ITAT Picks The Bowls, Part 1

Mark Murphy, Jason Caldwell and Stephen Atkinson make their picks for the first 11 bowl games of the 2008 season.

Saturday, Dec. 20

EagleBank Bowl, 10 a.m. CT, ESPN
Wake Forest (7-5, 4-4 ACC) vs. Navy (8-4, Independent)

Stephen's Take: Navy will gets its points with Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada giving it off to Eric Kettani or pitching out to Shun White. The Demon Deacons don't have enough offense to win the rematch. Navy 27, Wake Forest 17
Jason's Take: Too much Riley Skinner in this one as the Demon Deacons make up for a loss to Navy early in the season. Wake Forest 24, Navy 17
Mark's Take: Navy's running game is ranked number one nationally and the Midshipmen won the regular season matchup. Look for another Navy victory. Navy 27, Wake Forest 24

New Mexico Bowl, 1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
Colorado State (6-6, 4-4 MWC) vs. Fresno State (7-5, 4-4 WAC)

Stephen's Take: These teams have allowed 30 points or more 13 times and have lost a combined 11 games in weak conferences. I'll be watching Duke vs. Xavier college basketball. Fresno State 38, Colorado State 21
Jason's Take: Fresno State got pounded the last time out against Boise State, but they normally play well in the big games. Fresno State 27, Colorado State 23
Mark's Take: There isn't a whole lot to get excited about in this game. Look for Fresno State's offense to be the difference vs. a CSU defense that has struggled. Fresno State 38, Colorado State 24

St. Petersburg Bowl, 3:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2
Memphis (6-6, 4-4 C-USA) vs. South Florida (7-5, 2-5 Big East)

Stephen's Take: South Florida has underperformed this year, but Memphis hasn't beaten anybody with a winning record. South Florida 31, Memphis 21
Jason's Take: Playing a home game at the Trop should mean a big win for the Bulls. South Florida 35, Memphis 16
Mark's Take: South Florida has had a disappointing season, but should have enough firepower to handle the Tigers in what is almost a home game for the Bulls. South Florida 31, Memphis 20

Las Vegas Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, ESPN
BYU (10-2, 6-2 MWC) vs. Arizona (7-5, 5-4 Pac 10)

Stephen's Take: BYU's only losses are to #7 Utah and #11 TCU. The Cougars should handle the Wildcats in the desert. BYU 41, Arizona 21
Jason's Take: The Mountain West Conference has had a huge year against the Pac-10. BYU's offensive juggernaut should continue that against a solid Arizona squad. BYU 27, Arizona 20
Mark's Take: Willie Tuitama's passing ability might be the catalyst the Wildcats need to upset the 17th-ranked Cougars. Arizona 31, BYU 27

Sunday, Dec. 21

New Orleans Bowl, 7:15 p.m. CT, ESPN
Southern Miss (6-6, 4-4 C-USA) vs. Troy (8-4, 6-1 Sun Belt)

Stephen's Take: Southern Miss had to win four straight, including a 21-3 victory over East Carolina, to reach a bowl game. Troy's defense played well down the stretch, with the exception of the second half at LSU, and will play good enough to get the Trojans to nine wins. Troy 23, Southern Miss 20
Jason's Take: Southern Miss limps in at 6-6, but the duo of Damion Fletcher and DeAndre Brown will be too much for the Trojans to handle. Southern Miss 24, Troy 21
Mark's Take: Larry Blakeney's Trojans won in this same venue two years ago vs. Rice and could do it again, but the Golden Eagles are coming in on a four-game winning streak. Southern Miss 38, Troy 31

Tuesday, Dec. 23

Poinsettia Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, ESPN
Boise State (12-0, 8-0 WAC) vs. TCU (10-2, 7-1 MWC)

Stephen's Take: TCU's only losses have come against top 10 teams. Boise State continues that feat for the Horned Frogs. Boise State 31, TCU 13
Jason's Take: In the best non BCS game TCU will look to show they belong with the big boys as they take on giant killer Boise State. The defense for TCU will be the difference. TCU 20, Boise State 17
Mark's Take: This bowl hit a home run by lining up a game featuring ninth-ranked and unbeaten Boise State vs. a 10-2 TCU team that is ranked 11th. Look for a close game and for the boys from smurf turf land to enjoy their visit to sunny San Diego. Boise State 34, TCU 27

Wednesday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, ESPN
Hawaii (7-6, 3-5 WAC) vs. Notre Dame (6-6, Independent)

Stephen's Take: Notre Dame limps in having lost four of its last five, but Hawaii was 3-5 in the WAC. What does that tell you? Notre Dame 27, Hawaii 16
Jason's Take: Notre Dame is trying to salvage something from another disappointing season with a trip to the island to face homestanding Hawaii. The Warriors will play tough, but Notre Dame will be too physical. Notre Dame 31, Hawaii 13
Mark's Take: Exhibit A on why there are probably too many bowl games. Hawaii 31, Notre Dame 24

Friday, Dec. 26

Motor City Bowl, 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
Florida Atlantic (6-6, 4-3 Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (8-4, 6-2 MAC)

Stephen's Take: We could see close to 100 points from these fast-paced offenses against terrible defenses. Central Michigan 45, Florida Atlantic 38
Jason's Take: In a battle of offensive powerhouses Central Michigan has the edge in this one. CMU 35, FAU 30
Mark's Take: Exhibit B on why there are probably too many bowls. Central Michigan 31, Florida Atlantic 20

Saturday, Dec. 27

Meineke Car Care Bowl, Noon CT, ESPN
West Virginia (8-4, 5-2 Big East) vs. North Carolina (8-4, 4-4 ACC)

Stephen's Take: Nine bowls in we finally get a second game worth watching. Butch Davis has North Carolina headed in the right direction, but the Tar Heels don't have the horses to keep up with Pat White, Noel Devine and company. West Virginia 27, North Carolina 17
Jason's Take: Another solid matchup, West Virginia will close out Pat White's career in style. WVU 30, North Carolina 17
Mark's Take: Pat White wraps up his impressive college career with a victory despite the Tar Heels having home-state advantage. West Virginia 27, North Carolina 17

Champs Sports Bowl, 3:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
Wisconsin (7-5, 3-5 Big 12) vs. Florida State (8-4, 5-3 ACC)

Stephen's Take: Florida State had gone to 15 straight New Years bowl games until the 2006 season. Now the Seminoles have come up short three consecutive years. The Seminoles are still good enough to beat a Wisconsin team that escaped Cal-Poly in overtime in the regular season finale. Florida State 25, Wisconsin 18
Jason's Take: Florida State has played surprisingly well at times while Wisconsin has been a disappointment. In this one though the Badgers are bowl savvy while the Seminoles haven't played well in the postseason. Wisky 20, FSU 16
Mark's Take: Two good defensive teams match up in Orlando in what should be a close game. FSU 21, Wisconsin 17

Emerald Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, ESPN
Miami (Fla.) (7-5, 4-4 ACC) vs. California (8-4, 6-3 Pac 10)

Stephen's Take: The Hurricanes haven't been to a New Years bowl game since the 2003 season and have yet another average team. California has had a solid season and running back Jahvid Best has 512 yards and six touchdowns on the ground the last two games. California 31, Miami 17
Jason's Take: Miami has athletes and speed, but Cal will have the "Best" player on the field in this one. Cal 24, Miami 13
Mark's Take: Miami travels across the country to face the Bears who make the short trip across San Francisco Bay. The Pac 10 hasn't been wowing anybody this year so if the trend continues the Hurricanes will find a way to win. Miami 27, Cal 24

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