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Fearless Rick's 2010-11 College Football Bowl Games Week 1 Picks

Rick Gagliano | December 18-24, 2010

All times Eastern - Click here for BCS Bowl games

December 18, 2010

New Mexico Bowl, Texas El Paso vs. BYU (-12, 50), 2:00 pm, ESPN - This appears to be a very tough pick, as UTEP has lost five of their last six games, after a 5-1 start. Mid-season injuries to a few key offensive players caused the sudden downturn, but four of those five late losses were on the road, and one was a wipeout by powerhouse Arkansas. The 31-28 loss at Tulsa may indicate this team is back on track, also the Nov. 6 win over SMU (28-14) was a nice surprise.

BYU appears to be going in the opposite direction, with a 2-5 start and a 4-1 finish. Their final game, a 17-16 loss at Utah, ended a four-game win streak and the offense really got cranking in wins over Mountain West opponents, Wyoming, UNLV, Colorado State and New Mexico, though those teams were a combined 9-40 on the season. One same opponent: BYU topped New Mexico 40--7 at home, while the Miners beat NM, 38-20, on the road.

Expect BYU to come out gunning here, but the UTEP defense to be prepared for an early onslaught. A few turnovers could change everything. Teams are pretty evenly matched, statistically, though one could argue that BYU played a tougher schedule. Tough not to take the points.

Prediction: Cougars 34 Miners 27

Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois (-3, 60) vs. Fresno State, 5:30 pm, ESPN - Fresno State finished its regular season at 8-4 in the very heady WAC conference behind Nevada, Boise State and Hawaii, the last of which made three teams from the WAC in the various national Top 25 rankings. While Fresno last to both Hawaii and Boise St., they handed Nevada their only loss of the season, 35-34, at home. They are a solid football team with a history of bowl success. The backfield combination of QB Ryan Colburn (20 TDs, 9 INTs) and Robbie Rouse, who averaged 105.9 yards per game is a potent duo sure to cause the Huskies problems. The defense is a concern, allowing 29.2 points per game, but the level of opposition has to be given consideration.

Northern Illinois rolled through the MAC with an 8-0 record and was 2-2 in non-conference games (no ranked foes), but lost the MAC championship to a fired-up Miami (OH) squad which was the turnaround team of the 2010-11 season (1-11 last year). That loss had to have had a negative impact on the players, who felt cocky going in that they would emerge MAC champs. That game was just two weeks ago, so the emotional impact, especially having to endure campus life, is probably still being felt, so this game stands as a chance for redemption.

Also, head coach Jerry Kill departed the Husky program after the loss, replaced by linebacking coach Tom Matukewicz who will be replaced by Wisconsin DC Dave Doreen next season. That can't help matters. Line looks like a sucker bet as Northn Illinois program is in turmoil.

Prediction: Bulldogs 31 Huskies 24

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Ohio U. vs. Troy (-1 1/2, 58), 9:00 pm ESPN - A couple of mid-level, small conference teams should produce a competitive game, though the overall interest level in this needless bowl is probably quite low.

The Trojans (7-5, 6-2 conf.) were runners-up in the Sun Belt conference, which isn't saying much. The level of play down in Bayou country isn't really up to what's seen in other conferences, though they find a fair opponent in Ohio, which should have won the East division of the MAC, but handed it to Miami (OH) by losing at Kent State, 28-6, on the final week of the season. Prior to that, the Bobcats were riding a seven-game win streak, and their only other conference loss was at Toledo, back in September. Consider the Kent State loss a choke job and a fluke. Ohio is a much better team, and they did go 8-4 on the year. Good blend of pass and run on offense and a defense which reads and reacts well.

Coach Frank Solich should deliver the first of many post-season wins for Ohio U.

Prediction: Bobcats 28 Trojans 20

December 21, 2010

Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, Louisville (-3 1/2, 57 1/2) vs. Southern Miss., 8:00 pm ESPN - Maybe somebody would like to explain what a Beef O'Brady is, and how they get to host a bowl game. Next year, we may be treated to Sam's Diner Bowl or some other innocuous nomenclature. Meanwhile, we must endure the horrors of a 6-6 Big East team against an 8-4 Conference USA squad from Southern Miss, which looks, on paper and on the field, like a much superior team.

The Cardinals didn't even finish .500 in their conference, with a 3-5 record and losses to the likes of Cincinnati, South Florida and Pitt. Their main claim to fame was a 26-0 knockout of UConn, the BigEast champions, but other than that, this was a down year in the conference, and 6-6 teams always raise eyebrows, especially when favored. The question is whether the Louisville defense will be able to slow down the high-octane offense of the Golden Eagles, who click at 37.6 points per game. The Cardinals post impressive stats - 18.7 points allowed per game - but that was mostly against plodding Big east offenses.

Southern Miss doesn't possess much of a defense, but probably won't need any. They've scored 41 or more points in seven of their last eight games, winning five. Their last three losses were by one, one and six points, all in overtime.

Prediction: Golden Eagles 38 Cardinals 34

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December 22, 2010

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, Utah vs. Boise State (-17, 61), 8:00 pm ESPN - Well, this one isn't difficult to predict. While Boise was denied a BCS berth by Nevada, losing on two missed field goals - one at the end of regulation and one in OT - the Broncos are still one of the top 10-15 teams in the country. Utah was exposed in their 47-7 loss to TCU and 28-3 defeat at Notre Dame the following week, their only losses of the season. Boise generally wins games by about a million points, and this should be no exception. They have a marvelously-balanced attack and Kellen Moore would have won the Heisman were it not for some guy named Newton. Moore completed 245 of 345 passes (71%) for 3506 yards, 33 TDs and just 5 picks.

Moore and the Broncos will prove to be unstoppable.

Prediction: Broncos 48 Utes 17

December 23, 2010

Poinsettia Bowl, Navy vs. San Diego State (-5, 60 1/2), 8:00 pm ESPN - Navy had a remarkable season, finishing up with a 31-17 win over Army on Saturday, Dec. 11 and a quick turn-around (12 days) to this great bowl match-up. The Middies, still not on the radar of the BCS or any of the major polls, might be even better than their 9-3 record indicates, as they've proven a tough out all season long. Their three losses were by a total of 14 points, and there just aren't many teams that can boast being two touchdowns from a perfect 12-0. The Middies' option running game was the 6th most productive in the nation, but their defense is vastly underrated.

The Aztecs lay claim to the 11th-best passing offense in the nation, which should cause problems for the Middies, especially if San Diego St. gets off early, because Navy's attack isn't one that can come back easily. Despite an 8-4 record, the Aztecs lost their games by a total of just 15 points, including a five-point loss to TCU (the Aggies' closest game of the season) and a 4-point loss to Utah.

While the Aztecs seem to be a better quality team, the Midshipmen are also one of the best Navy teams in years and will battle until the end. A projected close call mandates taking the points

Prediction: Aztecs 36 Midshipmen 33

December 24, 2010

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Tulsa vs. Hawaii (-11 1/2, 72), 8:00 pm ESPN - This is about how a Friday night game should be. Two teams which nobody really cares about in a wide-open, high-scoring affair. The 10-3 Warriors of Hawaii score 39.9 points per game; the 9-3 Golden Hurricane are right behind them in the national rankings, at 39.7. They are, respectively, the 9th and 10th-highest scoring teams in the country.

There's a little separation on defense, where Hawaii allows 22.7 ppg, and Tulsa checks in at 29.9. How that translates into an 11 1/2-point edge for the Warriors is the handicappers' dilemma. Tulsa's only blowout loss was a 65-28 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State, on the road. Their other two losses were by two points at East Carolina and three points at SMU. This game could easily go into overtime, assuring a Tulsa cover, though taking the OVER looks to be the best play.

Prediction: Golden Hurricane 56 Warriors 53

All times Eastern - Click here for BCS Bowl games

Copyright 2010, 2011, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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