Bowl action heats
up for New Year’s

Dec 25, 2006 7:27 AM

The bowl season kicked off with a handful of nice games, especially for the Mountain West Conference, whose TCU, BYU and Utah rung up big victories.

With so many bowl games this year (32 games), we’re seeing many more teams in the post season than ever before.

For teams like Rice, South Florida, Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois and Rutgers, it must be a monumental thrill to participate in a bowl.

And, while some "fair weather" fans complain about the mediocrity of some of the teams, true college football lovers are enjoying all the games have to offer.

Here’s a rundown of the rest of the bowl season schedule (Last week: 5-2 ATS).

Fri., Dec. 29

Sun

Oregon State -3½ vs. Missouri: Oregon State had a tremendous stretch won in which they notched wins against Arizona, USC, Arizona State, Oregon and Hawaii. Their only hiccup was a lost at UCLA, where they suffered turnovers and too many mistakes. The should have no trouble beating a mediocre Missouri squad that struggled against the better Big 12 teams.

Fri., Dec. 29

Liberty

Houston vs. South Carolina -6½: South Carolina was probably the best team in the SEC with a losing (3-5) record. They suffered last minute losses to Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida, although they finally broke through with a win over Clemson to end the season. The Gamecocks have a stifling defense which should be able to shut down Houston’s predicable passing attack.

Fri., Dec. 29

Insight

Texas Tech —6½ vs. Minnesota

Minnesota was able to dominate weak teams such as Kent, Temple and Indiana with its one-dimensional rushing attack, but they were stymied by Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State and California. Texas Tech might measure up to those, but they will be able to move the ball and score enough to hold off the Gophers.

 

Fri., Dec. 29

Champs Sports

Maryland —1 vs. Purdue

Maryland showed steady improvement over the course of the season, until their season-ending losses to Boston College and Wake Forest. Purdue, however, didn’t dominate anyone except lower tier Big 10 teams and MAC foes. In a relatively low-scoring contest, Maryland gets the nod.

 

Sat., Dec. 30

Meineke Car Care

Boston College —6 vs. Navy

Despite the loss of their starting quarterback, Navy enjoyed a solid 9-3 season. Most of their wins, however, were against weak competition, such as Temple, Army, Air Force, Massachusetts and Duke. They struggled against better teams such as Notre Dame, Tulsa and Rutgers. Boston College is better than any of those teams and will prevail here.

 

Sat., Dec. 30

Alamo

Texas —10½ vs. Iowa

Iowa is enjoying a late Christmas present here. How they qualified for a bowl with a 2-6 record in the Big 10 defies. Yet, Texas probably didn’t circle "Alamo Bowl" before they started the season; just how excited can they be to be playing here? A lack of focus by the Longhorns is Iowa’s only hope. Barring that, give Texas a huge edge in ability to score, which they will do, early and often.

 

Sat., Dec. 30

Chick-Fil-A

Virginia Tech —2½ vs. Georgia

It’s hard to play against a dominating defense such as Virginia Tech’s, which allowed opponents only 9 points/game this season. Georgia doesn’t have a scintillating offense to start with (24 points and 321 yards per game), so points will be scarce. That plays into the game plan of the Hokies.

 

Sun., Dec. 31

MPC Computers

Nevada vs. Miami —3

The Wolf Pack had a nice run in the WAC, but, of course, it was only the MAC. They’re not accustomed to the quality of athlete that Miami will put on the field. The difference in team speed will be dramatic. Even though it’s been a tumultuous year for the Hurricane, they can win this game if they’re focused.

 

 

Mon., Jan. 1

Outback

Penn State vs. Tennessee —4½

Penn State handled the "cupcake" foes in the Big 10, but couldn’t come close to Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Tennessee is one of the upper tier SEC teams, even though they lost (by a point) to Florida and (by four) to LSU. The Vols can be erratic but they should be healthy enough to put away the Nittany Lions, who were 0-4 as an underdog this season.

 

Mon., Jan. 1

Cotton

Auburn —2 vs. Nebraska

It’s been a long time since the Cotton Bowl had any real significance, thanks to the BCS. But this should be a good match-up. The Cornhuskers are improved over last year’s squad and they actually field a potent offense. Auburn has the better defense, which should be able to control the Husker attack. The Tigers take this one in a low-scoring contest.

 

Mon., Jan. 1

Gator

Georgia Tech vs. West Virginia —7

West Virginia simply has too many weapons for Georgia Tech to handle. The Mountaineers rush for more than 300 yards per game and score nearly 40 points. Their defense isn’t shabby, either, allowing only 20 points and 87 rushing yards per contest. Georgia Tech has a solid defense, but they won’t get enough production from their offense. West Virginia wins this one going away.

 

Mon., Jan. 1

Capital One

Wisconsin vs. Arkansas —1½

Football purists will love this match-up of grind-it-out rushing teams. This game will undoubtedly produce the fewest passes of all the bowl games. Arkansas had a great run following their season-opening debacle against USC, even though the closed the season with consecutive losses to LSU and Florida. Wisconsin is the third best team in the Big 10 behind Ohio State and Michigan, and even though the SEC has higher power rankings than the Big 10, Wisconsin’s stout defense and rushing game should be enough to control the Razorbacks.

 

Mon., Jan. 1

Rose

Michigan vs. Southern California —1

Both teams might feel that they should be playing Ohio State for the national BCS title. Yet, both teams had their chances and failed to achieve. This should be a great Rose Bowl as USC is undoubtedly better than the looked against UCLA and Michigan is a solid, veteran team that is at the top of its game. Michigan opened the favorite and, even though the backing has gone to Southern Cal, Michigan is the correct play here.

 

Mon., Jan. 1

Fiesta

Oklahoma —7 vs. Boise State

Boise State finally has their chance. A New Year’s Day, BCS bowl game! Even though they’re facing a top rung Big 12 team, the Broncos have enough weapons to stay competitive against the Sooners. Notching an outright win might be stretching it, but Boise State will stay close.

 

Tue., Jan. 2

Orange

Wake Forest vs. Louisville —10

This bowl game features two of the best college coaches, Wake’s Jim Grobe and Louisville’s Bobby Petrino. Kind of like Rutgers, Wake Forest is on a delightful — albeit improbable — run. Rest assured they’ll put together a huge effort here. Louisville, on the other hand, might be lamenting a national title run that was short-circuited at Rutgers. Given there might be a hangover, let’s give Wake Forest a shot at keeping this one close.

 

Wed., Jan. 3

Sugar

Notre Dame vs. LSU —9

Why is Notre Dame here? They didn’t beat anyone of significance. Their season included Army, Navy and Air Force. Wow. Maybe they’ll schedule the Coast Guard Academy next year. In this contest, LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell will outplay Brady Quinn and effectively expose the Irish signal-caller as an overrated figment of the media’s imagination. Lay the lumber with confidence here.

 

Sat., Jan. 6

International

Cincinnati —7½ vs. Western Michigan

Western Michigan had a solid campaign in the MAC this year. But they didn’t face the quality of Big East competition. Cincinnati was competitive with the best teams in the Big East, and they knocked off Rutgers when they were undefeated, as well as Syracuse, Pitt and South Florida. The Bearcats are a tough group and they should be able to handle Western Michigan.

 

Sun., Jan. 7

GMAC

Southern Mississippi —6 vs. Ohio

Perhaps this contest was supposed to be some sort of appetizer for the big BCS title game. Unfortunately, it comes across like Chex mix on a napkin next to a bottle of Dom Perignon. These teams look evenly matched, so taking Ohio and the points is the prudent choice.

 

Mon., Jan. 8

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