Bowl Picks: The Last Of The 2010 Bowls

Eight bowls down, thirteen more to cover with this updated stream. Goodbye 2010, hello interesting bowl week!

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Bowl Picks: December 31 - New Years Eve Bowl Games

Clemson Tigers (6-6, 4-4 ACC) vs. South Florida Bulls (7-5, 3-4 Big East)

Meineke Car Care Bowl
December 31 - 12:00 pm - ESPN
Charlotte, NC
$1,000,000 payout per team

A battle of two southern teams, this unexciting game should be a good warmup for the games occurring later in the day. Despite being relatively close to each other, these schools have never met.

Only South Florida has appeared in this bowl in the past, losing 14-0 in 2005. Local fans may remember this game from last year, as the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl winners were none other than the Pitt Panthers, beating North Carolina 19-17.

Be prepared for a low scoring, low controversey (which, given the recent trends, is saying something) game.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Jeff Junstrom


From ESPN:

Look elsewhere for shootouts. Clemson finished 86th nationally in scoring this year, while South Florida was right behind at 88th. Instead, watch for two fast, SEC-caliber defenses. The Tigers are led by national sack champ Da'Quan Bowers, while the Bulls take a no-name but hard-hitting approach. Quarterbacks beware. -- Brian Bennett

Miami Hurricanes (7-5, 5-3 ACC) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-5, Independent)

Hyundai Sun Bowl
December 31 - 2:00 pm - CBS
El Paso, TX
$1,900,000 payout per team

If this were the 1980s, you might think this is a de facto National Championship game. But in 2010, it's just two 7-5 teams trying to get better. Having seen both of these teams play against Pitt, this is one of the games I have a direct interest in. Miami was a tough team to figure out all season. They played Ohio State pretty closely at the beginning of the year, blew out Pitt on the road, and had a few pretty good wins. But they also lost to South Florida and Virginia - both pretty bad teams. The thing about Miami, though, is that they have athletes all over the field and are really not a bad team. QB Jacory Harris can be kind of hit or miss and he may be the key to the game.

When you think of Notre Dame, typically you think of offense. But their defense was the main factor in them reaching a bowl game this year. They held five teams to 14 points or less and nearly pitched shutouts against Utah and Army. The Irish have been on a roll and won their last three games to reach the Sun Bowl.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Anson Whaley


From ESPN:

These once-storied programs have had trying seasons, as Miami fired Randy Shannon, and Notre Dame dealt with the tragic death of a student videographer. On the field, both teams underperformed, but the Irish reversed their fortunes with a win over rival USC, and Miami now turns to interim head coach Jeff Stoutland. -- Heather Dinich

 Central Florida Knights (10-3, 7-1 CUSA) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (6-6, 3-5 SEC)

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
December 31 - 3:30 pm - ESPN
Memphis, TN
$1,700,000 payout per team

This year's installment of the Liberty Bowl pits 10-1 University of Central Florida against a 6-6 Georgia Bulldogs team. The Central Florida Knights were the champions of Conference USA, while the Georgia Bulldogs limped to an eighth place finish in the SEC. The Liberty Bowl got its start in 1959, and is one of the nation's oldest bowl games. Last year, Ryan Mallett led the Arkansas Razorbacks to a 20-17 Liberty Bowl victory in 2009.

The Liberty Bowl will mark only the second time these two teams have met on the gridiron, the Bulldogs winning their lone game against UCF 24-23 in 1999.

Central Florida will attempt to withstand the Bulldog offense by pitting their twelfth ranked defense against them. The UCF defensive unit has held teams in check all season long, allowing opponents to average only 18 points per game against the Knights. Two of the Knights three losses this season have come at home, so the neutral bowl site could play to their advantage. Georgia hopes to come out victorious by overwhelming the Knights with SEC speed. NFL-bound wide receiver AJ Green will be the best player on the field, though whether or not freshman quarterback Aaron Murray can get him the ball remains to be seen.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Aaron Hawley


From ESPN:

Despite a four-game losing streak earlier this season, Georgia is going bowling for the 14th straight season and will see a familiar face on the opposite sideline. UCF is coached by George O'Leary, who was 3-5 against the Bulldogs as the coach at Georgia Tech from 1995 to 2001. Central Florida defeated SMU 17-7 to win the Conference USA championship. -- Chris Low

South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. Florida State Seminoles (9-4, 6-2 ACC)

Chick-fil-A Bowl
December 31 - 7:30 pm - ESPN
Atlanta, GA
$3,250,000 payout to Florida State; $2,400,000 payout to South Carolina

Now this is a game that the college football fan can get excited about. Regional teams, explosive playmakers, and head coaches separated by twenty years of age make this one to watch as you're preparing and executing your New Years Eve plans.

For South Carolina, finishing runner up to Auburn in the SEC championship game was only good enough for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. However, keep your eye on freshman running back Marcus Lattimore, an explosive runner that will have four solid years with the Gamecocks, if he stays that long. Steve "Old Ball Coach" Spurrier will have this South Carolina team ready, and Florida State would be wise to contain Lattimore as best they can.

On the other side, Jimbo Fisher and his new Seminole squad finished atop the ACC Atlantic Division, but Virginia Tech bested Florida State in the ACC championship game. The players should still be excited, though, as a New Years Eve matchup with a strong South Carolina team will be highly anticipated.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Jeff Junstrom

SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION: South Carolina 30, Florida State 29

From ESPN:

South Carolina and Florida State were both the runners-up in their respective conference championship games, as neither could stop talented quarterbacks. Still, this game will feature two of the nation's top defenses. The Gamecocks led the SEC in rushing defense and sacks, and the Seminoles are No. 2 in the nation in sacks. -- Heather Dinich

Bowl Picks: December 30 Games

With apologies to the readers and writers, holiday travels interrupted the stream yesterday. Here are the writeups for yesterday's games, in case you were wondering what was said.

Army Black Knights vs. Southern Methodist Mustangs

Bell Holicopter Armed Forces Bowl
December 30 - 12:00 pm - ESPN
Dallas, TX
$750,000 payout per team

Army brings one of the nation's top rushing teams(ranking 10th) to the Armed Forces Bowl. Despite being one of the country's best rushing units, the team is without a 1,000 yard rusher. Army has six players with at least 200 yards rushing and are led by Jared Hassin who has racked up 900 yards on the ground. It's a good thing the team has a strong ground game because they rank dead last in passing, totaling a mere 82 yards per game. Their leading receiver is Austin Barr. His numbers, you ask? 14 catches for 215 yards.

Southern Methodist is led by a potent passing attack. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron threw for 29 touchdowns and more than 3,500 yards and he has two nice targets in 1,000 yard receivers Aldrick Robinson and Cole Beasley. If Army's rushing game is able to move the ball, it could help keep the Mustangs' aerial attack at bay. SMU isn't one dimensional, though, as running back Zach Line ran for nearly 1,400 yards this season.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Anson Whaley


Syracuse Orangemen vs. Kansas State Wildcats

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
December 30 - 3:30 pm - ESPN
Bronx, NY
$2,000,000 payout per team

The Syracuse Orange and Kansas State Wildcats will face each other in the inaugural playing of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City.

While the old Yankee Stadium had a long storied history of hosting football, this will be the first time a college bowl game will be played in any Yankee Stadium since 1962.

Syracuse and Kansas State each enter the bowl with matching records of 7-5. Syracuse is the fourth place team from the Big East, while Kansas State is the eighth place team from the Big 12.

This is the third time in recent history Syracuse and Kansas State have squared off in bowl games. Kansas State was victorious in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl, defeating the Orange 35-18, while the Orange came out on top in the pairs most recent meeting, a 26-3 victory in the 2001 Bowl.

In one year, Doug Marrone has turned around the Syracuse football program, one which had been mired in failure for nearly a decade. This year’s Orange were road warriors, picking up all four of their conference victories on the road at West Virginia, Rutgers, South Florida and Cincinnati.

A bowl victory would go a long way towards brightening the cold, dark upstate New York winter for the Syracuse faithful. I expect them to get it done.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Aaron Hawley


North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
December 30 - 6:30 pm - ESPN
Nashville, TN
$1,600,000 payout per team

Suspensions, injuries, and a coaching change have decimated these two teams this year, and each is relatively lucky to be playing in any bowl game. That being said, there are a few playmakers on each side of the ball that fans should keep an eye on.

Freshman Tennessee QB Tyler Bray has Volunteer fans excited for the next three years, while the myriad Tar Heel defenders that should be high round draft picks next year are bound to make some NFL fans excited.

Expect a high scoring affair, one that should have fans talking for some time. Head coach Derek Dooley is looking to put a signature win on the end of his first go-round in Knoxville, while Butch Davis is trying to salvage a season that began with high profile suspensions in the wake of a Miami party thrown by San Francisco 49er Frank Gore.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Jeff Junstrom

SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION: North Carolina 30, Tennessee 27

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Washington Huskies

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
December 30 - 10:00 pm - ESPN
San Diego, CA
$2,200,000 payour per team

The Holiday Bowl is a rare matchup of two teams that already played earlier this season. And it wasn't a very good game the first time around.

The Cornhuskers lost games to ranked Texas A&M and Oklahoma teams by fourth-quarter field goals and lost to Texas by a touchdown. They also were able to put together some pretty good wins against ranked Oklahoma State and Missouri teams. Nebraska is led by 1,200 yard rusher Roy Helu, Jr. However, despite putting up some great games (including a 307-yard, 3 TD performance against Missouri), he isn't always utilized. Helu had more than 15 carries in only four of Nebraska's 13 games. Washington also has to watch out for QB Taylor Martinez on the ground as he has nearly 1,000 yards on the season.

Everyone knows about Washington QB Jake Locker, but the team is more than just him. There's 1,200 yard rusher Chris Polk and 1,000 yard receiver Jermaine Kearse. But Washington's problem isn't going to be on offense - it's on defense where the Huskies struggle, bringing in one of the lowest rated defenses in the country.

Second verse same as the first - Washington may be playing for pride and keep the score a bit tighter than the first game, but look for another Nebraska win.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Anson Whaley

SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION: Nebraska 41, Washington 21


Bowl Picks: Oklahoma State Vs. Arizona

Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2, 6-2 Big Twelve) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5, 4-5 Pac Ten)

Valero Alamo Bowl
December 29 - 9:15 pm - ESPN
San Antonio, TX
$2,225,000 payout per team

On paper, this looks like it could be a huge matchup. And that's just exactly what it might be when game time rolls around.

Oklahoma State brings one of the nation's top offenses to the Alamo Bowl, averaging nearly 45 points per game. The Cowboys' only losses all season have come to top 20 ranked teams Nebraska and Oklahoma and they still managed to put up 41 points in each. You can pick your poison with the Oklahoma State offense. Focus on shutting down Brandon Weeden, who threw for 4,000 yards and Justin Blackmon (No. 2 in the nation with 1,600+ receiving yards) and you still have to deal with running back Kendall Hunter, who ran for more than 1,500 yards.

Arizona won't be able to stop Oklahoma State from scoring and it's unlikely that they can outscore them. The Wildcats have a formidable defense that allows only about 22 points per game, but in facing the No. 1 offense in Oregon a few weeks ago, they gave up 48 in a 19-point loss. This game could be a huge mismatch.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Anson Whaley

SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 41, Arizona 20

Analyst Projections
Aaron - Oklahoma State
Anson - Oklahoma State
Jeff - Oklahoma State

From ESPN:

Oklahoma State has one of the best offenses in the nation, but that shouldn't be too much of a shock for Arizona, as the Wildcats have already faced the No. 1 (Oregon) and No. 8 (Stanford) scoring offenses this season. Still, the Cowboys' troika of receiver Justin Blackmon, running back Kendall Hunter and quarterback Brandon Weeden is about as good as it gets. -- Ted Miller

From Fox Sports:

GET ... YOUR ... POPCORN ... READY. It'll be a dogfight between the Hawaii Bowl (Tulsa vs. Hawaii) and this for the honor of being the most wild shootout of the bowl season. Arizona might have hit the skids over the final month of the season, losing four straight, but the offense has been explosive throughout. The defense has been good, but it has to go against the nation's top offense. Expect 750 passing yards.

Bowl Picks: Illinois Vs. Baylor

Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6, 4-4 Big Ten) vs. Baylor Bears (7-5, 4-4 Big Twelve)

Texas Bowl
December 29 - 6:00 pm - ESPN
Houston, TX
$612,500 payout per team

In what is sure to be a ratings juggernaut, the up and down Illinois Fighting Illini, led by perennial "hot seat" coach Ron Zook, will face the Baylor Bears, who will have to travel all of three and a half hours to get to this game. These teams have met only once prior, a 34-17 Baylor win in 1976. Illinois will look to avenge that loss and end 2010 on a winning note.

Originally known as the Houston Bowl, this will be the ninth time this bowl game has been played, every time calling Houston home. Neither of these teams have played in the Houston/Texas Bowl before. Neither team played in any bowl game last season, with Baylor winning only four games while Illinois could only muster three victories.

If you remember one game from the 2010 Illinois season, it would most likely be the 67-65 triple-overtime loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. For comparison, when those teams met in basketball in 2010, the score was 51-44, an Illinois victory. Unfortunately for the Illini, Baylor is more than capable of putting points on the board, being held below 20 points only once (in a loss TCU). Expect Baylor to do more of the same this game.
-SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Jeff Junstrom


Analyst Projections
Aaron - Baylor
Anson - Baylor
Jeff - Baylor

From ESPN:

Two exciting, elusive dual-threat quarterbacks in Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase will face off in Reliant Stadium and be flanked by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. The Illini's Mikel Leshoure stole the show at Wrigley Field against Northwestern with a 330-yard performance, and Baylor's Jay Finley ran for 250 yards in a win over Kansas State earlier this year. -- David Ubben

From Fox Sports:

The Dynamic Quarterback Bowl, Baylor's Robert Griffin and Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase are two of the nation's most exciting young quarterbacks and they should put on a show. Illini RB Mikel Leshoure will be looking to make a statement as he's starting to climb up draft boards in a hurry. Ron Zook could desperately use this win, while Baylor is just happy to be in a bowl game for the first time since the Southwest Conference days.


Bowl Picks: Maryland Vs. East Carolina

Maryland Terrapins (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. East Carolina Pirates (6-6, 5-3 CUSA)

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Dec. 29 - 2:30 pm - ESPN
Washington, D.C.
$1,000,000 payout per team

The Maryland Terrapins will battle the East Carolina Pirates in this year’s Military Bowl. Played close to Maryland’s campus, the bowl will be played in RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C, former home of the Washington Redskins. Maryland finished the season with an 8-4 record, and was the third place team in the ACC. The Pirates finished the season with a .500 overall record, and a fifth place finish in Conference USA. The Military Bowl is in its third season. UCLA defeated Temple in last year’s Military Bowl, 30-21. The Terrapins and Pirates will face each other for the first time ever in the Military Bowl.

Most intriguing about this matchup will be how Maryland responds to the constant distractions created by coach Ralph Friedgen’s ouster. Friedgen, who won the ACC’s Coach of the Year Award after improving the Terps from a 2-9 squad in 2009, to an 8-4 squad in 2010, was forced out at the end of the season in favor of former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. East Carolina can ride the distractions to success if it can get quarterback Dominique Dixon rolling. Dixon led the Pirates to a 2010 scoring average of nearly 40 points per game, piling up nearly 3,700 yards passing and 36 touchdowns in the process. While mired in distractions, the Terrapins have the advantage in talent which I expect to prevail in Washington, DC.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Aaron Hawley


Analyst Projections
Aaron - Maryland
Anson - Maryland
Jeff - Maryland

From ESPN:

Maryland, a 2-10 team a year ago, made the second-best turnaround in the FBS with eight wins this season. This game will feature two talented quarterbacks in Maryland's Danny O'Brien, the ACC's Rookie of the Year, and East Carolina quarterback Dominique Davis, who is fourth in the country with 3,699 passing yards. -- Heather Dinich

From Fox Sports:

If nothing else, the stands should be packed and there should be plenty of excitement for a game with two good geographic tie-ins. Maryland had a phenomenal bounce back year after a disastrous 2009, but can the offense keep up the pace with an East Carolina offense that's one of the most explosive in the nation? Yup ... the Pirates have the worst defense in college football. This will be a sneaky-fun shootout.


Bowl Picks: Iowa Vs. Missouri

Missouri Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4 Big 10)

Insight Bowl
December 28 - 10:00 pm - ESPN
Tempe, AZ
$3,325,000 payout per team

Usually a bowl game is a reward for a good season, one last game for seniors to show their worth to NFL scouts, and a chance for fans to root on the team for a final game. For the Iowa Hawkeyes, this game feels more like an obstacle to a much needed offseason.

The Hawkeyes began the season strong, but ended in pure meltdown mode, dropping their last three games, including at lowly Minnesota. Missouri, on the other hand, started with seven straight wins, dropped a couple, but ended on a three game winning streak, and are riding the hot hand coming into the Insight Bowl.

To make matters worse, the Hawkeyes are dealing with a plethora of off the field problems, including transfers, drug houses, and injuries. The only major issue for the Tigers is how high can QB Blaine Gabbert's draft stock rise.

Despite less than 250 miles of separation, these teams have only played three times before, none of those games occurring in the last 100 years. Only Missouri has ever appeared in the Insight Bowl before, winning their only game in 1998 over West Virginia, 34-31.

The Hawkeyes are led by Kirk Ferentz, while Gary Pinkel leads the Tigers, and each coach has 10+ years with his school. On the field, the teams are led by senior Ricky Stanzi and junior Blaine Gabbert, respectively. Each will be trying his best to make one last solid showing for the NFL scouts before the 2011 draft (where Gabbert is expected to be a first rounder).
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Jeff Junstrom


Analyst Projections
Aaron - Missouri
Anson - Missouri
Jeff - Missouri

From ESPN:

There's no mystery about momentum in this one. Missouri finished its season with three wins to climb back inside the top 15. Iowa lost its final three games to fall out of the top 25. Both teams will be bringing quality quarterbacks out to Tempe as Iowa's Ricky Stanzi and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert will face off in the desert. -- David Ubben

From Fox Sports:

A good matchup in brand name, Mizzou could use a big bowl win after a clunker last year against Navy. Iowa was supposed to be national title-good, but was a major disappointment as it goes from the Orange Bowl last year to the Insight. While the Tigers might have finished the regular season as the best team in the Big 12 North, Iowa finished with a disastrous loss to Minnesota.


Bowl Picks: Air Force Vs. Georgia Tech - Independence Bowl

Air Force Falcons (8-4, 5-3 MWC) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-6, 4-4 ACC)

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
December 27 - 5:00 pm - ESPN2
Shreveport, LA
$1,100,000 payout per team

If you're a fan of ground games, then this is the bowl game to watch. The Independence Bowl features the nation's top two rushing teams and with neither team having much of a passing game (both rank near the bottom of the country passing yards per game), there likely won't be much in the way of aerial ball movement.

With a 1,200-yard rusher and one of the nation's top rushing quarterbacks, Georgia Tech led the nation with 327 yards on the ground per game this season. Still, that was only enough to carry them to a .500 record. Even more disappointing was the fact that the team won only one game against a .500 team all year long. The Yellow Jackets got fat on teams such as Duke, Middle Tennessee State, and South Carolina State, and lost to nearly every respectable team they played - the lone exception being a three-point win over 7-5 North Carolina.

Air Force doesn't have any wins against ranked teams among their eight victories, but they did hang with top 25 teams Oklahoma and Utah. The Falcons enter the game as the second-ranked rushing team with 317 yards per contest and, like Georgia Tech, feature a 1,000 yard rusher and a QB with more than 700 yards on the ground
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Anson Whaley


Analyst Projections
Aaron - Air Force
Anson - Air Force
Jeff - Air Force

From ESPN:

This game will feature some old-school, triple-option offenses. Georgia Tech and Air Force are Nos. 1 and 2 in the nation in rushing offense, respectively. Both teams average more than 310 rushing yards per game, and have combined to complete just 136 passes. While at Navy, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson beat the Falcons six times. -- Heather Dinich

From Fox Sports:

If you like passing, the Hawaii Bowl is for you. On the other hand, there's a chance the Falcons and Yellow Jackets combine to throw fewer than ten passes if everything goes according to plan. Blink, and you might miss a game that'll go by in a flash with the nation's No. 1 (GT) and No. 2 (Air Force) running attacks going at it.

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