Let's go bowling: Predicting this year's 35 college football bowl games (35 items)
Christmas is fast approaching, which means the start of the college football bowl season is heading our way even faster.
From the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 21 to the VIZIO BCS National Championship on Jan. 6, 70 teams will head to bowls around the country trying to finish off 2013 with a resounding victory.
Will Florida State earn its first BCS national championship since 2000? Can Auburn make it a fifth straight year—and its second in that time span—that a team from Alabama wins the national title?
On the local scene, can BYU win its fifth straight bowl game? The Cougars will face a daunting task in trying to beat 8-4 Washington, though the Huskies will be captained by an interim coach.
Will Utah State be able to topple No. 24 Northern Illinois, which appeared headed for a BCS bowl game before collapsing in the MAC Championship Game? Northern Illinois will surely prove formidable with Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch leading the Husky attack.
Over the next few weeks, we'll have answers to these questions. For now, members of the Deseret News online sports staff put on their prognosticating caps to take a glimpse at the 2013-14 bowl season.
(Note: All game times listed are MST)
1 of 35. Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 21, Noon at University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
It's been a while since both the Cougars and Rams have been to a bowl game. This is Washington State's first bowl since 2003, and the last time Colorado State made a bowl appearance was the 2008 New Mexico Bowl.
Washington State is famous for Mike Leach's air-raid offense and sits at No. 9 in the country in passing yards with 330.4 yards per game. Colorado State's defense will have its hands full trying to stop Connor Halliday, who has 4,187 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. While the Rams have RB Kapri Bibbs, who has rushed for 1,572 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, they also haven't beaten a team with a winning record.
Prediction: Washington State 34, Colorado State 24
2 of 35. Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 21, 1:30 p.m. at Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
Fresno State was just one win away from busting the BCS, but San Jose State broke the Bulldogs' heart and kept them from an elite bowl. Still, Fresno State can't complain as it takes on one of the nation's powerhouse programs, the Trojans.
And it's an interesting matchup.
On the one hand, you have Bulldog quarterback Derek Carr. Carr is just 134 yards passing away from breaking the 5,000-yard mark. On the other hand, USC has one of the more solid defenses in the nation, allowing just 214.5 passing yards and 341.5 total yards per game.
Unstoppable force, meet immovable object.
As good as USC's defense is, however, expect the Bulldogs' high-octane offense to win the day.
Prediction: Fresno State 28, USC 21
3 of 35. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. at Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
San Diego State had a rough start to 2013, falling to Eastern Illinois of the FCS 40-19 and going 0-3 to start the season. It's remarkable that the Aztecs are bowling at all. Buffalo can sympathize as it took them five overtimes to escape Stony Brook of the FCS to narrowly avoid starting 0-3 as well.
SDSU has had four overtime games this season, and to its credit it won three of them. Both teams are No. 98 or worse in passing yards and No. 48 or better in rushing offense, so expect both teams to keep things mostly on the ground. Adam Muema and Donnel Pumphrey have 1,765 yards on the season for SDSU, and Buffalo's Branden Oliver has 1,421 yards. This is a tossup, but given the Aztecs' struggles with teams with losing records, such Hawaii, Nevada and Air Force, Buffalo has a slight edge.
Prediction: Buffalo 31, SDSU 28
4 of 35. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 21, 7 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Neither team is traveling too far for this one. Lafayette is a two-hour drive from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, while Tulane is a mere nine-minute drive away.
Tulane has no rushing game to speak of as it averages just 39.9 yards per game. Meanwhile, the Ragin' Cajuns have a good balance on offense, averaging 261.5 yards passing and 193.5 yards rushing per game. That balance is what will win the day.
Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 35, Tulane 24
5 of 35. Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl
Dec. 23, Noon at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
This bowl could be renamed the "best quarterbacks that few have even heard of" bowl.
East Carolina has Shane Carden, who has a respectable 3,866 yards and 32 touchdowns on the season to just 10 interceptions. Tyler Tettleton doesn't have quite the stats with 2,623 yards and 20 touchdowns, but he does boast a QB rating of 144.2.
Carden has the better resume and appears to be the better quarterback. That's why the Pirates are picked to win this one.
Prediction: East Carolina 37, Ohio 23