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Fortune Teller: 2008 Bowl Predictions Part II

Let's keep things rolling ...

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces - Houston (-2.5) vs. Air Force - ESPN - 12/31 - website

Jeff: We were wrong earlier because this game is another rematch of a regular season game. Houston lost to Air Force by 3 back in September and even though it is tough to be a team twice, I am going to take Air Force here since they are getting a couple of points.

Brian: Putting aside its regular season finale loss to Rice, Houston has played better ball in November, dropping 42, 70, 42 and 42 on Tulane, a ranked Tulsa, UTEP and coming up short against Rice. The flipside is that Air Force has gone 2-2 in November, including losing its last two games to ranked BYU at home and ranked TCU on the road. Not to mention the fact that Air Force's record is terribly misleading. At 8-4, Air Force has lost to all the good teams they have played (Utah, Navy, BYU and TCU) and their best win has come against this Houston team. I watched this team struggle to beat Army at the beginning of the month and was none too impressed. Since AFA-Houston I was back in September, Houston has put together a much better season with quality wins at ECU and at home against 10-3 Tulsa. Long story short, I like Houston getting 2.5 ... playing in the state of Texas, that whole rematch thing, etc. etc.

Brut Sun - Oregon State (-3) vs. Pittsburgh - CBS - 12/31 - website

Brian: This is a rematch of the 2002 Insight Bowl, a game Pittsburgh won 38-13. Since then, however, the Beavers have rattled off 4 straight bowl wins, including wins over Maryland, Notre Dame, Missouri and New Mexico. Oregon State is coming off a devastating loss to UO in the Civil War, while Pittsburgh is riding a two game winning streak (the Backyard Brawl and a 34-10 UConn beat down). This game will be competitive, but I think Oregon State pulls it out and covers.

Jeff: This game is tough to call but I actually like what Pitt is doing and think they are headed in the right direction and will be a key piece to getting the Big East a little more respect in the coming years. I'll take Pitt +3 since I think they have about a 50% chance of winning.

Gaylord Hotels Music City - Boston College vs. Vanderbilt (+4) - ESPN - 12/31 - website

Jeff: Is there any way to build up suspense for my pick here? ....No. BC -4 is a no brainer, but remember last year's game before you bet the farm on BC. Last year BC dominated Michigan State but gave up a TD and a two point conversion late to not cover. Regardless, BC -4 against 6-6 Vandy.

Brian: Agreed, the least suspenseful of our bowl picks.

Insight - Kansas (-10.5) vs. Minnesota - NFL Network - 12/31 - website

Brian: That's a lot of points. Still, while Minnesota has shown progress under second year coach Tim Brewster, Minnesota has gone from 7-1 and ranked in the Top 25 to 7-5, losing their last four games, including Iowa giving the Gophers a 55-0 Metrodome farewell. Minnesota has been outscored 143-55 in the month of November. Rock Chalk Jayhawk covers easily.

Jeff: Another NFL Network game? Big 10 sucks. Big 12 North isn't much better but it is good enough that Kansas can cover here.

Chick-fil-A - LSU vs. Georgia Tech (-4) - ESPN - 12/31 - website

Jeff: My brain tells me Georgia Tech after they beat Georgia to finish off the regular season but I have a little soft spot for LSU and they are the defending national champs. Also, with a month to prepare, Paul Johnson's offense becomes a little easier to defend. Take LSU +4.

Brian: Stop. We've been slurping the Yellow Jackets all year. This is a no-brainer. Georgia Tech going away.

Outback - Iowa vs. South Carolina (+3.5) - ESPN - 1/1 - website

Brian: Upon first glance, this looks like two teams going in opposite directions. South Carolina got manhandled by Florida by a gazillion points and followed that up with a 31-14 loss to in-state rival Clemson. In the other corner is an Iowa team that has put together three straight wins over 11-1 Penn State, Purdue (meh) and a 55-0 Gopher annihilation in the last Minnesota game to be played in the Metrodome. Not too confident with this pick, but I'll go with the hotter team. Take Iowa to cover the 3.5.

Jeff: Wow, 55-0 over Minnesota is pretty strong there. Minnesota is not any good but South Carolina is far from a great team and lost their star on defense, Emanuel Cook, due to his inability to pass 6 credit hours of classes this semester. That means he only passed one or no classes. Take Iowa -3.5.

Konica Minolta Gator - Clemson vs. Nebraska (+2.5) - CBS - 1/1 - website

Jeff: Clemson -2.5. If you believe in the parity of the ACC Clemson is approximately just as good as Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech beat Nebraska by 5 in Lincoln so on a neutral site that has a lot more orange in the stands than red, I like Clemson's chances of winning by more than 5.

Brian: All ACC teams aren't created equal Jeff. While Virginia Tech did beat Nebraska back in September, both the Hokies and Cornhuskers are very different teams now. Both are playing better football in the second half of the season. These two coaches are looking for their first bowl wins as head coach (Pelini won the Alamo Bowl back in 2003 as an "interim" coach). I'll give Clemson the home field advantage and begrudgingly go with Clemson, although I wouldn't be surprised if Nebraska pulls this one out as the Tigers have no business playing in the No. 3 ACC bowl game.

Capital One - Michigan State vs. Georgia (-7.5) - ABC - 1/1 - website

Brian: Both teams are coming off disappointing losses. The Spartans were soundly beat by Penn State 49-18 for the Land Grant trophy, while Georgia was stung by Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets 45-42. Georgia's record is deceiving. Once a chic National title preseason pick, I can't find one impressive win on the Bulldogs schedule this season. (At South Carolina back in September ... maybe). As much as we rag on the Big 10, Michigan State has been here before - remember, the Capital One Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl are played in the same stadium - and I definitely see them covering the 7.5 points. Michigan State.

Jeff: Michigan State only played two good teams this year and got throttled by both (Penn State and Ohio State). Georgia is likely to score 40+ just as those teams did and even though they might give up a few more points, they will win by plenty enough to cover the spread. Take Georgia -7.5.

Rose - Southern Cal (-9.5) vs. Penn State - ABC - 1/1 - website

Jeff: USC players and fans have been rumored to have hoped that Oregon State was going to win the Pac-10 just so that USC could go to a different BCS bowl and not beat up on a Big Ten team once again. But this is not Ohio State or Illinois. This is finally a half decent Big Ten team. Take Penn State +9.5.

Brian: What's the difference between Ohio State and Penn State this year? A late fourth quarter turnover that Penn State turned into 7 and won in Columbus. I just don't see how the Rose Bowl is going to be much different from Ohio State's trip to Los Angeles in September. The Trojans will be looking to prove they should have played in the BCS National Title game while JoePa already won the coaching wins record with Bowden given his three year extension that allows him to coach to age 112. Where's the motivation? USC big.

Orange - Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati (-1) - Fox - 1/1 - website

Brian: Fine, blame the BC Eagles if you must, but I don't see the ACC 1-9 BCS bowl record improving this year. I just don't. I like to key in on who's the hotter team come bowl season, and Cincinnati's 6 straight wins definitely trumps the three-game winning streak the Hokies are on (14-3 against Duke, who kept it close, 17-14 over UVA, and 30-12 over the Eagles led by Dominique Davis). For such a strong program, Virginia Tech has a pedestrian 7-14 record overall, and 6-9 under Beamer. The big accomplishment for Beamer and the gang was getting to this game and winning the ACC. I think that's where the magic stops this season. I like Cincinnati to win the Orange Bowl.

Jeff: Cincinnati barely beat Hawaii in their last game this year. This might have been because they already had an Orange Bowl berth locked up but I think that was not the only reason. I really do not think anyone from the Big East is any good this year and I think EVERY ACC bowl bound team could beat the Bearcats. Take Virginia Tech even if the line moves to VT -10!

AT&T Cotton - Texas Tech (-5.5) vs. Mississippi - Fox - 1/2 - website

Jeff: I think Texas Tech's run is completely over. Ole Miss +5.5 is easy money here. Ole Miss is thrilled to be there while Texas Tech still probably thinks they should've gone to a BCS game and/or the Big XII Championship game.

Brian: Ahh, the Cotton Bowl: the fake BCS game. This is also the last Cotton Bowl at, well, the Cotton Bowl. The 2010 version moves to Jerry World. Just like Jeff, I like Mississippi to cover as well. This should be one of the better games to watch. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Red Raiders run is completely over though, Jeff. If Leach and Crabtree stay (the latter being much more questionable), this team can continue to compete with Texas and Oklahoma in the Big XII South. Remember, BC also had to replace a Golden Arm Award winner last season and everyone wrote off the Eagles as well this year. Seemed to work out OK for Boston College.

AutoZone Liberty - East Carolina vs. Kentucky (+2) - ESPN - 1/2 - website

Brian: Exhibit 45A that there are too many bowl games is Kentucky (6-6, 2-6 SEC) playing in a bowl game. A team so crappy that they sent lame duck coach Phil Fulmer out on a winning note. This team got to 6 wins by beating Louisville (awful), Norfolk State (not the prison), Middle Tennessee State (something Maryland couldn't do), Western Kentucky (toothless 2-10 I-A independent), Arkansas and Mississippi State. The Wildcats best win? 21-20 at home against Petrino and the Razorbacks. On the other hand, East Carolina has some quality wins this season, was a September "BCS buster" and beat Tulsa for the C-USA title. Arrgh! Pirates BIG.

Jeff: Middle Tennessee State and Louisville both sound like better wins than any team Boston College beat out-of-conference this season. Take Kentucky here for the simple reason that Brian is probably wrong.

Sugar - Utah vs. Alabama (-11) - Fox - 1/2 - website

Jeff: If you had $100.00 to bet on only one game this bowl season, here is the pick for you. Put your money on Alabama. The Sugar Bowl will soon be far less relevant than the Orange Bowl appears to be this year after another year of an SEC team absolutely man handling a non-BCS conference team. Alabama!

Brian: Yes, Hawaii was an undefeated, non-BCS pushover last year in the Sugar Bowl, but Utah is a MUCH better team than the 2007 version of Hawaii. Utah has a strong defense and a pretty good quarterback, and has been tested with some fairly decent competition (Oregon State, TCU, BYU). While I think the Tide wins, they won't roll. I'm going with Utah +11 simply because I think Jeff is letting his SEC man crush cloud his better judgment on this one ... and I think 'Bama wins by 10, not 11+.

International - Connecticut (-4.5) vs. Buffalo - ESPN2 - 1/3 - website

Brian: I don't know what to make of this game. It's a virtual home game for Turner Gill and the MAC Champion Bulls (Toronto). Both teams have a shared opponent this season in Temple, and, of course, both struggled to put away the Owls. UConn beat Temple in a monsoon in overtime, while Buffalo won on a hail mary as the clock expired. Connecticut has had a terrible December (1-3) but Buffalo was the benefactor of playing in the MAC East this year. If they played in the MAC West, they don't even make it to the conference championship, having lost to two of the three directional Michigan schools. I guess I like Connecticut in this one to steamroll the Bulls behind the rushing game of Donald Brown.

Jeff: It is virtually a home game for Buffalo and Buffalo won the MAC which had several decent teams in is this year. But Buffalo won by winning the weaker division of the MAC and upsetting Ball State in the Championship game. Go with Connecticut here since Turner Gill is probably busy interviewing for new jobs anyway.

Fiesta - Ohio State vs. Texas (-9.5) - Fox - 1/5 - website

Jeff: Ohio State will continue to get beat up in BCS games. Texas -9.5.

Brian: The only reason I tune this game on to watch is in fear of missing the 2006 version of this game. I don't think that will happen, though ... no undefeated mid major team, and neither team is really playing for anything. Texas should beat the Buckeyes by at least 10 pretty easily.

GMAC - Tulsa (+3) vs. Ball State - ESPN - 1/6 - website

Brian: The best teams that Ball State has played this year are Navy, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Buffalo. A 12-1 MAC team is roughly equivalent to a 10-3 Conference USA team, but because Ball State head coach Brady Hoke has already parlayed his success in Muncie for a head coaching job at San Diego State (really?! couldn't you hold out for a slightly better job?), the magic runs out for Ball State. Tulsa to cover, and probably win straight up.

Jeff: I'm with you Brian and I am in fact shocked that Tulsa is not favored here. Take Tulsa +3.

BCS Title Game - Florida vs. Oklahoma (+3.5) - Fox - 1/8 - website

Jeff: The game is played on the field and not on paper so anything can happen. Florida is clearly a better team than Oklahoma though. In fact, I would take four other teams playing in BCS games over Oklahoma on a neutral field. Take Florida here without hesitation but like I said, anything can happen.

Brian: I think this game will be closer than people are giving Oklahoma credit for. This should be a good game where I could see the winning team scoring very late in the fourth quarter. Of course, that score will be a touchdown, as these two teams rank 1 (Oklahoma 54.0) and 3 (Florida 45.2) in points per game. More interesting stats - Oklahoma and Florida rank 1-2 nationally in turnover margin. This game could go either way but I think defense will be the difference in this one. Florida ranks 9th nationally in total defense while Oklahoma ranks in the bottom half of Division I-A (#65). Advantage Gators. Coaching edge? Big game Bob roams the sidelines for the Crimson and Cream, and has lost his last 4 BCS bowl games. Advantage Gators. Take the Gators to cover, but as Jeff said, I wouldn't be shocked if OU takes the gift the Big XII gave them and turns it into a National championship.