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College football predictions: December bowl games

by Berry Tramel Modified: December 26, 2013 at 9:50 am •  Published: December 26, 2013

The Pac-12 is off to a 2-1 start in bowl games. But none of those bowl games came against fellow major-conference opponents. Washington State lost to Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl, Southern Cal routed Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl and Oregon State popped Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl. So that’s three games for the Pac-12 against the Mountain West.

And the Pac-12 isn’t finished with lower-level foes. Washington gets Brigham Young in the Fight Hunger Bowl. So while the Pac-12 has nine bowl teams, only five are against fellow power-conference foes.

The ACC has 11 bowl teams, eight will play against fellow power-conference opponents. The SEC has 10 bowl teams; eight play against power conference teams. The Big Ten has seven bowl teams, all are against major foes. The Big 12 has six bowl teams, again, all against major foes.

So we’ll start monitoring the postseason records, using two measures. Record, and record against fellow major-conference opponents. Let’s get to the predictions for the remaining December bowl games.

Little Caesars Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green — Falcons 38-26. It’s been 10 years since a Mid-American Conference team beat a major foe in the Detroit bowl. Bowling Green did the honors in 2003, beating Northwestern.

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Northern Illinois — Huskies 33-31. Northern quarterback Jordan Lynch finished third in the Heisman voting. Yes. Lynch finished ahead of Johnny Manziel.

Military Bowl: Marshall vs. Maryland — Thundering Herd 41-21. The Terrapins are 4-0 against foes from Virginia and West Virginia.

Texas Bowl: Syracuse vs. Minnesota — Gophers 17-13. The 2012 NFL coach of the year was Bruce Arians, an interim coach with the Colts. So why can’t the 2013 college coach of the year be Minnesota’s Tracy Claeys, who has guided the Gophers to a 4-2 record (including wins over Nebraska and Penn State) since taking over for Jerry Kill, who took a leave of absence.

Fight Hunger Bowl: Brigham Young vs. Washington — Cougars 27-23. Would you believe that Bronco Mendenhall’s career record as the BYU coach is 82-33? I had a hard time believing it myself.

Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers vs. Notre Dame — Fighting Irish 31-0. Rutgers went 6-6 this season, with three of its victories over Norfolk State, Eastern Michigan and Temple. Do you think the Scarlet Knights are ready for the Big Ten?

Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs. North Carolina — Bearcats 26-24. Second straight bowl trip to Charlotte for Cincy. But the Tar Heels did the same in 2008-09.

Russell Athletic Bowl: Miami vs. Louisville — Cardinals 31-21. Quarterback mismatch. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater against Miami’s Stephen Morris.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Kansas State vs. Michigan — Wildcats 30-19. Wolverine quarterback Devin Gardner might not play. Meanwhile, KSU has two good quarterbacks in Daniel Sams and Jake Waters.

Armed Forces Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Navy — Midshipmen 28-25. Navy is not a good bowl team (1-5 since 2005), but it generally plays a tougher foe than Middle Tennessee.

Music City Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech — Rebels 31-10. Mississippi was headed for an excellent year; 7-4 with wins over Texas and LSU. But that season-ending loss to Mississippi State stings.

Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs. Texas — Longhorns 30-28. This is a change from my pick a couple of weeks ago. But the combination of Mack Brown’s great bowl record (10-4) plus his emotion-packed resignation might be enough to spur the upset.

Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Arizona State — Sun Devils 38-28. Tech started 7-0. Then the quality teams arrived. Now Tech is 7-5. And ASU is a quality team.

AdvoCare V100 Bowl: Arizona vs. Boston College — Wildcats 37-17. The nation’s top two rushers collide. BC’s Andre Williams, whose 2,102 yards are the ninth-best single-season total in history, against Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey.

Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. UCLA — Bruins 42-15. Down the stretch, the Hokies lost to Boston College and Maryland. Meanwhile, UCLA routed Southern Cal.

Liberty Bowl: Rice vs. Mississippi State — Bulldogs 31-21. This is Rice’s fourth bowl since 2006. The Owls have become a decent program.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Duke vs. Texas A&M — Aggies 48-14. The talent discrepancy is going to be huge.

Last week: 4-2. Season: 515-70.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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