As Auburn's coaches and players begin preparations for their Jan. 10th BCS Championship Game appearance vs. Oregon after an impressive showing in the SEC title game, the bowl season gets started this week. Here are the picks for the first group of bowls:
UTEP vs. BYU at the New Mexico Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 18--Both teams finished 6-6, but BYU picked up five of its wins in the second half of the season while UTEP won just one of its last six games. BYU should win this game.
Fresno State vs. Northern Illinois at the Humanitarian Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 18--Northern Illinois has the better record at 10-3 vs. 8-4 Fresno State. This is a tough game to pick, but I am going with Fresno because Northern Illinois lost its head coach to Minnesota right after it lost in an upset to Miami of Ohio in the MAC Championship Game.
Ohio University vs. Troy at the New Orleans Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 18–The Bobcats (8-4) won seven of their last eight games, but Troy's offense should be the difference as the 7-5 Trojans win in a close game.
Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville at the Beef O' Brady's Bowl, Tuesday, Dec. 21--Southern Mississippi (8-4) should have too much offense for Louisville (6-6).
Boise State vs. Utah at the MAACO Bowl, Wednesday, Dec. 22–The loss to Nevada was very costly for Boise State (11-1), which was bumped out of the BCS bowl picture because of it. Utah (10-2) has struggled vs. good competition so Boise State should win this game without too much trouble.
San Diego State vs. Navy at the Poinsettia Bowl, Thursday, Dec. 23--Navy (8-3), fresh off its victory over Army, should find a way to get by an improved San Diego State team that finished 8-4. This could be a good game.
North Carolina State vs. West Virginia at the Champs Sports Bowl, Tuesday, Dec. 28--This could be one of the better pre-New Year's Day bowls as West Virginia (9-3) picks up its 10th win of the season vs. 8-4 N.C. State.
Missouri vs. Iowa at the Insight Bowl, Tuesday, Dec. 28--Missouri (10-2) and its offense should be able to handle Iowa (7-5) and its defense in this Big 12 vs. Big 10 matchup. Missouri is on a three-game winning streak. Iowa is on a three-game losing streak.
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)