Here we go again. - Mike Ehrmann
The CN staff makes their final predictions for the Capital One Bowl and other New Years games!
Husker Mike: If it wasn’t for the Christmas rush, we might have had some predictions for the early bowl games. But really, who gives a crap about some of these games. San Jose State vs. Bowling Green? A Belk Bowl? And unless they are giving us access to the Buffalo Wild Wings disruption center, nobody cares about the Copper Bowl either.
Billgrip: Well Mike, I for one give 0 craps about all bowl games before January 1st. It’s like these bowl selection committees out-think themselves. College football has become a money first, fans second sport.
Jon Johnston: What I’ve learned so far this bowl season is that anyone I pick is automatically DOOMED DOOMED DOOMED.
Salt Creek and Stadium: I’m just going to say I’m going to need the off-season to recover from 2012. What a year, eh? And why the heck are all of the Big Ten’s games on at the same time on New Year’s? Saving face?
David McGee: Alright, time to go out with a bang. Been a fun year. First undefeated week coming right up!
Brian: New Years Day, where everything you want to change about the previous year is gone, except for my crappy predictions.
Outback Bowl: South Carolina (-5) vs. Michigan
Billgrip:I like Michigan in this game. They are probably the best 8-4 team in the country. With just over a month to heal up and figure out how to use the Gardner/Robinson QB combo, I think Michigan would be a hard team to defend. On defense, Michigan came into the year with a lot inexperience and question marks, but they steadily improved over the course of the year as they gained experience, and now they’re a pretty solid unit. Overall, South Carolina is good, but not great. I don’t think they’re quite the same team without Lattimore. Michigan 28, South Carolina 21
Jon Johnston: Big Ten vs SEC - Michigan is DOOMED. Michigan will take the field weeping for their very lives as they encounter the 12’, 450 lb monsters of South Carolina. "They didn’t look that big on TV!", Al Borges will scream as Jadeveon Clowney picks up Devin Gardner after a play and bites off his right leg below the knee. Still, the speed of Michigan... wait, what? Sorry. There’s no speed in Michigan. All the SPEEDISS-E-C. Wow. They really are doomed. South Carolina 222 Michigan 0
Salt Creek: Unlike Billgrip, I don’t trust Michigan’s offense. They still don’t really know what they want to do with Dennard or Gardner. If they said they were putting Gardner at QB and Dennard at RB, I’d pick Michigan. But since as far as I can tell its a muddled mess, I have to go with South Carolina, even a South Carolina squad without Lattimore. I’ve got the Gamecocks by at least a touchdown.
Husker Mike: Sounds like the Wolverines want to mix it up against South Carolina and keep them guessing. I think you’ll see Gardner at quarterback primarily, but they’ll use Dennard as a Wildcat option, and I think that’s the most potent offense the Wolverines can put on the field. Meanwhile, South Carolina is similarly unsettled at quarterback, but for the wrong reasons. And without Lattimore, I like the Weasels chances to pull this off. Weasels 27, Cocks 24
DM: Meatchicken vs. the male asian chickens. I think this should be a pretty entertaining game, actually. I’m not sure Michigan can hold up defensively, but I think they’ll be able to put up some points on USC. This could be a fairly high scoring game. I expect Robinson to have a huge game in his swan song, even if Gardner is under center. I expect the Wolverines to find a way to get the ball in Robinson’s hands and let him go to work. I’m looking for this one to go right down to the wire. Gardner hits Robinson on a wheel route to win late. UM: 24 USC: 20
Brian: I wonder if Michigan has gotten a consistent offense yet during bowl practice. They tell us Denard isn’t going to have a specific position for this one, and that’s probably best considering after this, Robinson will be a project in the NFL. But for Tuesday, I just think USC is too strong on defense. Connor Shaw still is one of the best surprises in this season (to me at least). Gimme the Gamecocks in this one.
Rose Bowl: Stanford (-6.5) vs. Wisconsin
Billgrip: Does anyone know what to expect out of Wisconsin? They struggle on offense almost all year, then hang 70 on Nebraska in the B1G Championship. Bret Bielema leaves, Alvarez becomes interim coach while conducting the search for the next head coach. What a strange time in Madison. Fortunately for the Badgers, Alvarez has been there before. But Stanford isn’t your average Pac 12 team. In fact, they are built a lot like a traditional Big 10 team...only with better athletes. As much fun as it would be to have a 5-loss team win the Rose Bowl, I just can’t see that happening. Stanford 28, Wisconsin 17
Salt Creek: If it was any team other than Stanford, I’d have hope for Wisconsin. But Wisconsin is rather one dimensional (a good dimension but still only one dimensional) and well, Stanford has a good defense. And their offense isn’t a slouch either. I can’t see Wisconsin keeping up with the Cardinal. The Badgers lose their third Rose Bowl in as many years, Barry’s first. The Cardinals take this one by at least two touchdowns.
Jon: Wisconsin hanging 70 points on Nebraska was largely due to them running a different offense than they’d run all season. Such was the design of Matt Canada, who’s since moved on to take the offensive coordinator position at North Carolina State. Barry Alvarez will coach the team, but offensive plays will be called by a group of guys remotely from Fuzzys Bar & Grill in Menomenie. While they are offensive geniuses, the Badgers will experience 15 delay of game penalties due to their constant arguing about the next play call. Somehow the Badgers still win the game. Wisconsin 24, Stanford 21
Husker Mike: The Badgers shot their load in Indianapolis. Alvarez is going to put something together and have them ready to play, but they'll regress back to their norm. And Stanford is the best team the Badgers has seen all season. The Badgers are just happy to be in Pasadena again. Cardinal 35, Badgers 14
DM: Rocky vs. Drago. A slobber knocker. Two yards and a cloud of dust. A fist fight. A real...well...I’m running out of cliches for physical football games. The two teams are known for their line play. They both do it well. I wouldn’t be shocked if this is something like 7-3 at half. But Stanford is more creative than Wisconsin and has more weapons and they’ll open it up at the half. Stanford wins 31-21
Brian: Wisconsin has been one big tirefire since the B1G Championship. Bielema leaving, Barry’s ego running amok, recruits coming and going, Matt Canada having a come to Jeebus about play calling (and figuring it out against Nebraska, HOORAY) and such... I just don’t think they will play well, they will play hard for Barry but well is a different thing. David Shaw and Stanford have just been sitting there quietly preparing for this game. Can the Badgers D shut down the heavy sets of Shaw? I doubt it. Stanford in a good game. And then we can only hope that the Wisconsin fanbase torches Barry as bad as they did Bret for taking them to 3 straight Rose Bowl games (they won’t)
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon (-9) vs. Kansas State
Billgrip: Why can’t all bowl games be this awesome? This is an extremely intriguing matchup. On one side you have the undead Snyder and his band of tough midwest JUCO’s that play old school, tough, disciplined football. On the other side you have the high fllying Oregon Ducks with a revolutionary offense that moves in the blink of eye and exactly 8,465 possible uniform combinations. Old vs. New. Immovable vs. Unstoppable. I love it! While I expect Oregon to have a harder time scoring points than usual, I do think they’ll be able to score more than K-State. In the words of the great John Madden, "Usually the team that scores the most points wins the game." Oregon 38, K-State 24
Salt Creek: The funny thing about this game is that it basically pits Chip Kelly’s up-tempo variation of the Urban Meyer/Bill Snyder spread-option against the team that developped the offense from its triple option/single wing roots. So is it really Old versus New? I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. In my opinion, I think it’s really more of a matchup between Flash and Deliberate. This game comes down to whether the Wildcats can contain the Ducks for four quarters and I think the Wildcats have what it takes. I don’t think Oregon can contain the Wildcats for four quarters so I’ve got Kansas State winning by a TD.
Jon: Flash and Deliberate? NO! It’s a matchup of tractors vs race cars! It’s only a matter of whether the contest is on a racetrack or in a demolition derby! So, which will it be? The funny thing is, both. The racers will act as if they’re on the track, and the tractorators will act as if they’re in a derby! Who will win? If the racers can get to the finish line before they get smashed, they will! What’s all this mean? I have no idea, but I’m a midwestern boy myself, so I’m for the tractors!!! Kansas State 35, Oregon 31
Husker Mike: I have no idea how Oregon got to be a 9 point favorite in this one. Collin Klein was the Heisman leader until they ran out of gas against Baylor, but Baylor has shown themselves to be a pretty potent team down the stretch. But overall, I think the Wildcats are the more consistent team here. But with this game seemingly Chip Kelly's Oregon finale, the Ducks will be motivated. Puddytats 42, Ugly Ducks 38
DM: Lot of love for KState going on here. I don’t think we’ll see as many points as many expect. Snyder and company will find a way to slow down Oregon and the Ducks will do the same for Klein in his swan song as well. Somewhere in the middle of the third quarter, Oregon will switch to their strobe light helmets and that will prove just enough of a distraction to pull past the Wildcats. Ducks: 32 Wildcats: 23
Brian: The KState story is nice, but lost a lot of luster come the Baylor asskicking. While that happens, Oregon’s HC Chip Kelly has only gone Rose/BCS Title/Rose/Fiesta in his 4 years as Ducks Head Coach, and yet the fanbase is tired of him (they must have a lot of people from Wisconsin there too). I would be mad my coach has gone to the BCS four times too almost never. Question here is will Kansas State be ready for the Oregon tempo changes? Furthermore, can Collin Klein do something when he has the ball? Gimme the OOOOOOO in this one also.
Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M (-4.5) vs. Oklahoma
Billgrip: What’s this? There’s actually more than one compelling bowl game this year?! This game should be a lot of fun. Johnny Football has his Heisman trophy and A&M is poised to ride off into the sunset of a magical inaugural season in the SEC. Would anyone have ever imagined that A&M would go 10-2 in their first year of the SEC with a new coach and a freshman QB? You can’t ask for much better than that. Oklahoma seems to be stuck in neutral under Stoops, just a cut above Nebraska- always hovering in and out of the top 10 but never quite reaching the top. Oklahoma had another "disappointing" 10-2 season, but a Cotton Bowl win over a former Big 12 foe would put a nice cap on the season. Landry Jones still has plenty to prove to NFL scouts in his last collegiate game. I like Oklahoma in this one. A&M is past due to lay an egg. Oklahoma 35, Texas A&M 18
Salt Creek: Is this on at the same time as EVERY OTHER GAME? No? Oh, then I’ll probably watch it. Considering how similar these two teams are, I think the veteran experience and the steady improvement of the Sooners favors Bob Stoops’ team here. I’ll take the Sooners by three TDs and ALL. THE. BOOMER. SOONERS.
Husker Mike: Unlike the rest of the SEC, Oklahoma has seen quarterbacks like Manziel this season...and I have to think that the Sooners might have a little extra motivation against the Aggies, who'll be missing offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. Boomer 35, Gaggies 28
Jon: Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s been seen all over with all sorts of babes next to him, and since he’s a freshman, he’s probably going to be infected more with the Heisman curse than everyone else. You know what that means? We’ll all get the chance to laugh at him and wonder why those dumbass Heisman voters, the same ones who gave the Heisman to Matt Leinert over Adrian Peterson ever voted for a freshman. Oklahoma 48, Texas A&M 31
DM: Johnny Football’s been spending too much courtside at Mavericks games. Boomer: 38 Gig ‘Em: 9
Brian: I will be at this game, and I wanna tell you that with all the distractions going into the game, Manziel will not play a great game. However, we know how "Big game Bob" tends to react to games like this. The Oklahoma O is pretty decent and will score, but this isn’t the Aggie team that Stoops played in the Big 12. Kevin Sumlin will be calling the plays, and if the Air Raid can beat both Saban and Smart in Tuscaloosa, what can they do to Mike Stoops?
Also, the parallels of this game for conferences and the recruiting angle is too big to ignore. Stoops has owned Texas in recruiting the last few years, over Mack Brown and Mike Sherman with Art Briles probably passing Brown too. However, TAMU has come on big time and has taken over the state in both perception and recruiting. There were very LOUD whispers that Texas pulled strings to NOT be in this bowl (and, honestly, I could see where they didn’t really go all out against KSU to make sure that happened). A win by the Aggies with Sumlin coaching and Manziel beating a Big 12 mainstay would solidify their stranglehold on the state right now. I think the Aggies win this one, and the "S-E-C" chant will ring through Cowboys Stadium loud and clear.
BCS National Championship: Alabama (-9.5) vs. Notre Dame
Billgrip: If you’re like me, you’re rooting for Notre Dame to take down Bama and the mighty SEC. The irony there is that Notre Dame is an independent...so a domer upset essentially does nothing to dent the perception that the SEC is the greatest college football conference empire in recent memory human history. Still, I would love to see the SEC’s championship streak end. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. My heart says Notre Dame, my head says Bama. Alabama 31, Notre Dame 14
Salt Creek: I’ve got Notre Dame winning a shocker here and then going 2-10 next fall. Unfortunately, I’m torn as to whether I’ll actually watch this game. I haven’t watched a mythical national title game since 2007.
Husker Mike: As much as I want to see the SEC lose, I see absolutely no way Notre Dame keeps this close. Remember, this is the same Irish squad that needed a late game comeback against Purdue. A blown call wiped out Stanford's game-tieing touchdown in overtime. They needed triple overtime to beat Pitt at home. Let's face it...this one has blowout written all over it. The luck of the Irish ends on South Beach. Alabama 45, Notre Dame 10. There, I said it.
Jon: That Purdue game was early in the season, and Stanford is in the Rose Bowl. Pitt, well, there is that. I don’t see Alabama as an invincible team, and this game is a toss up as far as I’m concerned because of both teams’ defense. I’ll go with the luck of the Irish because I can. Notre Dame 17, Alabama 14
DM: Notre Dame’s been playing with fire all season. This time, the fire turns into an 4 alarm blaze and the house comes crashing down. Bama rolls and the conversation about whether they’re having one of the best runs in the history of college football will get hot and heavy (they are, by the way, but it’s not quite as good as the one we’re fonder of). Tide: 38 Irish: 16
Brian: See what happened last year when Saban had a month to prepare? Roll Damn Tide Pawl.
Citrus Bowl: Georgia (-10) vs. Nebraska
Billgrip: I’m not emotionally ready to make this prediction yet...there is nothing that leads me to believe that Nebraska even has a shot in this game, and Wisconsin just scored again. Georgia 41, Nebraska 13
Salt Creek: Can I get a handicap on which Nebraska team shows up? What bothers me the most about Nebraska here is not Jarvis Jones or the Bulldog defense - our offense tends to somehow find a way to do things in the face of quality defenses. My concern is the battered, bruised and short depth that we have on defense. Aaron Murray is the perfect QB for Pelini’s defense when he keeps the ball. But he doesn’t really need to keep the ball with Gurley and Marshall. If Georgia is smart, they just pound the rock and open up the play-action. I’ll take Nebraska in overtime that no one sees because ESPN jumps away to the Rose Bowl in a huge debacle of programming errors.
Husker Mike: I think the Huskers have a better chance to win this game than most fans want to admit. I understand why fans feel that way; that 70-31 loss was completely inept defensively. But looking over the Bulldogs offense, Nebraska matches up pretty well with Georgia's offense...as long as Georgia doesn't introduce new wrinkles. And I don't think Nebraska will make near the mistakes that they made in Indianapolis. The big question is how Georgia's defense deals with Nebraska's offense. The downside is looking at the turnover margins; Georgia is one of the best in the nation, Nebraska is one of the worst. But turnovers aside, Nebraska should be able to move the ball on Georgia. Georgia's defense struggles to stop the run, and South Carolina ran roughshod all over the Bulldogs. As did Tennessee. I see this being a bit of a track meet, frankly. However, I don't think Nebraska wins...but it's a lot closer than many think. Uga 41, Huskers 38
Jon: Forget the 70 points and the Big Ten title game that we’re all so freaked out about. We’ve spent weeks now whining about it, and it’s way past time to let it go.
Tim Beck is a wizard. A mad genius. He’s had three weeks to come up with a game plan for his offense, knowing that Nebraska’s defense is going to give up some points and that he’s going to have to come up with plenty of his own. Given that the Bulldogs’ strength is their linebackers, his plan will include plays that will either put them in a unblocked/read position or misdirect them out of the way. Mike mentions the turnovers, and that’s the game. Hey, maybe we get more than they do. Maybe Eric Martin turns into a madman because it’s his last game of his college career. Nebraska 41, Georgia 38
DM: It’s all a mental game. Who wants to be there less? Who’s the most disappointed to be there? Georgia and their devastating end to the SEC title game, just missing out on playing for the national title? Nebraska after falling short in the conference title game for the fourth straight time and in embarrassing fashion at that? Both teams are saying all the right things. I don’t know how Georgia has done in this area in the past, but Nebraska has typically put together a good plan. I expect that to be the case again. Will they be able to maintain their focus and execute for the entire game? I expect Rex to get one last shot to carry this team to victory. I wouldn’t be shocked (or disappointed) if he gets 25-30 carries, rushes for 180 yards or so and a couple of scores. I think this is also the game where Taylor takes this team over for good going into next year. The Huskers will put up some points, I’m fairly confident of that. I’m not as confident that they’ll be able to slow that running tandem of Georgia. They’ll slow Murray and the passing game somewhat. Ah, screw it. This is is a Husker site. I’m a Husker fan. Huskers pull the shocker: 45-42.
Brian: Can someone tell me who is excited for this game? I mean, who is just PUMPED UP OHHHH YEAAAA HERE WE GO BABY...... No one. If they are, it’s very few and far between. Greg and I talked about this on the podcast, and the feelings with this game do somewhat seem similar to the second Holiday Bowl against Washington. Only about 5 thousand Nebraska tickets sold between the bowl site and StubHub, not a lot of people heading to Orlando while Georgia fans are driving down in droves... there is no damn excitement. I do think that the perception that Nebraska fans traveling to bowl games is going to take a hit here, whether it’s true or not.
As for the game? Simply put: what can the lines of Nebraska do to make this a competitive game on both sides of the ball. The Defensive Line is going against a solid rushing attack, and the OL has to deal with a salty Bulldogs D that is fast as the Nebraska O is. This comes down to which team is more excited to be there, and who wants to win more. Georgia is a solid team but can be had. Nebraska is a solid team that can be had too. I just... I just can’t see how Nebraska can play as well or worse than the Bulldogs and win this game. I want to try to find a lot of reasons, but that’s what it comes down to. Can Nebraska outplay Georgia? I don’t think they can, and for that, I think the Bulldogs win this one. Crowd support, a season’s resume, where they have been and what they have to play for.. it points to Georgia. And, again, I say this... prove me wrong Huskers, I’m begging you to.