ITAT Picks The Bowls, Part 2

Mark Murphy, Jason Caldwell and Stephen Atkinson give their take on part two of the NCAA bowl games.

Sunday, Dec. 28

Independence Bowl, 7:15 p.m. CT, ESPN
Northern Illinois (6-6, 5-3 MAC) vs. Louisiana Tech (7-5, 5-3 WAC)

Stephen's Take: The Bulldogs have been a much better team since switching to Ross Jenkins as quarterback, winning four of their last five. Meanwhile, the Huskies have lost three out of four with freshman QB Chandler Harnish. I'll take the non-freshman. Louisiana Tech 30, Northern Illinois 20
Jason's Take: Who knows. Both teams run the ball well and don't throw it a lick. The difference is La Tech can slow down the run and is playing virtually a home game. La Tech 24, Northern Illinois 16
Mark's Take: In what looks to be a tossup, the defense of Northern Illinois could be the difference. Northern Illinois 24, Louisiana Tech 21

Monday, Dec. 29 Bowl, 2 p.m. CT, ESPN
North Carolina State (6-6, 4-4 ACC) vs. Rutgers (7-5, 5-2 Big East)

Stephen's Take: After starting 1-5 with the lone win against Morgan State, Rutgers has won six straight with three of those over bowl teams. NC State is hot too, but not as hot as the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers 41, NC State 21
Jason's Take: Rutgers has played well at times this season behind quarterback Mike Teel and won six to close the regular season. NC State is hot as well with four consecutive wins to close the year. I'll keep it in the South. NC State 27, Rutgers 21
Mark's Take: Both teams overcame slow starts and played their best football down the stretch. After mauling Louisville to close the regular season the Scarlet Knights look ready to win a seventh consecutive game. Rutgers 27, North Carolina State 21

Alamo Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, ESPN
Missouri (9-4, 5-3 Big 12) vs. Northwestern (9-3, 5-3 Big 10)

Stephen's Take: With names like Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin, it's easy for Missouri to get all of the hype surrounding this game. Vegas has Missouri favored by 12, but the Tigers haven't done anything year to garner its expectations. However, Northwestern beat nobody worth a darn, lost to 3-9 Indiana and somehow has nine wins... only in the Big 10. Missouri 34, Northwestern 31
Jason's Take: Missouri should win this game going away, but something tells me Northwestern's offense will put up some numbers of its own. It won't be enough though. Missouri 34, Northwestern 30
Mark's Take: A pair of nine-win teams are featured in this matchup between the Big 12 and Big 10. This isn't the year to pick the Big 10. Missouri 38, Northwestern 31

Tuesday, Dec. 30

Humanitarian Bowl, 3:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
Maryland (7-5, 4-4 ACC) vs. Nevada (7-5, 5-3 WAC)

Stephen's Take: Nevada has scored 31 points or more in nine straight games. Maryland has scored less than 28 points in seven straight games and have been inconsistent all season. Nevada 31, Maryland 21
Jason's Take: Darius Heyward-Bey may have a field day against a porous Nevada defense, but Colin Kaepernick and the "Pistol" offense will be too much for the Terps. Nevada 27, Maryland 25
Mark's Take: Look for Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the WAC Offensive Player of the Year, to give the Wolfpack an edge. Nevada 31, Maryland 27

Texas Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, NFL Network
Western Michigan (9-3, 6-2 MAC) vs. Rice (9-3, 7-1 C-USA)

Stephen's Take: Rice QB Chase Clement completed 102 of 151 passes for 1,452 yards, 17 touchdowns with just one interception in November. With Jarett Dillard on his side, the Owls have the guns to win this Texas shootout. Rice 48, Western Michigan 38
Jason's Take: The Texas Bowl should be all offense with two of the better quarterbacks in the country going up against two terrible defenses. WMU's defense is just a little better. WMU 30, Rice 27
Mark's Take: A matchup of 9-3 teams that are defensively challenged, the Owls look to be better offensively. Rice 51, Western Michigan 40

Holiday Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, ESPN
Oklahoma State (9-3, 5-3 Big 12) vs. Oregon (9-3, 7-2 Pac-10)

Stephen's Take: This has all of the makings for a typical Holiday Bowl classic. Oklahoma State lost only to the other big three in the Big 12 South, but this bowl season is going to prove that the Big 12 offensive success has just as much to do with terrible defenses as it does Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, etc. Oregon 45, Oklahoma State 34
Jason's Take: A shootout is expected when Okie State takes on the Quack Attack. I like the Cowboys in this one with Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant too tough to tame. Oklahoma State 38, Oregon 28
Mark's Take: In what should be one of the better matchups of the bowl season, this looks like a tossup. Look for Oregon star running back Jeremiah Johnson to ambush the visitors from Big 12 country. Oregon 27, Oklahoma State 24

Wednesday, Dec. 31

Armed Forces Bowl, 11 a.m., ESPN
Houston (7-5, 6-2 C-USA) vs. Air Force (8-4, 5-3 MWC)

Stephen's Take: Houston hadn't quite gotten into its grove when Air Force won at Houston 31-28 in mid-September. The Cougars enter the rematch with the number one offense in the country and get their revenge. Houston gives Air Force a lesson on aerial assaults. Houston 34, Air Force 28
Jason's Take: A matchup of opposites as the wide open offense of Houston faces the ground attack from Air Force. The Falcons won the first battle between the two, not this one. Houston 27, Air Force, 24
Mark's Take: Although the Cougars have home-state advantage, this is the Armed Forces Bowl so look for the Flyboys to follow up their regular season win in Houston with another victory over the Cougars. Air Force 27, Houston 21

Sun Bowl, 1 p.m. CT, CBS
Oregon State (8-4, 7-2 Pac-10) vs. Pittsburgh (9-3, 5-2 Big East)

Stephen's Take: Pittsburgh has an astonishing 7-2 record against bowl teams this year, including a win over rival West Virginia. The Beavers suffered a crushing defeat and lost hope of the Rose Bowl in a season-ending defeat to Oregon. Momentum is on the side of the Panthers. Pittsburgh 27, Oregon State 24
Jason's Take: Oregon State features one of the most explosive ball carriers in the country in Jacquizz Rodgers. He'll be outshined by Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy, but the Beavers win the game. OSU 20, Pitt 16
Mark's Take: This is the consolation prize for the Beavers, who had a trip to Pasadena in their reach before injuries late in the season kept that from happening. Pitt's LeSean McCoy is healthy while Beaver running star Jacquizz Rodgers could play, but isn't expected to be 100 percent. Pitt 27, Oregon State 21

Music City Bowl, 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
Boston College (9-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6, 4-4 SEC)

Stephen's Take: I can't think of a worse SEC bowl team in my lifetime than the 2008 Commodores. Boston College 32, Vanderbilt 17
Jason's Take: Boston College has won nine consecutive bowl games. Vanderbilt hasn't been to a bowl game in a quarter of a century. Enough said. Boston College 27, Vandy 14
Mark's Take: The first SEC team on the bowl scene stayed home for the holidays with the Commodores playing in walking distance of their Nashville campus. Despite Vandy's local knowledge, look for the visitors from the Big East to leave town with a win. Boston College 27, Vanderbilt 17

Insight Bowl, 5 p.m., NFL Network
Kansas (7-5, 4-4 Big 12) vs. Minnesota (7-5, 3-5 Big 10)

Stephen's Take: Minnesota surprised the entire country with a 7-1 start with the lone loss to Ohio State. The Gophers weren't so golden down the stretch, losing the last four including a 55-0 home loss to Iowa. Kansas has lost almost all of its meaningful games this year, but it's hard to overlook Minnesota's 55-0 loss to end the regular season. Kansas 38, Minnesota 23
Jason's Take: Minnesota was one of the surprise teams in the country this year, but Kansas can score points in bunches and has experience on the big stage. Kansas 35, Minnesota 21
Mark's Take: Sticking with the theory that the Big 10 is down this year, look for the Jayhawks to win this one despite some defensive issues. Kansas 35, Minnesota 24

Chick-fil-A Bowl, 6:30 p.m., ET, ESPN
LSU (7-5, 3-5 SEC) vs. Georgia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC)

Stephen's Take: "Interesting" is enough to sum up this matchup. LSU's back seven on defense has struggled all year with tackling, so it'll be up to the front four to control the game defensively. Tech was good enough to win against Georgia and Matthew Stafford, so they're certainly good enough to beat LSU and Jordan Jefferson. Georgia Tech 27, LSU 20
Jason's Take: This is perhaps the most interesting game of the bunch. Georgia Tech's powerful ground attack against an LSU defense that struggled at times giving up chunks of yardage, but has a history of playing well in physical games. I still can't see LSU getting beaten by a team that won't throw the ball 10 times all game. LSU 24, Georgia Tech 20
Mark's Take: LSU is the more talented team, but hasn't played like it this year. Tech's ability to turn the ball should be the difference. Georgia Tech 24, LSU 17

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