Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Streit’s Bowl Mania Part 1: Pre-Christmas Bowls

Bowl season is just 4 days away. Can you believe it?!? Over the next few days I will preview all of this year's bowl game, provide my pick, and rank each one (1-35) on my confidence in that pick. It should be fun.

December 17

2 PM - New Mexico Bowl
Matchup: Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)

What to watch for: Temple's rushing offense is ranked 7th in the country averaging 256 yards per game. The leader of their rushing attack is Bernard Pierce, who has over 1300 yards and 25 touchdowns this fall. The Owls blew out Maryland 38-7 and played well in a 14-10 loss to Penn State. Their passing offense is horrible, but against Wyoming's 115th ranked rushing defense, they shouldn't need to throw it much.
The pick: Temple - 26 points

5 PM - Idaho Potato Bowl
Matchup: Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5)

What to watch for: Ohio is coming off a MAC Championship loss in which they had a 20 point lead at halftime. The Bobcats are led by quarterback Tyler Tettlton who accounted for over 3,600 total yards and 35 touchdowns, but he did throw three picks in the last game. Utah State had defending champion Auburn on the ropes on opening day, only to see an onside kick and a couple of quick scores ruin their upset bid. Despite the early disappointment, they won their final 5 games and finished runner up in the WAC conference. They are led by running back Robert Turbin, who rushed for 1,416 yards and scored 23 total touchdowns this fall. This game will come down to defense, where Ohio is giving up only 22 points per game (while Utah State averages 28). The bobcats win this in a close contest.

The pick: Ohio - 6 points

9 PM - New Orleans Bowl
Matchup: San Diego State (8-4) vs. Louisiana Lafayette (8-4)

What to watch for: Both teams are 8-4, but I do not expect this to be a close game. Lafayette reeled off 6 straight wins early in the season, but went just 2-3 down the stretch. Their defense is weak, giving up 30 points a game and almost 400 yards of offense. The Cajuns junior quarterback, Blane Gautier, led the Sun Belt in passing but it will not be enough. San Diego State senior quarterback Ryan Lindley is a four year starter with over 12,000 career passing yards and 87 touchdown passes. Sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman has rushed for 1,656 yards and 19 touchdowns this year. I don't see Lafayette being able to stop this duo. Plus, the Aztec defense has only given up 72 second half points all year.

The pick: San Diego State - 28 points

December 20

8 PM - St. Petersburg Bowl
Matchup: Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)

What to watch for: We are..not winning this game. FIU had their best year in school history, including its first ever win over a BCS conference school (against Louisville in September). Receiver TY Hilton has nearly 1000 yards receiving this year. Marshall barely made it to a bowl game by defeating East Carolina and Memphis to close the season. Their best player is defensive end Vinny Curry, who had 11 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss.

The pick: Florida International - 12 points

December 21

8 PM - Poinsettia Bowl
Matchup: TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)

What to watch for: This is a matchup of two conference champions, as TCU won the Mountain West while Louisiana Tech won the WAC. But lets be honest, Louisiana Tech only won the Wac because that conference is really horrible and Boise State is now in the MWC. TCU should have been back in the BCS, in my opinion. They lost to Baylor to open the season in a crazy game but 10-1 the rest of the way, despite replacing almost all of their major players from last year's Rose bowl squad. TCU will win, we don't even need to talk details. This is my highest confidence pick.

The pick: TCU - 35 points

December 22

8PM - Las Vegas bowl
Matchup: Arizona State (6-6) vs. Boise State (11-1)

What to watch for: This will be the final game for Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. The senior who has rewritten the NCAA record books should lead his squad out with a victory. Arizona State was a popular pick to win the Pac-12 South, but they failed to live up to the hype and recently fired Coach Dennis Erickson. If Boise State plays anywhere close to how I saw them play against the Dawgs in September, this one isn't close.

The pick: Boise State - 33 points

December 24

8 PM - Hawaii Bowl
Matchup: Nevada (7-5) vs. Southern Miss (11-2)

What to watch for: Southern Miss is one of the hottest teams in the nation after knocking off previously undefeated Houston to win the conference USA Championship. This will be coach Larry Fedora's last game before he moves on to take the job at North Carolina. Two early season losses to Marshall and UAB are the only blemishes on the Golden Eagles' record. They have a strong defense that has intercepted 18 passes this year and only gives up 21 points per game. Linebacker Jamie Collins had 94 tackles, in 19.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. They also boast the 14th ranked scoring offense in the country, led by senior QB Austin Davis. Nevada does not have the same potent offense as the 2010 WAC Championship team did, but they did finish 8th in the country in rushing. Unfortunately, their defense gives up over 30 points a game against bowl teams.

The pick: Southern Miss - 27 points

I'll be back with Part 2, the 'tweener games, tomorrow!

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