The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 2, 2009

Bowl Projections For November 2, 2009

Weekly Bowl Predictions

Monday, November 2, 2009

 

This will be a pivotal weekend in the bowl pecking orders, as several marquee games are on tap.  Two of the big three have easy games this week.  Texas will have little more than a workout against Central Florida, while Florida should have enough points on the board two possessions into the game to beat Vanderbilt.

 

Here’s a conference-by-conference outlook for this week.  Unlike many bowl projections, which use a system based on if the season ended today, the PiRate Bowl Projections looks ahead and predicts where the teams will be on December 6.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference

The Atlantic Division is still very much up-for-grabs with Boston College and Clemson tied for first and Florida State and Wake Forest just one game back.  We think Clemson can run the table and grab the division flag.  

 

Georgia Tech has a one game lead over Duke (yes, Duke), but they are tied in the loss column.  We see the Blue Devils having an excellent chance at becoming bowl eligible, but they aren’t going to run the table and win the Coastal Division.  Georgia Tech just edged Clemson in Atlanta, and we think CU would get revenge in an ACC Championship Game.

 

1. BCS Automatic (Orange)—Clemson

2. Chick-fil-A—Miami

3. Gator—Georgia Tech

4. Champ Sports—Virginia Tech

5. Music City—North Carolina

6. Champs Sports—Boston College

7. Emerald—Florida State

8. Eagle Bank—Duke

9. G M A C—No Team Available

 

Big East

Cincinnati is the darling this year, but we think they will stumble at Pittsburgh on December 5.  The Panthers have home games with Syracuse and Notre Dame and the backyard brawl game at West Virginia, and we think Dave Wannstedt’s team will win out to take the Big East Championship.  The question here is where a Cincinnati team at 11-1 would go.  We think the Bearcats would not garner an at-large bid to a BCS Bowl.

 

This conference will have a little shuffling to make sure there will be no rematch games in bowls.  West Virginia played both East Carolina and Marshall, and they will not play either CUSA team in a bowl

 

1. BCS Automatic (Orange)—Pittsburgh

2. Gator—Notre Dame

3. Meineke Car Care—Cincinnati

4. Papa John’s—West Virginia

5. International—Rutgers

6. St. Petersburg—South Florida

 

Big Ten

Iowa is the reincarnated version of Indiana in 1967, the epitome of cardiac comebacks.  That Indiana team finally fell at Minnesota in November, and the schedule is set for Iowa to have that type of game at Ohio State.  For now, we believe Ohio State doesn’t have the offensive talent to upset the Hawkeyes.

 

Penn State should edge Ohio State, but the season finale at Michigan State is definitely a trap game.  At 11-1, they are in a BCS Bowl for sure, but at 10-2, it becomes a little hazy.

 

The bottom four bowls will shuffle to find their best fit, as we see three 6-6 teams and one 7-5 team vying for those bids.  Michigan will trump the other three even with a 6-6 record.

 

1. BCS Automatic (Rose)—Iowa

1a. BCS At-large ( )—Penn State

2. Capital One—Wisconsin

3. Outback—Ohio State

4. Alamo—Michigan

5. Champs Sports—Minnesota

6. Insight—Michigan State

7. Pizza—Northwestern

 

Big 12

Texas is moving along like a steamroller going down hill.  The Longhorns close the season with Central Florida, Baylor, Kansas, Texas A&M, and the Big 12 North Champion.  A&M may be the only team that can come close, so Mack Brown should get a chance to play for his second national championship in Pasadena.

 

Parity leaves this conference with a distinct possibility of having 10 bowl-eligible teams for eight bowls.  The two teams not receiving bids will be 6-6, so there isn’t a great chance either will earn a bowl.

 

1. BCS Automatic (National Championship)—Texas

2. Cotton—Oklahoma State

3. Holiday—Oklahoma

4. Alamo—Texas Tech

5. Sun—Nebraska

6. Insight—Texas A&M

7. Independence—Missouri

8. Texas—Kansas State

 

Bowl Eligible (at 6-6)

Kansas

Iowa State

 

Conference USA

This conference is a jigsaw puzzle.  East Carolina and Houston now appear to be on a collision course toward meeting in the conference championship game, but both teams face opponents that can upset them.  For now, we’ll stick with Case Keenum and the Cougars to win out and finish the regular season at 12-1.  Whether that could propel them out of the automatic bid to the Liberty Bowl to a better bowl, we don’t know.

 

1. Liberty—Houston

2. Hawaii—East Carolina

3. Armed Forces—S M U

4. New Orleans—Southern Miss

5. St. Petersburg—Marshall

 

Bowl Eligible (all at 6-6)

Tulsa

Central Florida

U A B

 

Independents

Notre Dame will not qualify as a BCS Bowl participant, so they will steal a spot from the Big East.  Navy is one win away from an automatic spot in the Texas Bowl, while Army has too much to do to get bowl eligible.

 

1. Gator Bowl—Notre Dame per Gator Bowl rules with Big East

2. Texas—Navy

3. Eagle Bank—No Team Available (Army falls short)

 

Mid-American

Temple and Central Michigan are headed to the MAC Championship Game, while Northern Illinois, Ohio, and Kent State  appear to be headed to the good kind of bowl eligibility (seven or more wins).  Unfortunately for this league, it now looks like the ACC will have an eligible team for this bowl, so the MAC won’t get a guaranteed fourth bid.  However, we see two teams finishing with seven or more wins and jumping ahead of all the 6-6 teams for any at-large bids.

 

The MAC doesn’t automatically send its overall champion to Detroit.  The Pizza Bowl gets first choice, but they don’t have to take the champion.  Central Michigan went there last year, so we think the Chippewas will head to Mobile instead.

 

1. Pizza—Northern Illinois

2. GMAC—Central Michigan

3. International—Temple

 

Bowl Eligible (7-5 or better)

Ohio U

Kent State

 

Mountain West

T C U closes with San Diego State, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico.  SDSU could give the Horned Frogs some competition for 15-25 minutes, but TCU will handle the Aztecs.  Utah is always tough, but the Utes don’t have the horses to win in Ft. Worth.  Wyoming can always surprise in Laramie in late November, but we think TCU will win.  At 12-0 and with road wins against Clemson and BYU, TCU should get a BCS Bowl bid even if Boise State finishes ahead of them in the BCS standings.

 

A. BCS At-Large (Fiesta)—T C U

1. Las Vegas—B Y U

2. Poinsettia—Utah

3. Armed Forces—Air Force

4. New Mexico—San Diego State

5. Humanitarian—No Team Available

 

Pac-10

If Southern Cal receives an at-large BCS bowl bid over a 12-0 TCU or Boise State, it will be highway robbery.  The Trojans could even lose another game, so we are picking them to fall short.  Oregon is in the driver’s seat, but Arizona still lurks in the bushes.  The Ducks must visit Tucson on November 21, and if the Wildcats win at Cal the week before, this game will be for first place in the Pac-10.  We think Oregon can lose this game and still win the championship.

 

1. BCS Automatic (Rose)—Oregon

2. Holiday—Southern Cal

3. Sun—California

4. Las Vegas—Arizona

5. Emerald—Stanford

6. Poinsettia—Oregon State

 

Bowl Eligible (6-6)

U C L A

 

Southeastern

This week, we are back to picking Florida to edge Alabama, but that could change again.  LSU is the clear cut third best team, but there’s a huge drop to the fourth place team.  This league will send 10 teams to bowls, with the bottom five teams finishing with 7-5 or 6-6 records.

 

1. BCS Automatic (National Championship Game)—Florida

1a. BCS At-large (Sugar)—Alabama

2. Capital One—L S U

3. Outback—Tennessee

4. Cotton—Auburn

5. Chick-fil-A—Ole Miss

6. Music City—Georgia

7. Liberty—Ole Miss

8. Independence—Kentucky

9. Papa John’s—South Carolina

 

Sunbelt

Troy has little in its path to securing another SBC title.  This league has only one automatic bowl bid.  Three more bowls guarantee a seven-win SBC team first priority if their contracted conference cannot provide a team, but we believe all three bowls will have a bowl-eligible team from each conference.

 

1. New Orleans—Troy

 

Bowl Eligible (7-5 or better)

Middle Tennessee

 

Western Athletic

Boise State has three games remaining against teams that can give them a run for their money.  A Friday night game this week at Louisiana Tech is a huge trap game, while home games against Idaho and Nevada could be interesting for awhile.  The Broncos should run the table in the regular season for the fourth time in six years.  A win over Pac-10 champ Oregon if the Ducks finish 11-1 should be enough to earn BSU an at-large bid to a BCS Bowl, even if TCU finishes ahead of them.  However, unscrupulous bowl sponsors wouldn’t be required to take the Broncos, even if TCU and Boise State finished 3rd and 4th in the final BCS Standings.

 

A. BCS At-Large (Sugar)—Boise State

1. Humanitarian—Idaho

2. New Mexico—Nevada

3. Hawaii—Fresno State

 

The BCS Bowls

National Championship Game—Texas vs. Florida

Fiesta Bowl—Penn State vs. T C U

Orange Bowl—Clemson vs. Pittsburgh

Sugar Bowl—Alabama vs. Boise State

Rose Bowl—Oregon vs. Iowa

 

With Florida finishing first in the BCS Standings, the Sugar Bowl will get the first at-large pick.  Even though Alabama went there last year, we see the Sugar Bowl officials taking the Tide once again.  The Fiesta Bowl would get the next at-large choice after losing Texas to the title game, and we believe they would take Penn State.  The Orange Bowl would then choose Pittsburgh over the rest of the field.  The Fiesta would then take TCU, and the Sugar Bowl would then have all the pressure to either do the right thing and take Boise State or the wrong thing and take a one or even two-loss team (Cincinnati, Southern Cal, Georgia Tech)

 

The Rest

First, let’s take care of the loose change.  There will be three bowls that will not have regularly contracted team available.  The GMAC Bowl will not have an available ACC team; the Eagle Bank Bowl will not have a bowl-eligible Army team; and the Humanitarian Bowl will not have an available Mountain West Team.

 

We expect there to be exactly three bowl-eligible teams with seven or more wins, and they will fill the three slots ahead of a host of 6-6 teams from BCS conferences.  Those three fortunate teams are Ohio U, Kent State, and Middle Tennessee.  

 

Note: Teams in asterisks are 7-win or better at-large bowl eligible teams

 

New Mexico San Diego State vs. Nevada
St. Petersburg South Florida vs. Marshall
New Orleans Troy vs. Southern Miss
Las Vegas B Y U vs. Arizona
Poinsettia Utah vs. Oregon State
Hawaii Fresno State vs. East Carolina
Little Caesar’s Pizza Northern Illinois vs. Northwestern
Meineke Car Care Boston College vs. Cincinnati
Emerald Florida State vs. Stanford
Music City North Carolina vs. Georgia
Independence Kentucky vs. Missouri
Eagle Bank Duke vs. Kent State
Champs Sports Virginia Tech vs. Minnesota
Humanitarian Idaho vs. Ohio U
Holiday Southern Cal vs. Oklahoma
Armed Forces Air Force vs. S M U
Sun Nebraska vs. California
Texas Navy vs. Kansas State
Insight.com Michigan State vs. Texas A&M
Chick-fil-A Miami-FL vs. Arkansas
Outback Ohio State vs. Tennessee
Capital One Wisconsin vs. L S U
Gator Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame
International Rutgers vs. Temple
Cotton Oklahoma State vs. Auburn
Papajohns.com West Virginia vs. South Carolina
Liberty Ole Miss vs. Houston
Alamo Michigan vs. Texas Tech
G M A C Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee

 

October 26, 2009

Bowl Projections For October 26, 2009

TCU and Boise State in Hectic Race For BCS Gold

 

The BCS bowl agreement only awards one guaranteed at-large invitation to a qualifying team from a non-BCS conference.  Two non-BCS teams can be selected for a BCS at-large bowl, but they can turn away a 12-0 team in favor of another team from a BCS conference.  Thus, if Boise State and TCU both finish 12-0, only one of the two will be guaranteed a spot in a BCS Bowl Game.  The other team could and will more than likely lose out to a 10-2 team from the Pac-10, Big 10, Big East, or SEC.

 

For our weekly Bowl Projections, we are going with TCU to finish a shade higher than Boise State and earn the automatic BCS Bowl bid.  We believe that Penn State, Southern Cal, and Florida will also earn at-large invitations, so Boise State will be excluded from the big bowls.  At 12-0, the Humanitarian won’t be good enough for the Broncos, so for the second season in a row, there will be some back room deals made.  Our bowl projections are the only ones that are factoring this as of now.

 

New Mexico: Utah vs. Nevada

This would be a great battle between Utah’s strong defense and Nevada’s eye-popping pistol offense.

 

St. Petersburg: Rutgers vs. Marshall

Mark Snyder was on the hot seat entering this season, but he has the Thundering Herd on track to finish with seven wins.  If Marshall can upset Central Florida this week, they could even jump into the CUSA Championship game.

 

New Orleans: Troy vs. UTEP

Mike Price has the Miners poised to win the CUSA’s West Division, as they already hold the tiebreaker advantage over Houston and Tulsa.  We expect them to lose in the conference championship game and slip to the Crescent City.

 

Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Cincinnati

What better place for an arranged marriage in a bowl than sin city?  We believe Boise State will run the table and, at 12-0, lose out in the BCS sweepstakes to a 10-2 team with more ticket-buying and media-garnering clout.  Like last year, the WAC will be shopping to move the Broncos up into a better bowl.  The Pac-10 will fall short by one spot if both Oregon and Southern Cal make BCS bowls and Stanford finishes 5-7. 

 

We believe Cincinnati will lose to Pittsburgh in the season finale, and the 11-1 Bearcats will also be shunned by the BCS in favor of a 10-2 team.  So, this million dollar payout bowl will set up a great match.

 

Poinsettia: B Y U vs. Oregon State

Any chance for a big bowl for these teams ended this past Saturday.  BYU’s pasting by TCU and Oregon State’s near miss at USC will move these teams down to lower tiered bowls.

 

Hawaii: Fresno State vs. Houston

Since Hawaii will not be bowl eligible this season, another WAC team will get the honors.  Fresno State would fit here quite comfortably.  As for Houston, the Cougars might deserve much better, but they still must play at Tulsa and at UCF, and they need UTEP to lose at least once.

 

Pizza (formerly Motor City): Minnesota vs. Northern Illinois

The Gophers have slipped quite a bit in recent weeks and need to recover just to gain bowl eligibility.  Northern Illinois won’t win the MAC, but we believe the Huskies will be the choice team for this bowl, sending the MAC Champ south to Mobile.

 

Meineke Car Care: Boston College vs. Connecticut

This would be an excellent regional game between teams that should be playing each other.  Connecticut would be the sixth Big East team to make a bowl, made possible by Cincinnati moving up to a better bowl than what would be available.

 

Emerald: U C L A vs. Florida State

This would be a decent attraction and a nice rematch of the 2006 game.  UCLA missed out on a bowl last year, and this could be Bobby Bowden’s final game, so it would be interesting.

 

Music City: South Carolina vs. North Carolina

These two teams played in the regular season last year, and it would be a great rivalry matchup in Nashville.  It’s a border war with two legendary coaches.

 

Independence: Kentucky vs. Kansas

These two basketball schools with familial ties would give this bowl its best matchup in years.

 

Eagle Bank: Kent State vs. Central Florida

These are two quasi at-large selections.  It looks like Army will finish 5-7 at best and fail to qualify.  If Army isn’t eligible, this bowl is supposed to take an at-large team from CUSA.  The ACC may not have a ninth team available, and this bowl is supposed to choose an at-large team from the MAC.  Kent State hasn’t been to a bowl since Coach Don James took them to the 1972 Tangerine Bowl (lost to Tampa).

 

Champ Sports: Georgia Tech vs. Michigan St.

Almost all other prognosticators are picking Georgia Tech to make it to the Orange Bowl.  We have an opposing view right now.  We think Clemson may very well run the table and oppose Tech in the ACC Championship Game.  Having already faced the spread option and actually beating themselves more than losing this game, we see CU getting revenge and plunging the Yellow Jackets to this bowl.

 

Humanitarian: Idaho vs. Kansas State

We place Idaho here after moving Boise State to a better locale.  The Vandals played here in their only bowl game 11 years ago, edging Southern Miss in a high-scoring affair.  Kansas State is the current leader in the Big 12 North, but with a concluding schedule of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, we see them losing at least twice more.  Since the Big 12 will not produce an at-large BCS participant, we see nine bowl-eligible teams for eight spots.  The Wildcats are the odd team out and will have to go to the field of blue.

 

Holiday: Oklahoma vs. California

This might be a disappointment game as neither team will believe it a reward to play in this game after both had aspirations of greatness.

 

Armed Forces: Tulsa vs. Air Force

Tulsa’s high-powered passing game against Air Force’s option offense and strong defense will make this an interesting study in contrasts.  Air Force has been here two consecutive seasons, but for obvious reasons, they belong in this game most years.

 

Sun: Arizona vs. Texas Tech

This matchup should fill up the Sun Bowl as both teams wouldn’t have all that far to travel.  It would be a fresh pairing.

 

Texas: Texas A&M vs. Navy

Navy will automatically earn this bowl with a win over Temple this weekend.  Texas A&M joins the bowl talk after their upset over Texas Tech.  This would be an interesting and very high scoring game.

 

Insight.com: Missouri vs. Northwestern

Yes, these two teams played each other in the Alamo Bowl last year, but that game was the most exciting bowl game of all.  It would be a great rematch in a different venue.

 

Chick-fil-A: Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech

The Volunteers have now played the number one team close twice this season.  If they get by South Carolina this week, then watch out.  They could win out and move up to this game.  Interestingly, when Coach Lane Kiffin’s mentor, Pete Carroll, took over at Southern Cal, the Trojans followed this gameplan exactly, coming on strong to win out and get to seven wins.  Might Tennessee be poised to become the USC of the Southeast?

 

Outback: Ole Miss vs. Wisconsin

This isn’t the New Year’s Bowl Ole Miss expected to be playing in this year.  They had thoughts of Sugar.  Wisconsin wasn’t picked to play in a New Year’s Bowl at all, so this would be a grand reward for the Badgers, especially since it could be 70 degrees warmer in Tampa than in Madison on January 1.

 

Capital One: Ohio State vs. L S U

This is a rematch of the 2007-08 BCS Championship Game.  Ohio State would move up to this one if Penn State and Iowa both received BCS Bowl bids, and we think that will happen.

 

Gator: Notre Dame vs. Miami-FL

It’s been seven years since the Irish played in the Gator Bowl, and if they have eight or nine wins, they will be back in Jacksonville.  Having a former heated rival as an opponent makes this one a must-watch game.

 

Rose: Oregon vs. Iowa

Oregon has to beat USC in Eugene this weekend, or all bets are off in this one.  If USC wins, then the Trojans will play here and Oregon will be on the BCS bubble with Boise State.  Iowa can lose a game and still secure this bid.  We see them finishing 11-1.  Iowa’s last Rose Bowl trip was 19 years ago, while Oregon hasn’t been to Pasadena in 15 years.

 

Sugar: Florida vs. Pittsburgh

This one may look odd to you, but here’s how we decided on this pairing.  As of today, we believe Alabama would beat Florida in the SEC Championship Game and Pittsburgh would edge Cincinnati in their final regular season game.  The Sugar Bowl would get first choice to pick a replacement when Alabama earned the Top Seed.  The Sugar Bowl would then have to wait while the Fiesta and Orange Bowls selected ahead of them.  The Panthers would be what was left.

 

International: West Virginia vs. Temple

Five years ago, this would have been a conference game.  Temple is close to becoming bowl eligible.  The Owls last played in a bowl in 1979, when Mark Bright and Kevin Duckett ran all over California in the now defunct Garden State Bowl.

 

Cotton: Oklahoma State vs. Arkansas

The Cotton Bowl officials could jump over the Cowboys in favor of their arch-rival, but OSU should have at least one more win.  Arkansas is always a great draw for this bowl, and we see them earning this spot over Ole Miss.

 

PapaJohns.com: South Florida vs. Auburn

Auburn missed out on a bowl last year, and the Tigers have never played in this Birmingham bowl.  This bowl hasn’t drawn well, so this might be a great choice.

 

Liberty: Georgia vs. Southern Miss

It may be a slight stretch, but we believe Southern Miss will edge East Carolina and win the CUSA East title (forcing ECU to finish 6-6 and miss out on a bowl).  We then believe they will beat UTEP and earn this automatic bid.

 

Georgia hasn’t played in the Liberty Bowl since 1987, so this would be a decent location for the finish to a rebuilding year.

 

Alamo: Michigan vs. Nebraska

This was an excellent Alamo Bowl game four years ago, and we see it as a great repeat this year.  The Wolverines high-flying offense against the Cornhuskers’ Black Shirt defense would be a great draw.

 

Fiesta: Southern Cal vs. T C U

With Texas earning the number two ranking, the Fiesta Bowl would get the second at-large pick.  We see them taking the Trojans.  Then, after the Orange Bowl chose their at-large selection, this bowl would grab TCU over Pittsburgh.  It would be an interesting game and give the Horned Frogs a chance to show they belong among the nation’s elite for the first time since the Jim Swink days in the mid 1950’s.

 

Orange: Clemson vs. Penn State

Clemson has Coastal Carolina, Florida State, North Carolina State, Virginia, and South Carolina remaining on their schedule, and we see no impediment between the Tigers and the Atlantic Division title.  If they face Georgia Tech in a rematch, we believe they will win and win handily.  That would earn them an automatic trip to Miami.  Penn State may be the controversial choice if they are 10-2 and Boise State is 12-0 and Cincinnati 11-1, but money matters more to the bowl games.

 

G M A C: Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee

Central Michigan will win the MAC Championship, but since the Chippewas played in Detroit last year, we think they will be sent to Mobile this year.  We don’t see a ninth ACC team qualifying, and Middle Tennessee will earn this bowl over a half dozen 6-6 teams from bigger conferences.

 

National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Texas

These teams have faced off in several five memorable bowl games in the past.  Texas won four and the other ended in a tie.  Alabama was supposed to win all five times.  This will be an excellent game with twists and turns, and it could pit the top two vote-getters in the Heisman Trophy race as well.

December 27, 2007

PiRate Ratings Look at the Bowls (Champs Sports through Insight)

 

Middle Bowl Game Match-ups (12/28-12/31)

Disclaimer: I am giving advice on pointspreads totally as an act of fun.  I do not personally wager money on these games, and I do not advocate you doing so either.  It’s just a game like Monopoly to me.

I have yet to spend one minute watching or listening to any of the bowls so far, and I must say I’m not regretting it one bit.  These bowls are meaningless to me and most of the country, since they don’t contribute to the national title.  Looking at traffic to this site, it appears more people are interested in the computer simulated playoffs than the actual bowl breakdowns, so I am going to reduce the coverage of these games.

As I previously stated, if the bowls were used for NCAA playoffs, the Cotton Bowl might have an important quarterfinal round game featuring the eventual National Champion instead of a meaningless game that won’t draw many viewers nor return much bang for their sponsor’s buck.  What if LSU and Southern Cal played in the Cotton Bowl instead of Arkansas and Missouri?  I dare say FOX Sports would get a much higher rating for the game, and AT&T, as the sponsor, would receive a bigger return on their investment.

Here is a brief breakdown of the second wave of bowls.  The one prediction I can make with absolute certitude is that I won’t spend a minute watching or listening to these games.  I’ll have been reading an interesting trio of books and listening to shortwave radio over the holidays.  One of the books I am currently reading is, The Lincoln Highway: The Great American Road Trip by Michael Wallis and Michael Williamson. If you like traveling old roads that aren’t boring, straight interstate slabs, check out this book as well as Wallis’s and others’ books about Route 66.  I have traveled large parts of both highways, and these trips have always been comforting, interesting, and beneficial to many mom and pop businesses that are struggling to survive.  One of these days, I am going to drive the entire distance of both highways; maybe start in New York and drive to San Francisco on the Lincoln Highway and then return via Los Angeles to Chicago on Route 66.

Point spreads and totals are those listed as of 11:00 AM ET Thursday, December 27, 2007

Times given are Eastern Standard Tome Zone

Friday, December 28-5:00 PM ESPN

Champs Sports Bowl-Orlando

Boston College 10-3  vs.  Michigan State 7-5

Vegas:  B.C. by 4

PiRate: Tossup

Mean: B.C. 30  Mich. St. 26

At first look, this appears to be a mismatch, but Boston College limped home in November, while Michigan State was an improving team.  Wins over Purdue and Penn State proves the Spartans can compete and even win this game.

Predicted Score: 24-24 going to OT

Friday, December 28-8:00 PM NFL Network

Texas Bowl-Houston

Houston 8-4  vs. T C U  7-5

Vegas: TCU by 6½

PiRate: TCU by 8

Mean: TCU 31  Houston 25

Most people cannot pick up this game up on television, and I’m not sure many outside of the Lone Star State will desire to go to an establishment to tune it in.  This old rivalry of former Southwest Conference teams is the microcosm for the current bowl apathy spreading across the nation.  Who cares?  Maybe by January 5, I will have looked online to see who won this game.  Then again, I may not know until next summer when the football preview magazines hit the stands.

Predicted Score: TCU 24  Houston 16

Friday, December 28-8:30 PM ESPN

Emerald Bowl-San Francisco

Maryland 6-6  vs.  Oregon State 8-4

Vegas: Oregon State by 5

PiRate: Oregon State by 9

Mean: Oregon State 27  Maryland 22

Maryland must travel from one coast to the other and play a Pac-10 team in Pac-10 territory.  That should help Oregon State by a grand total of two points in this game.  The Beavers are stronger on both sides of the ball.

Predicted Score: Oregon State 33  Maryland 24

Saturday, December 29-1:00 PM  ESPN

Meineke Car Care Bowl-Charlotte, NC

Wake Forest 8-4  vs.  Connecticut 9-3

Vegas:  Wake Forest by 2½

PiRate: Wake Forest by 8

Mean:  Wake Forest 24  Connecticut 24 to OT

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe didn’t jump ship after being courted by more than one school.  His squad should reward him with a bowl win.  UConn expected to be playing in a New Year’s Day Bowl, and I don’t think they will put out a great effort in this game.

Predicted Score: Wake Forest 27  Connecticut 19

Saturday, December 29-4:30 PM  ESPN

Liberty Bowl-Memphis

Mississippi State 7-5  vs.  Central Florida 10-3

Vegas: Central Florida by 2½

PiRate: Mississippi St. by 1

Mean: Central Florida 30  Mississippi St. 28

Mississippi State’s defense should be strong enough to hold down the strong UCF ground game, but I expect UCF to pass for more yards than normal.  The Bulldogs should match them point-for-point, and this game should go down to the wire.

Predicted Score: Mississippi State 24  Central Florida 23

Saturday, December 29-8:00 PM  ESPN

Alamo Bowl-San Antonio

Texas A&M 7-5  vs.  Penn State 8-4

Vegas: Penn State by 4½

PiRate: Penn State by 1

Mean: Penn State 29  Texas A&M 24

Both teams have experienced off-the-field problems this year, and both would probably like to just get this game over with as quickly as possible.  A&M’s defense has a few holes, and I expect the octogenarian, bespectacled coach to find out how to exploit those liabilities deep in the final stanza.  The Lions will meow rather than roar in this one, but it should be enough to escape with a win.

Predicted Score: Penn State 17  Texas A&M 16

Sunday, December 30-8:00 PM  ESPN

Independence Bowl-Shrevport, LA

Colorado 6-6  vs.  Alabama 6-6

Vegas: Alabama by 3½

PiRate: Alabama by 6

Mean: Alabama 27  Colorado 25

Why does this game even have to be played?  If Bear Bryant was still alive and coaching, he would never have accepted this bowl bid.  Former Buffalo coach Eddie Crowder may have concurred with the man in the houndstooth hat.

Colorado probably cares more about this game since they were just 2-10 last year, but I think the Tide is clearly more talented.  Nick Saban will not let his charges take this game for granted, so I’m, taking the Tide.

Predicted Score: Alabama 27  Colorado 21

Monday, December 31-12:30 PM  ESPN

Armed Forces Bowl-Ft. Worth, TX

California 6-6  vs.  Air Force 9-3

Vegas: California by 3½

PiRate: Tossup

Mean: Air Force 27  California 26  

My gut instinct in this one is that Air Force will win this one in a surprising manner.  Cal’s November nosedive doesn’t bode well here.  Air Force improved every week, and after a month of practices, the spread option offense should be explosive.  The PiRates say Cal will exploit AFA through the air and score just as many points.  Look for both teams to top 400 yards.

Predicted Score: Air Force 31  California 31 going to OT

Monday, December 31-2:00 PM  CBS

Sun Bowl-El Paso, TX

Oregon 8-4  vs.  South Florida 9-3

Vegas: South Florida by 5½

PiRate: South Florida by 4

Mean: South Florida 31  Oregon 29  

Here’s another bowl where both teams thought they were headed to BCS Bowls midway through the season.  Oregon’s losing Dennis Dixon is comparable to the 1927 Yankees losing Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earl Combs, and Waite Hoyt.  There’s no quack left in the Ducks.

I look for Oregon coach Mike Bellotti to find a way to squeeze out just enough offense to make this game close throughout.  Still, I’ll go with the Eastern team in green to win this one.

Predicted Score: South Florida 24  Oregon 20

Monday, December 31-2:00 PM  ESPN2

Humanitarian Bowl-Boise, ID

Fresno State 8-4  vs.  Georgia Tech 7-5

Vegas: Georgia Tech by 6

PiRate: Georgia Tech by 4

Mean: Georgia Tech 28  Fresno St. 24  

What better way to say this game isn’t worth watching than to say the most exciting reason to watch is to see if snow covers the blue field?

Georgia Tech is one of a bevy of schools to dump their coach after having a winning season.  If Paul Johnson were already coaching, and the Techsters were already running the triple option, this game might be a little fun.  Look for a dull, colorless contest-unless you consider the blue field colorful.

Predicted Score: Georgia Tech 21  Fresno St. 17

Monday, December 31-4:00 PM  ESPN

Music City Bowl-Nashville

Florida State 7-5  vs.  Kentucky 7-5

Vegas: Kentucky by 10

PiRate: Kentucky by 10

Mean: Kentucky 29  Florida St. 27   

(note: Mean cannot factor FSU’s loss of 36 players for this game, but PiRate rating does factor in the personnel loss)

Shame on Florida State!  They knew about the cheating problem months ago.  They should have removed themselves from bowl contention.  This bowl game is ruined now because Kentucky will be playing against a team that cannot even field a two-deep.  Even if FSU plays above their head and pulls off a couple of surprise plays, they don’t belong in a bowl.  Well, at least all the Kentucky fans who are trying to forget they are a basketball school will paint Nashville blue on New Year’s Eve.

Predicted Score:  Kentucky 30  Florida State 20

Monday, December 31-7:30 PM  ESPN

Chick-Fil-A Bowl-Atlanta

Auburn 8-4  vs.  Clemson 9-3

Vegas: Clemson by 3

PiRate: Clemson by 5

Mean: Clemson 25  Auburn 22  

This is an old rivalry game.  The two schools played each other several times between the 1930’s and early 1970’s.  Clemson dominated in the WWII era, and Auburn dominated from there on.  This would be a great game if it was played in September, but it doesn’t have much appeal on New Year’s Eve night.

Clemson is one of the best teams not playing in a BCS bowl, and Auburn is inconsistent.  Go with the ACC Tigers in this one.

Predicted Score: Clemson 24  Auburn 19

Monday, December 31-5:30 PM  NFL Network

Insight Bowl-Phoenix

Indiana 7-5  vs.  Oklahoma State 6-6

Vegas: Oklahoma St. by 4

PiRate: Oklahoma St. by 6

Mean: Oklahoma St. 34  Indiana 28  

Poor Indiana!  They finally earn a bowl bid for the first time in over a dozen years, and nobody will watch them.  This New Year’s Eve night game is on the covert NFL Network.  The only people watching this game will be folks already loose in bars, and they won’t remember seeing the game. 

What I can say about Oklahoma State is that they are coached by a man who is 40 and who can take criticism as well as donations from T. Boone Pickens and Garth Brooks.

Predicted Score: Oklahoma St. 34  Indiana 28

This Week’s “Picks”

It seems to be working every week since I instituted this strategy in mid-November, so I will continue to employ the same formula for picking games during the bowls.  So far, these picks are 4-1 against the spread through bowl games of December 26.

Where the PiRates and Mean both fall on the same side of the spread and the difference is more than 2.5 points, that game will be picked against the spread.  When they both agree on the winner, and the line is 10 points or less, that game will be picked on the money line.  There will be no totals or teasers picked. 

Straight Plays Against the Spread

# 1:  Air Force +3½ vs. California

Money Line Picks

# 2: TCU -210 vs. Houston

# 3: Oregon State -200 vs. Maryland

# 4: Penn State -205 vs. Texas A&M

# 5: Alabama -155 vs. Colorado

# 6: South Florida -220 vs. Oregon

# 7:  Georgia Tech -220 vs. Fresno State

# 8:  Clemson -125 vs. Auburn

# 9:  Oklahoma State -170 vs. Indiana

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