2012 college football bowl guide

by Jenni Carlson Modified: December 3, 2012 at 12:01 am •  Published: December 3, 2012
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SATURDAY DECEMBER 15

Noon, ESPN, New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, N.M., University Stadium, Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)

Prepare for a shoot-out as both teams rank in the top 20 in scoring. Nevada, though, staggers into this game, losing four of its last five.

2 stars (out of 5)

3:30 p.m., ESPN, Potato Bowl, Boise, Idaho, Bronco Stadium, Toledo (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2)

Utah State’s losses (Wisconsin, BYU) were by a total of five points while Toledo’s losses (Arizona, Ball State, Northern Illinois) were all by seven points.

2 stars

THURSDAY DECEMBER 20

7 p.m., ESPN, Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego, Qualcomm Stadium, BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)

San Diego State has won seven straight, including a two-point win vs. Boise State. Four of BYU’s five losses were by six points or less.

3 stars

FRIDAY DECEMBER 21

6:30 p.m., ESPN, St. Petersburg Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla., Tropicana Field, Ball State (9-3) vs. Central Florida (9-4)

UCF was a whisker away from a C-USA title, but instead, two of its four losses came vs. Tulsa. Ball State has won six consecutive games.

2 stars

SATURDAY DECEMBER 22

11 a.m., ESPN, New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)

East Carolina has scored 40-plus points in four of its last five wins. Yet, Louisiana-Lafayette averages more points per game, 34.8 to 31.3.

2 stars

2:30 p.m., ESPN, Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas, Sam Boyd Stadium, Washington (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-2)

Washington wins with defense. Boise wins with offense. Should be a nice chess match between Steve Sarkisian and Chris Petersen.

3 stars

MONDAY DECEMBER 24

7 p.m., ESPN, Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu, Aloha Stadium, SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3)

SMU became bowl eligible upsetting Tulsa in its regular-season finale, but Fresno brings in one of the nation’s highest-scoring offenses (40.3 ppg).

2 stars

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 26

6:30 p.m., ESPN, Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Detroit, Ford Field, Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6)

After a 2-5 start, Central Michigan rallied late to get bowl eligibility. Western Kentucky’s season went the other way, losing four of its last six.

1 star

THURSDAY DECEMBER 27

2 p.m., ESPN, Military Bowl, Washington, D.C., RFK Stadium, Bowling Green (8-4) vs. San Jose State (10-2)

San Jose State won eight games the past three years combined. It averages 35.3 ppg while Bowling Green allows only 15.8 ppg.

2 stars

5:30 p.m., ESPN, Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C., Bank of America Stadium, Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6)

Duke, a feel-good story, became bowl eligible in mid-October — and hasn’t won since. Cincy’s losses have been by a combined 16 points.

3 stars

8:45 p.m., ESPN, Holiday Bowl, San Diego, Qualcomm Stadium, Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4)

Can you say offense? Well, both of these teams can play it well. The only question — will Arkansas target Art Briles be there with the Bears?

4 stars

FRIDAY DECEMBER 28

1 p.m., ESPN, Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La., Independence Stadium, Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4)

Both of these teams were early season darlings, Louisiana-Monroe beating Arkansas and Ohio beating Penn State. But both struggled late.

2 stars

4:30 p.m., ESPN, Russell Athletic Bowl, Orlando, Fla., Florida Citrus Bowl, Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3)

Rutgers has a five-game bowl winning streak, tied for the nation’s longest. Virginia Tech lost to both Big East teams it played this season.

3 stars

8 p.m., ESPN, Meineke Bowl, Houston, Reliant Stadium, Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

Minnesota has not faced an offense like Texas Tech’s. Seth Doege and the Red Raiders might make the Gophers’ heads spin.

2 stars

SATURDAY DECEMBER 29

10:45 a.m., ESPN, Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Stadium, Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6)

Rice is surging, winning its last four to become bowl eligible. Air Force is struggling, losing three of its last four. Does momentum decide this game?

1 star

2:15 p.m., ESPN, Pinstripe Bowl, Bronx, N.Y., Yankee Stadium, Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

Beware, West Virginia. Syracuse can score in bunches, too. In winning five of its last six, the Orange averaged 38.2 points per game.

3 stars

3 p.m., ESPN2, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, San Francisco, AT&T Park, Navy (7-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

If you want to beat Navy, you have to stop the run. Arizona State’s rushing defense hasn’t been great; Oregon ran for 406 against the Sun Devils.

3 stars

5:45 p.m., ESPN, Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, Alamodome, Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3)

The Longhorns should have home-field advantage. But Oregon State running back and Pflugerville native Storm Woods will feel at home, too.

3 stars

9:15 p.m., ESPN, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Tempe, Ariz., Sun Devil Stadium, TCU (7-5) vs. Michigan State (6-6)

An old-time football game. Both teams put games on the backs of their defense. Neither allows more than 24 points a game.

3 stars

MONDAY DECEMBER 31

11 a.m., ESPN, Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn., LP Field, Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. North Carolina State (7-5)

N.C. State will have an interim coach after Tom O’Brien was fired. Another advantage to Vandy? The game is only a few miles from its campus.

3 stars

1 p.m., CBS, Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas, Sun Bowl, Georgia Tech (6-7) vs. USC (7-5)

An under .500 team vs. an underachieving team makes for an underwhelming matchup.

2 stars

2:30 p.m., ESPN, Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn., Liberty Bowl, Tulsa (10-3) vs. Iowa State (6-6)

Let’s play two. Really? These teams started the season playing each — Iowa State won 38-23 — and they’ll finish it against each other.

2 stars

6:30 p.m., ESPN, Chick-fil-A, Atlanta, Georgia Dome, LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2)

Clemson quarterback Taj Boyd leads a high-powered offense, so with little offensive firepower, LSU will need its defense to play big.

4 stars

TUESDAY JANUARY 1

11 a.m., ESPN2, Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla., Everback Field, Northwestern (9-3) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)

A year ago, the Gator Bowl got Ohio State and Florida. This year, not so lucky. Mississippi State limps in, losing four of its last five.

3 stars

11 a.m., ESPNU, Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas, Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma State (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

The Cowboys’ late-season slide continues all the way to their bowl destination. Will they be fired up? Ditto for the coachless Boilermakers.

3 stars

Noon, ESPN, Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla., Raymond James Stadium, Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (10-2)

A bowl pitting teams once considered national title contenders. Could be a track meet with Denard Robinson and the Old Ball Coach.

4 stars

Noon, ABC, Capital One Bowl, Orlando, Fla., Florida Citrus Bowl, Nebraska (10-3) vs. Georgia (11-2)

Only seconds away from playing for a national title, Georgia is relegated to the Cap One. Will the Bulldogs be motivated to play the Huskers?

4 stars

4 p.m., ESPN, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif., Rose Bowl, Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)

Wisconsin is in because Ohio State and Penn State are postseason ineligible. Still, Badgers and Cardinal finished strong. Could be high scoring.

4 stars

7:30 p.m., ESPN, Orange Bowl, Miami, Sun Life Stadium, Florida State (11-2) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1)

BCS crasher Northern Illinois is catching flack, but Cinderella will become a feel-good story — and shut up lots of folks — if it beats Goliath.

4 stars

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 2

7:30 p.m., ESPN, Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Florida (11-1) vs. Louisville (10-2)

Will Muschamp and the Gators are serious about defense. Same for Louisville coach Charlie Strong, who used to be Florida’s defensive coordinator.

4 stars

THURSDAY JANUARY 3

7:30 p.m., ESPN, Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz., University of Phoenix Stadium, Kansas State (11-1) vs. Oregon (11-1)

This was a national-title-game matchup only a couple weeks ago. Chip Kelly vs. Bill Snyder. Kenjon Barner vs. Collin Klein. It’s still a good one.

5 stars

FRIDAY JANUARY 4

7 p.m., Fox, Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Texas, Cowboys Stadium, Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (10-2)

The best of the non-BCS bowls. There’s no love lost between the old Big 12 foes. But can the Sooners do anything to slow Johnny Football?

5 stars

SATURDAY JANUARY 5

Noon, ESPN, BBVA Compass Bowl, Birmingham, Ala., Legion Field, Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6)

Both faced a team in the national title game, Pitt taking Notre Dame to overtime and Ole Miss losing by 19 points to Alabama.

2 stars

SUNDAY JANUARY 6

8 p.m., ESPN, GoDaddy.com Bowl, Mobile, Ala., Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)

Kent State was ohsoclose to a BCS bowl, but now, it has to get motivated for the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Can it?

3 stars

MONDAY JANUARY 7

7:30 p.m., ESPN, BCS National Championship Game, Miami, Sun Life Stadium, Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Alabama (11-1)

What a matchup. It’s got historical significance, stellar intrigue and marquee personnel. Football fans and TV execs alike are salivating over this.

5 stars

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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