>Thursday Lunch: Are you Ready for Some Football?!?: Bowl Week 3

Posted: December 30, 2010 in Uncategorized
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While not every game this past week included ranked teams, all of them had intriguing finishes for one reason or another and most of them made me sound like I had no idea what I was talking about. The college football bowl season is more of a crapshoot than any other post season because of the long layoffs, coaching changes, and because the teams are a bunch of 18-24 year olds on a glorified vacation. If your team is more worried about soaking up the sun than soaking up the opposing teams blitz packages in the film room, they’re probably going to lose (just ask West Virginia.) If your team is going through a coaching change (like Maryland and West Virginia) they may rally around the exiting coach in his final game and win by a huge margin (Maryland) or fall flat on their faces and only score 7 points (West Virginia…again). This is by no means an excuse for my horrific predictions this past week, but it’s instead a warning for my predictions this week. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are the previews for the remaining bowls this year and on into 2011.
Last Week’s Record: 3-6
Overall Record: 6-8
Armed Forces: SMU in a great clash of styles. SMU has a high-flying passing offense that throws an average of over 40 times per game. Navy uses an option-based attack that has thrown barely 10 times per game. Both will have a difficult time adjusting to the new offensive looks being thrown at them, but since they have so much time to prepare, the superior players at SMU will prevail in just their second bowl win in 25 years.
Swag: Gift Suite, watch, all terrain duffle bag, and commemorative football. I think the bowl organizers thought the all terrain duffle bag would be a good idea because both of these programs have been wandering in the college football wilderness for years.

Pinstripe: Kansas State because of Daniel Thomas. Thomas is a little known senior running back from Florida that is quietly having an All-American type season at K-State. Thomas has rushed for almost 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns while having almost zero help from the passing game. The Wildcats rank 97th in the nation in passing, yet Thomas still gets his yards against 8 and 9 man fronts. The Orange have a solid defensive front, but they haven’t faced anything like Thomas all year. I expect Thomas and the Wildcats to squeak out a defensive battle in the Bronx
Swag: The Pinstripe Bowl did not disclose what they would be giving the players, so I will be disclosing my caring for this game.
Music City: North Carolina in a disinterested game. Usually when an SEC team and ACC team of comparable records meets, it’s a decent game with high intensity. This time, both of the teams involved probably don’t want to be here. North Carolina started the year as a possible national championship contender before losing almost their entire starting defense, and best offensive weapons, to suspension. Tennessee has been in a rebuilding mode since Lane Kiffin bolted town and seem to be just playing out the season. North Carolina has played more competitively all year, thus I’m taking the Tar Heels.
Swag: Headphones, iPod shuffle, iTunes gift card, Fossil watch, fleece, long sleeve t-shirt, and backpack. Maybe the organizers watch Jersey Shore and thought Fossil watches were cool.
Holiday: Nebraska in the most idiotic bowl pairing of all time. Nebraska and Washington played this year already, why exactly are they in a bowl together? Nebraska won big on Washington’s home field and I expect them to do the same on a neutral sight.
Swag: Best Buy gift card, Fossil watch, hooded sweatshirt, and cap. The Washington players will want to use that gift card to get an HD TV so they can see their current teammate Jake Locker bust in the NFL in stunning picture quality.
Meineke Car Care: USF because they are the much hotter team. The Bulls have won 4 of their last 6, with their two loses coming by a total of 9 points. Clemson did almost beat Auburn in Alabama before the Cam Newton hype machine went into overdrive, but since then they have played very mediocre football and are lucky just to be in a bowl. The Tiger fans will get an early start on New Years Eve drinking after this horrific showing.
Swag: Meineke Car Care would not disclose their swag. Last year the swag for this bowl included a Richard Petty Driving Experience photo, which I assume wasn’t the most popular item with most of the players. Just a hunch.

Sun: Miami in a match up for old times sake. Notre Dame and Miami was the pre-eminent rivalry of the 1980’s, but sine both the ‘Canes and the Fighting Irish have pretty much gone in the tank since the start of the decade, no one cares anymore. Both teams have made recent coaching changes, but the firing of Randy Shannon, along with Jacory Harris’ last organized football game, will propel the bad boys of the 80’s to a victory.
Swag: Gift Suite, watch, fleece pullover, Top of the World cap, backpack, Helen of Troy hair dryer, and souvenir coin. A hair dryer? I think this joke pretty much writes itself.
Liberty: heartbreaker to rival Florida and to #1 Auburn. If Green had been available the entire season the Bulldogs may have been in the SEC championship game instead of South Carolina. This is unfortunate for UCF because they are very under the radar (did you even know they’re ranked?) and this could have been their coming out game. Instead they will be SportsCenter fodder for A.J. Green and company.
Swag: iPod Nano, Fossil watch, Nike training shoes, Nike sport sandals, Nike sunglasses, Nike backpack, commemorative football. I think the iPod and football were thrown in because they didn’t want the players to think that sponsors had too much power. Because that is totally untrue, right?
Chick-fil-A: Florida State in the most intriguing game before the New Year. This is the last college football game that will be played in 2010, and the match up is terrific. Marcus Lattimore will get to showcase his talents one last time as a freshman against a stingy Seminoles defense. After the Seminoles got stomped by Oklahoma in the second game of the season, they outscored their opponents by an average score of 30-18. South Carolina is fresh of a demolition at the hands of Cam Newton and may have lost some of their swagger. I’m counting on this in a highly contested, well-played game between two power conference teams.
Swag: Best Buy gift card, Fossil watch, Russell Athletic cap, Russell Athletic travel bag, commemorative football, Chick-fil-A gift card. I bet Ralph Friedgen wishes he was coaching in this game for the Chik-fil-A card. And because then he’d still have a job.

TicketCity: Texas Tech in a game almost no one will see. Those of you still hurting form the previous nights fun will probably miss this 9 AM Pacific kick off, and the ending will run up against 3 superior Big 10/SEC match ups. Northwestern started off the season strong by winning 7 of their first 10 including knocking off Iowa. Starting Quarterback Dan Persa went down with a season ending injury in that game and since then the Wildcats lost to Illinois by 3 scores and gave up 70 points to Wisconsin. In a sport that favors momentum so much, the Red Raiders have the obvious edge.
Swag: Gift Suite and watch. Not only do the players have to wake up early on New Years day to play in a terrible bowl that no one will watch, they get possibly the worst collection of swag this year.
Capitol One: Alabama in the most intriguing, and important, non-BCS game all year. Both Michigan State and Alabama have excellent running games that feature two complementary running backs. Both have veteran quarterbacks who are used to winning and middle linebackers who are instinctive and make plays all over the field. Both Mark Dantonio and Nick Saban are veteran coaches who aren’t afraid to pull out a few trick plays if need be. The Spartans were able to hand Wisconsin their only loss of the season early in the year, but the Crimson Tide should win based off of their experience. Alabama brings back a lot of the team that won last years national title and that should steady them enough to squeak out a victory. This is huge game that will help answer whether the SEC or Big 10 has conference supremacy this year. I can’t wait.
Swag: Shopping spree at Best Buy and watch. Alabama players will probably want to avoid the TV section otherwise they may see themselves getting flattened by Cam Newton over and over and over and…you get the idea.
Outback: Florida in a match up of disappointing teams. Both of these squads were in the preseason top 20 even after losing senior quarterbacks. Both teams have struggled to disappointing 7-5 records that include losing to Alabama by more than 20 points. This will be Urban Meyers last game coaching Florida (probably) and the Gators seem to have their offense in enough order to pull out a squeaker. Florida won’t be in turmoil because of a coaching change because they have already hired a candidate (Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp) that is well known and has a great resume. Instead they have a bright future and the players will want to send off Meyer with a W. 
Swag: Best Buy gift card, Fossil watch, Jostens ring, Outback Steakhouse gift card. I bet both of these times met at the beginning of the season and were fired up for a chance to fight for a ring. Well, they do get a ring no matter what for playing in the game, but I think they may have wanted a championship ring instead of one that includes the logo of a restaurant.
Gator: Mississippi State in an important sweep for the SEC. These three games pitting SEC and Big 10 teams are all in the same time slot on New Years day and if the SEC can pull of the trifecta, they will place themselves as the unquestioned “it” conference in college football. The bowl gods did Mississippi State a favor when they paired them with a Michigan team that they match up with. Way back in the second week of the season the Bulldogs met Cam Newton and played the Tigers close in a 17-14 loss. Michigan is a mirror image to Auburn in the sense that they play an option-based spread offense that leans heavily on their playmaking quarterback. Both Michigan and Auburn have defenses that don’t measure up to their offense, but Michigan is nowhere near the caliber of Auburn in any way, shape, or form. This should lead to a victory for the Bulldogs and the clear upper hand for the South Eastern Conference. 
Swag: Fossil watch, Oakley sunglasses, Leather duffle bag, Jostens ring, commemorative football. This is the most practical set of gifts given the entire season. Michigan can use the watch to help keep time at practice, RichRod can use the sunglasses to hide his fake tears at his firing press conference, he can carry his belongings out of Ann Arbor using the duffle bag, and the ring can be shown to other schools as proof that he can win something. The Michigan defense can use the football as part of a mobile over their beds since they seem to enjoy watching footballs fly over their heads.
GoDaddy.com: Miami (OH) because they won the MAC. Neither Middle Tennessee State nor Miami have had particularly impressive seasons, but winning the MAC is good enough to make the Redhawks the overwhelming favorite. I will probably watch this game because it’s the only game on January 6th.
Swag: Nikon touch screen camera package, watch, leather duffel bag, and commemorative football. Sorry Miami and Middle Tennessee, no Danica Patrick.
Cotton: Texas A&M because I still can’t bring myself to pick LSU. SportsIllustrated.com had an imaginary college football playoff that included all of he teams in the top 16 seeded in order. The fans voted on each match up and somehow the winner of the entire competition was…LSU? This just showed me that Sack Lunch readers are infinitely smarter than SI’s, but it also showed me that the reputation of the SEC has gotten a little ridiculous and Texas A&M will knock it down a notch. Ryan Tannehill stepped into the starting quarterback roll midseason and the Aggies ended up tying for the Big 12 South title. Texas A&M will put up points in this game and I don’t see Les Miles being able to pull another rabbit out of his hat.
Swag: The Cotton Bowl did not disclose their swag, but last years gifts included a TV and a watch. Do you ever see people wearing watches?  Seriously, do bowls think they’re still in the 90’s?

Compass: Pittsburgh in the last bad game of the year. The Panthers were a bit of a disappointment this year, but Dion Lewis and company have pulled it together to close the year on a 5-2 run. All-purpose threat Randall Cobb will help keep Kentucky close, but the dual threat Pitt backfield will reign supreme in Birmingham.
Swag: Oakley watch, Oakley Sunglasses, Oakley backpack, and souvenir football. I don’t care about this game and these players probably don’t care about these gifts.
Kraft Fight Hunger:  Nevada because they really might be the second best non-BCS team. Nevada lost a heartbreaker at Hawaii in October, but have been spotless in all other contests. That includes a squeaker over Fresno State and the comeback of the season over Boise State the day after Thanksgiving. Beating Louisiana Tech showed they will have no after-effects from that win and they should trounce Boston College in the last game before the BCS title game the next day.
Swag: Noise canceling headphones, Fossil watch, backpack, Levi’s gift certificate. These teams can use the noise canceling headphones so they don’t have to listen to everyone talk about how bad their conferences are.
That’s all for the bowl predictions. To see my, and many other, BCS predictions, check back in tomorrow for another TSL prediction bonanza. Have a great New Year.

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