It’s the holiday season, and all through our Bright House and yours, thoughts are turning to college football bowl games. In this second installment of our bowl previews, we focus on the games played between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. As with last week we preview the games and the teams, tell you where and when you can watch the games, and predict the winners. Teams listed in bold are Bright House Networks hometown teams.
Thursday, December 26
Little Caesars Bowl – 6:00pm on ESPN: Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green
The ACC and MAC square off in this bowl, played at Ford Field in Detroit. Pittsburgh finished at .500 in the ACC this season, while Bowling Green is coming off their successful MAC Championship game where they gave #23 Northern Illinois their only loss of the season and knocked the Huskies out of contention for a BCS bowl game.
Prediction: Bowling Green gets the victory 33 – 21.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – 9:30pm on ESPN: Utah State vs. #23 Northern Illinois
Mountain West and MAC face off in southern California, probably happy to get out of the snow and ice for a few days. Utah State finished the season 8 – 5, while Northern Illinois had their BCS dreams crushed by Bowling Green, and simultaneously destined BHN hometown favorite UCF to travel across the country to Phoenix for their first BCS bowl game.
Prediction: Utah State wins 37 – 32.
Friday, December 27
Military Bowl – 2:30pm on ESPN: Marshall vs. Maryland
C-USA runners-up Marshall face off against Maryland in its last ACC game before heading off to the increasingly inappropriately named Big 10 Conference (which will have 14 teams in 2014). Marshall finished the season with a 9 – 4 record, losing the C-USA title game against Rice, and Maryland finished their last ACC campaign 7 – 5.
Prediction: Marshall finishes their post-season with a win, 36 – 25.
Texas Bowl – 6:00pm on ESPN: Syracuse vs. Minnesota
The ACC and Big 10 face off in this bowl game, featuring two teams that haven’t figured in many bowl games recently. Syracuse is rebuilding their program after a couple of decades of football anonymity, finishing with a .500 record in the ACC. Minnesota is resurrecting memories of championships from the mid-20th Century, finishing with an 8 – 4 record that featured a win over #24 Nebraska in October.
Prediction: Minnesota notches another win, 29 – 23.
Fight Hunger Bowl – 9:30pm on ESPN: BYU vs. Washington
Independent BYU will face off against PAC-12 Washington, which will be playing its first game for new head coach Chris Petersen, best known for taking BCS-buster Boise State to BCS bowl several times in the last decade, and taking home a couple of trophies along the way.
Prediction: Washington prevails in this one, 31 – 28.
Saturday, December 28
New Era Pinstripe Bowl – 12:00pm on ESPN: Rutgers vs. Notre Dame
Rutgers plays its swan song game as a member of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) against independent Notre Dame. Rutgers limped into a bowl game this season with a .500 record, while Notre Dame finished with a solid 8 – 4 record and received the invite to play this bowl game in the Big Apple.
Prediction: Notre Dame wins 31 – 26.
Belk Bowl – 3:20pm on ESPN: Cincinnati vs. North Carolina
The AAC and ACC square off in this bowl game, which is almost like another home game for the Tar Heels. This matchup always proves exciting when the teams are playing on the hardwood, but this time they square off on the grid-iron for what could be a close and entertaining bowl game.
Prediction: Cincinnati wins this one, 31 – 26.
Russell Athletic Bowl – 6:45pm on ESPN: Miami (FL) vs. #18 Louisville
This bowl game features another ACC vs. AAC matchup. Teddy Bridgewater may be playing his last college game for the 11 – 1 Cardinals before becoming the first pick in the NFL draft, as analyst Todd McShay predicts. Miami finished the season 9 – 3 and hopes to get to a tenth win on the season.
Prediction: Louisville takes this one, 33 – 25.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – 10:15pm on ESPN: Michigan vs. Kansas State
Big 10 meets Big 12 in this matchup. Both teams come in with 7 – 5 regular season records. Michigan started the season strong, with a signature win over Notre Dame early in the season, and lost a thriller at home to end the year vs. Ohio State on a gutsy 2-point conversion call at the end of regulation. Kansas State took a while to get rolling, and finished by winning five of their last six games.
Prediction: Kansas State sneaks out of this one with a close win, 31 – 30.
Monday, December 30
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl – 11:45am on ESPN: Middle Tennessee vs. Navy
C-USA meets Navy in this bowl game. Middle Tennessee finished their first year in C-USA with an 8 – 4 record, and Navy enters with an identical ledger sheet.
Prediction: Navy wins a close one, 30 – 29.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – 3:15pm on ESPN: Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech
SEC and ACC meet in this bowl game in Nashville. Both teams come in with 7 – 5 records. Ole Miss got a signature win back in October over perennial SEC West power LSU, while Georgia Tech scored an early-season win over eventual Coastal Division champion Duke.
Prediction: Georgia Tech prevails, 31 – 28.
Valero Alamo Bowl – 6:45pm on ESPN: #10 Oregon vs. Texas
Both teams started the season with dreams of making it to the National Championship Game. The hopes of the Longhorns (8 – 4)were dashed early with a slow start, while Oregon (10 – 2) came out of the gates guns blazing and sputtered down the stretch to fall out of contention for a BCS bowl game. This game will be the last for Mack Brown as the Texas head coach, and the players will desperately want to send him out with a win.
Prediction: Oregon finishes the season with a win, 39 – 27.
National University Holiday Bowl – 10:15pm on ESPN: #14 Arizona State vs. Texas Tech
Pac 12 and Big 12 square off in this bowl, played in San Diego. Texas Tech enters the game with a 7 – 5 record, while Arizona State comes in after a 10 – 3 season, with wins over solid Wisconsin, USC, Washington, and UCLA teams.
Prediction: Arizona State wins 41 – 32.
Tuesday, December 31
AdvoCare V100 Bowl – 12:30pm on ESPN: Arizona vs. Boston College
Shreveport, Louisiana hosts this matchup between ACC and Pac 12 teams. Both Arizona and BC enter the game with 7 – 5 records, with the Eagles featuring the top running back in all of the FBS, Andre Williams, who finished the season with over 2100 yards and was recognized with the Doak Walker Award. But Ka’Deem Carey from Arizona actually has more carries per game than Williams, so expect there to be a lot of ground-pounding going on in this one.
Prediction: Arizona prevails in this one 32 – 27.
Hyundai Sun Bowl – 2:00pm on CBS: Virginia Tech vs. #17 UCLA
The ACC and Pac 12 will match up in this game from the west Texas town of El Paso. Virginia Tech comes in after an 8 – 4 season, while UCLA will be looking for their tenth win after finishing the regular season 9 – 3.
Prediction: UCLA wins this one 29 – 24.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl – 4:00pm on ESPN: Rice vs. Mississippi State
This New Year’s Eve classic pits the C-USA champion Owls against the Bulldogs from the SEC. Having been to this game when my alma mater played against Mississippi State in 2007, all I can say to Owl fans is tap into your inner Christopher Walken because if you want it you’ll definitely get “more cowbell” in this game.
Prediction: Rice gets the victory, 30 – 26.
Chick-fil-A Bowl – 8:00pm on ESPN: #24 Duke vs. #21 Texas A&M
ACC runners-up Duke face off against Johnny Manziel’s Aggies from the SEC in what could be “Johnny Football’s” last college game. Duke was the surprise feel-good story of this year’s college football season, with the Blue Devils turning in their first 10-win football season in school history. Could David Cutcliffe be the difference maker for Duke’s football program the way Billy Donovan has been for Florida’s basketball team?
Prediction: The Aggies win this one 35 – 31.
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