2013 College Bowl Season: Dozen Games Left Before New Year’s Day Festivities
The 2013 college football bowl season is in full swing at this point, but there are still almost two dozen games to go before they’re all complete. This week, we’ll take a look at the games that will lead up to the bacchanalia that comprises New Year’s Day and leads to the BCS title game…we’ll wait until we get closer to those contests before we make any choices (pick in BOLD, lines from the Mirage in Las Vegas)!
New Era Pinstripe Bowl – The Bronx, New York, December 28
Notre Dame (-14.5) vs. Rutgers
After playing in the BCS Championship Game last year, the Fighting Irish came back to earth in 2013. This game, played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, is basically a home game for the Irish with their alumni base despite the factor that Rutgers is from right across the Hudson River in the neighboring state of New Jersey (Camden is actually closer to Philadelphia than the Big Apple).
It isn’t like Rutgers has a chance in this game, however. Notre Dame has built an excellent team under head coach Brian Kelly (rumors abound he is being considered for the Detroit Lions job that isn’t open yet) and the Irish will have little mercy against the Scarlet Knights. This will be ugly early and often as the Golden Domers rout Rutgers.
Belk Bowl – Charlotte, NC, December 28
North Carolina vs. Cincinnati (+2.5)
The Tar Heels will technically have the home field advantage in this game, but it might not do much for them against a high powered Bearcat offense that is ranked 15th in the nation in passing. Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay should have a strong game against a Carolina team that had to win five of its last six games just to become bowl eligible.
Russell Athletic Bowl – Orlando, FL, December 28
#18 Louisville (-4) vs. Miami (FL)
This will probably be the most entertaining of the games on Saturday as Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater plays what is expected to be his final collegiate game (Bridgewater is expected to be the first QB taken in the 2014 NFL draft). The Hurricanes won’t be a pushover, however; they reached as high as #7 in the rankings before a three-game losing streak crushed their hopes of playing in a BCS bowl game. I expect that the Cardinals will take this one down, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a push game.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – Tempe, AZ, December 28
Kansas State (-5.5) vs. Michigan
I’d really like to take Michigan in this game, but their recent performance on the field doesn’t lead to confidence. Michigan has lost five of their last seven games – issues with their quarterbacks, Shane Morris and Devin Gardner have caused that slide – while Kansas State has gone in the other direction, winning five of their last six. The Wildcats, with their legendary head coach Bill Snyder, should be able to handle the depleted Wolverines in the desert.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl – Fort Worth, TX, December 30
Navy vs. Middle Tennessee State (+7)
I believe that Navy, with its strong running game (ranked #2 in college football) will win this game, but it won’t be by more than seven points. Middle Tennessee has played some quality opposition (including North Carolina and BYU) and won their last five games. Although they have their own quality running game (25th in the nation), the Blue Raiders won’t beat the Midshipmen, but they’ll keep it close as it becomes a grind it out game.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – Nashville, TN, December 30
Georgia Tech (+3) vs. Ole Miss
I am personally wondering how the Rebels get the edge in this game. They have lost their last two games and are around the middle of the pack in statistical categories on offense and defense. The Yellow Jackets, on the other hand, have a rushing attack that is monstrous (averaging over 311 per game with 45 rushing touchdowns). That will probably provide the edge in this game as it is expected to be played in the snow in Tennessee.
Valero Alamo Bowl – San Antonio, TX, December 30
#10 Oregon (-14) vs. Texas
Oregon, who was a national championship contender until a late-season stumble, is one of the most prolific offenses in the college game. Texas has had difficulties this season (resulting in the resignation of head coach Mack Brown, who will depart after this game), with many of those problems on the defensive side of the ball. With this in mind, I don’t see how the Longhorns are going to stop the Ducks’ offensive assault. This game could be pretty depressing for Texas fans by halftime.
National University Holiday Bowl – San Diego, CA, December 30
#14 Arizona State vs. Texas Tech (+14)
This game should be one that fans of the passing game like. Both teams air the ball out frequently, with the Red Raiders ranked second in the nation in passing. That should put plenty of points on the board and keep it closer than the 14 points that has been posted.
AdvoCare V100 Bowl – Shreveport, LA, December 31
Boston College (+7) vs. Arizona
As much as the previous game will be a passing frenzy, this game features two of the top running backs in the country. Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and BC’s Andre Williams have punished opposing defenses with their aggressive running styles, which should lead to a fairly low scoring affair. I don’t see Boston College winning outright, but I do see them keeping it within the spread.
Hyundai Sun Bowl – El Paso, TX, December 31
#17 UCLA (-7) vs. Virginia Tech
The reason to go with the Bruins in this game is the inconsistency of the Hokies. After starting the season 6-1, Virginia Tech lost three of its last five games to such ACC opposition as Duke, Boston College and Maryland, while taking down then-#11 Miami (FL) and Virginia in road contests. The UCLA faithful should be out in force for this game and also should be pleased with a solid victory that covers the spread.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Memphis, TN, December 31
Mississippi State vs. Rice (+7)
This is one of the toughest games to pick on the bowl schedule. Rice was dominant in Conference USA (winning the championship over Marshall) to finish 10-3, but they aren’t getting any love from the oddsmakers. Mississippi State barely is eligible for a bowl, needing a win over Ole Miss in the last game of the season to reach 6-6. I really don’t see why the Bulldogs get the edge over the Owls (is it the SEC bias?), so I’ll go out on a limb here and take Rice for the win.
Chick-fil-A Bowl – Atlanta, GA, December 31
Texas A&M (-12) vs. Duke
In what will probably be his swan song to college football, A&M QB Johnny Manziel will be looking for a bowl win to tack alongside his Heisman Trophy from last season and should come out with his guns blazing. Duke has had an impressive season but, in the ACC Championship Game, they were beaten up by the offensive firepower of Florida State. I see that same thing happening here when they take on Texas A&M.
Previous Bowl Games: Let’s just say that the previous 11 games were a warm-up. That said, it was a good week to take our advice and go the other way; a 2-8 (one game still in play) record isn’t good in anything!
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