Friday, December 12, 2008

The Bowl Poll Picks

It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year! Just to be clear, I'm not talking about Christmas or any other Hallmark-ed up Holiday, I'm talking about the one December holiday season that the card companies haven't picked up on: Bowl Season! Sure, I've made my displeasure with College Football's lack of a playoff system very well known on this site, but it turns out I'm quite good at talking out of both sides of my mouth, because there are few things that put a hop in my step as much as the college football bowl season. And since I am in 2 bowl polls, I figured I would give a rundown of my thought process for each of the 33 completely meaningless games and 1 meaningful game that start next Saturday and finish up Thursday January 8th. Let's get to it...
EagleBank Bowl
Wake Forest vs. Navy
Few things say the start of bowl season liked the historic EagleBank Bowl played in... (Googling "EagleBank Bowl location)...Washington D.C.?!? Really? Who decided it was a good idea to have an outdoor bowl game in December in D.C.? Anyway, this one is Wake Forest vs. Navy. Wake is a sneaky good ACC team, and I watched the Midshipmen get taken apart by my Panthers. The pick here is Wake Forest.

New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State vs. Fresno State
Two squads that were stuck in the middle of the best of the lower conferences doesn't exactly make you want to program the old TiVo does it? I'm leaning toward Colorado State simply because the Mountain West was a better conference than the WAC, and really that's my best reason.

Magicjack St. Petersburg Bowl
South Florida vs. Memphis
I was all fired up this morning when I came across a commercial for Magicjack. I watched the commercial and must say, this is probably the only year that product sponsors a bowl game. Anyway, this game will probably be South Florida heavy even though the Bulls were a god-awful team down the stretch because it's practically played in the Bulls backyard. So with that in mind, I will take the free-falling South Florida squad even though I think they are a mess of a team right now.

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
BYU vs. Arizona
This is a pretty good BYU squad that basically runs Las Vegas every December (they've been here 4 years in a row now!) against a mediocre Pac-10 team that is probably just happy to have gotten into a half-decent bowl after a tough finish to the season. I'll take BYU.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Southern Miss vs. Troy
10 Syllables is too many for a bowl game to have, although just wait til I get to the next bowl down. Anyway, Southern Miss is a mediocre team in a below-average conference while Troy is the best team in the worst conference. I wonder if that's how this game will be advertised. Probably not. Sun Belt teams are barely Division I-A, so give me Southern Miss on name recognition alone.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Boise State vs. TCU
Hey with a whopping 14 syllables we have a new leader in the clubhouse for longest bowl name. I don't know if this length can be topped. It's like DiMaggio's hit streak or Wilt's 100 points, the bar is just set too high. The crazy thing is, this is actually a very good game. Or at least it should be. The strength of the C-USA and the WAC will be revealed as these two battle for the right to have their conference be considered the 8th best conference in college football. I love Boise State, but I think TCU is a better football team and a bad matchup for the Smurf Turfers.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii vs. Notre Dame
Charlie Weis gets a chance to at least sorta salvage a disastrous season for the Irish as he tries to get to 7-6. If the Irish drop this one, and there is a strong possibility of just, this will be a truly humiliating year for the Golden Domers at 6-7 and losing to Hawaii in a bowl. The pick here is that the Irish continue to choke in bowl games, losing an incredible 10th in a row to Hawaii at the Rainbows (I refuse to call them the Warriors) home turf.

Motor City Bowl
Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
As if the poor people of Detroit haven't seen enough lousy football this season, they get to watch a bunch of guys who couldn't even make the Lions' roster play in a bowl. This is the worst bowl game I have come across yet. At least it's a Michigan team, though. So for that reason, I'll take Central Michigan.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Another pretty darn good bowl game. Pat White's brilliant college career comes to a close against Butch Davis' rejuvenated UNC squad. White has always been a monster in bowl games, and I'd be shocked if West Virginia didn't go out on top in his final game.

Champs Sports Bowl
Wisconsin vs. Florida State
The Noles looked posed for a shot at the ACC championship game and at worst figured to get a spot in the Gator Bowl just a month ago, but they fell a long way. It was a disappointing finish for both teams, and I doubt either one is too excited for this game. Still, it's right down the road from Tallahassee, so give me Florida State.

Emerald Bowl
Miami vs. Cal
The 'Canes look like they may be on the way back up, as they had an encouraging season under Randy Shannon, but they still aren't The U of old. Playing in California against a very good Cal team won't help them much, either, as California prevails, gouging a pretty bad Hurricanes run defense with stud Jahvid Best.

Independence Bowl
Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
How bummed must the organizers of this baby be? Normally, they get an SEC/ Big 12 matchup, although its typically two mediocre teams from those two conferences. The last few years they've had Alabama/ Colorado, Oklahoma State/ Alabama and South Carolina/ Missouri. And this year... neither conference could fill their spot, and I think this one surpasses the Motor City Bowl as the worst bowl game of the season. Anyway, give me Louisiana Tech though I have exactly 0% confidence in this. Bowl
NC State vs. Rutgers
These two squads are both red-hot coming into this game, and yet... pretty much no one is gonna care. I saw the full force of that Rutgers squad though, and they looked damned good. So give me Rutgers.

Valero Alamo Bowl
Missouri vs. Northwestern
Remember how excited everyone was for Mizzou earlier this season? Remember how close they came to playing for the Ship last season? So much for all of that Mizzou hype, and if this kind of thing continues happening, that's how good coaches like Gary Pinkel get their walking papers. Still, Missouri is way too good to lose to a lower tier Big Eleven squad.

Roady's Humanitarian Bowl
Maryland vs. Nevada
Maryland looked like a decent bet to make the ACC Championship game just a few weeks ago in that parity-riddled conference, but they collapsed on themselves and now instead of living it up on South Beach they are zipping up the parkas as they walk around Boise. Talk about depressing. And now they get to take on a very underrated Nevada squad led by Colin Kaepernick. I'll take Nevada to knock of the Terps.

Texas Bowl
Western Michigan vs. Rice
Yet another game that you really can't even get a little bit excited about. Rice will be playing in their backyard, so the Owls have a serious advantage. Chase Clement leads the high octane Rice offense to victory.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Oregon
This should be a pretty entertaining game. The Ducks represent the Pac-10 pretty much perfectly, as they are as underrated a squad as you'll find anywhere. The Ducks struggle to move the ball in the air, but are one of the most dominant rushing teams in the country. And Okie State is apparently the one Big 12 squad that doesn't throw it a million times a game, so we can expect a heavy dose of the ground game for both sides. Give me Oklahoma State because of the experience they have playing some of the best teams in the country.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Houston vs. Air Force
The Air Force squad somehow throws for less than 100 yards a game while Houston goes for over 400 a game in the passing game, second only to that zany Mike Leach and his Red Raiders. Even if this isn't a clash of traditional powers, its still going to be interesting to see the contrasting styles. The high-powered Houston squad is a little too good for Air Force I think, though.

Brut Sun Bowl
Oregon State vs. Pitt
I'm all sorts of fired up for this New Year's Eve Day bash, and let's hope it wraps up the New Year the right way for us Panther fans. Give me Pitt.

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
There were certainly be some sentimentality on the behalf of the 'Dores, playing in their home state in their first bowl game in ages. Despite these factors, I think Boston College is just too good for Vandy to handle.

Insight Bowl
Kansas vs. Minnesota
A year after a breakthrough year for Jayhawks, they fell back to earth this season in the top heavy Big 12. That alone gives me faith in Kansas to to top a similary middle of the pack squad from the much weaker Big 11.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl- aka the Peach Bowl
LSU vs. Georgia Tech
I still think this thing should retain the Peach Bowl moniker, just like the Capital One Bowl should still have the Citrus Bowl moniker. Georgia Tech's triple option offense surprisingly blossomed under Paul Johnson, and with a struggling LSU defense, I'm going to call for the upset as Georgia Tech takes down an overrated Tigers squad.

Outback Bowl
Iowa vs. South Carolina
Shonn Greene was a force of nature this season for the Hawkeyes, and is practically unstoppable for any college D around. That means SC is going to have to score to stay in this one, and with a pretty anemic offense, I just don't see that happening, as Iowa prevails.

Capital One Bowl aka Citrus Bowl
Michigan State vs. Georgia
Javon Ringer turned into one of the biggest workhorse backs in recent college history. Then again, Knowshon Moreno was no slouch himself. Combine Moreno with Matt Stafford, and I just don't see Sparty being able to keep up with Georgia by plunging Ringer for 3 yards and a cloud of dust.

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
Nebraska vs. Clemson
Who are these Huskers? After years of setting the trend in the Big 12 with their rushing attack, the Big Orange are finally catching up with their conference rivals in the passing department after a 3300 yard season from Joe Ganz. Clemson played better after Tommy Bowden was dumped, but they still have a pretty unproductive offense, much like most of their ACC brethren. For this reason, I'll take Nebraska.

Rose Bowl Game Presented by AT&T
Penn State vs. Southern Cal
Even with all those syllables for the stodgy Grand daddy, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl is still our winner for most syllables with that 14 number. Anyway, this is a great game coming up, as the wildly talented and explosive Southern Cal team takes on Penn State in its rejuvenated state. I don't think the Nitts have enough to stay on the field though, so give me USC.

FedEx Orange Bowl
Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Cincy may not be much of a traditional football power, but that is a good club. VT meanwhile will do its typical Beamer Ball antics to keep any game close, no matter who they are playing. As much as I'd like to see the Big East take another W in a BCS game, I think Virginia Tech just has too many factors going its direction in this one.

AT&T Cotton Bowl
Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
For the Red Raiders, this is a letdown. The Cotton Bowl is a terrific bowl game for this school almost any other year, but they had higher hopes this season. And for Ole Miss, this is just about as good as it gets. Still, despite these emotions, I think Texas Tech just has too much talent for the Rebels to contend with. And one more thing, I'm severely irritated by the decision to move yet another game off of New Year's Day, in this case the Cotton Bowl. It's a crying shame. I miss the days of having 3 and 4 bowls on at the same time and 8-9 bowls on during the entire day. We're now all the way down to just 5. If 1 or 2 of these games are blowouts it's going to be a very disappointing recovery day.

Autozone Liberty Bowl
Kentucky vs. East Carolina
ECU was a frisky squad this year, and are playing about as well now as they were a few months back when they were a BCS darling. Kentucky, like so many of their SEC brethren, had one of the least productive offenses in football, and will likely force ECU into a low-scoring brawl of a game. Kentucky basically collapsed at the end of the season, as they were 4-0, 5-2, and 6-3 at different points but finished at 6-6. After UK's struggles, I have little faith in them, so give me East Carolina in this one.

Allstate Sugar
Utah vs. Alabama
Utah will do its best to stand up for mid majors everywhere. Somewhat luckily for them, no one is going to judge Utah on whether they win or lose, but if they can make it a game and keep it close with the former top team in college football. Also luckily for the mid-majors, Bama doesn't figure to blow out any half decent football team, as they are content to play controlling offense and let their D win the game. I think Utah does make a game of it, but Alabama is going to be too much for them in the end.

International Bowl
Buffalo vs. Connecticut
Imagine how disappointed these two schools must have felt when they realized where they were going. Of course for Buffalo they were excited to win the MAC so they were probably okay with it, but seriously if you are in New England and upstate New York and are getting the chance to go somewhere for a Holiday vacation and you then find out its... Toronto. Ouch. Anyway, that season finale for UConn told me all I needed to know about them. Their QB play will never let them beat a good MAC team like Buffalo.

Tostitos Fiest Bowl
Ohio State vs. Texas
These two schools always find a way to play each other don't they? And its always turned out to be a darn good game. OSU has had a nightmarish run in BCS Bowls of late, and their job doesn't get any easier this year, so I'll take Texas and their high-octane offense led by Heisman finalist Colt McCoy.

Ball State vs. Tulsa
These two squads had very disappointing season-end finishes as they both were upset in their conference championship game. They both have excellent passing games, and this should be a match of high powered offenses. Neither one has played much in the way of talented football squads, so its pretty tough to get a good read on them. Still, Ball State had a better regular season, so for whatever reason, I'm leaning that way.

FedEx BCS National Championship Game
Florida vs. Oklahoma
This figures to be one monster of a football game. Both teams have been matched up against the best of their particular styles, with Florida tackling the extremely defensive and tough Alabama, Georgia, and LSU squads and Oklahoma taming the high octane Texas Tech and Missouri teams, losing only to the equally high octane Texas team. This will be the first time they match up against such contrasting styles. Florida does have a pretty sizable amount of offensive firepower even though they play amongst the grunts of the SEC. I think this will be one of the most high-scoring National Title games we've ever seen, and if that happens, Oklahoma has to be the choice given the team's recent offensive explosions.

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