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Fearless Rick's 2010-11 College Football Bowl Games Week 2 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | December 26-30, 2010

All times Eastern - Click here for BCS Bowl games

December 26, 2010

Little Caesars Bowl, Florida International vs. Toledo (-1, 56), 8:30 pm ESPN - Toledo, a team which usually is in the middle ranks of the Mid-America title, improved to 7-1 in the MAC, its only conference loss a 65-30 scalding by Northern Illinois. The Rockets finished the season 8-4 overall, quite respectable, and suffered blowout losses to Arizona and Boise State, both ranked teams.

FIU started the season 0-4, losing those games to Rutgers, Texas A&M, Maryland and Pitt, but recovered to finish 6-2 in the conference, beating Troy along the way to capture the a share of the Sun Belt championship. This will be the first ever bowl appearance for the Golden Panthers, so they'll want to make a good showing. Judging by the line, there appears to be little mind to defense by either team, and both QBs, Wesley Carroll of FIU and Toledo frosh Terrance Owens can both wing it, though Owens has been more accurate, throwing only two picks in nine games. His favorite receiver is sophomore Eric Page, who scored 11 TDs, 8 on catches and three on returns. He's the X-factor in this game and probably the one guy FIU cannot cover.

Prediction: Rockets 38 Golden Panthers 31

December 27, 2010

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, Georgia Tech vs. Air Force (-2 1/2, 56), 5:00 pm ESPN2 - Georgia Tech runs the spread to near-perfection, but Air Force has the ground game absolutely perfect, plus they have a defense to boot and will be better-prepared after seeing their buddies in the Naval Academy get their butts whipped by San Diego State.

On top of the Falcons' dominating defense, four Georgia tech players have been ruled out for this game due to academic reasons, including starting wideout Stephen Hill and saftey Mario Edwards, who is third on the team in tackles. The Yellow Jackets will miss one of their better defenders, so be prepared to pay up higher than the opening line if you like Air Force.

Prediction: Falcons 34 Yellow Jackets 24

December 28, 2010

Champs Sports Bowl, NC State vs. West Virginia (-2 1/2, 48 1/2), 6:30 pm, ESPN - North Carolina State, at 8-4, will present problems for the West Virginia defense, but not so many that the Mountaineers cannot overcome them. The Wolfpack had opportunities to take the ACC, but failed each time they were presented, first losing to Virginia Tech, 41-30, then at Clemson, 14-13, and finally a season-ending defeat at Maryland, 38-31.

While the Wolfpack season was marred by those close losses and an unexpected non-cnference defeat at the hands of East Carolina, the Mountaineers likewise failed in the middle of their Big East campaign, losing back-to-back contests against Syracuse (19-14) and eventual Big East champion UConn (16-13). Their only other loss was at LSU, a 20-14 defeat, so in reality, the Mountaineers were just a few plays from being undefeated. The rest of their games were taken in hand, including an early-season win over Maryland, 31-17, which provides a good guideline against like opponents. West Virginia's offense gets all the raves, but their defense, quietly ranked 2nd in the nation at 12.8 ppg (behind TCU at 11.4) wins games.

Prediction: Mountaineers 27 Wolfpack 19

Insight Bowl, Missouri (-1, 48 1/2) vs. Iowa, 10:00 pm ESPN - In what could be a delightful contest between two teams which fell short of aspirations, it's difficult to overlook the similarities and the closeness of the line. Missouri ranks 6th in points allowed, at 15.2, while Iowa is 7th in that category, giving opponents only 16.4 points per outing.

On the offensive side of the ball, the same. Missouri clicks at 30.3 ppg; Iowa checks in at 29.1, so it's easy to see this game as a nightmare for handicappers, somewhat of a Midwest mangle. The 10-2 Mizzou seem to be in a better mindset entering the game, however. Their two losses came back-to-back, against Nebraska and Texas Tech, both on the road. The 7-5 Hawkeyes, seemed to lose fcus once they were defeated at Arizona, losing 34-27, and again when they fell just short at home against Wisconsin, 31-30. Their Big Ten hopes diminished, they finished the season with three straight losses, to Northwestern, Ohio St. and Minnesota, though each game was close. Missouri's QB, Blaine Gabbert is likely the best player on either team, and he'll grind against the tough Iowa defense in a game which will probably be decided by less than a touchdown.

Prediction: Tigers 23 Hawkeyes 19

December 29, 2010

EagleBank Bowl, East Carolina vs. Maryland (-7 1/2, 68), 2:30 pm ESPN - After missing out on bowl season in 2009, the Terps are back, though their head coach, Ralph Friedgen will be leading them for the last time. Apparently, runner-up in the ACC Coastal division was not good enough for him to keep his position. Maryland went 8-4 and 5-3 in the ACC, a pretty good season in a competitive and tough conference, but there were too many mishaps on defense and the offense relied too heavily on QB Danny O'Brien to make plays, which he did with consistency, throwing 21 TDs and only 6 INTs.

East Carolina scores about seven more points per game than the Terrapins, but the level of competition in Conference-USA was a bit lighter. Still, they lit it up for 38.2 ppg, second best in the conference. They too rely heavily on the pass, as QB Dominique Davis threw for 3699 yards, 36 TDs, but 14 picks. The problem is that the Pirates aren't exactly swashbucklers on defense, In their final five games (four of them losses), they allowed 49, 76, 42, 62 and 45 points. Plus, in two other losses, at Virginia Tech and North Carolina, they were blown out by scores of 49-27 and 42-17, respectively. Oddly enough, the Terps didn't play either of those two ACC foes, but did well enough against other similar squads to warrant the choice here.

Prediction: Terrapins 48 Pirates 24

Texas Bowl, Illinois vs. Baylor (-2, 62), 6:00 pm ESPN - OK, this is where picking these bowl games can become frustrating. 7-5 Baylor faces 6-6 Illinois. Both teams obviously have flaws, and the offenses racked up very similar offensive numbers: Baylor, 32.6 ppg, 478.5 ypgl; Illinois, 32.1 ppg, 385.8 ypg. The big differential being that the Illini get most of their yardage on the ground, while Baylor, a little more balanced, tends to go the aerial route. Illinois is better defensively, but the bulk of the yardage allowed was through the air, Baylor's strength. Baylor gave up copious amounts of both yardage and points, 427.3 and 29.8, but was better against the run.

Baylor gets a boost from the game being almost a home-town affair, but the Illini has a couple of nice road wins - at Penn State and Northwestern, and a couple of close road losses, by 2 points at Fresno State and a one-point OT loss at Michigan. They get the nod on not caring where they play.

Prediction: Fighting Illini 38 Bears 30

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Valero Alamo Bowl, Arizona vs. Oklahoma State (-6, 65 1/2), 9:00 pm ESPN - Oklahoma State had a sensational season, going 10-2 and just missing out on BCS eligibility, losing their season finale to the Sooners, while the Wildcats started out great, going 7-1, their only loss a two-point defeat to Oregon State, but then slipped in the latter stages of the season, losing four straight. The Wildcats have a solid offense, led by QB Nick Foles, who overcame injuries and will likely be at full strength here, but the defense just doesn't provide any support, putting pressure on Foles and the offense to score high marks.

The Cowboys don't play great defense either, and don't have to as they're the third-highest scoring team in the nation, coming in at 44.9 ppg. QB Brandon Weeden was a revelation to the rest of the Big 12, throwing for 4037 yards, 32 TDs and 13 picks. His favorite receiver, Justin Blackmon, is NFL-ready after hauling in 102 receptions for 1665 yards. The Cowboys can get it done on the ground as well, with Kendall Hunter averaging 122.8 yards per game. The Wildcats look totally out-classed on offense here but could make it interesting for a while if Foles gets on a roll.

Prediction: Cowboys 42 Wildcats 28

December 30, 2010

Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl, Army vs. SMU (-7, 52), 12:00 pm ESPN - Army has plenty of grit, but unfortunately not enough quality players with which to compete on a high level. Their emotional spirit was extinguished in their 31-17 loss to Navy, which wasn't even as close as the score might otherwise indicate. Navy had them all day long. The Black Knights are one team that really doesn't belong in a bowl game. They run incessantly, but have almost no ability to throw the ball. In fact, their 985 passing yards was dead last in the FBS.

SMU has an edge, if only that they can utilize all of their offensive playmakers, and, this being the Mustangs' first bowl appearance since the NCAA "death penalty" back in the 1980s, head coach june Jones should supply his players with a potent game plan.

Prediction: Mustangs 34 Black Knights 21

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Kansas State (-1 1/2, 47 1/2) vs. Syracuse, 3:20 pm, ESPN - The Syracuse Orange is another team which hasn't been to a bowl game in many years, but this team has surprised quite a few teams in the Big East and is likely to clamp down on the K-State offense, which scores at 33.6 points per game. On average, the Orange only put up 21 points per outing, but their defense is the real story, giving up just 18.1 points per game and an average of 295 yards. They are uniformly good against both the run and the pass.

With the focus on offense in the Big 12, the Kansas State defense is, as expected, not very good, allowing just over 4 TDs pr game and a whopping 441.3 yards on average. Syracuse should benefit from gaping holes for their backs and receivers and should deliver a message that the Big East was not quite as unsound a conference as many believed.

Prediction: Orange 24 Wildcats 21

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Tennessee vs. North Carolina (-1 1/2, 49 1/2), 6:30 pm, ESPN - Both teams have had up-and-down seasons, but the Tar Heels really started out badly when a slew of players (18 by most counts) were ineligible for the first game of the season and almost won it. Various players missed other games due to NCAA violations, but the constant was QB TJ Yates, who had a solid senior season, throwing for 18 TDs, but also, 8 picks.

Tennessee was beaten pretty soundly by the likes of Oregon, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, so before they knew what happened they were just 2-6, but the Vols found some game and rallied for four straight wins down the stretch to achieve bowl eligibility. This is a young team on the improve, while the Tar Heels never looked like they were all on the same page week in and week out.

Prediction: Volunteers 34 Tar Heels 27

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, Washington vs. Nebraska (-13, 52 1/2), 10:00 pm ESPN - Good game for people planning to stay up late on the East coast to cash. Nebraska is a high-quality team, whereas the Huskies just barely managed to complete their season with a 6-6 mark. No telling how this match-up was thought out, but it's a pretty bad mismatch. The two teams met back in September, at Washington, and the Cornhuskers hammered them, 56-21.

Nebraska may cruise by as many as four touchdowns. Surprising to see the line not considerably higher.

Prediction: Cornhuskers 48 Huskies 17

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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