[Ed. note -- Bumped]
This is my first attempt at predicting the bowl season. Here's my scores for the first week of games, with a bit of a write-up about each game. I'm eager for some input/criticism, and if you have any questions about why I picked what I did, I'd be happy to elaborate.
This matchup pits two 6-6 teams with BYU and UTEP. These two teams come into this game with complete opposite stories during the regular season, with BYU starting 2-5 then winning 4 straight and nearly upsetting Utah in a 17-16 defeat. UTEP, on the other hand, began the season 5-1, but limped into the bowl season. The crowd will definitely be in favor of UTEP with a short travel for the Miners fans. However, BYU’s momentum and defense should win this game pretty handedly.
Prediction: BYU 24-13
Two potent offenses collide in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. Expect a shootout here on the blue turf as Northern Illinois running game (265 yards per game) against the Bulldogs balanced offense. However, Fresno State may be slightly outmatched against the Huskies offense. The Huskies put up 60 TDs this year, which expected to carry over in their matchup against Miami of Ohio last week, but were surprisingly upset. Expect a bounce back win.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 48-35
The New Orleans Bowl brings a classic matchup of an offense-minded team vs. defense-minded team. Troy’s offense put them on top of the Sun Belt standings, average 441 yards per game, while Ohio’s defense made them one of the better teams in the Mid-American conference. Expect the only close matchup on Saturday, with defense winning the big game.
Prediction: Ohio 28-27
Somewhat of a rivalry game here, with Southern Miss and Louisville meeting for the 29th time. Southern Miss owns an 18-9-1 record in the series. A huge win at Rutgers made Louisville bowl eligible in its last game, after a struggling season for the Cardinals. Southern Miss on the other hand finished 8-4, and was a 1 point loss to ECU and a 1 point loss to UAB away from a 10-2 season and a possible conference champion title. Southern Miss should be pretty heavily favored in this game, and the offense should put on a show.
Prediction: Southern Miss 41-24
In the first bowl game between ranked teams, Boise State looks to reclaim its title as a serious BCS team against a Utes team that struggled at the end of the season. Boise State has the motivation and the offense to do some serious damage in this game, and is looking to prove it belongs at the top of the polls. Utah also has a lot to prove, but seems to still be recovering from back to back losses to TCU and Notre Dame. Utah barely defeated San Diego State (by 4) and BYU (by 1). Expect Utah to come out fighting, but the Broncos are just too much for the declining Utes.
Prediction: Boise St. 42-31
Thursday, December 23rd 8:00 PM
For the first time in the history of the bowl series, all three military FBS teams are bowl eligible. Navy is the first team to prove its worth, with a matchup against the high-scoring Aztecs. Expect both teams to be relentless in this, with both teams having quality games throughout the season. Navy destroyed Notre Dame and East Carolina, and also beat teams such as Central Michigan and Southern Methodist. San Diego State played a much more difficult schedule, beating Air Force when they were ranked 23rd, and only losing by 5 to 3rd ranked TCU and by 4 to 25th ranked Utah. Another close game with 2 great offenses, but look for a close victory by San Diego State here.
Prediction: San Diego State 31-28
Two red-hot teams meet in Hawaii’s home turf for the Hawaii Bowl. Tulsa comes in winning 6 straight, including a victory over Notre Dame, while Hawaii comes in ranked 25th, winning 9 of their last 10. This Hawaii offense hasn’t been this potent since the Colt Brennan era, putting up 62 touchdowns this season. Tulsa has also stepped up its offense, putting up over 500 yards a game and 58 touchdowns. Expect another early bowl game shootout, with Hawaii winning its first bowl game since 2006.
Prediction: Hawaii 45-42