After two weeks of bowl games we are 10 - 4 in our picks. Some pretty exciting games and great performances. The next week should not be any different as we now get into the heart of the bowl season. There are seventeen bowl games the next seven days with some exciting match-ups. Here are our picks for the week of December 30 through January 5.
BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES BOWL
Brigham Young vs. Tulsa
Dec. 30, Noon ET, ESPN
Tulsa is led by senior quarterback G.J. Kinne, who triggers a balanced attack that averages 454 yards and 34 points per game. Tulsa’s 4 losses came against teams that were ranked in the top ten at the time of their meeting (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Houston). BYU has a capable offense also with 30.6 points per game and averaging 410.8 yards. BYU’s stingy defense yields just 20.3 points per game.
MY Pick: BYU 28 Tulsa 23
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL
Rutgers vs. Iowa State
Dec. 30, 3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN
Rutgers features standout receiver Mohamed Sanu, who set the Big East record with 109 receptions this season. Iowa State shocked the country when it beat then No. 2 Oklahoma State 37-31 in overtime on Nov. 18.
MY Pick: Iowa State 21 Rutgers 20
FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL
Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest
Dec. 30, 6:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
Both teams come into this game with 6-6 records. Wake Forest (6-6) had a fast start to the season going 4-1 but dropped five of their final six. Mississippi St. had higher expectations but struggled in the tough SEC with loses to Auburn, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas, a tough gauntlet for sure.
MY Pick: Miss. St. 27 Wake Forest 19
Iowa vs. Oklahoma
Dec. 30, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
Iowa will be without their leading rusher Marcus Coker after he was suspended for the game by Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz for violating team rules. Coker had rushed for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, and ran for 219 yards in last season’s Insight Bowl, a 27-24 victory over then-No. 12 ranked Missouri. Oklahoma was the preseason #1 but struggled in an up and down season. Oklahoma is averaging 40 points a game while only giving up 22 per game on defense.
MY Pick: Oklahoma 37 Iowa 20
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS
Texas A&M vs. Northwestern
Dec. 31, Noon ET, ESPN
This bowl game features two exciting quarterbacks in Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill and Northwestern’s Dan Persa, and two shaky defenses that are both giving up over 27 points per game. All six of A&M’s losses have come to ranked teams. Northwestern has had a rough year with Persa being injured on and off for most of the year.
MY Pick: Texas A&M 33 Northwestern 27
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL
Georgia Tech vs. Utah
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET, CBS
Georgia Tech brings its powerful triple option rushing attack that averages 34 points per game and ranks third nationally with an average of 316.8 yards per game, against Utah’s stout defense, which allows less than 20 points per game. Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington has 10 touchdowns in the air and another 14 on the ground. Utah features John White IV who rushed for 1,404 yards and 14 touchdowns.
MY Pick: Georgia Tech 31 Utah 17
AutoZone LIBERTY BOWL
Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Vanderbilt comes into this bowl game with a 6-6 record but three of their six defeats were to Georgia, Arkansas and Florida by five points or less. Cincinnati, at 9-3 on the season, won a share of the Big East championship, but were edged out by West Virginia in the tiebreaker.
MY Pick: Vanderbilt 24 Cincinnati 23
KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER BOWL
Illinois vs. UCLA
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Both team’s head coaches have been fired for huge team collapses. Ron Zook’s involved Illinois dropping their last six games to finish 6-6 after opening 6-0. Rick Neuheisel’s was a 50-0 thrashing at the hands of USC and finishing the season at 6-7. UCLA is the first team in a decade to earn a trip to a bowl with a losing record. Illinois is the first FBS team in history to close the regular season with six straight losses after opening with six consecutive wins.
MY Pick: Illinois 23 UCLA 21
Virginia vs. Auburn
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Auburn started began the season 4-1 after a 16-13 victory at South Carolina but was blown out in three of their last four SEC games this season by LSU, Georgia and Alabama. Virginia has an impressive 8-4 record but was routed 38-0 by Virginia Tech in the regular-season finale.
MY Pick: Auburn 28 Virginia 20
Houston vs. Penn State
Jan. 2, Noon ET, ESPNU
Houston’s top-ranked aerial attack is led by sixth-year quarterback Case Keenum who threw for 5099 yds and 45 touchdowns while completing 71% of his passes. Penn State is fifth in the nation against the pass (162.2 yards allowed per game), and the nine TDs it gave up through the air are tied for the fifth-fewest. Penn State should be able to slow down Houston’s offense some but lacks enough offensive punch of their own to come away with a victory.
MY Pick: Houston 27 Penn State 24
Michigan State vs. Georgia
Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ET, ABC
On paper Mich St and Georgia couldn’t be more evenly matched. Both are 10-3 with great defenses that finished in the top five of the FBS in total defense. Offensively both teams are averaging over 30 points a game and are led by outstanding quarterbacks in Kirk Cousins for Mich State and Aaron Murray for Georgia. Both teams also have outstanding recievers and top notch running backs.
MY Pick: Georgia 28 Mich State 27
CAPITAL ONE BOWL
Nebraska vs. South Carolina
Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Both teams are averaging 30 points a game, but South Carolina’s defense is ranked No. 4 in the FBS. In what should be a low scoring game, South Carolina’s defense should carry the day.
MY Pick: South Carolina 19 Nebraska 13
TAXSLAYER.com GATOR BOWL
Ohio State vs. Florida
Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2
These two high-profile programs are looking to overcome their disappointing seasons with a bowl victory. Florida lost six of its final eight games, beating only Vanderbilt and Furman at home. Ohio State lost it’s last three games to finish at 6-6. Florida ranks 102nd out of 120 FBS schools in total offense, Ohio State is even worse at 107th.
MY Pick: Florida 21 Ohio State 17
Wisconsin vs. Oregon
Jan. 2, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
Oregon ranks third nationally in scoring offense and Wisconsin ranks fourth. Neither team has been held to fewer than 27 points this season. These two offenses will feature two of the nation’s top running backs in Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (1759 yards and 32 touchdowns) and Oregon’s LaMichael James (1646 yards and 17 touchdowns). Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas threw for 2,493 yards and 30 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 2879 yards and 31 touchdowns with only three interceptions.
MY Pick: Wisconsin 38 Oregon 35
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Fiesta Bowl features two of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden and Stanford’s Andrew Luck. Weeden has 34 passing touchdowns this year, Luck has 35. Weeden has the best wide receiver in college football in Justin Blackmon. Luck has the country’s most productive tight end in Coby Fleener. Stanford is averaging 43 points a game and Oklahoma State is averaging 49.
MY Pick: Oklahoma State 42 Stanford 38
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL
Michigan vs. Virginia Tech
Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Michigan offense features two runners, quarterback Denard Robinson and tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint, both who ran for over 1,000 yards and averaged more than 92 yards per game on the ground. Robinson also threw for over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns. Virginia Tech’s offense is led by ACC player of the year David Wilson, who averaged 125.2 yards rushing for the nation’s sixth-best mark. This matchup also includes two of the better defensive teams in the country. Virginia Tech ranked 13th nationally in the regular season by allowing 313.9 yards per game while Michigan was 18th at 317.6.
MY Pick: Michigan 31 Virginia Tech 28
DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL
Clemson vs. West Virginia
Jan. 4, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
West Virginia Geno Smith has thrown for 3,978 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey is the team’s leading reciever catching 67 passes for a school-record 1,197 yards with 11 touchdowns and Tavon Austin has 89 receptions for 1063 yards. Austin averages 191.2 all-purpose yards per game, second in the country and is one of the nation’s premier kickoff returners, averaging 26.5 yards per return. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 3578 yards and 31 touchdowns. Clemson also has a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver in the same season for just the third time in school history. Wide reciever Sammy Watkins caught 77 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 TDs, while running back Andre Ellington rushed for 1,062 yards and 10 scores.
MY Pick: Clemson 27 West Virginia 23
*** Disclaimer: I am not a sports expert, I do not know a sports expert, and I don’t play a sports expert on television. So if you use my picks to bet half of your paycheck on said games, you do so at your own risk. I take no responsibility for the actual outcome of any games I try to pick. Friday Picks is just for fun and should be taken it that way.