When I tell you not to bet on it, I mean it. I’ve been botching calls left and right in my postseason predictions thus far, so I’m not even going to bother with my usual disclaimer; if you haven’t figured out by now that I don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve assumed the risk. In my defense, though, I’m not the only SB Nation blogger with a poor record this postseason.
Consequently, I’m just going to dive right into my picks of the five games being played on Saturday, with my advance apologies for what I am certain will be an excessive amount of Mike Leach references:
International Bowl: Northern Illinois Huskies v. South Florida Bulls (Jan. 2): I hate this bowl. I hate it because it has no business taking place any later than Christmas Eve. I hate it because ESPN always assigns Canadians John Saunders, Jesse Palmer, and Doug Flutie to the booth so they can do a Bob and Doug McKenzie routine about how they’re all Canadian. I hate it because I eat at Waffle House and I favor a noninterventionist foreign policy, so I’m not big into anything with "International" in the name. Most of all, though, I hate it because I’m picking the Bulls and I just know that prognostication is going to come back to bite me.
PapaJohns.com Bowl: Connecticut Huskies v. South Carolina Gamecocks (Jan. 2): What is the world coming to when there are two sets of Huskies playing in January bowls and the Washington Huskies aren’t among them? Nevermind the once-proud Pac-10 program in the Pacific Northwest; what is the world coming to when the Palmetto State Poultry are playing after New Year’s Day? You’ll want to stick around to the end of this one---if you get hungry, I understand you can order yourself a pizza on-line---because both teams have a tendency to play close games. At the end of the day, I believe the Gamecocks will get it done despite Steve Spurrier’s less than stellar bowl record.
Cotton Bowl: Mississippi Rebels v. Oklahoma St. Cowboys (Jan. 2): Thus far, there have been two lessons to this bowl season. The first is that, uh, yeah, the Mountain West deserves an automatic BCS bowl berth. The second is that the Big 12 is all kinds of overrated. For all the preseason hype they received, the Pokes didn’t look particularly good against any opponent that was especially stout---yes, I know that Oklahoma State beat the Georgia Bulldogs; we stunk, remember?---while Ole Miss at least knocked off a couple or three teams with a pulse. Our good friends at Red Cup Rebellion probably wish I’d go the other way on this one, but, in a battle between arguably the two most unconventional coaches in Division I-A in the wake of Mike Leach’s dismissal, I’m going with the Rebels.
Liberty Bowl: Arkansas Razorbacks v. East Carolina Pirates (Jan. 2): It’s too bad the Hogs couldn’t have swapped postseason opponents with their old Southwest Conference mates from Lubbock, because there’s something to be said for seeing Texas Tech take on the Pirates in their first game following the end of Mike Leach’s ten-year tenure with the Red Raiders. As it stands, though, the only way I see ECU getting by Arkansas is if Bobby Petrino gets frustrated by the fact that Skip Holtz has tied up the fax line while they’re both busy sending out resumes. The Razorbacks will pull away from the Pirates in the second half.
Alamo Bowl: Michigan St. Spartans v. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Jan. 2): I thought it was big of ESPN to remove Craig James from the announcing crew for this game after the Mike Leach story broke, but who at the Worldwide Leader thought it was appropriate for Craig James to cover a game involving a team for which his son played in the first place? As a father, I feel safe in saying that all dads are biased in favor of their children (with the obvious exception of Urban Meyer, of course). I’m torn on which way to go in this one because both teams have such established histories of choking in big games, but I’m siding with the Red Raiders because I believe they are the more talented team.
That just leaves us with four bowl games to go, of which
three are two are one is consequential. Stay tuned, and have a happy new year!