Having come this far, we might as well polish off the remaining games on the college bowl schedule, the ones being played in January, 2010. You probably have your own opinions about these games, since most of the participants are schools that got a lot of attention throughout the season. You don’t need me to tell you about Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy; you’ve seen them play, or at least read about their exploits elsewhere. In a few instances, though, I can’t resist the impulse to rationalize my picks. Here they are:
Outback Bowl Northwestern (8-4) vs. Auburn (7-5)
Gator Bowl West Virginia (9-3) vs. Florida State (6-6)
Winner: Florida State
The fact that it’s Bobby Bowden’s final game may provide an emotional lift, and the Seminole players are also auditioning for next year’s coach, Jimbo Fisher.
Capital One Bowl Penn State (10-2) vs. LSU (9-3)
Winner: Penn State
Rose Bowl Oregon (10-2) vs. Ohio State (10-2)
Their common regular-season opponent was USC, which beat Ohio State… and got thrashed by Oregon.
Sugar Bowl Florida (12-1) vs. Cincinnati (12-0)
Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly left abruptly to take a similar job at a Catholic school in Indiana. Then, a couple of weeks later, interim coach Jeff Quinn took the vacant position at Buffalo. Quinn will stick around long enough to coach this game, and then it’s “see ya”. The players justifiably feel their leaders have quit on them, so don’t expect maximum effort from the Bearcats.
International Bowl South Florida (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois (7-5)
Winner: Northern Illinois
South Florida is favored, but the Bulls lost 3 of their last 4 games, and there are reports of dissension in the ranks.
Cotton Bowl Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Mississippi (8-4)
Winner: Oklahoma State
PapaJohns.com Bowl Connecticut (7-5) vs. South Carolina (7-5)
Winner: South Carolina
Liberty Bowl East Carolina (9-4) vs. Arkansas (7-5)
East Carolina excels at committing penalties — 831 yards were marched off against the Pirates during the 2009 season.
Alamo Bowl Michigan State (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (8-4)
Winner: Texas Tech
Fiesta Bowl Boise State (13-0) vs. Texas Christian (12-0)
This could be the best of this season’s bowl games. It matches the team that led the nation in scoring (Boise St.) against the team that led the nation in total defense (TCU). Boise State’s QB Kellen Moore threw for 39 TDs with only 3 interceptions. TCU’s QB Andy Dalton had 22 TDs with 5 interceptions. Both teams averaged over 40 points per game. I give the edge to TCU on the strength of its defense.
Orange Bowl Georgia Tech (11-2) vs. Iowa (10-2)
Winner: Georgia Tech
Having a month to practice against the triple option may help Iowa somewhat, but the Hawkeyes’ lucky streak has to end sometime.
GMAC Bowl Central Michigan (11-2) vs. Troy (9-3)
Winner: Central Michigan
It’s tempting to pick Troy because Central Michigan has abandonment issues — coach Butch Jones was hired to replace Brian Kelly at Cincinnati. The Chippewas still have QB Dan LeFevour, though; watch him pick apart the Troy secondary, which ranked 117th (out of 120) in pass defense.
BCS Championship Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0)