Welcome to the bowl edition of By the Numbers. The ratings give an interesting perspective on which to judge the bowls, which often are the first time the teams have played. Historically, the predictions are only about 50-50 against the spread. Everybody is grudgingly admitting that the BCS "worked" this year. Let me see: the BCS is designed to identify the top two teams. When two teams are unbeaten, everybody's satisfied, when one or three teams are unbeaten, the system "doesn't work." I think I see a theorem here.The games should be good ones. The Rose Bowl has two great traditional powers, the top Heisman candidates and the teams that looked the best last Saturday. Another pair of great fight songs meet in the Fiesta Bowl. Helping ease the absurdity of Florida State getting the Orange Bowl is the Paterno-Bowden matchup. But it just hasn't been a good year for anything associated with New Orleans. Off-Broadway are some nice games in the Holiday, Gator (what is it with Virginia schools and the state of Florida?) and Peach. I'm (almost) feeling bad about last week's suggestion that the ACC welcome Boston College with a trip to Boise, but that's what happens when you don't have the fan base of the southern crazies.
Enjoy the bowl games and have a great holiday!
BEST BOWLS (largest total ratings):
1. Rose, 2. Fiesta, 3. Orange, 4. Gator
WORST BOWLS (smallest total ratings):
1. New Orleans, 2. Motor City, 3. Hawaii, 4. Fort Worth
BEST TEAMS NOT IN A BOWL (none bowl eligible):
1. Michigan State, 2. Purdue, 3. Maryland, 4. North Carolina
WORST TEAMS IN A BOWL :
1. Arkansas State, 2. Akron, 3. Nevada, 4. Houston
The following predictions are directly from the ratings, with no points added for home field. The comments are not always backed by good research. Below each game, I listed what I thought were the teams' best and worst results of the year. Notice that Florida State and Michigan made a lot of teams' seasons.
12/20 New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss over Arkansas State by 12
8:00 ESPN. Lafayette. The Eagles were hurricane victims, the Indians (!) slipped in the Sun Belt back door.
Southern Miss (6-5): W Central Florida 52-31, L Tulsa 17-43
Arkansas State (6-5): W La-Lafayette 39-36, L Middle Tenn 7-45
12/21 GMAC Bowl: Toledo over UTEP by 2
8:00 ESPN. Mobile. Both had late losses at home that gave away conference titles.
Toledo (8-3): W West Michigan 56-23, L North Illinois 17-35
UTEP (8-3): W Tulsa 41-38, L SMU 27-40
12/22 Las Vegas Bowl: Cal over BYU by 6
8:00 ESPN. Neither team is as pass-happy as they used to be. Maybe past happy.
Cal (7-4): W Stanford 27-3, L Oregon State 20-23
BYU (6-5): W Col State 24-14, L San Diego St 10-31
12/22 Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado State over Navy by 0
10:30 ESPN2. San Diego. You might want to give Navy 2 points for "home" field in San Diego.
Colorado State (6-5): W Nevada 42-21, L San Diego State 10-30
Navy (7-4): W Army 42-23, L Rutgers 21-31
12/23 Fort Worth Bowl: Kansas over Houston by 6
8:00 ESPN. The Fat Man gets a holiday feast, the Cougars look to give him indigestion.
Kansas (6-5): W Nebraska 40-15, L Texas 14-66
Houston (6-5): W Tulsa 30-23, L SMU, 24-29
12/24 Hawaii Bowl: Central Florida over Nevada by 3
8:30 ESPN. Nevada tries for a second win in Hawaii. The Knights went 0-11 last year.
Central Florida (8-4): W Memphis 38-17, L Southern Miss 31-52
Nevada (8-3): W Fresno St 38-35, L Washington St 21-55
12/26 Motor City Bowl: Memphis over Akron by 2
4:00 ESPN. Detroit. Not much zip in this matchup, but more Zips than Detroit wanted.
Memphis (6-5): W Southern Miss 24-22, L Ole Miss 6-10
Akron (7-5): W Northern Illinois 48-42, L Army 0-20
12/27 Champs Sports Bowl: Clemson over Colorado by 2
5:00 ESPN. Orlando. Last game for 12-year veteran Charlie Whitehurst. The Tigers finished 5-1, the Buffs 0-3.
Clemson (7-4): W Florida State 35-14, L Wake Forest 27-31
Colorado (7-5): W Missouri 41-12, L Texas 3-70
12/27 Insight Bowl: Arizona State over Rutgers by 7
8:30 ESPN. Phoenix. Another group of Knights delighted to be bowling, but Phoenix may be too hot.
Arizona State (6-5): W Northwestern 52-21, L Stanford 35-45
Rutgers (7-4): W Navy 31-21, L Illinois 30-33
12/28 MPC Computers Bowl: Boston College over Boise St by 12
4:30 ESPN. Boise. The Broncos look outmatched, but nobody else has a blue home field advantage.
Boston College (8-3): W NC State 30-10, L UNC 14-16
Boise State (9-3): W Nevada 49-14, L Fresno St 7-27
12/28 Alamo Bowl: Michigan over Nebraska by 11
8:00 ESPN. San Antonio. Has Nebraska figured out the new offense? Michigan lost 4 games by 17 points.
Michigan (7-4): W Penn State 27-25, L Minnesota 20-23
Nebraska (7-4): W Colorado 30-3, L Kansas 15-40
12/29 Emerald Bowl: Georgia Tech over Utah by 13
4:30 ESPN. San Francisco. After Miami and Georgia, how excited will GT be to face the youthful Utes?
Georgia Tech (7-4): W Auburn 23-14, L Virginia Tech 7-51
Utah (6-5): W BYU 41-34, L UNC 17-31
12/29 Holiday Bowl: Oregon over Oklahoma by 3
8:00 ESPN. San Diego. A bad call kept the Sooners from winning their last 6; SC kept the Ducks from all 11.
Oregon (10-1): W Cal 27-20, L Southern Cal 13-45
Oklahoma (7-4): W Kansas 19-3, L Texas 12-45
12/30 Music City Bowl: Minnesota over Virginia by 9
12:00 ESPN. Nashville. Maybe the Big 10 can win a football challenge against the ACC.
Minnesota (7-4): W Michigan 23-20, L Penn State 14-44
Virginia (6-5): W Florida State 26-21, L Virginia Tech 14-52
12/30 Sun Bowl: Northwestern over UCLA by 1
2:00 CBS. El Paso. Two high-powered offenses and matador defenses. It should be fun.
Northwestern (7-4): W Wisconsin 51-48, L Arizona State 21-52
UCLA (9-2): W Oklahoma 41-24, L Arizona 14-52
12/30 Independence Bowl: South Carolina over Missouri by 4
3:30 ESPN. Shreveport. Last game for Brad Smith of Mizzou, first bowl game of Carolina's Spurrier era.
South Carolina (7-4): W Florida 30-22, L Auburn 7-48
Missouri (6-5): W Nebraska 41-24, L New Mexico 35-45
12/30 Peach Bowl: Miami over LSU by 5
7:30 ESPN. Atlanta. They'd rather be playing here 3 days later. Another close Peach Bowl?
Miami (9-2): W Virginia Tech 27-7, L Georgia Tech 10-14
LSU (10-2): W Auburn 20-17, L Georgia 14-34
12/31 Meineke Car Care Bowl: South Florida over NC State by 1
11:00 ESPN2. Charlotte. The Bulls were in a skid before break, better get those brakes checked.
South Florida (6-5): W Louisville 45-14, L Pitt 17-31
NC State (6-5): W Florida State 20-15, L Clemson 10-31
12/31 Liberty Bowl: Fresno State over Tulsa by 1
1:30 ESPN. Memphis. Fresno also leaked oil down the stretch, but they're veterans at big games.
Fresno State (9-3): W Boise State 27-7, L La Tech 28-40
Tulsa (8-4): W Central Florida 44-27, L Minnesota 10-41
12/31 Houston Bowl: TCU over Iowa State by 4
2:30 ESPN2. The Frogs have rolled since the SMU croak, the Cyclones have been all over the map.
TCU (10-1): W Oklahoma 17-10, L SMU 10-21
Iowa State (7-4): W Colorado 30-16, L Baylor 13-23
1/2 Outback Bowl: Iowa over Florida by 1
11:00 ESPN. Tampa. How much will a month help the Florida O? Can the Big 10 school handle the SEC speed?
Iowa (7-4): W Minnesota 52-28, L Iowa State 3-23
Florida (8-3): W Florida State 34-7, L Alabama 3-31
1/2 Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech over Alabama by 3
11:00 FOX. Dallas. The computer doesn't know that great defense always beats great offense.
Texas Tech (9-2): W Texas A&M 56-17, L Oklahoma State 17-24
Alabama (9-2): W Florida 31-3, L Auburn 18-28
1/2 Gator Bowl: Virginia Tech over Louisville by 7
12:30 NBC. Jacksonville. Could be a great game, if the Hokies make it to Jacksonville this time.
Virginia Tech (10-2): W Georgia Tech 51-7, L Florida State 22-27
Louisville (9-2): W Rutgers 56-5, L South Florida 14-45
1/2 Capital One Bowl: Auburn over Wisconsin by 1
1:00 ABC. Orlando. The Badgers have overachieved. One more for retiring coach Alvarez?
Auburn (9-2): W South Carolina 48-7, L Georgia Tech 14-23
Wisconsin (9-3): W Michigan 23-20, L Iowa 10-20
1/2 Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State over Notre Dame by 7
4:30 ABC. Tempe. This one may not be close, unless it was Weiss and not Belichick all along.
Ohio State (9-2): W Northwestern 48-7, L Penn State 10-17
Notre Dame (9-2): W Michigan 17-10, L Michigan State 41-44
1/2 Sugar Bowl: Georgia over West Virginia by 0
8:00 ABC. Atlanta. Two 10-win teams makes a great game, right? The Dawgs go 3-0 in Atlanta.
Georgia (10-2): W LSU 34-14, L Florida 10-14
West Virginia (10-1): W Louisville 46-44, L Virginia Tech 17-34
1/3 Orange Bowl: Penn State over Florida State by 15
8:00 ABC. Miami. If Penn State's kids can handle the hoopla, Bowden's lead will be cut to 5 wins.
Penn State (10-1): W Ohio State 17-10, L Michigan 25-27
Florida State (8-4): W Virginia Tech 27-22, L Clemson 14-35
1/4 Rose Bowl: Texas over Southern Cal by 5
8:00 ABC. Pasadena. The big one! Wouldn't it be great if both teams played their best?
Texas (12-0): W Colorado 70-3, W Texas A&M 40-29
Southern Cal (12-0): W UCLA 66-19, Fresno State 50-42
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