Tip Sheet 2

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Last updated: 12/28/2012 4:16 PM
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Tony's Bowl Tip Sheet #2
By Tony Gerdeman

We are almost to the point in the year where the bowl games are actually interesting. Only a few more days to go. The second edition of the Bowl Tip Sheet will cover the last of the stink bowls (save for those stink bowls after New Years Day).

But not all of the games below are stink bowls. Some are merely “not bad”. There are also a couple of “hey, this looks pretty good” mixed in.

Friday December 28

Advocare Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA)
Teams:  Ohio (8-4) vs Louisiana-Monroe (8-4)
Time (TV):  2:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Ohio

This will be an interesting matchup of two teams that can score, yet can't really stop anybody from doing the same. Ohio will need to keep up their end of the offensive bargain, and I don't know that they can. Perhaps the time off has been good for the Bobcats offense, but losing four of their last five screams much too loudly to me. It also won't help that Louisiana-Monroe will get to play in Louisiana. This is like a mini-Big Ten vs mini-SEC bowl game in that way. Louisiana-Monroe's best win this season was a 47-42 loss to Baylor. They've had their moments this year. They won't need another one to beat Ohio though. Louisiana-Monroe 37 – Ohio 24

Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Teams:  Virginia Tech (6-6) vs Rutgers (9-3)
Time (TV):  5:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  1.5
Cheer For:  Rutgers

If you like offensive football, you aren't going to like this one. If you like defensive football, you probably still won't like this one. If you like football with bad offenses and average defenses, then you are a disturbed individual and no wonder you're excited about this game. Rutgers 20 – Virginia Tech 17

Meineke Car Care Bowl (Houston, TX)
Teams:  Minnesota (6-6) vs Texas Tech (7-5)
Time (TV):  9:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Minnesota

Generally, a team playing in a bowl game without its head coach is at a disadvantage. However, those teams generally don't get to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers. No matter what disadvantage an opponent may have, that all gets wiped away when Jerry Kill's Gophers come to town. Minnesota is trying to gain even further advantage by clouding their quarterback situation between Phillip Nelson and MarQueis Gray, but it's hard to build an advantage out of two mistake-prone quarterbacks. Texas Tech has never needed Tommy Tuberville, and I don't think they'll need him here either. Texas Tech 31 – Minnesota 20

Saturday December 29

Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX)
Teams:  Rice (6-6) vs Air Force (6-6)
Time (TV):  11:45 am (ESPN)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Air Force

We're cheering for Air Force because it's the Armed Forces Bowl, and cheering for Rice against America probably isn't the way to go in this one. Rice has won their last four games, but they were against four of the worst teams in their conference, which are also four of the worst teams in the country. Air Force, meanwhile, has lost three of their last four, but two of those losses were against San Diego State and Fresno State. Sure, they also lost to Army, but nobody's perfect. Rice has had a ton of time to prepare for Air Force's offense, but I just don't think it will matter. I'm not a Rice guy right now. Air Force 27 – Rice 24

Pinstripe Bowl (New York, NY)
Teams: West Virginia (7-5) vs Syracuse (7-5)
Time (TV): 3:15 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Syracuse

Ah, yes. A bowl game against former Big East rivals played in New York. What more could a person ask for? Provided the weather allows for it, this could be highest-scoring game of the bowl season. West Virginia doesn't believe in defense, as they have never seen proof of it. Syracuse comes into this game with a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver. People will obviously want to talk about the Mountaineers' offensive output, but don't forget about what Syracuse can bring. Quarterback Ryan Nassib has thrown just one interception in his last six games. The Orange are 5-1 in those games, by the way. Meanwhile, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has thrown six interceptions in his last six games. The Mountaineers are 2-4 in those games. I don't think either defense has a shot in this game, but I think having four weeks off is more helpful to West Virginia than it is to Syracuse. West Virginia 52 – Syracuse 49

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (San Francisco, CA)
Teams:  Navy (8-4) vs Arizona State (7-5)
Time (TV):  4:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Navy

Like Rice, Arizona State has had extra time to prepare for Navy's option offense. Being a Pac 12 defense, however, extra time may not mean anything. The Sun Devils have lost four of their last six games, though each of those losses came against quality teams. Navy has not been impressive this season, scoring just 38 points combined against Texas State and Army. While people will talk about this being about Arizona State's defense against Navy's offense, I expect the Sun Devils' offense and quarterback Taylor Kelly to be the difference. Arizona State 37 – Navy 24

Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
Teams: #23 Texas (8-4) vs #13 Oregon State (9-3)
Time (TV): 6:45 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Oregon State

A win over Oregon State would be Texas' best win of the season, which is probably why we shouldn't expect it. For me, this is more about doubting Texas than having faith in Oregon State, though I do think the Beavers will be able to throw the ball. However, doubting Texas in a bowl game usually comes back to haunt people. They have won eight of their last 10 bowl games, with one of those losses being against Alabama in the BCS National Championship when Colt McCoy was knocked out of the game. Obviously, Texas has the better roster, but that hasn't really mattered much this season. I don't like picking either of these teams in this game, so I guess I'll just go with the better roster, because that has worked out so well for people who pick Texas this season. Texas 30 – Oregon State 26

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Phoenix, AZ)
Teams:  TCU (7-5) vs Michigan State (6-6)
Time (TV):  10:15 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Michigan State

This is an opportunity for the Michigan State offense to put quarterback Andrew Maxwell on display as the future of the program. Or it is an opportunity to get the last few carries out of Le'Veon Bell before he leaves early for the NFL. Gosh, I wonder which way the Spartans will lean. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Spartans defense handles TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin. Boykin is just a freshman, but he's played well this season. He has big-play capability, but as freshmen do, he also makes mistakes. Michigan State will need to force a couple of mistakes in this one in order to get the win. TCU has the #10 rush defense in the nation, allowing just 103.9 yards rushing per game. Against good run defenses, Le'Veon Bell can be neutralized. I would expect that to happen here as well. It will be up to Maxwell and his receivers to win this game, and I think they can do it. Michigan State 28 – TCU 24

Monday December 31

Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN)
Teams:  North Carolina State (7-5) vs Vanderbilt (8-4)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  North Carolina State

Rooting against Vanderbilt just feels wrong. But remember, sure they're nerds, but they're SEC nerds. Rooting for North Carolina State doesn't feel much better either, however. The Wolfpack have one worthwhile win on the season, a 17-16 victory over Florida State. Other than that, it has been a pretty miserable year. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is in some pretty deep water as far as their football history is concerned. This is their first eight-win season in 30 years. It could be their first nine-win season since 1915. As a matter of rule, I always pick the SEC team against an ACC team. There's no reason to go against my flawless rules here. Vanderbilt 27 – North Carolina State 17

Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)
Teams:  Southern California (7-5) vs Georgia Tech (6-7)
Time (TV):  2:00 pm (CBS)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Georgia Tech

We're cheering for Georgia Tech because they're playing USC, duh. Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley is out for this game, so redshirt freshman Max Wittek will get another start. As long as he remembers where receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are, the offense will be fine. The real question is whether or not the USC defense wants to be here. If Georgia Tech has early success on offense, that will discourage the Trojans even more. Nobody wants to go to El Paso just to get their knees chopped down. I just don't see this game being very important to USC, but I don't see the Yellow Jackets defense being able to stop Marqise Lee. USC 38 – Georgia Tech 28

Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)
Teams:  Iowa State (6-6) vs Tulsa (10-3)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Tulsa

I'm not going to lie, I may end up taking a nap during this game. Hopefully I'll wake up right at the end when Tulsa is kicking a 58-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. This is the only outcome that will be suitable to me. I may even choose to nap during an overtime or two. Tulsa 31 – Iowa State 28

Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, GA)
Teams:  #8 LSU (10-2) vs #14 Clemson (10-2)
Time (TV):  7:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Clemson

This being the game of the day, I'm worried that we will be disappointed by it. I worry that LSU's defense will abuse Clemson's offensive line and the offense that we came to see will have come and gone. But I have to hold out hope that quarterback Tajh Boyd won't slink away, and he will put up a fight. Sure, he failed to produce against South Carolina, but we have to assume offensive coordinator Chad Morris will have something extra ready for LSU, right? Clemson will need something, because it won't just be the LSU defense they're playing against. The LSU offense closed the season out strong as well. Of course, they weren't really playing anybody, but still, that's better than what they had been doing. Remember my rule about picking SEC teams over ACC teams in bowl games? I'm sticking with it here as well. LSU 28 – Clemson 24

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