georgia December 31st 3:30 p.m. et
Central Florida was consistent all season, and reached the 10 win mark with the conference championship win over SMU. However, they never really impressed, and couldn't pick up the big win. Georgia finished 6-6, but consider that a victory after their 1-4 start. Georgia is better than their record implies, and most of it is a credit to A.J. Green.
Outlook: Just throw it up to Green, Georgia wins 34-21.
19.) Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl - Nebraska vs. Washington December 30th 10:00 p.m. et
Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't we already see this one? Nebraska finished 10-3 and just missed out on a BCS berth after a 3 point loss in the Big 12 championship. Washington is as inconsistent as their QB. They beat Washington St the last game of the season to get a bowl bid, but were trampled by the Huskers 56-21 early in the season.
Outlook: Deja Vu, Nebraska rolls again 44-24.
18.) Advocare v100 Independence Bowl - Air Force vs. Georgia Tech December 27th 5:00 p.m. et
Air Force finished at 8-4, but nearly made that a lot better. They lost at then no. 7 Oklahoma by 3, at SDSU by 2, and vs. then no. 8 Utah by 5. Georgia Tech lost 4 out 5 to finish the season with the only win vs. Duke. This team looked like an ACC contender early on but turned out to be a pretender.
Outlook: Air Force helps the armed forces make it 2 out of 3, 28-24.
17.) Meineke Car Care Bowl - South Florida vs. Clemson December 31st 12:00 p.m. et
This is a battle of two of the worst offenses in college football. Clemson finished 6-6 on the season, while South Florida made it to 7-5. Both teams had one big win, but nothing more. Look for this one to be a defensive battle, as both teams rank in the top 20 in points against.
Outlook: Clemson wins a shootout, 17-14.
16.) Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - Hawaii vs. Tulsa December 24th 8:00 p.m. et
Hawaii won 10 games this year and has cracked the top 25. They handed no. 15 Nevada their only loss, and played then no. 14 USC very tough. Their only loss at home was against USC in the season opener. Tulsa is on a 6 game win streak and reached 9-3 on the season. In the streak they won at Notre Dame, and over Southern Miss in shootout fashion 56-50 to end the regular season. What a matchup.
Outlook: On a neutral field this is a hell of a game. In Hawaii though, it belongs to the Warriors, 38-30.
15.) Champs Sports Bowl - West Virginia vs. North Carolina St . December 28th 6:30 p.m. et
West Virginia has won four straight after an OT loss to UCONN that eventually cost them the Big East title. They also played very tough in a close loss at LSU. NCST started the season 4-0 but played 4-4 from then out. They did beat then no. 16 Florida St, but also lost games to ECU and Clemson.
Outlook: Here's the best the Big East has to offer, Mountaineers win 31-27.
14.) Gator Bowl - Mississippi St. vs. Michigan January 1st 1:30 p.m. et
MSU had a chance to derail the Auburn Express early in the season. They lost by 3, but went on to win 8 games and go 4-4 in the toughest conference around. Chris Relf really struggles passing at times, and that held them back from being a much better team. The Blue and Maize looked to be back to their old selves as they started 5-0. We were fooled as they finished the season 2-5 losing every game vs. ranked opponents. However, there is no doubt Denard Robinson is extremely dynamic and can take over any game.
Outlook: Rich Rodriguez lucked out with this mathcup. Wolverines contain the rush and win, 31-21.
13.) Outback Bowl - Florida vs. Penn St. January 1st 1:00 p.m. et
Florida is on a down year at 7-5, and on top of that they are losing their coach, Urban Meyer, after the game. Joe Paterno, who might have been the one more likely to retire, is like the energizer bunny and has his team winning games, again. The Nittany Lions are 7-5, but like Michigan lost every meaningful game.
Outlook: Meyer figures out a way to win his final game, 24-21.
12.) Chick-fil-A Bowl - South Carolina vs. Florida St. December 31st 7:30 p.m. et
South Carolina finished the regular season at 9-3, and won the SEC east. They went on to get embarrassed by Auburn in the SEC championship game, and didn't look at all like they did throughout the season. Florida St. also finished the regular season 9-3 picking up some big wins over then no. 13 Miami, and rival Florida 31-7. They had a chance in the ACC championship but were outlasted by Va. Tech.
Outlook: The SEC championship was a fluke, Gamecocks 30-20.
11.) Insight Bowl - Missouri vs. Iowa December 28th 10:00 p.m. et
Missouri started the season 7-0 before dropping a game 31-17 at then no. 14 Nebraska. The Tigers followed that up with somewhat of a hangover loss to Texas Tech for their only other loss of the season. The Hawkeyes finished the season 7-5 with three straight losses, but did blowout then no. 5 Michigan St. 37-6 in week 9.
Outlook: The Tigers are too much, 34-17.
10.) Hyundai Sun Bowl - Notre Dame vs. Miami December 31st 2:00 p.m. et
This game needs no introduction, but here's one anyway. Notre Dame sprinted to a 7-5 finish, while Miami stumbled to the same record. Miami has already fired its coach, and Notre Dame has its first year coach. What a great rivalry that has been dormant for years, but is scheduled to resume in 2012.
Outlook: Even if its not a good game, a dream matchup for the Sun Bowl, Irish 28-24.
9.) Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Connecticut vs. Oklahoma January 1st 8:30 p.m. et
UCONN won the Big East with an 8-4 overall record by virtue of its regular season OT win over West Virginia, by far the Huskies biggest win. Oklahoma finds itself in a familiar position, in a BCS bowl. The Sooners finished 11-2 and have won four straight.
Outlook: Too much Sooners, Stoops improves his bowl record a little, 31-14 Oklahoma.
8.) Valero Alamo Bowl - Oklahoma St. vs. Arizona December 29th 9:15 p.m. et
The Cowboys finished 10-2 and missed an opportunity to play for the Big 12 championship after losing to Oklahoma in a thriller the last game of the season. Arizona seemed poised for a shot at a BCS berth after their 7-1 start, but lost their last four to finish the season 7-5.
Outlook: The Cats are better than 7-5, but too much Justin Blackmon is lethal for anyone, Cowboys 38-27.
7.) MAACO Las Vegas Bowl - Utah vs. Boise St. December 22nd 8:00 p.m. et
Both these teams found themselves in the top 5 in the country midway through the season. Utah was the first to falter, getting blown out of the water at home by no. 3 TCU 47-7. They followed that one up with a 28-3 loss at Notre Dame. Boise (11-1), like always, seemed to be packing their bags for the BCS, until their heartbreaking loss at Nevada. Two missed fgs at the end of regulation and in overtime sealed their fate as they were sentenced to one game in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Outlook: Boise St is the better team, without question, and its a shame they missed the BCS, this one is all Broncos 44-17.
6.) AT&T Cotton Bowl - LSU vs. Texas A&M. January 7th 8:00 p.m. et
LSU finished the season 10-2 and was only a couple TDs away from playing in the national championship. Their two losses were to Auburn by 7, and Arkansas by 8. Texas A&M makes a return to upper echelon of bowl games after what seems like a 20 year absence. The Aggies finished 9-3 and have won 6 in a row including wins over Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Outlook: Texas A&M did things many didn't think they could, but Les Miles always wins, kind of, LSU 31-24.
5.) Capital One Bowl - Alabama vs. Michigan St. January 1st 1:00 p.m. et
Alabama entered the season with hopes of repeating as national champion behind reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram. Unfortunately, that's not how it went down. The tide went 9-3, dropping games at South Carolina, at LSU, and at home against Auburn. All the Spartans did was win all year, with the exception of the nap they took October 30, a 37-6 pounding at Iowa. MSU picked up wins over Wisconsin, Penn St, Michigan, and Notre Dame. MSU didn't play Ohio St, which would've cleared things up, but going 11-1 in the Big Ten is definitely worth something.
Outlook: SEC rolls again, 34-21
4.) Discover Orange Bowl - Stanford vs. Virginia Tech January 3rd 8:30 p.m. et
Stanford went an impressive 11-1 this year, rarely having trouble putting opponents away. Their lone loss was at no. 2 Oregon. The Cardinal hung in for a while, but a crucial play in the 3rd shifted momentum and the Ducks ran away with it 52-31. Virginia Tech opened the season in the top 10, but lost in a thriller to then no. 3 Boise St, and never made it to the stadium in week 2 vs. James Madison. Since then, the Hokies have won 11 straight including a perfect ACC record.
Outlook: It a shootout, the Hokies make it 12 in a row, 41-38,
3.) Allstate Sugar Bowl - Ohio St. vs. Arkansas January 4th 8:30 p.m. et
Ohio St. finished the season 11-1 with only a 31-18 blemish at Wisconsin on their record. The Buckeyes beat then no. 12 Miami, then no. 20 Iowa, Penn St., and Michigan en route to a tie for first in the Big Ten. Arkansas was as close an anyone to playing in the national championship game. They finished the season 10-2 with their only losses vs. then no. 1 Alabama by 4, in a game they almost certainly should've won, and at no. 1 Auburn in a shootout where one mistake quickly turned the tides.
Outlook: Terrelle Pryor gets it done, Buckeyes 34-31.
2.) The Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO - Wisconsin vs. TCU January 1st 5:00 p.m. et
Wisconsin was one of three teams tied for first in the Big Ten at 11-1. Their only loss was at no. 9 Michigan St. by 10. The Badgers didn't really play anyone out of conference, but did beat then no. 1 Ohio St., and showed how they can light it up hanging 83 against Indiana and 70 twice. TCU is college football's only undefeated team outside of the national championship. Some may try to make cases against TCU, and mid-majors in general, but they did beat then no. 24 Oregon St., routed Baylor, and destroyed then no. 5 Utah. TCU is 1st in points allowed at 11 a game, and 4th in points scored at 43. Wisconsin is tied for 4th in points, and 29th in points allowed at 20 a game. Something has got to give.
Outlook:The mid-majors do it again, TCU 34-24.
1.) The Tostitos BCS National Championship Game - Oregon vs. Auburn January 10th 8:30 p.m. et
Both teams come into this game with perfect records, Oregon at 12-0, Auburn at 13-0. Oregon didn't have a signature out of conference win, but just rolled everyone who stood in their way. The Ducks come in 1st in points per game averaging 49 points a game, while giving up only 18 (14th). Auburn comes in behind Heisman winner Cam Newton, who has been surrounded with allegations nearly the entire season, but maintained his eligibility through it all. The Tigers steamrolled their competition including then no. 12 South Carolina, no. 8 Arkansas, then no. 6 LSU, at then no. 11 Alabama, then South Carolina again in the SEC championship game. They average 42 points a game, but also give up 24.
Outlook: Should be an instant classic: Oregon outlasts Auburn, 41-40.