Sorry I waited so long to put these up, but the holidays have been busy. The ECU-Maryland game starts in an hour and a half from when I am putting this up, but I thought the others might be worth reading. Enjoy! And I will get the other games up very soon.
Military Bowl- East Carolina (6-6) vs Maryland (8-4)
Predicted Winner: Maryland
Why: I think Maryland is the more balanced team and though East Carolina’s QB Dominique Davis had a very productive first season as a starter he struggled against ACC competition like Virginia Tech and North Carolina, though he did have a good game against NC State. I think Maryland’s team, overall, is better and could slow down the East Carolina passing attack a bit.
Key to the game: Danny Obrien, QB, Maryland. Obrien is a freshman who is in his first season as a starter and was the ACC Rookie of the Year. If he plays well like he did all year then Maryland should have the advantage, but if the pressure of the game gets to him because he is so young and he struggles then Maryland will be in trouble.
Score: Maryland: 38 – East Carolina: 31
Texas Bowl- Illinois (6-6) vs Baylor (7-5)
Predicted Winner: Baylor
Why: The teams are fairly balanced but the difference is that Baylor hadn’t been to a bowl game in 16 years before this game. I really think they may just want it more than Illinois, who just a couple years ago lost to USC in the Rose Bowl. Both QB’s are threats to run and both teams have productive running backs, so it will be interesting to see who runs the ball more effectively.
Key to the game: Run defense. It will be important for both of these teams to try to slow down the rushing attack from the running backs but it will be equally important for them to try to keep the opposing QB contained from a running perspective. Both QB’s are the second leading rushers on their respective teams, so expect a lot of scrambling in this game.
Score: Baylor: 35 – Illinois: 31
Alamo Bowl- Oklahoma State (10-2) vs Arizona (7-5)
Predicted Winner: Oklahoma State
Why: Oklahoma State may have a high-flying passing attack led by first year starter Brandon Weeden and absolute stud wide receiver Justin Blackmon but they are one of the more balanced offenses in the country thanks to Kendall Hunter’s re-emergence at running back. Arizona likes to get into shootouts but if they get stuck trying to match Oklahoma State’s explosive offense point for point they will be in trouble.
Key to the game: Arizona’s pass rush. If Arizona’s defensive line can get pressure on Weeden to keep him from getting into a rhythm and not give him enough time to stretch the field vertically then Arizona should have a chance.
Score: Oklahoma State: 45 – Arizona: 27
Armed Forces Bowl- Army (6-6) vs SMU (7-6)
Predicted Winner: SMU
Why: SMU is the more balanced team even though they prefer to pass, but the difference is that they can succeed with the pass and the run unlike Army which relies almost entirely on the running game in their triple-option offense to produce yardage and score points.
Key to the game: Kyle Padron, QB, SMU. If Padron can play efficiently and productively to get SMU into the end zone instead of settling for field goals then SMU will be in good position. If they get a big enough lead and force Army to pass the ball more than they would like then SMU stands a great chance to win this game.
Score: SMU 31 – Army: 21
Pinstripe Bowl- Kansas State (7-5) vs Syracuse (7-5)
Predicted Winner: Syracuse
Why: Kansas State is very one dimensional with their running game. Both teams have poor run defenses, but I think that will mean a lot of eight and nine man boxes for the opposing offenses to run against. That means that, despite that obvious weakness, the team that can pass most effectively to open up some running lanes could ultimately win. I think Syracuse has the best chance of doing that.
Key to the game: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse. If Nassib can take some pressure off of Delone Carter to open up some running lanes against Kansas State’s relatively porous run defense then the Orangemen should have a sizeable advantage on offense.
Score: Syracuse: 24 – Kansas State: 20
Music City Bowl- North Carolina (7-5) vs Tennessee (6-6)
Predicted Winner: Tennessee
Why: This hurts me as a UNC fan, but I just don’t trust T.J. Yates or our offense to get it done when it comes down to it. We don’t have a go-to receiver that we can throw the ball to in the red zone because Greg Little has been suspended all season and our running game finally got going with Johnny White before he got hurt for the season also. Tennessee’s has a more consistent running game and more reliable, experienced receivers even if they are playing a freshman QB in Tyler Bray.
Key to the game: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee. If he plays well and doesn’t make many mistakes then the Vols have a great chance to win. But if he makes poor decisions, gets flustered and forces throws into coverage against a pretty talented UNC defense (despite the suspensions) he will get into trouble.
Score: Tennessee: 24 – 21
Holiday Bowl- Nebraska (10-3) vs Washington (6-6)
Predicted Winner: Nebraska
Why: Nebraska is simply much better overall than Washington is. Washington has a good QB in Jake Locker and a decent set of skill position players, but not much else. Their defense has a couple quality players, but for the most part they are simply overmatched in this matchup with Nebraska.
Key to the game: Jake Locker, QB, Washington. If he repeats his 4/20 performance from the regular season in this game Nebraska will run away with this game. Even if he doesn’t they might blow them out, but the only way Washington has a chance is if Locker plays great.
Score: Nebraska: 38 – Washington: 20
I started out really strong but I have been on a cold streak lately. Hopefully these go better! Enjoy the bowl games and thanks for reading!