Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Day Bowling, College Football Style.

New Year's Day is for college football. Nothing else. Six games today, including the first two BCS bowls and epic matchups. Penn State-Florida anyone? How about Alabama-Michigan State? And those aren't even the two BCS matchups.

The TicketCity Bowl will kick off at noon and be the first football game of 2011. By the way, does it make sense that the TicketCity Bowl formerly known as the Dallas Football Classic is being played in the Cotton Bowl while the Cotton Bowl is being played in the Dallas Stadium? Just sayin'.

And since this past week showed that the “Motivation Factor” is one of the most crucial parts of analyzing bowl games, I have included that now.

TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern (7-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-5), Noon on ESPNU

*First College Football game of 2011!


*Last Bowl Game: 2010 Outback Bowl, Lost 38-35 vs. Auburn

*Seeking first bowl win since the 1949 Rose Bowl

*Northwestern lost its last two games without quarterback Dan Persa. Persa accounted for 75% of Northwestern’s offense. Replaced by redshirt freshman Evan Watkins who had seven turnovers in the last two games.

*Ended the season by giving up 70 points to Wisconsin

*You never want to be one of the teams that average giving up more points than you’re scoring. Northwestern is one of them.

*For the record, I’ve watched Northwestern play five times this year.

Texas Tech

*Last Bowl Game: 2009 Alamo Bowl, Won 41-31 vs. Michigan State

*Nation’s worst pass defense and the Big 12’s worst total defense.

*Texas Tech offense averages 453 yards per game.

*When facing good defenses (Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Missouri, Oklahoma) the high-powered offense was held to 14, 17, 27, 24, and 7 points.

*Defensive line coach Sam McElroy will take over defensive play-calling duties as Defensive Coordinator James Willis abruptly left the team to handle personal matters.

*For the record, I’ve watched Texas Tech play five times this year.

What to watch: Quarterback Situation of Texas Tech

Both Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield will play. Will they get even reps, split series, or will Tommy Tuberville go with the hot hand? Texas Tech has begun running the ball much better late in the year as well.

Motivation Factor: It’s a virtual home game for Texas Tech, a good three hours away from Lubbock but should be a partisan crowd. Last year the crowd really rallied the Red Raiders in the Alamo Bowl. In front of that partisan crowd, Texas Tech will want to play well. Northwestern’s heads have been down since Dan Persa’s injury. Following Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s Twitter page, he seems very optimistic about this game, but then again Nebraska coach Bo Pelini did too. You never know how the players will respond.


The speed of the players in the state of Texas should be evident in this one as Northwestern is not a very fast team and I’m not sure that they’ll be able to consistently defend Texas Tech when they go five-wide. The running game with Baron Batch coming along for Texas Tech will give them the balance they need and Northwestern’s run defense has not been good. I’ll go Red Raiders.

Players to watch: Texas Tech WR Lyle Leong; Northwestern WR Jeremy Ebert

Matchup Advantage

Prediction: Texas Tech 35, Northwestern 21

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State (11-1) vs. Alabama (9-3), 1:00pm on ESPN

Michigan State

*Last Bowl Game: 2009 Alamo Bowl, Lost 41-31 vs. Texas Tech

*Finished in a three-way tie for the Big Ten championship but the 37-6 loss to Iowa killed their BCS chances.

*Kirk Cousins is one of the best passers in the Big Ten but must rely on the run game with Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell. Michigan State runs the ball 55% of the time.

*In the Iowa loss, Iowa’s dominant defensive line stood up all Michigan State running attempts and forced Kirk Cousins into three interceptions. Alabama is one of the nation’s most dominant defensive lines.

*For the record, I watched Michigan State play six times this year.


*Last Bowl Game: 2010 BCS National Championship Game, Won 37-21 vs. Texas

*So much hype, such a disappointment. Greg McElroy was hurt in the last game against Auburn but should be ready to go in his final game.

*Alabama’s defense has allowed only one 100-yard rusher in their last 46 games. (Tauren Poole of Tennessee)

*Strong safety Mark Barron is out.

*5th nationally in scoring defense.

*Alabama tries to win 10 games for the third straight year and going for a record 32nd bowl win

*For the record, I watched Alabama play eight times this year.

What to watch: Physicality

Both teams have a similar style and will be very physical and want to run the ball. Whichever team gets worn out first will be the one that gets beat.

Motivation Factor: Alabama had so much hype surrounding them as the preseason No. 1 before they had their season derailed by a close loss to LSU. Michigan State feels like they got snubbed from the BCS and so does Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney who said Michigan State got snubbed in order to accommodate TCU, and he didn’t say it that nicely either. Michigan State’s season has been about winning on fake field goals, fake punts, having their coach hospitalized for a heart attack, fulfilling second half comebacks (Northwestern) and losing in a three-way tiebreaker for tops in the conference. What a year. The Spartans have something to prove.


Michigan State’s going to have the chip on their shoulder but I’m banking on Alabama playing up to its capabilities. If Nick Saban does not have his team motivated and ready to play, Michigan State wins by 10 in this BCS-quality matchup. The turnover battle will decide this game.

Players to watch: Alabama WR Julio Jones; Michigan State LB Greg Jones

Matchup Advantage

Prediction: Alabama 34, Michigan State 24

Outback Bowl: Penn State (7-5) vs. Florida (7-5), 1:00pm on ABC

Last Meeting: Florida 21, Penn State 6, 1997 Citrus Bowl

The Outback Bowl is the only matchup this bowl season that features two teams with a national championship-winning head coach.

Penn State

*Last Bowl Game: 2010 Capital One Bowl, Won 19-17 vs. LSU

*It’s been a much different Penn State football team ever since Matt McGloin took over at quarterback

*The offense found the running game in the second half the season which will be crucial against Florida’s defense to have offensive balance.

*The 84-year-old Joe Paterno shot down rumors that this his final game as Penn State but you just don’t know what could happen.

*Penn State must establish the ground game with Evan Royster and Silas Redd to open up the downfield passes to Derek Moye.

*Penn State is 3-0 in the Outback Bowl

*For the record, I watched Penn State play ten times this year.


*Last Bowl Game: 2010 Sugar Bowl, Won 51-24 vs. Cincinnati

*Florida floundered offensively against Florida State in the season finale. It’s been a disappointing year all across the board.

*John Brantley has nine touchdowns and nine interceptions while Florida has gone with rotating three guys behind center with Brantley, Trey Burton and Jordan Reed.

*They’re going to need a consistent passing game, or offense for that matter.

*Jeff Demps is healthy which is very important for the offense and the running game. Demps running well will help deep threat Deonte Thompson have an impact in this game.

*Top cornerback Janoris Jenkins is out with shoulder surgery, that should relieve Matt McGloin a little bit.

*Of course, it’s Urban Meyer’s final game as Florida head coach.

*For the record, I watched Florida play seven times this year.

What to watch: Florida offense

If Florida has an offensive performance like they did against Florida State, it’s going to be trouble and I believe Penn State and Florida State have a similar defensive scheme. This is also going to be the last time you see a spread offense from Florida as new head coach Will Muschamp will change into a pro-style offense next year.

Motivation Factor: Add another head coach that Joe Paterno has outlasted as Urban Meyer is retiring at the age of 46. There is no way, absolutely none, that Florida will not send Coach Meyer out as a winner.


I liked Penn State in this matchup when it was first revealed because of the way that team always prepares for bowl games but I’m not going to go against a Florida team playing for Urban Meyer. But aside from that, these two teams had eerily similar seasons, including all five losses for both teams being against bowl teams.

Players to watch: Florida RB Jeff Demps; Penn State RB Silas Redd

Matchup Advantage

Prediction: Florida 27, Penn State 17

Gator Bowl: Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Michigan (7-5), 1:30pm on ESPN2

*Cowbells are allowed!

Mississippi State

*Last Bowl Game: 2007 Liberty Bowl, Won 10-3 vs. Central Florida

*all four of Mississippi State’s losses came against Top-15 teams. Enough said.

*the offense isn’t exactly electric but Michigan’s defense makes a lot of average offenses look spectacular. Mississippi State got away from the two-quarterback system and gave the reins to Chris Relf who hasn’t turned the ball over.

*Mississippi State averaging 215 rushing yards per game with Vick Ballard, LaDarius Perkins and Relf.

*Watch Chad Bumphis in the return game.

*For the record, I watched Mississippi State play six times this year.


*Last Bowl Game: 2008 Capital One Bowl, Won 41-35 vs. Florida

*Michigan’s defense is 102nd in scoring defense

*Gave up 40.8 points per game in the second half of the season.

*Michigan comes in with the No. 6 offense in the nation.

*Denard Robinson is healthy and 100% so Michigan fans can only hope they’ll see the D-Rob that they saw in September.

*Backup QB Tate Forcier is academically ineligible which is big if Robinson can’t finish the game because Michigan is seeking a redshirt for third-string QB Devin Gardner and Gardner spent bowl practice simulating Chris Relf.

*For the record, I watched Michigan play seven times this year.

What to watch: Rich-Rod’s last stand?

There’s a lot more than just points riding on this game for Michigan’s offense. If the offense plays well and buys into Rich Rodriguez’s system, win or lose, it could save his job and the Athletic Department may instead of firing Rodriguez, do a complete overhaul of his defensive staff which has been the problem. However, if we get bad time management and other bad calls that make Rich-Rod look bad to just the slightest degree, he’ll be looking for a new job.

Motivation Factor: For whatever reason, this possibly being Rich Rodriguez’s last game as Michigan head coach isn’t a lot of motivation, at least I’m not feeling it anyway. I don’t think the possibility of him getting fired after the game has the players fired up too much. Dan Mullen is a heck of a motivator at Mississippi State. Advantage Bulldogs.


What we’ve learned from bowl season is that defensive statistics for the season DO matter. Throughout bowl preparation, offenses are throwing in new wrinkles and some are more explosive or some don’t show up but if you’re defense has been bad all year, there’s not much evidence of good adjustments being made. For the defense, you are what you are. Michigan is terrible and they’re not stopping anybody.

Players to watch: Michigan QB Denard Robinson; Mississippi State WR Chad Bumphis

Matchup Advantage

Prediction: Mississippi State 33, Michigan 28

Rose Bowl pres. By VIZIO: Wisconsin (11-1) vs. TCU (12-0), 5:00pm on ABC

Both of these teams scored exactly 520 points this season and average exactly 43.3 points per game.


*Last Bowl Game: 2009 Champs Sports Bowl, Won 20-14 vs. Miami

*First Rose Bowl in 11 years for Wisconsin

*Wisconsin’s offensive line averages 6-6 320 pounds. Compare that to the TCU defensive line.

*QB Scott Tolzien is 13-16 in his last three games in pass attempts of 15 yards or more. TCU’s defense has allowed the fewest plays of 15 yards or more.

*Power running game with John Clay and Montee Ball and change of pace with James White

*Scored 70+ points three times this year including 83 against Indiana. Wow.

*Nation’s best tight end Lance Kendricks and great pair of receivers with Nick Toon and David Gilreath.

*For the record, I watched Wisconsin play six times this year.


*Last Bowl Game: 2010 Fiesta Bowl, Lost 17-10 vs. Boise State

*TCU is going for their first perfect season since their national championship in uh, 1938.

*Despite the “strength of schedule” argument, TCU is the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense.

*4-2-5 defense that Wisconsin has never seen before with two stud linebackers: Tank Carder and Tanner Brock with Tejay Johnson anchoring the secondary.

*focus on the running game with Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker.

*Andy Dalton 26 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, but still struggles under pressure and was admittingly nervous in last year’s Fiesta Bowl but no jitters this time.

*Weapons everywhere, Jeremy Kerley, Jimmy Young, Antoine Hicks, Bart Johnson, Josh Boyce are your receivers to watch.

*undersized defensive line could be pushed around in the run game. In passing situations, they have to utilize their speed advantage in the pass rush.

*TCU must win the special teams game.

*For the record, I watched TCU play eight times this year.

What to watch: Battle in the trenches both ways

A lot has been made of the size differential between Wisconsin’s offensive line and TCU’s defensive line and whether or not TCU will get pushed around, but there should be some attention on the TCU offensive line protecting Andy Dalton from the Wisconsin defensive line as well.

Motivation Factor: Wisconsin seems content being in the Rose Bowl. TCU wants more. But Wisconsin will be ready to knock this non-AQ team out of the spotlight while TCU has everything to prove and everything is discredited in the public perception if they don’t beat Wisconsin.


I expect Wisconsin to pound away with the run game. There’s only so much TCU can do. What I want to see how TCU handles momentum shifts and if they can create turnovers against Wisconsin because most likely they’ll get turnovers needing to strip the balls as Tolzien is very efficient. I will say TCU is the better defense but don’t discredit the tenacity of the Wisconsin defense and a big hit or two from Jay Valai in the secondary will garner the attention of TCU. Football is a physical game, physical teams win. TCU is a top-five team because of their physicality but they’re still a notch below the Badgers.

Players to watch: Wisconsin DE JJ Watt; TCU WR Jeremy Kerley

Matchup Advantage

Prediction: Wisconsin 31, TCU 21

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (11-2) vs. Connecticut (8-4), 8:30pm on ESPN

The spread on this game is 17 points. If you’re gambling today, DO NOT take the points. Oklahoma will find a way to make this a close game.


*Last Bowl Game: 2009 Sun Bowl, Won 31-27 vs. Stanford

*Oklahoma just has that highly scrutinized, uh ya know, five-game BCS losing streak. No big deal.

*Both of Oklahoma’s losses were on the road to Missouri and Texas A&M. Kyle Field at A&M one of the toughest places to play in America by the way.

*Watch Oklahoma’s explosive offense. One of the best. 4th in the nation in passing and scoring 36.4 points per game.

*The run defense has not been good this year and they’re giving up 152 rushing yards per game, just what UConn RB Jordan Todman is averaging.

*The Oklahoma secondary has been a pleasant surprise with some true freshmen playing, but still susceptible to giving up big plays.

*UConn has no answer for the Oklahoma playmakers in the passing game. Only way is to force Landry Jones into mistakes. Sometimes though, that’s not hard to do.

*For the record, I watched Oklahoma play seven times this year.


*Last Bowl Game: 2009 Bowl, Won 20-7 vs. South Carolina

*Passing offense ranks No. 112 in the nation. Average 145 yards passing per game.

*while both of Oklahoma’s losses were on the road, two of UConn’s four losses were to teams not playing in a bowl game (Rutgers and Temple).

*UConn was shut out by Louisville, blew a big lead against Tom Savage-less Rutgers and lost by 14 to Temple. Impressive (sarcasm).

*UConn will ride RB Jordan Todman who is averaging 152 yards per game while Oklahoma is giving up 151 yards per game on the ground.

*UConn defense only giving up 19.8 points per game. Most points allowed this year was 28 to Pittsburgh. But that’s likely a result of playing Big East offenses…

*For the record, I watched UConn play six times this year.

What to watch: The mismatch

This is by far the biggest mismatch of any bowl game this year and has the biggest point spread of 17. Oklahoma should dominate this game offensively, defensively, and through special teams. Whether they actually do, we’ll only find out by watching.

Motivation Factor: Oklahoma can say all they want about having a chip on their shoulders to snap this 5-game BCS losing streak but I don’t buy it. They played that Big 12 Championship Game against Nebraska with a chip on their shoulder and that wasn’t a very good performance. Motivation is all on UConn’s side with coach Randy Edsall and his players trying to prove that an 8-4 Big East team does belong.


Believe me, Oklahoma will find a way to make this a close game. They couldn’t put away Stanford last year either when that was a mismatch. I remember saying before the bowl matchups were set that the only Big East team we want to see in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma is West Virginia, but after that performance West Virginia put in in the Champs Sports Bowl, there’s no other team I’d want to see against Oklahoma than UConn under the leadership of Randy Edsall. UConn will surprise a lot of people and hang around in this game and if Oklahoma’s not careful, they’re going to blow it for another epic upset and BCS-loss and Bob Stoops will never get his “Big Game Bob” title back. Oh well, no one in America likes Oklahoma anyway (coming from a Texas fan). Let’s all pull for UConn.

Players to watch: Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis; Connecticut RB Jordan Todman

Matchup Advantage

Prediction: Oklahoma 34, Connecticut 30

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bowl Season finally begins! Taking a look at the Dec. 18 games.

December 18 marks the beginning of Capital One Bowl Week and most wonderful time of the year. Bowl Season gets kicked off with the New Mexico, Humanitarian and New Orleans Bowl. We don't have big name programs with huge success stories playing today, but sometimes these games have the best finishes. Here's my picks for today and check out my Bowl Game Matchup Advantages for all the games.

New Mexico Bowl: BYU (6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6), 2pm on ESPN

It’s a wonder that BYU was able to make it to a 6-6 record and make a final appearance in the New Mexico Bowl before they leave the Mountain West Conference and become a football independent next season.

BYU started the season by beating Jake Locker and Washington, but lost then lost four straight to Air Force, Florida State, Nevada and Utah State. Look at those first five games though, BYU played arguably the nation’s strongest first half of the schedule. A lot was made of BYU winning four of its last five games to become bowl eligible but during that stretch they played the lower tier teams of the Mountain West with an exception of the one-point loss to Utah to end the season on a blocked extra point. The big game BYU had was against San Diego State back on Oct. 9 as that game ultimately decided their bowl fate. BYU was able to pull out a 24-21 win.

BYU true freshman quarterback, rated the No. 1 recruit by many scouting organizations, Jake Heaps has done a nice job of progressing throughout the season. During the BYU win streak, Heaps threw 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. His only bad game was to an elite TCU team and now Heaps will go against a UTEP defense that has at times been scorched in the passing game.

I’ve watched four BYU games and UTEP only twice this year so don’t have a lot on these teams, but UTEP has lost five of its last six games to finish the season and quarterback Trevor Vittatoe hasn’t put up the numbers that were expected as he’s been fairly inconsistent. Depending on which Vittatoe we get in this bowl game will determine who the better quarterback in this game is. If it’s the old Vittatoe and also if UTEP can bring back injured running back Donald Buckram, the Miners will have a chance to win.

The BYU defense will be tough. Before the win streak, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall took over the duties of defensive coordinator and the Cougars have only allowed 271 yards per game since with losses only to TCU and Utah.

Prediction: BYU 34, UTEP 17

Players to watch: BYU QB Jake Heaps; UTEP RB Donald Buckram

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois (10-3) vs. Fresno State (8-4), 5:30pm on ESPN

This game was an epic one last year between Bowling Green representing the MAC and Idaho representing the WAC. This time in 2010 neither one of those teams are bowl eligible.

Fresno State is fresh off its win over Illinois while Northern Illinois went undefeated in conference play but had its nine game win streak snapped in the MAC Championship Game against Miami (OH). With that 26-21 loss, the Huskies find themselves playing in Boise, Idaho instead of the more recognized, Little Caesars, or New Orleans Bowls that hold MAC affiliations. Not every year that you see a team go undefeated in conference play and get relegated to the conference’s lowest bowl game.

Here’s an interesting stat for you though: Fresno State is 4-1 in bowl games against schools from one of the six BCS power conferences, but the Bulldogs are 0-5, yes 0-5 in bowl games against schools from non-AQ conferences. I expect this trend to continue.

Northern Illinois has one of my favorite players in junior quarterback Chandler Harnish who did all he could to win the MAC title with three touchdown passes in that game, but star running back, sophomore Chad Spann was shut down after rushing for 1,293 yards this season. Harnish finished the year with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions and 764 yards rushing.

Northern Illinois did lose head coach Jerry Kill to Minnesota and Kill took a lot of the Huskies’ staff with him. That forced Northern Illinois to name linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz as the interim coach and it was announced that he will be retained by new head coach Dave Doeren who comes from Wisconsin.

One thing you always notice is how players respond to interim coaches and they always play so much harder and in my eyes, the fact that Coach Matukewicz is being retained has to give the players more motivation to play for him because he’ll still be with them next year. Note the consequences next year if the players don’t give it their all in this game.

I’ve seen Fresno State play six times this year while seeing five Northern Illinois games. Fresno State is a very solid football team: good defensively, great senior leadership from quarterback Ryan Colburn and have a star back of their own in sophomore Robbie Rouse, but I like the firepower for Northern Illinois with Harnish, Spann and Martel Moore.

Prediction: Northern Illinois 33, Fresno State 28

Players to watch: NIU QB Chandler Harnish; Fresno RB Robbie Rouse

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Ohio (8-4) vs. Troy (7-5), 9:00pm on ESPN

Ohio has never won a bowl game. They had their chance at a MAC title as well with a seven game win streak before being absolutely shut down in the 28-6 loss to Kent State to end the season. Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and the Ohio running game has been so inconsistent with Vince Davidson and Phil Bates.

Ohio’s offense is best when it has a 100-yard rusher which has happened only three times this year while scoring 31 against Temple, 49 against Bowling Green and 34 in a win against MAC Champion Miami of Ohio.

Troy comes in as the only Sun Belt conference team with a winning record even though they didn’t win the Sun Belt title with Florida International winning the tiebreaker while having a 6-6 total record.

Troy’s defense has been suspect, they gave up 52 points in that loss to FIU.

Troy has lost its last two bowl games in overtime and had a classic game last year against Dan LeFevour and Central Michigan. Both quarterbacks from that game, LeFevour and former-Troy QB Levi Brown are now in the NFL.

Troy has replaced Brown with redshirt freshman Corey Robinson who I have been very impressed with. His best performance came early against Oklahoma State when he went 28-38 for 272 yards and three touchdowns. I watched Robinson and Troy in that game and two others when Robinson went 26-37 for 259 yards and three touchdowns against Middle Tennessee and also when the Trojans took on South Carolina.

Last year Central Michigan receiver Antonio Brown and Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan put on a show in this game. Brown is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers while Jernigan returned for his senior year. His yardage was down but overall production was not. Jernigan is an explosive playmaker and scored touchdowns this season five different ways: rushing, receiving, passing, punt returning and kick returning.

The interesting stat here is that Troy and Ohio have two common opponents: Bowling Green and Lafayette. Ohio beat those teams by a combined 31 points while Troy won by a combined 10 points.

It’s not indicative of how this game will play out, but it’s the best way to directly compare the two teams, but an even better comparison will come out tonight on the field.

Prediction: Troy 31, Ohio 20

Players to watch: Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan; Ohio LB Noah Keller

2010 Bowl Season: Matchup Advantages

It is that wonderful time of year again and for college football bowl season. December 18 - January 10. Are you ready?

We didn't have a lot of BCS controversy this year, the biggest BCS debate was between TCU and Boise State, how about that? There was no argument for the No. 2 spot, there were no major disappointments aside from Kyle Brotzman.

After that, the most disappointing thing might have been Oregon slipping from No. 1 to No. 2 which all that means it that they're wearing their road jerseys which means their combination of uniforms to choose from just decreased by like a thousand. Either way, they have brand new Nike ProCombat uniforms to debut on January 10 in the BCS Championship Game.

Like we do every year, we've got some great matchups like Michigan State-Alabama; we've got some legendary matchups like Penn State-Florida; we've got a non-AQ battle like Boise State-Utah; we've got the Triple-Option offense bowl featuring Georgia Tech and Air Force; and of course we've got matchups that no one cares about like Ohio-Troy and FIU-Toledo; and we've got big names not playing in the postseason like Texas and USC.

We get great matchups every year and we get those matchups that no one cares about except me. Sometimes, those turn out to be the best games on the field. Very competitive and down to the wire.

Who can forget that Bowling Green-Idaho game last year in the Humanitarian Bowl? Epic ending to that game. Northwestern-Auburn was insane. And then we had guys like Kyle Padron of SMU and Austyn Carta-Samuels of Wyoming burst onto the college football landscape.

Which matchup will be the next exciting game and who will be the next breakout player?

I'll preview the bowls as we go along through these next two weeks. Check in the night before or the morning of the date of the game.

But for now, here's my broken-down Matchup Advantages for every game.


New Mexico Bowl: BYU Cougars (6-6) vs. UTEP Miners (6-6)

Quarterback: Heaps is improved and depends which Vittatoe we see. So I’ll say Tied for now

Running game: UTEP

Receivers: BYU

Offensive Line: BYU

Defensive Line: BYU

Linebackers: BYU

Secondary: BYU

Special Teams: BYU

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois Huskies (10-3) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4)

Quarterback: Northern Illinois

Running game: Tied

Receivers: Fresno State

Offensive Line: Fresno State

Defensive Line: Northern Illinois

Linebackers: Northern Illinois

Secondary: Fresno State

Special Teams: Fresno State

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Ohio Bobcats (8-4) vs. Troy Trojans (7-5)

Quarterback: Troy

Running game: Ohio

Receivers: Troy

Offensive Line: Troy

Defensive Line: Troy

Linebackers: Ohio

Secondary: Ohio

Special Teams: Troy

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl: Louisville Cardinals (6-6) vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles (7-5)

Quarterback: Southern Miss

Running game: Louisville

Receivers: Southern Miss

Offensive Line: Louisville

Defensive Line: Louisville

Linebackers: Southern Miss

Secondary: Louisville

Special Teams: Southern Miss

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Utah (10-2) vs. Boise State (11-1)

Quarterback: Boise State

Running game: Boise State

Receivers: Boise State

Offensive Line: Boise State

Defensive Line: Boise State

Linebackers: Utah

Secondary: Boise State

Special Teams: Boise State

SD County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State (8-4) vs. Navy (9-3)

Quarterback: Tied

Running game: Navy

Receivers: San Diego State

Offensive Line: Navy

Defensive Line: San Diego State

Linebackers: San Diego State

Secondary: San Diego State

Special Teams: Navy

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Tulsa Golden Hurricane (9-3) vs. Hawaii Warriors (10-3)

Quarterback: Tied

Running game: Tulsa

Receivers: Hawaii

Offensive Line: Tulsa

Defensive Line: Hawaii

Linebackers: Tulsa

Secondary: Hawaii

Special Teams: Tulsa

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Florida International Golden Panthers (6-6) vs. Toledo Rockets (8-4)

Quarterback: Toledo

Running game: Toledo

Receivers: Toledo

Offensive Line: Toledo

Defensive Line: Florida International

Linebackers: Florida International

Secondary: Toledo

Special Teams: Toledo

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Georgia Tech (6-6) vs. Air Force (8-4)

Quarterback: Tied

Running game: Georgia Tech

Receivers: Georgia Tech

Offensive Line: Air Force

Defensive Line: Georgia Tech

Linebackers: Air Force

Secondary: Air Force

Special Teams: Georgia Tech

Champs Sports Bowl: North Carolina State Wolf Pack (8-4) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3)

Quarterback: Tied

Running game: West Virginia

Receivers: West Virginia

Offensive Line: NC State

Defensive Line: West Virginia

Linebackers: NC State

Secondary: West Virginia

Special Teams: West Virginia

Insight Bowl: Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) vs. Missouri Tigers (10-2)

Quarterback: Tough to pick against Blaine Gabbert but Ricky Stanzi has risen up late in games…Iowa

Running game: Iowa

Receivers: Missouri (Iowa without Derrell Johnson-Koulianos)

Offensive Line: Missouri

Defensive Line: Iowa

Linebackers: Missouri

Secondary: Tied

Special Teams: Iowa

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman: Maryland Terrapins (8-4) vs. East Carolina Pirates (6-6)

Quarterback: East Carolina

Running game: Maryland

Receivers: East Carolina as a group > Torrey Smith

Offensive Line: Maryland

Defensive Line: Maryland

Linebackers: Maryland

Secondary: Maryland

Special Teams: East Carolina

Texas Bowl: Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6) vs. Baylor Bears (7-5)

Quarterback: Baylor

Running game: Illinois

Receivers: Baylor

Offensive Line: Illinois

Defensive Line: Illinois

Linebackers: Baylor

Secondary: Baylor

Special Teams: Baylor

Valero Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5)

Quarterback: Tough pick…Oklahoma State

Running game: Oklahoma State

Receivers: Oklahoma State

Offensive Line: Oklahoma State

Defensive Line: Oklahoma State

Linebackers: Oklahoma State

Secondary: Arizona

Special Teams: Oklahoma State

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: SMU Mustangs (7-6) vs. Army Black Knights (6-6)

Quarterback: SMU

Running game: Army

Receivers: SMU

Offensive Line: Army

Defensive Line: Army

Linebackers: SMU

Secondary: SMU

Special Teams: SMU

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) vs. Syracuse Orange (7-5)

Quarterback: Syracuse

Running game: Tough pick… Kansas State

Receivers: Syracuse

Offensive Line: Syracuse

Defensive Line: Syracuse

Linebackers: Syracuse

Secondary: Syracuse

Special Teams: Kansas State

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (6-6)

Quarterback: North Carolina …although freshman Tyler Bray is really coming along for Tennessee, Yates is proven

Running game: Tennessee

Receivers: Tennessee… great young receivers, UNC veterans are prone to drops

Offensive Line: Tennessee

Defensive Line: North Carolina (even without Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn)

Linebackers: North Carolina (best group in the country)

Secondary: North Carolina

Special Teams: Tennessee

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-3) vs. Washington Huskies (6-6)

Quarterback: Washington

Running game: Nebraska

Receivers: Nebraska

Offensive Line: Nebraska

Defensive Line: Nebraska

Linebackers: Nebraska

Secondary: Nebraska

Special Teams: Nebraska

Meineke Car Care Bowl: Clemson Tigers (6-6) vs. South Florida Bulls (7-5)

Quarterback: Tied

Running game: South Florida …Clemson better players, not better on-the-field results

Receivers: South Florida

Offensive Line: Clemson

Defensive Line: Clemson

Linebackers: Clemson

Secondary: Clemson

Special Teams: Clemson

Hyundai Sun Bowl: Miami Hurricanes (7-5) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-5)

Quarterback: Miami

Running game: Miami

Receivers: Miami

Offensive Line: Miami

Defensive Line: Miami

Linebackers: Notre Dame

Secondary: Miami

Special Teams: Notre Dame

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Central Florida Knights (10-3) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (6-6)

Quarterback: Tied

Running game: Georgia

Receivers: Georgia

Offensive Line: Georgia

Defensive Line: Central Florida

Linebackers: Georgia

Secondary: Central Florida

Special Teams: Central Florida

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Florida State Seminoles (9-4) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4)

Quarterback: Florida State

Running game: South Carolina

Receivers: South Carolina

Offensive Line: Florida State

Defensive Line: Tied

Linebackers: Florida State

Secondary: Tied

Special Teams: Florida State

TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern Wildcats (7-5) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)

Quarterback: Texas Tech

Running game: Texas Tech

Receivers: Texas Tech

Offensive Line: Texas Tech

Defensive Line: Northwestern

Linebackers: Northwestern

Secondary: Northwestern

Special Teams: Texas Tech

Outback Bowl: Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5) vs. Florida Gators (7-5)

Quarterback: Penn State

Running game: Florida

Receivers: Penn State … great athletes on Florida’s side, but haven’t put up the numbers

Offensive Line: Penn State … vastly improved

Defensive Line: Florida

Linebackers: Penn State

Secondary: Florida

Special Teams: Florida

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State Spartans (11-1) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-3)

Quarterback: Michigan State …don’t like Greg McElroy under pressure

Running game: Michigan State … Alabama’s running game underachieving

Receivers: Alabama

Offensive Line: Alabama

Defensive Line: Alabama

Linebackers: Tied

Secondary: Alabama

Special Teams: Michigan State

Gator Bowl: Michigan Wolverines (7-5) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4)

Quarterback: Michigan

Running game: Michigan

Receivers: Mississippi State

Offensive Line: Michigan

Defensive Line: Mississippi State

Linebackers: Mississippi State

Secondary: Mississippi State

Special Teams: Mississippi State Bowl: Miami (Ohio) Redhawks (9-4) vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (6-6)

Quarterback: Middle Tennessee

Running game: Miami

Receivers: Miami

Offensive Line: Miami

Defensive Line: Middle Tennessee

Linebackers: Miami

Secondary: Middle Tennessee

Special Teams: Middle Tennessee

AT&T Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M (9-3) vs. LSU (10-2)

Quarterback: Texas A&M

Running game: Texas A&M

Receivers: Texas A&M

Offensive Line: LSU

Defensive Line: Tied

Linebackers: Texas A&M …barely

Secondary: LSU

Special Teams: LSU

BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh Panthers (7-5) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (6-6)

Quarterback: Pittsburgh

Running game: Pittsburgh

Receivers: Pittsburgh

Offensive Line: Pittsburgh

Defensive Line: Pittsburgh

Linebackers: Kentucky

Secondary: Pittsburgh

Special Teams: Pittsburgh

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Boston College Eagles (7-5) vs. Nevada Wolfpack (12-1)

Quarterback: Nevada

Running game: Nevada

Receivers: Nevada

Offensive Line: Boston College

Defensive Line: Nevada

Linebackers: Boston College

Secondary: Nevada

Special Teams: Boston College

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO: Wisconsin Badgers (11-1) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (12-0)

Quarterback: Wisconsin

Running game: Wisconsin

Receivers: TCU

Offensive Line: Wisconsin

Defensive Line: Tied…kind of

Linebackers: TCU

Secondary: TCU

Special Teams: Tied

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners (11-2) vs. Connecticut Huskies (8-4)

Quarterback: Oklahoma

Running game: UConn

Receivers: Oklahoma

Offensive Line: UConn

Defensive Line: Oklahoma

Linebackers: Oklahoma

Secondary: Oklahoma

Special Teams: Oklahoma

Discover Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2) vs. Stanford Cardinal (11-1)

Quarterback: Stanford … with a little bit of Luck

Running game: Virginia Tech

Receivers: Tied

Offensive Line: Stanford

Defensive Line: Stanford

Linebackers: Tied

Secondary: Virginia Tech

Special Teams: Virginia Tech

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)

Quarterback: with the game on the line, I would want Terrelle Pryor… Ohio State

Running game: Arkansas

Receivers: Ohio State (Ark w/o Greg Childs, Joe Adams battling injury)

Offensive Line: Tied

Defensive Line: Ohio State

Linebackers: Arkansas

Secondary: Tied

Special Teams: Arkansas

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game: Auburn Tigers (13-0) vs. Oregon Ducks (12-0)

Quarterback: Auburn

Running game: Oregon

Receivers: Auburn

Offensive Line: Auburn

Defensive Line: Auburn

Linebackers: Auburn

Secondary: Oregon

Special Teams: Auburn