Now we’re really headed into the home stretch of the silly bowl season. We’ve made it through all the bad bowls and now all we have left is bowls played on dates that have “New Year’s” in front of them. Sort of.
Speaking of silly, my record is 5-6 through the first couple of weeks of bowl games. I’m still a little bitter at BC for winning by three when they were getting 3.5 points. Weak guys. Weak.
We all know that the Insight Bowl is the most important bowl left this season, but the powers that be have decreed that the BCS bowls get their own separate preview, so that’ll follow this one. In the mean time, we have a superultramega big set of picks that represent the bulk of my season record. I might be screwed.
Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte, NC)
(25) Connecticut (9-3) at Wake Forest (8-4) (-1.5)
This is actually an underrated bowl matchup that has the potential to be a really interesting game. I said “potential” because it could also be unwatchable. Neither team does much on offense, but both play excellent defense and special teams. I’m quasi-intrigued. UConn does some nice things, but I think their moment of getting away with pure vanilla on offense and a little defense is over.
Pick: Wake Forest
Update: Wake Forest 24 UConn 10. 6-6 this bowl season and 61-60-1 for the entire 2007-08 season.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)
Central Florida (10-3) at Mississippi State (7-5) (+3)
UCF has a (near) record-setting running back and the impressive ability to make George O’Leary seem less shady. Mississippi State has a feel-good story and not a whole lot else. Will Sy Croom surprise another opponent? I have no idea because I probably won’t watch this one.
Update: Miss. State 10 UCF 3. 6-7. UCF is just the latest team to get Croom’d by Mississippi State. Maybe they ought to try blocking for Smith a little better. Just a thought.
Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
Pennsylvania State (8-4) at Texas A&M (7-5) (+5)
Dennis Franchione comes and Dennis Franchione goes, but Joe Paterno IS Penn State football. When he goes, the program is in real trouble. It seems as though Penn State should roll through this game because of A&M’s coaching situation, but I’ve seen PSU play this season, and they’re really not good on offense. This game has the most potential of the Saturday games to be unwatchable. Both teams may be truly terrible and boring on offense by game’s end. But it IS a bowl-gambling rule to stay away from the team that’s switching coaches, so….
Pick: Penn State
Update: Penn State 24 Texas A&M 17. 7-7. Nice hire in Mike Sherman. I’m sure he’ll work out fine. Not.
Petrosun Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA)
Alabama (6-6) at Colorado (6-6) (+3.5)
Well, all that money and hype for Nick Saban sure got the team into a good place this season. Lemme guess, Alabama fan, Shula left nothing in the cupboard. It’s all his fault, not Saban’s. It’s kind of John Parker Wilson’s because he’s not so good at the football. In any case, Shreveport, Louisiana is where Saban Year One ends against Colorado and George “the rabid goldfish” Hypolite.
Update: Alabama 30 Colorado 24. 7-8. So close to a cover, yet so far away. Maybe the Buffaloes should avoid giving up the huge first quarter next time.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX)
California (6-6) at Air Force (9-3) (+3.5)
Another bowl rule: when a military school is in the Armed Forces Bowl, pick the military school even if they’re totally out-matched.
Pick: Air Force
Update: Cal 42 Air Force 36. 7-9. AND Air Force blew a big lead. Wonderful.
Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl (Boise, ID)
Georgia Tech (7-5) at Fresno State (8-4) (+6)
Ah, Boise, Idaho in December/January. I can’t think of a better place to play a bowl game. It can’t be an accident that this bowl only got Georgia Tech and Fresno State to come to town. Sure, the blue turf is cool, but that’s the only cool thing about this game. The players’ parents might not even go to this game.
Pick: Fresno State
Update: Fresno State 40 Georgia Tech 28. 8-9. A little better.
Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)
(21) South Florida (9-3) at Oregon (8-4) (+6)
Easy pick. South Florida isn’t great, but Oregon is a mess without Dennis Dixon. Our love for Jonathan Stewart is well documented, but it won’t be enough, even with a month to prepare. As for USF, would it kill the USF staff to create more of a system for Matt Grothe and the offense? They look a little ragged. And by “a little,” I mean “a lot.”
Update: Oregon 56 South Florida 21. 8-10.
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN)
Kentucky (7-5) at Florida State (7-5) (+10)
I won’t even bother since FSU’s latest scandal has crippled the team. Ten points is a little steep for an average UK team, but whatever.
Update: Kentucky 35 Florida State 28. 8-11.
Insight Bowl (Tempe, AZ)
Indiana (7-5) at Oklahoma State (6-6) (-4)
And now we come to it. Half of the Rumors and Rants staff will be attending this game and will have pictures to prove that IU was, in fact, in a bowl game. It was always the late Terry Hoeppner’s goal to Play 13 and now the Hoosiers get to do it. I’m glad we got the 13th game and all, but I want to Win Eight. That’s what matters now. See you in Tempe.
P.S. I’m severely disappointed the game isn’t at University of Phoenix stadium.
Update: OSU 49 IU 33. 8-12. The IU offense just didn’t have it on Monday. The defense made dumb plays as always, but the O is usually good for a couple plays that make up for it. Not so much this time. Oh well, we played 13 and got to see it in person. We’re not bitter at all.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, GA)
(15) Clemson (9-3) at (23) Auburn (8-4) (+2.5)
Auburn, we could have told you that Al Borges has no idea how to scheme for teams. Unless he has a ton of talent on his offense, he is the most conservative and uncreative playcaller you can find. And that includes the other SEC teams. Hard to say if they’ll be able to do anything in the bowl game, but the spread is supposedly coming to Auburn. Clemson already runs the spread and has two fantastic running backs. I still don’t trust them. I never have liked Clemson. They always seem like they’re playing on a wing and a prayer. But picking bowl games leaves one with some bad choices.
Update: Auburn 23 Clemson 20 OT. 8-13. Guh.
Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL)
(16) Tennessee (9-4) at (18) Wisconsin (9-3) (+2)
Never pick Phil Fulmer. We all know he’s a hack. Tennessee fan knows he’s a hack. He knows he’s a hack. Even Wisconsin should be able to handle the Volunteers, and they’re terrible. Erik Ainge and his rainbow change-up throws don’t have much of a chance. I hate you, Tennessee. You could be so much more than you are, but all that talent gets wasted.
Update: Tennessee 21 Wisconsin 17. 8-14. If you’re keeping score, I’m in the midst of a total meltdown in my picks. And let me tell you, it feels good.
Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX)
(6) Missouri (11-2) at Arkansas (8-4) (+3)
Arkansas has lost their head coach and gained an even shadier one, which was a hard thing to do, given the man being replaced is Houston Nutt. But Petrino is coming next season and the SEC should beware. I’d still take Saban and Meyer, but that’s me.
Missouri also has a ton to play for, considering how badly snubbed they were at the hands of the BCS. They have already beaten two teams that DID make BCS games (Illinois and Kansas) and got passed over for a “traditional” matchup in the Rose Bowl. If they come out sloppy or uninspired, they probably shouldn’t be playing competitive football.
Update: Missouri 38 Arkansas 7. 9-14. Good for Mizzou, they made a statement. If Kansas gets shellacked by Virginia Tech, it may be a much bigger statement.
Capital One Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Michigan (8-4) at (12) Florida (9-3) (-10.5)
This could be the best bowl matchup of all the games, BCS included. On the other hand, Michigan could get seriously destroyed. They got hammered by Oregon, who runs a similar offense, and Oregon didn’t even have a Heisman Trophy winner. Or Jesus, for that matter. It’s also the bitter end for Mike Hart and Chad Henne. They came back for their senior season and accomplished nothing, while regressing in nearly every phase of the game. Plus, Michigan is switching coaches. The Wolverines may want to play hard for Lloyd Carr in his last game, but chances are they’ll come out uninspired like they did all season.
Update: Michigan 41 Florida 35. 10-14. Tebow showed a real flaw when he wasn’t able to lead the team back at the end with his arm instead of his legs. Plus, the Heisman curse lives on. Michigan came out and played pretty well, considering, but Florida played ugly all the way through, and that was the difference.
Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)
Texas Tech (8-4) at (20) Virginia (9-3) (+6)
I love Texas Tech’s system and philosophy. It’d also be really interesting to see Mike Leach in the Pac-10 at UCLA, but they’ll probably screw up and hire Rick Neuheisel. They also might be a handful for Virginia. The Cavaliers play good defense, at least, so it shouldn’t be a blow out, but big conference teams that haven’t faced a team like Tech have some problems with it in bowl games. I totally just made that up to convince myself that Tech can cover six points.
Pick: Texas Tech
Update: Texas Tech 31 Virginia 28. 10-15. Nearly covered the six points, but not quite. Nice comeback by Tech, not that it did me any good.