Bowl season finally kicked off last Saturday with Arizona's thrilling, last-minute victory over Nevada. I'm actually a little worried that we may already have seen the most entertaining game of the post-season. I mean, how many times do you get to see 1,237 yards of total offense culminating in one team scoring two touchdowns in the final 46 seconds to go up by 1? Heck, Nevada's coach tried to ice Arizona's kicker... on the go-ahead extra point. Have you ever seen that? Well, you did on Saturday. At least you did if you read our bowl picks, in which we correctly predicted that this game would be fun and that Nevada would cover Arizona's 9.5 point spread. We also correctly predicted that Utah State would "win in a rout." That makes us 2-0 for bowl season so far. Will this level of prescience continue? Don't Bet On It!
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (12/27)
Baylor v. No. 17 UCLA (Pick)
The Bear Bowl should be another shoot-out. The Baylor Bears, led by quarterback Nick Florence and running back Lache Seastrunk, are scoring more than 44 points a game, and they've needed every one of those points to get to 7-5. Baylor's defense is allowing more than 38 points per game, which is "good" for 117th in the nation. UCLA's offense, which is scoring more than 35 points per game, appears pedestrian by comparison, but Johnathan Franklin has rushed for 1700 yards while Brett Hundley has thrown for another 3411. The Bruin defense, on the other hand, appears relatively stout, giving up just south of 26 points per game. We'll take UCLA to win a close one that's decided on the final possession because their defense should be able to stop Baylor once or twice.
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (12/28)
Ohio (+7) v. Louisiana-Monroe
This game is going to get ugly. Neither team is particularly good at offense or defense, and each defense is relatively competent against the opposing offense's strength. We'll take Ohio to cover because they've thrown fewer picks and lead in turnover margin, but we suspect that the Warhawks (who beat Arkansas and took Auburn to overtime) may win outright.
Russell Athletic Bowl (12/28)
Rutgers (+2.5) v. Virginia Tech
Spoiler alert: we're going to wind up picking against ACC teams a lot, and Virginia Tech isn't even a good ACC team. Georgia Tech took them to overtime. GEORGIA TECH. Anyway, both teams are bad at offense and play good defense, so we could see another Baby I'm Burnin'. That's why we're taking Rutgers to cover: neither team may see the other's end zone.
Meineke Car Care Bowl (12/28)
Minnesota v. Texas Tech (-13)
We're about as high on the B1G as we are on the ACC, and the Golden Gophers managed to go 2-6 in that shoddy conference. Their defense appears to be decent until you realize that only Illinois failed to score a touchdown on them, and they gave up more than 21 or more points in each of their 6 losses. Look for the Red Raiders' Kenny Williams to have a career rushing day as Texas Tech cruises to an easy 2+ TD victory.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (12/29)
West Virginia (-4) v. Syracuse
West Virginia's Geno Smith was an early Heisman frontrunner until he completed just 53% of his passes in a 49-14 loss to Texas Tech that proved that the Mountaineers couldn't simply score around a shoddy defense. That loss started a five game skid that only ended when the West Virginians' beleaguered defense got a break against Iowa State and Kansas (insert obligatory "decided schematic advantage" joke here). The Orangemen are a bit harder to pin down. They lost to Minnesota (?) but beat Louisville (?!?). But the fact that they're giving up 7.7 yards per pass attempt ought to give the Mountaineers the edge, even considering the four point spread.