NGSC Sports

2013 NCAA Bowls and Why You Should Watch Part 2: Christmas Plus

Bowl season is upon us and all 35 bowls deserve to be respected, watched, and enjoyed.  Here is why you should watch.

 

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Honolulu, Hawaii. Dec 24, 8pm, ESPN

Boise State(MWC) vs Oregon State(PAC-12)

In their first game in many years, Chris Petersen will not be on the sidelines for Boise State.  The real question is whether Boise State has already peaked and is on the way down or if they can recover.  While they have a new coach in prodigal son Bryan Harsin, he won’t be there and neither will quarterback Joe Southwick, who was sent home for behavioral issues.  Boise is left with Grant Hedrick, who has had plenty of action this season.  The Broncos will need to rely even more on running back Jay Ajayi, who finished 2nd in the Mountain West for rushing.  This helps Oregon State, who has had an up and down season.  Led by quarterback Sean Mannion and PAC-12 record setting Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Brooks, there should be plenty of offense in a bowl game that has been known for having shootout scores.

 

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Little Caesars Bowl: Detroit, Michigan. Dec 26, 8:00pm, ESPN

Pittsburgh(ACC) vs Bowling Green(MAC)

Bowling Green is a team on fire going into the Little Caesars Bowl.  After convincing wins against Buffalo to win the MAC East and Northern Illinois to win the MAC Championship, the Falcons don’t have to travel far to play in their bowl game.  It was at Ford Field in Detroit that Bowling Green upset Northern Illinois just a couple of weeks ago.  The Falcons will be without coach Dave Clawson, who left to become the new coach at Wake Forest.  Pitt barely squeaked into a bowl game and has lost four of their last six games.  This game is about the little guy and is a great opportunity for the MAC to notch a win against a BCS team.

 

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego, California. Dec 26, 9:30pm, ESPN

Utah State(MWC) vs Northern Illinois(MAC)

This is a bittersweet matchup between two divisional winners who each lost their conference championship.  Northern Illinois went into the MAC championship game undefeated and looking at a BCS bowl berth, but a rough outing against Bowling Green ended that dream.  The season lives on though and the Huskies find themselves in the Poinsettia Bowl.  Utah State won the Mountain division after Boise State unexpectedly lost and while the Aggies gave Fresno State all they could handle in the championship game, it was not meant to be.  For Utah State, this is definitely a victory to be here as a new member of the Mountain West.  This game is going to be completely about Jordan Lynch.  He finished 3rd in the Heisman voting and will be playing his last game.  Expect Lynch to pull out all the stops in this one as Northern Illinois works towards their school record 13th victory.

 

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman: Annapolis, Maryland. Dec 27, 2:30pm, ESPN

Marshall(CUSA) vs Maryland(ACC)

In the final game as members of the ACC, Maryland should have very strong fan support as this game is within a short car ride from College Park.  Next year, the Terrapins will be members of the Big Ten.  This final season turned out the be the best so far under head coach Randy Edsall.  They will need all the luck they can get against a Marshall squad with a lot of offensive power behind quarterback Rakeem Cato.  Marshall won the East division of Conference USA before falling in the championship game.  Before that game, Marshall had won five straight, averaging over 53 points per contest.  Marshall is a fun team to watch and should give Conference USA a legitimate shot to have a win against a BCS team.

 

Texas Bowl

Texas Bowl: Houston, Texas. Dec 27, 6pm, ESPN

Syracuse(ACC) vs Minnesota(Big Ten)

Minnesota has a shot of redemption as they return to the Texas Bowl.  This time, their opponent is Syracuse, who just finished their first season in the ACC.  Minnesota is a scrappy team that has found ways to beat tougher opponents, including Penn State and Nebraska.  Should Minnesota win, it would be the second 9 win season in 108 years.  Both teams are run first with the Golden Gophers using David Cobb, who was 6th in the Big Ten in rushing while the Orange have a multi-faceted squad led by Jerome Smith.  Both teams are awful passing teams.  For old school enthusiasts, this is a game to watch.

 

Fight Hunger Bowl

Fight Hunger Bowl: San Francisco, California. Dec 27, 9:30pm ESPN

BYU vs Washington(PAC-12)

The storyline going into this game is about Washington losing head coach Steve Sarkisian and bringing in Chris Petersen to replace him.  Should the Huskies win, it will be their best season in 13 years.  To help the Huskies will be running back Bishop Sankey, who ran for over 1700 yards, which is good for 3rd in the nation.  He goes up against Taysom Hill, who does it all.  Hill has passed for 2600 yards, but has also rushed for 1200 yards and has 28 combined touchdowns.  Washington has more offensive potency, but the Cougars have a way of winning bowl games.  This is another bowl game that takes place on a baseball field.

 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: New York City, New York. Dec 28, 12pm ESPN

Rutgers(American) vs Notre Dame

In what has been a disappointing season for both teams, Notre Dame and Rutgers close out their respective seasons in a bowl game that is perfect for each of them.  Rutgers gets to play close to home and Notre Dame gets to tap into the New York market.  This game has two maligned quarterbacks.  Notre Dame has Tommy Rees, who has thrown for almost 3000 yards, but has had bad turnovers at key moments.  Rutgers has Gary Nova, who has been wildly inconsistent and has been benched during the season.  Oddly enough, the Pinstripe Bowl will be changing conference affiliations to the Big Ten vs ACC next year.  Rutgers is playing their last game in the American and will be in the Big Ten next year and Notre Dame will have an affiliated schedule and share bowl tie-ins with the ACC.  This game is Notre Dame’s to lose, but Rutgers should have a good crowd on hand.  This game takes place in Yankee Stadium.  Notre Dame can add this along with playing in Fenway Park in 2015 to their list of baseball stadiums played in.

 

Belk Bowl

Belk Bowl: Charlotte, North Carolina. Dec 28, 3:20pm ESPN

Cincinnati(American) vs North Carolina(ACC)

This is an intriguing matchup in which both teams had to overcome losing starting quarterbacks.  Cincinnati started the season with Munchie Legeux at quarterback.  After a season ending injury in the team’s second game, the Bearcats were not expected to compete, but backup Brandon Kay stepped in and threw for 3100 yards.  The Bearcats ended up playing very well and finished third in the American.  For North Carolina, the team started 1-5 with starter Brynn Renner.  The Tar Heels then went on a tear and even though Renner went down in early November, Marquise Williams stepped in and they continued to win.  Their 6th loss came in their finale game against Duke.  This game takes place in Charlotte, so the Tar Heels should enjoy a nice home field advantage.

 

Russell Athletic Bowl

Russell Athletic Bowl: Orlando, Florida. Dec 28, 6:45pm ESPN

Miami(ACC) vs Louisville(American)

This is a very interesting game.  Louisville plays their last game as members of the American and will be joining Miami in the ACC next year.  Add in that Louisville’s star quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, is from Miami and was originally committed to the Hurricanes and you have yourself a good story.  Bridgewater, thought to be a Heisman candidate had himself a great season with over 3500 yards and 28 touchdowns.  This is Miami’s first bowl game since 2010 when they instituted bowl bans while being investigated for improper benefits.  Miami rose in the ranks quickly behind quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson.  Johnson was lost midway through the season and the team never really recovered even though Morris passed for 2800 yards and 21 touchdowns.  While some fans might view this game as a insulting consolation prize considering they lost their only game to eventual American champions UCF and that school is located in Orlando, this trip could not have been better planned for the Cardinal faithful.  Not only do they get to watch their football team on the 28th, but their basketball team plays at UCF on the 31st.  Considering this, this is one of the perfect placements for a bowl team.

 

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Tempe, Arizona. Dec 28, 10:15pm ESPN

Michigan(Big Ten) vs Kansas State(Big XII)

Kansas State looks to break a 5 bowl game losing streak that dates back to 2002 by taking on a Michigan team that has had a disappointing season.  Kansas State looked weak early in the season, starting 2-4 and losing to FCS North Dakota State.  Kansas State then went 5-1 to close the season.  It’s worth noting that North Dakota State is in the FCS national championship.  Michigan started 6-1 before dropping the last 4 of 5 games.  The real question for Michigan is the health of quarterback Devin Gardner, who has been battling turf toe since their finale against Ohio State.  If Gardner is out, freshman Shane Morris will play.  A fun matchup will be between two great receivers: Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon and Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett.  Gallon has over 1200 yards receiving and Lockett with over 1100.  While Gardner has been the man at Michigan by throwing for over 2900 yards and 21 touchdowns, Kansas State has a two quarterback system with Jake Waters being the pass first guy and Daniel Sams being the running guy.  If Gardner plays, this should be a fun game to watch.  If he’s out, it’s going to be trial by fire for Morris.

Host of the OT with Andrew G for the Sports Chronicles Radio Network

Host of The College Cram, NFL and NCAA writer on the National Gridiron Network

Contributing writer for Pro Player Insiders

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