Bowl games are a difficult proposition at best, with outcomes depending on which teams prepare for their opponents or just use the extra practice time to get ready for the following season. Teams from lesser conferences figure they have something to prove and can pull a few surprises this time of year. If this sounds like a disclaimer, it certainly is. But I'll be giving it my best shot anyway.
Season: 210 - 72
Saturday, Dec. 21
Gildan New Mexico Bowl:
Washington State (6 - 6) 34 vs. Colorado State (7 - 6) 30: These teams had comparable records, but their schedules were vastly different. Washington State plays in the northern division of the Pac-12, while Colorado State is a member of the Mountain West. The Cougars beat the teams they were supposed to, but the Rams can put up points in a bundle. This is one of those games that could be a blowout either way, depending on who shows up to play. I'll take the Pac-12 team here.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl:
(20) Fresno State (11 - 1) 31 vs. (25) USC (9 - 4) 28: The bowl season gets off to a great start with this very compelling game on the first day. USC will be coached by offensive coordinator Clay Helton after interim coach Ed Orgeron resigned when athletic director Pat Haden went with Washington coach and former USC assistant Steve Sarkisian. If you've been reading this blog all season, then you know I'm clearly not a big buyer of Fresno State, but they should be up for this game. The big question is how much the Trojans will miss the presence of Orgeron, who led his team to six wins in eight games. I want to take USC here, but I just think there have been too many distractions for them against a very motivated team with a great quarterback.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:
Buffalo (8 - 4) 37 vs. San Diego State (7 - 5) 26: No matter how you like your potatoes: mashed, fried, baked or whatever, they'll play this game in Boise on a blue field. Somehow eating potatoes with anything blue seems a bit unappetizing if you ask me. Both teams are travelling and I like the MAC better than the Mountain West, so I have to lean toward Buffalo, a team that's fairly new to the bowl scene with its only previous appearance a loss in the International Bowl in 2009. There should be plenty of points in this one, but Buffalo has a better defense and should prevail.
R & L Carriers New Orleans Bowl:
Tulane (7 - 5) 27 vs. Louisiana - Lafayette (8 - 4) 35: For total football junkies, this one actually offers a pretty good finish to the day of bowl games. Both teams hail from Louisiana, so the chance to play in this game is a nice reward, although Tulane will only have to travel a matter of blocks. Neither ULL's Sun Belt conference or Tulane's Conference USA are mistaken for SEC, but I would have to give Tulane the conference nod. However, Louisiana -Lafayette lost to Arkansas and Kansas State to start the season, then ran off eight straight victories before book-ending their year with two consecutive losses. I'll take them to outscore the Green Wave.