Admit it. You’re going to watch the bowl games, even if you can’t name which one it is, where it’s taking place, or who that player is they’re saying is all-conference (which conference is it again?).
Time to break down this week’s bowls and point spreads! Spoiler alert: look for a LOT of high scoring affairs.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Boca Raton Bowl – 6pm EST
N. Illinois vs. Marshall -10 (o/u 67)
Actually a good bowl here. NIU comes in at 11-2 as MAC Champions while 12-win Marshall squeaked by LaTech to take the vaunted Conference USA Championship (it’s not that vaunted). First off, this game will have LOTS of points, and honestly, the +10 is too many to give NIU. They’re a seasoned bowl team with the experience it takes to cover easily, if not outright win.
Prediction: NIU 48 – Marshall 38
Poinsettia Bowl – 9:30pm EST
Navy vs. San Diego St. -3 (o/u 54.5)
This game is in San Diego and features San Diego State University playing the Naval Academy, whose largest Naval Base in the USA is located in San Diego. Get the picture?…This game is for a select few (…and proud! The Marines!). Both teams are 7-5, so this should be evenly matched. Navy tends to score a lot of points, so I expect it to go over the 54.5 with the Midshipmen’s triple option offense eventually doing the trick versus the Aztecs.
Prediction: Navy 31 – SDSU 27
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Bahamas Bowl – 12noon EST
Central Michigan vs. W. Kentucky -3.5 (o/u 67)
The best thing about this game is its location: Nassau. Otherwise, the Chippewas and Hilltoppers are bringing in dual 7-5 records that add up to “no one cares.” Maybe you’ll be stuck at the mall and can seek refuge in a Best Buy. Football-wise, WKU absolutely loves to light up the scoreboard, so here’s another game that should go over with no problems. CMU is your definition of an average football team. Bleh Bahamas Bowl.
Prediction: WKU 47 – CMU 31
Hawaii Bowl – 8pm EST
Fresno St. vs. Rice -2 (o/u 59.5)
Ummmm…Fresno State flies to paradise with a 6-7 losing record, while Rice is coming off a Nov. 29th loss to LaTech by the score of 76-31. Yep. Rice = 3rd best team in Conf USA. This cannot even be sarcastically described as a barnburner. Expect it to go over the 59.5.
Prediction: Rice 38 – Fresno St. 33
Friday, December 26, 2014
Heart of Dallas Bowl – 1pm EST
Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech -6 (o/u 58.5)
This game is played in the actual Cotton Bowl Stadium, but it’s not the Cotton Bowl, which is now played in AT&T Stadium, but is still called the Cotton Bowl (we’ll talk about MSU-Baylor next week). This is the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and it will be hard to love for anyone. Illinois finished the season with a nice 2-game win streak over Penn State and Northwestern, and senior QB Riley O’Toole is playing the best ball of his career, but at 6-6, the Illini were a hearbeat away from getting Tim Beckman fired. LaTech is extremely proficient on offense under head coach Skip Holtz, so this game should be a very high-scoring affair as well. Both teams played WKU this season and the Illini won by 8 while LaTech won by 49. So I like the Bulldogs.
Prediction: LaTech 51 – Illinois 40
Quick Lane Bowl – 4:30pm EST
Rutgers vs. North Carolina -3.5 (o/u 66.5)
With two teams sporting a combined 13-11 record and a game taking place in what’s sure to be a nearly empty Ford Field in Detroit, you’re saying to yourself, “Thank goodness my team isn’t here.” Yet again, we have two sides that score in the 40’s, so count on the over. Otherwise, your guess is as good as mine.
Prediction: Rutgers 45 – UNC 44
St. Petersburg Bowl – 8pm EST
North Carolina St. vs. Central Florida -2.5 (o/u 50)
Who wouldn’t want to watch a bowl game that’s taking place in the MLB’s worst ballpark? Yeah, me neither. NC State isn’t terrible, and UCF has won nine of its last ten games. Again, you can expect this game to go over the meager 50. I like UCF since they’re only an hour and a half away down Interstate-4 from Orlando.
Prediction: UCF 27 – NC St 24
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Military Bowl – 1pm EST
Cincinnati -3 vs. Virginia Tech (o/u 50.5)
Cincy comes to Annapolis on a 7-game winning streak. VaTech is a mid-grade team who never built on its Sept. 6th upset of Ohio St. This game should be murky and messy, so for once I like the under.
Prediction: Cincinnati 17 – Virginia Tech 13
Sun Bowl – 2pm EST
Arizona St. -7 vs. Duke (o/u 65)
Okay, this is a legit good game, and I always love the Sun Bowl, no lie. Both teams sport 9-3 records, and both sides love lots of offense. AzSt had a great season in a very difficult Pac-12, so they should rule El Paso on Saturday afternoon in a high-scoring romp.
Prediction: Arizona St. 48 – Duke 31
Independence Bowl – 3:30pm EST
Miami (FL) -3.5 vs. South Carolina (o/u 60.5)
Two 6-6 teams coming to town off losses, three in a row for the Hurricanes. Exciting! The Gamecocks have been through hell in the SEC this season, so that should have toughened them up enough to do damage against a youthful Miami squad.
Prediction: S. Carolina 24 – Miami (FL) 16
Pinstripe Bowl – 4:30pm EST
Boston College -2.5 vs. Penn St. (o/u 40.5)
Let’s play a game in Yankees Stadium. How quaint. At least it’s not Tropicana Field. Talking football, BC had a commendable season with a win over USC and a close loss to FSU. Penn State is on a two-game losing streak, and QB Christian Hackenberg doesn’t have an offense to help him out. The Eagles should cover in a game that squeaks over the tiny 40.5.
Prediction: BC 28 – Penn St. 13
Holiday Bowl – 8pm EST
Nebraska vs. USC -7 (o/u 61.5)
At least this is a fun one to end Saturday night. The Cornhuskers come to San Diego without fired Bo Pelini and his kitty cats. The Trojans spent 2014 under-performing as usual, going 8-4 with a team that should have won the Pac-12 South. All that considered, it’s a good matchup of top-tier schools who like scoring (and giving up) points. West coast advantage goes to USC. Fight on!
Prediction: USC 55 – Nebraska 28
Dan Krier is the host of Walk the Line for Impact Sports