Saturday, December 20
Air Force by 0.24 over Western Michigan (-2) (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl) - Mountain West teams have cruised over the MAC in the last 2 editions of this bowl game. Both of this year's participants have had 7-win turnarounds from finishes of 2-10 (Air Force) and 1-11 (Western Michigan) in 2013. WMU gets nearly 60% of its offense thru the air while the AFA gets 64% of its offense on the ground. WMU ranks 37th stopping the run while Air Force ranks 101st stopping the pass. The Broncos are 0-5 all-time in bowl games. I'd call this game a toss-up with a slight advantage to WMU.
Bowling Green by 3.61 over South Alabama (-1.5) (Camellia Bowl) Bowling Green enters this game on a 3-game losing streak, including a 51-17 loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship contest after claiming the East division with a 5-3 conference mark. South Alabama won just 1 of its last 5 games, but two of those were against Navy and South Carolina.
Tuesday, December 23
Navy by 4.80 over San Diego State (-2.5) (Poinsettia Bowl) - Navy finished 7-5 after being projected in the preseason to go 10-2. SDSU as picked to go 5-7, but comes into this game with a 7-5 record. The Aztecs tied Utah State for the MWC West division title but Fresno State advanced to the championship game by virtue of its head-to-head win.
Monday, December 29
Texas A&M by 6.80 over West Virginia (-3.5) (Liberty Bowl) - This is 1 of 10 bowl games which feature teams that have never previously met on the gridiron. In the case of A&M and WVU, the back half the season was a certifiable disaster after strong first halves. The Aggies got off to a 5-0 start, and were ranked No. 1 in the Congrove Computer Rankings for 2 weeks in September, before getting outscored by a cumulative 91 points over the next 3 games. The Mountaineers were 6-2 before dropping 3 of their last 4. Now, both teams enters the Liberty Bowl with 7-5 records. By the way, each team has played in this particular bowl just once previously with A&M's last appearance coming in 1975, and West Virginia's in 1964. AS for this matchup, both schools are known for their offense but the Aggies only ranked 6th in the SEC and the Mountaineers ranked and the Mountaineers ranked 4th in the Big 12. Texas A&M's defense ranked last in the SEC, while WVU's defense ranked 6th in the Big 12.
Wednesday, December 31
Boise State by 0.21 over Arizona (-4) (Fiesta Bowl) - Boise State makes its first major bowl appearance since the 2009 season win over TCU and is 2-0 all-time in this game. The overtime win over Oklahoma at the end of the 2006 season is hailed as one of the best bowl games of all time. Arizona hasn't played in the Fiesta since the '93 season when it blanked Miami (FL) 29-0 and is 1-1 all time with a 1979 season loss to Pittsburgh. The Wildcats went 5-3 in their final 8 games have a 5-0 start while the Broncos enter on an 8-game winning streak after a 2-3 start.
Thursday, January 1
Michigan State by 2.57 over Baylor (-2) (Cotton Bowl) - Baylor brings the nation's top offense and highest-scoring team to face the nation's No. 7 team in total defense. Baylor QB Bryce Petty has thrown for 7,505 yards over the last 2 seasons while tossing 58 TD passes and getting picked off just 9 times. In that 2-year period, the Bears have averaged 50.68 points per game. Over the same stretch, the Spartans' defense has allowed an average of just 16.3 points per game.
Minnesota by 0.31 over Missouri (-5.5) (Citrus Bowl) - Minnesota caught a lot of humans off-guard with its success this season, but the computer's preseason forecast had the Golden Gophers going 10-2 over-all so they actually came up a tad short of its expectations. Nonetheless, the 8-4 mark is the school's best since 2003 (9-3). Missouri had a 6-game winning streak snapped with its loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. The Tigers have lost 4 conference championship games over the last 8 years between the Big 12 and SEC, and haven't claimed a league crown since tying Nebraska for the 1969 Big 8 title. Minnesota is currently on the nation's 2nd-longest bowl losing streak at 6 games with the last victory coming in the 2004 Music City Bowl. The Tigers are on a 2-bowl winning streak. One telling stat from 2013 is that Missouri was next-to-last in total offense in the SEC.
Ohio State by 5.51 over Alabama (-9.5) (Sugar Bowl) - Cardale Jones' performance at QB in a 59-0 win over Wisconsin for the Big Ten title was nothing short of unbelievable. The redshirt sophomore's second start is merely a Rose Bowl matchup with mighty Alabama in a semifinal playoff game for the national championship. According the computer, Ohio State played the 10th-toughest schedule this year while "Bama faced the No. 24 schedule (the computer compiles SOS by the average power rating of each opponent). The Buckeyes rank 8th in total offense (after the regular season) while the Tide ranked 16th. The Ohio State "d" ranked 15th while 'Bama ranked 11th. Alabama QB Blake Sims had the 7th-highest pass efficiency rating, and WR Amari Cooper was tops in receiving yards with 1,656. Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, the Broyles Award winner as the nation's top assistant, has been hired as the new head coach of Houston but will remain with the Buckeyes through the playoffs.
Friday, January 2
Houston by 2.11 over Pittsburgh (-2.5) (Armed Forces Bowl) - This will be an interim head coaching battle as Houston fired Tony Levine after a7-5 season and Pittsburgh (6-6) lost Paul Chryst to Wisconsin's head coaching vacancy. Houston will be led by defensive coordinator David Gibbs while Pitt's situation has just changed on the day of this writing. Both teams are known more for defense than offense, with each ranking in the top 29.
Iowa by 2.48 over Tennessee (-2.5) (TaxSlayer Bowl) - The Gator Bowl has become the TaxSlayer Bowl and has lost a lot of its luster in recent years. This year's combatants in Jacksonville are average, at best, with Iowa entering on a 7-5 record and Tennessee limping in at 6-6 after beating mighty Vanderbilt to become bowl eligible in the 11th hour. The Hawkeyes lost 3 of their last 4 after opening 6-2. The Vols bat two creampuffs to start the season and then floundered around for the rest of the year.
UCLA by 0.14 over Kansas State (-1.5) (Alamo Bowl) - UCLA's season was major disappointment after the computer projected the Bruins to face Florida State for the national championship. Conversely, the computer's preseason forecast nailed Kansas State's
final marks of 9-3 overall and 7-2 in the Big 12. Now, the computer's trend line actually likes the Wildcats by 10-1/2 points.