NOTE: Michigan QB Devin Gardner (turf toe) is tentatively expected to miss the bowl game against Kansas State. Raise the confidence level on the Kansas State game as a result, probably up to the 28-to-30 range
This article will list all of the 2013-2014 bowl games in descending order of confidence. Alabama over Oklahoma at 35, in other words, means Iím most confident in Alabama winning, and least confident in San Diego State down at No. 1.
35. Alabama over Oklahoma (Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2)
No one can run on Alabama, and Oklahoma canít throw against anyone. This could be painful for the Sooners.
34. Oregon over Texas, (Alamo Bowl, Dec. 30)
Oregon stumbled late in the year, but the Ducks are far too talented for Texas to pose any threat.
33. LSU over Iowa (Outback Bowl, Jan. 1)
Iowa should play some inspired defense early, but the Tigers will sell out on the run and QB Jake Rudock probably wonít capitalize. Iowa canít stop RB Jeremy Hill, WR Jarvis Landry and WR Odell Beckham.
32. South Carolina over Wisconsin (Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1)
Joel Stave is the worst quarterback youíve never heard of, and South Carolina is too big and fast for the Badgers to avoid turnovers for long. The Badgers will keep the score low early, but QB Connor Shaw and RBMike Davis will score on their tired defense late.
31. Notre Dame over Rutgers (Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 28)
The Irish defense is nothing special and the running game is mediocre, but Rutgers QB Gary Nova is a turnover machine, and the Notre Dame pass-catching trio of TJ Jones, Davaris Daniels and Troy Niklas might single-handedly outscore Rutgers.
30. Missouri over Oklahoma State (Cotton Bowl, Jan. 3)
Oklahoma State is a very feisty team, but I have zero faith in their offense. James Franklin is too good to lose to Clint Chelf.
29. Texas A&M over Duke (Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31)
Duke is a lovely feel-good story, but Johnny Manziel isnít going out with a loss.
28. Ball State over Arkansas State (GoDaddy Bowl, Jan. 5)
Outside of the late-season emergence of running back Michael Gordon, Arkansas State is not a particularly likable team. And they lost their coach. WR Willie Snead and RB Jahwan Edwards are killers for Ball State.
27. Florida State over Auburn (BCS Championship, Jan. 6)
I think Florida State can sell out on the run while preventing Auburn QB Nick Marshall from doing much damage through the air. On the other side of the ball, I donít think Auburn can stop any aspect of the Florida State offense.
26. Minnesota over Syracuse (Texas Bowl, Dec. 27)
Although they might be a team of overachievers, Minnesota is a legitimately tough team that almost always establishes the run. Syracuse, meanwhile, is a team that just doesnít have much going for it outside of the respectable runner duo of Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley.
25. Louisville over Miami (Russell Athletic Bowl, Dec. 28)
Coach Charlie Strong had Louisville extremely well-prepared for Florida in last yearís bowl game, and Miami is a lesser challenge. Stephen Morris canít match Teddy Bridgewater.
24. Arizona State over Texas Tech (Holiday Bowl, Dec. 30)
Even if Arizona State plays without lead runner Marion Grice, backup D.J. Foster is also a top talent, and the duo of QB Taylor Kelly and WR Jaelen Strong should keep the ball moving regularly. Texas Tech has a blurry quarterback situation and an unimpressive run game.
23. East Carolina over Ohio (Beef ĎOíBradyís Bowl, Dec. 23)
Coach Ruffin McNeill has East Carolina into a fine football program these days, and the Pirates have a big enough talent advantage to withstand a well-coached Ohio squad with three bowl victories in a row.
22. Arizona over Boston College (Advocare V100 Bowl, Dec. 31)
Andre 2000 is on his own in this one for Boston College, but fellow superstar runner KaíDeem Carey has a lot of help in quarterback B.J. Denker for Arizona. Arizonaís defense has quietly been pretty good this year, too.
21. Mississippi State over Rice (Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31)
Mississippi State gets a huge boost thanks to the return of quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott ran wild on SEC defenses, so Rice might be in trouble.
20. Mississippi over Georgia Tech (Music City Bowl, Dec. 30)
Georgia Tech hasnít had the QB rushing production it needs to keep up with a Mississippi squad that scores both through the air and on the ground.
19. Maryland over Marshall (Military Bowl, Dec. 27)
Iím skeptical that Marshallís Conference-USA defense can stop Maryland QB C.J. Brown, who ran for 122 yards and two scores against Virginia Tech.
18. Tulane over Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 21)
Tulaneís defense has quietly been very good this year, and they get to take aim on backup Lafayette QB Brooks Haack.
17. UCLA over Virginia Tech (Sun Bowl, Dec. 31)
UCLA QB Brett Hundley could crumble against the Virginia Tech defense. Then again. Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas seems more likely to do the same as he takes on the Bruins defense.
16. Navy over Middle Tennessee (Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 30)
Navy QB Keenan Reynolds has 29 touchdowns on the ground. Middle Tennessee has 25 as a team.
15. Utah State over Northern Illinois (Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 26)
The game is on the west coast, and Utah State has the intimidating defense necessary to hold NIU QB Jordan Lynch under 28 points.
14. Georgia over Nebraska (Gator Bowl, Jan. 1)
Both teams are without their starting QBs, and Georgiaís backup is better. Itís difficult to overstate just how dominant Georgia RB Todd Gurley is.
13. Baylor over UCF (Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1)
Baylor should win, but UCF plays everyone close, including South Carolina and Louisville. Baylor didnít look particularly good against TCU or Texas.
12. Stanford over Michigan State (Rose Bowl, Jan. 1)
Michigan State has both talent and the ability to consistently overachieve. The same is true of Stanford, however, and Stanford has more talent. Thatís especially true at quarterback.
11. Kansas State over Michigan (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28)
QB Devin Gardner and WR Jeremy Gallon are a problem for Kansas State, but Michiganís offensive coaching is spectacularly bad, whereas Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is awfully crafty.
10. North Texas over UNLV (Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1)
Both of these teams, especially North Texas, have tough pass defenses. The difference is that UNLVís run defense is pitiful. On the other hand, UNLV QB Caleb Herring is much better than North Texasí Derek Thompson.
9. Ohio State over Clemson (Orange Bowl, Jan. 3)
The Ohio State defense is not very good, and Tajh Boyd should put up a bunch of points. Boyd doesnít get much help from his running game, though, and Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde gives Braxton Miller a dominant partner in crime.
8. Bowling Green over Pittsburgh (Little Caesars Bowl, Dec. 26)
The dominant wideout duo of Tyler Boyd and Devin Street should stay productive for Pittsburgh, but the Panthers defense isnít as good as Bowling Greenís. Bowling Green, meanwhile, has a strong QB-RB tandem in Matt Johnson and Travis Greene.
7. Washington over BYU (Fight Hunger Bowl, Dec. 27)
The loss of coach Steve Sarkisian is the primary concern for Washington, particularly with standout BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall sticking around on the other side. But Washingtonís offense is a near constant thanks to RB Bishop Sankey, and the defense should have enough talent to sell out on the run without BYU QB Taysom Hill making them pay for it.
6. Fresno State over USC (Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21)
If Ed Orgeron is still around, Iím probably picking USC in this one. Heís gone, though, and the destabilizing effect of that should allow Fresno State QB Derek Carr to sneak out of this with a win despite facing a fairly intimidating USC defense.
5. Cincinnati over North Carolina (Belk Bowl, Dec. 28)
North Carolina QB Marquise Williams has shown the ability to run the ball. Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay has shown the ability to run it and throw it. Neither team can run well.
4. Washington State over Colorado State (New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 21)
Washington State is not an impressive team, but Colorado State probably doesnít have the personnel to match up well with the Cougar passing game. This game might come down to whether Washington State QB Connor Halliday (28 passing touchdowns) can score more touchdowns than Colorado State RB Kapri Bibbs (28 rushing touchdowns).
3. Vanderbilt over Houston (BBVA Compass Bowl, Jan. 4)
Vanderbiltís odds of winning would be significantly better if QB Austyn Carta-Samuels (knee) were available. He is not, though, and Houston has itself a strong defense. Both teams have young quarterbacks that might be mistake-prone in the face of the pressure that awaits them.
2. Boise State over Oregon State (Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24)
This game might come down to whether itís Jay Ajayi or Brandin Cooks who scores more touchdowns. The over/under should probably be 2.5 in both cases. The loss of Chris Petersen hurts Boise, but the Broncos were likely coached highly at all levels. Associate head coach Bob Gregory should keep the Broncos on track as the interim coach.
1. San Diego State over Buffalo (Idaho Potato Bowl, Dec. 21)
Buffalo has a strong running game and defense combo by MAC standards, but San Diego State probably tested itself against tougher competition. The Aztecs get a bit of help in the fact that the game is played out west.