Miami Beach Bowl:
Western Kentucky (11 - 2) 38 vs. South Florida (8 - 4) 30: Western Kentucky should be able to throw early and often on the Bulls, who will be challenged when trying to keep up with the Hilltoppers on the scoreboard.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:
Akron (7 - 5) 27 vs. Utah State (6 - 6) 24: This game is best watched with while eating potato chips and dip or a large order of McDonald's french fries. Akron has a tenacious rushing offense that will probably force Utah State to try to throw the ball, something they're not particularly effective doing. I'll always take a 7 - 5 MAC team over a .500 squad from the Mountain West.
Marmot Boca Raton Bowl:
(24) Temple (10 - 3) 26 vs. Toledo (9 - 2) 24: Both of these teams had a chance at representing the Group of Five in a New Year's Day game, but faltered down the stretch. I like the Temple run defense to make it difficult for the Rockets to move the ball, while the Owls should be able to gain ground through the air against Toledo.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl:
Boise State (9 - 4) 30 vs. Northern Illinois (8 - 5) 21: This bowl, obviously named for a gift you get for opening a Christmas Club account, is not a good match-up for NIU. Boise likes to throw the ball and that's possible against a mediocre Northern Illinois defense. The Broncos will also be able to neutralize the running game of the Huskies.
Georgia Southern (8 - 4) 23 vs. Bowling Green (10 - 3) 31:Georgia Southern could use GoDaddy to launch a new website call www.wejustruntheball.com since the Eagles rank last in the FBS in passing yards per game. I look for Bowling Green to use a great passing game to overwhelm the Eagles. The weakness of the Falcons is in pass defense, which won't really be a factor against Georgia Southern.
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl:
Middle Tennessee (7 - 5) 34 vs. Western Michigan (7 - 5) 37: These teams get a real treat by advancing to a bowl game in the Bahamas. I'm assuming fried chicken will also be available in great volumes. This should be an entertaining Christmas Eve affair with both teams averaging almost 35 points a game. Once again, I'll take the MAC representative in a close one.
San Diego State (10 - 3) 31 vs. Cincinnati (7 - 5) 27: San Diego State has a true shut down defense, and even with the Bearcats' fourth ranked pass offense, I like the Aztecs to run the ball effectively enough to limit Cincinnati's possessions. The time difference could also be a factor for Tommy Tubberville's Ohio-based team.
St. Petersburg Bowl:
Connecticut (6 - 6) 20 vs. Marshall (9 - 3) 24: This is probably one of the biggest mismatches of the bowl season. UConn simply has a difficult time putting points on the board, boasting the 120th ranked offense in FCS. Marshall isn't as explosive as they've been in the past, but should be able to get past the Huskies.
Hyudai Sun Bowl:
Miami, Fl (8 - 4) 31 vs. Washington State (8 - 4) 35: Washington State is a classic Mike Leach-coached team that's first in the nation in passing and last in rushing. Miami should be able to slow down the Cougars, but with the team in transition before new coack Mark Richt takes over, I'm not sure they can generate enough offense to outscore Washington State.
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl:
Washington (6 - 6) 24 vs.Southern Mississippi (9 - 4) 30: Southern Mississippi has a lot to play for, notably the satisfaction that would come with a victory over a Pac-12 team. I also think they can outscore a Washington team that struggles on offense. This is a big upset pick, as Washington should be able to take care of business, but I don't believe they will.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl:
Indiana (6 - 6) 32 vs. Duke (7 - 5) 40: Duke has a chance to salvage a disappointing season by taking advantage of Indiana's porous defense, the worst against the pass in the nation. The Blue Devils have struggled, but should be able to prevail in what is likely to be a very high scoring game.
Camping World Independence Bowl:
Tulsa (6 - 6) 27 vs. Virginia Tech (6 - 6) 38: In 1993, Virginia Tech began their current bowl appearance streak against Indiana in the Independence Bowl. Frank Beamer will end his legendary career as the Hokies' head coach in the same place, a fitting bookend to his storied run. As a Tech alumnus and fan, it will be a special moment as he exits the field for the last time. Regarding the game, it's a contrast in styles as the Hokies prefer to win low scoring affairs, whereas Tulsa, because of a poor defense, is forced to try to outscore their opponents, giving up a lot of points in the process. Look for Virginia Tech's pass defense to shut down the Golden Hurricane air attack and send Beamer out a winner.
Foster Farms Bowl:
UCLA (8 - 4) 31 vs. Nebraska (5 - 7) 26: It's appropriate that the Cornhuskers would play in a farm bowl. Of course the game is played in Santa Clara at the new 49er's stadium and site of Super Bowl 50, not in a field in the rural Midwest. Even though Nebraska might be the best 5 - 7 team in the country, their pass defense is not very good and will be tested all night by UCLA's freshman QB Josh Rosen.