College Football Bowl Special #2: December 26-December 31 Games

By John Garces
December 24, 2011 11:10 pm
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The college football picks of the week return with a look at the games that can lovingly be referred to as the "warm-up" game for the BCS, otherwise known as the bowl games played the last week of the 2011 calendar.

Let's get started...

Bowl Record: 1-5
Regular Season: 63-77
Overall: 64-82

Independence Bowl: North Carolina vs. Missouri (-5.5) @ Shreveport, December 26:

In Shreveport on the day after Christmas, the Tar Heels and Tigers collide. Like with most bowl games this time of the year, the team that wants to be there the most is usually the one that's going to win. You have to figure that Missouri would fit that description the most, especially after the season of turmoil at North Carolina. Seems pretty easy here, but I'm sure it's not. I'll take Missouri to cover.

Little Caesar's Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Purdue (-2.5) @ Detroit, December 27:
In Detroit, the Broncos and Boliermakers get together in the bowl formerly known as the Motor City Bowl. It's rather obvious to me that there's no rhyme or reason as to who is the favorite in some of these nothing bowl games. All of that is my way of saying that I have no idea who to pick in these games, either. Purdue's been a tad bit inconsistent this season, so I'll go with the mighty MAC here. Give me Western Michigan here.

Belk Bowl: Louisville vs. North Carolina State (-1) @ Charlotte, December 27:
In Charlotte, the Cardinals and Wolf Pack battle in yet another of the recently renamed bowl games. The Wolf Pack won enough games to become bowl eligible, but really did nothing of note outside of taking it to Clemson. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have made impressive strides this season, plus they have the most explosive player in the game in their quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. I'll go with Louisville here.

Military Bowl: Toledo (-1) vs. Air Force @ Washington, D.C., December 28:
In our nation's capital, the Rockets and Falcons do battle in the Military Bowl. Air Force is the only service academy to actually make it to a bowl this year, and playing in a game named in honor of all of our nation's service people just seems like a good fit. The fact that Toledo, like pretty much everyone else that sees it, will struggle with the Falcons' triple option, should give them the edge here. I'll take Air Force.

Holiday Bowl: California vs. Texas (-3) @ San Diego, December 28:
In San Diego, the Golden Bears and Longhorns battle in what is traditionally one of the bowl season's best. This year's has the potential to do the same, especially with the up-and-down nature of the Longhorns these days. This one really is all about which Texas team shows up. If they show up to play and play to their potential, I don't see Cal keeping up. Of course, that's a big "if" these days. I'll take Texas and the points.

Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Florida State (-2.5), December 29:
In Orlando, the Fightin' Irish and Seminoles get together in a bowl that really signifies the downturn in both team's fortunes lately. Many people (not me, of course), expected to see this as a BCS game at the beginning of the year, but due to both teams' disappointing seasons, they'll be hanging up the pads before the new year. The more consistent quarterback play resides with the Seminoles, as does my pick. I'll take Florida State and the line here.

Alamo Bowl: Washington vs. Baylor (-9.5) @ San Antonio, December 29:
In San Antonio, the Huskies and Bears collide in yet another Big 12/Pac 12 battle. While the obvious star power in this game lies with Baylor and Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, the Huskies possess the kind of offense that could give the Bears' at-times shoddy defense fits, Then there's that whole "Heisman winner in a bowl game" curse. Give me Washington.

Armed Forces Bowl: Tulsa vs. BYU (-1.5) @ Dallas, December 30:
In Dallas, the Golden Hurricane and Cougars meet. On the surface, this one would appear to tilt in Tulsa's favor, as they have the more formidable offense. But ever since making a mid-season quarterbacking change, the Cougars have been scoring points by the bunches, as well. In other words, expect a lot of offense in this one. Give me BYU to cover.


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