35 bowl games, 35 reasons to watch
Starting Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M., and ending Jan. 6 in
Pasadena, Calif., 35 bowl games will be played.
You should watch all of them. Here’s why.
SATURDAY, DEC. 21
New Mexico Bowl
Washington State (minus 4 1/2) vs. Colorado State
Why watch? We haven’t seen Washington Mike Leach coach a
postseason game since the 2009 Cotton Bowl, when he was at Texas
Pick: WASHINGTON STATE 31-24.
Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State (plus 6 1/2) vs. Southern California
Why watch? Fresno State’s Derek Carr, who leads the nation in
yards passing per game (405), against the toughest defense he has
faced this season. USC is tied for 11th in the country in yards per
Pick: USC 35-24.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Buffalo (pick’em) vs. San Diego State
Why watch? When your favorite NFL team drafts Bulls linebacker
Khalil Mack in the first round, you’ll know why.
Pick: BUFFALO 26-20, OT.
New Orleans Bowl
Tulane (minus 2 1/2) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Why watch? A Montana playing quarterback in a bowl game.
Tulane’s Nick Montana has been nursing a sore shoulder, but he is
expected to be good to go against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Pick: TULANE 23-21.
MONDAY, DEC. 23
Beef `O’ Brady’s Bowl
Ohio (plus 13 1/2) vs. East Carolina
Why watch? Ohio’s costumed Bobcat mascot, Rufus, has a history
of unprovoked attacks, just ask Brutus Buckeye. East Carolina’s Pee
Dee the Pirate should keep his sword ready.
Pick: EAST CAROLINA 41-24.
TUESDAY, DEC. 24
Oregon State (minus 3) vs. Boise State
Why watch? Boise State’s first game without Chris Petersen as
coach since 2005 and the Broncos are trying to avoid their first
season with at least five losses since 1998.
Pick: OREGON STATE 35-21.
THURSDAY, DEC. 26
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Bowling Green (minus 5 1/2) vs. Pittsburgh
Why watch? Pitt is playing in a bowl and that game is not being
played in Birmingham, Ala. This must be seen to be believed. Same
goes for Panthers All-America DT Aaron Donald.
Pick: BOWLING GREEN 28-21.
Northern Illinois (minus 1 1/2) vs. Utah State
Why watch? Jordan Lynch’s last college game comes against a Utah
State defense that is seriously good.
PICK: UTAH STATE 31-28.
FRIDAY, DEC. 27
Marshall (minus 2 1/2) vs. Maryland
Why watch? Marshall plays fast, has a good offense and a bad
defense. The possibility of 49-48 game is always high when the
Thundering Herd play, and the Terps can put up points when QB C.J.
Brown is healthy.
PICK: MARYLAND 49-48.
Minnesota (minus 4 1/2) vs. Syracuse
Why watch: After all that excitement in the Military Bowl, you
might need a nap. The Gophers rank 97th in the nation in yards per
play. Syracuse is 102nd. Yep, that’ll do.
Pick: MINNESOTA 17-10.
Fight Hunger Bowl
BYU (plus 3) vs. Washington
Why watch? The last time we saw BYU LB Kyle Van Noy in a bowl
game he scored two touchdowns, blocked a punt and had 3 1/2 tackles
for loss. Who knows what he might do for a postseason encore in his
last college game.
Pick: WASHINGTON 31-21.
Saturday, Dec. 28
Notre Dame (minus 15 1/2) vs. Rutgers
Why watch? One last chance to see the look on Notre Dame coach
Brian Kelly’s face – a combination of rage and resignation – when
Tommy Rees throws an interception.
Pick: NOTRE DAME 38-14.
Cincinnati (plus 3) vs. North Carolina
Why watch? Find out what’s Belk.
Pick: NORTH CAROLINA 34-24.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami (plus 3 1/2) vs. Louisville
Why watch? To see that Cardinals QB Teddy Bridgewater is most
certainly ready for the NFL. But, hey, Teddy, if you want to give
college another year we’re all for it.
Pick: LOUISVILLE 28-27.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Kansas State (minus 3 1/2) vs. Michigan
Why watch? Gronk is playing! Glenn Gronkowski II is Kansas
State’s starting fullback and the brother of New England Patriots
star tight end Rob, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Glenn has one rushing attempt for no yards, but has caught four
passes for 148 yards (37 per catch) and three touchdowns.
Pick: MICHIGAN 28-23.
MONDAY, DEC. 30
Armed Forces Bowl
Middle Tennessee (plus 6 1/2) vs. Navy
Why watch? Navy QB Keenan Reynolds is a record-breaker. He tied
an NCAA record with seven touchdowns in an overtime victory against
San Jose State and set a record for a quarterback with 29 rushing
TDs this season.
Pick: NAVY 37-35.
Music City Bowl
Mississippi (minus 3) vs. Georgia Tech
Why watch? Fan angst should be palpable. Both teams lost their
final two regular-season games against FBS opponents, including
overtime losses to in-state rivals. The loser will stumble into the
offseason with a disappointing 7-6 record.
Pick: OLE MISS 31-21.
Oregon (minus 13 1/2) vs. Texas
Why watch? Listening to speculation about who will be the new
Longhorns coach never gets old.
Pick: OREGON 42-24.
At San Diego
Arizona State (minus 14) vs. Texas Tech
Why watch? To see the Sun Devils score 60. How do we know they
will? Three of the past four times Todd Graham has coached in a
bowl game his team has scored more than 60 points.
Pick: ARIZONA STATE 62-35.
Tuesday, Dec. 31
AdvoCare V100 Bowl
Arizona (minus 7 1/2) vs. Boston College
Why watch? Two All-America running backs and the nation’s top
two rushers in Boston College Heisman Trophy finalist Andre
Williams and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey.
Pick: ARIZONA 31-27.
Virginia Tech (plus 7 1/2) vs. UCLA
Why watch? Two reasons: Myles Jack, linebacker. Myles Jack,
Pick: UCLA 23-10.
Rice (plus 7) vs. Mississippi State
Why watch? If the New Year’s Eve party starts at 4 p.m. ET, you
might not make it to midnight. Think of Owls-Bulldogs as a way to
Pick: MISSISSIPPI STATE 24-20.
Texas A&M (minus 12 1/2) vs. Duke
Why watch? Yes, it might be more fun to watch Johnny Football
ring in the New Year after the game, but what could be Johnny
Manziel’s last college game is must-see TV, too.
Pick: TEXAS A&M 52-30.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 1
Heart of Dallas Bowl
UNLV (plus 6 1/2) vs. North Texas
Why watch? It goes perfectly with the seven-layer dip that’s
been sitting out all night that you’ll be having for ”breakfast”
at noon ET.
Pick: NORTH TEXAS 31-21.
Nebraska (plus 9) vs. Georgia
Why watch? Because you missed the Huskers and Bulldogs play last
year in the Capital One Bowl.
Pick: GEORGIA 35-24.
Capital One Bowl
Wisconsin (minus 1) vs. South Carolina
Why watch? We’ve been overanalyzing Jadeveon Clowney all season.
No need to stop now.
Pick: WISCONSIN 27-24.
Iowa (plus 7 1/2) vs. LSU
Why watch? The last time the Hawkeyes and Tigers played in a New
Year’s Day bowl in Florida, Iowa won on a long TD pass on the last
play of the game. There is precedent for madness.
Pick: LSU 24-21.
Stanford (minus 4 1/2) vs. Michigan State
Why watch? It’s the Rose Bowl.
Pick: STANFORD 27-21.
Why watch? The record for most points scored by a team in a bowl
game is 70, a total the Bears reached four times this season.
Baylor (minus 16 1/2) vs. UCF
Pick: BAYLOR 65-35.
THURSDAY, JAN. 2
Alabama (minus 15) vs. Oklahoma
Why watch? The last time Alabama lost to Auburn, the Crimson
Tide took it out on Michigan State in a bowl game. The Sooners
could be headed toward a similar fate.
Pick: ALABAMA 38-14.
FRIDAY, JAN. 3
Ohio State (minus 2 1/2) vs. Clemson
Why watch? Sammy Watkins’ speed. Carlos Hyde’s power. Tajh
Boyd’s throws. Braxton Miller’s moves.
Pick: OHIO STATE 35-28.
Missouri (minus 1) vs. Oklahoma State
Why watch? It’s just like a BCS game, except it’s on Fox and Gus
Johnson is screaming on every play that gains more than 10
Pick: OKLAHOMA STATE 28-26.
SATURDAY, JAN. 4
BBVA Compass Bowl
Vanderbilt (minus 2) vs. Houston
Why watch? Vanderbilt’s James Franklin could be the next Texas
Pick: HOUSTON 27-23.
Sunday, Jan. 5
Arkansas State (plus 8 1/2) vs. Ball State
Why watch? To find out who is coaching Arkansas State, which has
had three straight one-and-done coaches.
Pick: BALL STATE 37-20.
MONDAY, JAN. 6
BCS National Championship
Florida State (minus 8 1/2) vs. Auburn
Why watch? Say goodbye to the BCS and see if Jameis Winston and
the Seminoles can end the SEC’s national title streak at seven
Pick: FLORIDA STATE 48-35
Championship weekend: Record straight: 12-4; vs. points
Regular season: 224-49; 125-119-3.
Best bet: 10-4-1.
Upset special: 6-5.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP