As I implied in the earlier post, there are way too many college bowl games. Since the value of these predictions plummets after the games have been played, I realize that it would be to our mutual advantage for me to get to the point as quickly as possible. One of these days we’ll resume posts about obscure historical events or my personal travel mishaps, but for now, here are some more of my thoughts — expressed as tersely as possible — about the next batch of games.
Emerald Bowl USC (8-4) vs. Boston College (8-4)
Because Boston College is 97th in the country in total offense, the USC defense should prevail, giving the Trojans the victory in what I expect to be a relatively low-scoring game.
Music City Bowl Kentucky (7-5) vs. Clemson (8-5)
Three Kentucky QBs combined this season for 12 TDs and 10 interceptions. That won’t get the job done against Clemson, which has a strong defense and enough offense to win.
Independence Bowl Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)
This game should supply an answer to the old question, “what happens when a resistible force meets a movable object?” Georgia is resistible; it was 73rd in the country in total offense. Texas A&M is movable; it surrendered 30+ points in eight of its games. My hunch is that Georgia will win.
EagleBank Bowl UCLA (6-6) vs. Temple (9-3)
The main weapon for UCLA’s woeful offense is its field goal kicker, Kai Forbath. It’s difficult to imagine him getting into range often enough to beat Temple.
Champs Sports Bowl Miami (9-3) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
Wisconsin has the best running back in the Big Ten, John Clay. The Badgers also play stout defense. Miami has had its moments this season, and the game is in Orlando which means the crowd will no doubt be rooting for the Hurricanes, but I’m picking Wisconsin in a mild upset.
Texas Bowl Missouri (8-4) vs. Navy (9-4)
Navy was dead last in the nation in passing. That makes it hard to catch up if you fall behind by a couple of touchdowns. The defense won’t let that happen, though. Navy wins.
Humanitarian Bowl Idaho (7-5) vs. Bowling Green (7-5)
Wide Receiver Freddie Barnes of Bowling Green averaged 11.5 receptions per game, for a total of 1,551 yards. Idaho’s defense yielded an average of 35 points per game. This looks like a win for Bowling Green.
Holiday Bowl Nebraska (9-4) vs. Arizona (8-4)
This game is worth watching just to see Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh, the nation’s best college football player. It will not be a high-scoring affair, but Nebraska might be able to kick a couple of field goals and win it.
Sun Bowl Stanford (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (7-5)
The oddsmakers have made Oklahoma a solid favorite; that’s presumably based on Oklahoma’s strong defense. Stanford is awful at pass defense (105th in the country), but RB Toby Gerhart is a difference-maker. I’ll take Stanford, and keep my fingers crossed that the Cardinal secondary can make some plays.
Armed Forces Bowl Air Force (7-5) vs. Houston (10-3)
Here’s an intriguing matchup: statistically, Air Force has the country’s best pass defense (avg. 148 yds/gm). Houston has QB Case Keenum, who threw for 3,325 yds and 39 TDs, making him #1 in the country in pass offense. I’m going with Houston.
Insight Bowl Minnesota (6-6) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
This should be called the Contractual Obligation Bowl: somebody had to take these two middling teams that managed to get themselves bowl-eligible. They shared a common opponent — Iowa — and Iowa State’s loss to the Hawkeyes was by a more humiliating margin, so I’ll take Minnesota.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Tennessee (7-5)
Tennessee played well against Florida and Alabama. The Volunteers just might rise up again, but Virginia Tech finally got rolling with RB Ryan Williams; I like the Hokies’ chances to win.
That gets us through the games of 2009. Games to be played in January, 2010, will be covered in a future post.