Things I'm Thinking About
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All right here goes:  my predictions for every bowl game before Jan. 1, from the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 20th to the Chick-fil-a Bowl on the 31st.

Poinsettia Bowl, Decemeber 20th, San Diego:  Utah (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)

    The Utes' six-game postseason winning streak goes on the line against a Navy team with the best rushing attack in the nation.  The Utes' poor offense (84th in the nation) should struggle in this game despite facing a below-average Navy defense.  In the end, the Midshipmen's ridiculous rushing offense (1st in the nation with an average 351 yards per game) will overwhelm the Utes D.

    My call:  Navy

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  TiVo it

New Orleans Bowl, December 21st, New Orleans:  Florida Atlantic (7-5) vs. Memphis (7-5)

    This showdown, between two of the nation's top 25 passing attacks, should be a shootout.  FAU began playing football in 2001, and six short years later coach Howard Schnellenberger has brought the Owls to a bowl game after winning a share of the Sun Belt title.   Memphis has won five of its last six, and has a slight edge over the Owls in nearly every offensive category

     My call:  Memphis

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Papajohns.com Bowl, December 22nd, Birmingham, AL:  #22 Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Southern Miss (7-5)

    Cincinnati, boasting the 27th-ranked offense in the country, look to run away with this one.  Look for the Mauk-Barnett connection, good for 15 TDs this season, to put up at least 100 yards and 1 TD against a poor USM defense.  USM's star RB, sophomore Damion Fletcher, will have to have a ridiculous game to overcome the explosive Cincinnati D.  USM will be playing withan interim coach after firing Jeff Bower.

    My call:  Cincinnati

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

New Mexico Bowl, December 22nd, Alberquerque:  New Mexico (8-4) vs. Nevada (6-6)

    Nevada has run into some bad luck this season, with their quarterback catching the injury bug and losing three games by a total of seven points.  They still boast the nation's 8th best offense, lead by freshman Colin Kaepernick and his 15 passing TDs.  New Mexico has a great advantage in the fact that this is a home game for them, after going 5-1 at Alberquerque this season.

    My call:  Nevada

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  TiVo it

Las Vegas Bowl, December 22nd, Las Vegas:  #17 BYU (10-2) vs. UCLA (6-6)

    UCLA won the first matchup this season, 27-17 in week 2.  BYU has won nine in a row, and posess the nation's 15th best offense.  Who knows whic UCLA team will show up, the one who beat then-#12 Cal and then-#9 Oregon (admittedly without QB extraordinare Dennis Dixon) or the one that lost to a Utah by 38 or to Notre Dame 20-6?

    My call:  BYU

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Hawai'i Bowl, December 23rd, Honolulu:  East Carolina (7-5) vs. #24 Boise State (10-2)

    The Broncos, thanks to a loss to Hawai'i in the default WAC title game, have fallen from a Fiesta Bowl win last year to a Hawai'i Bowl birth.  Look for Boise to dominate this game.  East Carolina has a good defense, but its not good enough to contain RB Ian Johnson, he of the 16 TDs this year.  ECU boasts a 16-TD RB of themselves this year in Chris Johnson

    My call: Boise State

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Motor City Bowl, December 26th, Detroit:  Central Michigan (8-5) vs. Purdue (7-5)

    This is a game between two teams heading in opposite directions.  The Chippewas have won four of five, including the MAC Championship game, while the Boilermakers have lost three in a row after an impressive 5-0 start.   The next great MAC quarterback, to follow up on Ben Rothlisberger and Chad Pennington, in CMU QB sophomore Dan LeFevour.  LeFevour has 40 TDs combined this season (23 passing, 17 rushing) and a total 4,368 yards (3360 passing, 1008 rushing)

    My call: Central Michigan

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Holiday Bowl, December 27th, San Diego: #11 Arizona State (10-2) vs. #19 Texas (9-3)

    This is the Longhorns' fourth appearance in the Holiday Bowl in the new century.  Texas RB Jamaal Charles has carried the Longhorns this season, putting up an impressive 1458 rushing yards and 16 TDs.  Texas QB Colt McCoy has fallen on an unfortunate case of the picks, co-leading the nation with 18.  Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter should have a good day against a Texas defense that gave up 275 yards per game.

    My call: Arizona State

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Watch it

Champs Sports Bowl, December 28th, Orlando: #14 Boston College (10-3) vs. Michigan State (7-5)

    This matchup is closer than it sounds.  Both teams are in the top 35 in the nation in offense.  But BC has the nation's sixth ranked passing offense, while the Spartans boast the nation's 23rd ranked rushing attack.  The differences here lie at two key spots: defenses and QB.  BC owns the better defense, and boasts maybe the best QB in the nation in Matt Ryan.  MSU's RB Jehuu Caulcrick has 21 TDs this season.

    My call: Boston College

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  TiVo it

 Texas Bowl, December 28th, Houston: Houston (8-4)vs. TCU (7-5)

    TCU comes into this game on a mini-roll, having won their last two to become bowl-eligible.  After thinking BCS in the preseason, the Horned Frogs limped home to a 7-5 record.  Houston is playing with out a head coach after Art Briles left for Baylor.  However, Houston boasts the nation's 4th ranked offense.  The tiebreaker here?  This is a virtual home game for Houston, who went 5-1 there.

    My call: Houston

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Emerald Bowl, December 28th, San Francisco: Oregon State (8-4) vs. Maryland (6-6)

     A matchup between two giant killers: Oregon State beat two top 20 teams; Maryland, two top 10s.  In actuality, this is a clunker of a matchup.  Both teams have offenses in the bottom half of the country, and while Maryland has two runners with 12+ TDs, neither RB has over 800 yards.  Oregon State gets the nod because of Yvenson Bernard, their star RB.  He has over 1000 yards running and 12 TDs.

    My call: Oregon State

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Meineke Car Care Bowl, December 29th, Charlotte: #25 UConn (9-3) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)

    Two teams with absolutely anemic offenses.  Neither ranks above 80th in the country in total yards.  UConn, as I'm sure you remember, lost to West Virginia in what turned out to be a quasi-title game in the Big East.  Wake Forest followed up its BCS berth last year with a disappointing 3rd place finish in the ACC Atlantic Division this year.

    My call: UConn

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Liberty Bowl, December 29th, Memphis:  Mississippi State (7-5) vs. UCF (10-3)

    Here's an interesting matchup.  UCF boasts the nation's 10th best rushing attack, led by the nation's best rusher, junior Kevin Smith.  Smith ran for an astounding 2,448 yards and 29 TDs this season.  Mississippi State has been, without a doubt, one of the best turnarounds of the year.  The Bulldogs managed a 7-5 record with an SEC schedule that featured no fewer than six top-25 opponents.  The Bulldogs did manage to beat then #14 Kentucky and then-#22 Alabama in consecutive weeks.

    My call: UCF

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  TiVo it

Alamo Bowl, December 29th, San Antonio: Texas A&M (7-5) vs. Penn State (8-4)

    Interesting storyline here:  PSU's Joe Paterno will be coaching his 500th game, while A&M's Gary Darnell will be coaching his first. A&M will be looking to push its 14th-ranked rushing offense right down the throats of another great Penn State defense, lead by linebacker Dan Conner.

    My call: Texas A&M

    Watch it, TiVO it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Independence Bowl, December 30th, Shreveport, LA: Alabama (6-6) vs. Colorado (6-6)

    Here we have a matchup of two remarkably similar teams.  Colorado ranks 78th in total yards; Alabama, 79th.  In pass offense, Colorado ranks 60th and the Crimson Tide rank 61st.  In rush offense, Alabama ranks 61st while the Buffaloes come in at 64th.  Points per game? Same story:  Colorado, 66th, Alabama 69th.  This one's really a crapshoot.

    My call: Alabama

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Armed Forces Bowl, December 31st, Ft. Worth, TX: Air Force (9-3) vs. Cal (6-6)

    This matchup is a feature of teams in opposite directions.  Air Force heads towards its first bowl in five years, while Cal limped home in the regular season, losing 6 of 7 after being ranked as high as #2.  They even lost to Stanford in the Big Game in the final game of the season. Both teams feature RB's with 1400+ yards and 13+ TDs.  In fact, Air Force boasts the nation's second-ranked run offense.  That's going to carry them this game.

    My call: Air Force

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Humanitarian Bowl, December 31st, Boise: Fresno State (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

    Here's a matchup between two fairly one-dimensional teams.  Both have rushing attacks ranked in the top 20.  Georgia Tech has the advantage here with senior Tashard Choice, one of the top rushers in the country.  Fresno State does have a far-superior passing attack, however.  Look for the defenses to decide this one.

    My call: Georgia Tech

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Sun Bowl, December 31st, El Paso, TX: #21 South Florida (9-3) vs. Oregon (8-4)

    Here's a fun matchup.  Both of these teams were, at one point, ranked at #2.   It all boils down to this.  Oregon has proven that, without Dennis Dixon, they can't even beat Oregon State, much less a South Florida team coming off 3 straight wins.  This one shouldn't be close.

    My call:  South Florida

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Music City Bowl, December 31st, Nashville:  Florida State (7-5) vs. Kentucky (7-5)

    The story of a couple of let-downs.  Kentucky started off the season promising, including a 3OT win over LSU, but lost 5 of their last 7 to limp home.  Florida State looked to turn it around this season, and a promising 4-1 start looked to send them on their way.  But they, too, limped home, losing 4 of their last 7.  Andre Woodson, a top 5 QB this season, is the difference in this game.

    My call: Kentucky

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  TiVo it

Insight Bowl, December 31st, Tempe, AZ: Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. Indiana (7-5)

    Indiana heads to a bowl for the first time in 14 years.  Oklahoma State's powerful offense was negated by their atrocious defense.  What gives?  Indiana's pass offense, led by QB Kellen Lewis and WR James Hardy (16 TDs this season).

    My call: Indiana

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Miss it

Chick-fil-a Bowl, December 31st, Atlanta: #23 Auburn vs. #15 Clemson

    Ah, finally we have reached that, the greatest of all non-BCS bowls.  And boy have the bowl commisioners cooked us up a doozy.  Clemson posesses one of the nation's best dual-RB attacks with James Davis and CJ Spiller, and their QB, Cullen Harper, ain't too shabby either.  Auburn comes into the game led by its characteristic tough defense.  I'm giving Clemson the slight edge here, due to the balanced offensive attack.

    My call: Clemson

    Watch it, TiVo it, or Miss it?  Watch it

 

There you go, all the pre-Jan. 1 bowls.  Check back in soon for my post-Jan. 1 bowl blowout, featuring the BCS showdowns. 

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