Reverse Barometer: Bowls Edition
The Barometer looks at all 35 bowl games, picks the winners and ranks them (confidence pool style). I have the most confidence in Baylor to win their bowl game, giving them the maximum 35 points, while Florida State gets my least confident pick and the minimum one point assignment. If you want to win your pool, simply pick the opposite and re-rank them 1-35. Enjoy the bowl season, ya’ll.
Confidence points: 35. Baylor over Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): The Big 12 has some tough matchups across the board this bowl season. Baylor is the exception. The conference champ gets the easiest match-up in a BCS game (hard to figure, right?). But it’s true. Central Florida is the American Conference champ and gets the automatic bid. This one will be over with by the end of the first quarter. Baylor wins big. Waco burns couches. Good thing for the Big 12 since this may be the conference’s only postseason victory.
34. Texas A&M over Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Dec. 31): Duke had a great season and would probably give most teams a decent game. But this will be Johnny Football’s last collegiate game and he should go out with a bang. Add in that he has a month to heal up his throwing thumb equals an Aggie offense ready to put some points on the board. Duke might even score some points but will get run out of the Georgia Dome in the end. Johnny is named MVP of the bowl, announces he is going pro during the post-game trophy presentation, drops the mic and walks off the stage.
33. Alabama over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2): Bob Stoops needs to keep his mouth shut. Last spring, he said the SEC was top-heavy. Well, Bob, here’s one of those teams. Enjoy the pounding. Pray Bama is unmotivated (not likely).
32. Arizona State over Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30): Both teams love to throw the ball and there should be plenty of snaps in this one. Look for Arizona State to pull away in the second half. Kliff Kingsbury sports sunglasses throughout the entire game despite the sun being down.
31. Vanderbilt over Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 4): Vandy is 15-4 in its last 19 games. Houston creates turnovers (40 on the season). I have more faith in the SEC experience than causing fumbles vs. Southern Miss.
30. Mississippi State over Rice in the Liberty Bowl (Dec.31): Rice won a conference title (Conference USA) for the first time since the 1950’s but the Bulldogs are from the SEC. I think I’ll stick with the best conference in the nation here.
29. LSU over Iowa in the Outback Bowl (Jan. 1): Both of these teams are better than their records. LSU will be playing a backup at QB in Anthony Jennings, and he is going to be a good one. Consider this his introduction game. You’ll find him in the end zone dancing.
28. UNLV over North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1): UNLV’s offense is very good thanks to QB Caleb Herring. Look for him to have another great game vs. the Mean Green Eagle defense.
27. Louisville over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl (Dec. 28): Teddy Bridgewater will probably be playing his final college game against his hometown team. He threw for 3,523 yards and 28 touchdowns (with only 4 picks). Explain to me how A.J. McCarron finished second in the Heisman and Teddy wasn’t even one of the six finalists? Just saying. Bridgewater goes out a winner.
26. Boston College over Arizona in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Dec. 31): Andre Williams of BC ran for 2,102 yards. Ka’Deem Carey of Arizona rushed for 1,716. Hope you like to watch offenses that run the ball. This one might look like there is a running clock.
25. Louisiana-Lafayette over Tulane in the New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 21): Tulane hasn’t been to a bowl in 11 years, and when they make it they get to play in…their home stadium. The Ragin’ Caguns have won the last two New Orleans Bowls. I like U La La to make it three in a row.
24. Oregon over Texas in the Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30): Mack Brown’s finale. Fantastic. What do we have for him as a parting gift? The Oregon Ducks. Horns come out inspired but too much talent on the other side. And why is David Shaw in the stands when he should be preparing for the Rose Bowl?
23. Washington State over Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 21): Gotta go with Mike Leach here, who takes Wazzou to a bowl for the first time since 2003. When in doubt, take the big boy conference over the non-BCS. Oh, and any coach that dresses up like a pirate and has a place in the Keys is a plus too.
22. Missouri over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3): Oklahoma State has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but had two monumental gaffes that simply are inexcusable. Any team that loses to West Virginia is one you can’t trust. On the flip side, the Tigers are good in the trenches and should be able to carve up the OSU defense. Look for Mizzou’s running game to pound the Cowboys (sounds familiar in that stadium).
21. South Carolina over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1): Look for both teams to run the ball and run some more. Wisconsin has done it for years. South Carolina shows them how it is done in 2013, er, 2014. What’s in your wallet?
20. Fresno State over USC in the Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 21): Head coach Tim DeRuyter had the Bulldogs one loss away from busting the BCS. Fresno State is all about offense, especially QB Derek Carr (4,866 yards, 48 touchdowns). USC was a soap opera all season and who knows if they will find any focus until spring football. Coach O spotted in the stands wearing a Fresno cap and a shirt that says “Fire Haden.”
19. Washington over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl (Dec. 27): Washington does not miss a beat under interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo. Expect a high-scoring game, as the Huskies rank No. 8 in total offense and BYU ranks 14. Chris Petersen doesn’t care much about the win because he is concerned that the Statue of Liberty play is never called during the game.
18. Bowling Green over Pitt in the Little Caesars Bowl (Dec. 26): Bowling Green won the MAC for the first time in 21 years. BG features a stout defense, giving up only 14.8 points-per-game. Pitt was inconsistent, at best. Plus Mark May went to Pitt. I don’t like the guy.
17. Oregon State over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24): One thing I do know – take the over in this one. Both teams can score (Boise State averaged close to 39 per game while Oregon State has the third-best passing offense in the country). Both have bad D too. Scoreboard operator beware.
16. Ole Miss over Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl (Dec. 30): These two square off for the first time since 1971. Both were 7-5 this season. John Heisman coached the Yellow Jackets back in the day, and they could use him this year. Ole Miss runs away with this one as the Rebel wide receivers go off. Eli Manning celebrates a day early by handing out another two picks in the Giants’ season finale.
15. Marshall over Maryland in the Military Bowl (Dec. 27): Maryland barely became bowl-eligible while Marshall won the Conference USA East title and seven of its last eight games. I was going to pick Maryland but switched simply on principle that their unis are terrible.
14. East Carolina over Ohio in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl (Dec. 23): Played in Tampa, I know about as much on this game as the possibility of life on Mars. Plus, like I said before – when in doubt go with the Pirates.
13. Northern Illinois over Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 26): Northern Illinois can give almost any team in the country a tough game. Utah State gets it this bowl season. Heisman candidate QB Jordan Lynch will give USU all they can handle. Get the Tequila Egg Nogs ready and party up the day after Christmas.
12. Minnesota over Syracuse in the Texas Bowl (Dec. 27): Both teams got off to a rough start to the season and bounced back to make a bowl. Minnesota is more of the complete team of the two, event hough they were picked to finish dead last in the Big Ten’s Legends Division. Oh, you betcha.
11. Navy over Middle Tennessee in the Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 30): Navy’s triple-option attack is lethal to the Blue Raiders in this one. Plus it makes sense to pick the actual armed forces institution in the Armed Forces Bowl. When they create a Blue Raider Bowl, Middle Tennessee will get the nod.
10. Notre Dame over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28): Notre Dame in New York City? Seems rather fitting and always fun. Too bad no one cares about this bowl game. Rutgers fired everyone off the coaching staff last week so this should be fun. They’ll be diagramming plays in the dirt near second base. The Irish win as long as they stay away from the Carnegie Deli and Shake Shack on game day. (Food hangovers in that town don’t help).
9. North Carolina over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl (Dec. 28): This is practically a home game for Carolina, and the school is letting the fans pick their uniforms. UNC has never won a bowl game in their home state though. Cincinnati was in the Belk Bowl last year as well, and the atmosphere should be one of the best of the bowl season. Nothing says bowl game like Charlotte.
8. Kansas State over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28): This is the Big 12’s second-best chance to get a bowl win. Kansas State won five of their last six games while Michigan lost five of their last seven. Boneless wings for everyone!
7. UCLA over Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl (Dec. 31): Bruins QB Brett Hundley had 3,432 total yards and 31 touchdowns. Expect him to account for a few more in this one, even against a stout Virginia Tech defense.
6. Georgia over Nebraska in the Gator Bowl (Jan. 1): Both squads had a disappointing season. Georgia’s injuries were unreal, and Aaron Murray is out for the bowl game. Any team that has Bo Pelini as the top man can’t be the pick.
5. Stanford over Michigan State in the Rose Bowl (Jan. 1): This may be one of the best games of the bowl season. Michigan State plays great defense and Stanford runs the ball well. This is the Spartans’ first Rose Bowl since the 1987 season.
4. Clemson over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl (Jan. 3): Ohio State never really played anyone til the end of the season. They should have gone 0-2 in those games (went 1-1 instead). Tajh Boyd runs roughshod in this one, as the Buckeyes are once again exposed as a fraud. Urban Meyer again eats pizza alone on a golf cart post-game.
3. San Diego State over Buffalo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 21): Can the Aztecs run the ball? That will decide this game. Buffalo is good at stopping the run while San Diego State’s M.O. is to tote the rock. Aztecs celebrate with loaded baked potatoes in the locker room. Yes, cheese and chives too.
2. Arkansas State over Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl (Jan. 5): This is my wedding anniversary, so safe to say I will not be watching this classic match-up. There should be a rule that all crappy bowls have to be played prior to January 1. This qualifies. Arkansas State is playing in this game for the third consecutive year, so, take em.
1. Florida State over Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 6): The SEC streak comes to an end. And not because of Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. It is the Seminole defense that makes the difference. Nice try, though, Gus. Your luck runs out.