Thursday, April 24, 2014

Let's go bowling: Predicting this year's 35 college football bowl games (35 items)

By and and , Deseret News

Dec. 18, 2013

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

Washington State (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12) vs. Colorado State (7-6, 5-3 MWC)

Dec. 21, Noon at University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.

TV: ESPN

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

No. 21 Fresno State (11-1, 7-1 MWC) vs. USC (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12)

Dec. 21, 1:30 p.m. at Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

TV: ABC

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

Buffalo (8-4, 6-2 MAC) vs. San Diego State (7-5, 6-2 MWC)

Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. at Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho

TV: ESPN

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

Tulane (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4, 5-2 Sun Belt)

Dec. 21, 7 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

TV: ESPN

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

East Carolina (9-3, 6-2 C-USA) vs. Ohio (7-5, 4-4 MAC)

Dec. 23, Noon at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

TV: ESPN

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
1. KTC John
Wetumpka, AL,
Dec. 18, 2013

There are 10 teams from the ACC in bowl games: Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech, Pittsburg, Syracuse, Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, and North Carolina. You picked all 10 of them to lose. Can you please provide me the name and contact information for your bookie?

2. Cinci Man
FT MITCHELL, KY,
Dec. 18, 2013

I predict Washington will beat BYU by at least 10 points. Washington is an excellent team, and BYU has shown several times this year that they struggle against most good teams. I have very little expectation that Coach Anae will bring a good game plan to this one, since he has struggled mightily with dumping over the top to running backs, passes up the seams to tight ends, and screen passes. There are no trick plays. The opponent defense is never on its heels because everything is too predictable.

Now, having set my expectations low, I beg the Cougars to exceed my expectations and play like you really mean it. Every down matters. Every player matters. Every tackle in essential. If Coach Anae is going to call 20 running plays for Taysom Hill, then every block by the offensive line is critical to the success of the play. I wish you the best game of the year. Please bring it to the field and leave nothing behind.

3. John S. Harvey
Sandy, UT,
Dec. 18, 2013

While USU might lose its game (I would put it at basically a toss-up - as do most professional predictors) there is no way USU loses by 10 points. I expect the winning margin to be three or four points - maybe two, no matter who wins.

4. Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT,
Dec. 18, 2013

Washington is a very average Pac 12 team, and byu would most certainly NOT be an average Pac 12 if we ever invited them(we wont)

And yes, I'd rather face the #1 schedule in the country and have some growing pains and not go bowling as we improve our program as opposed to being on the outside looking in, just wishing a big time conference would call and getting wins mostly against non power conference programs. Even if it means not going bowling with the #1 schedule in the country. In a few years byu will still be wishing the pac 12/big 12 would call(we wont), still beating up on mostly nobodies(See 2014 schedule of Virginia(LOL), Cal(12th of 12 in Pac 12) and Texas as the ONLY power conference teams you play the whole season.

Washington 34
go fast go hard byu 20

5. Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
Dec. 18, 2013

BYU's opponents predicted 1-7; Utah's opponents predicted 7-3.

Sounds about right!