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Fearless Rick's 2012-13 College Football Bowl Week 4 - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | December 31, 2012 - January 6, 2013

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Monday, December 31 12:00 pm
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Nashville, TN ESPN
North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt (-7, 51 1/2)
- NC State QB Mike Glennon leads the 7-5 Wolf Pack against a Vanderbilt defense that allowed just 18.3 points per game and posted their best record in 30 years, at 8-4, thanks in part to a "soft" SEC schedule that did not include Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M.

The Commodores finished the regular season by stringing together six straight victories, including a 17-13 win over Auburn and a 27-26 score at Mississippi. Vandy's four lasses were to quality teams: South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Northwestern.

NC State was erratic through 2012,never winning more than three straight in a demanding schedule. Against weaker opposition, like South Alabama and The Citadel, the Wolf Pack rolled up big scores, but fell short in a number of shoot-out style games, notably against North Carolina, Tennessee, Miami and Clemson.

Finishing up with two wins in their final three games, the Wolf Pack ended up 4-4 in the ACC, so their 3-1 record against non-conference opponents is a positive.

Head coach Tom O'Brien departed after the regular season, but long-time offensive coordinator will guide the Wolf Pack in their quest for a third straight bowl victory.

Prediction: Wolf Pack 24 Commodores 21

Monday, December 31 2:00 pm
Hyundai Sun Bowl El Paso, TX CBS
Georgia Tech vs. USC (-8 1/2, 64)
- The Trojans will be without four-year starter, QB Matt Barkley, who suffered a late-season shoulder injury and will not play in this match-up with Georgia Tech, which received a waiver from the NCAA to play in a bowl game despite their 6-7 record.

Backup QB Max Wittek, a redshirt freshman, will be up against a rejuvenated Yellow Jacket defense that shut out Florida State in the second half of the the ACC championship game, despite losing, 21-15.

The Trojans, who fell well short of high expectations with a 7-5 record, will try to put a positive spin to their season, though motivation appears to favor Georgia Tech and their quarterback duo of Vlad Lee and the ever-dangerous Tevin Washington.

USC will have trouble defending the Yellow Jackets' triple option offense. The Bruins allowed 156.4 yards per game. They also may not have much success on offense without Barkley hoisting the ball.

While the odds favor USC by more than a TD, most factors seem to indicate momentum for Georgia Tech.

Prediction: Yellow Jackets 34 Trojans 21

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Monday, December 31 3:30 pm
AutoZone Liberty Bowl Memphis, TN ESPN
Iowa State (-1, 51) Tulsa
- Tulsa, outright winners of the Conference-USA championship, were never once ranked in the Top 25 despite a record of 10-3 and wins over the likes of Fresno State, Rice and Central Florida, twice.

The worst setback of the season happened to be in Tulsa's season opener, to these very same Cyclones, 38-23, though much has changed during the course of the season and that game was played on Iowa State turf.

After that initial defeat, the Golden Hurricane reeled off seven straight wins, then finished up 3-2, with a couple of tough losses at Arkansas (19-15) and SMU (35-27).

Iowa State began the season 4-1, but slumped to a 2-5 record down the stretch, finishing an even 6-6 with a 3-6 record in the Big 12. Their conference wins over TCU, Baylor and Kansas were offset by disappointments to the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas State.

The Cyclones will try to finish with a positive record, while the Golden Hurricane players will be trying to overturn their earlier setback and prove to pollsters that they should be ranked.

Prediction: Golden Hurricane 30 Cyclones 26

--- Story continues below ---

Monday, December 31 7:30 pm
Chick-fil-A Bowl Atlanta, GA ESPN
Clemson v. LSU (-6, 59)
- It's Tigers vs. Tigers in the Georgia Dome, a match-up of ranked 10-2 teams, but that's where the similarities end.

#9 LSU sports a stingy defense, 11th in the nation, allowing just 16.9 points per game, while the Clemson squad put up 42.3 ppg on average, sixth best in the country.

This quality bowl game matches strength versus strength and two of the more colorful coaches in the college ranks, Clemson's Dabo Swinney and LSU's Les Miles.

On the opposite side of the ball, Clemson isn't horrible on defense, allowing 24.9 points per game, and the LSU offense can move the ball, to the tune of 30.3 points per outing, most of those in the rugged SEC.

Clemson went 8-4 ATS while LSU finished up 5-7. With teams uniquely squared off, taking the points seems the most prudent course. Both teams are motivated, but no team has held Clemson to less than 26 points all season, except the superb defense of South Carolina, who dropped the Tigers 27-17 in the regular season finale.

Prediction: Clemson 33 LSU 27

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2012, 2013, 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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