Well the wild 2013 College Football regular season has finally come to a close. As usual the season did not disappoint. We saw some of the wilder endings in consecutive games at Jordan-Hare Stadium. We saw the emergence of young stars such as Jameis Winston, Tre Mason, Bryce Petty, Andre Williams and many more. We had seasons, derailed by injuries and upsets, well it is College Football. It is now Bowl season and the last ever BCS Bowl games before the College Football Playoff Begins next year. Here are my Bowl Predictions for this years games.
New Mexico Bowl: Washington St. (6-6) vs. Colorado St. (7-6)
Both teams are returning to postseason play after long absences. This is the first bowl game for Washington St. since 2003 and the first for Colorado St. since 2008. The emergence of RB Kapri Bibbs has helped lead the Rams to a seven win season, he leads the FBS with 28 touchdowns. On the other side Connor Halliday leads Mike Leach’s Air-Raid offense. This game will be interesting and high-scoring.
Washington St. 35 Colorado St. 31
Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno St. (11-1) vs. USC (9-4)
Fresno St. had higher aspirations a few weeks ago until David Fales out dueled Derek Carr to end the undefeated season. Nonetheless, Head Coach Tim DeRuyter’s team had an excellent season. Derek Carr has thrown for 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns this season. This offense can be too much for USC to handle. On the other side of the ball the Bulldogs secondary is one of the worst and how will they matchup with WRs Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor. What an up and down season for USC. After last year’s free fall, Lane Kiffin came in on a short leash, and after getting dominated by Arizona St. he was fired. Ed Orgeron was named interim coach and he revitalized the team that was down in dumps. He lead them to a 5-2 record after Kiffin got the boot including a huge win over Stanford. Recently, AD Pat Haden hired Steve Sarkisian to be the next head coach. Orgeron did not like that Haden did not offer him the job and he quickly resigned. The secondary for USC will need to play his best game of the year to keep the Trojans’ hopes alive. Clay Helton will be the interim coach for this game. I think that will be the difference maker in this game.
USC 45 Fresno St. 42
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego St. (7-5) vs. Buffalo (8-4)
This will be Buffalo’s second ever bowl appearance. The Bulls finished second in the MAC East. LB Khalil Mack is the heart and soul of that defense and if he can slow down San Diego St RB Adam Muema the Bulls will have a chance to win this game. On the other side San Diego St. is making their fourth-straight bowl appearance. Will experience be the difference maker in this game? I think it will be the running game of Buffalo RB Brandon Oliver and the Khalil Mack led defense that boasts a number 10 rating in red zone defense.
Buffalo 28 San Diego St. 17
New Orleans Bowl: Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Louisiana-Lafayette is going for their third straight victory in this bowl game. QB Terrence Broadway is having another solid season for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Both teams are from Louisiana and Tulane actually plays their home games in the Superdome. They have a 5-1 record in the Superdome this year but this is a different type of game. Ragin’ Cajuns get their three-peat.
Louisiana-Lafayette 28 Tulane 10
Beef O’Brady’s Bowl: East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-2)
Shane Carden has led ECU to a 9-3 record. He has thrown for over 3800 yards and 32 TDs. The Pirates are coming off a blowout loss to Marshall. Ohio is led by Tyler Tettleton. The dual-threat QB has led the Bobcats to two straight bowl victories. In the end I think the 10th rated scoring offense for the Pirates is too much for the Bobcats.
East Carolina 41 Ohio 27
Hawaii Bowl: Boise St. (8-4) vs. Oregon St. (6-6)
Boise St. will be playing their first game without head coach Chris Petersen left to coach the University of Washington. Can interim coach Bob Gregory get the Broncos ready? On the other side, the Beavers have lost five straight games including a crushing loss to the Ducks in the Civil War. The duo of Mannion and Cooks are going to give the Bronco secondary fits. The combination of Grant Hedrick and Joe Southwick need to challenge the Beavers defense. This game is a toss-up to me but I will give the edge to Mike Riley.
Oregon St. 28 Boise St. 21
Little Caesars Bowl: Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)
Pittsburgh barely got to six wins in their first year in the ACC. Pitt has had trouble running the ball which has put the load on QB Tom Savage to throw the ball all over the field. The key player for Pitt is Nagurski winner DT Aaron Donald if he can slow down Matt Johnson and the Falcons the Panthers have a chance. Bowling Green caused some BCS havoc when the upset Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game. The Falcons are riding a five game win streak and their defense have allowed the fifth fewest points in the FBS. The Falcons should be able to handle the Panthers.
Bowling Green 24 Pitt 14
Poinsetta Bowl: Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Utah State (8-5)
The Utah State Aggies season took a big hit when QB Chuckie Keeton went down, but true freshman QB Darell Garretson has stepped up and kept the Aggies afloat. The true testament of the Aggies is there seventh ranked defense. Jordan Lynch and the Huskies were eyeing a return trip to a BCS bowl game but a MAC Championship game loss to Bowling Green derailed it all. Lynch is one of the most underrated players in all of College Football and he will torment the Aggies.
Northern Illinois 31 Utah St. 17
Military Bowl: Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5)
Rakeem Kato and the Thundering Herd are coming off a loss to Rice in the C-USA Championship game which ended their five-game winning streak. Kato led the explosive Thundering Herd offense that averaged 53.8 points a game with over 3500 yards and 36 TDs. Maryland had to battle injuries after their 4-0 start. QB CJ Brown is one of the better dual-threat QBs in the country when he is healthy. It is the Terrapins first bowl game since 2010. I believe Kato and the ‘Herd will be too much for the Terps.
Marshall 38 Maryland 27
Texas Bowl: Minnesota (8-4) vs. Syracuse (6-6)
Another ACC newcomer in Syracuse became bowl-eligible the last weekend of the season when they defeated Boston College. Syracuse had a rocky season. QB Drew Allen was benched after throwing too many picks and Terrel Hunt has taken over and done a nice job. Minnesota have road the emotions of coach Jerry Kill and his health issues. DT Ra’Shede Hageman has lead the stout Golden Gopher defense that have kept them in games. Hageman and the defense will be the difference makers for the Golden Gophers in this game.
Minnesota 21 Syracuse 10
Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU (8-4) vs. Washington Huskies (8-4)
Another team with an interim coach the Huskies are playing this game under interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo before Chris Petersen takes over the reins. Husky RB Bishop Sankey is one of the most talented backs in the country. The Husky defense continued to improve each game. BYU is led by QB Taysom Hill who has lead the BYU attack. The Cougars defense is also impressive led by OLB Kyle Van Noy. The battle of the game will be Sankey vs. Van Noy. I have to go with the seasoned coach of the interim coach and again in Mendenhall over Tuiasosopo.
BYU 35 Washington 25
Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (6-6) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)
What a tale of two seasons for Notre Dame, last year unbeaten and a national championship berth then this year QB Everett Golson was dismissed for the team. Notre Dame had many different playmakers step up to win big games against Arizona State, USC, and Michigan State. Rutgers had a disappointing season as well. Last year they shared the Big East Championship, but this year finished .500. The QB issue at Rutgers will be a problem for the Knights.
Notre Dame 31 Rutgers 10
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6)
North Carolina came into the season slow starting 1-5 and when QB Brynn Renner went down with an injury people in Chapel Hill thought the season was over but replacement Marqiuse Williams stepped up nicely. Look for TE Eric Ebron to have another great game. Cincinnati also faced a season ending injury to their starting QB. QB Munchie Legaux suffered a gruesome leg injury. QB Brendon Kay has led the Bearcats to a solid season. Kay is a warrior and will leave everything on the field in his last game.
Cincinnati 24 North Carolina 21
Russell Athletic Bowl: Louisville (11-1) vs. Miami (9-3)
QB Teddy Bridgewater will face off against the school he almost attended in this one. Will this be Bridgewater’s last game as a Louisville Cardinal? Bridgewater and the Cardinals had their sights set on a potential BCS berth at the start of the season but UCF derailed those hopes. Although Louisville’s schedule was not very tough Charlie Strong’s team is very talented. Miami started the season 7-0 but ran into a wall in Jameis Winston and the Seminoles. QB Stephen Morris will have his work cut out for him against this Louisville defense.
Louisville 38 Miami 28
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas St. (7-5)
Kansas St. started their season with a loss to defending FCS Champion North Dakota St. After a 2-4 start Bill Snyder to a two quarterback system with Daniel Sams and Jake Waters. Since the change, the Wildcats have gone 5-1. Michigan started the season as the team that was going to challenge Ohio St. QB Devin Gardner struggled early on then found his stride. Then they went to East Lansing and got dominated by the Spartans. In their season finale the Wolverines fought the Buckeyes in probably their best game of the season falling to Ohio St. after failing to convert on a two-point conversion. This bowl game will depend on which Michigan team shows up, the one that struggled or the one that played Ohio St.
Michigan 34 Kansas St. 31
Armed Forces Bowl: Middle Tennessee St. (8-4) vs. Navy (7-4)
The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee St. finished 8-4 for a second consecutive season behind the arm of senior QB Logan Kilgore. In his career Kilgore has thrown for nearly 7,700 yards and 53 touchdowns. Look for a steady air attack and the Navy defense. Everyone knows what they are going to see from Navy, the triple-option. QB Keenan Reynolds has been the perfect leader for that offense. He needs to play a smart mistake free game for Navy to win this game.
Middle Tennessee St. 45 Navy 30
Music City Bowl: Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Ole Miss (7-5)
Georgia Tech has had a solid rebuilding year. QB Vad Lee has had another impressive season as he is the leader of the sixth ranked rushing offense. Tech needs to respond after their demoralizing loss to Georgia. Ole Miss started the season with a bang with a wild win over Vanderbilt. Coach Hugh Freeze has the program on the rise. The Rebels have solid young talent in WR Laquon Treadwell and DE Robert Nkimdiche. They too need to respond from a demoralizing loss to bitter rival Mississippi St. I think QB Bo Wallace will be the difference maker in this game. If he plays his game the Rebels will win.
Ole Miss 27 Georgia Tech 21
Alamo Bowl: Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4)
Story lines galore in this game. This is Mack Brown’s last game as the head coach of Texas and that will absolutely play a role in the way the Longhorns play the game. RB Malcolm Brown will be key for the Longhorns as Oregon has had trouble stopping the run in the past few weeks. Texas has had a lot of defensive struggles as well. With Jackson Jeffcoat and the defense be able to stop Oregon? We shall see. Oregon started the season 8-0. They seemed to be on the course to the title game. An injury to QB Marcus Mariota derailed the Ducks season as did a loss to Stanford when nothing seemed to go right for the Ducks until the last seven minutes. The Ducks were given new life when USC upset Stanford but played a terrible game at Arizona and were upset. Senior WR Josh Huff will be the x-factor in this game. He played his heart out in the hard fought Civil War victory and playing in his home state for his last ever game as a Duck will pay dividends for the Ducks.
Oregon 49 Texas 28
Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Arizona St. (10-3)
Another successful season for Todd Graham’s Sun Devils. QB Taylor Kelly lead this team to new heights. That defense is ferocious as well. DT Will Sutton and DE Carl Bradford are both talented players that will torment the Red Raiders offense. In his first season at Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsburry brought back the Air Raid attack that he played in under Mike Leach. He found his gunslinger in Walk-On Freshman QB Baker Mayfield. The Red Raiders started 7-0 but have lost the last five. There has been a slew of QBs to play this year including Davis Webb and Michael Brewer but the QB that gives them the best chance to win this game is Mayfield. Expect a lot of points in this game.
Arizona St. 49 Texas Tech 45
V100 Bowl: Boston College (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)
This game will be feature two of the most talented RBs in the country in Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and Boston College’s Andre Williams. For Boston College, Williams led the way. He was the top rusher in the FBS this year surpassing 2,000 yards and scoring 17 TDs. That earned Williams a trip to NYC as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Steve Addazio really turned this program around in his first season as the coach of the Eagles. The peak of the season for the Arizona Wildcats was when QB B.J. Denker and Carey torched Oregon en route to a 42-16 upset. Everything was clicking that day for the Cats. Their defense is vastly improved and will need to stop Williams. The two RBs will take center stage at this game.
Arizona 31 Boston College 24
Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3)
Another year for Virginia Tech and another year of “Beamer Ball.” The Hokies offense was not very efficient but their defense is one of the best in the country. When QB Logan Thomas makes plays he is effective and the Hokies are dangerous. The key for the Hokies in this game is to get Thomas rolling and force Hundley into mistakes. Another solid season for Jim Mora Jr. and the UCLA Bruins. QB Brett Hundley is the perfect QB for Mora as he leads the Pac-12 in completion percentage. The only issue with the Bruins O-Line is the amount of shakeups its seen. On defense the LB core of Anthony Barr, Myles Jack, and Eric Kendricks are all playmakers and will give Thomas and the Hokie offense fits.
UCLA 24 Virginia Tech 21
Liberty Bowl: Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi St. (6-6)
The Rice Owls come into this game as the champions of the C-USA after beating Marshall handedly. The Owls are lead by seniors QB Taylor McHargue and RB Charles Ross. They will come ready to play. The Bulldogs are riding high on emotion after a wild victory in the Egg Bowl. QB Dak Prescott has been the signal caller Dan Mullen needed. All six of the Bulldogs losses came to teams currently ranked in the Top 25.
Mississippi St. 20 Rice 17
Chick Fil-A Bowl: Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Duke (10-3)
What a remarkable season by Duke. Coach David Cutcliffe has really turned this program around. A 10 win season for the Blue Devils and a Coastal Division title those are incredible feats for Duke Football. QBs Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone will need to come up huge for the Dukies to have a chance in this one. The Legend of Johnny Football may be coming to an end after this game. Johnny Manziel had another remarkable season. Manziel and WR Mike Evans have become one of the top QB-WR Duos in the country. Look for them to try and light up the Blue Devil defense.
Texas A&M 34 Duke 20
Gator Bowl: Georgia (8-4) vs. Nebraska (8-4)
It has been a wild ride for the Cornhuskers this season. It all began when they let UCLA come back and defeat them in Lincoln. Then they lost QB Taylor Martinez to a leg injury. Ron Kellogg III has stepped up quite nicely to keep the Huskers afloat. Can he lead them to a victory over the Bulldogs. I thought Georgia would be Pasadena bound at the beginning of the season but a slew of injuries to the Bulldogs derailed that. The Bulldogs have rode RB Todd Gurley. Look for Gurley to have a big day.
Georgia 28 Nebraska 24
Dallas Bowl: North Texas (8-4) vs. UNLV (7-5)
What a turnaround for the UNLV Rebels. After going 2-11 last year to 7-5 this year, the Rebels are riding a three-game win streak into this bowl game. They will need another big game from QB Caleb Herring to do that. North Texas have also had a stellar turnaround season. The Mean Green are all about being “mean” on the defensive side of the ball as they rank number nine in the nation. Defense and Special Teams will be the difference in this game.
North Texas 21 UNLV 7
Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)
The run of three straight Rose Bowls for the Badgers was finally snapped but the Badgers had another successful season. The matchup of the game will be the RB duo of the Badgers Melvin Gordon and James White vs. Jadeveon Clowney. QB Joel Stave will need to manage the game and find his stride for the Badgers to win this one. South Carolina had high expectations for the season and if it wasn’t for a downright terrible performance against Tennessee they would have played Auburn in the SEC title. RB Mike Davis needs to be effective for the Gamecocks to win.
Wisconsin 27 South Carolina 24
Outback Bowl: LSU (9-3) vs. Iowa (8-4)
LSU was the only team to beat Auburn this season. An injury to QB Zach Mettenberger changes the dynamic of the LSU offense. Mettenberger was having one of his best seasons. Mettenberger replacement Anthony Jennings has filled in quite nicely. The LSU defense was ferocious as always. Look for the defense to set up opportunities for Jennings. The Hawkeyes boast a top 20 defense and are looking to cap their impressive season with a huge victory over LSU. RB Mark Weisman leads a physical attack that will look to dictate the game. I think LSU matches up nicely to counter the physical attack of Iowa.
LSU 27 Iowa 20
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma St. (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2)
This matchup is an old Big 12 matchup. Oklahoma St. was a win away from winning the Big 12 but Bedlam happened. QB Clint Chelf really took hold of the offense and the Cowboys had an incredible season. The defense lead by CB Justin Gilbert is the best under Gundy. If Chelf can perform against the Missouri defense it will be a long day for the Tigers. What a year two in the SEC for Missouri. They won the East and fell to Auburn in the SEC title game. QB James Franklin had a great year and the Missouri offense has an identity with the likes of RB Henry Josey and WR Dorial Green-Beckham. The Missouri WR core is matchup problem for everyone. Their defense is ferocious as well lead by DEs Michael Sam and Kony Ealy. The defense for Missouri will be the difference that leads the Tigers to victory.
Missouri 34 Oklahoma St. 28
BBVA Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. Houston (8-4)
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is one of the best in the country. He has given Vanderbilt football an identity. The QB-WR Duo of Austyn Carta-Samuels and Jordan Matthews are dynamic. They also have a defense ranked number 19 in the country. Vandy will be ready to play. Houston leads the nation in turnover margin at +25. The Cougars defense will need to stop the balanced Vandy attack to stay in this game.
Vanderbilt 23 Houston 21
GoDaddy Bowl: Ball St. (10-2) vs. Arkansas St. (7-5)
The Red Wolves of Arkansas St. won a share of the Sun Belt title. QB Adam Kennedy has done a fine job replacing Ryan Aplin who left school to graduation. The Red Wolves average 414.2 yards a game on average. So expect them to move the ball and score. The Cardinals of Ball St. are lead by QB Keith Weinning who threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 34 TDs. Weinning is the key to the game.
Ball St. 35 Arkansas St. 27
BCS BOWL GAMES
Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan St. (12-1)
For the 100th Rose Bowl how about a good old-fashioned smash mouth football game between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten. Stanford and Michigan St. are almost carbon copies of each other. For Stanford, a second consecutive Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl appearance. Stanford got their chances to flex their muscle and they didn’t disappoint. The Cardinal dominated Oregon and manhandled Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game. RB Tyler Gaffney was the perfect replacement to Stepfan Taylor who left for the NFL. WR Ty Montgomery has become a real weapon for QB Kevin Hogan. LB Shayne Skov and that Stanford defense is as talented as ever. Michigan St. has quite possibly the best defense in the country. DE Shilique Calhoun and DB Darqueze Dennard highlight the incredible Spartan defense. Mark Dantonio’s team won games with defense to begin the season then the offense under QB Connor Cook really found its stride. The emergence of RB Jeremy Langford has been vital to that. This will be a good old-fashioned football game with the team with the better defense winning.
Michigan St. 24 Stanford 21
Baylor (11-1) vs. UCF (11-1)
What an impressive season for Baylor. Art Briles finally had a complete team and they played incredible football. The offense that averaged 53.3 points and 624.5 yards a game is lead by QB Bryce Petty who emerged as one of the better dual-threat QBs in the nation. RB Lache Seastrunk was a force in the backfield as well. The reason this team reached these new heights was that the defense was just as effective as the offense. DB Ahmad Dixon brought a physical aspect that the defense didnt have and the team followed. UCF derailed Louisville’s perfect season and shot at a BCS game when they came from behind to beat the Cardinals in Louisville. QB Blake Bortles is one of the most underrated players in college football. He will have his chance to shine on a big stage on New Year’s Day and expect him to perform. Along with RB Storm Johnson, the Golden Knights offense will score. Bortles vs. Petty is going to be fun to watch. UCF will put up a fight and may even pull off the upset but I think Baylor is too talented.
Baylor 49 UCF 38
Alabama (11-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)
Oklahoma ruined their bitter rival’s BCS hopes with a great drive in the last minute by QB Blake Bell that resulted in a Jalen Saunders TD. RB Brennan Clay has been a solid back for the Sooner offense. Bob Stoops has another chance to perform on a big stage. Stoops is 3-5 in BCS Bowl games. I am sure the Alabama players are tired of seeing the highlight of the Chris Davis taking the missed FG back to defeat the Tide and end their hopes for a third straight title. If there is any coach I would want preparing my team for a bowl game it would be Nick Saban. QB AJ McCarron knows how to win games and he is starting to make big plays like the 99-yard TD to Amari Cooper in the Iron Bowl. I feel the will of Alabama will be too much for Oklahoma.
Alabama 38 Oklahoma 17
Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio St. (11-1)
Another solid season for the Clemson Tigers. The season started with a huge victory over Georgia. Then they ran into a wall that was Florida St. Tahj Boyd had a great senior season. With the help of WR Sammy Watkins they look to stretch out the Buckeye defense. Urban Meyer had his Buckeyes one win away from a trip to Pasadena but they met Michigan St. The Spartans dominated Ohio St. QB Braxton Miller and RB Carlos Hyde need to have huge games to keep Clemson on the ropes.
Ohio St. 49 Clemson 42
Florida St. (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1)
What a miraculous turnaround season for Auburn under Gus Malzahn. Malzahn took a team that went 3-9 just a season ago and lead them to a 12-1 season. QB Nick Marshall and RB Tre Mason are huge reasons for that. Both of them are great fits for Malzahn’s offense. Miraculous doesn’t even seem to describe the two back-to-back finishes at Jordan-Hare this year. First the Hail Mary to Louis then the Chris Davis runback. Auburn seems like a team of destiny and will lady luck bring them another National Title? Florida St. started the season 5-0 without a true statement win. Then QB Jameis “Famous Jameis” Winston lead the Seminoles into Death Valley and purely dominated the Clemson Tigers. From then on, we all knew Florida St. was for real. Famous Jameis had an incredible season that earned him the Heisman Trophy. The defense for the Seminoles is lead by DB Lamarcus Joyner. That defense will have its hands full. Expect a high-scoring affair in the last ever BCS National Championship Game with……….
Florida St. winning.
Florida St. 49 Auburn 35