I'm getting back to good internet access just in time for the beginning of the best bowls of the season! There are some great match ups coming up in the next few days, starting off with tonight's Insight Bowl featuring two teams Nebraskans love to hate - Missouri and Iowa. (Yeah, I know, the Champ Sports bowl is earlier, but Mizzou and Iowa later? That's like icing on a cake.)
We will have game threads for most (if not all) of the bowls coming up. I'll be watching most of them (or maybe all of them).
Following the jump are CN's predictions for the final games of the 2010 season.
Insight Bowl: Missouri (-2.5) vs. Iowa
Will: Iowa is coming off a disappointing season as Missouri is coming off one of their better seasons in a couple of years. I think Blaine Gabbert shows up big and Tigers win. 13-20
Mike: Neither fan base is too hip on this matchup; heck, BHGP is running a poll on "Why you WON'T watch the Insight Bowl"...how that translates to the teams isn't clear to me. Truth be told, I think Mizzou is playing better and feeling better about their season, so I'm going with the Tiggers. Mizzou 31, Squawkeyes 17
Matt: Iowa's defense has been stout all year long, but I just don't think the Hawkeyes offense has enough to keep up with Mizzou. Couldn't they both lose? Mizzou 30 Iowa 21
Jon: I put a lot of stock in the emotion of the bowl games, and I think Iowa will still be dealing with how badly they've choked away their season (losing to Minnesota in the final game?). Missouri, on the other hand, had a pretty decent year and this might be the chance for them to show they actually care about their football postseason (I wouldn't expect much there, though). The most interesting part about this game is whether or not the Hawks have enough self-respect to show up. I don't think they do.
Missouri 34, Iowa 13
Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State (-5) vs. Arizona
Will: Arizona has really failed to impress me over this and last season. Oklahoma State and their high powered offense roll. 45-16
Mike: For those of us who have to work the next morning, I think this one will be over early. Cowboys have too much firepower. Cowboys 48, Wildcats 27
Matt: Okie State will put up fireworks like they have all year, even against a good Stoops D.
Okie State 42 Arizona 28
Jon: I'm looking forward to this game - I want to see how Arizona does after losing four straight, and, like Iowa, choking away what was once a promising season. Like Kirk Ferentz, this game will be about what Mike Stoops can get out of his team. I like Nick Foles against the Cowboy defense, but the Wildcats don't have an answer for the combination of Justin Blackmon, Kendall Hunter and Brandon Weeden.
Oklahoma State 42, Arizona 34
Texas Bowl: Baylor (-1.5) vs. Illinois
Will: I will actually be going to this one at Reliant Stadium. Baylor has a young but explosive offense led by a couple of Houstonians Josh Gordon and Robbert Griffin. Baylor wins a close one. 20-17
Mike: The Zooker made it to a bowl game? I think Baylor is going to going to be pumped for this one; it's a relatively short drive. Baylor 31, Illini 20
Matt: Robert Griffin III. Baylor 28 Illinois 27
Jon: WOohooeeee! All 7,000 Baylor fans will be on deck for their first bowl game since 1994! They'll be an excitable teaming mass of humanity going up against four or five Illinois fans that still give a crap. If that doesn't spell ass-kicking, what does!? Ok - Baylor will be darned happy to be there, as will Ron Zook, who's still looking for his first bowl win as a head football coach. Do the players matter? Who is Illinois starting quarterback? What?
Baylor 35 Illinois 24
Pinstripe Bowl: Kansas State (-1) vs. Syracuse
Will: Kansas State takes on a Syracuse team that had it's fair share of struggles this season. Look for Daniel Thomas to have a big day. K-State wins 23-17
Mike: Wow... Syracuse, Baylor, and Ron Zook all in bowl games? And Texas isn't? Seriously, I think this is a game that K-State should win easily, but I think Syracuse has that bowl excitement factor working in their favor. K-State 24, Orange 21
Matt: Syracuse as only a one-point dog has to be a joke. Do they really believe the Orange faithful are going to travel from the upstate to this one? Daniel Thomas will continue his reign on poor defenses leading the Wildcats to victory. K State 24 Orange 17
Jon: You realize the last bowl game played in the Bronx was the 1962 Gotham Bowl between Nebraska and Miami? Oh, I'm watching this game too.
This has to be somewhat of a feel good story for both teams. Doug Marrone has resurrected Syracuse to get to a bowl game in only his second season , while Bill Snyder has Kansas State back in a bowl game in only his second season... kind of... but, still, both great stories.
Let's see. It's cold. It's snow. It's Daniel Thomas versus a pretty tough Syracuse defense. Don't expect scoring unless there's lot of turnovers.
Kansas State 17 Syracuse 13
Ticket City Bowl: Texas Tech (-9.5) vs. Northwestern
Will: Many people have been calling this the "Real Cotton Bowl" ever since the actual Cotton Bowl was moved to Jerry World it just has not been the same. Texas Tech is coming of a trying year adjusting to Tommy Tuberville's new system. That being said Northwestern just does not have enough defense to win this game. Tech wins 27-19
Mike: I don't get ESPNU...so I won't be watching this one. But Northwestern hasn't been the same without Dan Persa. Tech 34, NWU 17
Matt: Call me crazy, but I think Northwestern finds a way to gut this one out against a Tech team that has not impressed me this year. Wildcats 31 Tech 30
Jon: Northwestern hasn't won a bowl in 61 years. Quarterback Dan Persa is out. Texas Tech played Baylor in the Old Cotton Bowl in October, so it's more of a home game than normal for them. Everything is against Northwestern, yet I feel like Pat Fitzgerald will figure out how to beat Tommy Tuberville.
Wildcats 28 Red Raiders 24
Capital One Bowl: Alabama (-10) vs. Michigan State
Will: This is going to be a great game to watch. Is Michigan State the real deal? I don't think so Roll Tide Roll. Bama Wins 27-21
Mike: I think Alabama is still one of the best teams in the country. Bama 31, Sparty 27
Matt: Michigan State will come into this one with a big chip on their shoulders. Despite the one-loss record they find themselves 10-point dogs. For good reason. Roll tide.
Bama 35 Sparty 21
Jon: You have to love this match up. Both teams are pretty decent, and both match up very well. Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Alabama's Greg McElroy are both very efficient quarterbacks (67.5 vs 70.6 percentage completion, respectively). You know ‘Bama's running backs - Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, but they're going to meet Sparty's All-American linebacker Greg Jones and a Michigan State defense that's been pretty stingy.
I normally go against Sparty, but not in this one. I expect Sparty to have a chip on their shoulder, unlike Alabama who failed to defend their national title (and I can't get that apathetic loss to Utah two years ago in the Sugar Bowl out of my head).
Michigan State 34 Alabama 31
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (-17) vs. Connecticut
Will: Terrible match up Okla wins big. 34-13
Mike: If the BCS survives past the end of the current contract, the powers that be have to find a way to prevent matchups like this one. UConn might be better served by sending their women's basketball team to face off against the Sooners. Sooners 45, Huskies 10
Jon: The only game worse than the Nebraska - Washington match up. Sooners 45, Huskies 13
Gator Bowl: Mississippi State (-5) vs. Michigan
Will: This one is a tough call for me but I'm going to take Mississippi state based on the SEC. Also I just don't have confidence in Rich-Rod. Wolverines fall 19-13
Matt: 51-17. If you can't figure out who you probably shouldn't be reading this.
Mike: The RichRod-death watch begins. Bulldogs 34, Weasels 24
Jon: Wow - not much faith in Michigan, eh? Denard Robinson will be healthy, and the Bulldogs can't pass so the Wolverines can stack up against the run. Will that matter? Everybody scores, but Michigan scores more!
Wolverines 38 Bulldogs 34
Outback Bowl: Florida (-7.5) vs. Penn State
Will: Urban's last game.... for now. Penn State has had a tough year and Paterno says he sees this as a start to 2011. Well its going to be a tough start. 24-17
Matt: Paterno is still > Urban Meyer. Gators lose Meyers going away party.
Penn State 21 UF 20
Mike: I don't think Urban Meyer is done coaching yet, but since Will Muschamp is already on board, we know Meyer won't be back at Florida this fall. Bowl games are all about motivation, and Florida should be motivated. Gators 31, Nittanies 17
Jon: Penn State has had issues scoring all season, and it won't get much better against Florida's defense. The Gators send Urban Meyer out a winner.
Gators 24 Nittany Lions 17
Rose Bowl: Texas Christian (-2.5) vs. Wisconsin
Will: I can see TCU getting off to a good start but as the game goes on that Big 10 power of the Badgers is too much. Badgers Win 27-17
Matt: For some reason I like TCU in this one. Should be one of the best bowls of the year.
Horned Frogs 21 Badgers 20
Mike: Fifteen years ago, the Rose Bowl was the "Irrelevent Yawner Bowl"; you know, the game that was on in the background while you waited for the Orange and Sugar Bowl games later that night. This year, this game is actually intriguing with TCU getting to play with the big boys. I think they'll be super-motivated, and will win big. Frogs 31, Badgers 20
Jon: Most people know the Badgers as a power offense, but you don't get to 83 points (against Indiana) and 70 (against Northwestern) on power alone. The reason the Badgers are so potent is because of quarterback Scott Tolzein, who has completed over 74 percent of his passes and is the fourth ranked quarterback in the nation in terms of efficiency. On the other side you have the Horned Frogs' Andy Dalton, who's just behind Tolzein, while throwing for ten more TDs (26 vs 16).
You have the top-ranked defense in the nation in yards per game and scoring (TCU) versus a Badger defense that played against better competition (TCU only played one ranked team this season).
Who wins? Flip a coin in this great match up, but I'm going with Bucky.
Wisconsin 31 TCU 30
Sugar Bowl: Ohio State (-3.5) vs. Arkansas
Will: Arkansas is not used to being in such a premier bowl and I think the big game jitters will hit Ryan Mallet like a hammer.(No pun intended) Ohio State Wins 19-15
Matt: Arkansas proves why the SEC is still a notch above the Big Ten. At least for this year.
Razorbacks 28 Ohio State 21
Mike: Mallet played against Ohio State as a true freshman in 2007; I think he knows what a big game against the Buckeyes is like. My question is how will the Buckeyes react to Tattoo-Gate. Bucknuts 24, Pig Soooo-ie 21
Jon: I don't like Ohio State in this game, and I'll tell you why. First of all, because the Tattoo-Gate issue was nothing but arrogance and stupidity, and it does affect the mentality of the players involved. Second, because Arkansas is capable of ripping off a bunch of points and while Ohio State has scored a lot of points this season - I don't see the Buckeyes winning a shoot out of this magnitude, mostly because Terrell Pryor isn't on the same level as Ryan Mallet. Arkansas 31 Ohio State 24
Cotton Bowl: LSU (-1) vs. Texas A&M
Will: Like I said early this is more the Jerry Bowl than the cotton bowl. A&M is coming into this game as probably the hottest team in the country. Aggie fans want to bolt the Big 12 for the SEC here is their chance to prove they can handle it. LSU wins with some late Les Miles magic. 21-20
Matt: Sherman has mustered some magic to end the season for the Aggies, but the big man up stairs always loves Les Miles in these situations. LSU 31 Aggies 28
Mike: While A&M played better down the stretch, I don't think they're in the same league as LSU. Tigers 34, Aggies 17
Jon: Another good match up. LSU has had problems generating offense this season, while Texas A&M's offense really turned things around after Jerrod Johnson was benched in favored of Ryan Tannehill. Both teams have been pretty decent on defense, but for some reason, I like the Aggies win streak over the way that LSU finished their season. It'll continue in the bowl game. Texas A&M 24 LSU 21
BCS Championship: Auburn (-3) vs. Oregon
Will: Every day I change my mind on who will win this game. Today it's Auburn. I think Oregon gets out to an early lead but Cam Cam brings the Tigers charging back much like the Alabama game. Tigers Win it all. 27-24
Matt: Biggest toss up of the bowls. Great for viewers. I just think Auburn is a tad more physical, as cliche as that sounds. Gota' take Cam Newton in a tight game. Tigers 40 Oregon 37
Mike: This one is going to be one heck of an offensive shootout. Neither team has much of a defense, but Oregon might have the edge here. Ducks 48, Tigers 45
Jon: Looking at both teams, the most glaring weakness is Auburn's struggle against teams who throw the ball well. I could bring up all the distractions that face Heisman Trophy winners heading into national title games, but I don't think that will be a factor here - Cam Newton has faced about as much controversy as anyone in his position.
Here's the key factor - Cam Newton has made plays this year, but the Oregon offense has allowed playmaking by multiple players - running back LaMichael James (22 TDs), quarterback Darron Thomas (28 TDs, 7 INTs to Newton's 28 TDs, 6 INTs) and wide receiver Jeff Maehl (68 receptions for 943 yards). Bottom line - you stop Cam Newton, you stop Auburn. Against Oregon, you have to stop more than just one guy.
Auburn's Nick Fairley terrorized SEC offenses, but will be neutralized by misdirection and an experienced Oregon offensive line. Also keep in mind that Auburn has had to come from behind in a few games this season while the Duck offense has been a second-half explosion all season.
Oregon 42 Auburn 30
Holiday Bowl: Nebraska (-14) vs. Washintgon
Will: Huskers will take this one but it won't be as easy as the first time. It will be interesting to see if Martinez can finally fix his late season slump. Huskers win. 31-17
Matt: Healthy Martinez. Bo game-planning for a bowl game. I don't want to be a homer but this one could get scarily boring early in the second half. The Huskers come into this one angry, very angry and will take it out on a team they have already taken behind the woodshed once. See ya Big 12! Bo's Boys 49 The Fighting Sarkisian's 9
Mike: Bo will have this team ready to play, but my question is just how healthy is Taylor Martinez? Bo gave the dreaded "he's fine", which means he's somewhere between the Intensive Care unit and back to October form? Huskers 35, Huskies 17
Jon: It'll be closer - it's tough any time you have to face someone twice in the same season - but I don't think motivation will be a problem for the Huskers. Fans, maybe, but this is a group of seniors who can look back on their Nebraska careers and know what it's like to be at the bottom and rising to the top. They'll want to keep things going. Expect big things from Roy Helu Jr and Mike McNeill. Jake Locker has something to prove, but so do Prince Amukamara and Jared Crick.
The Huskers will pound Washington on the ground, and stop the Huskies in the air.
Nebraska 31 Washington 17