The finals season of the top two instead of the final four format will begin to take place starting on December 21st. The 35 bowl games will be a battle for who has the most guts in picking the most wins and at the end of the day nobody will care about 80% of the games because they won't matter in our minds. But for the holiday cheer, I'll give a quick blurb to each bowl game this college postseason. I'll give more for the BCS games or the games with good matchups, but on the whole, don't expect a ton of in-depth analysis on all the games except the big ones. I'll give my pick after the analysis as well. So here we go!
Washington State/Colorado State GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL
Ok honestly I'm from Washington and the way the Cougars played against the Huskies in the Apple Cup, I have no doubts this team is good enough to win their first bowl game since the turn of the century. They have 6 wins, but don't let that fool you, they suck, but they are hungry for a first bowl win in a long time.
Pick: WSU (Confidence: 5 out of 35)
20 Fresno State/25 USC ROYAL PURPLE LAS VEGAS BOWL
Fresno State plays in a very weak conference and they have only one loss which makes them look very good in this game against a generally shaky USC team the past couple of seasons. But, recently, USC has turned it on and has jumped into the top 25 to finish out the season. With the new found energy they have found this late in the season and their ability to compete with good teams down the stretch in the Pac-12 I see USC winning this game, but I could see it going either way.
Pick: USC (Confidence: 4 out of 35)
Buffalo/San Diego State FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL
I know nothing about these teams but I know that San Diego State has played well down the stretch and that Buffalo started off strong and tapered off near the end of the year. Both teams don't really have any strong outstanding candidates to do much but I think San Diego State has a better chance at winning this game considering their play near the end of the season.
Pick: SDSU (Confidence: 7 out of 35)
Tulane/Louisiana Lafayette R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL
I know a couple things about this game. Tulane has a pretty good defense granted they played in a pretty crummy conference, but their opponent isn't much of a powerhouse to begin with. Also Nick Montana was on UW before transferring and there was a reason he was recruited by a PAC-12 team. I see Tulane getting it done, but I wouldn't be shocked if it went either way.
Pick: TUL (Confidence: 8 out of 35)
Eastern Carolina/Ohio BEEF 'O' BRADY'S BOWL ST. PETERSBURG
I'm riding conference USA this year when it comes to their abilities to compete in their bowl games this year. Eastern Carolina is a juggernaut on offense and they have the ability to blow any team out of the water on the offensive side of the ball when it comes to mid level opponents and Ohio is just that. With averaging 40.4 points all season and playing an opponent who they can clearly compete with, I see Eastern Carolina taking this game.
Pick: ECU (Confidence: 16 out of 35)
Boise State/Oregon State SHERATON HAWAII BOWL
Both these teams came into this year with hopes of making it to a big time BCS game or at least to a bowl game in January. Both teams fell short by a landslide. I think the better team recently has been Oregon State and considering the way they played against Oregon in the annual Civil War game, I think they figured something out and they will get Boise State knocked off their block and with the Boise State coach heading to UW, why wouldn't the PAC-12 decide to make a poi sandwich in Hawaii?
Pick: OSU (Confidence: 19 out of 35)
Pittsburgh/Bowling Green LITTLE CAESARS BOWL
A team that wins 10 games should not be left off your radar as a team that can potentially compete with an upper conference opponent hence why this game is compelling in the eyes of the average sports fan. Bowling Green was a powerhouse in the MAC this year and, yes, Pittsburgh played in the same conference as Florida State (ACC) but just because they played in the same conference as the number one team in the nation doesn't mean they can claim their right to beating a team like Bowling Green. I think Pittsburgh might hit a wall in this game and Bowling green can get it done.
Pick: BGU (Confidence: 13 out of 35)
Utah State/23 Northern Illinois University S.D. COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA
In the mouth twister bowl, the new Boise State (N. Illinois) will dominate and Jordan Lynch will show why he went to New York for a Heisman Trophy candidacy spot. If Utah State wins this game it would be a miracle, I don't see how they even come close and Northern Illinois will get it's due down the road to jump to a bigger conference if they keep playing the way they have been the past couple years.
Pick: NIU (Confidence: 22 out of 35)
Marshall/Maryland MILITARY BOWL
I have no clue who wins this game from the perspective of my own self and for how average and under the radar both these teams have been. Maryland plays in the ACC and they were supposed to make a leap this season and fell flat on their face, but I think they'll make amends in this game, or not. Pick: MARY (Confidence: 1 out of 35)
Syracuse/Minnesota TEXAS BOWL
Both of these teams will be completely out of their element by playing in Houston and I think it'll be a low scoring game because of it. I see Minnesota pulling it out because they put their season together rather nicely other than losing to 3 ranked opponents and one bad loss to Iowa way back in September. Since their second loss against Michigan, the Gophers have been within 14 points the past 6 games showing me that they have put themselves in situations to win ball games. Syracuse... they are just another 6-6 ACC team playing in a game against a good opponent because they have their ultimate representative playing in the National Championship game (FSU).
Pick: MINN (Confidence: 21 out of 35)
BYU/Washington FIGHT HUNGER BOWL
If anybody picks the Mormons in this game, they clearly don't know Bishop Sankey. I live out here in the Pacific Northwest and saw this guy throughout his career at UW, and he is one of the best backs in the history of the school and it's a fact as he now holds the UW regular season rushing record, and has the school career rushing touchdown record in school history passing up guys like Napoleon Kaufman and Corey Dillon. If you don't know, now you know. He will be a decent pro and could be a second option on many squads heading into the draft. Either way, if this is the same UW team that can compete with Stanford, blowout Oregon State, and finally step up to beat their rival? The Mormons don't have a shot.
Pick: UW (Confidence: 23 out of 35)
Rutgers/Notre Dame NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL
This is clearly an east coast laden game and I expect Rutgers to come out and play their best football of the season. These New Era Pinstripe games have been classics the past couple seasons and I wouldn't be shocked to see another one. But this year I think Notre Dame has the edge because they are actually playing somebody they can compete with during the bowl season this year (unlike last year; Alabama National Championship throttling). Hopefully Manti didn't give tickets to any other fake girlfriends this year either.
Pick: ND (Confidence: 12 out of 35)
Cincinnati/North Carolina BELK BOWL
Look... I know I've harped on this already, but the ACC is really overrated other than maybe two or three teams. Need I say anymore? North Carolina is just not as good in football this season as they were the past couple and they will fall back into becoming a basketball school shortly. Cincinnati has a 9-3 squad that should be able to put something together and get the win in this one.
Pick: CIN (Confidence: 11 out of 35)
Miami/18 Louisville RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
This might be the bad bowl game that I would actually go buy a ticket to because of the intrigue of the "U" and how well Teddy Bridgewater will play against that vaunted Miami defense. People forget this Miami team went 7-0 before losing three straight (starting with a shellacking by Florida State), they finished the season with a 9-3 record and both of these teams were definitely preseason favorites to finish in January. The intrigue has got to be through the roof for scouts as I anticipate there being a ton of them at this game focusing on the Quarterback of Louisville, Teddy Bridgewater. I really don't know who is going to win this game, but if I had to choose, I'd take the QB. I have faith in Teddy and I think he'll make his draft statement game in this one, showing everyone he's ready for the NFL. I wouldn't be shocked if it went completely the other way as well.
Pick: LOU (Confidence: 2 out of 35)
Michigan/Kansas State BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL
Two teams that are middle of the road in their respective conferences but have played well down the stretch, should be a fun matchup and game to go get some wings at BWW for. I think Michigan has the upper hand because they played so well against Ohio State and Gardner is definitely scary in the backfield with his talent to spread the ball the way he does. I think Kansas State can keep it close and make this a fun matchup, but Gardner is the difference and the only reason I see Michigan winning.
Pick: MICH (Confidence: 6 out of 35)
Middle Tennessee/Navy BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES BOWL
I don't know anything about either of these teams, but I do feel that considering it is an Armed Forces bowl, Navy gets the edge. I do feel like Middle Tennessee may have the upper hand because they play in a crummy conference but that they can at least get into a rhythm of who they are playing every week, every year unlike Navy who plays random teams every year. I see this game going to Navy, but if Middle Tennessee wins it, I wouldn't be shocked.
Pick: NAVY (Confidence: 9 out of 35)
Ole Miss/Georgia Tech Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Are you kidding? We are getting into SEC territory now! That doesn't mean the option at Georgia Tech won't get it done, but an SEC team vs. an ACC team sounds like a drubbing in most cases. I think Ole Miss gets it done because of the competition they faced throughout the season, an option bound team like Georgia Tech shouldn't strike fear into the Ole Miss defense considering their schedule all season long. I could see this going either way, but you know I got to pick SEC!
Pick: MISS (Confidence: 10 out of 35)
10 Oregon/Texas VALERO ALAMO BOWL
This is the easiest game to pick all season. Texas has been overrated for about 3 years now and for them to sniff the top 25 those past 3 seasons (since they went to the national title game against Alabama in 2009-10) is an absolute joke. Oregon has been on the verge of going to a national title the past 2 seasons and went to one in 2010-11 against Auburn where they lost because the Dyer play. This team will walk into San Antonio and beat down the sad Mack Brown Longhorns and give him a reason for why he never needs to come back to coaching. No way Texas wins this game, if they do I will be completely stunned. Oregon should put up 40 with ease. I expect 50.
Pick: ORE (Confidence: 35 out of 35)
14 Arizona State/Texas Tech NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HOLIDAY BOWL
Oh the holiday bowl, the bowl game where the runner up of the PAC-12 faces a crummy Big 12 opponent. Great fun, with little inspirations for both teams. I wouldn't be shocked if Texas Tech came in and won this game because of ASU's lack of concentration and care, but then again, Texas tech started off the season 7-0 till they lost 5 in a row to end their season. ASU was in it all year but now they get the crummy Holiday Bowl to make their tummies all warm and fuzzy. If ASU doesn't win, I wouldn't be shocked because who really wants to get pumped up for the Holiday Bowl? Besides, Texas Tech is due for a win... bah humbug.
Pick: ASU (Confidence: 20 out of 35)
Arizona/Boston College AdvoCare V100 BOWL
Is it just me or do PAC-12 teams really get screwed in Bowl game selections? Granted, Arizona is a middle of the road PAC-12 team but they are far more superior than Boston College. Why? BC plays in the ACC, while Arizona plays in the PAC-12. It's pretty self-explanatory. Arizona has had a great offense for a while, while BC is just well...Rushing the ball with their 2K Rush man Andre Williams and that's about it. Unless he goes off, I don't see how Arizona losses.
Pick: ARI (Confidence: 14 out of 35)
Virginia Tech/17 UCLA HYUNDAI SUN BOWL
Yay! Another PAC-12 team getting the screw job! The Sun Bowl! We are moving on up! If you don't have UCLA in this game, then congrats to you for getting the best dose of medicine in the world because Virginia Tech will get a straight fist to the face in this ball game. Brett Hundley will destroy VT and take their children too.
Pick: UCLA (Confidence: 33 out of 35)
Rice/Mississippi State AutoZone LIBERTY BOWL
This is a harder game to pick than just to say SEC and leave. Rice has had a really good season and their 10 wins is no joke even though it is in the sorry conference USA. Their defense really can come to play and I think they may be able to stop some of Mississippi State's offensive threats... But nah it really is just all about SEC! Rice can put up a fight though and I think this will be a good game, just too much strength on the Mississippi State side.
Pick: MISS ST. (Confidence: 18 out of 35)
24 Duke/21 Texas A&M Chick-fil-A BOWL
This should be a good game... HAHAHAHAHA, I had to laugh at that. If Johnny Football doesn't have 400 total yards of offense I will be shocked. This Texas A&M team should be able to get it done. After how ripped up Duke just looked against this years Heisman Trophy winner, last years Heisman Trophy winner should have no problem. Pick: TAMU (Confidence: 25 out of 35)
Nebraska/22 Georgia TAXSLAYER.com GATOR BOWL
Yay New Years day games begin with the underachiever game. Two teams that could have come out this season and put together a championship season decided to play below their abilities and that couldn't be more true than with Georgia. This team was a couple plays short of the National Title game last season now they are in the Gator Bowl looking to regain some credibility for their pathetic effort this season. I think Georgia can put together something that will get them to overtake Nebraska because they truly are that good, this season was just a mess for the Bulldogs.
Pick: GEO (Confidence: 24 out of 35)
UNLV/North Texas HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
Who? So you're telling me they have this as a prime time college game (I know it's on ESPNU but still) on New Years day instead of all the PAC-12 teams I just mentioned... this is why the BCS is crap. UNLV... North Texas? My cooker is COOKIN'! Really? Come on man. I got North Texas but I really don't care.
Pick: NTEX (Confidence: 3 out of 35)
Iowa/16 LSU OUTBACK BOWL
Best matchup of the college football season, just kidding. Who really thinks Iowa will win this game? LSU is going to pummel this team and it's even funny we are talking about this being a New Years day game. I just don't see how LSU doesn't win this game. This should be an easy win for LSU considering who they have faced all season. W's for days.
Pick: LSU (Confidence: 34 out of 35)
19 Wisconsin/9 South Carolina CAPITAL ONE BOWL
This is actually a damn good matchup. I know Wisconsin isn't the team of the past couple of seasons, but they can still play at a really high level and South Carolina is no joke per usual. I see the SEC pulling this one out again because of the inconsistent woe's of the Badgers this year. But I anticipate this being a great game and I think Clowney will get another big hit like last New Years day.
Pick: SCU (Confidence: 32 out of 35)
5 Stanford/4 Michigan State 100th ROSE BOWL GAME PRES. BY VIZIO
The best defense in the land vs. the best power threat in the game. A game that should be in the 20's, and a game that should really be one for the ages. Both teams came at this season from different angles. Stanford was looking at a potential National Championship birth while MSU lost to Notre Dame early in the year while rallying to win the rest of their games and shocking #2 Ohio State in the Big 10 championship. These are two powerhouses in football and they are the best at what they do offensively (Stanford's power offense) and defensively (Michigan State) and it should be a grind it out, field position game for the ages. I have Stanford, but if it goes either way, it wouldn't shock me.
Pick: STAN (Confidence: 29 out of 35)
15 UCF/6 Baylor TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
Let's just say if you were feeling sick and hung over after your New Years Eve party, this game won't help you. I feel like the combination of these teams in such a big bowl game (especially their jersey combinations which I'm sure will be dreadful on the national stage) will not live up to the hype of what a BCS game is supposed to be. Yes, both teams can score, but let's not fool ourselves. This is not Oklahoma State and Stanford of a couple years ago, the talent in this Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is just not there on the whole. I expect a drubbing from Baylor, and I expect about 50, maybe 60 points. Defense will be non-existent so if you like back-and-forth football, this is for you. Pick: BAY (Confidence: 26 out of 35)
11 Oklahoma/3 Alabama ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL
This will be fun. This is a great all red matchup that should get you thinking about the National championship and who could have been in it. Alabama could have easily been there, Oklahoma (if it wasn't for the Red River Rivalry loss and the Baylor destruction) would have been there. This is definitely a fantastic matchup of offenses and which ever defense shows up to play will ultimately win the ball game. I think Alabama will win on principle because this is where they shine and when it's a non SEC opponent they generally destroy who ever they face, but from the standpoint of these two teams and where they stand in the lore of college football, this is a very creamy game to watch... But I got Bama.
Pick: ALA (Confidence 31 out of 35)
13 Oklahoma State/8 Missouri AT&T COTTON BOWL
Former conference buddies but now fellow conference runner ups, this game should have some mental payback for both past conference foe reasons and also considering they were so close to attaining either a National Championship birth (Missouri) or a huge BCS bid (Oklahoma State). Either way, this matchup is fun and the offenses should be rather lively, but I think Missouri's defense will show up after about 3 weeks of rest and they should really put the petal to the metal against this Oklahoma State team. The lead up to the game should be great as the old geezers talk about the past Big 12 and what it used to look like, but the SEC will still remain king.
Pick: MIZ (Confidence: 28 out of 35)
12 Clemson/7 Ohio State DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL
I really feel like this is one of the most awkward matchups ever because both of these teams really don't want to be here. Both of these teams got robbed (Clemson getting wiped out by Florida State earlier in the year; Ohio State getting beat in the Big 10 title game and losing the biggest winning streak in college football) and both teams would rather be sitting at home or fighting to play in the Final Four in next seasons set up for the National Championship. This game is REALLY AWKWARD. But I think the team that probably wants to be here most (at least right now) is Clemson. They didn't just lose their entire season's goal at the end of the season, they lost it back in October, they've let it settle in, and they have one of the best QB's in the nation in Tajh Boyd who has a serious NFL future. Boyd was a Heisman favorite before Winston took it from him in October, but it doesn't mean he doesn't have what it takes to compete. I think Ohio State will compete in this game and I think it will be a good game, but to me it will feel very strange considering both these teams have the talent to be in the National Championship game and just didn't quite make it.
Pick: CLEM (Confidence: 27 out of 35)
Vanderbilt/Houston BBVA COMPASS BOWL
This is just one of those "Nobody cares" games heading towards the National Championship game. I think Vanderbilt will win because they play in the SEC, they had 8 wins this year along with a .500 record in the SEC which is good no matter which way you look at it. Houston doesn't have Case Keenum anymore so I really don't care how good they are, but they can't compete with the smart school from the SEC. Pick: VAND (Confidence: 17 out of 35)
Arkansas State/Ball State GODADDY BOWL
Another "Nobody cares" games, but I think Ball State has this game in the bag. They have 10 wins for a reason and only two losses to teams from the North (Northern Illinois and North Texas). They can score and they can stop teams within their level of competition and I see Ball State getting a victory.
Pick: BALL ST. (Confidence: 15 out of 35)
The moment we have all been waiting for is finally here!
#1 Florida State (13-0)/#2 Auburn (12-1) VIZIO BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
This is the game that was supposed to happen. Auburn, the story book team (3-9 a year ago; Started from the bottom now we here) that made it through with 2 miracle victories and getting lucky just to make it to this point with losses by Ohio State, Baylor, and Oregon late in the season. Auburn slipped through the cracks and truly are fortunate (but deserved) of getting the #2 seed to face the impeccable Famous Jameis Winston who is no doubt the best player in the Nation. Is it so weird to call this David and Goliath when David is the SEC team? The SEC has won the National Championship 7 straight times (last team to do so was the 2005-06 Texas Longhorns in the Rose Bowl who were huge underdogs to USC), so how does that make Auburn the underdog when FSU is the team who plays in the weaker conference? It's easy. The only loss for Auburn was @LSU in game 4 of the season (which at the time really didn't seem like much of a big deal because Auburn was seen as a joke sniffing the top 25). Since they have the loss, they have the underdog mentality, and a place where the underdog last prevailed in the best BCS National Championship game ever was Texas in that 2005-06 Rose Bowl National Championship. This year it is in the Rose Bowl again, could magic be up the sleeve of the Auburn Tigers once again? It happened against Georgia, and Alabama the next week... but they play in the SEC you say?
Look FSU is clearly the better team heading into this game, I know the history of the SEC but I'm going to shake the ground for a second. The SEC's run is up this year. Jameis Winston will show up in this game just like he did against Clemson and light up the scoreboard and put Auburn back in their 3-9, 2012, sorry place. It would not shock me (especially with what has happened up to this point) if Auburn pulls off another miracle because they have already pulled off 2 this season. But every time Jameis Winston has the ball, magic has happened, and I know the magic has been in Auburns court the past month, but the freshmen is going to set a standard of greatness among all freshmen this season and I just don't see anybody getting in his way, and his name will truly live on after this game. Famous Jameis will be real in Pasadena, and I see the Seminoles ending this horrific era of the BCS in a way that we all want it to see end; the fall of the SEC!
Pick: FSU (Confidence: 30 out of 35) Score: 44-35
Enjoy the bowl games everybody! And I'll see you all next week with a Christmas edition of the blog!