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Fearless Rick's 2011-12 College Football Bowl Week 3 - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | December 30-31, 2011

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Friday, December 30

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Dallas, TX
12:00 pm Tulsa vs. BYU (-2 1/2, 55 1/2) - After a rocky 1-2 start that included a heart-stopping 17-16 loss at Texas and an incomprehensible 54-10 home loss to Utah, the Cougars got their season straightened out and won 8 of their last 9, the only loss a 38-28 defeat at TCU.

While the Cougar offense averaged 30.6 ppg, the defense is top 25 in the country, at 20.3 points per game allowed. In their last four wins, BYU defense has allowed only 37 points, while scoring 181, a significant margin.

Tulsa is the best of a suspect lot - after Houston and Southern Mississippi - from Conference USA. The Golden Hurricane went 8-4, but three of those losses were to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State early in the season, which started out 1-3. Tulsa then went on to win seven straight, before losing its season-ender to Houston, 48-16.

Tulsa's offense appears superior on paper, but they'll be playing on grass, where BYU's defense should dominate. The Golden Hurricane will be lucky to strike the end zone more than twice.

Prediction: Cougars 34 Golden Hurricane 17

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
3:20 pm Rutgers (-1 1/2, 44 1/2) vs. Iowa State - Fortunately for the promoters of this first-time event, weather in the tri-state region isn't going to be very rough, but, even so, both teams are capable of handling snow, sleet, rain or high winds.

Rutgers went 8-4 and were disappointing in not winning the soft Big East, whereas Iowa State was 6-6, losing all of their games to Big 12 opposition. Neither team has offensive explosiveness, lending to a belief that Rutgers, only a short bus trip from Yankee Stadium, will have the better of this as the Big East was a very defensive-minded conference this season.

The Cyclones did have one Big East opponent - Connecticut - and they beat them back in September, 24-20. Rutgers played them in their final regular season game, losing 40-22, after winning three straight and allowing only 22 points in those games.

In the end, the analysis comes down to conference preference, and the Big 12 was far superior to the Big East. Iowa can win this by running the ball, which is the strength of their offense.

Prediction: Cyclones 29 Scarlet Knights 20

--- Story continues below ---

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
6:40 pm Wake Forest vs. Mississippi State (-7, 48) - Here are two solid programs which were both just a cut below the elite teams in their respective divisions.

The Bulldogs are a touchdown favorite partly because they come out of the SEC, universally regarded as the best conference in the country, but the Demon Deacons had an OK season in their own right, going 6-6 (just like the Bulldogs), but tailed off in the latter part of the campaign, losing four of its last five, including a demoralizing, 41-7, loss to Vanderbilt.

One certainly can't blame fans of Mississippi State for being positive heading into this game. Their six losses were all to ranked SEC opponents, including LSU, Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas. They came close to winning at Auburn (41-34) and at home against South Carolina (14-12), so their season was one of just not coming up with enough big plays at the right time.

The only question is whether the Bulldog defense will come ready to play, because offensive stars, QB Chris Relf and RB Vick Ballard (1009 yards rushing) will put the Wake Forest defender on their heels.

Prediction: Bulldogs 31 Demon Deacons 13

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Insight Bowl, Tempe, AZ
10:00 pm Iowa vs. Oklahoma (-14, 57 1/2) - This match-up came about due to Oklahoma's disappointing 9-3 season, when they were - incorrectly, again - presumed to be one of the top contenders for the national championship.

Unfortunately for the Sooners, after their 41-38 loss to Texas Tech, and the loss of All-American receiver Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma lost two of their final three games - to Baylor and Oklahoma State - and it wasn't a pretty sight, especially, the season-ending, 44-10 beating the Cowboys put on them.

The Sooners still look like the better team, but one questions the heart of the players and whether they'll come into the game with any emotion or even a willingness to be playing in a third-rate bowl.

If the Sooners were really geared up to win here, they would easily outclass the 7-5 Hawkeyes, but the overall level of disinterest is probably pretty high, and while Iowa may not win this game, they certainly won't be embarrassed.

Prediction: Sooners 34 Hawkeyes 24

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, 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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