2013 NCAA Bowl Previews & Predictions

Before we dive in headfirst there are a few ground rules that need to be reviewed and some things that need to be said once so that I don’t find myself repeating them a dozen times. First of all, these picks are completely separate from our Pigskin Picks of Profundity. You will see no point spreads here. There are just too many games to track down all that data and the total random nature of bowl games makes assessing such things total folly anyway even though I am sure the folks in Vegas will do their best. Secondly, I have some strong opinions when it comes to the entire bowl system. I think the BCS is a load of crap and I am glad it is going away. The 4 team playoff we’re getting next year is a positive change and I would not mind a bit if it eventually expanded to 6 or even 8 teams. There are way way way too many bowl games (35 counting the national title game), and I don’t think it’d be a bad thing to have an 8 team playoff and something like 25-30 bowl games. I do not believe that 6-6 teams should have their mediocrity awarded with a post-season game. My threshold for bowl eligibility would be 7 games, but unfortunately I do not make the rules. The world would be a better place if I did. I am not a fan of corporate bowl names or bowl games named after a particular location. If it were up to me the New Mexico, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Beef O’Brady’s, Russell Athletic, GoDaddy, & Capital One Bowls (just to name a few) would go away and games like the Cherry, Freedom, Gotham, Pineapple, Tangerine, & Copper Bowls would be revived. I would also like to see the bowl season wrapped up by New Year’s Day, with the only games played after being the national semifinals and the championship game. Having said all that the reality is what it is and as a football fan I will enjoy the next several weeks. There are probably atleast a dozen…possibly as many as 15…games out of these 35 that have the potential to be really entertaining, and I suppose that we can always hope that the others produce a higher level of amusement that we have a right to expect. As always I will remind you that I am not very good at this so please…if you must wager…don’t bet the farm based on anything you read here. Happy Holidays!!

 

 

 

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NMNew Mexico Bowl

Albuquerque, NM

12/21 at 2pm on ESPN

Washington St. (6-6) vs. Colorado St. (7-6)

I know absolutely nothing about either team so this is a total shot in the dark for me.

Me:        Washington St.

Zach:     Colorado St.

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Las Vegas Bowlvegas

Las Vegas, NV

12/21 at 3:30pm on ABC

Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4)

Vegas baby…Vegas!! The Bulldogs have had a very nice season and fell just one game short of being a BCS buster. QB Derek Carr is being talked about as a potential 1st round pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, although one has to wonder whether or not he can have a more memorable career than his older brother David. I suppose it can’t possibly be less memorable. Meanwhile this isn’t exactly where the Trojans probably thought they’d end up when envisioning the season. Former head coach Lane Kiffin is long gone and interim head coach Ed Orgeron quit when he didn’t get the full time gig. I have no idea who is even coach them in this game. Largely due to that, and also because Fresno State is a legitimately good team I’m going to lean in that direction.

Me:        Fresno St.

Zach:     USC

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Potato Bowltater

Boise, ID

12/21 at 5:30pm on ESPN

Buffalo(8-4) vs. San Diego St. (7-5)

Atleast this will be somewhat entertaining to watch on the blue turf in Boise.

Me:        San Diego St.

Zach:     San Diego St.

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New Orleans Bowlnawleans

New Orleans, LA

12/21 at 9pm on ESPN

Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-3)

I’m thinking it’d be a good idea to take the over on this one. I had Tulane in my pre-season Top 25 but they weren’t quite as good as I thought. I still like them here though.

Me:        Tulane

Zach:     Louisiana-Lafayette

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Beef O’Brady’s Bowlbeef-o-bradys22

Tampa, FL

12/23 at 2pm on ESPN

East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5)

For anyone who is curious Beef O’Brady’s is a sports bar/restaurant franchise in the southeastern US. I have no idea if it’s any good because I’ve never seen one. As for this game it’s the MAC vs. C-USA and might actually end up being a rather fun game to watch. I’ve watched both teams play and the vibes are telling me that the Bobcats might be the slightly better team.

Me:        Ohio

Zach:     East Carolina

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Hawaii Bowlhawaii

Honolulu, HI

Christmas Eve at 8pm on ESPN

Boise St. (8-4) vs. Oregon St. (6-6)

Congratulations men…your mediocrity has been awarded with a trip to Hawaii for Christmas!! I have to believe these players are psyched for such an awesome trip. Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is now their former coach, as he finally…after years of rumors & flirtations…left the Broncos to be the new head man for the Washington Huskies. That means they’ll have an interim coach for this game. Meanwhile the Beavers are probably better than their record indicates but they do come into this game on a 5 game losing skid. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Oregon State to break that slide and get back on track.

Me:        Oregon St.

Zach:     Oregon St.

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Little Caesars BowlLittleCeasers1

Detroit, MI

12/26 at 6pm on ESPN

Pitt (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)

As opposed to the teams heading to island paradise these two teams are headed to Detroit. Fortunately the bowl game is privately funded since the city is bankrupt. I wonder if a crack pipe and some bath salts is part of the swag each team will receive?? Anyway, Bowling Green is a much much better team and I’ll be disappointed if they don’t win this game by three TDs.

Me:        Bowling Green

Zach:     Pitt

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Poinsettia Bowlpoinsettia

San Diego, CA

12/26 at 9:30pm on ESPN

Utah St. (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1)

Utah State was defeated by Fresno State in the Mountain West title game, while Northern Illinois fell one win short of the BCS when they fell to Bowling Green in the MC title game. The Huskies are led by QB Jordan Lynch who placed 3rd in Heisman voting and that is good enough for me to pick Northern Illinois.

Me:        Northern Illinois

Zach:     Northern Illinois

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Military Bowlmilitary-officer-1

Annapolis, MD

12/27 at 2:30pm on ESPN

Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5)

Full disclosure. I am a 1994 graduate of Marshall. I was there when QB Chad Pennington played his first game. I saw Randy Moss be a man amongst boys. I witnessed the 1992 1-AA National Championship firsthand. So I will not be picking against my Herd.

Me:        Marshall

Zach:     Marshall

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Texas Bowltexas

Houston, TX

12/27 at 6pm on ESPN

Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4)

I give a lot of grief to Syracuse, but as I recall they pasted my WV Mountaineers in a bowl game last year so all bets are off and records don’t really matter during bowl season. All I know about Minnesota is that their head coach keeps having seizures on the sideline and really should resign. I suppose I’ll go with the Gophers.

Me:        Minnesota

Zach:     Minnesota

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Fight Hunger Bowlfighthunger

San Francisco, CA

12/27 at 9:30pm on ESPN

BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4)

I think this may be a sleeper game but I have to wonder how many people will actually be watching. Washington just lost their coach to USC so we have yet another interim situation for the bowl game. I’ve always liked BYU so I suppose I’ll go with the Cougars.

Me:        BYU

Zach:     BYU

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Pinstripe Bowljoel

Bronx, NY

12/28 at Noon on ESPN

Rutgers (6-6)  vs.  Notre Dame(8-4)

Notre Dame has really flown under the radar in 2013. I know that 8-4 isn’t considered a good season in South Bend, but a year after playing for the national championship and (I am assuming) losing a plethora of seniors I’d have to say they’ve had a solid year. The Scarlet Knights are preparing for their move to The Big Ten (which has 12 teams) next season and this game should be an indicator as to whether or not they are ready to compete on that level. I’m going to say that they are and will prove it here.

Me:        Rutgers

Zach:     Notre Dame

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Belk Bowlbelk

Charlotte, NC

12/28 at 3:20pm on ESPN

Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6)

Cincinnati beat Duke in this game last season. I expect that they’ll handle the other Carolina team just as effortlessly.

Me:        Cincinnati

Zach:     North Carolina

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Russell Athletic Bowlrussell

Orlando, FL

12/28 at 6:45pm on ESPN

Miami, FL (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1)

Louisville had much higher hopes coming into the year. It’s amazing what one loss will do to implode an entire season. Meanwhile it looks like The U is on the verge of being back. I think Louisville has the better quarterback…but Miami has the better overall team.

Me:        Miami, FL

Zach:     Miami, FL

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Buffalo Wild Wings Bowlwings

Tempe, AZ

12/28 at 10:15pm on ESPN

Michigan (7-5)  vs. Kansas State (7-5)

The Wolverines really lost their way in 2013. I thought they’d be a Top 10 team and obviously I was way wrong. K-St. has had a quietly solid season residing in the middle of the Big 12 (which has ten teams) pack. I’m not going to abandon Michigan now.

Me:        Michigan

Zach:     Michigan

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Armed Forces Bowlarmedforces

Fort Worth, TX

12/30 at 11:45am on ESPN

Middle Tennessee (8-4)  vs.  Navy (7-4)

So we have an Armed Forces Bowl AND a Military Bowl?? Seems excessive doesn’t it. As much as I’d love to go with The Academy here I believe that Middle Tennessee is more battle tested (ironic) against better competition and will prevail.

Me:        Middle Tennessee

Zach:     Middle Tennessee

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Music City Bowl

Nashville, TN

12/30 at 3:15pm on ESPNmusic

Ole Miss (7-5)  vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

I can pretty much assure y’all that I won’t be watching this game. It just doesn’t seem the least bit interesting to me. That being said I suppose I’ll go with the Rebels.

Me:        Ole Miss

Zach:     Georgia Tech

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Alamo Bowlalamo

San Antonio, TX

12/30 at 6:45pm on ESPN

Oregon (10-2)  vs. Texas (8-4)

This isn’t where the Ducks wanted to be playing. But after two late season losses at Stanford and Arizona they didn’t even make it to the Pac 12 title game. This will be the swan song for Texas coach Mack Brown who was gently persuaded to resign recently. Because of the emotion involved with that situation, the fact that Oregon might be suffering from a strong case of “Why should we give a damn about this stupid game??”-itis, and the fact that the game is being played less than two hours from the Texas campus I’m going to go with the underdogs.

Me:        Texas

Zach:     Oregon

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Holiday BowlDocHolliday

San Diego, CA

12/30 at 10:15pm on ESPN

Arizona St. (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

The Sun Devils made a decent run at a Pac 12 title but couldn’t overcome Stanford in the championship contest. Tech was a middle-of-the-road Big 12 team that is in the midst of a 5 game losing swoon. Clearly Arizona State is the better team, but I am expecting a high scoring close game.

Me:        Arizona St.

Zach:     Arizona St.

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Independence Bowlindependence

Shreveport, LA

New Year’s Eve at 12:30pm on ESPN

Arizona (7-5)  vs. Boston College (7-5)

I believe they are officially calling this game something else this year…something prosaic & corporate. But I am refusing to play along. Rich Fraudriguez has the Wildcats headed in the right direction, and they can take pride in the fact that they pulled off a huge November upset of Oregon. BC has one of the best running backs in college football even though no one had heard of him until about 2 weeks ago. I cannot bring myself to pull for the evil assclown that coaches Arizona so I am picking the Eagles to win yet another game that no one will watch because no one cares.

Me:        Boston College

Zach:     Arizona

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Sun Bowlsun

El Paso, TX

New Year’s Eve at 2pm on CBS

Virginia Tech (8-4)  vs.  UCLA (9-3)

I haven’t heard all that much about the Hokies this season although it seems like they had a solid season. The Bruins had hoped for a Pac 12 title but back-to-back midseason losses at Stanford and Oregon torpedoed those chances. I think UCLA plays against better competition in a better conference so that’s my pick.

Me:        UCLA

Zach:     UCLA

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Liberty Bowlliberty

Memphis, TN

New Year’s Eve at 4pm on ESPN

Rice (10-3)  vs. Mississippi St. (6-6)

Admittedly I have some residual bitterness after the Owls beat down my Marshall Thundering Herd in the C-USA title game. I just can’t bring myself to pick them. But I also believe that Mississippi St…as mediocre as they may be…has been battle tested in the SEC. Therefore I’m going with the Bulldogs.

Me:        Mississippi St.

Zach:     Rice

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Chick-Fil-A Bowlchickfila

Atlanta, GA

New Year’s Eve at 8pm on ESPN

Duke (10-3)  vs. Texas A&M (8-4)

This is the old Peach Bowl, but unlike most other corporate bowl games I actually like Chick-Fil-A so I’ll utilize the name. I think the Blue Devils’ record is probably a bit…bloated. The ACC is a rather pedestrian league with the exception of Florida State, who pummeled Duke by 5 TDs in the title game. We don’t know whether or not this will be the collegiate farewell for Aggies’ QB Johnny Manziel, but if it is one would have to think that he’d really like to go out in style.

Me:        Texas A&M

Zach:     Texas A&M

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Gator Bowlgator

Jacksonville, FL

New Year’s Day at Noon on ESPN2

Nebraska (8-4)  vs. Georgia (8-4)

If memory serves me correctly I believe these two met last year in a bowl game. I could look it up but does it really matter?? Both teams underachieved this season and will have to find motivation to end the season on a positive note. The Cornhuskers’ coach Bo Pelini is a brick or two or three shy of a load, and as entertaining as that is I can’t imagine that it is healthy for the team. The Bulldogs will be without quarterback Aaron Murray, whose senior campaign ended early with an ACL injury. I am expecting this game to be a low scoring defensive struggle with the Bulldogs coming out on top.

Me:        Georgia

Zach:     Georgia

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Heart of Dallas Bowlnap

Dallas, TX

New Year’s Day at Noon on ESPNU

UNLV (7-5)   vs.  North Texas (8-4)

Nothing proves the complete inconsequentiality of a bowl game then it being shown on ESPNU. I know nothing about these teams and doubt if I’ll watch this game at all. I guess I’ll go with UNLV.

Me:        UNLV

Zach:     UNLV

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Capital One BowlSamuel-L-Jackson-One-Million-Moms

Orlando, FL

New Year’s Day at 1pm on ABC

Wisconsin (9-3)  vs.  South Carolina (10-2)

Oh boy…a bowl game named after a credit card. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. However, despite the game’s unfortunate name it should actually be a fun battle to watch. Will South Carolina’s defensive wunderkind Jadeveon Clowney be able to stop the Badger running attack?? Can Steve Spurrier pull out enough big plays to overcome Wisconsin’s ground & pound attack?? The Vibes are telling me that Wisconsin’s three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust approach just might work.

Me:        Wisconsin

Zach:     South Carolina

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Outback Bowloutback

Tampa, FL

New Year’s Day at 1pm on ESPN

Iowa (8-4)  vs.  LSU (9-3)

Iowa is in a New Year’s Day bowl game?? I hadn’t noticed that they were that good. Meanwhile this is just about what most expected from LSU. They also will be without their starting quarterback as senior Zach Mettenberger due to a torn ACL. I think that tips the scales in Iowa’s favor.

Me:        Iowa

Zach:     Iowa

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Rose Bowlrose

Pasadena, CA

New Year’s Day at 5pm on ESPN

Stanford (11-2)  vs. Michigan State (12-1)

Okay now THIS is a game to look forward to. I am predicting that the winner of this game will secure for themselves a Top 5 ranking entering next season. The Spartans defense is tough and I think they’ll keep the scoring to a minimum, but at the end of the day I like Stanford to pull out a close one and take home their 2nd straight Rose Bowl trophy.

Me:        Stanford

Zach:     Michigan St.

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Fiesta Bowlmassacre

Glendale, AZ

New Year’s Day at 8:30pm on ESPN

Central Florida (11-1)    vs.  Baylor (11-1)

This is going to be ugly. I am having flashbacks to when Mike Tyson used to maul his opponents and get a knockout in the first round. Atleast we’ll all have the opportunity to go to bed early if we so choose. To my complete shock Zach is picking the upset.

Me:        Baylor

Zach:     UCF

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Sugar Bowlsugar

New Orleans, LA

1/2 at 8:30pm on ESPN

Oklahoma (10-2)   vs.  Alabama (11-1)

Everyone and their brother expected The Tide to be playing for another national title, but they were beaten by a miracle against Auburn. There’s been a lot of chatter lately about head coach Nick Saban bolting for Texas but he seems to have nipped that in the bud by agreeing to a contract extension. The Sooners have to be chomping at the bit knowing that they are probably better than their record shows and also salivating at the thought that Alabama is beatable…atleast in theory. I think this will be a fantastic game for 3+ quarters, but ‘Bama just has a little too much depth & talent for Oklahoma to overcome. Zach is not only predicting that the Tide will roll, but that they’ll win by 49 POINTS!!

Me:        Alabama

Zach:     Alabama

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Orange Bowlorange

Miami, FL

1/3 at 8:30pm on ESPN

Clemson (10-2)   vs.  Ohio St. (12-1)

Everyone kept saying that the Buckeyes were overrated and hadn’t played anybody. That was proven to be true in the Big Ten title game when they were handled by Michigan State. Clemson was beaten by #1 Florida State and in-state rival South Carolina…no shame in either of those losses. I just don’t have much faith in Ohio State’s defense. I think Clemson QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins will both come up huge in their final collegiate game and lead the Tigers to a double digit victory.

Me:        Clemson

Zach:     Clemson

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Cotton Bowlcotton

Arlington, TX

1/3 at 7:30pm on Fox

Oklahoma St. (10-2)  vs. Missouri (11-2)

This may as well be called the What Might Have Been Bowl. The Cowboys went into their final game against in-state rival Oklahoma with a chance to secure a conference title but fell short. The Tigers had an outside shot at a national championship spot before losing their conference title game. I look for this to be a high scoring affair with lots of big plays. It feels like it may even be an overtime kind of game. I’m picking Oklahoma State to pull off the victory by a field goal.

Me:        Oklahoma St.

Zach:     Oklahoma St.

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Compass Bowlcompass

Birmingham, AL

1/4 at 1pm on ESPN

Vanderbilt (8-4)  vs. Houston (8-4)

Shouldn’t two directional schools be playing in this game?? I doubt that many will be watching this one unless the first Saturday of the new year finds most of the country deep in snow & ice. Personally I think I’ll be at the local cineplex checking out a movie or two that I didn’t get to before Christmas. Anyway, I’m going with Houston because I have a sneaking suspicion that Vandy will be playing for an interim coach.

Me:        Houston

Zach:     Vanderbilt

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GoDaddy Bowlgodaddy

Mobile, AL

1/5 at 9pm on ESPN

Arkansas St. (7-5)  vs. Ball St. (10-2)

I hate this game. It’s horribly named, is played about two weeks later than it should be, and the matchup itself is about as unappealing as that time the fat detective showed his naked butt on NYPD Blue. Due to my affection for the MAC I’m going with Ball State.

Me:        Ball St.

Zach:     Ball St.

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National Championship Game

Pasadena, CA  –  1/6 at 8:30pm on ESPN

#1 Florida St. (13-0)   vs.  #2 Auburn (12-1)

champHere we go. This is the big one. As much as I detest the BCS and am looking forward to the 4 team playoff that begins next year I must say that more often than not the national title game ends up with an awesome matchup and this one is no exception. Auburn is proof positive that sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. But one must be cautious if there is an inkling to write off the Tigers because they won two games…against Georgia and Alabama…that they really shouldn’t have. We also should not overlook the fact that as much as Ohio State got knocked for their weak schedule Florida State’s schedule is arguably less impressive. I think this might be the best national title game since Vince Young & Texas outdueled Reggie Bush & USC in 2006. Once again my heart is going to rule over my brain. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is a fellow native of Clarksburg, WV and graduated from the same high school as myself 6 years earlier. I can’t go against the hometown boy. Zach really likes Auburn’s offense.

Me:        Florida St.

Zach:     Auburn

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