If this week is anything like the last 2 weeks that MC&J has had there is no reason that anyone would even consider returning them. I'm hoping that there are some extra Christmas presents under the tree for people after going 9-1 over the last 2 editions. This week there are 6 bowl games which will be a nice appetizer before the 22 bowl games that are coming next year.
Last Week ATS: 2-0
Season ATS: 51-35 (23-23 National, 28-12 B1G)
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: BYU (-3.5) v. San Diego State - Thursday 8 PM EST - ESPN
The day before the world ends (allegedly) we get a matchup of former conference foes. San Diego State is most successful when they can run the football, but a number of things are going against them in this matchup. Not only is BYU 2nd in the country against the run, allowing 84 yards/game on the ground, but they are also missing 2nd leading rusher Walter Kazee. San Diego State also lost former Oregon State QB Ryan Katz to a season ending injury, so they will be relying on Adam Dingwell. BYU's offense doesn't do a lot for me but I think their defense will be too much for the Aztecs to overcome.
BYU 27 San Diego State 17
Beef O' Brady's Bowl: Ball State v. UCF (-7) - Friday 7:30 PM EST - ESPN
As I said last week, this is the bowl game that I am least looking forward to. But, since I have some screws loose upstairs I'm still going to watch. Ball State's only losses on the season are to Clemson, Northern Illinois, and Kent State, which combined had a 33-5 record this year. Ball State is 0-5 in bowls and things won't get any easier as this bowl game will essentially be a home game for UCF. This should be a high-scoring game as Ball State has scored over 30 points in 10 of 12 games this season, but also has a sub-par defense. I'll take the points with Ball State in this one since their roster includes former Buckeye Jonathan Newsome.
Ball State 33 Central Florida 30
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: East Carolina v. Louisiana-Lafayette (-5) - Saturday 12 PM EST - ESPN
For the 2nd year in a row Mark Hudspeth's team doesn't even have to leave the state to play their bowl game. Terrance Broadway has done a great job after replacing injured starting quarterback Blaine Gautier in September. Gautier is actually healthy now, but can't crack the lineup with Broadway playing like he is. East Carolina counters with sophomore quarterback Shane Carden, who has thrown for almost 2,800 yards and 29 TDs on the season. In looking at this game I can't bring myself to take East Carolina in this one. The Pirates haven't defeated a team that is going a bowl this year, while the Ragin' Cajuns have defeated two. I don't think very highly of C-USA this year and will gladly take Louisiana-Lafayette to win in New Orleans like last year, but this time it won't be quite as close.
Louisiana-Lafayette 41 East Carolina 31
Maaco Las Vegas Bowl: Washington v. #20 Boise State (-5) - Saturday 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
The Broncos and Huskies will not only end this season playing each other, but they will begin next season playing each on August 31st in Seattle. This is the 3rd year in a row that Boise State has played in the Las Vegas Bowl, so they should be used to the routine by now. Coming into the season I was expecting more out of Keith Price, and he won't find things any easier against a tough Boise State defense. I really want to take Washington in this one so that I can root against Boise State, but how they blew that lead at the end of the Apple Cup is really sticking with me. Boise State's offense isn't quite what it used to be but QB Joe Southwick is starting to find his stride at the end of the season.
Boise State 30 Washington 21
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State (-12.5) v. SMU - Monday 8 PM EST - ESPN
The Hawaii Bowl will not only feature June Jones coming back to where he used to coach, but also the younger brother of David Carr (remember him?). Derek Carr has put up phenomenal numbers for Fresno State this year, throwing for 3,700 yards, 36 TDs, and only 5 interceptions. SMU can't load up against the pass though as Fresno State can counter with 1,400 yard rusher Robbie Rouse. The Mustangs also have a familiar QB name in former Texas QB Garrett Gilbert. The numbers for Gilbert aren't nearly as impressive, with 14 TDs and 13 interceptions. It is like he never left the Longhorns! The Hawaii Bowl never seems to go like I think it will, but this is another fade of a C-USA team for me.
Fresno State 44 SMU 27
Little Caesars Bowl: Western Kentucky (-5.5) v. Central Michigan - Wednesday 7:30 PM EST - ESPN
Having to spend time around Christmas in Detroit seems like the equivalent of getting a lump of coal in your stocking, but it is becoming a ritual for Central Michigan. This is the 4th time since 2006 that the Chips have played in the
Motor City Little Caesars Bowl. The Hilltoppers will have Lance Guidry coaching in this game after Willie Taggert signed on to coach South Florida. Guidry has experience coaching in a bowl game after a coaching change, leading Miami (Ohio) to victory over Pittsburgh in 2011. Western Kentucky comes in having lost 3 of their last 4 games while Central Michigan has won 3 of their last 4. Since these 2 teams have finished the season heading in different directions and Western Kentucky lost their coach is why I'm taking Central Michigan.
Central Michigan 23 Western Kentucky 20