December 19, 2005

Frinklin Bowl Forecaster Vol. 1

New Orleans Bowl
Arkansas State (6-5) vs Southern Mississippi (6-5)
The New Orleans Bowl, transplanted to Lafayette, is missing North Texas for the first time since… well, ever. This year’s Sun Belt Conference Champ (via a three-way tiebreak) is Arkansas State. The Indians take on Southern Miss creating a matchup so unimportant it boggles the mind. USM has an erratic quarterback in Dustin Almond and an annoying tendency to lose close games. ASU would finish in the bottom third of any other conference in Division 1. Good times….
The Pick: Southern Miss 24, Arkansas State 6
Watch it? Only if you’re an alum or you really want your wife/girlfriend/partner to leave you and let you die alone.

UTEP (8-3) vs. Toledo (8-3)
Admittedly, UTEP and Toledo are not exactly household names, but this game, featuring two fine quarterbacks in Jordan Palmer and Bruce Gradkowski, should be lots of fun. Mike Price’s second year in El Paso is a bit of a disappointment, as the Miners “Couged It” down the stretch, losing back to back against UAB and SMU when one win would have wrapped up the C-USA title. The Rockets backed into this a little bit, as they didn’t play for the MAC title after getting killed by Northern Illinois. Both teams play high-octane, risky offenses. Look for lots of points and more than a couple turnovers.
The Pick: UTEP 42, Toledo 38
Watch It? Yep, this is one of the better non-BCS games this year.

Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (6-5) vs. Cal (7-4)
Under new coach Bronco Mendenhall (is that a GREAT coach name or what?) the Cougars got up off the map after Gary Crowton’s disastrous tenure. He’ll bring a high-flying, distinctly Lavell Edwards-ish BYU team in against a rebuilding Cal squad. With an excellent defense and monster rushing attack behind Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forrsett, the Bears would seem to be the favorite. Two problems though: Cal still doesn’t have anyone to play QB, and Jeff Tedford’s team sleepwalked through the Holiday Bowl last year.
The Pick: Cal 31, BYU 21
Watch it? Meh. This could be fun, but nothing special.

Poinsettia Bowl
Colorado State (6-5) vs. Navy (7-4)
Excuse me, this would be the “San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl”, which this game a strong contender for the “Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl Goofy Name Trophy”. This should be a fun matchup of seriously contrasting styles. Paul Johnson’s Middies lead the nation in rushing, while the Rams sport a top-25 passing attack. Navy is lead by the two-headed rushing offense of QB Lamar Owens and FB Adam Ballard. CSU’s best is quarterback Justin Holland, an NFL-prospect looking to end an erratic career on a high note. This will be a tough matchup for the Rams, as they have no run defense whatsoever.
The Pick: Navy 24, Colorado State 17
Watch it? The contrast in styles should be fun, and Holland could always explode.

Fort Worth Bowl
Kansas (6-5) vs. Houston (6-5)
Does spending the holidays in Fort Worth count as an upgrade over Houston or Lawrence? Possibly, but considering both teams are making just their second bowl appearance in a decade, neither is complaining. This is another contrast in styles game, as Kevin Kolb leads the Cougars’ explosive passing attack against Kansas no-name defense. The Jayhawks started slow, losing their first four Big 12 games, but finished strong, including a 40-point demolition of Nebraska. Houston will have to muster a rushing attack to win this game. Kansas will have to come up with some offense of any kind. Expect both teams to bring it, as bowl appearances are rare for both schools.
The Pick: Kansas 17, Houston 14
Watch it? If you’re a hard-core fan, sure. Nick Reid, Charles Gordon and the rest of Kansas’ defense is worth tuning in.

Hawaii Bowl
Central Florida (8-4) vs. Nevada (8-3)
UCF is runaway winner of the longest distance to travel, both literally (a tick under 5,000 miles) and figuratively (0-11 in ’04). George O’Leary has successfully rehabbed his reputation with this very young club, and Nevada coach Chris Ault added another chapter to his after returning to the bench. This is also the first Hawaii Bowl that doesn’t include Hawaii, so attendance might be a problem. Those who do show up will enjoy a fun game between two talented mid-majors. Nevada is more experienced and should win in a slugfest.
The Pick: Nevada 35, UCF 24
Watch it? Yep. Between Nevada’s oddball “Pistol” offense and the chance to see what should be a very, very good Golden Knight team a year early, this game is an excellent Christmas Eve present.

Posted by Frinklin at December 19, 2005 10:34 PM | TrackBack
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