WHO DOESN’T LOVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON!?
We are fast approaching one of the most exciting times of the year as college football bowl series is set to begin.
The Cover 4 is giving our readers the ultimate guide to this years bowl games. Our very own Sports Activist Zack Kay has predicted every bowl game of the 2012 season. Each game is complete with analysis, spreads, over/under and an alternate name to each bowl game! You don’t want to miss this. PERIOD……….
*Based on LVH odds as of 12/9/12
Saturday, Dec. 15
New Mexico Bowl
At Albuquerque, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
201 Nevada (7-5) vs 202 Arizona (7-5) -9½
Alternate Name: “Who won’t give up 40 Bowl?”
Breakdown: Despite both teams sitting at 7-5, they like to give up points as much as they like to score them. Each team is giving up a rough average of 40 points per loss, and I don’t see that changing. Zona has the better resume, and will win a shootout.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
At Boise, Idaho, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
203 Toledo (9-3) vs 204 Utah State (10-2) -10
Alternate Name: “Child’s Play, Seed of Chuckie Bowl”
Breakdown: Consider this game Chuckie Keeton and Utah State’s way of putting the college football world on notice, and planting their seed to bust the BCS next season. USU has been quietly obliterating teams, with their two closest wins coming by 7 points, and the rest by an average of nearly 28. Their only two losses came on the road at BYU and Wisconsin, by a combined 5 points. Toledo has played solid this season, including an upset of Cincinnati, but they’re going to end up on the business end of this game.
Thursday, Dec. 20
At San Diego, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
205 BYU (7-5) -2½ vs 206 San Diego State (9-3)
Alternate Name:”Mountain West Defector Bowl”
Breakdown: With both teams recently leaving the Mountain West Conference (SDSU on its way out), there will be some familiarity to this game. How can you not take the +2 ½ in this one? With what is essentially a home game, and the Aztecs playing their best ball late in the season, I don’t think BYU, whose been on cruise control since accepting their bid to this game earlier in the season, will be able to pull this one out.
Friday, Dec. 21
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl
At St. Petersburg, Fla., 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
207 Ball State (9-3) vs 208 UCF (9-4) -7
Alternate Name: “10 Wins or Bust Bowl”
Breakdown: This is going to be a solid game, with two good mid-conference teams trying to get to that magic number of 10 wins. When stepping up in competition this season, UCF handled themselves better than the Cardinals did, keeping it close with Ohio State for 3 quarters, and losing by 2 points to Mizzou. Look for UCF to pull away late and the game to get over the total.
Saturday, Dec. 22
New Orleans Bowl
At New Orleans, Noon (ESPN)
209 East Carolina (8-4) vs 210 Louisiana-Lafayette (7-4) -5½
Alternate Name: “Bourbon Street Bowl”……because I assume that’s where most of the fans will be instead of in the stands for this one.
Breakdown: These teams are like mirror images as far as where they stand, with solid offenses, and consistently inconsistent defenses. Despite the home state advantage, I think playing inside favors the Pirates a little more, and while I’m tempted to take the Over, I think it’s going to hit right below the number.
Las Vegas Bowl
At Las Vegas, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
211 Washington (7-5) vs 212 Boise State (10-2) -5
Alternate Name: “Foreshadow Bowl”
Breakdown: This will be a preview of each team’s first game of the 2013 season. Boise comes in much more consistent on both sides of the ball, and after the Huskies’ last showing against Wazzu, I wouldn’t back them even if they brought Jake Locker back for this game. I like the game to get over the number, and for Boise to control the line of scrimmage with each unit.
Monday, Dec. 24
At Honolulu, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
213 SMU (6-6) vs 214 Fresno State (9-3) -11½
Alternate Name: “June’s Not So Joyous Return Bowl”
Breakdown: Anyone else think Fresno could hit the over by themselves? The Bulldogs are averaging almost 48/game when they win, with an average margin of victory around 27. I’m sure June Jones is hoping for a nice experience in his first time coaching in Aloha Stadium since his departure, but I look for Fresno to put it on the Mustangs. Hey, at least he’ll get leid while he’s there.
Wednesday, Dec. 26
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
At Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
215 Central Michigan (6-6) vs 216 Western Kentucky (7-5) -5½
Alternate Name: “No Willy, No Problem Bowl”
Breakdown: Despite the departure of Head Coach Willy Taggert to South Florida, Western Kentucky should cover the spread fairly comfortably. All but one of the Hilltoppers losses (35-0 to Alabama), have been competitive, and come down to the 4th quarter, and they have some very quality wins. Despite playing in their home state, CMU’s defense just gives up too many points to keep them in this one. Playing indoors is going to help them hit the over.
Thursday, Dec. 27
At Washington, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
217 Bowling Green (8-4) vs 218 San Jose State (10-2) -7
Alternate Name: “Best Mid-Major Matchup Bowl”
Breakdown: This is good matchup, and going to be a great game. Bowling Green comes in the 9th ranked points against defense in the country, and San Jose State has been a sleeper all season, dropping a 3 point loss to Stanford, and losing to 10-2 Utah State. BGU’s 3 losses came on the road, in the first 4 weeks of the season to Florida, VT, and Toledo, but since then, have been stingy defensively. I’d feel more comfortable with -6 ½, but with BGU playing a very good team away from home, I’ll take SJSU.
At Charlotte, N.C., 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
219 Cincinnati (9-3) -7½ vs 220 Duke (6-6)
Alternate Name: “Rather See This Basketball Game Bowl”
Breakdown: 1995……That’s the last time Duke went to the post season in football, on a campus where basketball is king, relevance is something the Blue Devil football team has been searching for, for quite some time. Both of these teams have had their ups and downs this year, and while Cincinnati has played very good defense this season, Duke will come into this game with two things that have stayed consistent throughout the season, their coach, and their quarterback. The Bearcats come in with Butch Jones having high tailed it to Tennessee, and an inconsistent showing at the quarterback position. Not only do the Blue Devils want this more, they need this more, and will be playing in their home state. That’s why I feel comfortable with them covering the +7½.
At San Diego, 9:45 p.m. (ESPN)
221 Baylor (7-5) vs 222 UCLA (9-4) -1
Alternate Name: “Oxygen Bowl”……as in, what both defenses will be huffing on most of the game.
Breakdown: Both these teams can fill it up, and in San Diego, the weather should be permitting. I have to take the Under, simply because 80 points is a ton, but feel confident in saying that this could easily go over. This is going to be a fun game to watch, and while I think Jonathan Franklin will run for about 160, I believe Baylor is going to find a way to squeak this one out in pretty exciting fashion.
Friday, Dec. 28
At Shreveport, La., 2 p.m. (ESPN)
223 Ohio (8-4) vs 224 Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) -7
Alternate Name: “What was La Tech Thinking Bowl?”
Breakdown: Ohio jumps into this bowl game by default, after the bonehead move Louisiana Tech made, in turning down the committee, and thus their 9-3 team missing a bowl all together. ULM has played some good ball this year against top talent competition, and their defense will be the difference in this one (Sorry James Kaikis).
Russell Athletic Bowl
At Orlando, Fla., 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
225 Rutgers (9-3) vs 226 Virginia Tech (6-6) -2
Alternate Name: “The Hard to Watch Bowl”
Breakdown: VT was probably this season’s biggest disappointment, and even in the 6 games they won, were hard to watch some times. Rutgers started out at 7-0, but have dropped 3 of their last 5, and could’ve ended up in the Sugar Bowl if it weren’t for a string of bonehead decisions in their game against Louisville to cap the season. The Hokies should have this one in had by the final whistle, but don’t expect much scoring.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
At Houston, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
227 Minnesota (6-6) vs 228 Texas Tech (7-5) -13
Alternate Name: “Guns Up, Gophers Down, Bowl”
Breakdown: “Tubberville or not, the Red Raiders are going to ROLL in this one. TTU can score, and the Gophers, to put it lightly, can’t. I’m looking for a 3 score deficit in this game, with the Texas Tech offense moving up and down the field on Minnesota, but will take the under, looking at a final score of around 38-17. This might also be a great game to lay the points in the first half as well, especially if you can get 6½.
Saturday, Dec. 29
Armed Forces Bowl
At Fort Worth, Texas, 11:45 a.m. (ESPN)
229 Air Force (6-6) vs 230 Rice (6-6) even
Alternate Name: “Run and Fun Bowl”
Breakdown: Both of these teams come into this game with dominate rushing attacks (AF 328 yd/gm and Rice 201 yd/gm), and I’m assuming they’ll stick with what they know. On paper it’s as close as they come, and I anticipate a turnover deciding the game. That’s why I’ll take the fly boys in this one, as military teams tend to be more disciplined with the football.
Fight Hunger Bowl
At San Francisco, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
231 Arizona State (7-5) -14½ vs 232 Navy (7-4)
Alternate Name: “Just Another Bowl Game”
Breakdown: There’s nothing to special about this one. ASU has had problems stepping up in competition this year, and the Midshipmen have as well. If you’re interested in seeing two promising young quarterbacks battle, with two drastically contrasting styles, then this one should strike your interest. ASU will pull out the game, but Navy will cover the number.
At New York, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)
233 West Virginia (7-5) -4 vs 234 Syracuse (7-5)
Alternate Name: “Big East Basketball Championship Bowl”
Breakdown: If I told you that one of these teams has beaten the other,2 straight years, would you believe me if I said it was Syracuse? Well believe it. The Orangemen have won two straight over the Mountaineers (both fairly handily), and will be looking to do it again. There is going to be ton’s of talent on the field at wide receiver in this one, and the looks fairly appetizing, as West Virginia can’t stop a thing. Still, I think they find a way to win by a touchdown since those upstate New York kids are used to playing in their cushy dome in the winter.
At San Antonio, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
235 Oregon State (9-3) -2 vs 236 Texas (8-4)
Alternate Name: “Quarterback Carousel Bowl”
Breakdown: Sean Mannion, Cody Vaz, David Ash, Case McCoy. Who knows who’ll be under center for either team when game time hits, although the Beavers seem to be more set than their counterparts. This is a tough game to pick, and while it’s hard picking against Texas in their home state, I think OSU’s defense will be enough to scratch out a field goal win.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
At Tempe, Ariz., 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
237 TCU (7-5) -2½ vs 238 Michigan State (6-6)
Alternate Name: “Lost Potential Bowl”
Breakdown: With TCU entering their first season in the Big 12, and Michigan State competing in a Big 10 with an ineligible Ohio State and Penn State, both of these teams looked like they were in position to make waves. That all changed with the departure of Casey Pachall, and Michigan State’s inability to find the endzone without Kirk Cousins. This one is going to come down to field goal kickers I believe, but should be a good game.
Monday, Dec. 31
Music City Bowl
At Nashville, Tenn., Noon (ESPN)
239 N.C. State (7-5) vs 240 Vanderbilt (8-4) -6½
Alternate Name: “Even Kiel Bowl”
Breakdown: Both of these teams (while Vandy is improving) seem to be unable to break past this grey area in their conferences, where they’re always just middle of the pack. The ACC has had a TERRIBLE time with SEC teams this year, but despite that, I believe NC State, if not win, can cover the 6½ here, with Sean Glennon heading to the Senior Bowl with one last win under his belt.
At El Paso, Texas, 2 p.m. (CBS)
241 Georgia Tech (6-7) vs 242 USC (7-5) -10
Alternate Name: “The Disappointment Bowl”
Breakdown: With USC preseason #1, and Georgia Tech poised to be a contender in the ACC (they played in the championship game, but only because Miami put itself on probation, and the Coastal Division was abysmal), both teams crapped the bed, a la Virginia Tech this season, with USC losing 5 games, and GT having to petition to even play in a bowl. Now they’re in El Paso, and let’s be honest, the people that live in El Paso, don’t even want to be there. This game will mean more to the Yellow Jackets, and they’ll play inspired, but it won’t be enough, and I think they’re secondary will get toasted in this one.
At Memphis, Tenn., 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
243 Iowa State (6-6) even vs 244 Tulsa (10-3)
Alternate Name: “Déjà vu Bowl”
Breakdown: This game is a rematch of each team’s season opener, where the Cyclones put up a 15 point home victory over the Hurricanes. After seeing both teams play, I think the outcome will be close to the same. Tulsa has two very good running backs, and can churn out yards on the ground, but I don’t think their quarterback has the ability to win games for them if it comes down to that.
At Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
245 Clemson (10-2) vs 246 LSU (10-2) -4
Alternate Name: “Battle for Death Valley Bowl”
Breakdown: Ok, so my blood runs orange and I can’t help but be a little impartial in this one. Both teams are coming in off of great seasons, with Clemson coming off a not so great performance against South Carolina, and LSU having only lost to the number 2 and 3 teams in the country. LSU has been synonymous with “BCS,” and might be a little disappointed to be in this game which is why I believe Clemson can cover this 4 points, and might be able to squeak out the win. One thing is for sure though, and that is that this will be a very fun game to watch, with a tremendous amount of speed and talent on the field at all times.
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Heart of Dallas Bowl
At Dallas, Noon (ESPNU)
247 Purdue (6-6) vs 248 Oklahoma State (7-5) -17
Alternate Name: “Mom, Look Away. This Could get UGLY Bowl”
Breakdown: Take out FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky, and the Boilermakers haven’t beaten a .500 team this season, much less one with a winning record. The Cowboys come into this matchup with all of their losses coming to bowl bound teams, and three of those ranked in the top 15. At 2nd in the nation in both passing and scoring, I don’t see where Purdue will be able to find enough points with their mediocre offense to keep it close. The Boilermakers will need to run the ball effectively for four quarters to have a shot at keeping this one close. The first half might also be a good bet in this one.
At Jacksonville, Fla., Noon (ESPN2)
249 Northwestern (9-3) vs 250 Mississippi State (8-4) -2
Alternate Name: “Sneaky Good Bowl”
Breakdown: This is going to be a good game against two scrappy teams. The Bulldogs started the season 7-0, but dropped 4 of their last 5, and even though 3 of them were to the top tier of the SEC, a loss to Ole Miss in their final game doesn’t have me very high on them. Northwestern is just fun to watch, and they have taken another small step forward this year, winning some good games, and nearly knocking off both Michigan and Nebraska. I like the Wildcats in this one, while Miss St is still trying to figure out what going on.
Capital One Bowl
At Orlando, Fla., 1 p.m. (TBA)
253 Nebraska (10-3) vs 254 Georgia (11-2) -10
Alternate Game: “Sea of Red Bowl”
Breakdown: If there is one thing that Championship Week showed us, it’s that Georgia is for real, and Nebraska is probably still picking turn out of their butts from getting molly whopped by Wisconsin. The Bulldogs edge out the Huskers in all phases of the game, and Taylor Martinez can expect to be looking up at the Florida sun from his back most of the game, with the help of Jarvis Jones. Nebraska will score enough to help with the Over, but not nearly enough to make the Bulldogs sweat the final in this one.
At Tampa, Fla., 1 p.m. (ESPN)
251 Michigan (8-4) vs 252 South Carolina (10-2) -5½
Alternate Name: “Best Bet Bowl”
Breakdown: THIS IS MY BEST BET OF THE BOWL SEASON! This spread is just off, and I think it should be closer to 10-12 points. Michigan has not faced a defense like this since week 1 against Alabama, and we all know how that one ended, or when it ended…….1st quarter. Despite what he’s done in four years at Michigan, Denard Robinson will not like how his final game turns out, especially with the already diminished role he is playing in the offense.
At Pasadena, Calif., 5 p.m. (ESPN)
255 Wisconsin (8-5) vs 256 Stanford (11-2) -6½
Alternate Name: “Snot Bubble Bowl”
Breakdown: This one is going to be brutal in the trenches, and I anticipate that both teams will combine for at least 65-70 carries with their backs. Both teams are impressively balanced, but the Badgers haven’t scored more than 24 points against anyone that has a defense with a pulse. Stanford has been impressive all season, and they are an inexplicable loss on the road to Washington, and a controversial call against Notre Dame away from being in an even bigger bowl game. The Cardinal do what they do, and wear Wisconsin down by the end of the 3rd quarter, and the brief return of Barry Alvarez (who they’re paying $118,000 for this game) will be for nothing.
At Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
257 Northern Illinois (12-1) vs 258 Florida State (11-2) -13½
Alternate Name: “For the Sake of the ACC Bowl”
Breakdown: For the sake of the ACC, not only does FSU need to win this game, but it needs to be decisive, and it needs to be violent, the type of violence that the 4th ranked defense in the nation is suppose to impose in all their games. If you don’t know the name Jordan Lynch, then you are not a true college football fan. Lynch is Jonny Football-esque statistically, and the only shot the Huskies have in this one. Despite how good Lynch is, and the type of magic he can produce on the field, he’s going to have to be David Copperfield to pull this one off. The Noles should, and will roll, and I believe the total should be covered as well.
Wednesday, Jan. 2
At New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
259 Louisville (10-2) vs 260 Florida (11-1) -14
Alternate Name: “Gator Bait Bowl”
Breakdown: Louisville played its best ball in the first half and middle of the season, but has somewhat struggled as of late with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater dealing with injuries. The Gators on the other hand, nearly ended up in the National Championship game, and are playing some of the best defense they’ve seen in Gainesville in quite a while. With a more consistent offense, Florida could be the best team in the country, and will most definitely be looking to improve that facet of their game in the practice time for this bowl. After watching both these teams throughout the season, I just don’t know where Louisville can find the ability to keep this one close.
Thursday, Jan. 3
At Glendale, Ariz., 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
261 Kansas State (11-1) vs 262 Oregon (11-1) -8
Alternate Name: “Chip’s Farewell Tour Bowl”
Breakdown: This has the potential to be one of the best bowl games of the entire season, if not for anything else, the fact that these boys are going to light it up. Optimus Klein is coming off his 3rd place Heisman Trophy finish, and will be looking to leave Kansas St in style. The Ducks have once again posted a one loss season to narrowly miss the National Championship, but seem to be back to firing on all cylinders, and will look to continue that as I predict Chip Kelly will be coaching in the NFL next season. Oregon is more used to these big games by now, and I think they’ll pull away late and probably cover the spread by a field goal or so.
Friday, Jan. 4
At Arlington, Texas, 8 p.m. (FOX)
263 Texas A&M (10-2) -4½ vs 264 Oklahoma (10-2)
Alternate Name: “Like Old Times Bowl”
Breakdown: These two teams are familiar with each other, and it’s almost weird to see them matched up in a bowl game. Heisman winners are 5-7 since 2000 in their bowl games the year they won the award, with the last three all posting wins. I believe the Aggies can and will win this game, but I look for the Sooners to cover the number and lose by a field goal (38-35 sticks out in my mind). Johnny Heisman has been ridiculous this season, and with a month to prepare, I’m sure Oklahoma will come up with a few ways to keep him off balance, but won’t be able to effect him for an entire game. Landry Jones has rebounded this year from being notoriously bad away from home, and I think his solid performance just won’t be enough to overcome the growing legend that is Johnny Manziel.
Saturday, Jan. 5
BBVA Compass Bowl
At Birmingham, Ala., 1 p.m. (ESPN)
265 Pittsburgh (6-6) vs 266 Mississippi (6-6) -3½
Alternate Name: “Above .500 Bowl”
Breakdown: Both of these teams have shown flashes of potential this season, while some probably feel Pitt has underachieved, and Ole Miss has outperformed their expectations. The reason this is such a tough game to pick, is that you just don’t know which Pitt team is going to show up, because they play great in the heavy underdog roll, but incredibly mediocre when they are expected to compete. With all things considered, and adding on the fact that Ole Miss has underrated team speed, I think the Panthers are going to fall short in this one.
Sunday, Jan. 6
At Mobile, Ala., 9 p.m. (ESPN)
267 Arkansas State (9-3) -4½ vs 268 Kent State (11-2)
Alternate Name: “Who the Hell is Coaching Us Bowl?”
Breakdown: With Gus Malzhan headed back to Auburn, and Darrell Hazell the newest coach for the Boilermakers, both teams will come into this game without the men who have lead them all season. These are two of the best mid-majors in the country, and should be an exciting game. Kent State makes a living with their ground game, but I think Arkansas State’s balance will be the deciding outcome in this game. They are as equally good on the ground as through the air, and the will keep Kent States defense guessing for most of the game.
Monday, Jan. 7
BCS National Championship
At Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
269 Alabama (12-1) -9½ vs 270 Notre Dame (12-0)
Alternate Name: “Legends Never Die Bowl”
Breakdown: It’s fitting that one of, if not the best bowl game of the year, will be in the National Championship game against two of the most legendary programs in college football. From Bear Bryant, to Knute Rockney, and Touchdown Jesus to “Roll Tide,” these two teams are not only historic, but have some of the biggest fan bases in the country. During a time in college football where scoring 50 is normal, arguably the two best defenses in the country managed to separate themselves from the rest. Notre Dame comes into this game on a mission, and I believe they have the ability to cover this spread, without going as far to say that they’ll win outright. The Irish’s lucky number is 5, and no, it doesn’t stand for Manti T’eo’s jersey, it stands for how many goaline touchdowns they’ve allowed all season. The Crimson Tide have been here before, and while they will ride their defense, they are not going to win this game without something special from AJ McCarron. I’ll be counting the days until this one.
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