Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)
University Stadium: Albuquerque, New Mexico
December 15th, ESPN 1:00 ET
Nevada boasts one of the most talented under-hyped players in the country: RB Stefphon Jefferson who has compiled over 1700 yards on the ground. The bad news, however is that first year coach Rich Rodriguez has Arizona playing like a completely revitalized program with Matt Scott at QB and the speedy RB Kadeeem Carey. Expect Nevada to hang for a half, however in the end the Wildcats should prevail given their high-powered offensive attack. This will be a great first matchup of the 2012-13 Bowl Season.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Toledo (9-3) vs. #22 Utah State (10-2)
Bronco Stadium: Boise, Idaho
December 15th, ESPN 4:30 ET
QB Chuckie Keeton (3,144 YDS, 27 TDs) has been outstanding leading the Aggies to only two loses by a combined five points and the WAC Championship. With a defense to back up a diverse and well-balanced offense, Toledo could be in for a surprise as the Rockets’ surrender an average of 27.3 points a contest. Even though this one should be close, expect Utah State to continue a season to remember behind their QB Keeton who will become a household name during and after this bowl game.
Winner: Utah State
Poinsettia Bowl: SDSU (9-3) vs. BYU (7-5)
Qualcomm Stadium: San Diego, California
December 20th, ESPN 8:00 ET
This season BYU’s defense has been extremely nasty however the offense has doomed the Cougars the season. Close loses to Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame and San Jose State doomed what could have been an outstanding year behind a defense that only allowed 20.4 points a game. As the Aztecs look to play a home game in San Diego with new found promise, BYU and their array of physical athletes could be enough to end the Aztecs dream season. Although SDSU RB Adam Meuma(1,355 YDS, 16 TD) is shifty and has had a great season, this is BYU’s perfect chance to redeem themselves after some tough fought battles earlier in the season.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: Central Florida (9-4) vs. Ball State (9-3)
Tropicana Field: St. Petersburg, Florida
December 21st, ESPN 7:30 ET
Ball State looks for their seventh straight victory when traveling to sunny Florida on doomsday. With a great offense and a below average defense however, expect for Ball State to struggle against sophomore QB Blake Bortles, as Central Florida should play with new found motivation after a tough C-USA championship loss to Tulsa who beat them twice in the last three weeks of the regular season. With a defense that only gives up 18.3 points a game Ball State should struggle putting a plethora of points on the board against the Knights which is why I am taking Central Florida.
Winner: Central Florida
R+L Carrier New Orleans Bowl:
East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Super Dome: New Orleans, Louisiana
December 22nd, ESPN 12:00 ET
With an offense that averages 34. 8 points a game the Ragin’ Cajuns played well this season against formidable competition (especially Florida), while Eastern Carolina ended the season on a tear racking off three impressive victories; are now tied for first in the CUSA East. This game truly has a southern feel and the Superdome and Bourbon Street are sure to be rocking, as folks from the Carolinas and Louisiana migrate to New Orleans. Although, this is clearly one of the less anticipated matchups, expect an exciting contest to keep you occupied during Christmas Day. The bottom line is that unless QB Shane Carden can continue to perform well behind center, look for Lafayette to come away with the win as QB Terrance Broadway and the rest of the team should be able to move the ball with ease against the Pirates who rank 86th overall allow 30.7 points a game.
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl: Washington (7-5) vs. #19 Boise State (10-2)
Sam Boyd Stadium: Las Vegas, Nevada
December 22nd, ESPN 3:30 ET
Boise State experienced a down year while breaking in new QB Joe Southwick (2,466 YDS, 17 TD) however the defense has played very well and has only allowed an average of 14.9 points a game. On the other side Washington has had an extremely disappointing season given the expectations set in the off season, after QB Keith Price’s breakout season a year ago. The fact is there are athletes on the Huskies squad and they should be hungry to pull off the upset so the game should be close, but expect Boise State to continue with their recent tradition and string a close win as QB Keith Price will be heavily scouted and keyed by the Bronco’s defense.
Winner: Boise State
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State (9-3) vs. Southern Methodist (6-6)
Aloha Stadium: Honolulu, Hawaii
December 24th, ESPN 8:00 ET
Not a lot of things excite me more than Hawaii in December and this game should have islanders and vacationers in for a treat. Yes, David Carr’s little brother QB Derek Carr is (3,742 YDS, 36 TDs) damn good as he has led the Bulldogs to a 9-3 record and new promise going forward into the future. SMU on the other hand is happy to just be here and will need to find a way to contain the passing attack of Fresno in order to have a shot. Texas transfer QB Garret Gilbert leads an offense (2,720 YDS, 14 TD) that averages 29.5 points a game and earlier in the year put up a ridiculous 72 points against Houston. Watch for QB Derek Carr to post great numbers and for the hype to build around this familiar name during and after this contest as the Bulldogs should run SMU off the island.
Winner: Fresno State
Little Caesars Bowl: Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6)
Ford Field: Detroit, Michigan
December 26th, ESPN 7:30 ET
This is Western Kentucky’s first FBS Bowl game and the Hilltoppers are looking to make a statement as the whole country is wondering just exactly what this squad is all about. The Pizza Bowl has no shortage of high quality players as Central Michigan comes into the game with polished runner RB Zurlon Tipton (1,391 YDS, 19 TDs) and Western Kentucky brings RB Andrew Andrews (1,609, 11 TDs). Although Western Kentucky boasts the better record I feel that Central Michigan as a whole has played a better schedule and should come ready to pull the upset to gain their fourth consecutive victory ending the season in their home state. Central Michigan will come out with new found purpose in basically a home game.
Winner: Central Michigan
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman:
# 24 San Jose State (10-2) vs. Bowling Green (8-4)
RFK Stadium: Washington, DC
December 27th, ESPN 3:00 ET
The Spartans have won six straight games and loses to Stanford and Utah State mark their only missteps this season. San Jose State’s QB David Fales (3,798 YDS, 31 TDs) has had an outstanding season, as the offense has been well balanced through the air on and the ground with outstanding WR Noel Grigsby and RB De’Leon Eskride. Bowling Green to the contrary holds their strength on defense led by LB Gabe Martin (69 Total Tackles). As a result this matchup should be plenty entertaining, and it will be interesting to see if San Jose State is a product of a weak schedule or is actually a team worthy of solid press going into 2013.
Winner: San Jose State
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6)
Bank of America Stadium: Charlotte, North Carolina
December 27th, ESPN 6:30 ET
Holiday Bowl: Baylor (7-5) vs. #17 UCLA (9-4)
Qualcomm Stadium: San Diego, Ca
December 27th, ESPN 9:45 ET
The UCLA Bruins should come to play in San Diego and plenty of fans will be there to watch RB Jonathan Franklin carry the rock as he was on fire during Pac-10 Championship. Baylor has been impressive with QB Nick Florence and WR Terrance Williams (95 REC, 1,764 YDS, 12 TDs) towards the end of the season with their victory over Kansas State, but the Bruins will make the most of their opportunity and should come out firing on all cylinders come late this holiday season. I don’t feel like the Bears will be as physically imposing as Stanford so the Bruins should be at ease. If QB Brett Hundley has time, expect the Bears to have a long day as the Bruins on the offensive and defensive side of the football have found new glory. This game as a stepping stone into 2013.