***I want to apologize for getting this out a little late. My sister had her picks in on time and I, per usual, couldn’t get my act together.***
Happy holidays from The Locker! I decided to challenge my sister this bowl season to a bowl pick’em. As was well publicized on her site The Lady Sportswriter we had a weekly challenge guessing the over/under lines on the weekly matchups. We decided to extend the fun into the post season and pick the winners of (what we consider) the top bowl games.
Lets get right to it!
The Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
The Lady’s Take: If this game hinged on QB play, I’d be picking Fresno State, hands down. I’ve seen and heard enough about Derek Carr to believe he’s the real deal for the Bulldogs. Plus, you have to figure they’ll be itching to embarrass the Trojans, on live television, in a game that acts as a tune-up to their August 30 rematch with the Trojans next season.
That said, as an SEC apologist, I truly believe it’s all about the defense, and the Bulldogs have none—over 700 yards given up to San Jose State…for reals—Uh-uh. This game might be close because of the coaching transition at USC, but the Trojans have a statement to make, and I think they’ll make one here.
My take: I’ll tell you what, I like Derek Carr. A lot. Not “a lot more than David Carr” a lot, like, “a lot enough to take him as a top-10 quarterback when he decides to take his game to the next level” a lot. Fresno hasn’t played well of late, but I look for them to attempt to make a statement against USC and their third head coach this season.
Lady’s Pick: USC
My Pick: Fresno State
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
The Lady’s take: Good grief, why not just call it the “Fight Boredom Bowl” and let that be it? I mean, you have a lame duck coach on one side and BYU on the other—yawn.
If I have to pick a team, I’ll pick Washington, and that’s only because the Cougars aren’t guaranteed to be 100 percent on defense by the time this game is played.
My take: BYU’s defense can be considered very good. A lot of them are playing for scouts who will, no doubt, be looking to draft them. I’m not sold on that offense, however. Taysom Hill has made strides at quarterback, but his accuracy issues could be a problem. Especially against a team like Washington, whose pass defense is tops in the Pac-12 and ready to ball hawk. I’m going Washington
Lady’s Pick: Washington
My Pick: Washington
Lady’s Take: Duke vs. Texas A&M…wrap your mind around that matchup for a minute and tell me how it grabs ya. The Blue Devils rarely garner my attention, unless they’re playing North Carolina…in BASKETBALL! And I like Johnny Football about as much as I like chitterlings. Just keepin’ it real.
I suspect this will be a high scoring affair as neither of these teams remembers what it’s like to play defense, but Duke hasn’t met a QB this season who is anything like Johnny—a guy who will be playing as much for his NFL Draft status as anything.
My Take: Not so fast Kim. Duke hasn’t played a QB like Johnny Football? Pretty sure they just got roasted by Jameis Winston (the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner by the by). Anyway, that is probably where anything resembling a pro-Duke sentiment ends. Manziel goes out a winner here, and takes Mike Evans with him to the NFL draft.
Lady’s Pick: Texas A&M
My Pick: Texas A&M
Lady’s Take: Texas Tech started out like a ball of fire and ended like a limp noodle. They enter this game with a five-game losing streak, one less quarterback, and absolutely no defense to speak of.
By contrast, despite an injury to their big time running back, Marion Grice, the Sun Devils come in more balanced, more motivated, and more hungry to prove that they are back to the business of winning big in the Pac-12. If they can lock down a win in this game, that’s 11 games in the ‘w’ column—they haven’t done that since Jake ‘The Snake’ Plummer roamed the sidelines.
My Take: When the Sun Devils hung 62 points on the Trojans in Tempe I saw something in the Sun Devils I hadn’t expected to see. Some push back. It had kind of become a foregone conclusion the last few years that Arizona State would be “those guys” in the Pac-12 South that would tease you with expectation and then remind you why they shouldn’t.
Texas Tech is coming in ugly, and without a stable presence at quarterback I don’t expect the Red Raiders to be able to keep up. Kudos to Kingsbury for putting a foundation in place this season, though.
Lady’s Pick: ASU
My Pick: ASU
Lady’s take: Ah, yes, how the Georgia Bulldogs broke my little heart this season. Too many injuries, too much bad defensive play (particularly in the secondary), and not nearly enough Todd Gurley. Oh, what might have been…
While few fans are certain to get up for a repeat bowl matchup with Nebraska, you can bet new Georgia starting QB Hutson Mason is fired up and ready to get it going; he’s got a lot to prove, and it starts with this game right here.
Nebraska has a nice running game with Ameer Abdullah, but I hesitate to state they’ve got much else worth talking about in this game—pride, maybe?
In any event, I hate picking games where Georgia plays, but I’ll go with the Dawgs anyhow because…well…I’m a Georgia Girl—DUH!
My Take: The fan in me is still in disbelief because I am still under the impression the Bulldogs (NOT the Tigers) should be coming out to Pasadena. But like Gurley’s ankle, Marshall’s knee, poor secondary play, and a miracle that went the wrong way the reality is they aren’t going to California. They’ll be in Florida…again. Against Nebraska….again.
Nebraska has had its own issues, but I don’t think they’ll have enough to stop Georgia. Mason isn’t Murray, but he’s shown he can run the offense and should be comforted with Todd Gurley healthy in the backfield. Nebraska is coming in with their own injury issues and since Martinez can’t go I don’t see much of a way Nebraska can put much together to push the Dawgs. Although beware, the Dawgs secondary has a way of making even the mediocre look like world beaters.
Lady’s pick: Georgia
My pick: Georgia
Lady’s take: I thought the Tigers had a defense, until I saw them give up a season’s worth of rushing yards to the Auburn Tigers in the SEC Championship—what an embarrassment that was.
Oklahoma State has some nice weapons, but I’m not altogether sure they’re going to be able to chuck it all over the field against Mizzou—no matter how suspect the defense. That said, the Cowboys won’t be scared of their former Big 12 mates, so expect them to come in…guns blazing.
My take: Much like the rest of you, I did watch as Missouri’s defensive line played dead against the Auburn rushing attack. I also saw what they can do if you try to drop back and pass on them. In beating Georgia and Texas A&M they showed they can contain prolific passers (they almost beat Connor Shaw as well, a very underrated passer in the SEC). This team can play defense, particularly against the pass because of an excellent pass rush.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma State, that is where the better part of their offense comes from. If Missouri is respectable against the run, meaning: they let Oklahoma State know that isn’t going to be much of an option, then I expect Missouri to close out the year with a nice Cotton Bowl win and their 12th victory in 2013.
Lady’s pick: Oklahoma State
My Pick: Missouri
Lady’s take: Why on earth are they doing this to Texas? Seriously…they drew Oregon? Wow. what a way to send Mack Brown off into the proverbial sunset.
Good luck hooking them, horns.
My take: Well they sure aren’t making things easy for Mack on his way out. I know Oregon has had its issues, but they still run well, and Mariota runs this offense about as great as any signal-caller in the country runs their own.
I have to give credit where it’s due, however, if you told five people Texas was a win away from winning the Big-12 and representing its conference in a BCS bowl four of them would have thought you were kidding. I still take Oregon, though. Texas is still vulnerable to the run; and Oregon? All they are bringing into this matchup is the ninth ranked rushing offense…in the country.
Lady’s pick: Oregon
My pick: Oregon
Lady’s take: So, Bob Stoops has a chance to show the big, bad, boys of the SEC that they aren’t as good as everyone thinks they are; you make sure you do a good job, Bob, because the whole world will be waiting for you to prove your point while Saban’s bunch will be more than happy to see you eat those words…with a side of collard greens and cornbread.
My take: Propaganda? SEC propaganda? Alright lets see, since 2003 Oklahoma is 1-5 in BCS bowls (two of those losses coming to “overrated” SEC teams). Second, I bit my tongue earlier about the remarks he made before the season about the SEC being overrated because their “bottom teams aren’t as good as the Big-12 bottom teams”. Never mind the Big-12 has only 10 teams (to the SEC’s 14), if you can’t beat the top teams in the conference you’re jabbing I would stop worrying about whose lower half of the conference is better.
‘Bama wins this one.
Lady’s pick: Alabama
My pick: Alabama
Lady’s Take: I like UCF’s defense. They play a tough brand of football and love a good challenge. A few years back, in the Liberty Bowl, they stunned by beloved Georgia Bulldogs en route to a win; that win pretty well set them on track for where they are now.
No denying the job former Georgia Tech coach, George O’Leary has done with the Knights.
However…this is Baylor we’re talking about here. They of the offense that doesn’t stop—whether through the air or on the ground—and I just cannot see a scenario where the Knights are able to stop that train for four quarters.
My take: UCF has a pretty good defense. Baylor’s offense is otherworldly. I don’t see this as one of those situations where the defense wins out this time.
Lady’s pick: Baylor
My Pick: Baylor
Lady’s take: The last time I saw Clemson in an Orange Bowl, they were getting demolished by West Virginia to the tune of 70-33; let’s hope the Tigers are able to make a better game of it this time around.
The Buckeyes had their collective hearts set on playing in the National Championship Game, before the rest of the world finally figured out what most knew from day one: a soft schedule + a weak conference slate does not a championship team make.
Urban Meyer’s boys got downright exposed against Michigan State and now have to settle for this game against Clemson. Remember that when you see them lose this game.
My Take: Ohio State’s consolation for losing a shot at the National Championship is Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Good defenses have made Ohio State look pedestrian in their efforts, lucky for them they haven’t faced many of those.
I expect this one to be a shootout, but the edge is on the sidelines: Urban Meyer is as good as they come and will prove it once again.
Lady’s pick: Clemson
My pick: Ohio State
Lady’s take: Michigan State almost seems destined to win this one. There’s something about the tough, hard-fought, nature of their season that makes me feel like they just want this one more than those boys from Southern Cali.
I don’t have a crystal ball or a truly good analysis for this one, just a feeling that the Spartans are ready to end this season the way they started it: winning.
My take: My love affair with what the Cardinal have done the last few years is bordering ridiculous. Not many programs can turnover a Championship caliber coach, quarterback, tight ends, and staff and still end up in the National Championship conversation.
On the other hand, what Michigan State has put together on defense this season in winning the Big Ten is pretty remarkable. Complete teams complete missions however, and Stanford has the complete package on both sides to make things difficult for Michigan State to play the type of game they’re accustomed to.
Lady’s pick: Michigan State
My pick: Stanford
Lady’s take: I told my brother I would flip a coin and pick a winner for this one.
I hate Auburn, and nothing would please me more than to see them die a slow death on the football field against FSU, but you can’t say those types of things and then rattle off an objective analysis so, give me a minute while I get my quarter ready:
Heads for Auburn. Tails for FSU.
It’s heads. Go figure, even when flipping coins those sons of bums get lucky.
My take: Few can make sense of how Auburn got to this point. Between the miracle throw against Georgia and the missed field goal heard round the globe against Alabama, for all intents and purposes Auburn shouldn’t be anywhere near this game. Yet, here I am trying to pick a winner from the most unlikely of scenarios.
I won’t flip a coin (though it sounds like a great idea), but I will look at what we have on the field. Auburn brings a rushing attack that is second to none in the country. Tre Mason steam rolled Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia; all three (yes, even Georgia) are very good against the run.
On the other side you have Heisman tropy winner Jameis Winston, who put on quite a show himself this season at quarterback. I watch that position intensely, and always give the edge to the team with better quarterback play. Never mind Florida State’s defense comes in ranked first nationally as far as points allowed (although take that with a grain of salt considering their toughest opponent was Clemson).
I’m going to say Florida State ends the SEC’s run and wins this game. Barring a miracle of course….
Lady’s pick: Auburn
My pick: Florida State