Military Bowl - Presented by Northrup Grumman
Marshall (9 - 4) 27 vs. Maryland (7 - 5) 28:
Marshall had a good season in Conference USA, while Maryland played very inconsistently after a 4 - 0 start. They had one common opponent in Virginia Tech, who both teams took to overtime. The Terps managed a win, while Marshall wasn't so fortunate. This is a particularly tough pick, but I'll take Maryland for two reasons: 1) the game is in Annapolis, Maryland, just a short drive from the Terps' campus in College Park and 2) in close games I tend to take the team from the stronger conference. In addition, Maryland has had plenty time to prepare for this game. I was at the game in Blacksburg when Maryland upset Virginia Tech and I was impressed with the Terp offense.
Syracuse (6 - 6) 17 vs. Minnesota (8 - 4) 30: The Golden Gophers should have no problem with Syracuse, who probably has no business playing in a bowl game. I'm not even sure how this matchup came about. It looks like a mismatch on paper. Many of these games are tough to predict, but I can't see how the Orangemen can take Minnesota. But of course, this is the unpredictable bowl season so anything can happen. Still, I look for Syracuse to struggle.
Fight Hunger Bowl:
BYU (8 - 4) 31 vs. Washington (8 - 4) 27: I really like this game. BYU, after losing to Virginia early in the the season, played pretty well in beating teams from a number of conferences. They beat Texas, Boise State, Utah State, Georgia Tech and Houston. Competitive losses to Utah, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are nothing to be embarrassed about. Meanwhile, after a good season, Washington is between coaches with an interim calling the shots for this game. I like the Cougars in this one, even though it goes against my rule of taking a team from a tougher conference in a close call. BYU is an independent, which throws a monkey wrench into to the logic.