|New Orleans Bowl|
The Mean Green took a postseason trip to New Orleans last year and will get to do the same in 2002. Cincy was hoping for something better than this bowl but should be able to settle for a win in the first bowl game of this season.
At the beginning of the season, Louisville was projected by many to win CUSA while QB Byron Leftwich and Marshall had Heisman and other high goals. Both team’s seasons have had ups and downs, but this battle of Ragone vs Leftwich will be on of the highlights this bowl season.
This is the first matchup of teams from major conferences this season. Clemson hasn’t had a great year, and the Red Raiders, behind QB Kliff Kingsbury, should be able to get the job done in Orlando.
|Las Vegas Bowl|
This game is the first of two on Christmas day and should be an interesting regional matchup. New Mexico has a chance to knock off a big school from a major conference and a team looking for a new head coach.
The second Christmas day matchup is no more impressive than the first. The Rainbowl Warriors get a home game against a team from Conference USA. Hawaii’s offense should enable the Warriors to pull out a victory.
|Motor City Bowl|
The Toledo Rockets, of the MAC, get a chance to knock off a Big East opponent. Although the Eagles knocked off Notre Dame earlier this year, I don’t they’ll be able to take out Toledo in this contest.
This is one of the better matchups before the bowl season really begins to heat up. Pittsburgh at one time had a chance to win the Big East while Oregon State improved since last season. Pittsburgh wins a very close game.
Southern Miss limped into the finish of this season, while Oklahoma State is one of the biggest surprises of the bowl season. The Cowboys should use their momentum from the win over Oklahoma right into Houston and knock off the Golden Eagles.
Both of these teams expected a better outcome to their seasons a few months ago. Eli Manning hasn’t been able to take the Rebels to the top, and the ‘Huskers should be able to run over the UM defense.
Arizona State started off the PAC 10 season on a roll but stumbled late. KSU had a legitimate argument to be a BCS at-large team, but the Wildcats were left out. That should give Kansas State plenty of motivation for this game.
Wisconsin couldn’t catch a break in the early part of the Big Ten season, and it cost them a shot at a bigger bowl. Colorado was able to win the Big XII North but came up short against OU and should get a win in San Antonio.
|Continental Tire Bowl|
This is a great game between two teams who most people thought wouldn’t contend for a bowl back in August. Behind RB Avon Cobourne, WVa has moved towards the top of the Big East while UVA is looking to move back towards the top of the ACC led by coach Al Groh.
|Music City Bowl|
Minnesota began the Big Ten season strong and looked as if they might challenge until sliding late. Arkansas surged to the top of the SEC West at the last minute but was slammed by UGA in the SEC Championship Game.
The Ducks started off the season rolling but faltered midway through the campaign and limped to the finish. Wake Forest was a slight surprise to go bowling this year; the Ducks should be able to take care of the Deacons in Seattle.
This is one of the better chances of the bowl season for a lower-level team to knock off a major conference club. ISU got off to a fast start this year but faltered late, including a home loss to Connecticut. This one may be a shootout.
Both of these teams had slightly disappointing seasons in 2002. Led by a large number of returning starters, the Boilers were never able to get rolling but slipped into El Paso. Washington should be able to slip past Purdue.
|Silicon Valley Classic|
Georgia Tech was able to move into postseason play even without their star running back who was lost to an injury. Though they didn’t have as successful of a season this year, the Bulldogs are taking a short trip to the exact same bowl as last year.
This game is always interesting because it matches up two conference champions against each other. TCU slipped past the rest of the pack in Conference USA while Colorado State romped over their Mountain West opponents. Expect a very close game won by CSU towards the end of the contest.
This is a terrific regional matchup of ACC vs SEC. The Maryland Terps had another great season this year after taking a trip to Miami and the BCS in 2001. Tennessee fell short of BCS expectations this fall but should provide Maryland with a great test. The Volunteers should win this one in the fourth quarter.
|San Francisco Bowl|
The Falcons got the 2002 season off to a great start but fell to Notre Dame in a nationally televised game which sent their season spiraling downward. The same can be said for Virginia Tech as they stumbled late in the season. VT should out-man Air Force.
The Wolverines came extremely close to winning the Big Ten championship but fell to Ohio State in Columbus and came up short of both OSU and Iowa. The Gators also came up just short as they were in second place behind Georgia in the SEC East. Michigan should win by a small margin.
The Longhorns were hurt bad by a late-season loss to Texas Tech on the road and were left out of the BCS. LSU lost their SEC title hopes on a late rally by Arkansas. Texas, the better team, should prevail on the “home” field.
At one point in the midway part of the season, Notre Dame was playing as good as anyone. The same could be said for NC State, but both teams faltered in October and November and came up short of expectations. NC State pulls out a tight one.
|Capital One Bowl|
The Nittany Lions competed well in the Big Ten this season and have one of the best, if not the best, running backs in the nation. Auburn fell short of their goal, the SEC West title, but still end up in a New Year’s Day bowl. PSU rolls in this one.
Oklahoma was one of the favorites to make a trip to Tempe in August but faltered in College Station and Stillwater. Washington State, also a Fiesta Bowl-hopeful, lost one game on the season. This should be one of the best games of the bowl season, won by WSU by a slight margin.
The Georgia Bulldogs were finally able to overcome the hump and win the SEC Eastern Divison title this year. UGA took advantage of that opportunity and went on to win the SEC title. Florida State, meanwhile, overcame last year’s sub-par season to win the ACC again and advance to the BCS. The more talented Dawg squad should knock off FSU.
In my opinion, this is the best bowl matchup of all. Southern Cal was one of the best teams in the country even though they lost two games thanks to their tough schedule. Iowa thoroughly dominated their schedule with the exception of a slip-up against Iowa State. The QB’s of both teams, Brad Banks of Iowa and Carson Palmer of USC, are two of the best in the country. I’m picking Iowa, but it could go either way.
Both of these teams have had fabulous seasons this year. The Buckeyes ran their way through the Big Ten schedule and avoided a couple of possible upsets along the way. The Miami Hurricanes were dominant at the beginning of the year before showing a weakness or two towards the middle and end of the season. With over a month to prepare for the ‘Canes, Ohio State should be able to capitalize on some of those weak areas. However, Miami is better all the way around and can make up for a few mistakes with big plays, both on offense and defense. The Hurricanes grab their second consecutive national title.