College football bowl season has arrived and it is a fascinating dichotomy. On one hand there are far too many bowl games, the season drags on way too long, and rewarding average teams for their mediocrity is just silly. On the other hand, it provides us with about three weeks of nearly non-stop football, and that cannot be considered a bad thing. I must warn my dear readers not to bet any money based on these picks, not only because The Manofesto doesn’t condone gambling but because my choices last year were so bad that I have blocked the atrocity of the final numbers from my brain. Nevertheless, the time has come to get back on the horse and give it another whirl. Enjoy.
New Mexico Bowl
BYU vs. UTEP
Two 6-6 teams meet in a bowl named after a place…a double whammy of awful. I’ll take BYU in a laugher.
Northern Illinois vs. Fresno St.
Northern Illinois won 10 games this season, but when you’re in the MAC that doesn’t mean much more than ending up in a lower tier bowl in Boise, Idaho. On top of that the Huskies are in the midst of a coaching change after their head man bolted for Minnesota. Fresno St. is always fun to watch and I give them the slight edge in what should be a high scoring affair decided by less than a touchdown.
New Orleans Bowl
Ohio vs. Troy
The question I have is will anyone be watching this game?? I’ll take the Bobcats in a snoozefest.
St. Petersburg Bowl
Southern Miss. vs. Louisville
Louisville uses the current inane rules to squeak into the postseason at 6-6, which theoretically would make them an underdog to the 8-4 Golden Eagles, but I’m not buying it. I like Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong, who I believe will get his team back to its winning ways sooner rather than later. This contest may serve as a springboard. Louisville wins easily.
Las Vegas Bowl
Utah vs. Boise St.
The most disappointed team in America has to be Boise St., who fell just a 3 point OT loss to Nevada short of being undefeated. It is unlikely that the Broncos would have been playing for the national title anyway, but they almost certainly would have had a date with one of the big boys in a BCS bowl had they achieved perfection. Utah ain’t no slouch either. The Utes won 10 games and will be moving to The Pac 10 next season. I’m looking forward to this game and believe it will be really entertaining. Most pundits will undoubtedly favor Boise St., thinking that they will be angry about falling short of their goal and take that frustration out on their opponents. That may very well be the case. But it is also quite possible that disappointment will outweigh anger and open up the door for an upset. I have a vibe that the latter will be the case, so I’m picking Utah.
Navy vs. San Diego St.
A bowl named after the quintessential Christmas flower and played on Christmas Eve Eve. I can dig that. It is pretty much a home game for the Aztecs, but I’m picking the Midshipmen.
Hawaii vs. Tulsa
This is another game where one of the participants is playing a home game, which sort of defeats the purpose of a bowl game in my opinion. This time I will take the home team, as I feel like Hawaii is a better team who is more battle tested.
Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl
Florida International vs. Toledo
Formerly known as the Motor City Bowl, this is the game that rewards two teams’ success with a trip to Detroit in December. Florida International is another 6-6 team that probably shouldn’t be playing a postseason game. Why should they be playing while 8-4 Temple stays home for the holidays?? Anyway, most fans will probably be watching the Philly/Minnesota NFL game on the night after Christmas and skip this yawner, which I think will be won by Toledo.
Air Force vs. Georgia Tech
Again I ask…6-6 Georgia Tech goes bowling while Temple’s Owls watch on TV?? It’s just not right. I’ll take Air Force in a competitive game.
Champs Sports Bowl
West Virginia vs. NC State
WVU is one of my favorite teams, so I won’t pick against them. However, from as objective a point of view as I can muster the Mountaineers should win with good defense.
Missouri vs. Iowa
Iowa looked to be in the BCS hunt early on but took quite a tumble at the end of the season, losing their final three games. Missouri is always better than people think they are. I love a west coast late night bowl game, although I’ll miss the later half of this one since it’s a work night. That’s unfortunate, because I think it’ll be quite a good game that the Hawkeyes win late in the 4th quarter.
East Carolina vs. Maryland
Formerly known as the EagleBank Bowl and played in Washington DC, so this is almost a home game for the Terrapins. I have a certain level of affection for East Carolina and hope they end up in The Big East someday, but this year they’re just another undeserving 6-6 team. Still, I think this will be a more than decent contest. I suppose I’ll take Maryland in a coin flip.
Illinois vs. Baylor
I don’t have an issue with Texas. My best friend lives there and likes it just fine. But bowls should not be named after places. It’s just so damn pretentious, pedestrian, and uncreative. Despite Illinois being yet another annoying 6-6 bowl participant and this game being close enough to a home game for Baylor I will pick the Illini for the win.
Oklahoma St. vs. Arizona
Oklahoma St. hung 65 points on an opponent twice this season, and scored in the 40-55 point range in most of their other games. Mountaineer fans are excited that the Cowboys offensive coordinator is heading east to run West Virginia’s underachieving offense next year and take over as head coach in 2012. Meanwhile, Arizona limped to a 7-5 finish by losing their final four games. This late night contest is also on a work night for me, so I am bummed to be missing the 2nd half of what will probably be a high scoring shootout. I am going to place the over/under at about 75 and take the over, with Oklahoma St. prevailing.
Armed Forces Bowl
Army vs. SMU
It’s nice to see the once dead Mustangs program back and successful. Unfortunately I think their second straight postseason appearance will end like the first…with a loss.
Kansas St. vs. Syracuse
Big East fans know the ‘Cuse is back. Maybe not all the way back, but definitely on the cusp. Yankee Stadium may not be the sun bathed paradise most players and fans desire for a bowl game, but it’s atleast cooler than Detroit or Idaho. I’ll take a the Orangemen in a low scoring affair.
Music City Bowl
North Carolina vs. Tennessee
UNC had much higher expectations coming into 2010, and the Volunteers have seemingly been spinning their wheels for several years. This game could be used as a launch pad for future success, and since I suspect that these teams cover a lot of the same recruiting territory I am sure it is being taken seriously. Tennessee is riding a four game winning streak and seems to have the momentum, so that’s the pick.
Nebraska vs. Washington
This, thankfully, is a late night game I will be able to watch since I am off that night. It is also a rare bowl rematch of two teams that met in the regular season, a game which the Cornhuskers dominated. Washington QB Jake Locker will be a top 10 NFL draft choice this spring, yet his Huskies could only muster a 6-6 record. Meanwhile, Nebraska, one of college football’s historically elite programs, is a ten game winner and only a narrow loss to Oklahoma in The Big 12 (or however many teams they have) championship game kept them out of the BCS mix. They’ll head to The Big 10 (or however many teams they have) next season and I think they’ll do so on the heels of an impressive victory.
South Florida vs. Clemson
Beating the ACC whenever the opportunity arises is a big deal for The Big East. The latter is constantly maligned for being a weak conference undeserving of a seat at the big table, while the ACC is given a pass even though it isn’t any more impressive, just bigger. Both teams have been inconsistent and unpredictable this season, so that makes this game difficult to get a handle on. I’ll take the Bulls in a squeaker.
Notre Dame vs. Miami
This would be an awesome matchup…if it were 1988. Unfortunately for these teams Lou Holtz and Jimmy Johnson aren’t walking through the door. Neither is Hurricanes head coach Randy Shannon, or I guess I should say former head coach. Shannon was fired a few weeks ago despite the program seeming to be on the doorstep of reclaiming its former glory. I guess the powers-that-be don’t really care that his players were graduating and the team’s thugnacious reputation has improved. Maybe the folks in charge at “The U” prefer their players to be members of Future Inmates of America. The Irish, meanwhile, improved from 6-6 in 2009 under former coach Charlie Weis to 7-5 under new coach Brian Kelly. Big leap, huh?? Anyway, I detest both these teams and wish they’d both lose, but someone’s got to win. Because of the upheaval a coaching change brings I cannot in good conscience pick Miami, so I will reluctantly take Notre Dame. I have to go throw up now.
Georgia vs. Central Florida
This season was a huge disappointment for the 6-6 Georgia Bulldogs. Conversely it was a great 10 win, Conference USA winning season for the UCF Knights. UCF is 0-3 in bowl games since moving up to Division 1-A in 1996. I say that losing streak ends here as the Knights surprise the Bulldogs.
South Carolina vs. Florida St.
This is the poster child for how far into the abyss college football has fallen. Formerly known…for four decades…as the Peach Bowl, it became corporately sponsored and then eventually the sponsor just decided to screw tradition and name the game after the company. I detest such idiocy. However, it is still a good football game and the 2010 contest should be a dandy. Because Steve Spurrier is a better, more experienced coach at this point than Jimbo Fisher I have to give the nod to the Gamecocks.
Northwestern vs. Texas Tech
New Year’s Day…Noon…ESPNU
Nothing speaks of the relative importance of a game than the fact that it can be viewed on ESPNU. I guess Versus couldn’t come up with the cash. I mean really…this is a New Year’s Day game. CBS, ABC, and Fox all have only one bowl game this season, and NBC has none. It’s just so different from the way things were not all that long ago, and I am not sure ESPN’s dominance is such a positive thing. Also, this game is being played in the old Cotton Bowl stadium but is NOT the Cotton Bowl or a replacement for it. It’s just another new bowl game, as if there weren’t enough already. At any rate, a matchup of two 7-5 teams doesn’t look all that appetizing on paper, but I think this may turn out to be a more than decent game, with Northwestern winning in front of a hostile crowd.
Florida vs. Penn State
New Year’s Day…1pm…ABC
Yes ladies & gentlemen, Joe Paterno is still coaching at Penn St. Now whether or not he is still alive is debatable. I think it is quite possible that the folks in Happy Valley have been pulling off some sort of Weekend at Bernie’s thing with the corpse of JoePa since the mid-90’s. One thing is for sure though…the Nittany Lions just keep on winning. They haven’t been in the national title mix for a few years, but they had won atleast 9 games for five straight seasons until this year’s 7-5 finish. This will be the swan song…for now…for outgoing Gators coach Urban Meyer, a middle aged, metrosexual, angst-ridden Dick Vermeil wannabe. If there is any justice Paterno’s boys will unload heretofore unseen offensive firepower on their opponents and show that sticking around is almost always better than slinking away like a pansy-ass milquetoast.
Capital One Bowl
Alabama vs. Michigan State
New Year’s Day…1pm…ESPN
This may be the best game on the postseason schedule other than the championship. Both teams were in the thick of the title hunt, with the Spartans falling just short of being undefeated by way of a loss to Iowa. I bet they are really kicking themselves for that loss now since the Hawkeyes proved to be vastly overrated. I’m not really sure what happened to the Crimson Tide, as they came into this season as defending national champions with 8 returning starters on offense, including the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, RB Mark Ingram. Losses to Auburn, LSU, and South Carolina derailed the opportunity for a repeat. I have high expectations that this one will be a heavyweight fight and highly entertaining, and in a flip of the coin I’ll take Michigan State for the victory.
Mississippi St. vs. Michigan
New Year’s Day…1:30pm…ESPN2
What has happened to the Gator Bowl?? It used to be a 2nd tier New Year’s Day game, but even though it is still being played on January 1st I’m not sure it deserves the respect of being considered 2nd tier. How does a 7-5 Michigan team…with “impressive” victories over UMass, Bowling Green, and Indiana…get an opportunity to play in January and get the big pay day?? It is mind boggling. I am unabashedly rooting for the Bulldogs and I hope they hang 60 points on that dirtbag Fraudriguez.
Wisconsin vs. TCU
New Year’s Day…5pm…ESPN
They call it The Grandaddy, and this year the Rose Bowl lives up to the hype. TCU gets the opportunity to prove they belong on the big stage against a legitimate opponent, but unfortunately I think they will have to do that by means of a moral victory. Wisconsin wins, but if it is a fun, competitive, close game then TCU still gets the respect of fans and talking heads alike. If the game is a blowout then the Horned Frogs will have to wait until they join The Big East to get back their mojo.
Connecticut vs. Oklahoma `
New Year’s Day…8:30pm…ESPN
Oklahoma vs. a Big East team in the Fiesta Bowl. That brings back memories. Can the Huskies shock the Sooners ala the Mountaineers in 2008 (not to mention Boise St. upsetting Oklahoma as well in the 2007 game)?? I would very much like to think it is possible, but on an intellectual level I just can’t pull the trigger on such a pick. The Sooners win, but it will be more of a battle than most expect.
Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
Stanford proves that a successful athletic program and high academic standards can go hand-in-hand. This will probably be the last collegiate game for Cardinal QB Andrew Luck, who is likely to enter the NFL Draft and become a first round pick, and I think he’ll go out a winner.
Ohio State vs. Arkansas
The Buckeyes were #1 until a mid-season misstep against Wisconsin. The Razorbacks are another team with a highly regarded quarterback, Ryan Mallett, who will be playing on Sundays next fall. Look for a great game decided by turnovers and special teams, with Arkansas prevailing.
Middle Tennessee vs. Miami, OH
This is where things go awry and begin to get silly. First of all, I hate the name GoDaddy.com. I think it’s a website building/domain name company, but I’m not sure. What I do know is that they use sex to sell their product. Don’t misunderstand…I am a red blooded American male and certainly no prude. I just think their advertising is cheap, unimaginative, and unnecessary. Secondly, this game is being played on January 6. Not only has the college football season begun to drag on far too long past what used to be a New Year’s Day finish, but now we are getting crappy games featuring lower level teams playing way too deep into the new year. It is unappealing and unacceptable. But it is still football so fans, including me, will watch. Miami’s coach just got hired for the same gig at Pitt, so that might be the deciding factor in Middle Tennessee’s second consecutive bowl win.
LSU vs. Texas A&M
Isn’t Dallas, TX special?? We already looked at the game being played in the old Cotton Bowl stadium, but this is the traditional Cotton Bowl game. It used to be an important New Year’s Day game for over a half century, but for some reason it has seemingly lost a degree of importance. This go round the game has been moved to the Dallas Cowboys’ shiny new billion dollar mega-stadium, and the matchup itself is interesting. LSU’s games are rarely boring, and somehow they usually find a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, except for losses to #1 Auburn and Arkansas. I’ll pick the Tigers to pull out one more heart stopping win.
Pitt vs. Kentucky `
If the NCAA had any sense of humor this game would feature two directional schools. Kentucky, at 6-6, has no business doing anything in January except returning Christmas gifts. Pitt is nominally better at 7-5, but they are another team who just fired their coach so they’ll have an interim guy leading the charge until the new coach takes over. I’m going to take the upset here with the Wildcats winning a low scoring, prosaic affair.
Fight Hunger Bowl
Nevada vs. Boston College
This is the old Emerald Bowl in San Francisco, a game Boston College has played in often enough that California charges the team property taxes. Nevada got everyone’s attention by taking down Boise State, and I think they’ll keep it by winning big.
National Championship Game
Oregon vs. Auburn
January 10, 2011 – ESPN
Finally, the big one. I am not a fan of the BCS and have always advocated a playoff, but I will admit that more often than not the system works the way it is meant to when it comes to the championship game. This game is a great example, as most fans will agree Auburn and Oregon are undoubtedly the best two teams in the country. I am not convinced that Auburn QB and Heisman winner Cam Newton didn’t know anything about his father’s nefarious activities involving trying to get money for his kid to play ball, but the NCAA cleared the young man and Auburn has never been implicated at all anyway, so I will just let that mess go. On the field this has the potential to be an instant classic, and I am looking forward to an exciting, fast paced, high scoring game. Newton receiving most of the attention…both good and bad…might be a huge positive for the Ducks, and wouldn’t it be ironic if a game in which everyone is trumpeting full throttle offense is decided by a few key defensive plays?? After much thought and consideration I am picking Oregon to win the title in a 34-27 type of contest.
- Utah Utes versus Boise St Broncos Las Vegas Bowl ESPN TV Wednesday December 22nd 2010 College Football Odds Sports Betting Pick Preview (tonyspicks.com)
- 2010-2011 College Football Bowl Game Picks, Odds & Schedule (touthouse.com)
- Bowl season kicks off with first of 35 games on Saturday (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Picking at a bowlful of games (timesunion.com)
- Ranking the bowls: Almost everyone gets a shot (cbssports.com)