Friday, 29 December 2006

New Year's Day and BCS Bowl Predictions

I'll save my National Championship game prediction for another day, but for now I'll give you my thoughts on all of the New Year's Day games and the BCS games.

Outback Bowl: (17) Tennessee vs. Penn St.
If Penn St. can get the ball in the hands of guys like Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwoodh, and Tony Hunt, they have the offensive weapons to compete with the Vols. The problem, of course, is getting the ball to them, as Anthony Morelli hasn't exactly torn up the Big Ten. He's completed only a little over 50% of his passes, with a 10:8 TD:INT ratio. That's not good enough to beat a solid SEC team in Tennessee. TENNESSEE 31-21.

Cotton Bowl: (10) Auburn vs. (22) Nebraska
I'm not sure what was up with Auburn getting stomped by Georgia in the 2nd to last game of the year, but ok. One of the biggest problems Auburn was having was that Kenny Irons was playing hurt and was just not as effective down the stretch, which obviously caused some problems. However, after a month or so off, that should be behind him. For the Huskers, I love their offensive balance, but Auburn will be one of the best defenses they've faced all year. AUBURN 24-20.

Gator Bowl: (13) West Virginia vs. Georgia Tech
Not that Reggie Ball was really very good, but things should be even worse offensively with him not playing because of academic reasons. Which is ok because West Virginia's defense isn't that good... but it's not ok because West Virginia's offense is very good. And Georgia Tech won't be able to score enough with their backup QB to keep up with the Mountaineers. WEST VIRGINIA 34-13.

Capital One Bowl: (12) Arkansas vs. (6) Wisconsin
Surprisingly Arkansas comes into this game losers of two straight and with some off-field distractions from parents who think their freshman TE should be catching 60 balls. Um, yeah. This one looks a lot like last year's Capital One Bowl, when most people (myself included) thought Auburn would be able to abuse Wisconsin, and the opposite happened en route to a 24-10 Wisconsin victory. However, I think McFadden & Jones are better than Kenny Irons, and PJ Hill isn't quite Brian Calhoun yet. ARKANSAS 24-23.

Fiesta Bowl: (7) Oklahoma vs. (9) Boise St.
This is pretty much uncharted territory for Boise St., but they come with lots of firepower. Foremost is Ian Johnson, whose numbers are eye-popping. Over 1600 yards rushing, 6.4 YPC, and 24 TD. But if you focus on him Jared Zabrasnky (it seems like he's been there forever) can hurt you either throwing or running the ball. Boise averaged nearly 40 PPG this year, so they can score in a hurry. But they haven't faced anyone like Oklahoma yet this year. Somehow the Sooners are at 11-2 (and should be 12-1), even after Adrian Peterson went down. Paul Thompson has actually been very good at QB, and Adrian Peterson will be back. Enough said. OKLAHOMA 35-20.

Rose Bowl: (8) USC vs. (3) Michigan
I think USC is a bit underrated... their defense is good, and they really do have a solid, balanced offense. If John David Booty has time, he's extremely accurate and has the great WR weapons to throw to. However, as I've said before, on a neutral field I think Michigan is the best team in the country. Michael Hart is a tough runner, Chad Henne makes good decisions with the ball, and Mario Manningham is one of the top WR in the nation. And then there's the defense, led by CB Leon Hall. I really like USC, but I love Michigan. MICHIGAN 31-23.

Orange Bowl: (5) Louisvilla vs. (15) Wake Forest
Wake Forest has been perhaps the surprise team of the country, and they do a lot of things well, but I don't think they match up with Louisville. Louisville has one of the most explosive offenses in the country, with Brian Brohm, Harry Douglas, Mario Urrutia, and a bevy of solid RBs who have stepped up after Michael Bush's injury. I think they'll score early and often, and put a little damper on what was a fine season for Wake Forest. LOUISVILLE 41-20.

Sugar Bowl: (11) Notre Dame vs. (4) LSU
I think we all remember last year, where Notre Dame was getting tons of hype, went into the BCS confident, and then got run off the field by a much better Ohio St. team. This year, I see some more of the same, though not quite as much hype about Notre Dame in the media. But one thing remains the same... Notre Dame is a solid team with a good offense, but they are not as talented as their opponent. LSU's two losses this year came at Auburn and at Florida... not bad. They have a great, fast defense that should be able to put pressure on Brady Quinn, forcing him into some mistakes. Offensively, JaMarcus Russell has grown better and better with each game, and they should be able to put up points against a still porous Notre Dame defense. LSU 34-21.