Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013-2014 College Football Bowl Preview are some extremely interesting matchups this bowl season, the final one of the dreaded BCS era. For each game, I will give a couple brief thoughts, my predicted winner and confidence level (35 is most confident), as well as my interest level on a scale of 1-10. Clearly, some of the games hold more weight than others, but bowls are bowls. I would watch every one of them if possible. I love this time of year. Read up!

Colorado State vs Washington State (-4)
Breakdown: Yes, the Cougars are bowl eligible for the first time in a decade, but they got one of the weakest matchups we could have asked for. We want Mike Leach in a bout with another riverboat gambler, but instead we get Colorado State, who lost their season opener to a terrible Colorado team. How many tickets to this game can possibly be sold in New Mexico?  This promises to be a high scoring affair, though, but only if CSU star tailback Kapri Bibbs is healthy.
Winner (Confidence): Colorado State (8)
Interest Level: 3/10

USC (-6) vs Fresno State
Breakdown: This is a very cool matchup of Golden State teams. The Trojans have had a well documented coaching debacle throughout the season, ending with their interim coach quitting before the bowl game. How inspired will this team be? Will Marqise Lee use this favorable matchup as one final showcase for the NFL scouts? Fresno State scores in bunches, and their QB Derek Carr is right there with the elite NFL prospects as well. This game will have about a billion points scored, but I feel like the Fresno has a bit more motivation in this, missing the BCS due to one loss…in which they scored 52 points on the road.
Winner (Confidence): Fresno State (10)
Interest Level: 7.5/10

Buffalo (-1.5) vs San Diego State
Breakdown: Buffalo was had one of the most impressive turnarounds outside of Auburn in the nation. In 2011, they were an uncompetitive 3-9. Last year, 4-8. Now, they are 8-4 and nearly won their division. They get rewarded with…the Potato Bowl. San Diego State had a pretty good season, but it was really up-and-down. They get blown out by Eastern Illinois, beat Boise State, play close against awful New Mexico State and Hawaii. I suspect that the Aztecs, despite playing in familiar surroundings, will get blown off the blown off the ball by the Buffalo o-line and Branden Oliver will have a monster game.
Winner (Confidence): Buffalo (22)
Interest Level: 1.5/10

Tulane (PK) vs Louisiana-Lafayette
Breakdown: I am intrigued by this game for really no other reason than we get to see in-state rivals playing in their home state. Ordinarily, when a team plays near home, the outcome of the bowl game is somewhat predetermined. Here, we get a very intriguing matchup where motivation will be the deciding factor. I think that Tulane (2-10 last year), who was clearly in the better conference, will want to show the nation that their hot start was not a fluke. It will be a nail-biter, but I got the Green Wave.
Winner (Confidence): Tulane (17)
Interest Level: 6/10

BEEF ‘O’ BRADY’S BOWL – December 23, 11:00AM ESPN
Ohio vs East Carolina (-14)
Breakdown: Here, we have a couple non-AQ usual suspects battling it out in Florida. Ohio had a ton of returning talent, but they had a letdown year. East Carolina has a high-powered offense and an underrated defense that held Virginia Tech to just 15 points. I expect Shane Carden and Justin Hardy to hook up for a trio of touchdowns and roll all over that putrid Bobcat defense. If Beau Blankenship can get his act together and run the ball effectively for Ohio, however, this game could remain close.
Winner (Confidence): East Carolina (26)
Interest Level: 4/10

Oregon State (-3) vs Boise State
Breakdown: This game has no shortage of intrigue. We have the Beavers, who opened the year with a loss to FCS Eastern Washington, but then went on somewhat of a roll behind Biletnikoff winner Brandin Cooks and the arm of Sean Mannion. Boise State had an average year by their standards, mainly because their defense could not stop anyone. They also lost their coach, so how prepared will this team be without the best bowl game coach in the nation? They are very familiar with playing in Hawaii, but in bowl games, the stars show up. Cooks will go off like usual, but look for RBs Storm Woods and Terron Ward to put up the big numbers against that weak Boise front. This will be high scoring and close. I can’t wait to see this.
Winner (Confidence): Oregon State (14)
Interest Level: 9/10

Pittsburgh vs Bowling Green (-6)
Breakdown: This is a nice matchup. Bowling Green won the MAC in a shocking blowout win over Northern Illinois, but when they played BCS competition, they lost 63-30. This is not a great Pittsburgh team, but if I have learned anything watching bowl games, dominate defensive linemen take over bowls. Aaron Donald, the unbelievable DT for the Panthers, won the Outland, Bednarik, Nagurski, and Lombardi awards. He will take over this game and prevent that powerful Falcon offense from really getting going. BG also has 5th best scoring defense in the nation, so expect an ugly game in Detroit.
Winner (Confidence): Pittsburgh (21)
Interest Level: 7/10

Utah State vs Northern Illinois (-1.5)
Breakdown: Here, we have a classic matchup of strength vs strength. Northern Illinois has one of the most amazing offenses in the nation, and Utah State has one of the stingiest defenses out there. The Huskies are coming off an ugly loss in the MAC Championship Game, and Utah State nearly took down Fresno State for the MWC title. If Chuckie Keeton were healthy for Utah State, then this would be no contest. Since his injury, the Aggies have looked human, but like last year, in which they dominated their bowl game, they are just a better overall team than their opponent. This is bound to be a close game, but Utah State is playing closer to home, and Lynch already got his Heisman invite. I got the Aggies in a highly entertaining game that may well be the best of all the non-BCS games.
Winner (Confidence): Utah State (19)
Interest Level: 9/10

MILITARY BOWL – December 27, 11:30AM ESPN
Marshall (-3) vs Maryland
Breakdown: Marshall is probably the better team in this game, but Maryland is playing basically at home. The Terrapins started the season looking like a contender, but then fell off after that 63-0 loss to Florida State. Marshall finished winning 5 of their last 6, and they do have Rakeem Kato, one of the coolest QBs in the country. This is a decent matchup, but I feel like the team playing at home is going to be the deciding factor. The Marshall passing game will get slowed down a bit by the weather as well. Expect a low scoring affair.
Winner (Confidence): Maryland (5)
Interest Level: 5/10

TEXAS BOWL – December 27, 3:00PM ESPN
Syracuse vs Minnesota (-4.5)
Breakdown: Syracuse has a history of screwing up people’s seasons, but this Minnesota team is special. They are not the most talented team, but their defense is dominant. Their offense gets it done, especially since David Cobb’s emergence as their go-to tailback. The game being played in Texas is random, so there is no impact of weather or potential home crowd. The Gophers are the better team, and they will win this game.
Winner (Confidence): Minnesota (25)
Interest Level: 4.5/10

FIGHT HUNGER BOWL – December 27, 6:30PM ESPN
Washington (-3) vs BYU
Breakdown: These teams have played each other quite a bit over the years, but this matchup is different. Coach Sarkisian left for USC, so he doesn’t get to coach against his alma mater. This BYU team has a power running game, and they have hung with teams and been a much better Independent than I expected. Washington has more talent and are being coached by legendary Husky Marques Tuiasosopo for the game. Expect that offense to get going quick, and watch Bishop Sankey have one more huge game before jumping to the NFL. Watch out for Cougars QB Taysom Hill, who could very well shred the stout Husky D. This will be a fantastic game to watch in San Francisco, with the two schools being basically the same distance from the game. It is the perfect neutral site.
Winner (Confidence): Washington (4)
Interest Level: 8/10

Rutgers vs Notre Dame (-15.5)
Breakdown: I am going against my rule of always picking the home state team. Rutgers is simply not a good team, and this Notre Dame squad has beaten a few of the best teams in the country. There is also a huge contingent of Irish fans in New York, so Rutgers will likely not outdraw ND in ticket sales. The Irish defense will destroy that streaky Rutgers offense and win this game comfortably.
Winner (Confidence): Notre Dame (29)
Interest Level: 4/10

BELK BOWL – December 28, 12:20PM ESPN
Cincinnati vs North Carolina (-3)
Breakdown: I have no idea what to expect from these teams. Cincinnati nearly won the AAC after losing their starting QB and losing to South Florida, one of the worst teams in the nation. North Carolina started 1-5 and finished 5-1. UNC lost their season finale to Duke, while Cincinnati lost their chance at the conference title in the last week. UNC probably has more upside, but I really have no idea what this game will look like. It is a coin flip if there ever was one.
Winner (Confidence): Cincinnati (1)
Interest Level: 3.5/10

Miami vs Louisville (-3)
Breakdown: This is another case where I had to go against my home state rule. Louisville has appeared bored since they lost to UCF, but they haven’t lost since. Miami has appeared pedestrian at best since getting obliterated by Florida State. The Cardinal are simply a better team, and if Teddy Bridgewater wants to go pro, he can have a big game against this defense. I expect him to.
Winner (Confidence): Louisville (12)
Interest Level: 7/10

Michigan vs Kansas State (-3.5)
Breakdown: This is a great matchup for such a lower-level bowl game. The teams appear to be mirrors of each other. The Wildcats had a commendable season after their Heisman finalist Colin Klein graduated. Michigan looked terrific early on, but then they stumbled and hit rock bottom midseason. They are coming in with some confidence after their effort against Ohio State. They are certainly more explosive than K-State. There will be no defense played in this game, but Michigan has more weapons.
Winner (Confidence): Michigan (16)
Interest Level: 7.5/10

Middle Tennessee State vs Navy (-6)
Breakdown: This is just one of those games where there are very few pulls. The quarterbacks are dynamic, especially Keenan Reynolds, who set the single season QB rushing TD record. Navy just never really has great bowl games. Logan Kilgore is a fine player as well, but his senior year has been as great as we would have expected going in. Unless Reynolds goes off, this is bound to be the most forgettable bowl game of the season.
Winner (Confidence): Middle Tennessee State (7)
Interest Level: 2/10

Mississippi (-3) vs Georgia Tech
Breakdown: Here, we get a cool matchup of unique offenses. Ole Miss has had a Jekyll and Hyde-type of season, but last year’s bowl game showed that they can be tough to prepare for. Georgia Tech ended the year on somewhat of a roll when Vad Lee and David Sims really started playing well. The Yellow Jackets have a better defense, so the option team will probably have more success on the ground than the straight spread team. That is only a guess, though. This is a really interesting game.
Winner (Confidence): Georgia Tech (3)
Interest Level: 7.5/10

VALERO ALAMO BOWL – December 30, 3:45PM ESPN
Texas vs Oregon (-14)
Breakdown: Here, we have two teams that do not want to be where they are at. Oregon was not pleased with the Rose Bowl…so how does the Alamo Bowl taste? DAT sucks, bro. Texas was an in-state rivalry game away from the Fiesta Bowl, but here they sit in an ugly game that they have little chance of really competing in. The only thing going for them is that they are playing in Texas. With Mack Brown on his way out, the team may be uninspired. They could get a bit of “win one for the Gipper” as a sendoff to their National Title winning coach, but I doubt it. This one could get ugly very quick, since Texas has one of the worst run defenses in the nation.
Winner (Confidence): Oregon (27)
Interest Level: 6/10

Texas Tech vs Arizona State (-14)
Breakdown: This is a very strange game that I cannot get a read on. I figured that the Sun Devils would beat Stanford at home for the Pac-12 title, but they got steamrolled. ASU has looked amazing at times this year, but with Marion Grice banged up, the team is more one-dimensional. Texas Tech started off hot this year before basically imploding. The team seems like it could come up with some exotic offensive game plan with all that time to prepare. I am not confident in this one. There will definitely be a bunch of points down there in San Diego.
Winner (Confidence): Arizona State (9)
Interest Level: 8/10

ADVOCARE V100 BOWL – December 31, 9:30AM ESPN
Boston College vs Arizona (-7.5)
Breakdown: In this game, we have an awesome matchup of the two best running backs in the nation. Ka’Deem Carey is electric for the Wildcats and dominated the Pac-12 for the second consecutive year. Andre Williams, obviously, had one of the elite seasons for a running back in college football history. He is the only weapon that BC has on offense, and he still rolled up over 2000 yards, most of which were in the second half of the year. Big time players show up in big games. Look for Williams to put a stamp on his historic season and lead the Eagles to victory behind a 200+ yard game.
Winner (Confidence): Boston College (13)
Interest Level: 8.5/10

HYUNDAI SUN BOWL – December 31, 11:00AM CBS
Virginia Tech vs UCLA (-7)
Breakdown: UCLA is a troubling team. When they are at their peak, they might be the best team in the country. They have been up-and-down, though. This is a favorable matchup. The Bruins might not be able to really open it up against a pretty strong Hokies defense, but they should be able to shut down Logan Thomas and company without too much trouble. Watch this game to see a whole lot of Myles Jack, one of the most versatile and exciting players in college football. He will be a Heisman frontrunner heading into next season.
Winner (Confidence): UCLA (32)
Interest Level: 7/10

Mississippi State (-7) vs Rice
Breakdown: Rice is coming into the game hot after taking apart a really good Marshall team for the C-USA title. Mississippi State really has not recorded a quality win. Their best win may have been the ugly Egg Bowl victory over Ole Miss. The only reason Bulldogs are favored is because they are in the SEC. Rice is a better team. They showed they can play with the big boys when they put 31 on Texas A&M to start the year.
Winner (Confidence): Rice (20)
Interest Level: 6/10

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL – December 31, 5:00PM ESPN
Duke vs Texas A&M (-12)
Breakdown: Here, we have a mismatch. We saw what Duke is really like when they play outside of the soft ACC. They are an intriguing team just because they won 10 games and that never happens. The Aggies are not coming in felling good, necessarily, after getting dismantled by Missouri. This is, in all likelihood, Johnny Manziel’s last college game. He will leave his mark. This should get out of hand pretty quick, but it will probably be entertaining.
Winner (Confidence): Texas A&M (33)
Interest Level: 5/10

Nebraska vs Georgia (-9)
Breakdown: It is always unfortunate when we get a rematch of the previous year’s bowl season. Last year, Nebraska and Georgia came in healthy, and we got a shootout. This year, both teams’ quarterbacks are out for the year and are a shell of their former selves. Georgia has more talent and is deeper, so they should not have too many problems beating the Huskers and whoever they start at QB. Ameer Abdullah will have a day for the Big Red, but it will not be nearly enough to keep up with the Bulldogs.
Winner (Confidence): Georgia (30)
Interest Level: 5/10

UNLV vs North Texas (-6.5)
Breakdown: This is the biggest mismatch of the bowl season. UNLV played in a weak Mountain West and got destroyed by every good team on their schedule. They finished the season on a good note, but they are going to Texas to play a feisty team from Texas. The Mean Green have a top 10 defense and a very balanced offense. They should be able to force UNLV into passing situations, which is not good news for the Rebels. North Texas scores on defense consistently. This is an absolute no-brainer. NOTE: I always seem to miss my top confidence game, but I can’t get this one wrong...right?
Winner (Confidence): North Texas (35)
Interest Level: 4/10

Wisconsin (PK) vs South Carolina
Breakdown: I really like this matchup. I can already picture how this game is going to go. Wisconsin will outplay South Carolina in almost every way, but South Carolina will somehow have more points at the end of the game. Sound familiar? It should, if you have seen any Cocks game during the Connor Shaw era. The running game for the Badgers is seemingly unstoppable when they commit to it (which didn’t happen in their embarrassing season-ending loss to Penn State). South Carolina has a good running game of its own, led by 1000 yard rusher Mike Davis. This will likely be a very entertaining game, one of the best on New Year’s Day.
Winner (Confidence): South Carolina (28)
Interest Level: 9/10

Iowa vs LSU (-7.5)
Breakdown: This game has my attention for some reason. LSU was a really interesting team for most of the season. Heading into their bowl without senior QB Zach Mettenberger is troubling, but it levels the playing field with ground-and-pound Iowa. The Hawkeyes have had a solid season and a nice turnaround from last year. LSU has NFL players all over its offense, but its defense is rebuilding. If Iowa can control the clock, which it does better than almost any other team, it has a tremendous chance of winning. I just seem too much firepower for the Bayou Bengals.
Winner (Confidence): LSU (18)
Interest Level: 8/10

Michigan State vs Stanford (-4.5)
Breakdown: This is the best game of the season. We have two teams that are committed to being NFL-style teams. They have stout defenses, especially the nation’s best one in Michigan State. Stanford has had a couple cases where they were not able to really control the line of scrimmage, which is what Sparty does game in and game out. I like their chances of winning, but it is so hard to predict a Cardinal loss. I really do not want to pick a side here. I just want to enjoy what will likely be the roughest and most beautiful display of pure football this season.
Winner (Confidence): Michigan State (2)
Interest Level: 10/10

UCF vs Baylor (-17)
Breakdown: I like this game in theory. UCF has had itself an incredible debut BCS conference season. That is without question. They also had some very close calls with some awful teams. Baylor, with the exception of a couple games late in the year, could do whatever they wanted on offense. The Bears should be able to score 60 on UCF, who doesn’t have much on the defensive side. They do have an offense of their own, but it will not be enough against a solid Baylor D. I want to watch these offenses, but this game should not be closer than 4 touchdowns.
Winner (Confidence): Baylor (31)
Interest Level: 8/10

Oklahoma vs Alabama (-15)
Breakdown: This is one of those games that seem so obvious that I almost picked the other way. These types of games always destroy confidence pickers. Oklahoma has almost nothing on offense. They road one player to a Bedlam victory, a game they had no business winning or even competing in. Alabama is still probably the best team in the country, but how much do they want to play in the Sugar Bowl? They have lost to Utah in a BCS game in the past in which they just didn’t show up. The Crimson Tide are superior in every way, and I just cannot seeing one of college football’s greatest champions AJ McCarron going out with a loss.
Winner (Confidence): Alabama (34)
Interest Level: 5/10

Oklahoma State vs Missouri (-1)
Breakdown: I love this matchup of old Big 12 schools. Missouri got shredded in the SEC Championship game by a creative offense, and that is exactly what Oklahoma State sports. The Pokes have had their troubles with consistency all year. They have more talent than Missouri, but that really doesn’t matter in most bowls. This game is going to be an offensive shootout. I trust Mike Gundy more than Gary Pinkel, plus Missouri’s letdown of missing out on the BCS Championship Game is greater than OK State’s letdown of missing playing UCF in the Fiesta.
Winner (Confidence): Oklahoma State (24)
Interest Level: 8.5/10

Clemson vs Ohio State (-3)
Breakdown: This is a game that features two teams that cannot feel too good coming in. Everyone had Clemson finally winning another Palmetto Bowl, but they got taken apart again. Ohio State has been exposed defensively each of their last two games. Urban Meyer is typically a fantastic postseason coach, though. Tajh Boyd dominated last season in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU. Both teams should be well prepared and hungry…at least I hope so. I want this to be a great game.
Winner (Confidence): Ohio State (11)
Interest Level: 9/10

Houston vs Vanderbilt (-3)
Breakdown: I do not really know what to say about this game. Houston looked decent until they played the best 3 teams in the AAC, which they lost to in consecutive weeks. Their best game was probably their close loss to either BYU or Louisville. They did stun Rice early in the year. They are capable of playing a good game, especially defensively. Vanderbilt had high hopes, and even though they won 8 games, they were not great. They did not really have any quality wins, unless you count the depleted Georgia team. The Commodores will win because they have some real talent on offense and a great coach, but I do not really need to see this game. It is bound to be pretty bad.
Winner (Confidence): Vanderbilt (23)
Interest Level: 1/10

Arkansas State vs Ball State (-9)
Breakdown: Games like this one are hard to predict. Ball State should be the clear favorite after taking their conference, but this game is the day before the championship game. Arkansas State lost another coach to a better job, which usually plays in the favor of the team with the vacated coaching spot. I think this will be a close game, but Ball State has too much firepower offensively. The QB-RB-WR combo of Keith Wenning, Jahwan Edwards, and Willie Snead is one of the best in the nation. I expect them to probably win, but I just cannot fully trust the MAC.
Winner (Confidence): Ball State (6)
Interest Level: 4.5/10

Auburn vs Florida State (-8.5)
Breakdown: Finally we arrive at the one everyone wants to see. We get to see one of the most dominant regular season teams in recent memory against a team of destiny if there ever was one. Auburn’s running game seems impossible to stop, but only if you watched the SEC Championship Game. They had to be far more balanced against Georgia the game before, a game that I still cannot believe they escaped from. The team simply has no defense either. Florida State has yet to really be tested. That is not to say they haven’t played anyone, but they just haven’t played in a close game. So, if this one is looking like a nail-biter, I am not really confident in freshman Heisman winner Jameis Winston to be able to score when he needs a score. I do trust that NFL defense, however. I expect a pretty good game with a big stop or turnover late forced by the ‘Noles. FSU takes the title 30-23.
Winner (Confidence): Florida State (15)
Interest Level: 10/10

Thoughts? Predictions? Your confidence picks? Hit me up in the comments!


  1. On the Fiesta bowl - It will be tough for UCF to win this game but I'm taking UCF. Here's why. Both teams played 7 bad teams, their combined records - BU(30-53) and UCF(21-63). They were all wins for both squads (does it really matter by how many points :-)). The other 5 games were against competitive (or somewhat competitive) teams. BU - Oklahoma (10-2), Okl St(10-2), Texas(8-4),Texas Tech(8-5),Kansas St(7-5). UCF - Louisville(11-1),South Carolina(10-2), Houston(8-4),Penn St(7-5),Rutgers(6-6). 4 out of the 5 teams for each are in bowls. Combined records-BU-43-18,UCF-42-18. In comparing avg stats against those 5 games, most averages matched up or were somewhat close except for one category - rushing which I'm sure O'leary has a game plan for (there is a note on turnovers at the end). If the game is close in the 4th qtr, say 10 points or less, UCF will beat the spread or even win because they have been clutch (or lucky or magic) all year. Make what you will of it, Offense: Total yards-BU-508,UCF-446;Passing-BU-260,UCF-288, Rushing-BU-247,UCF-158,third down conversions-BU-33-81,UCF-32-59,points for-BU-36,UCF-30, Time of possession-BU-30,UCF-32....Defense-total yards-BU-390,UCF-395,rushing-BU-131,UCF-145, third down conversions-BU-26-81,UCF-27-63. Time of possession-BU-28,UCF-22. Another game changer is turnovers, anything can happen on a bad or good day for both. if Baylor gets the most, they will win big - Offense BU-5,UCF-10; Defense-BU-18,UCF-10 - go knights

    1. See, it is stuff like this that makes me second guess myself on these seemingly obvious games. I know UCF is pretty good and proved that they can control a game against a great team against the Gamecocks, but even though the AAC is weak, they still can match up with the Bears in Baylor's calling card...stats. And yes, that Temple game in particular, UCF appears to be one of those teams that gets lucky so many times that it needs to stop being called such. But hey, Baylor getting 30 minutes/game in time of possession is pretty impressive given their quick strike offense. The only thing that worries me about making this prediction so early is the off chance that Art Briles takes the Texas job sometime before the new year. I stand by my prediction, but I appreciate the game breakdown. I didn't think go deep into this particular game.

      By the way, all five of those Baylor opponents are in Bowls. And all five of UCF's would be too if not for Penn State's ineligibility, of course. Interesting stuff.

  2. How can you pick Buffalo over Jack and Miles' alma mater?

    1. I know, bad pick. My College Football Challenge experience with Neutz and Oliver got the best of me plus Muema screwed me over one week. I actually wanted to go to San Diego State after high school just because Jack and Miles went there haha