Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ranking the bowls

Ranking the bowls

If you think LSU and 'Bama are the only teams worth watching this college bowl season, think again. Here's our ranking of all of this season's bowl games.

Leading the pack
We're in for a wild and woolly slate of college football bowl games, starting this Friday, and if you think LSU and 'Bama are the only teams worth watching, think again. There's so much more to see — 34 more matchups, to be exact. CFN has ranked them all right here. Ready, set, go
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl,
Utah State vs. Ohio5:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 17, Boise, Idaho 1. Utah State hasn’t been to a bowl since 1997. It’s going to care. A lot. 2. Ohio is good. It won five straight games before losing to NIU in the MAC title game. The last three Bobcat losses came by a grand total of seven points. 3. The Aggie offense, with RB Robert Turbin and QB Chuckie Keeton, is unstoppable at times on the ground. The spread started off the season ripping up Auburn and hasn’t stopped since. The fun doesn't stop here. Visit CFN for a full ranking of all 35 bowl games
BBVA Compass Bank Bowl,
Pitt vs. SMU 1 p.m. ET, Jan. 7, Birmingham, Ala. 1. It might be the last time to see June Jones  before he fills in one of the job openings. He might take over the Arizona State gig. 2. Pitt is strong enough defensively to keep the Mustang offense under wraps. The pass rush is among the best in America. 3. Pitt’s been surprisingly good in bowls lately, winning its last two. The fun doesn't stop here. Visit CFN for a full ranking of all 35 bowl games
Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl,
 Marshall vs. FIU 8 p.m. ET, Dec. 20, St. Petersburg, Fla. 1. Mario Cristobal  teams always bring the effort. Florida International was fighting through a rough stretch but got the groove back late to win the final three games. 2. Marshall won three of its last four games with an aggressive defensive front and an offense that started to find its spark late. The Herd beat Southern Miss won at Louisville. 3. The Golden Panthers also beat Louisville on the road early on. Three of the four losses came by five points or fewer. The fun doesn't stop here. Visit CFN for a full ranking of all 35 bowl games.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl,
TCU vs. Louisiana Tech 8 p.m. ET, Dec. 21, San Diego 1. Led by QB Casey Pachall  , TCU was close to being in the BCS and came a few spots short of getting an automatic invite. The two losses came to Baylor by two and in overtime to SMU. 2. Louisiana Tech is red-hot after starting the season 1-4. The Bulldogs won seven straight to close out the year, including a shocker at Nevada. How good was this streak? Five of the seven wins were on the road. 3. The last four TCU bowl games were decided by a touchdown or less. The fun doesn't stop here. Visit CFN for a full ranking of all 35 bowl games
Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl,
 Tulsa vs. BYU Noon ET, Dec. 30, Fort Worth, Texas 1. It’s been one of the better bowls three of the last four years, decided by six points or fewer in the three. 2. The Cougars defense has been among the best in the country at times, allowing just 317 yards per game on the year and allowing more than 20 points just four times. 3. Led by senior QB G.J. Kinne (pictured), Tulsa was on a roll before getting destroyed by Houston, winning seven straight to get in a position to play for the Conference USA title. The fun doesn't stop here. Visit CFN for a full ranking of all 35 bowl games
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl,
 Boise State vs. Arizona State8 p.m. ET, Dec. 22, Las Vegas, Nev. 1. There was a time in the middle of the season when this matchup would’ve been special. Arizona State was 5-1 and Boise State was shooting for a BCS game. 2. The Broncos are a missed field goal away from playing in the Sugar Bowl – at least. There’s a chance Kellen Moore (pictured) and crew could’ve ended up in the national championship with the right PR push. 3. Arizona State really does have the talent to put on a great show. The experience was there to win the Pac-12 title. Check out CFN for much more
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,
 UCLA vs. Illinois3:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 31, San Francisco 1. The two lame-duck teams might be just mediocre enough to put together a strong game. Neither one has a head coach to rely on  going into next year, but both eras will want to end with a bang. Neither Neuheisel nor Zook will coach the bowl game. Instead, it will be interim head coach Mike Johnson leading UCLA and newly hired Tim Beckman taking Zook's place on the sideline for Illinois. 2. The Illinois defensive line is worth the price of admission. Whitney Mercilus leads the nation in sacks and will be a first-round draft pick. 3. UCLA doesn’t give up. It might not be very good, but it’ll put out a full 60 minutes of effort. It’s going to come into the bowl game ready to try. It doesn’t want to end the year as the 6-8 bowl team. Check out CFN for much more.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl,
 Texas vs. California 8 p.m. ET, Dec. 28, San Diego 1. Both teams are on the upswing. Cal is young and improving, winning three of its last four games. Texas might have lost three of its last four, but the young talent is undeniable. 2. Case McCoy  is one of the hot new quarterbacks. The Texas sophomore is coming off a huge passing game – even with a slew of picks – in the loss to Baylor. 3. Cal’s defensive front is one of the most aggressive in America, ranking fifth in the nation and first in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss. The D led the league in pass defense. Check out CFN for much more.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl,
Southern Miss vs. Nevada8 p.m. ET, Dec. 24, Honolulu 1. The Conference USA champions deserve a better bowl. Southern Miss might have gagged away two bad losses to Marshall and UAB, but the team is roughly three plays away from playing in a BCS game. 2. Nevada might not have won the WAC, but the offense run by Rishard Matthews  is special, ranking fifth in the nation in yards and scoring 42 points or more in five of the last seven games. 3. The Golden Eagle defense is special. It shut down Case Keenum and Houston and ranks ninth in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Check out CFN for much more
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl,
 Missouri vs. North Carolina5 p.m. ET, Dec. 26, Shreveport, La. 1. Missouri ended the year hot, winning four of its last five games and coming close to pulling off a comeback in the three-point loss at Baylor. 2. The North Carolina run defense is among the best in the ACC. Quinton Coples   leads a talented front line that can be a brick wall at times. 3. Somewhat quietly, the Independence Bowl has been terrific. Six of the last seven and 10 of the last 12 have been decided by a touchdown or less. Check out CFN for much more
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas,
 Northwestern vs. Texas A&MNoon ET, Dec. 31, Houston 1. Texas A&M is a 10-2 team dressed as a 6-6 disappointment. Now that Mike Sherman has been fired and the pressure is off, there’s a chance the team relaxes and the talent shines through. 2. Northwestern is really, really, really motivated. It won four straight to become bowl-eligible before losing to Michigan State, and coach Pat Fitzgerald is treating this game like an audition to see who in the program wants to step up and shine for next year. 3. Texas A&M and exciting WR Ryan Swope rank seventh in the nation in total offense and Northwestern is ninth in the country in passing efficiency. Check out CFN for much more.
Hyundai Sun Bowl,
 Georgia Tech vs. Utah 2 p.m. ET, Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas 1. The Georgia Tech offense is always worth the watch, led by Tevin Washington . It’s third in the nation in rushing and led the ACC in total offense and scoring offense. However ... 2. Utah is seventh in the nation against the run and led the Pac-12 in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. 3. Eight of the last 12 were decided by seven points or fewer, and some of the ones that weren’t – last year’s Notre Dame win over Miami and UCLA’s 50-38 win over Northwestern in 2005 – were entertaining. Check out CFN for much more.
Chick-fil-A Bowl, Virginia vs. Auburn7:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 31, Atlanta 1. It’s a big game for the SEC. Auburn might be rebuilding, but it’s still supposed to be full of talent. After alternating between wins and losses over the last eight games, the program could use something positive going into the offseason. 2. The Cavaliers were hot, winning four straight and six of seven before losing to Virginia Tech. The defense is strong enough to keep the Tigers in check. 3. Both programs are surging up. Auburn has a few strong recruiting classes to build on and Virginia is loading up under head coach Mike London  These two should be in bigger bowl games next year
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl,
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. San Diego State 9 p.m. ET, Dec. 17, New Orleans 1. San Diego State is on a roll, winning four of its last five games with the lone loss coming to Boise State. Last year, the Aztecs destroyed Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl; they know how to rise to the occasion. 2. It’s the best season in Louisiana-Lafayette history. The program has never been in a bowl and it’s going to treat this like the BCS championship. QB Blaine Gautier  and the Ragin’ Cajuns should play at a high level. 3. The Sun Belt has won four of the last five New Orleans Bowls. The winner has scored 41 points or more in four of the last five games, and this should be a shootout
TicketCity Bowl ,
 Penn State vs. HoustonNoon ET, Jan. 2, Dallas 1. Even after the disastrous Conference USA title game, Houston is still No. 1 in the nation in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense. It’s the final game for Case Keenum (pictured). 2. There’s a chance this could be the last time Penn State goes bowling for a while if the NCAA decides to drop a hammer. After all the players have been through, and coming off the blowout loss to Wisconsin to lose the Big Ten Leaders race, the team could play its best game of the year. 3. It’s offense vs. defense. The Nittany Lions are 10th in the nation in total defense and will give Keenum a huge test, and vice versa
Valero Alamo Bowl ,
 Baylor vs. Washington 9 p.m. ET, Dec. 29, San Antonio, Texas 1. It’s Robert Griffin III  and a Baylor offense that averages 571 yards and 43.5 points per game. It’s college football’s most exciting attack led by its most exciting player. 2. Washington rose up and shocked the bowl world with a stomping of Nebraska in last year’s Holiday Bowl. Could head coach Steve Sarkisian have a magic formula for the big games with time to prepare? The Baylor defense is awful; the Huskies should be able to keep up. 3. Talk about motivation, this is Baylor’s second bowl appearance since 1994 and the team hasn’t won one since 1992
New Era Pinstripe Bowl,
Rutgers vs. Iowa State 3:20 p.m. ET, Dec. 30, New York City 1. Rutgers and head coach Greg Schiano (pictured) have spent the season trying to turn the program around. With a great young nucleus, a win over the Cyclones would mean a second nine-win season in the last three and would be really, really big going into the offseason. Winning in New York City could be a big boost for local recruits. 2. It’s Iowa State’s second bowl appearance since 2005. Good enough to blow away Texas Tech and ruin Oklahoma State’s national title dream, the Cyclones have just enough young talent to use this as a steppingstone. Led by quarterback Jared Barnett, this is an up-and-coming program. 3. Can the game be half as good as the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl? Syracuse’s controversial win over Kansas State was the best game of the 2010-11 bowl season, and both Iowa State and Rutgers should play at a high level
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl,
Wake Forest vs. Mississippi State6:40 p.m. ET, Dec. 30, Nashville, Tenn. 1. The bowl has been terrific over the last few years with the last seven decided by eight points or fewer. Last year, North Carolina beat Tennessee in a double-overtime thriller, and this matchup should be just as strong. 2. Wake Forest plays fun games. Seven of the games were decided by eight points or fewer and several were fantastic. When the passing game works, WR Chris Givens and the Demon Deacons can be entertaining behind QB Tanner Price . 3. Will Mississippi State be able to rise up like it did in last year’s Gator Bowl win over Michigan? Going back to 1998, the Bulldogs have won their last four bowl games. The team is overdue to play up to its expectations.
Belk Bowl,
Louisville vs. N.C. State 8 p.m. ET, Dec. 27, Charlotte, N.C. 1. The Cardinals’ defense is terrific. Charlie Strong almost got the team to the Orange Bowl with five wins in the final six games, but it lost the Big East tie-breaker to West Virginia. Senior LB Dexter Heyman and the young D, along with QB Teddy Bridgewater, are rising. 2. Tom O’Brien was all but fired after a 2-3 start, and then his Wolfpack got on a roll. The NC State defense is playing as well as the Cardinal D, even with the problems over the first three quarters against Maryland. 3. The NC State pass rush was among the best in the ACC, dominating Clemson in a blowout win, and Louisville’s pass rush is just as strong. If you like a defensive bowl, this should be it
Gildan New Mexico Bowl,
 Wyoming vs. Temple 2 p.m. ET, Dec. 17, Albuquerque, N.M. 1. Seriously, Temple vs. Wyoming is going to be worthy of opening up the bowl season. Both programs have energetic head coaches who should probably be at bigger programs, and they’ll have their teams ready and prepared. Be shocked if this isn’t a close, tight game for four quarters. 2. Temple topped the MAC in rushing, led by Bernard Pierce (pictured). This could be his last game before taking off to the NFL. The Owl defense was third in the nation in scoring, keeping Penn State to 14 points and allowing more than 21 points twice. 3. Wyoming won three of its last four games. Considering it’s a really, really young team, being fourth in the nation in turnover margin is impressive. The Cowboys have been one of the year’s biggest surprises and Dave Christensen deserves Coach of the Year recognition.
Insight Bowl,
Iowa vs. Oklahoma 10 p.m. ET, Dec. 30, Tempe, Ariz. 1. Last year, Iowa shocked Missouri and Blaine Gabbert 27-24 in a thrilling Insight Bowl. Four of the last six years, the Insight has been among the most fun and exciting games of the bowl season. 2. Oklahoma is better than it showed against a jacked-up Oklahoma State. This was the preseason No. 1 team, and when everything was working, it looked like it. The team was still in the national title hunt up until late November. 3. Iowa’s coaching staff knows how to get it done in bowl games. With QB James Vandenberg, RB Marcus Coker and WR Marvin McNutt, the skill players are in place to potentially make this interesting for Sooners LB Travis Lewis  and crew. Can the Hawkeyes rise up and play up to their normal bowl level? They’ve won three straight.
Champs Sports Bowl,
Florida State vs. Notre Dame 5:30 p.m., Dec. 29, Orlando, Fla. 1. It’s Florida State vs. Notre Dame. It might be better on name recognition than actual production this year, but it’s still a good-sounding matchup. Neither program is at the level it wants to be, but the wheels are in motion for both to do huge things over the next few years with great talent bases in place. 2. One way or another, Notre Dame will be a storyline this offseason. If the Irish get blown out and finish 8-5, Brian Kelly (pictured) could be on a wee bit of a hot seat. However, with a good win over the Seminoles, and after last year’s great recruiting class, the excitement could be sky high. 3. Florida State is second in the nation in run defense, first in punting, and has one of the best pass rushes in college football. The ‘Noles could put on a dominating defensive show that sets the tone for a big offseason. The team was close in its four losses and might just need a little more maturity.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
, Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt 3:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn. 1. Vanderbilt has come up with a terrific defensive season and is improving offensively. First-year head man James Franklin took the job saying the program could be competitive, and he proved it. This isn’t a fluke; the team is the real deal. 2. Had QB Zach Collaros (pictured) not gotten hurt, Cincinnati almost certainly would’ve ended up in the BCS. The run defense is among the best in the country thanks to a pass rush that leads college football in both sacks and tackles for loss. This is a BCS-worthy team with an offense that found itself over the last two games. 3. The last seven Liberty Bowls have been close with all of them decided by eight points or fewer. They haven’t always been offensive shows, but they’ve come down to the wire.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl,
 Western Michigan vs. Purdue 4:30 p.m., Dec. 27, Detroit 1. It might seem like a mid-September, non-conference matchup, but it should be as entertaining as any December bowl. Exciting Jordan White (pictured) and Western Michigan hung 63 points on Toledo and 68 on Akron over the last three weeks and scored 45 points or more in four of the final seven games. 2. Purdue finally got past all the injury issues and all the adversity to get to a bowl game. It might only be the Little Caesars Bowl against a MAC team, but it’s a big deal for a program that’s been looking for positive steps forward. The BCS-league team will try; that matters in early bowl games. 3. The bowl game has been terrific over the last four years with the four games decided by a grand total of 14 points. Purdue’s 51-48 shootout win over Central Michigan in 2007 was a thriller. Gator Bowl
, Ohio State vs. Florida 1 p.m. ET, Jan. 2, Jacksonville, Fla. 1. It’s the Urban Bowl. It might be Ohio State vs. Florida with Luke Fickell and Will Muschamp as the head coaches, but there’s a very large figure looming over the game. With the game played in Jacksonville – Tebow Territory – it’ll be interesting to see what the mood is like from the Gator fans toward the new regime, even though Meyer won’t be on the sidelines. 2. Braxton Miller (pictured) is one of college football’s brightest new stars. Buckeye fans are already salivating over what he’s going to do in Meyer’s offense and this is another great showcase game on a national stage. 3. If ever a program of Florida’s caliber was going to try, it would be this game. After an awful season, to close out 6-7 would be a disaster. To lose to an Ohio State program that just barely got over the SEC hump past year would be apocalyptic. Bowl,
Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State9 p.m. EST, Jan. 8, Mobile, Ala. 1. It should be among the most competitive bowl games. The names may not be big, but these are two dominant conference champions who should play at a high level. Effort won’t be an issue for either side. 2. At 10-2, including 8-0 in the Sun Belt League, Arkansas State is enjoying the best season in school history. First-year head man Hugh Freeze (left) already has been snapped up by Ole Miss. The defense is the real deal, and the offense is efficient and effective. The two losses came on the road early on. 3. NIU first-year head coach Dave Doeren (right) also is a hot candidate. His Huskies are ninth in the nation in rushing offense leading an attack that hit the 40-point mark in eight of the first 10 games
Allstate Sugar Bowl,
 Virginia Tech vs. Michigan 8:30 p.m., Jan. 3, New Orleans 1. Michigan QB Denard Robinson gets the big stage to show what he can do. With more than a month off to get healthy, he should be 100 percent and back to his quick, devastating early-season form. 2. Virginia Tech gets a chance to make amends for a bad ACC championship performance against Clemson. QB Logan Thomas is a rising star, while RB David Wilson might be the quickest runner on a field full of speedy playmakers. 3. It’s the rare time the SEC isn’t in the Sugar Bowl. The last time that happened was when Florida State beat Michael Vick and the Hokies in 2000 for the national title.
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman,
Air Force vs. Toledo4:30 p.m. EST, Dec. 8, Washington, D.C. 1. It’s going to be a fun and wild bowl. Toledo has a high-octane offense, and Air Force doesn’t have a run defense — mostly because of injuries. Air Force has the No. 2 running game in the country (320.33 ypg), and Toledo has a hard time with great ground games. 2. 49-28. 63-60. 66-63. 44-17. 45-28. Those were the scores of the past five Toledo games. The offense finished first in the MAC in both total offense and scoring offense on the strength of WR Eric Page (left) and QB Terrance Owens (right). 3. The Falcons won four of their last five games. The pass defense is solid, but that’s because the run defense gets gouged on a regular basis. Toledo’s eighth-ranked offense should put up big numbers, but Air Force’s No. 19-ranked attack should keep up the pace
Discover Orange Bowl,
Clemson vs. West Virginia 8 p.m. EST, Jan. 4, Miami Gardens, Fla. 1. Shootout, shootout, shootout. No way do these two offenses combine for fewer than 700 passing yards and 65 points. Both teams put up yards and points in bunches. 2. The Mountaineers know pressure. They won four of their last five games, and each was decided by three points or fewer. Junior Geno Smith  and the No. 7 passing attack in the nation should push the Clemson secondary. 3. Clemson has a dynamic offense that clicked on all cylinders against Virginia Tech in the ACC championship. The athletes and talents on both sides of the ball are stellar. And this is just No. 7. Check out CFN for a comprehensive ranking of all the other bowl games
Capital One Bowl,
 South Carolina vs. Nebraska1 p.m. EST, Jan. 2, Orlando, Fla. 1. It’s Nebraska’s first bowl game as a Big Ten team, and it gets to show what it can do against an SEC foe. The last time the Huskers played an SEC team was the 2007 Cotton Bowl, losing to Auburn. If Nebraska loses, the Big Ten’s lack-of-speed label against the SEC will stick. 2. The South Carolina defense, led by defensive ends Melvin Ingram (pictured) and Devin Taylor, has been fantastic. It hasn’t played too many offenses with a pulse, but the secondary is second in the nation, and the run defense has been terrific. 3. After a dud of a performance in last year’s Holiday Bowl loss to Washington, Nebraska should be fired up. The offensive line has been special when it’s been able to get into a lather, while the defense should be able to keep the game close for a full 60 minutes
Outback Bowl,
Michigan State vs. Georgia 1 p.m. EST, Jan. 2, Tampa, Fla. 1. Michigan State wants to prove it deserved a BCS bowl. It also wants to get rid of the memory of last year’s embarrassing Capital One loss to Alabama. The Spartans didn’t belong on the same field as the Tide. QB Kirk Cousins (pictured) talked about the loss all offseason. 2. Georgia could use the win after losing to UCF in last year’s Liberty Bowl. Closing out with a loss to a Big Ten team wouldn’t be a plus for a team with the nation’s No. 3 defense. A win would cap a terrific rebound year after starting 0-2. 3. The Bulldogs beat the Spartans 24-12 in the 2009 Capital One Bowl and 34-27 in the 1989 Gator. It’s a Big Ten-SEC matchup that’ll be a big deal for both sides. If the SEC really did deserve to get two teams into the BCS championship, getting a big win out of Georgia will help the argument
AT&T Cotton Bowl,
Kansas State vs. Arkansas 8 p.m. EST, Jan. 6, Arlington, Texas. On FOX. 1. This should probably be a BCS bowl. Of course, Arkansas wouldn’t be eligible as a third SEC team in the mix, but would anyone complain if this were the Sugar Bowl? Kansas State is in the midst of a phenomenal 10-2 season, while Arkansas’ only losses came against LSU and Alabama. 2. Check out Kansas State QB Collin Klein (pictured). For those of you who miss Tim Tebow, this is your quarterback. Klein can throw, but he’s one of the best power runners in all of college football. 3. Arkansas could be the third-best team in college football, and a blowout win could mean a top-five finish. The Hogs led the SEC in total offense and passing offense (307.75). Kansas State’s defense isn’t LSU’s.
Rose Bowl
Game presented by VIZIO, Wisconsin vs. Oregon 5 p.m. EST, Jan. 2, Pasadena, Calif. 1. It’s Wisconsin power vs. Oregon speed. They’re two of the best running games, led by two of the best running backs — UW’s Montee Ball and Oregon’s LaMichael James  — and it should be a fascinating contrast in styles. Both offenses can throw, too. 2. It’s a matchup of power programs as the two have been the best in their respective conferences over the past few seasons, but both are desperate for a big win. Wisconsin lost to TCU in last year’s Rose Bowl, while Oregon has lost its past three BCS games including the 2010 Rose Bowl and the 2011 BCS championship. 3. It’s the Rose Bowl, and it’s how a Monday afternoon is supposed to be spent
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl,
Oklahoma State vs. Stanford 8:30 p.m. EST, Jan. 2, Glendale, Ariz. 1. OK, Oklahoma State, if you think you were wronged and should be playing for the national title, then blow out Stanford and get everyone shaking their fists at the BCS system. Motivation shouldn’t be much of a problem for the Cowboys. 2. For Andrew Luck , it's his final college game before likely putting on an Indianapolis Colts uniform. This might be the last winnable contest he plays for a while. With an impressive win, his team probably would finish No. 2 in the final polls. 3. Offense, offense, offense. Stanford can bludgeon with its power running game, and Luck can make secondaries look silly. The Cowboys can keep the chains moving however they wish, proving against Oklahoma that they can run as well as throw. Expect lots of points and lots of big plays

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Best Buy Coupons