Some people hate it but it can’t be stopped and it only grows bigger and bigger. I’m talking about college football bowl season, get your minds out of the gutter! My favorite teams Notre Dame and Nebraska will both be in Orlando, Florida for their bowl games. Then there is the BCS, which kicks off on January 2nd with the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl. I have predictions and previews for those four games. Then on January 3rd will have my predictions for the Orange and Sugar Bowl and finally on January 9th the prediction for the game no one outside of the south wanted to see, LSU and Alabama in the National Championship game.
Champs Sports Bowl, Thursday, December 29
Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4) in Orlando, Florida
These two programs were supposed to finally be “back” this season. With their 8-4 regular seasons the only thing they were back to was the mediocrity that has permeated both programs for years now. Both did at least finish somewhat strong, the Irish went 8-2 in their last 10 games but those two losses came to good teams like USC and Stanford. Notre Dame still appears far away from being able to compete with the best that college football has to offer. The Seminoles have won six of their last seven games and their defense has been playing phenomenally. Their QB EJ Manuel didn’t live up to they hype that surrounded him to star the year but still put up decent numbers with 16 TDs and 8 INTs. Otherwise, the Seminoles don’t have much offensively that scares you. For Notre Dame, their offense is all about WR Michael Floyd, ones of the best in the country. Floyd had a monster season, grabbing 95 catches and 8 TDs. TE Tyler Eifert also became a presence this season, bringing in 57 catches and 5 TDs. The key for Notre Dame is to establish a running game, whenever they have been able to do that they end up winning. Also, QB Tommy Rees needs to be good Tommy and limit the turnovers. Despite getting yanked in the season finale against Stanford, Brian Kelly has named him the starter for this game. But if he struggles I wouldn’t be surprised to see Andrew Hendrix take over. This game is a toss up, so I have to go homer and pick the Irish in what should be a close game. I think Floyd will earn MVP honors and go out in style.
Prediction: Notre Dame 23, Florida State 17
Capital One Bowl, Monday, January 2
#20 Nebraska (9-3) vs. #9 South Carolina (10-2) in Orlando, Florida
The Huskers ended the season on a winning note and if they can beat South Carolina will have their hird straight winning season. This year still has to been seen as somewhat of a disappointment. Taylor Martinez didn’t get better at quarterback and actually regressed. Also regressing was the defense, which was expected to carry the team. The Huskers lived and died with how RB Rex Burkhead played. Luckily for them he played well most of the season and carried Nebraska to nine wins. The Gamecocks had an up and down season that saw inconsistency at the quarterback position and their best player go down to injury. Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw shared time out quarterback, until Garcia was booted from the team after blowing his 75th chance. They were being carried by RB Marcus Lattimore but then Lattimore went down with an injury and was lost for the season. It was then the defense’s turn, led by highly touted freshman Jadveon Clowney to carry the load and they did it quite well. If the Gamecocks win they will complete their winningest season in school history. This is also Steve Spurrier’s first shot at the Cornhuskers since his Florida Gators Fun n’ Gun offense was shut down by Nebraska in famous fashion in 1996. If Lattimore was playing I would give the Huskers no chance, but I think the Gamecock offense can be contained and allow the Huskers to get their feet under them on offense. Nebraska will be motivated for this bowl game, unlike last season when they were facing Washington in a rematch. This game is up to the offensive line and their ability to create holes for Burkhead. I think they will do enough to win the game.
Prediction: Nebraska 20, South Carolina 17
Rose Bowl, Monday, January 2
#10 Wisconsin (11-2) vs. #5 Oregon (11-2) in Pasadena, California
The Big Ten and Pac-12 champion face off in the Rose Bowl. Both of these teams were in the mix for a national title during the season but were unable to complete the journey. They each feature talented quarterbacks and running backs. For Wisconsin their offense started off being all about QB Russell Wilson, as he garnered the headlines early on in the season. But then, it became all about RB Montee Ball, who rushed for an insane 32 TDs this season. For Oregon, LaMichael James has always been the face of the offense, with Darron Thomas not getting nearly as much credit as he deserves. This will likely be James last game for the Ducks as he is almost a foregone conclusion that he will go pro after this game. There is no questioning the offenses in this game, so where the game will be decided is which defense can contain the other teams high powered offense. Wisconsin is sixth in the nation in points allowed, but showed in the Big Ten Championship game that they can be scored on, giving up a season high 39 points. The Ducks defense was 48th in the country in points allowed per game but it could be argued that they played much better offenses in the Pac-12 than Wisconsin did in the Big Ten. This is a really tough game to call, both have had tough losses in previous years in the Rose Bowl and will be looking to make up for those. I think the Ducks offense is a little better than the Badgers and that will be what leads them to victory.
Prediction: Oregon 28, Wisconsin 21
Fiesta Bowl, Monday, January 2
#4 Stanford (11-1) vs. #3 Oklahoma State (11-1) in Glendale, Arizona
Prediction: Oklahoma State 38, Stanford 27
Overall Record: 115-20
Houston (10-4) at Indianapolis (1-13), NFL Network, 8:20 PM ET. The only thing that would have made this game interesting was if the Colts still had a chance at 0-16.
Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona State (6-6) vs. Boise State (11-1), ESPN, 8:00 PM ET. Kellen Moore should end his college career in style.
College Basketball – Top 25
Tulane (11-1) at #1 Syracuse (12-0), 7:00 PM ET.
Fairfield (7-4) at #9 Connecticut (9-1), 7:00 PM ET.
Florida State (8-3) at #12 Florida (9-2), ESPNU, 7:00 PM ET. For once the basketball version of this rivalry should be much more interesting than the football version.
Memphis (6-4) at #16 Georgetown (9-1), ESPN2, 7:00 PM ET. This is their second meeting of the season. Memphis has been a disappointment thus far.
Florida Atlantic (4-7) at #25 Harvard (9-1), 7:00 PM ET.
Northwestern State (7-5) at #17 Mississippi State (11-1), 8:00 PM ET.
Northwestern (10-1) at #21 Creighton (9-1), 8:05 PM ET. Too bad this one isn’t on regular TV.
Miami Ohio (3-6) at #2 Ohio State (11-1), 8:30 PM ET.
#24 Illinois (11-1) at #8 Missouri (11-0), ESPN2, 9:00 PM ET. Frank Haith has the Tigers off to a roaring start.
Milwaukee (9-3) at #10 Marquette (10-1), 9:00 PM ET.
Lehigh (9-3) at #20 Michigan State (10-2), ESPNU, 9:00 PM ET.
Saint Mary’s (10-1) vs. #7 Baylor (10-0), 10:30 PM ET. Another game that should be on regular TV.
#11 Kansas (7-3) at USC (5-7), 11:00 PM ET.
Long Beach State (5-5) vs. #15 Xavier (8-1), ESPNU, 11:00 PM ET
Buffalo (16-14-3, 35 pts) at Toronto (16-13-4, 36 pts), 7:00 PM ET.
New York Islanders (11-14-6, 28 pts) at New York Rangers (19-8-4, 42 pts), 7:00 PM ET.
Florida (18-10-6, 42 pts) at Ottawa (16-14-4, 36 pts), 7:30 PM ET.
Columbus (9-20-4, 22 pts) at Nashville (17-12-4, 38 pts), 8:00 PM ET.
Montreal (13-15-7, 33 pts) at Winnipeg (15-13-5, 35 pts), 8:30 PM ET.
Detroit (21-11-1, 43 pts) at Calgary (15-15-4, 34 pts), 9:30 PM ET.
Minnesota (20-10-5, 45 pts) at Edmonton (14-16-3, 31 pts), 9:30 PM ET.
Anaheim (9-19-5, 23 pts) at Los Angeles (15-14-4, 34 pts), 10:00 PM ET.