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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

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.