We took last week off from football (except for the mandatory patriotic viewing of Army-Navy), and we're finally starting to recover from the SEC Championship Game. Now it's time to get back to business for bowl season. As you know, there are now approximately 900 bowl games, so we're going to split this up into biweekly previews of five games each and finish up sometime during Aaron Murray, Jr.'s redshirt season. Before we get started, it's important to note that bowl season is weird and wonderful. Some teams are going to be so jacked to be there that they give you the game of their careers. See Boise State running a Statue of Liberty play to beat Oklahoma in overtime in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. On the other hand, some teams are going to be so disappointed by their draw that they don't even bother getting off the bus. See Alabama allowing 21 unanswered first quarter points to Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. So when we give you a prediction about one of these bowl games, respond in the same manner you would if someone asked you whether you think Will Muschamp will ever get a win in Jacksonville: Don't Bet On It!
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (12/15)
Nevada (+9.5) v. Arizona
This game should be a blast. Nevada and Arizona rank 20th and 17th in scoring offense and 95th and 103rd in scoring defense, respectively. The over/under opened at 73 and has already gone up to 75. This should be a shoot-out, so we're going to take Nevada plus the points since it should stay close (and there's always the possibility of a back-door cover). Plus, even though Arizona quarterback Matt Scott gets to throw to Belitnikoff Award semifinalist Austin Hill, he's thrown 12 interceptions against 24 TDs (and has fumbled a few times), and Wolf Pack running back Stefphon Jefferson gets to go up against a Wildcat defense that gives up nearly 4.5 yards per carry.
Famous Idaho Potato Potato Bowl (12/15)
Toledo v. No. 22 Utah State (-10)
This game looks like it could be another shoot-out. The Rockets are scoring 32.9 points per game on the strength of junior quarterback Terrance Owens's arm and junior running back David Fluellen's 5.8 yards per carry. The Aggies' numbers are even more gaudy; they're scoring 34.4 points per game, and quarterback Chuckie Keeton is completing more passes for more TDs and fewer picks, while running back Kerwynn Willians racks up 6.4 yards per carry on the ground. The difference is in the defense. Toledo is giving up 27.3 points per game on average. Utah State has given up more than 20 points just twice: 27 in a blow-out win over San Jose State and 48 to Louisiana Tech in an overtime loss. Both of those teams have much better offenses than Toledo, particularly through the air. The Aggies should win in a rout.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (12/20)
Brigham Young (-2.5) v. San Diego State
The Aztecs are basically playing a home game, but the Mormons play some mean defense. BYU is fifth nationally in scoring defense and third nationally in yards per game allowed. They're relatively weak defending the pass, but San Diego State is relatively weaker through the air than on the ground. BYU's anemic offense might have a problem scoring, but they should be able to pull out the win by at least a field goal. We won't watch this game, but we'll take BYU to cover.
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl (12/21)
UCF (-7) v. Ball State
We're rooting for Ball State here, and not just because David Letterman is an alumnus. The Knights are coached by George O'Leary, who posted a 3-4 record against Georgia while coaching at Georgia Tech and was later fired from Notre Dame for lying on his résumé before coaching a single game. Lame. Unfortunately, UCF has occasionally bothered to play some defense this year, so the Knights probably cover in a game we won't waste a perfectly good Friday night watching.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (12/22)
East Carolina (+6) v. Louisiana-Lafayette
The Ragin' Cajuns nearly beat Florida... which doesn't count for much considering Georgia beat Florida, and everyone knows that Dawgs didn't beat anybody good. The Pirates only losses were to South Carolina, North Carolina, and Navy. And they managed to win a 65-59 shoot-out against Marshall. Louisiana-Lafayette might also be a little complacent after winning their first ever bowl game last year in the same venue. The Pirates cover while the rest of us enjoy our five day weekend.