2014-15 BOWL PREVIEW
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana-Lafayette 38 Nevada 34
For the fourth straight season, the Ragin' Cajuns are in the New Orleans Bowl, ULL has won their three previous appearances. Nevada has not been as successful, winning just one of their previous seven bowl games. The Wolfpack may have more talent, but the home crowd edge will be huge for Louisiana. The game will be a shootout and in the end, the Cajuns will get the win at the Superdome.
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Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
South Alabama 41 Bowling Green 24
South Alabama is making its first bowl appearance in just their third season in FBS. Expect them to get a large home field edge as their fans make a short trip to Montgomery. Bowling Green comes into the bowl game with three straight losses, including a humiliating 51-17 loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game. This game has all the makings of a win fort the Jaguars.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Air Force 27 Western Michigan 17
Air Force was one of the biggest surprises in the country this season posting a record of 9-3. The Falcons run the option as good as any team in the nation, upsetting Boise State and Colorado State during the season. Western Michigan also likes to run the ball led by Jarvion Franklin who rushed for 1,500 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. However, Western Michigan also has never won a bowl game and I see that trend continuing as Air Force will have the Broncos chasing their tales.
Miami Beach Bowl
Memphis 38 BYU 17
Despite losing QB Taysom Hill, BYU managed to average 463.4 yards per game. Memphis had one of their finest seasons in years, posting a record of 9-3 making their Coach Justin Fuente a rising star in FBS. This is a new bowl game another one that is played in a baseball stadium, and could have almost o juice other than the Tigers trying to show they have some claws and are in fact a program on the rise as they win the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl amidst the backdrop of the pachinko machine.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
UTEP 27 Utah State 13
Utah State Coach Matt Wells did a masterful coaching job leading the Aggies to a 9-4 record despite losing two quarterbacks to injuries. Wells will likely be among the candidates to land a better job, at a bigger school. Utah State used defense to overcome the loss of two quarterbacks, with the third best defense in the Mountain West. UTEP may have the home crowd edge and could take advantage of a distracted Wells to get their first bowl win since 1967.
San Diego State 24 Navy 10
There is likely to be an electric atmosphere at Qualcomm Stadium as both teams will get a large fan contingent with one of the largest bases in San Diego, and the Aztecs getting a home game. The Midshipman rely on the triple offense, which could hurt against SDSU, as the Aztecs have one of the top defenses in the FBS, San Diego State also has more sill and will just be an overall bad matchup.
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl
Louisiana Tech 27 Illinois 13
Illinois needed to win their final two games just to reach bowl eligibility. Louisiana Tech was more consistent thanks to a strong defense. The Illini have not been to many bowl games let alone winning a bowl. Louisiana Tech should be able to keep the Illinois offense from doing much damage and getting the win.
Rice 28 Fresno State 17
Fresno State made a late run, winning the last three games of the regular season to get bowl eligible and reach the Mountain West Championship Game. However, at 6-7 they hardly look like a bowl team, Rice also got better as the season developed and made a run toward the Conference USA Championship. I think the Owls will continue their momentum and get the win over Fresno on Christmas Eve.
Boca Raton Bowl
Marshall 55 Northern Illinois 52
This could be one of the best games of the early bowl season, as both teams feature high scoring electric offenses. Marshall Quarterback Rakeem Cato is one of the most exciting players that few people have seen. A good game in South Florida could get the attention of NFL scouts. This game has all the makings of the winner being whoever has the ball last and possibly even going into overtime with the Heard getting the win.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Boston College 24 Penn State 16
Penn State is back in a bowl game for the first time since the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke. Initially there ban was to last five years, but it was reduced earlier this season, allowing them to get bowl eligible at 6-6. The Eagles are the more talented team and will win this game of Northeast stalwarts at Yankee Stadium.
Popeye's Bahamas Bowl
Western Kentucky 48 Central Michigan 40
Both teams had up and down seasons featuring wins over the top teams in their conferences. The Hilltoppers average 44 points per game, and have the makings of a program on the rise. These two teams met in 2012 in the Pizza Bowl, with the CMU getting a win in Detroit. This game will be in much better climes in the Bahamas, but will that mean football is better in the Bahamas, I like Western Kentucky.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Oklahoma 24 Clemson 20
Injuries played a role in these teams not reaching their full potential as both could have been a part of the first playoff if they had remained healthy. As they enter this game in Orlando, the Sooners are getting healthy with Quarterback Trevor Knight returning to action. Clemson has the best defense in FBS, but will be without their Deshaun Watson. The Tigers defense may keep it close, but they won't have enough offense to beat the Sooners.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
West Virginia 47 Texas A&M 37
Don't expect much defense in this one as the two teams are a near mirror image of each other. Both teams had 7-5 records and were widely inconsistent with potentially superstar receivers. This game should be a shootout, but the Mountaineers were the stronger team at the end of the season, which will be the key to them winning this game in Memphis.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Utah 31 Colorado State 13
Colorado State had a solid season at 10-2, but has lost Jim McElwain who took the job with University of Florida. Utah was also solid at 8-4, boasting the fourth best defense in the Pac-12. Leading the Utes defensive attack is second team All-American Nate Orchard who had 17.5 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss. Utah played a very tough schedule and cracked the Top 25, I think they are more battled tested and will get the win.
Cincinnati 45 Virginia Tech 17
With the lone exception of a win over Ohio State, it was a very poor season for Virginia Tech who finished the season with a record of 6-6. Cincinnati meanwhile had a strong season behind, Quarterback Gunner Keil, winning nine games. Keil passed for over 3,000 yards and had 30 touchdown passes. The Hokies defense is solid, but I just don't think they have the manpower to hold off Cincinnati.
UCLA 20 Virginia Tech 10
Virginia Tech had one of the top defenses in FBS, allowing 17.4 points per game. However, the Hokies offense struggled all season only scoring 23.4 per game themselves. The Bruins meanwhile, were one of the top teams in the Pac 12, posting a solid 9-3 record. They have a decent defense in their own right, but also have a strong offensive game led by Quarterback Nick Hundley who was also the Bruins leading rusher.
Duck Commander Independence Bowl
South Carolina 27 Miami 20
Both teams had little to be happy happy about as they finished with 6-6 records. The Hurricanes dropped their last three games, while the Gamecocks fizzled all season. Miami has not done well in recent years under the national microscope and Carolina has just as much if not more talent and certainly has a better coach and will get the win.
Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl
Central Florida 24 NC State 20
For some reason that defies logic they are still playing a bowl in the charmless Tropicana Field. This year at least they have a better sponsor the Beef O'Grady's, though with the prize money being awarded in bitcoins, the schools may be feeling somewhat ripped off. The matchup is actually a good one with both teams being strong and talented, but with the game in Florida and UCF winning nine of their last ten games, it sets up as a good day for the Knights.
Auburn 34 Wisconsin 30
After reaching the Big Ten Championship Game and getting humiliated by Ohio State, Wisconsin was stunned when Coach Gary Andersen left for Oregon State. If the Badgers are to have a chance in Tampa, they will need Melvin Gordon to run wild. However, Auburn will be no pushover and having survived the SEC West gauntlet at 8-4 they are just a hair better and get the win.
Louisville 24 Georgia 10
This is a solid matchup as both teams are 9-3. The Bulldogs have had trouble over the past few years with physical defense. Louisville has the sixth ranked defense, with former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who may have a few answers for stopping the UGA offense. This looks like it sets up perfectly for the Cardinals to get the win in Charlotte.
National University Holiday Bowl
USC 38 Nebraska 17
Nebraska is a team in transition after dismissing Coach Bo Pelini. Their new Coach Mike Reilly will watch closely as Ameer Abdullah tries to launch his draft stack. The Trojans meanwhile are all about making a title run next year, and with Quarterback Cody Kessler getting better as the season ended he can throw himself into early Heisman consideration with a big win for Southern California.
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual
Oregon 41 Florida State 27
The first of two semifinals see a battle of the last two Heisman Trophy winners. Florida State has the big 29 game winning streak and the crown from last year, but they have survived many scares this season. The Seminoles must consider themselves lucky to be in this game as they played a mediocre schedule and managed to rally in the fourth quarter. Oregon will not give up a lead in the fourth quarter and with Marcus Mariota leading the way they will fly on to Dallas for the title game.
Foster Farms Bowl
Stanford 24 Maryland 7
This should play out like a home game for Stanford in Levi's Stadium. Maryland offense has struggled since Wide Receiver Steffon Diggs was lost to an injury Stanford meanwhile has one of the top defenses in the country. The game sets up perfectly for the Cardinal, and it will be a genuine surprise if Maryland even comes close to winning this one.
Iowa 38 Tennessee 17
The Volunteers are making their first bowl appearance in four years, after posting a record of 6-6. Iowa is a much stronger and more experienced. In the next few years Tennessee could be a team on the rise, but this bowl game will be more of a learning experience as the Hawkeyes win going away.
All-State SUGAR BOWL
Alabama 38 Ohio State 10
Ohio State got to this game with the performance of third string Quarterback Cardale Jones in the Big Ten Championship Game. It is hard to imagine he will be able to do the same against Alabama who is seeking their third championship in four years. This game will be in SEC County and will be very difficult for the Buckeyes to survive. The Crimson Tide are the number one team in the nation and will move to face Oregon with the National Championship on the line in Dallas.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Michigan State 44 Baylor 38
Another terrific bowl matchup with two teams that could have easily made the playoffs, both teams are skilled and will have several players soon playing on Sunday. Both teams have talented quarterbacks and talented running backs. The difference will likely come down to defense and Baylor's defense has struggled all season. It will be a shoot out and in the end it will be a Sparty Party in Dallas.
Quick Lane Bowl
Rutgers 38 North Carolina 34
Two teams are very similar with big passing games; with Gary Nova of Rutgers and Marquise Williams each topping 20 touchdowns this year. The Tar Heels finished strong winning four of their last five games, while Rutgers ended the season with the biggest comeback in school history. The Knights would surely like to cap their first season in the Big Ten with a win.
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
Arkansas 20 Texas 10
Two programs steeped in tradition meet in a battle of 6-6 teams. Both teams were playing their best football when the season ended, and will like to get a win to boost themselves into 2015. The Razorbacks defense was strong as the season ended shutting out Ole Miss and LSU. I like them to continue that momentum and keep Texas in check all game to get the win in Houston.
Franklin American Music City Bowl
LSU 44 Notre Dame 27
At one time this season the Irish looked like serious contenders for the playoffs as they nearly beat Florida State. However, since the touchdown was called back it has been all downhill for Notre Dame as they lost their last four games with a defense that was just embarrassing. LSU is a solid team and can add to that embarrassment as the Irish also have struggled with turnovers, something that will play into the hands of the Bayou Bengals.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Pittsburgh 31 Houston 17
As the nation gets set for the first real championship game a few bowl leftovers will help wet the appetite. This is a game will be the James Connor show as the Pittsburgh running back is going to be the best player on the field. The Panthers should be able win the game easily as Houston is not nearly as strong.
VIZIO Fiesta Bowl
Arizona 31 Boise State 20
The new bowl format finally gives some respect to the Mountain West Conference, allowing Boise State to be a part of one of the New Year Six Bowls. A few years back the Broncos had their coming out at the Fiesta Bowl. However, this time against Arizona it will be a much taller order. The Wildcats will surely have a great home advantage and are coming off the best season in the history of the program, making it to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
GO DADDY BOWL
Arkansas State 27 Toledo 24
Arkansas State has been a good launch spot for coaches looking to go elsewhere. Against Toledo in the GoDaddy Bowl I see them winning a close one.
Capital One Orange Bowl
Mississippi State 24 Georgia Tech 3
If not for a loss in the final week of the season, Mississippi State would be playing in the semifinals. They are likely as good as any team in the nation but in the highly competitive SEC West they ended the season 10-2. Georgia Tech runs the option well, but the physical Bulldogs defense will eat them alive in the Orange Bowl.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Oregon 38 Alabama 27
For several years Oregon has been in the National Championship picture only to come up a game or two short. They played for the BCS Championship once, losing to Auburn in 2011. Alabama will be a tough foe, but Oregon is ready and they are due. This is the year of the Duck, and Marcus Mariota is the reason why. After they finish off Florida State, Mariota will go on to be the star or the first playoff helping Oregon win their first National Championship in football. The key is not just Marcus Mariota passing ability and his ability to run, but the fact he is able to avoid turnovers. Bama will not be able to handle such a polished quarterback.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Ole Miss 20 TCU 17
This is one of the best matchup in the bowl season, as both teams were serious contenders for the playoffs. TCU likely is the best team not in the playoffs and could make a case they should have been included, but their conference was weak and their strength of schedule hurt them. Ole Miss faltered down the stretch but not before knocking out rival Mississippi State. This will be tight and in the end the Rebels will win by a Field Goal.
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Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Missouri 27 Minnesota 17
Minnesota had a terrific season, finishing 8-4. Missouri meanwhile reached SEC Championship for the second straight season. The Gophers will be hoping to get a big game out of Running Back David Cobb. However, Missouri has one of the best front sevens in the nation and will be able to keep Cobb under wraps and get the Tigers an 11 win season.
Valero Alamo Bowl
UCLA 41 Kansas State 37
UCLA had hopes of playing for a National Championship, but at times suffered lapses and ended the season with a record of 9-3. This game will take on add importance for Bruins Quarterback Brett Hundley who seeks to seek impress NFL scouts in his final college game. K-State will not make it easy, but UCLA should manage to get the win in the Alamodome.
TicketCity Cactus Bowl
Washington 38 Oklahoma State 14
Oklahoma State needed a win over Oklahoma just to become bowl eligible. Washington meanwhile had their ups and downs in Chris Petersen's first season in Seattle, but managed a solid 8-5 record. The Huskies defense is strong and will keep the Cowboys off balance all day to get the win in Tempe.
East Carolina 31 Florida 17
It's embarrassment to see Florida in this lowly bowl. It is also the reason that Will Muschamp has been shown the door in Gainesville. East Carolina does have some talent and will provide several matchup problems for the Gators. The Gators will like to finish strong setting up next season, but with an underrated ECU squad in the way it won't be on the cards.