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December 31, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Chick-fil-A Bowl:

Chick-fil-A Bowl

#25 Auburn (7-5) vs. Virginia (8-4)

V S.

7:30 PM, ESPN, Saturday, Dec. 31, Atlanta, GA

Why Watch: Mike London’s Cavalier team made a bowl for the first time since the 2007 Gator Bowl. Auburn fell from the BCS National Championship and 14-0 season to 7-5 this season, as quarterback Cam Newton turned out to be the difference of seven wins. How the Tigers sit with a ranking in the polls right now is a big question.

Who to Watch: The focus of this Cavaliers team is its running game and the man that makes it work is junior Perry Jones. The 5-foot-8 Jones brought in 883 yards on the ground this season and added another 416 receiving. He also tallied eight total touchdowns in a shared backfield role. Sophomore Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier was counted upon having a big season and he delivered. The former five star recruit brought in 13.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks in his second season. He also tallied 44 tackles and 15 quarterback hurries.

How it’s Going Down: It’s amazing how far the Tigers fell from an undefeated 14-0 season to this year, but most of it can be placed on the quarterback position. The duties now belong to sophomore Clint Moseley and true freshman Kiehl Frazier, although neither has been able to do much of anything with the job. Ranked No. 104 in total offense, the Tigers could never really get into a winning rhythm this season. London’s Virginia team plays physical football on both sides of the ball. With the strength of the Cavaliers being their run game and with the Tigers allowing over 194 yards a game on the ground, Virginia should be able to find room to run all night long. All Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco has to do is manage the game. Pick: Virginia 31 – Auburn 17

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - AutoZone Liberty Bowl:

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Vanderbilt (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)

V S.

3:30 PM, ABC, Saturday, Dec. 31, Memphis, TN

Why Watch: Don’t reload your screen or wipe your glasses off, it really is Vanderbilt in a bowl game. The Commodores made just their fifth bowl game in school history this season, taking down Wake Forest to become bowl eligible in the final game of the year. If not for a three point loss to the Mountaineers, the Bearcats would be playing in a BCS Bowl.

Who to Watch: Cincy defensive tackle Derek Wolfe didn’t get a whole lot of recognition this season, but he put together one of the best seasons an interior lineman can have. The senior brought in 64 tackles, including 19.5 for a loss and 9.5 sacks. He also forced and recovered two fumbles each. The Commodores are where they are because of their running game and running back Zac Stacy. The junior ran for 1,136 yards this season and 13 touchdowns. In games he went over 100, Vandy went 4-1.

How it’s Going Down: The Bearcats welcome back starting quarterback Zach Collaros, who missed the last three games of the year with an injury. Collaros can be a difference maker for the Bearcats, when he’s throwing it to the right team that is. Running back Isaiah Pead is the focus of this Cincy team, though, with over 1,100 yards on the ground this season. Led by Jordan Rodgers – younger brother of Aaron, the Commodores have been kept games close all season long. Relying on the running game today against a Cincinnati team that ranks first in the nation in tackles for loss a game (8.8) and No. 6 in rush defense is a bold strategy for the Commodores to come out with a win, though. Like they have so many times this season, a late minuet loss can be expected. Pick: Cincinnati 34 – Vanderbilt 28

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Hyundai Sun Bowl:

Hyundai Sun Bowl

Utah (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (8-4)

V S.

2 PM, CBS, Saturday, Dec. 31, El Paso, TX

Why Watch: Averaging over 316 yards a game on the ground, Georgia Tech sits as one of the best rushing teams in the country. As it happens to be, the Utes rank seventh in the country in yards given up on the ground a game, with just 97 yards allowed a game. They’ve given up just 6 rushing scores all season.

Who to Watch: The Yellow Jackets don’t pass a whole lot, and that might still be an overstatement. They’ve completed just 71 passes all season, but when they do it’s usually to 6-foot-5 wideout Stephen Hill. With just 26 grabs on the season, Hill has amounted 785 yards and four scores, good for a 30.2 yard average. For the Utes, watch a pair of defensive lineman, and brothers, who will be counted upon heavily today. Joe and Dave Kruger start along the defensive line for the Utes and together brought in 57 tackles and four sacks on the season. Utah will need a big day out of both.

How it’s Going Down: The Utes first season of PAC-12 football didn’t exactly go as planned, but a switch at quarterback to Jon Hays got them to where they are today. After throwing seven interceptions in his first four games, Hays has turned the season around with zero interceptions in his last five games. For Georgia Tech, it’s the same ole story. Run, run, run then run some more. Quarterback Tevin Washington has accounted for 24 touchdowns on the season, playing consistent football. The strength of this Utah team is physical run stopping play, though, and defense wins games. The Tech running game will be out-shined by the Utes and 1,400 yard rusher John White IV today. Pick: Utah 26 – Georgia Tech 21

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas:

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Northwestern (6-6)

V S.

12 PM, ESPN, Saturday, Dec. 31, Houston, TX

Why Watch: The Aggies had National Title hopes heading into the season, but will need to settle on the Car Care Bowl. Northwestern rallied the second half of the season finishing with a 4-1 record down the stretch. The Aggies will play their first game under interim head coach Tim DeRuyter after the firing of Mike Sherman.

Who to Watch: Some might compare Northwestern wideout Jeremy Ebert to a Wes Welker type of player, but he’s more of a deep threat than he’s given credit for. As a senior this season, Ebert brought in 71 catches to go with 1,025 yards and 11 touchdowns. The loss of A&M linebacker Von Miller to the NFL was sure to hurt the Aggies defense this season, but linebacker Sean Porter made dealing with the loss a bit easier. Porter finished second on the team with 73 stops, including 16 for a loss. He also led the team in sacks with 8.5.

How it’s Going Down: The Aggies have a few weighted statistics this season. They nearly rank dead last in the country in pass defense, but they’ve faced four of the top six passing teams in the country this season. They also give up only just over 100 yards a game in rush defense, but they really haven't faced teams that rely on the run. Behind the leadership of Pat Fitzgerald, coaching won’t be a problem for the Wildcats. Playing consistent football will be, however. The Wildcats beat just one team all season that had more than four wins. Because of the Aggies ability to score nearly 40 points a game behind the efforts of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, A&M should walk out with a winning record on the season in their own backyard. Pick: Texas A&M 32 – Northwestern 21

December 30, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Insight Bowl:

Insight Bowl

#14 Oklahoma (9-3) vs. Iowa (7-5)

V S.

10 PM, ESPN, Friday, Dec. 30, Tempe, AZ

Why Watch: Tradition goes a long way in this one. Both teams are known for their hard-nosed style of play, and each comes with a history to uphold. Watch and see how the Sooners react after their season closing 44-10 loss at Oklahoma State. With Matt Barkley staying at USC, this could be Sooners quarterback Landry Jones’ last game.

Who to Watch: The Hawkeyes have playmakers to go around on the offensive side of the ball, but they’ve got the same on defense. Defensive lineman Broderick Binns capped off his senior campaign with 59 tackles, including 12 behind the line and five sacks. Binns also contributed eight pass breakups this season. Since the loss of standout receiver Ryan Broyles in the ninth game of the year, the Sooners have struggled to find a consistent deep threat. Sophomore wideout Kenny Stills has big play potential, though. With 818 yards and eight scores on the year, Stills needs to become the big play wideout OU has missed over the last three games.

How it’s Going Down: The Sooners went from preseason No. 1 with National Championship aspirations to the Insight Bowl. They can’t let that be on their minds; however, this Iowa team is too good to give an inch. OU still has its big play offense, as they sit ranked No. 4 in the country in total offense. With quarterback James Vandenberg and running back Marcus Coker leading the offense, Iowa has taken a scoring approach to the season. They’ve gone for over 30 six times this season. They’ll need every bit to hang with the Sooners, too. A sour taste has to linger in the mouths of Oklahoma’s players after their closing week loss to rival OK State. Because of that, I’d expect nothing but a standout game from Jones and OU. Pick: Oklahoma 38 – Iowa 31

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl:


Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Wake Forest (6-6) vs. Mississippi State (6-6)

V S.

6:40 PM, ESPN, Friday, Dec. 30, Nashville, TN

Why Watch: Watch two teams fight it out for a winning season. One of the two is walking away with one more loss than wins on the season. If Mississippi State wins, it just might send head coach Dan Mullen into another gig. He might not get another chance at a big-time job.

Who to Watch: Each team has a pair of offensive playmakers the average fan probably hasn’t heard of. For Wake, its wideout Chris Givens. The junior brought in 74 catches on the season for 1,276 yards and nine scores. His most impressive statistic, though, is his 17.2 yards a catch. Without running back Vic Ballard, the Bulldogs offense wouldn’t be much of anything. Ballard rushed for 1,009 yards this season, and eight touchdowns. In two years at Mississippi State, Ballard has 29 total touchdowns.

How it’s Going Down: This one could get a little sloppy; a lot like both seasons for the two have gone. The Demon Deacons began the season on a 5-2 mark, only to finish 1-4. For Mississippi State, just two wins came against bowl subdivision teams. They beat just one team all season with a winning record (Louisiana Tech). The Bulldogs offense is all about Ballard. He’ll get a hefty dose of carries in his final collegiate game, against a Wake defense that gives up an average of 162 yards a game. While the Bulldogs are fare from a stout defense, their No. 23 rated pass defense counters Wake’s offensive focus better than anything else. In a game like this, coaching can go a far way, too, which is why Mullen should come out on top. Pick: Mississippi State 26 – Wake Forest 20

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - New Era Pinstripe Bowl:

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6)

V S.

3:20 PM, ESPN, Friday, Dec. 30, Bronx, NY

Why Watch: The second annual Pinstripe Bowl is played where the real pinstripe players play, Yankee Stadium. Anytime there’s a football game on an oddly shaped baseball diamond, it’s worth watching. Check out one of the nation’s best, and unknown, defenses as well, in Rutgers. The Cyclones boast one of the better linebacker duos in the country.

Who to Watch: The Scarlet Knights don’t put together a whole lot of offense, but when they do it comes from Sanu. Junior receiver Mohamed Sanu became a complete wideout for the Knights this season, bringing in 109 catches for 1,144 yards and seven scores. Sanu accounted for over a third of the Scarlet Knights offensive production this year. All-Big 12 Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott received all the attention heading into the season, but it was fellow All-Big 12 linebacker A.J. Klein who stole the show this season. Klein brought in 101 stops, with 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. The junior also returned an interception for a touchdown for the third time in his career.

How it’s Going Down: The Knights don’t like to let opponents to score on them; in fact, it appears to be personal. In seven games this season the Scarlet Knights have held opponents to 17 or fewer points. The problem is that one of those games was a loss, and two others were overtime victories. If not for a pair of three game win streaks out of the Cyclones, including one of the biggest upsets of the year in an overtime win over Oklahoma State, Iowa State would be sitting at home watching. The Cyclones made a mid season switch to freshman Jared Barnett at quarterback, but he was still only able to muster a 3-4 record. Facing a team that has picked off 17 passes and allowed just eight passing touchdowns on the season won’t be an easy situation to walk into for the freshman. Rutgers quarterbacks Gary Nova and Chas Dodd should both see time, and should give the defense just enough to pull out yet another close win in their backyard style of play. Pick: Rutgers 22 – Iowa State 17

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl:

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

Tulsa (8-4) vs. BYU (9-3)

V S.

12 PM, ESPN, Friday, Dec. 30, Fort Worth, Texas

Why Watch: Both BYU and Tulsa rallied to get to this point in the season. The Cougars started 1-3, while the Golden Hurricane began the year on a 1-2 mark. Each had embarrassing losses under their belts, looking like anything but a bowl team. For BYU, it’s the beginning of life after former No. 1 quarterback prospect Jake Heaps.

Who to Watch: The Golden Hurricane are known for their offensive firepower, thanks in part to senior quarterback G.J. Kinne. It’s a pair of linebackers that will stand out the most, however. Senior Curnelius Arnick and sophomore Shawn Jackson combined for 234 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions this season. Both dominated the Hawaii Bowl against UTEP last season and should do the same here. For the Cougars, watch future first round draft pick Matt Reynolds. The senior offensive tackle has been a four year starter for the Cougars, making the Mountain West All-Conference team each season.

How it’s Going Down: The Golden Hurricane average over 450 yards of offense a game. Running backs Ja’Terian Douglas and Trey Watts have each run for over 840 yards on the season, Douglas with an 8.2 average on 108 carries, giving the offense excellent consistency behind the arm of Kinne. For BYU, It’s all quarterback Riley Nelson’s show. The junior from Logan, UT put together his best game as a Cougar in the final game of the season against Hawaii, passing for 363 yards and three scores, but most importantly no turnovers. The Golden Hurricane has a knack for forcing turnovers on defense, however, especially interceptions where they’ve picked off 16 thus far. In a high scoring game, like this should be, turnovers can be the key. Kinne will end his career at Tulsa with a win against a quality BYU team because of it. Pick: Tulsa 37 – BYU 27

December 29, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Valero Alamo Bowl:

Valero Alamo Bowl

#12 Baylor (9-3) vs. Washington (7-5)

V S.

9 PM, ESPN, Thursday, Dec. 29, San Antonio, TX

Why Watch: You’ll get to see college football’s most exciting player in Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, rightfully so this season’s Heisman trophy winner. There should be a lot of points on the scoreboard. Both teams average over 31 points a game. The Alamo Bowl is always the starting point for the “big bowls” to begin, too.

Who to Watch: Griffin III won’t be hard to miss as he’ll most likely account for 80% of the Bears offense. Because of that, keep an eye on Bears linebacker Elliot Coffey on the defensive side of the ball. Coffey did a little of everything for Baylor as a senior, finishing second on the team in tackles (99), had two interceptions and two forced fumbles and broke up six passes. With so much attention on Griffin III in this one, Washington standout running back Chris Polk heads in a bit overlooked. Polk brought in his third straight 1,000+ yard season, with 1,341 yards and 11 scores on the ground.

How it’s Going Down: It’s reasonable to wish for a lot of points in this one and have that wish come true. They both score a lot, but they also both give up nearly just as many points as score. Few teams have been able to slow down the rushing and passing attack of the Bears this season, mostly in part to Griffin III. With 46 total touchdowns this season, the Heisman winner has harassed everyone he's faced. Washington surprised everyone with a physical performance against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last season, but I wouldn’t expect the same here. The Huskies have just two quality wins on the season and appear another year off from taking the next step. Husky quarterback Keith Price will keep Washington in the game, but it’s Griffin III walking out with more hardware in the end. Pick: Baylor 45 – Washington 34

December 28, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl:

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl

#24 Texas (7-5) vs. California (7-5)

V S.

8 PM, ESPN, Wednesday, Dec. 28, San Diego, CA

Why Watch: Both are back to the postseason after a one year hiatus. The Longhorns and Golden Bears are currently on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as momentum goes. Texas dropped three of their last four games, Cal on the other hand won three of their last four, while only losing to No. 4 Stanford by three.

Who to Watch: This one will be all about the running backs. Texas freshman Malcolm Brown returns to full strength after missing three games and playing through two with a turf toe injury. Brown brought in 635 yards and five scores in his first seven games of the year, including a 135 yard, two touchdown performance against Oklahoma State. One of the more overlooked runners in the country, Cal’s Isi Sofele turned in a 1,270 yard season and is still an unknown. The 5-foot-8 junior averaged 142 yards and 6.5 yards a carry over the last four games of the season.

How it’s Going Down: As much as this one is going to be about the running games of each team, the final game note will be determined by whichever quarterback plays better off the play-action pass and doesn’t force the ball into bad situations. The Longhorns will likely play two quarterbacks in sophomore Case McCoy and freshman David Ash. McCoy started the last three, but threw four interceptions in the final game of the year. For Cal, junior Zach Maynard will be in charge. Unlike McCoy, Maynard has big play wideouts in Keenan Allen (1,261 yards) and Marvin Jones (758 yards) to bail him out of tough situations. The Longhorns are still an extremely young team, and a young team playing in their first bowl. In their home state, the Bears get the upset and bounce back season. Pick: California 30 – Texas 20

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman:

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman

Toledo (8-4) vs. Air Force (7-5)

V S.

4:30 PM, ESPN, Wednesday, Dec. 28, Washington, D.C.

Why Watch: The Military Bowl turned out to be a perfect fit: the Rockets versus men who fly giant rockets. It’s always fun to watch old style football preformed to perfection, which is exactly what the Falcons run with their option attack. Air Force averages over 320 yards a game on the ground. Toledo is as hot as anyone right now, having won seven of their last eight games.

Who to Watch: That’s an easy one when talking about the Rockets. Junior wideout and return specialist Eric Page has been a playmaker since setting foot on the Toledo campus. This season Page brought in 112 catches for 1,123 yards, his third straight season in which he surpassed the 1,000 yard mark. Against Ohio State, Page had 12 receptions for 145 yards and two scores. For Air Force, keep an eye on outside linebacker Alex Means. The 6-foot-5 junior finished third on the team in tackles with 71, including nine for a loss and first with six sacks.

How it’s Going Down: Toledo isn’t going to beat themselves with mistakes and turnovers. An extremely disciplined team, the Rockets rank No. 3 in the country in turnover margin. Ranked second in the country in rush yards per game at 320.3, the Falcons offense can be near impossible to slow down when it’s rolling. Led by senior quarterback Tim Jefferson, the Falcons have made a bowl for the fifth straight season. They’ve won three of their last four, much in part to their option attack. Toledo has big play potential, offensively averaging 42 points a game, but they’ve yet to face the option this season. The Falcons will get their third straight bowl victory thanks in part to their ground game. Pick: Air Force 28 – Toledo 23

December 27, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Belk Bowl:

Belk Bowl

Louisville (7-5) vs. North Carolina State (7-5)

VS.

8 PM, ESPN, Tuesday, Dec. 27, Charlotte, N.C.

Why Watch: Both teams squeezed their way into the postseason, the Cardinals winning five of their last six and N.C. State pulling off two straight victories to end the season. Tune in to watch defense. The Cardinals, led by former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, have been carried by defensive performances this season. The Wolfpack boast some of the nation’s top individual defensive players.

Who to Watch: Because both teams are about defense, that’s where you’ll find the game changers. For the Cardinals, It won’t be hard to miss senior linebacker Dexter Heyman. The hometown product led the team in tackles (83), tackles for loss (15.5), interceptions (3) and finished tied for second in sacks (4). For NC State, it’s 6-foot-3 corner and Thorpe Award finalist, David Amerson. The sophomore led the nation in interceptions with 11 and tied for fifth with 16 passes broken up.

How it’s Going Down: The Wolfpack clearly appear to be the more rounded team heading into this one. Quarterback Mike Glennon has been a strong contributor at times this season, with a victory over then No. 7 Clemson and a six touchdown performance in the last game of the season against Maryland on his resume. The Cardinals essentially bring a freshman led team, including at the quarterback position where Teddy Bridgewater has manned the position throughout the season. Both schools brought in bowl victories last season, but expect Tom O’Brien’s veteran led team to overcome a young Louisville lineup. It’s also not farfetched to expect another interception or two out of Amerson up against Bridgewater. Pick: North Carolina State 27 – Louisville 16

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Little Caesars Pizza Bowl:

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

VS.

4:30 PM, ESPN, Tuesday, Dec. 27, Detroit, MI

Why Watch: Doesn’t the Pizza Bowl sound tasty? A bit unhealthy maybe, but it’s always exciting when a MAC team gets a shot to take down a Big Ten team, as many of Western’s players may have been passed up by Big Ten schools. The Boilermakers look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Tune in to see one of the best passing combo’s in the country in the Bronco’s Alex Carder and Jordan White.

Who to Watch: Western Michigan wideout Jordan White is a once in a decade small school wideout. The sixth-year senior and multiple record setter was named a consensus All-American this season after bringing in 127 catches for 1,646 yards and 16 scores. White will be on display all night in Detroit. For Purdue, watch defensive tackle Kawann Short. The junior has been a lone bright spot for the Boilermakers, racking up 53 tackles, 17 for a loss and 6.5 sacks on the season.

How it’s Going Down: It’s Purdue’s first trip to the postseason since their last visit to Detroit in 2007, in the Motor City Bowl. The Boilermakers then beat Central Michigan 51-48. Western has been the more consistent team this season, averaging better than 35 points a game, although they give up nearly just as much. Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush has yet to throw for over 200 yards since the opening week of the season, not leaving a whole lot for the Bronco’s to shut down. Having faced two Big Ten teams’ already in Michigan and Illinois, WMU knows the level they’ll have to play at to win. Few know of the No. 8 ranked pass combo heading into this one, but Carder and White should become household names in their final game, and biggest win, of 2011. Pick: Western Michigan 34 – Purdue 26

December 24, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Game Picks - Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Southern Miss (11-2) vs. Nevada (7-5)

V S.

8 PM, ESPN, Saturday, Dec. 24, Honolulu, HI

Why Watch: Southern Miss looks for its first 12 win season in school history. The Eagles have four victories over bowl teams this season, including wins over Virginia and then No. 6 Houston. Catch a peak at Nevada’s high powered rushing attack. The Wolf Pack rush for 251 yards a game and bring in three players with at least 650 yards and a 5.5 average between the three. While the rest of the country might have an average temperature in the 30’s, game time temp is set around 75 in Honolulu. Feel comfortable knowing at least some are warm.

Who to Watch: Keep an eye on a matchup in the passing game. Nevada wideout Rishard Matthews brought in 91 catches to go with 1,364 yards through the air this season. Matthews has also twice gone over 200 yards receiving this year. Stopping Matthews will be in the hands of stellar cornerback duo Deron Wilson and Marquese Wheaton. The two combined for seven interceptions and 29 passes broken up on the season.

How it’s Going Down: A classic offense vs. defense battle. The Wolf Pack rank No. 5 in the country in total offense, while the Golden Eagles bring in a defense that holds the No. 9 ranked pass efficiency defense and averages 7.3 tackles for loss a game. It’s unclear who will be the starter at quarterback for the Wolf Pack as both Cody Fajardo and Tyler Lantrip head in questionable. Whoever plays, they’re going to be harassed. While Southern Miss averages over 37 points a game, it’s the defense that has won them games this season. Defensive standouts Jamie Collins and Cordarro Law – 37 tackles for loss between the two of them, will make the difference in Hawaii. Pick: Southern Miss 40 – Nevada 23

December 22, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Game Picks - MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

#11 Boise State (11-1) vs. Arizona State (6-6)

V S.

8 PM, ESPN, Thursday, Dec. 22, Las Vegas, NV

Why Watch: Say goodbye to one of college football’s most prolific quarterbacks, ever. Boise quarterback Kellen Moore will play his final collegiate game Thursday, leaving the game with NCAA records for yards, touchdowns and most importantly wins. Watch and see if ASU can get back on their feet after losing four straight to end the year.

Who to Watch: It’s clear Moore will be on center stage all night for the Broncos, but watch who’s protecting Moore. Offensive tackle Nate Potter was named a consensus All-American this season and is considered one of the top offensive tackle prospects for the NFL Draft. For ASU, watch another top draft prospect in linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Only a junior, Burfict led the team in tackles (68), sacks (5) and tied for the team in tackles for loss (7).

How it’s Going Down: Heading into the season, Arizona State was considered a favorite to take the PAC-12 South division. For Boise State, National Title game consideration was still being debated. To say that the MAACO Bowl is a disappointment for both is a bit of an understatement. The Broncos are still the same old team, minus the ability to hit field goals. The Sun Devils are still looking for consistency. When ASU is on, 6-foot-8 quarterback Brock Osweiler and the offense can score with anyone in college football. The problem has been on the defensive side of the ball, where ASU ranks No. 107 in the country in pass defense. Moore will get his 50th collegiate victory in convincing fashion. Pick: Boise State 42 – Arizona State 23

December 21, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Game Picks - San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

#18 TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)

V S.

9 PM, ESPN, Wednesday, Dec. 21, San Diego, CA

Why Watch: Everyone loves a good upset and this one has the makings of shocker. The Horned Frogs may not have made the waves they did last season, but they’re still a tough and gritty football team. Both the Bulldogs and Horned Frogs finished out the 2011 season on seven game winning streaks. One of those streaks ends Wednesday.

Who to Watch: Watch a pair of dominating defensive players. For Tech, its 5-foot-11, 250-pound wrecking ball, Adrien Cole. The senior linebacker led the team in tackles with 120, including 13 behind the line. For TCU, defensive end Sansly Maponga brought in a breakout sophomore season. With 51 tackles and nine sacks on the season, Maponga has a bright future in Fort Worth.

How it’s Going Down: There’s no denying the Bulldogs had a phenomenal season. With a win over TCU, they will have brought in as many wins this season as they did in the previous two. While there may not have been the same amount of buzz surrounding the Frogs as there was last year, they’ve still put together a more than respectable season. The offense ranks ninth in the country scoring at 41.7 points a game, while also backed by 210 yards on the ground an outing. While this one has upset special written all over it, TCU’s disappointment of going from the Rose to the Poinsettia Bowl still shouldn’t send them home empty handed. The Bulldogs will compete, but won’t have enough offense in the end. Pick: TCU 38 – Louisiana Tech 27

December 20, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Game Picks - Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg

Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)

V S.

8 PM, ESPN, Tuesday, Dec. 20, St. Petersburg, FL

Why Watch: C’mon, It’s the Beef Bowl! Get a look at one of the top up and coming young coaches in the business. FIU head coach Mario Cristobal has taken the Panthers to their second bowl game ever, in as many years. A BCS level gig is not far down the line for Cristobal. Also, watch if you like speed. Both teams have track speed players on both sides of the ball.

Who to Watch: It’s not often small school teams feature early round NFL Draft talent, but both FIU and Marshall have just that. For the Panthers, it’s dynamic wideout T.Y. Hilton. The senior has been a four year playmaker in the receiving and return game, bringing in 950 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns this season. For the Herd, defensive end Vinny Curry closed out his senior campaign with 11 sacks, after 12 last season. Curry also forced five fumbles and blocked three kicks.

How it’s Going Down: Ranked No. 101 in total offense in the country, the Herd struggle to put up points, having scored over 28 points just twice on the season. The Panthers have plenty of offensive firepower with Hilton and 1,100 yard rusher Kedrick Rhodes being their most dangerous. If FIU gets the running game going with Rhodes, look for big plays out of Hilton in the passing game. Seniors in key positions and a home crowd feel will give the Panthers enough to get past a rising, and young, Marshall team. It may just be Cristobal’s last win as FIU’s coach. Pick: Florida International 31 – Marshall 17

All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.