By Casey Keefe
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Tonight, 12/21 @ 8 p.m.
Poinsettia Bowl: #18 TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
Both enter tonight riding seven game win streaks—however, that is where the comparisons end. This may not be your older brother’s TCU, but they’re still darn good. Casey Pachell (2,715 yards, 24 TD’s, 6 INT’s) is a smart quarterback and the running back trio of Waymon James (824 yards, 6 TD’s), Matthew Tucker (684 yards, 11 TD’s) and Ed Wesley (649 yards, 5 TD’s) is legit. Together, the offense averages 42 points per game.
Louisiana Tech will have all sorts of trouble stopping TCU’s offense. And as good as Bulldog quarterback Colby Cameron (1,403 yards, 11 TD’s, 2 INT’s) has been since taking over starting duties, I don’t see Tech’s offense being able to get anything going against TCU’s defense… Keep an eye on Horned Frog MLB Tank Carder. He’s a big time player. If you don’t believe me, re-watch last year’s Rose Bowl.
Thursday, 12/22 @ 8 p.m.
Las Vegas Bowl: #7 Boise State (11-1) vs. Arizona State (6-6)
Things could’ve been interesting for the Broncos had they not lost to the aforementioned Horned Frogs of TCU. Instead of a BCS bowl (maybe even the national title game) they find themselves strapping up for the prestigious Las Vegas Bowl. Although it’s not what they hoped for, motivation won’t be a problem for Boise State as long as Chris Peterson is coaching. Plus, it’s Kellen Moore’s (3,507 yards, 41 TD’s, 7 INT’s) final game as a Bronco. He’s had one of the best careers in the history of college football. I’m sure he and Peterson will keep the team focused on going out on a high note.
I don’t expect much drama in this game. Dennis Erickson is already fired but will still coach Arizona State who finished the season as poorly as anyone could, losing 5 of 6 including 4 in a row. The Broncos (43ppg, 18ppga) will dominate on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: Boise State
Monday, 12/26 @ 5 p.m.
Independence Bowl: Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5)
Unlike the two games above, I’d be shocked if this one turns into a blowout. Both these teams are evenly matched. I like North Carolina’s skill players. Quarterback Bryn Renner (2,769 yards, 23 TD’s, 12 INT’s), wide receiver Dwight Jones (1,119 yards, 11 TD’s) and running back Giovani Bernard (1,222 yards, 13 TD’s) are all exceptional talents. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, their downfall is their defense who allows 24 points per game.
Missouri finished the season strong, winning 4 of their last 5 games. They possess a deep and balanced offense which is a headache for any defense to deal with. Quarterback James Franklin is a threat both with his arm (2,733 yards, 20 TD’s, 10 INT’s) and his legs (839 yards, 13 TD’s). The Tigers will of course be without their top running back Henry Josey (1,168 yards, 9 TD’s, 8.1 ypc) who lost his season to a torn ACL. However, Missouri still has enough fire power to take advantage of North Carolina’s soft defense.
Tuesday, 12/27 @ 4:30 p.m.
Little Caesars Bowl: Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
These are two teams starving for a bowl win—Purdue hasn’t been to a bowl since 2007 and Western Michigan has never even won a bowl game (0-4 all-time). It’s certainly not the most attractive matchup of the postseason but it’s always fun when two desperate teams match up against each other.
I expect Western Michigan to pull away from the Big 10 boys thanks to their offensive attack which Purdue (389 ypga) simply won’t be able to deal with. Bronco quarterback Alex Carder (3,434 yards, 28 TD’s, 10 INT’s) is solid but the main weapon on the offense is undoubtedly wide receiver Jordan White (127 rec, 1,646 yards, 16 TD’s). If your one wish of the bowl season is to see a receiver torch a secondary early and often then this Little Caesars Bowl is your game… I feel bad for Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen already.
Prediction: Western Michigan
Tuesday, 12/27 @ 8 p.m.
Belk Bowl: Louisville (7-5) vs. NC State (7-5)
This will be an entertaining matchup between two even teams who both finished the season strong. The Cardinals came close to clinching the Big East’s BCS spot but instead find themselves playing a virtual road game in NC State’s backyard of Charlotte. I’m sure Louisville head coach Charlie Strong isn’t too happy about that, but it is what it is.
I think the difference in this game will be Louisville’s defense who I expect a big effort out of. The unit has been strong all season and ranks 14th in the nation statistically. Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon (2,790 yards, 28 TD’s, 11 INT’s) has a couple solid weapons at his deposal, but I expect the Cardinals to keep them all at bay. As long as freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (1,855 yards, 12 TD’s, 9 INT’s) can manage the game and not try to do too much the Cardinals should be in good shape.
Saturday 12/24 – Hawaii Bowl: #21 Southern Miss (11-2) vs. Nevada (7-5) – 8 p.m. – Nevada will have no answer for the Golden Eagles’ defense… Prediction: Southern Miss
Wednesday 12/28 – Military Bowl: Toledo (8-4) vs. Air Force (7-5) – 4:30 p.m. – The Rockets’ high-powered offense (42 ppg) will put up points early and often… Prediction: Toledo
Follow Casey Keefe on Twitter: @CaseyKeefeWFAN
Give us your Bowl predictions in the comments below…