College Bowl Games Previews and Predictions – Part 2 [2013]

Just a reminder, here’s the outline for when you can find our previews for each of the bowl games this season:
Sat, Dec 21 thru Tue, Dec 24 – Click Here
Thu, Dec 26 thru Mon, Dec 30 – Today
Tue, Dec 31 thru Wed, Jan 1 – Monday, Dec 30
Thu, Jan 2 thru Mon, Jan 6 – Wednesday, Jan 1

Also a reminder that 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.

Little Caesars Bowl
Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)
Thu, Dec 26, 6:00pm (ESPN)
It’s become apparent, at least to me, that perhaps Bowling Green might actually be a solid program. They lost both cracks at a BCS team during the year (42-10 to Indiana, 21-20 to Mississippi State) but perhaps the third time will be the charm. Pittsburgh can score, but I don’t think they can stop the Falcons, who are riding high after their win over Northern Illinois.
Pick: Bowling Green

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Utah State (8-5) vs. #23 Northern Illinois (12-1)
Thu, Dec 26, 9:30pm (ESPN)
Speaking of Northern Illinois, their consolation prize is Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Really, though, where would you rather be – San Diego or Detroit? It might not be a BCS game, but I think Jordan Lynch goes out with a victory.
Pick: Northern Illinois

Military Bowl
Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5)
Fri, Dec 27, 2:30pm (ESPN)
Maryland at one point was considered a challenger to Florida State. Now they’re left playing a virtual home bowl game against Marshall. As always, go with the team that has more to gain with a win, or is happier to be where they are. I think the Thundering Herd are eager to erase their rough showing in the CUSA championship game, which means they’re the better bet here.
Pick: Marshall

Texas Bowl
Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4)
Fri, Dec 27, 6:00pm (ESPN)
One of the greatest stories of this season is Minnesota’s stellar resolve in playing hard while head coach Jerry Kill suffered multiple seizures during the season. The Golden Gophers have been bottom-feeders in the Big Ten for much of the past decade, but they’re slowly gaining ground on the big boys, and a bowl win over a Syracuse team with a porous defense would be a great way to enter 2014.
Pick: Minnesota

Fight Hunger Bowl
BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4)
Fri, Dec 27, 9:30pm (ESPN)
The Cougars challenged themselves with a pretty good schedule, scoring wins over Georgia Tech, Houston, Utah State, Texas, Middle Tennessee State, and Boise State – all bowl teams. They also lost at Notre Dame and Wisconsin, so there’s nothing the Huskies will throw at BYU that will look too different from their regular season. Tack on Washington’s loss of head coach Steve Sarkisian to USC, and the Cougars will take this one.
Pick: BYU

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Rutgers (6-6) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)
Sat, Dec 28, 12:00pm (ESPN)
It’s a bit of let-down for the Irish, going from playing Alabama for a national title to playing against Rutgers – but it is in Yankee Stadium in the largest city in the country, so it’s not a bad consolation prize. Oh, and they’re the better team.
Pick: Notre Dame

Belk Bowl
North Carolina (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Sat, Dec 28, 3:20pm (ESPN)
The Bearcats struggled early and couldn’t come up with a big win at the end of the year, but for a month and a half they looked like a team that knew they were better than their opponents and acted like it. North Carolina probably was better than a good deal of their opponents, but the Tar Heels frequently underperformed. Not exactly the type of team on which I’d want to wager.
Pick: Cincinnati

Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami (9-3) vs. #18 Louisville (11-1)
Sat, Dec 28, 6:45pm (ESPN)
Miami started their season with the “big” win over Florida, then faded with three straight losses to Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Duke, surrendering more than 40 points in all three games. In retrospect, the Florida win wasn’t as good as most initially thought, and Louisville’s offense is explosive. Save for one bad half of football against Central Florida, this team would be undefeated, and if this is Teddy Bridgewater’s last game, I can’t see him leaving on anything other than a win over one of Louisville’s future conference opponents.
Pick: Louisville

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5)
Sat, Dec 28, 10:15pm (ESPN)
The last game for this round features a pair of underachieving teams. Michigan lost every big conference game they played, four of them by a combined 11 points, including Penn State in quadruple overtime and Ohio State on the infamous failed two-point conversion. Meanwhile Kansas State opened the season on a down note with a loss to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, then started conference play 0-3 before rallying to win five of their last six. Both teams are hanging their hat on one good win (Michigan over Notre Dame, Kansas State over Texas Tech), and ultimately they look to be just about equal in most categories. With all of that as my rationale, I’m picking Michigan because I’m a Michigan fan. So there
Pick: Michigan

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

Bowl Record
Straight Up: 1-3
Against Spread: 1-3