BY: Jeff Schneberk
Dec. 21 Gildan New Mexico Bowl Colorado State at Washington State 2pm espn
This one could also be known as the ‘welcome back’ bowl. The Cougars are bowling for the first time since 2003 while Colorado State is back in the postseason after a four-year absence. Both teams are led by coaches in the second year at their schools, Mike Leach at WSU and Jim McElwain at CSU.
Dec. 21 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl 20 Fresno State vs 25 USC 3:30pm abc
With 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns, Fresno State’s David Carr is a big-name draw. USC’s strength all year has been its defense, and it hasn’t had too many strengths, which makes for an intriguing matchup. Drama has followed the Trojans all year long, yet despite that, they won six of their last eight games. The Bulldogs were a loss away from busting the BCS.
Dec. 21 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl San Diego State vs Buffalo 5:30pm espn
San Diego State rebounded from an 0-3 start to the season to win seven of its last nine games. Buffalo opened 7-2, with its only two losses coming to teams playing in BCS bowl games (Ohio State and Baylor) but dropped two of its last three games. San Diego State will need to run the ball with some success against Buffalo’s stout rushing defense. In the Aztec’s seven wins this season, they ran for two more yards per carry than in their five losses.
Dec. 21 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Louisiana-Lafayette vs Tulane 9pm espn
Tulane will not have to travel far for its first bowl trip in 11 years-the Green Wave will not have to travel at all. They will return to the Superdome in hopes of putting an end to Louisiana-Lafayette’s two-year winning streak in this game while looking to punctuate their first non-losing season in 10 years with a win.
Dec. 23 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg Ohio vs East Carolina 2pm espn
A battle of two underrated quarterbacks is coming to Tropicana Field. East Carolina is led by Shane Carden, the #6 passer in FBS with 3,866 yards and 32 TDs. Ohio brings Tyler Tettleton (2,623 yards, 2oTDs and a 7-5 team to St. Petersburg, Fla).
Dec. 24 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Boise State vs Oregon State 8pm espn
This matchup certainly looks as though it’s headed for a shootout. The Broncos average nearly 39 points a game, and the Beavers boast the third-best passing offense in the country. Both teams finished outside the Top 25 – despite their preseason rankings – because of their dreadful defenses.
Dec. 26 Little Caesars Bowl Bowling Green vs Pittsburgh 6pm espn
Bowling Green returns to Detroit where Friday it claimed its first MAC championship in 21 years. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, ends its run of three straight bowls in Birmingham, Ala. The game features the nation’s #5 scoring defense in Bowling Green (14.8 PPG) and one of the nation’s elite defenders in Pitt’s Aaron Donald, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Dec. 26 San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl 23 N. Illinois vs Utah St. 9:30pm espn
San Diego scored with Northern Illinois, which had looked set for a second-straight BCS bowl game appearance before losing to Bowling Green on Friday night in the MAC championship. So the end for star QB Jordan Lynch comes not against another heavyweight; instead he awaits Utah State and the best defense in the Mountain West.
Dec. 27 Military Bowl Pres by Northrop Grunmman Maryland vs Marshall 2:30pm espn
Maryland became bowl-eligible with a surprising win at Virginia Tech on Nov. 16, ensuring the program its first postseason appearance and winning record under coach Randy Edsall. Marshall win the C-USA East title and seven of its last eight regular-season games. Marshall lost to Virginia Tech in triple overtime on Sept. 21.
Dec. 27 Texas Bowl Minnesota vs Syracuse 6pm espn
Both programs faced September adversity, but the respective responses set the stage for an intriguing matchup. Minnesota battled through a rough patch with coach Jerry Kill’s uncertain health by winning four straight conference games, and Syracuse bounced back after losing its first two games under Scott Shafer to clinch a postseason appearance with six seconds to spare in the season’s final game.
Dec. 27 Fight Hunger Bowl Washington vs Brigham Young 9:30pm espn
With Steve Sarkesian leaving to take the USC head coaching job, QB coach Marques Tuisasosopo will serve as interim coach of the BYU Cougars. Expect fireworks from two of the best offences in the nation – Washington ranks #8 in total offense, BYU #14 – as the teams combine to average more than 1,000 yards a game.
Dec. 28 New Era Pinstripe Bowl Notre Dame vs Rutgers 12noon espn
In a game that will excite its New York fan base, Notre Dame is coming to the Bronx to take on Rutgers. The Irish look to rebound from a loss to Stanford in Tommy Rees’ final college game. Rutgers knocked off USF to become bowl-eligible after losing three straight.
Dec. 28 Belk Bowl North Carolina vs Cincinnati 3:20pm espn
Cincinnati makes a second straight trip to the Belk Bowl, winning the game last year over Duke. This year the Bearcats face another opponent from the state of North Carolina expected to have home-field advantage in Charlotte. The Tar Heels are in the bowl game after a terrific turnaround from a 1-5 start and are relishing the opportunity after a postseason ban in 2012.
Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl 18 Louisville vs Miami (FL) 6:45pm espn
Louisville entered the season a dark horse pick for the BCS National Championship after routing Florida in the Sugar Bowl last season, but a 38-35 loss to UCF on Oct. 18 upended those hopes. Still, Teddy Bridgewater has been exceptional, completing 71 percent of his throws with 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The Cardinals will face Miami, which climbed as high as #7 in the BCS standings before dropping three in a row to start November.
Dec. 28 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Kansas State vs Michigan 10:15pm espn
Michigan has played 134 years of football without facing Kansas State, until now. These two teams followed different paths, as the Wildcats won five of their final six after a rough start, while the Wolverines have lost five of their past seven games.
Dec. 30 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Navy vs. Middle Tennessee 11:45am espn
Navy’s triple-option attack will face a Middle Tennessee State defense that gave up 405 yards of offense per game. But the Blue Raiders are riding a wave of momentum, as they capped their regular season with five straight wins. Navy could also be riding that wave if it can come up with a win when it ends its regular season against Army on Dec. 14.
Dec. 30 Franklin Am. Mortgage Music City Bowl Georgia Tech vs Ole Miss 3:15pm espn
Ole Miss (7-5) will be looking to get its mojo back offensively after losing its last two-games and failing to score more than 10 points per game. The big challenge for the Rebels defensively will be dealing with a Georgia Tech option attack that’s churning out 311.7 rushing yards per game. The Yellow Jackets (7-5) have 45 rushing touchdowns this season.
Dec. 30 Valero Alamo Bowl 10 Oregon vs Texas 6:45pm espn
Both Texas and Oregon had chances to win their conference titles but failed to finish out strong. The Ducks lost to Stanford and Arizona in their final four games. The Longhorns got blown out by Oklahoma State and Baylor. Texas is 4-1 all time against Oregon but lost their most recent meeting in the 2000 Holiday Bowl.
Dec. 30 Nat’l University Holiday Bowl 14 Arizona State vs Texas Tech*10:15pm espn
Arizona State brings one of the top quarterback-receiver combinations in the nation with triggerman Taylor Kelly and aptly named big target Jaelen Strong. And Texas Tech is well, Texas Tech. the two teams combined to average 91.85 pass attempts per game, so this one should be fun to watch and a defensive backs’ nightmare
Dec. 31 AdvoCare V100 Bowl Boston College vs Arizona 12:30pm espn
If you want to see a good running back play, you’ve come to the right place. This year’s AdvoCare V100 Bowl features two of the best backs in the country in Boston College’s Andre Williams (2,102 yards) and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey (1,716). Both also have 17 rushing touchdowns on the season. Good luck to both of these defenses when it comes to handling these beasts.
Dec. 31 Hyundai Sun Bowl 17 UCLA vs Virginia Tech 2pm CBS
The most intriguing matchup in this game features UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley against the Virginia Tech defense, ranked #4 in the nation in total defense. Hundley is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country with 3,432 total yards and 31 total touchdown. The Hokies’ D did have some trouble with the dual-threat quarterback it faced, C.J. Brown of Maryland.
Dec. 31 AutoZone Liberty Bowl Mississippi State vs Rice Owls 4pm espn
When last we saw Missisippi State, it was celebrating an overtime win over rival Ole Miss that helped the Bulldogs achieve bowl eligibility. Dan Mullen’s club will face Conference USA champion Rice in the Liberty Bowl, after the Owl’s blasted Marshall in the league’s championship game.
Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl 21 Texas A&M vs 24 Duke 8pm espn
Johnny Manziel put Texas A&M on his back for two miraculous seasons yet never made it to the SEC championship game. Despite falling short in what could be his final collegiate season, Manziel will at last get his chance to play under the lights of the Georgia Dome, as his Aggies will face the surprising 10-3 Duke Blue Devils on Dec. 31 in Atlanta.
Jan. 1 TAXSLAYER.COM Gator Bowl 22 Georgia vs Nebraska 12noon espn
It was a disappointing season for both Georgia and Nebraska. They each had aspirations of winning a conference title but fell short of their goal. The Bulldogs were marred with injuries and will be without quarterback Aaron Murray in the bowl game. The Cornhuskers have had quarterback issues of their own, but running back Ameer Abdullah, an Alabama native, has been the one constant for this team
Jan. 1 HEART OF DALLAS BOWL-Pres. By PLAINSCAPITAL BANK N. Texas vs UNLV12noon espn
It’s a strength versus strength in this bowl. The Rebels have the obvious edge on the offense thanks to senior QB Caleb Herring (25 touchdowns to four interceptions). But North Texas boasts the far superior defense, as its ranked No. 27 in yards allowed (355.5 YPG), about 80 fewer yards per game than UNLV
BCS BOWLS (5)
Jan. 1 OUTBACK BOWL No 16 LUS vs Iowa 1pm espn
The Outback Bowl features two team whose records could easily have been better than they were. On one hand, you have Iowa, whose losses (to Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin) were to team with a combined 45-6 record. Then there is LSU, which beat Auburn, but lost at Alabama, at Georgia and at Ole Miss.
Jan. 1 CAPITAL ONE BOWL No 9 South Carolina vs No 19 Wisconsin 1pm abc
If you like the running game, this is a good one for you. South Carolina has one of the SEC’s better backs, Mike Davis (1,134 yards, 11Tds). Wisconsin personifies power football with the nation’s eighth-best rushing attack (283 yards per game) led by Melvin Gordon (1,466 yards, 12 TDs) and James White (1,337 and 13).
Jan. 1 ROSE BOWL GAME PRES. BY VIZIO No 4 Michigan State vs No 5 Stanford 5pm espn
The Rose Bowl will not only be a traditional matchup between the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions, it will also again match top-10 teams. Not only that, but it will match up physical, defense-first teams that prioritize owing the line of scrimmage. Stanford is playing in its second consecutive Rose Bowl. Michigan State will make its first trip to the Rose Bowl since the 1987 season.
Jan. 1 TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL No 6 Baylor vs No 15 UCF 8:30pm espn
Baylor and Central Florida will be playing in the first BCS bowls after finishing of the best regular seasons in their school histories. The Bears own the nation’s highest-scoring offense, led by QB Bryce Petty. But the Golden Knights have a prolific QB of their own in Blake Bortles.
Jan. 2 ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL No3 Alabama vs No11 Oklahoma 8:30pm espn
Months ago, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops called out the SEC for being too top-heavy. Now he gets to see one of the SEC’s top teams front and centre. Alabama still might be the nation’s best team, but it crossed paths with Auburn’s run of destiny, while Oklahoma pulled its own upset over Oklahoma State to become BCS-bound.
Jan. 3 AT&T COTTON BOWL No8 Missouri vs No13 Oklahoma State 7:30pm Fox
It’s a matchup of two teams have played a time or two before. Missouri is familiar with Oklahoma State from its days in the Big 12, but in the Tigers proved this year that they have the talent to compete in the SEC, too. The Cowboys missed an opportunity to play in a BCS bowl with their loss to rival Oklahoma, but they feature one of the better offences in the country.
Jan.3 DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL No7 Ohio State vs No 12 Clemson 8:30pm espn
Ohio State had hoped to play Florida State in the BCS title game but settles for a matchup against the ACC’s second-best team. These teams meet for the first time since Woody Hayes’ infamous punch in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Two electric quarterbacks – Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller.
Jan. 4 BBVA COMPASS BOWL Houston vs Vanderbilt 1pm espn
Vandy has been one of the SEC’s better teams lately (15-4 record in its past 19 games) while Houston enjoyed a three-win improvement over 2012 and leads the nation in turnover margin (plus-23) and takeaways (-40). Two fun receivers to watch here: SEC career leader Jordan Matthews (Vandy) and rising star sophomore Deontay Greenberry (Houston).
Jan. 5 GODADDY BOWL Ball State vs Arkansas 9pm espn
Arkansas State, winner of Sun Belt Conference for the third straight year, technically the away team but has a decided home-away-from-home-field advantage in playing this bowl game for the third straight year. QB Keith Wenning, Ball State’s all-time leading passer, led the Cardinals to 10 wins.
Jan. 6 VIZIO BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP No1 Florida State vs No2 Auburn 8:30pm espn
Auburn’s remarkable ride to Pasadena began by beating Georgia with a Hail Mary, upsetting then-No.1 ranked Alabama and beating No. 5 Missouri to win the SEC championship. No. 1-ranked Florida State is looking to win its first national title since 1999, while the SEC has claimed the past seven national titles.
35 bowl games in total!