The Super-Long 2012 BHA Bowl Breakdown

(9,242 words. It’s a long one folks. Brace yourselves and enjoy.)

Just like the Honey Badger, I'll put this picture wherever I want.

As we take a brief break from the ’25 Days of Reggie’ here on Back Home Again, we are now to the most wonderful time of year (or that’s what ESPN says, I still like March Madness 50 million times better). It’s Bowl season, which means the college football campaign is just a month away from reaching its conclusion.

I hope I can provide some analysis, comical satire, and a bit of insightful help while you make your selections in the many bowl mania contests all across the Internets…and if you win a sizeable amount of money after reading this, I hope you are nice enough to pass along some of the green to yours truly.

With that said, let’s get to it and break down all 35 bowl games! (Holy piles of college football money Batman that’s way too many bowl games)

**(Word of warning: I’m going to make fun of every bowl game name that I find to be utterly absurd. From the name of the bowl game all the way down to the teams playing in it, I plan on being ruthless and ridiculous when breaking down every single one of these ridiculously named headaches they call bowl games. You’ve been warned, now let’s roll.)

Gildan New Mexico Bowl – Albuquerque, NM – December 17, 2pm (ESPN)
Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)

We begin the bowl breakdown with an absolute doozy of a game…kidding. These two teams absolutely reek at throwing the football, so you’ll see them at their best when they pound it out on the ground. Temple tailback Bernard Pierce isn’t a household name, but over 1300 yards rushing isn’t a number to scoff at. Wyoming doesn’t have a running back or a wide receiver with over 700 yards in any statistical category, and Temple’s defense only gives up 13 points per game. If Wyoming can slow down the Owls rushing attack, then maybe they’ll have a chance. But Temple is a better football team, and they’ll get the win. ROBBY’S PICK: TEMPLE

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Boise, ID – December 17, 5:30pm (ESPN)
Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5)

Notice the sour cream and chives on the top of the football.

Did I really need to put the location of where this game was taking place? Nah probably not, you know it’s on the blue turf (I miss the days of this game being called the Humanitarian Bowl and it being a virtual home game for Boise State). Sorry for the nostalgic moment there…oh right, the game. This should be one of the higher scoring games during bowl season, with both teams putting up over 30 per game. Utah State does their damage on the ground, while Ohio is a more balanced attack that can do it on the ground or through the air. Utah State finished hot ending the season, winning their last 5 by just a combined 18 points so if it stays close, I like the Aggies. BUT, the Bobcats are long overdue for a bowl victory and this team will get it done out west. ROBBY’S PICK: OHIO

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – New Orleans, LA – December 17, 9pm (ESPN)
San Diego State (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)

May as well have put San Diego State as the away team in this game…the Ragin Cajuns have to drive just 2 hours to the Superdome, while San Diego State will make the 26 hour and 15 minute trek to Louisiana to play in a bowl game that they’ll be favored to win. Quick, if you can tell me the last time Louisiana-Lafayette made a bowl game, I’ll give you 5 bucks…yeah, nice try. 1970 was the last time the Ragin Cajuns were playing in the postseason, an absolute joke. As much as I want to go with the much cooler mascot here and not make any sort of intelligent selection here, San Diego State is the better team and should have no problems scoring on that piece of Swiss Cheese they call defense at ULL. ROBBY’S PICK: SAN DIEGO STATE

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl – St. Petersburg, FL – December 20, 8pm (ESPN)
Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)

I know, you’ve got to wait 3 days after watching San Diego State-Louisiana Lafayette game for this mouth-watering showdown that’s being played in an indoor baseball field that’s converted for a football game. It’s going to eat at you inside, but you can make it. Now, most people will go with the logical selection in this case…FIU, they have more wins than Marshall, duh Robby. Well I’m here to tell you: …yeah, you’re probably right. Marshall has the worst scoring margin out of all 76 teams playing in the post season this year (22 points per game, 30.2 ppg allowed) and they really stink on the road. Granted, this is a neutral site game and it may sound like I keep hounding the Thundering Herd, but all I need is one name to make my argument for you to take the Golden Panthers: T.Y. Hilton. Watch and tune into #4 in blue and white and you’ll thank me later. ROBBY’S PICK: FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – San Diego, CA – December 21, 8pm (ESPN)
TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)

First off, I have no idea why the San Diego County Credit Union feels the need to sponsor a

SDCCUPB. The acronym for this erronious bowl name.

bowl game. It’s terrible promotional work by the team at the San Diego County Credit Union because people like me, if they ever decide to move to a beautiful city like San Diego, will never establish a line of credit with them since they continue to haunt my pleasant dreams of having appropriately named bowl games. (Robby steps off of his soap box, he apologizes for that mini rant). Anyhow, here’s another game that should take you no time to decide who you’re taking. TCU is the better team, they play in a better conference, and they have better players. Is that enough for you? Oh it isn’t? How about the Horned Frogs’ impressive 3-headed ground attack of Waymon James, Matthew Tucker, and Ed Wesley? That should be enough. ROBBY’S PICK: TCU

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl – Las Vegas, NV – December 22, 8pm (ESPN)
Arizona State (6-6) vs. Boise State (11-1)

It drives me crazy that Boise State, who finished #7 in the BCS, didn’t get an at-large berth into the Big Crap Shoot…but they’ll have to settle for another trip to Viva Las Vegas to play a team that horribly underachieved this season. Arizona State will have a new coach roaming the sidelines for this one. Todd Graham spurned the Pitt Panthers after one season and has already ruffled too many good feathers in the college football world. It appeared the Sun Devils were going to go with yet another old, run and shoot guy in June Jones, but they backed off the SMU head man and have gone nowhere else. They went from a questionable decision to a stupid decision as coach, but I know who’s coaching Boise State still: Chris Petersen. And the last time I checked, he has 2 BCS wins to his name. Many will make the argument that Boise won’t be up to play this game, but they don’t operate like that. They always relish the opportunity to play in front of a national audience. They’ll trounce Arizona State, and Kellen Moore will go out in style in his final game for the Broncos. ROBBY’S PICK: BOISE STATE

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl – Honolulu, HI – December 24, 8pm (ESPN)
Nevada (7-5) vs. Southern Miss (11-2)

Probably the first decent match-up we will have in the bowl season, and it only took us 6 games to get there. Don’t be fooled by Nevada’s record, they can play with some of the best. No, Colin Kaepernick isn’t there this year, but they still boast one of the best rushing attacks in college football. Southern Miss will have interesting motivating points for this one as their head coach Larry Fedora will coach his final game for the Golden Eagles before departing for North Carolina. Of course, USM wants to send him out with a victory, but it won’t be easy. You’ll see another shootout in this one, but Austin Davis will lead Southern Miss to victory and achieve their first 12 win season in school history. ROBBY’S PICK: SOUTHERN MISS

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl – Shreveport, LA – December 26, 5pm (ESPN2)
Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5)

Speaking of the Tar Heels, they got to bowl eligibility only because they played a weak non-conference schedule (just 3-5 in a poor ACC). Missouri on the other hand was probably one of the bigger disappointments this year in college football after being so highly touted to begin the season then dropping like a lead balloon and going 4-5 through their first 9 before taking advantage of Texas, Texas Tech, and Kansas in their final 3 to make it here. Neither team really has the decided advantage, but Mizzou is the more stable team and probably has the better quarterback in James Franklin who is a solid run/pass option for the Tigers. If UNC wants to win, they’ll need to establish their run game early against a questionable Missouri defense. But I’ll take Gary Pinkel over whoever the Heels have as their interim coach. ROBBY’S PICK: MISSOURI

Little Caesars Bowl – Detroit, MI – December 27, 4:30pm (ESPN)
Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

This is Detroit. This looks way too nice to be Detroit.

A bowl game is a bowl game, albeit a really crappy one for Purdue. Once again, Purdue will look back to another inexcusable nonconference loss that more than likely propelled them to stay in the Midwest for the postseason. Yes, it’s their first trip to the bowl season in 4 years, and many Boiler fans should be pleased with that, but many missed opportunities sort of tell the tale of another head scratching season. Purdue does need to be careful not to overlook Western Michigan. Sure, they’re a MAC team, but Alex Carder is one heck of a quarterback and big play threat Jordan White may be the best receiver in the country that no one has a clue about. If I was a betting man, I’d honestly take Western Michigan here…but I’m not, and I’m a Purdue alum. Therefore, I’ll side with the Boilers…but if you want to take the Broncos lethal air attack over Purdue’s porous defense, I won’t be offended. ROBBY’S PICK: PURDUE

Belk Bowl – Charlotte, NC – December 27, 8pm (ESPN)
Louisville (7-5) vs. NC State (7-5)

I didn’t know what the heck Belk was until I moved down to Columbus, Mississippi and

Stupid. Bowl. Sponsor.

saw it’s just a big shopping store with clothes, make-up, and a bunch of other stuff I have no interest in whatsoever…much like this bowl game. Louisville has been lucky they’ve played in the Big East the past 2 seasons and not in any other power 6 conference since they probably would never have gotten to bowl eligibility if they were in the ACC or SEC. NC State had one of the most impressive endings to the college football season, dominating #7 Clemson at home before coming back from a 35 point deficit to beat Maryland the following week. I went against Louisville last year in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl (and yes they proved me wrong), and I’m going against them again this season. Only this time, they will lose because they can’t score. ROBBY’S PICK: NC STATE

Military Bowl – Washington, DC – December 28, 4:30pm (ESPN)
Toledo (8-4) vs. Air Force (7-5)

Honor the golden rule.

Ever since the dawn of time, I’ve made my bowl selections using this golden rule: don’t ever pick against a Service Academy in a bowl game that mentions the military. Well, the golden rule has come into effect: Air Force, in the Military Bowl. I’ve been fairly successful with that statement for the past couple years, and I like my chances here as well. Toledo won’t have their coach Tim Beckman roaming the sidelines as he accepted the job to become the new coach at Illinois, and their defense is AWFUL. I mean literally, AWFUL…statistically one of the worst in college football. Sure, they score 42 points per game, but I normally take the teams that play defense come postseason play, and I love the option. Tim Jefferson has run the option beautifully the past 3 seasons with the Falcons. I suspect he’ll do the same against the Rockets in his final game. I could have withheld the analysis and just pulled out the golden rule, but I wanted to sound intelligent. ROBBY’S PICK: AIR FORCE

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl – San Diego, CA – December 28, 8pm (ESPN)
Cal (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5)

I don’t know what Bridgepoint Education is or what it has to do with sponsoring a bowl game, but heck we have the freaking San Diego County Credit Union sponsoring a bowl game in San Diego, why not Bridgepoint Education too?!? Anyway, this is going to be one of your toss-up games you have to make on your bowl picks. Texas has been a conundrum all season long, and Cal has been even harder to understand. I’ve watched both teams a fair amount this year and I can tell you one thing for certain: Texas’ defense is REALLY good. Don’t let the 23 ppg allowed fool you, they get after the quarterback and stop the run. Yeah they gave up 48 to Robert Griffin III, who hasn’t. But the game before against Texas A&M, they shut down the Aggies up until they finally woke up in the 4th quarter, and Ryan Tannehill has a good offense in College Station. If you’re making your bowl picks with confidence points, keep this one low. I’ve got the Longhorns in a very close game with very few points. ROBBY’S PICK: TEXAS

Champs Sports Bowl – Orlando, FL – December 29, 5:30pm (ESPN)
Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)

All that talk about how Notre Dame was going to make a BCS bowl game with that easy schedule…and here we are…in Orlando, playing a game on December 29th. Not exactly what Irish fans had in mind when Brian Kelly took over. I’m sure Seminole fans didn’t have this game in mind either when they began the season ranked in the top 10. These two teams have been your quintessential underachievers in the past decade, yet here they meet once again. I don’t know who’s going to start between Tommy Rees or Andrew Hendrix, and I have no clue whether or not Florida State’s offense is really good enough to score 30 points per game. All of these questions have me thinking Florida State because of their defense (they haven’t allowed more than 20 points in their last 7 games) and having this one close to home in Tallahassee is making me lean more towards the Noles. But Notre Dame has surprised me before in bowl games, so who knows what Michael Floyd will have for us to talk about before he makes the jump to the NFL. ROBBY’S PICK: FLORIDA STATE

Valero Alamo Bowl – San Antonio, TX – December 29, 9pm (ESPN)
Washington (7-5) vs. Baylor (9-3)

I was all over Nebraska last year when they drew Washington for the Holiday Bowl…and

How can you pick against RG3?

then they laid an egg against the Huskies in San Diego. It’s almost the same exact thing for this game…Baylor and Heisman winner Robert Griffin III have drawn Washington, a team that I have yet to figure out ever since their 65-21 loss at Stanford. Having Keith Price on the other side of the ball is a good thing for Washington, but their defense has been outrageously bad. So has Baylor’s, which means for those wanting to tune into a shootout on December 29th at 9pm, you’ll be in luck. I just can’t go against RG3 here, in what could be his final game. You’ll immediately want to go high in confidence points here when picking Baylor, but this game will be much closer than most anticipate. Still, Baylor wants to get to 10 wins and they’re making their first back to back bowl trip in 2 decades. ROBBY’S PICK: BAYLOR

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl – Dallas, TX – December 30, 12pm (ESPN)
BYU (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4)

The golden rule principle need not apply in this case, as the Armed Forces Bowl has no military academy playing. Still, I could come up with a sharp argument that might just make you believe one of these two teams is a service academy. That sounds like too much work, so I’ll just stick to analyzing the game. Tulsa ended the season hot, winning 7 of their last 8 and all four losses came against teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of their encounter. So Tulsa’s pretty good, and they typically play very well in the postseason. Damaris Johnson isn’t running circles around defenses this year for the Golden Hurricane, but GJ Kinne is still slinging the ball around for Tulsa. BYU wants to stay balanced against a questionable defense, but will have a tough time doing so if Kinne and the air attack get up early. BYU has a pretty solid defense, but they haven’t faced an offensive air show much like Tulsa this season. ROBBY’S PICK: TULSA

New Era Pinstripe Bowl – Bronx, NY – December 30, 3:20pm (ESPN)
Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6)

I honestly have no clue how Rutgers finished the season 8-4, but major props to Greg Schiano and the Scarlet Knights. Iowa State had quite possibly one of the biggest upset victories of the season, taking down Oklahoma State in double overtime nearly a month ago. They followed that up with a loss in Norman and a close defeat to Kansas State. The Cyclones are a very streaky team, and Rutgers has been fairly streaky in their own right. Most people would tend to take the team that has more wins in this case and the team that has the bigger name (Mohamed Sanu, 109 catches as a receiver, dangerous in special teams) but there’s something about this Iowa State team that has me wanting to take the Cyclones. I have these strange urges to pick upsets sometimes in games like this, and it’s not based on any research or intelligence at all. I’ve just got that gut feeling to take Iowa State, so take it for what it’s worth. ROBBY’S PICK: IOWA STATE

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – Nashville, TN – December 30, 6:40pm (ESPN)
Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)

Wake Forest fans will come to despise these by halftime.

Congratulations Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, you finish in second for the longest name for a bowl game. Way to go. If you tune into this game on December 30th, you’ll hear a loud ringing sound for most of the game. Don’t adjust your television set; it’s the sound of 45,000 cow bells that Mississippi State fans will be banging out all game. You’ll hear it a ton, because nearly 85% of LP Field will be Bulldog fans. Student tickets have been sold out for the past week, and being near Starkville I’ve heard of massive amounts of State fans making the trip to Nashville for this one. Of course, I’ve managed to write an entire paragraph without even talking about the game. Here’s the only thing you need to know: Wake Forest lost 41-7 to Vanderbilt at home in the final week of the season. Vanderbilt’s a 6-6 team from the SEC that made it to a lower bowl game than Mississippi State. If that doesn’t tell you which team you should pick, I don’t know what will…besides the fact that it’ll feel like a home game for the Bulldogs should be just enough information you need. Go VERY HIGH in confidence points in this one, you’ll thank me later. ROBBY’S PICK: MISSISSIPPI STATE

Insight Bowl – Tempe, AZ – December 30, 10pm (ESPN)
Iowa (7-5) vs. Oklahoma (9-3)

I’ve been burned before going against Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes in bowl games before, but this time it’s different. Yes, Landry Jones won’t have his #1 receiver Ryan Broyles, but he has plenty of other weapons such as Kenny Stills, Jazz Reynolds, and James Hanna the big tight end. OU got absolutely pounded in the final game of the regular season, one that kept the Sooners out of the BCS and a big time pay day. Typically, those types of teams that make it into the postseason by just missing out on the bigger bowl game come in unmotivated to play in a lesser game…not a Bob Stoops team. It just won’t happen. Hawks will keep it close like they always do, but they’ve been horrendous away from Kinnick this season. Bowl games aren’t played at home, and I’ve gotta side with the Sooners in this one. But, this could be one of those upset trap games that many may pick with such a large line on the Sooners (+14). ROBBY’S PICK: OKLAHOMA

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas – Houston, TX – December 31, 12pm (ESPN)
Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Northwestern (6-6)

One of the more intriguing lower bowl games in my opinion, as A&M begins the Shermaninator-less era against a Northwestern team that hasn’t won a bowl game since their 1939 Rose Bowl. Yes, you heard me right: 1939. It’s been a while for the Wildcats. But this is the perfect time to get it done: Northwestern enjoys winning games where they have to come back to win, Texas A&M loves giving away leads in the 4th quarter. Match made in heaven right? For Northwestern, sure…but A&M has been a dumpster fire this season. In all but one of their 6 losses, Texas A&M held a lead in the 4th quarter, then managed to give it away. Oklahoma State was inexcusable, Arkansas was ridiculous, Missouri was acceptable, Kansas State was not one of the higher moments, and finishing it out losing to their biggest rival on the final play of the game is never a good thing. After all that, you wonder whether or not the Aggies would be up for a game against a middle of the road Big Ten team. They lost four of their last five, they’ve got a new head coach in Kevin Sumlin, and they can’t play defense worth a lick. Sounds like I’m going with Northwestern, right? You’d be wrong. This one is in A&M’s backyard and Kevin Sumlin is the type of coach that will come in immediately and establish a winning attitude. What better way to start in a bowl game. ROBBY’S PICK: TEXAS A&M

Hyundai Sun Bowl – El Paso, TX – December 31, 2pm (CBS)
Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5)

Having a full month to prepare for the option is definitely a plus, but teams have had plenty of time to prepare for the option come bowl season and still came up short defending it. Navy and Air Force have been extremely successful in the postseason with the option, the only problem is Tech hasn’t won a bowl game since implementing the option style offense. 5 losses in a row for the Jackets, and here they come again, favored to win yet another game in the postseason. Will they finally pull through to get a win? If they do, they’ll have to get up early on Utah. Even though the Utes are a similar team to the Jackets in that they aren’t a skilled passing team, Tech has lost every game this year where they fell behind in the 4th quarter. The Jacket defense hasn’t been great, and Utah has been somewhat of a disappointment this season after making the jump to the Pac-12, but I’m going to give Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets the nod. They’ve gotta win a bowl game some time, why not now? ROBBY’S PICK: GEORGIA TECH

AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Memphis, TN – December 31, 3:30pm (ABC)
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)

I have a great idea to spice up this boring bowl game: put Mick Cronin’s Bearcat Basketball

Yancy Gates & Football = match made in heaven

team on special teams, and have them cover Vanderbilt in the kicking game. I’ll bet you a large sum of money that a fight breaks out and we have some excitement in the game. All joking aside, this game has no business being on a national television station. Yet here we are, New Year’s Eve, watching Cincinnati and Vanderbilt on ABC.  While it may not seem like a glamorous match-up, the two teams bring interesting seasons to the table. Cincinnati is probably kicking themselves that they didn’t make it into the BCS after losing by 3 to West Virginia at home, while Vanderbilt is making just their 5th bowl appearance in school history. The motivation factor REALLY comes into play for this game, which team will be up and ready to go? You’d think the Commodores and first year head coach James Franklin would be amped up to dominate a 9-3 Big East team…and you’d be exactly right. This is another chance for Vanderbilt to prove their worth as a legitimate SEC team in a bowl game, BUT…the key here is if Zach Collaros, the Bearcats’ starting QB for the last 2 seasons, will be able to play. Collaros is recovering from a broken right ankle, and his replacement Munchie Legaux (no, that’s not a typo) has been average at best. Either way, Cincinnati hasn’t seen a defense like Vanderbilt’s all season long and their offense will be exposed against a faster, tougher, meaner group of Commodores. If you like good running backs though, you’ll get to see Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy (2 1,000 yard rushers) on display. It’s Vanderbilt’s time in this one, go with the SEC. ROBBY’S PICK: VANDERBILT

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl – San Francisco, CA – December 31, 3:30 (ESPN)
Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7)

I'd rather see two boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese fight than see this bowl game.

Yes, you read that correctly: a team with a losing record is in the postseason. Here’s how you know the Pac-12 was THAT bad this year (even though USC would have gotten the bid if they weren’t on probation): UCLA, a 6-6 team, made the inaugural Pac-12 Title game out of the south division ahead of Utah, Arizona State, Arizona, and Colorado. YUCK. While UCLA is a much better 6-7 team than most people give them credit for, it’s still weird to see a team below .500 in the postseason. Wait a second, what am I doing? I haven’t made my comedic approach known with this mockery name of a bowl game. If there was ever a bowl game that didn’t roll off the tongue, it’d be this one. Congrats Kraft, you win the award for worst sounding bowl game. Even the San Diego Country Confetti Bowl or whatever it’s called sounds better than this one. Oh right, the game. So, who wants to win their first game in the postseason as interim head coach? Rick Neuheisel and Ron Zook or both out, enter Mike Johnson and Vic Koenning. A loss by either team ensures them of a losing record, which should be enough motivation to play in this one. I mentioned Texas A&M being a dumpster fire earlier, Illinois made the Aggies season look like a campfire compared to their implosion of a season; 6-0 to start the season, 6 straight losses to end it. YIKES. I underestimated the Illini in the Texas Bowl last year against Baylor, and I paid the price for it. UCLA may have the better numbers on both sides of the ball, but Illinois has new life and even though they’ve been awful down the stretch, they’ll get their act together in San Fran to pull off the winner and finish above .500 ROBBY’S PICK: ILLINOIS

Chic-Fil-A Bowl – Atlanta, GA – December 31, 7:30pm (ESPN)
Virginia (8-4) vs. Auburn (7-5)

This isn’t a golden rule, but it probably should be: pick the SEC against the ACC EVERY time. Virginia has put together quite a shocker of a season, going 8-4 in a year where they were picked to finish towards the bottom in the conference. They were 1 win away over Virginia Tech from making the ACC Title game. That was until the Hokies invaded Charlottesville and pounded UVA 38-0. The Hoos will be the underdog in this one, and they’ve enjoyed being underestimated all season long. They’ll be in the same position against Auburn, and the Tigers have had a head-scratcher of a season coming off a National Championship. Yes, 5 starters back on offense and defense total is never an easy thing to overcome, but this team has been extremely inconsistent. One week, they’ll go on the road and beat a top 10 team in South Carolina, the next they’ll go to Fayetteville and lose by 24. Then, they come back home and beat Florida, the next they get blasted in Baton Rouge (but who hasn’t this year anyway). Inconsistencies have ruined what started off as an exciting season, but War Eagle should come away with a win in their final game. Their defense has been ridiculously hideous this season, and without offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn calling the plays, I feel like I’m trying to talk myself out of picking Auburn. But I can’t, it’s an SEC team over an overachieving ACC squad. It’s still Auburn, and it’s still a game that’s a short drive to Atlanta. ROBBY’S PICK: AUBURN

TicketCity Bowl – Dallas, TX – January 2, 12pm (ESPNU)
Houston (12-1) vs. Penn State (9-3)

After all the scandal and the controversy surrounding Penn State, I will say that I am glad to see the Nittany Lions in a bowl game. Those kids didn’t do anything to not deserve a shot at playing in the postseason, and I’m happy to see a bowl game took a chance on them. What the Nittany Lions got was maybe more than they bargained for in a lower level postseason game. Houston won’t have Kevin Sumlin roaming the sidelines in Dallas for this one, as he bolted for greener pastures at Texas A&M. Penn State has their own coaching problems with trying to find a replacement for interim coach Tom Bradley. What this game boils down to is how does Case Keenum and this team want to end what could have been a perfect season and a run to the BCS. All of that came crashing down to earth after a loss in the C-USA Championship Game to Southern Miss, so will the Cougars be motivated for this one? Sure, they may feel like they have something to prove, but they haven’t seen a defense quite like Penn State’s all season long. I’m playing the motivation factor in this game. Houston may have the better offense, and Penn State’s offense might be horri-ful (horrible & awful put together), but the Cougars don’t have the better TEAM in this case. And they don’t have the right mindset for this game. ROBBY’S PICK: PENN STATE

Outback Bowl – Tampa, FL – January 2, 1pm (ABC)
Michigan State (10-3) vs. Georgia (10-3)

Now we start getting to the goodins my friends. A good solid match-up in Tampa on the day after New Year’s should be a great way to kick off 2012. Both of these teams lost in their conference championship games, and both teams will look to end the season on a high note. If you go all the way down on these teams, they are eerily similar. Both the Dawgs and Spartans: score more than 30 a game, give up less than 20 a game, throw for 255 yards per game, rush for over 140 a game, and put up more than 390 yards per game. If you ever wanted to see an even match-up from statistical categories, this one would be it. So, who’s the better team? Michigan State had a couple questionable losses during the season to Notre Dame and Nebraska, while Georgia lost their first 2 to Boise State and South Carolina before rattling off 10 in a row going into the SEC Title game. Now, I haven’t seen Michigan State in person but watching Big Ten teams this year, the Spartans will want to make the Bulldogs one-dimensional. Georgia is at their best when they can set up the run with Isaiah Crowell and give Aaron Murray time to find his deep, DEEP list of receivers and tight ends all across the field. If the Spartan defense can do that, they’ll have a shot here. What I haven’t mentioned is how good the UGA defense has been this season. How good you may be wondering? Before the LSU game, the Dawgs hadn’t surrendered more than 28 points in any of their 10 victories. They also managed to put up over 20 in 9 of those 10 W’s. If Mark Dantonio’s defense can keep up with Aaron Murray on offense, then Sparty will have a shot. But I’ve seen Georgia first hand, and when they get the momentum on their side, look out. Cause that defense won’t give up many on the scoreboard with 2 first team All-Americans. ROBBY’S PICK: GEORGIA

Capital One Bowl – Orlando, FL – January 2, 1pm (ESPN)
Nebraska (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)

This will be a new trip for the Cornhuskers to make, as their new Big Ten bowl affiliations

The Citrus Bowl is a dump of a stadium, but the game never disappoints.

has them in Orlando for the first time in school history. Typically, Nebraska likes to make their living in Texas and California during bowl season, and it’s the first time we’ve seen the Huskers in Florida since Ahman Green ran wild in the 1998 Orange Bowl. I wouldn’t expect anyone to run wild on the South Carolina defense this time around in the Sunshine State. Nebraska has been one of those head-scratching teams that we’ve talked about in this bowl breakdown. They nearly got blown out on their homefield by Ohio State and yet a couple weeks later, they get dominated by Michigan, come home and lose to Northwestern. South Carolina has been more clean cut, although they still rue the first Saturday in October losing to Auburn at home. But it’s still a welcome site for South Carolina fans to see their precious Gamecocks in a big time bowl showdown. The defense will have plenty of time to prepare for Taylor Martinez and the run-orientated offense the Huskers bring to the table, and Connor Shaw has been an excellent fill in for the dismissed Stephen Garcia at QB. Marcus Lattimore won’t be fit for the Gamecocks, but their big play receiver Alshon Jeffery will. It’ll be fun to see how he goes up against a strong Nebraska secondary, and I’m siding with Cocky in this one. Too many questions that are left to be answered with the Huskers. ROBBY’S PICK: SOUTH CAROLINA

Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl – Jacksonville, FL – January 2, 1pm (ESPN2)
Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6)

I never thought we’d see these two teams play again so soon, and I surely never thought they’d be meeting as .500 record teams hoping to stay above that mark to end the season. Oh, and let’s address the 2,000 pound gorilla in the room: Urban Meyer is the new Ohio State head coach. How irony continues to amaze me. To the game at hand, you’re talking about two anemic offenses that have suffered under poor quarterback play and weak offensive lines. At least Ohio State has had a decent rushing attack, Florida has scored most of their points in the past 3 games on special teams. The big question coming into this one for the Mighty Gators is this: will John Brantley be available? Florida fans will be happy to know he is, and they won’t have to witness Jacoby Brissett’s 46.2 completition percentage for the once Charlie Weis-coached offense. Not anymore, as the big man has darted for Kansas. I doubt it makes much of an impact, as you can see…Florida couldn’t do much with him on offense to start with. Maybe this is the fresh start they need. Either way, you’ll get to see how Braxton Miller does against a defense that may finally have the speed to keep up with him. If Miller can be an efficient passer, the Buckeyes have a chance. My gut tells me to take Florida, but I’m not about to take an SEC team over a Big Ten team…wait, I already did that. Ehh who cares, I’m not taking Florida over Ohio State and this is the perfect time to SLAY the Gators and gain revenge from the ‘07 National Title game. Cause we all know a win in a meaningless bowl game like this one will silence the critics that continue to haunt Ohio State after the 2007 BCS Title game. ROBBY’S PICK: OHIO STATE

AT&T Cotton Bowl – Jerry World – January 6, 8pm (FOX)
Kansas State (10-2) vs. Arkansas (10-2)

Love me some Collin Klein.

Before we make the jump into the BCS, we take a look at those other bowl games. We roll on with a stellar ball game that I won’t be missing. I’ve been hard on Kansas State all season long, waiting for the Wildcats to slip up or shoot themselves in the foot. I don’t know what sort of magic fairy dust Bill Snyder uses to turn his K-State teams into world beaters, but it continues to work. For my money, Bill Snyder is the Coach of the Year in college football. Who had the Wildcats with a winning record at the start of the season let alone winning 10 games and playing in the Cotton Bowl? Didn’t think so, I know I didn’t. This one though may be K-State’s steepest test. Luckily for the Wildcats, they’ve seen passing attacks that are similar to Tyler Wilson and the Razorbacks in the Big 12, but not with this much speed all across the field. Jarius Wright and Joe Adams are two guys you don’t want to see get their hands on the football. If they do, watch out. Arkansas’ defense has been questionable all season long, but when they’ve needed to get stops in big spots, they’ve pulled through.  Arkansas will be the heavy favorite in this one, and rightly so. They already know what it’s like to beat a Big 12 team inside the Cowboys Stadium, so why not do it again? I will say this: Collin Klein is one of my favorite players in college football this season. Toughest kid I’ve seen all year on the gridiron. He COULD will this team to victory, but there’s too much talent for Pig Sooey to lose this one. My heart says K-State but my mind says Arkansas. Mind over matter, or whatever that saying is. ROBBY’S PICK: ARKANSAS

BBVA Compass Bowl – Birmingham, AL – January 7, 1pm (ESPN)
SMU (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)

Here’s another one of those games where irony plays a big part in the build-up of this one. So let’s flash back 2 weeks ago…SMU head coach June Jones was in line to become the next head coach of Arizona State after the Sun Devils had fired Dennis Erickson. Arizona State then rescinded the offer saying Jones ‘took too long to decide’. Or in other words: ‘you’re too old and we don’t want you’. So, what does Arizona State do? They go out and poach Todd Graham from Pitt. Which means the Panthers will be onto their 3rdhead coach in the span of 12 months when they hire their new head man. What a joke college football is sometime. To the game…Birmingham is a pretty familiar place for Pitt to play; this is their second straight season playing at Legion Field in the postseason. And let me be frank: that’s not a special honor to have. I had the distinct pleasure of driving to

Dutchcake.

Birmingham for the UAB-Mississippi State game earlier this year. It’s a boring drive, and a boring, outdated stadium. Cheers to you SMU and Pitt. Anyway, I’d be inclined to take SMU because of their more stable situation at their head coaching position, but I truly believe Pitt is mad and will play with angry energy on January 7th against the Mustangs. They have plenty of time to prepare for June Jones’ run and shoot offense, and their defense isn’t that bad. Plus, I think this may have a good effect on the program. Todd Graham was a dutchcake, there’s no 2 ways about it. It’s addition by subtraction, and I’d love to see Pitt win a bowl game. ROBBY’S PICK: PITTSBURGH

GoDaddy.com Bowl – Mobile, AL – January 8, 9pm (ESPN)
Arkansas State (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3)

Yeah, two 10 win teams from non-AQ conferences are dueling, nice. If I don’t see Danica Patrick in the 3 hours I plan on spending watching this game, I will be disappointed. One way or another, I better see her. The game though should be an interesting affair. Arkansas State will have a new head coach in former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, and they’ll also be feeling pretty good about themselves: they are the first team in Sun Belt history to win 10 games. Nice. Arkansas State is no slouch, let me be real. They didn’t win 10 games because they were lucky; the Red Wolves are a solid team. But they are running into a Northern Illinois squad that can put up TONS of points and is coming off a 20 point deficit to beat Ohio in the MAC Title Game. If Arkansas State can find a way to slow down Chandler Harnish (which, may I add, no one has) then they’ll have a shot. After all, their defense has only given up 19 points per game. But NIU is on a hot streak right now, and they have a stellar offense that will be tough to keep up with. ROBBY’S PICK: NORTHERN ILLINOIS

The Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA – January 2, 5pm (ESPN)
Wisconsin (11-2) vs. Oregon (11-2)

Don't let the uniforms fool you...

And here…we…go. The BCS, or as I like to call it: the Big Crap Shoot. We’ll get to that momentarily, but first, we start with the Granddaddy of them All. Pasadena will host two schools that are beginning to make the Rose Bowl their second home come bowl season. It’s Wisconsin’s second straight trip to southern California, while this is Oregon’s 2nd time in Pasadena in the last 3 years (they were in Glendale for the National Title last season). Wisconsin is a couple fluke plays from probably playing for a National Championship, while Oregon has no one to blame but themselves after losing to USC at home in the 11th game of the season. LaMichael James came out earlier on Tuesday and said he will forgo his senior season and make himself available for the NFL Draft, which means he’s going to mean business on January 2nd. He has to show the NFL scouts he can hold up for a full 60 minutes with that elbow injury that continues to bother him. With him in the backfield are a couple speedsters: Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas. Thomas has been out of this world as a freshman, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards while also rushing for the 3rd most yards on the team. The defense will be the big question mark…how will their front 7 handle the ground and pound Badger rushing attack? No one has been able to slow down Montee Ball and James White this year, you certainly can’t expect Oregon’s lean front 7 to do so. On the other hand, how will the Badgers be able to hang with the Ducks’ speed on offense? It really goes both ways. The Badgers haven’t seen an offense like Oregon’s all season long in the Big Ten, while the Ducks haven’t seen an offense like Wisconsin’s all season long in the Pac-12. What’s the key factor here you may be asking? Special teams and turnovers. In big games such as this, the team that forces turnovers and makes plays in the special teams gets the victories. Wisconsin is 5th best in the country in turnover margin, Oregon is 17th. Push. Wisconsin struggles on stopping opponents in the return game, yet they are deadly in their return game with Jared Abbrederis and James White. Well what about Oregon and Kenjon Barner? Good gracious, who am I going to choose?!? When it comes down to it, for some reason, Chip Kelly’s offensive brilliance is diminished come postseason time. Wisconsin isn’t happy about losing last year to TCU in Pasadena, and they are going to exact some revenge on the Ducks. Many will want to take Oregon with their flashy offense and uniforms, but give me Montee Ball and the Badgers. ROBBY’S PICK: WISCONSIN

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Glendale, AZ – January 2, 8:30pm (ESPN)
Stanford (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-1)

And now we come to those teams that were snubbed for Alabama in the National Championship. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in college football. I just don’t agree they should be playing again for a National Championship. We’ll get to that here shortly, now to the game at hand. It’ll be the final game for Stanford QB Andrew Luck and another chance to prove why he’ll be taken #1 in the 2012 NFL Draft. He’s got it all, and then some. He’s also facing a defense that has had its fair share of stopping teams this season. Then again, Oklahoma State’s offense is really

Better to be Luck than Good?

freaking good. And yes, that was the first time I used the word freaking in this bowl breakdown. That should give you all you need to know. Whoever is operating the scoreboard will be getting a workout Monday night in Glendale. Don’t be surprised if this game gets in the 30’s by halftime and ends up running into the low 50’s on the scoreboard. Stanford puts up nearly 44 a game while Oklahoma State is just below scoring 50 a game. Wowzers. So who’s going to win? You’d be smart making the argument that it’s Andrew Luck’s last game, of course the Cardinal are going to prevail. The Pokes have had numerous problems dealing with tight ends this year and the Cardinal boast one of the best in the country in Coby Fleener. What about Oklahoma State and their dazzling receiver Justin Blackmon? There’s your key right there my friends…#81 in orange. Stanford has the 78th ranked passing defense in the country. Sure, their front 7 has been superb in stopping the run this season, but the Pokes would much rather beat you through the air than letting Joseph Randle break out on the ground. Brandon Weeden has better numbers than Andrew Luck, and he’s got the offensive line to back it up. So does Andrew Luck, but #12 is much more mobile than Weeden which means even though the Pokes are 12th in the nation in sacks allowed and Stanford is 4th, you gotta respect the Cowboys’ ability to protect a pocket passer. For all of those reasons, I’m going with the man that’s now 44 in Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State. So much talent on offense and it’s their first appearance in the BCS. No, it’s not the National Championship; but winning this game is much easier than beating LSU. So maybe that loss to Iowa State could be a blessing in disguise. ROBBY’S PICK: OKLAHOMA STATE

Allstate Sugar Bowl – New Orleans, LA – January 3, 8:30pm (ESPN)
Michigan (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)

That's the last trophy you're winning this season. Enjoy it.

This is the game that’s really grinding my gears. Michigan, I can understand seeing them in the BCS. They’ve been out of the spotlight for a while; a 10-win season is an exceptional accomplishment for a Wolverine team that has been down for the past few years. But Virginia Tech? REALLY? You want to know the Hokies’ best win this year? At Georgia Tech. Their 2 losses? Clemson. TWICE. By a combined 48 points. You’re telling me that a team that got sandblasted twice by the same team that got the ACC automatic birth ends up getting an at-large birth into the BCS? Does this make anyone else as mad as it’s making me right now just writing this? I’ve completely ignored every grammar rule that I learned growing up about sentences and punctuation here to rip into the BCS for selecting Virginia Tech for the Sugar Bowl. The Hokies seem to be pretty excited about it too: they still haven’t sold out their allotment of tickets. Michigan sold out their allotment in less than 48 hours. As much as every BCS game deserves to be thoroughly analyzed, this one doesn’t. Michigan’s going to win, and they’ll do it with ease. Va Tech hasn’t seen a guy like Denard Robinson or an offense like the Wolverines all season long. Sure, the Hokies are only giving up 17 points per game, but they’ll get a rude awakening once they face off with a Big Ten team that actually deserves to be in the BCS. This one should be Michigan vs. Boise State. Now THAT would have been a great game. Go Blue. ROBBY’S PICK: MICHIGAN

Discover Orange Bowl – Miami, FL – January 4, 8:30pm (ESPN)
West Virginia (9-3) vs. Clemson (10-3)

And we have come to the BCS game that many will not even watch. River Monsters is on

Love this guy. Everything that's right in college football.

Wednesdays, right? Yeah, I’ll just watch that instead. All joking aside, I’m thoroughly intrigued by this game even though it’s between two teams from underachieving football conferences. West Virginia claimed the Big East’s undeserving BCS bid once again this year (at least it’s not UConn) and I guess they are the best team in that conference. Clemson though is a team that you can see in the BCS. While the ACC didn’t have one of their better years, the Tigers were at one point contending for a BCS Title game birth. Reasonable. Sorry, I’m still worked up about seeing Virginia Tech in the BCS. Let me get my mind refocused. Okay, moving on to the business at hand. It’s the first time Clemson has made it to the Orange Bowl in 30 years and the first BCS appearance for the school. Dabo Swinney has done a phenomenal job implementing young talent and experience that has gelled well together in creating an exciting squad. Tahj Boyd, Andre Ellington, Sammy Watkins…three players that will all be back next season in Death Valley. You’ll hear from the Tigers again next year, and just maybe they may make it interesting for a birth into the BCS Championship game. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself. For West Virginia, they seem to always have a flair for the dramatics come bowl season. I counted them out against Georgia in the 2005 Sugar Bowl, they got out to a huge lead and held on. I never thought they’d stop the option attack against Georgia Tech in 2006, they did. Did anyone honestly think that the Mighty Mounts could possibly beat OU by 20 in the ’07 Fiesta Bowl? Then they follow that one up with a 1 point thriller against North Carolina in 2008. Yes, they’ve lost the last 2 seasons, but they have a history of pulling off the crazy wins. They’re 2-0 in BCS games, and they know how to win big games. This time though, they are going up against a team that is poised and focused to take them down. Clemson wants to make a statement. They want to win a BCS game. Sure, WVU does too. But Clemson has been there at the top all season long. If I had to pick a coach to start a college football team with, I’d take Dabo Swinney over anyone else. That’s why I’m taking Clemson to win; it’s good enough for me. ROBBY’S PICK: CLEMSON

Allstate BCS Championship Game – New Orleans, LA – January 9, 8:30pm (ESPN)
LSU (13-0) vs. Alabama (11-1)

They're baaaaaaack...

And finally, we’ve come to this…the National Championship. Before I go into any analysis, I want to pose this question. Here’s a scenario for you to ponder: what happens if Alabama defeats LSU in a close game, much like the 9-6 thriller in Tuscaloosa on November 5th? Does Alabama deserve the National Championship? Why doesn’t LSU win the National Championship? The only loss the Tigers will have is to Alabama in a close game on a neutral field; LSU went into Bryant-Denny and beat the Crimson Tide on their home turf. See what I’m trying to get across? I know for a FACT that LSU will still get #1 votes in the AP poll at the end of the year if said scenario goes down on January 9th. Alabama will have the crystal ball, but LSU fans will make their case they deserve the National Championship just as much as the Tide. Now, to the game…New Orleans will be absolutely ROCKING in this one. Two of the hardest hitting defenses in college football will meet in what we can only hope will have more points on the scoreboard at the end of the game than 5 field goals. I said it before talking about the November 5th Game of the Century and I’ll say it again when these two teams meet again: it’ll come down to who makes the mental mistakes. Alabama missed FOUR field goals, FOUR!!! In their loss to LSU back in early November. They also missed out on a chance inside the red zone to score the only TD only to have it taken away on a crazy interception play. LSU just wins tight games, it’s the way Les Miles has this team programmed. I can’t explain it, they just have a knack for making big plays in big games and coming up with victories. And they DON’T BEAT THEMSELVES. EVER. Alabama typically doesn’t either, but for one night on November 5th, they did…and LSU capitalized. This time around, it’s the same ol’ show once again: who makes the mistakes that costs them the game. I REALLY want to see either of the two teams go out and win the game, but it just doesn’t seem to work that way when these two sides meet. I’ve been torn for weeks on who I’m going to take in this one, and going into deeper and deeper analysis won’t do me one bit of good. It’s a gut pick when it comes down to this one, and I think Alabama has something to prove. Were the Crimson Tide better than the Tigers on November 5th? You could make the case they were. If their special teams were up to par, the Crimson Tide could have been the 13-0 team heading into New Orleans. But they still made it, and they are still 1 win away from holding the crystal ball. Nick Saban is not going to let this team lose a second time to LSU, and you know the old saying: it’s darn near impossible to beat the same team twice in 1 year. If there’s any team that can do it, it’s LSU. But I’m sticking to my guns and my gut, and I’m taking the Crimson Tide to win the 2012 BCS Championship Game. ROBBY’S NATIONAL CHAMPION PICK: ALABAMA

So there you have it, all 35 bowl games broken down in nearly 9,500 words. I’m always an open book. If you have any comments or arguments to any of my picks, shoot them my way at our email address (bhamailbag@gmail.com) or tweet me @RobbyDonoho. I’m looking forward to all of the confrontations that arise thanks to the many things I’ve made fun of or jabbed at. Fire away, and enjoy the bowl season!

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About Robby Donoho

I'm a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, majoring in Mass Communication. I currently reside in the beautiful Columbus, Mississippi as a sports anchor and reporter for WCBI-TV covering the SEC and all its glory. My sports allegiance lies with the: Colts, Cubs, Pacers, Boilermakers, Blackhawks, anyone that plays IU or Notre Dame, and USA (anything). I love watching The Office and enjoying a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with a nice, leather-bound book.
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2 Responses to The Super-Long 2012 BHA Bowl Breakdown

  1. Jack Carney says:

    Is that the first time you ever used the phrase, “Go Blue?” Shocking.

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