College Bowl Games Previews and Predictions – Part 1 [2013]

To rip off a quite popular sports television network’s commercial, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” While you enjoy Christmas and New Year’s festivities, it’s quite possible that you’ll have a college football bowl game on in the background somewhere. In light of that, we at the Ultimate Capper thought it prudent to provide you a comprehensive preview of ever bowl game, in order to allow each and every one of our loyal readers the opportunity to recoup some of the losses incurred from buying presents, food, and drinks for the holiday season. It’s our year-end present to you, the reader. In lieu of any “thank you” notes, we just ask that you continue to read our site in 2014.

For our bowl preview, we’ll break it into four segments, as outlined below:
Sat, Dec 21 thru Tue, Dec 24 – today
Thu, Dec 26 thru Mon, Dec 30 – Monday, Dec 23
Tue, Dec 31 thru Wed, Jan 1 – Monday, Dec 30
Thu, Jan 2 thru Mon, Jan 6 – Wednesday, Jan 1

Because these columns will be posted when some games are still a couple days out, we won’t provide specific lines on these columns, just a brief preview and my predicted winner. For actual picks against the spread, check out our staff selections page. And with that, on to the bowls!

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Washington State (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-6)
Sat, Dec 21, 2:00pm (ESPN)
Washington State has begun what will be, in all likelihood, a slow climb out of the cellar of the Pac-12. Colorado State was a player for a short time in the Mountain West but couldn’t pull off a big win when it counted. In bowls – and take this advice and apply it to every game on the docket – it’s typically the team with more to gain and more to earn that typically wins. In this case, that’s the Cougars.
Pick: Washington State

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
#20 Fresno State (11-1) vs. #25 Southern California (9-4)
Sat, Dec 21, 3:30pm (ABC)
This is the best game of the early bowl season between two very surprising teams. The issue here is that USC really doesn’t have a coach. They turned the corner when Ed Orgeron took over for Lane Kiffin, and now that he’s gone I don’t see the Trojans handling the Bulldogs that are looking to cap off a tremendously successful campaign.
Pick: Fresno State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Buffalo vs. San Diego State
Sat, Dec 21, 5:30pm (ESPN)
Both teams are traveling a bit of a distance, and Buffalo is probably more used to the cold weather of Idaho in December, but the Mountain West was a more difficult conference across the board this year, and I think that makes the Aztecs a better bet here.
Pick: San Diego State

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Sat, Dec 21, 9:00pm (ESPN)
The Sun Belt is always underrated when it comes to bowl season, mostly because people haven’t seen them play enough and they rarely beat top tier teams. Beating Tulane, though, is another story. This is a dream matchup for the Superdome, which basically gets two local teams, and while it’s always fun rooting for the underdog, I just can’t pull the trigger.
Pick: Tulane

Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg
Ohio (7-5) vs. East Carolina (9-3)
Mon, Dec 23, 2:00pm (ESPN)
I, too, was quite surprised when I saw that East Carolina managed 9 wins this year. But in a subpar CUSA, perhaps it shouldn’t be. Like I wrote with Buffalo, I don’t think the MAC, overall, was quite up to snuff with the rest of FBS, so I’m taking the Pirates in this one.
Pick: East Carolina

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6)
Tue, Dec 24, 8:00pm (ESPN)
They had a down year (4 losses). Their coach jumped to a bigger program (Chris Peterson to Washington). But my love for the original “Cinderella” in FBS has not wavered. You can call this a “heart” pick if you desire, but it won’t deter me – I’m taking Boise State!
Pick: Boise State

Season Record
Straight-Up: 67-40
Against Spread: 44-62-1