Chaos Rankings

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007/2008 Bowl Predictions

Just like last year, I'm going to take a stab at predicting all 32 bowl games. And I'm probably going to be about 67% right again, but that doesn't make it any less fun. Ranks shown are as of the last regular season game for each team. Point spreads shown are not based on anything besides my own relative confidence in the outcome.

Poinsettia Bowl - #30 Utah vs. #46 Navy
Utah has some wins this year that would ordinarily be celebrated (over Louisville, UCLA, and TCU), but those teams fell short of expectations this year. On the other hand, a 50-0 smothering of Wyoming and a close loss to BYU still look pretty respectable when combined with their other wins. In a year in which Navy finally beat Notre Dame, it's hard not to pick the Middies, but the loss to Delaware is reason for pause. And without Paul Johnson calling the shots, even promoting from within isn't likely to lead Navy to a victory over the superior Utes, especially with all the time in the world to gameplan for the triple-option. Utah by 10

New Orleans Bowl - #58 Memphis vs. #52 Florida Atlantic
After an emotional rollercoaster, Memphis pulled their season out of a tailspin to earn a bowl bid and close on a hot streak. FAU should be damn proud of where they are as well since football is a new thing for them. The Owls are a program on the rise while Memphis has festered since losing DeAngelo Williams to the NFL. Got to go with the legendary coach and the momentum on this one. FAU by 5

Pizza Bowl - #57 Southern Miss vs. #16 Cincinnati
After a strong start and some Big East title talk, Brian Kelly had the Bearcats looking too far ahead and stumbled a bit down the stretch but still put together a fantastic season that really started in last year's bowl game. Southern Miss is still searching for a head coach. This a no brainer. Cincy by 13

New Mexico Bowl - #65 Nevada vs. #39 New Mexico
Will homefield advantage be the final check in the plus column for the Lobos? They've got the advantage in every category coming into the game and get to play on their own turf to boot. Good luck Wolfpack. New Mexico by 17

Sin City Bowl - #67 UCLA vs. #12 BYU
Last year the Cougars put the smackdown on Oregon. This year they'll do it to Pac-10 bretheren UCLA. BYU is one of the better teams outside the big-six conferences as well as one of the more consistent. Though I'm sure they'd like to see a better bowl game than Vegas (cause really, what's a Mormon to do in "family-friendly" Sin City?), stomping a Pac-10 opponent to once again prove your legitimacy never hurts. I don't care that UCLA had a chance to backdoor into the Rose Bowl. They had plenty of chances to prove themselves this year, a year in which they were supposed to achieve great things, and never got it together. How will this game be any different? BYU by 23

Aloha Bowl - #9 Boise State vs. #54 East Carolina
This may look like a blowout in the making, and it probably will be, but never count out Skip Holtz's Pirates. Boise may have had BCS Buster dreams again before the season began, but the early loss to what looked like a good Washington team at the time cost them, and the late-season loss to WAC-rival Hawaii sealed the deal, but at least they get another trip to Hawaii out of it, and that's got to be a lot nicer than Boise in December. ECU handed conference champ UCF their only in-conference loss, and that counts for a lot, especially considering that a win over Southern Miss would have put them into the CUSA championship game instead. Still, Boise is a better team and it will show down the stretch. Boise State by 21

Motor City Bowl - #45 Purdue vs. #55 Central Michigan
Unable to repeat the same success of last year, CMU heads to lovely nearby Detroit. Unable to repeat success in the second half of a season ever, Purdue joins them. Two closely matched teams with higher ambition and no way to acheive it will just be happy to leave Detroit when its all said and done. Purdue might be the only Big Te(leve)n team who doesn't play like it, and that gives them the edge in this game, though only barely. Purdue by 1

Holiday Bowl - #11 Arizona State vs. #23 Texas
This is the first 'quality' game on the slate, and it looks like it should be pretty entertaining. I'm frankly amazed by what Dennis Erickson was able to do with perpetually underachieving ASU. Every year they get hyped up and every year they fall apart. I know they were thinking Rose Bowl this year, but still, San Diego is nice and you still get to call the season a success with a win over a good Texas team. Ditto for Texas who hasn't been able to shake the post-VY funk. Beating a solid team like ASU will raise morale in the offseason and may springboard a more experienced team back into Big 12 contention next year. Ultimately though, I think you have to go with momentum in this one and that belongs to the Sun Devils. Arizona State by 4

Tangerine Bowl - #18 Boston College vs. #40 Michigan State
Poor consolation prize for the Eagles after having a chance at the Orange or better. Sparty suffers the same late-season stumbles as Purdue but improves their bowl positioning nonetheless. Michigan State is going to find themselves totally outmatched however as Matt Ryan is too much of a competitor to end his college career with a loss. BC by 6

Texas Bowl - #51 TCU vs. #38 Houston
Welcome to the all-Texas invitational for supremacy of mid-major bragging rights. Remember all that TCU preseason hoopla and how great their defense was supposed to be? What happened to that? Maybe Houston can prepare for a game sans coach? Maybe it's a good thing not many people get the NFL Network... TCU by 2

(predictions below added on 12/24)

Emerald Bowl - #63 Maryland vs. #35 Oregon State
The general consensus was that Maryland had a strong finish to their season. I'm not entirely sure I can back that sentiment, but Fridge is sure to have the Terps ready to go bowling. Oregon state slogged their way through a top-heavy Pac 10 schedule and came out with a better overall record. The harder schedule and easier commute give the edge to the Beavers in this one. Oregon State by 7

Charlotte Bowl - #20 UConn vs. #37 Wake Forest
Randy Edsall and Jib Grobe have spent the last few weeks fending off job offers left and right. You have to admire the devotion to smaller schools that they have built into strong programs. No one believed Wake would repeat their ACC title again this year, but they did everything they could do position themselves for it. And no one believed UConn would take a share of the Big East title this year, so kudos on that. This figures to be one of the more evenly matched games and will further enhance the bowl stature of the game in Charlotte, a game constantly on the rise. In a low scoring defensive game, you have to look at turnovers, and the slight edge goes to the Huskies on that one. UConn by 3

Liberty Bowl - #19 UCF vs. #62 Mississippi State
What a great year for George O'Leary. The Golden Knights take home the CUSA crown behind the rushing of Kevin Smith. As other Florida programs are in decline, the rise of programs like USF, UCF, and FAU is undeniable. Sly Croom also had a great year for the Bulldogs, taking down the likes of Auburn, Kentucky, and Alabama after a deflating loss at home to LSU to open the season. Certainly Sly Croom is my pick for SEC coach of the year. Unfortunately, his team will be outmatched at every position by the knights of Orlando. UCF by 17

Alamo Bowl - #28 Penn State vs. #50 Texas A&M
Another year older, another year better right? JoePa recently turned 492 and is closing in on Bowden's win total again. The Aggies' program is falling apart before our very eyes. Consistency over turmoil wins again. Penn State by 6

Independence Bowl - #59 Alabama vs. #69 Colorado
This game may as well be called the delusions of granduer bowl. Bama and Colorado flushed their seasons down the toilet despite each having a great signature win over a far superior team. I wonder if Dan Hawkins is wishing he was still in Boise? On that other hand, the Tide does have more wins the the Dolphins... In the end, SEC conditioning carries the day and Bama boosters praise 7-6 Saban as a hero for some reason. Alabama by 3

Armed Forces Bowl - #64 California vs. #21 Air Force
Wasn't this supposed to be Cal's year? The pressure got to them early and they fell hard and fast. Air Force is a program on the rise again with their new head coach. And how can the Falcons lose the Armed Forces Bowl? Air Force by 13

Smurf Bowl - #48 Georgia Tech vs. #47 Fresno State
Possibly the most evenly matched game on the slate. The real question is which teams are going to show up. Is the Yellow Jackets team that beat Clemson headed to Boise, or is it the team that should have lost to UNC? Pat Hill's Bulldogs are usually a formidable opponent, but they've been stung by the multiple personality bug in recent times as well. The last meeting went solidly to Fresno, but Tech's last visit to Boise resulted in a 52-10 smackdown of Tulsa. If Jon Tenuta can keep the team focused with a new head coach breathing down his neck and new job offers filling up his inbox, expect the Yackets to rule the blue field once again. Georgia Tech by 2

Sun Bowl - #15 South Florida vs. #25 Oregon
Two remarkably similar teams square off in what looks like a pretty entertaining game. Both lost three games in a row to excuse themselves from the national title conversation. But Oregon did so because they lost Dennis Dixon. That torn ACL will cost them this game as well. USF has a stingy defense and a high powered offense to match up with the Ducks, and without their leader, the Bulls stampede through El Paso with a win. USF by 11

Grand Ole Opry Bowl - #44 Kentucky vs. #53 Florida State
'Nuff said. Kentucky by 27

Insight Bowl - #56 Indiana vs. #61 Oklahoma State
Fueled solely by emotion, the Hoosiers run all over the Cowboys as they vindicate Terry Hoeppner's vision. Indiana by 10

Peach Bowl - #14 Clemson vs. #34 Auburn
Tigers win! Tigers win! Coach Tommy is ecstatic! Oh, wait, that doesn't tell you anything. Auburn played a lot of tough football this year and came up just a bit short a couple too many times. Clemson once again failed to meet their ACC championship goal thanks to the play of Boston College. Last year I said Clemson was a lock to beat Kentucky and look how that turned out... Clemson might be the most overrated team of all time, therefore, I'm picking Coach Whineypants' Tigers instead. Auburn by 10

(predictions below added on 12/30)

Outback Bowl - #24 Wisconsin vs. #31 Tennessee
After a dream season for Brett Bilema last year, the Badgers continued to achieve in a mediocre Big Te(leve)n this year. Losses to Ohio State, the Rose Bowl bound Illini, and PSU are easy enough to overlook. Tennessee may have won the SEC east somehow, but losses to Bama and Cal are a lot harder to overlook. It all comes down to Erik Ainge. If he can put together a strong final performance, the Vols come away with a victory, otherwise, Wisconsin rolls. There are simply too many question marks for the Volunteers, but it should still be an exciting game. Wisconsin by 6

Cotton Bowl - #7 Missouri vs. #26 Arkansas
This years biggest snub goes to Mizzou. The inane BCS rule that 3 teams from the same conference screwed over Wisconsin last year, but they turned it into a victory over Arkansas. Can the Tigers go the same thing to McFadden this year? With the direct snap to the tailback becoming all the rage this year, no doubt Mizzou will be all over the Hogs. But can they really hold both McFadden and Felix Jones in check? Probably not, but the Tigers high powered offense means they won't need to. Missouri by 16

Gator Bowl - #29 Texas Tech vs. #27 Virginia
Virginia's made a living on winning close games this year and saved Al Groh's job. Texas Tech has made a living for years on a pass-heavy scheme that racks up yards and points, but has struggled against stout defenses. Should be interesting to see what Chris Long can do to Graham Harrell. In the end though, UVA is likely to get burned by the passing attack and won't be able to match the constant scoring of the Red Raiders, but for old time's sake, let's say it's a close game. Texas Tech by 1

Capital One Bowl - #32 Michigan vs. #17 Florida
Does Lloyd Carr have one more victory in him? Will Jake Long, Mike Hart, and Chad Henne finally redeem themselves and help their draft status? Seems like there's no better way to do it than against this year's Heisman winner and last year's national champions. After some early struggles, Michigan righted the ship and put together an impressive season that speaks volumes about Carr's coaching abilities. Urban Meyer's scheme at Florida looks brilliant, but all relies on Tim Tebow, who has shown that he can still put up solid numbers even when playing hurt. Will Michigan find a way to shut down the offensive juggernaut? Sadly for Wolverine fans, probably not. Florida by 10

Rose Bowl - #22 Illinois vs. #10 USC
*Yawn* Yeah, USC is playing as well as anyone right now, you just keep telling yourself that. But they're just not exciting to watch this year. I want to say shame on the Rose Bowl for selecting Illinois, but it's hard to argue with tradition. Certainly Illinois is a team deserving of recognition this year, but not a good matchup to generate viewer interest anywhere besides Champaign and LA. Lucky thing the Rose Bowl is still the best of the best when it comes to bowl games. Congratulations are certainly due to Ron Zook for leading the Illini to a great season and to Pete Carroll for winning the Pac 10 year again even with strong competition from Oregon and Arizona State this year. USC owns the Rose Bowl - just ask Michigan. USC by 17

Sugar Bowl - #2 Hawaii vs. #13 Georgia
Last time Georgia took on a highly touted WAC team, Boise State got smashed in Athens to open their 2005 season. UGA was still talking BCS title game before the SEC title game that they weren't even involved in. Sorry Dawgs, you have to at least win your division and preferably your conference. I know it's not a rule, but when human voters are involved, perception is everything. Hawaii meanwhile has struggled against medicore competition, but has always found ways to come out on top. And if the Broncos taught us anything last year, it's to have confidence in the underdog undefeated WAC team. As long as Colt Brennan hasn't checked out mentally for the NFL yet, he's too fierce a competitor to let the red and black intimidate. Plus, I'm really looking forward to seeing the haka performed in New Orleans. Hawaii by 4

Fiesta Bowl - #5 Oklahoma vs. #6 West Virginia
That sound you hear is the collective groans of Mountaineers fans everywhere as the team self-destructed their way out of a lock for the BCS title game, lost their coach, and then drew a slighted Sooner team in a game where OU will hold a grudge against anyone they play. Certainly WVU has the weapons to wreak havoc on Oklahoma, but can they get their act together with all that's been going on? Consider that Oklahoma is seeking to reassert their claim on the Big 12 with the nation's most efficient offense, and arguing that theyr deserved to be in the title game and you've got the makings for a huge Sooner victory. Oklahoma by 14

Orange Bowl - #8 Virginia Tech vs. #1 Kansas
The lone loss to Mizzou would have looked a lot more impressive if the Tigers had been able to beat Oklahoma. Playing one of the weakest schedules in the country has its advantages (like finishing 11-1), but it's not much preparation for a Hokies team that is coming into their own at the end of the season. Certainly many would argue the ACC isn't that strong and VT did get annihilated by LSU early on. But taking your lumps helps a team come together and VT is on fire now. Certainly it's been an impressive year for Mayor McCheese, er, Mark Mangino (is it a coincidence that they have the same initials?) and the Jayhawks, but the Hokies D is hitting their stride at the right time and isn't going to let Kansas get anywhere near 44+ points per game average. Virginia Tech by 3

Canada Bowl - #42 Rutgers vs. #43 Ball State
After the excitement of the premier BCS games, these games are always sort of a letdown. Rutgers seemed destined for great things after last season, but the loss of Leonard hurt Ray Rice's numbers and the team's morale and their bottom line. Roughly equidistant from both schools, Toronto is at least a neutral field (you can't get any more neutral that Canada!), but it's not hockey, so how many people up north even care? Rutgers by 1

GMAC Bowl - #41 Bowling Green vs. #36 Tulsa
See above. No offense to Bowling Green and Tulsa, but you're hard to get excited about after Hawaii and Oklahoma and Florida and Kansas while looking ahead to LSU. Let's just throw it up to the numbers. Tulsa by 5

BCS Championship Game - #3 LSU vs. #4 Ohio State
Ohio State boasts the best defense in the country, though LSU isn't far behind. So if you're expecting offensive fireworks, you've picked the wrong game to watch. These two teams are so evenly matched that it ought to be a really good game, especially if you love seeing speed and punishing tackles. This game has already been analyzed to death, so we'll just leave it at that. LSU by 3


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