NCAA Football

Bowl Previews: New Mexico, Humanitarian, Carriers, St. Petersburg

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New Mexico Bowl (12/18 2pm on ESPN)BYU (6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6)

Kevin's Prediction: BYU 41 UTEP 24

BYU has played a really tough schedule this year (FSU, Utah, TCU, Nevada, Air Force, Washington) and it has resulted in them having a pretty poor record. They really struggled early losing 4 of their first 5 but they seem to be playing pretty good football right now as they won 3 blowouts before falling to Utah by 1 point in their last game. UTEP on the other hand has not played the same type of schedule (although they did play Arkansas late and surrendered 58 points) and they ended up with the same 6-6 record. UTEP is coming into this game having lost 5 of their last 6 including losses to 4-8 UAB, 4-8 Onelane, and 5-7 Marshall
Ross's Prediction: BYU 35, UTEP 21
BYU won four of their last five games; UTEP lost five of their last six games -- give me the team with better momentum (and greater consistency in general; BYU is typically very solid).

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (12/18 5:30pm on ESPN)

Northern Illinois (10-3) vs. Fresno State (8-4)
Kevin's Prediction: FRESNO STATE 35 NORTHERN ILLINOIS 24
Northern Illinois started off 1-2 with losses to Iowa St and Illinois but them reeled off 9 straight wins before falling to Miami (Oh) in the MAC Championship. But of these 9 wins only two of them came against teams with winning records (Temple and Toledo). Fresno State beat common opponent Illinois and also holds a win over Cincinnati. The Bulldogs had a tough schedule this year and came up short in their biggest games (lost to Nevada by 1 point, got routed by Boise State, lost to Hawaii by 20+ and lost to Ole Miss by 20+). I like Fresno in this one because they've played a much harder schedule and have beaten better teams.

Ross's Prediction: FRESNO STATE 31, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 17

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NIU suffered a deflating loss in the MAC Championship game -- and then they lost their head coach a few days later.  Meanwhile, Fresno State ended the season with a nice win over Illinois and have a much more stable coaching situation.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (12/18 9pm on ESPN)
Ohio (8-4) vs. Troy (7-5)
Kevin's Prediction: OHIO 28 TROY 21
Ohio closed the year strong by winning 7 of their final 8. Despite losing to Kent State 28-6 in their finale, Ohio can be proud of late victories against Al Golden's Temple 31-23 and MAC Champion Miami (OH) 34-13. Ohio was the only team in the MAC to beat Miami (OH). Here's an interesting tidbit about Troy, they haven't beaten a team with a winning record all year long. Troy is dangerous because they can put up a bunch of points but I'm going to side with Ohio in this one.
Ross's Prediction: TROY 27 OHIO 21
Troy has a 1-3 all-time record in bowl games; Ohio has an 0-4 mark.  I'll go with the team that's actually won a bowl game before, thanks.
 
Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl (12/21 8pm on ESPN)
Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville (6-6)
Kevin's Prediction: LOUISVILLE 31 SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI 27
Ah, Finally a game I might be interested in watching. Charlie Strong's debut season was decent has a took the Cardinals to 2 more victories than they had last year. The biggest win for Louisville when you look at their schedule was their 26-0 shutout of a team that is going to a BCS bowl (UConn). Louisville also really doesn't have any "bad" losses on their schedule as they lost to Kentucky, Oregon State, Cincy, Pitt, South Florida in OT and West Virginia by 7. Charlie also really instituted some defensive intensity as they finished 15th in the Nation in Defensive scoring giving up on 18.7 points per game. Southern Mississippi's biggest win this year was over C-USA Champion UCF. When you look at Southern Mississippi's schedule they are only 8 points from being 11-1 which is almost unfathomable for a team that lost to a 4-8 UAB team. To me this game is pretty much a toss up. The most intriguing match-up is Strong's 18.7 ppg given up versus the Golden Eagles 37.6 points scored per game. I'm a Power Conference Elitist so I'm going with the Big East team although one should argue whether the Big East counts as a Power Conference.
Ross's Prediction: LOUISVILLE 34, SOUTHERN MISS 20
Southern Miss has a potent offense and a lousy defense; Louisville has a potent defense and a lousy offense.  I think Charlie Strong will have Louisville motivated for their first bowl trip in a few years -- and Southern Miss' porous defense will be just what the Cardinals need to get going.
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl (12/22 8pm on ESPN)
Utah vs. Boise State
Kevin's Prediction: BOISE STATE 45 UTAH 17
This is THE game of the first week of Bowl Season. It means even more to me because in Week One next year Kellen Moore and Boise State will be bringing their talent to the ATL to face my Georgia Bulldogs. I think this one is tight in the first half but Boise rolls in the second half. Utah has won some decent games (Pitt, Air Force, BYU, San Diego State) but ultimately they got rolled in the two biggest games of the year and I can't see a team that lost by 25 to Notre Dame beating Boise State. Boise will also be on a mission to put a number on Utah before they head off to the Pac-10
Ross's Prediction: BOISE STATE 42, UTAH 14
Utah got blasted off the map by the one really good team they played all year (TCU), then got smoked by a mediocre Notre Dame team and struggled to beat a so-so BYU team.  Oh, and their starting QB is out for this game.  Boise will probably be disappointed to not be in another BCS game, but I think they'll rebound to smoke Utah anyway.
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (12/23 8pm on ESPN)
Navy (9-3) vs. San Diego State (8-4)
Kevin's Prediction: SAN DIEGO STATE 35 NAVY 34
Navy's signature win this year came over 7-5 Notre Dame but also lost to Duke. San Diego State ended up having a very good year at 8-4 but ultimately lost every important game they played in (Utah by 4, TCU by 5, BYU by 3, and Missouri by 3). Looking at those scores would you believe it if I told you that San Diego State was 16 points away from running the table? I think this is going to be a fun shootout. San Diego State's passing attack against Navy's running attack. The team with the ball last wins.
Ross's Prediction: NAVY 34, SAN DIEGO STATE 31
This Navy team can actually run AND pass the ball, which is double trouble for their opponents.  San Diego State was a sneaky-good Mountain West team, but I feel un-American picking against Navy here.
 
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (12/24 8pm on ESPN)
Hawaii vs. Tulsa
Kevin's Prediction: HAWAII 48 TULSA 31
This game pits the Nation's #1 Passing Offense (Hawaii) against 16th best Passing Offense in the Nation. It should also be noted that Tulsa is 119th in the Nation defending the pass giving up 305 yards per game, only Tommy Tuberville's Texas Tech was worse this year. This will be fun to watch if you are a fan of high scoring games and blown coverages.
Ross's Prediction: HAWAII 41, TULSA 35
C'mon, it's a home game for a surprisingly good Hawaii team -- that actually plays some decent defense.  I'm not turning my back on the Rainbow Warriors now.
Little Caesars Bowl (12/26 8:30pm on ESPN)
Florida International (6-6) vs. Toledo (8-4)
Kevin's Prediction: TOLEDO 27 FIU 21
The best thing about this game has to be the Pizza. It's a shame I haven't had Little Caesars in years, I guess that's the fallback of living out in the boonies. It's hard to get excited about a team, FIU, who got their victories by beating up on 2-10 and 3-9 teams. FIU's sole win against a team with a winning record was their 52-35 win over Troy. Toledo on the other hand has a couple of quality wins. Yeah, Toledo got smoked by Arizona (41-2) and Boise State (57-14) and they couldn't hang with Northern Illinois (65-30). But they did beat Purdue 31-20 and they also beat 8-4 Ohio 20-13. This is not going to be a ratings grabber but I'd take Toledo if I was a betting man.

Ross's Prediction: TOLEDO 30, FIU 17

FIU let up off the gas in their regular season finale after they'd already clinched the Sun Belt crown and it wouldn't be too crazy to think that they might just be happy to be at their first-ever bowl game.