ITAT Picks The Bowls, Part 3

Mark Murphy, Jason Caldwell and Stephen Atkinson give their opinions about the next 11 bowl games.

Thursday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl, 10 a.m. CT, ESPN
South Carolina (7-5, 4-4 SEC) vs. Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big 10)

Stephen's Take: With a balanced offensive attack the Hawkeyes finished the regular season strong and tack on a bowl win. Iowa 27, South Carolina 18
Jason's Take: Iowa's running game behind Doak Walker winner Shonn Greene will be too much for the Gamecocks to handle. Iowa 24, South Carolina 16
Mark's Take: Steve Spurrier's team has struggled a good bit this year while the Hawkeyes played well down the stretch. However, the Big 10 didn't look that great in 2008 and Iowa is in the Big 10. South Carolina 20, Iowa 13

Capital One Bowl, Noon CT, ABC
Georgia (9-3, 6-2) vs. Michigan State (9-3, 6-2)

Stephen's Take: The only time Georgia has ever lost to a team currently in the Big 10 conference was the 1983 Sugar Bowl to Penn State. However, the Nittany Lions weren't in the Big 10 at the time. The Bulldogs have also won five of their last six bowl games. Georgia 27, Michigan State 17
Jason's Take: Michigan State has played well against bad teams, but has been blasted by anyone with a pulse. That will continue in a big way. Georgia 34, Michigan State 17
Mark's Take: Both teams have 9-3 records, but Michigan State goes into the game feeling a lot better about what it has done than UGA, a preseason No. 1 pick. Sticking with the theory the Big 10 is down, the Bulldogs should prevail but there should be concern about UGA's run defense for this game. Georgia 24, Michigan State 17

Gator Bowl, Noon CT, CBS
Nebraska (8-4, 5-3 Big 12) vs. Clemson (7-5, 4-4 ACC)

Stephen's Take: The Tigers have been on a role with Dabo Swinney calling the shots. Clemson 24, Nebraska 20
Jason's Take: Clemson is on fire after assistant coach Dabo Swinney was named as Terry Bowden's replacement. They won't have enough to get the win in this one though against an improved Nebraska team. Nebraska 24, Clemson 21
Mark's Take: Nebraska looks to have the better offense in what could be a down to the wire finish. Nebraska 27, Clemson 24

Rose Bowl, 3:30 p.m. CT, ABC
Penn State (11-1, 7-1) vs. USC (11-1, 8-1 Pac-10)

Stephen's Take: Penn State is a couple of points away from being undefeated and playing in the national championship game. However, I can't recall the last time a Big 10 opponent didn't get beat by more than a couple of scores by the Trojans. USC 34, Penn State 24
Jason's Take: Penn State is back in the granddaddy of them all for the first time in 15 seasons. The Nittany Lions beat Oregon State. The Beavers beat USC. That doesn't matter. USC 31, Penn State 20
Mark's Take: The Trojans have the talent to win this one with ease. Southern Cal 31, Penn State 10

Orange Bowl, 7:30 p.m. CT, FOX
Cincinnati (11-2, 6-1 Big East) vs. Virginia Tech (9-4, 5-3 ACC)

Stephen's Take: Neither of these teams have done anything impressive and are de facto winners of their conferences. In a game that is too close to call, I'll take the team that has been there before. Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 17
Jason's Take: In a game worthy of being played on Dec. 27 instead of in a BCS bowl, Cincinnati will try to complete a dream season with a win over Virginia Tech. Too bad the Hokies are better, but not by much. Virginia Tech 28, Cincinnati 24
Mark's Take: Not exactly a glamorous matchup, Cincinnati has the better ranking and better record, but look for the Hokies to prevail. Virginia Tech 21, Cincinnati 17

Friday, Jan. 2

Cotton Bowl, 1 p.m. CT, FOX
Ole Miss (8-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. Texas Tech (11-1, 7-1)

Stephen's Take: The fun and gun of Texas Tech won't put huge numbers up against an SEC opponent, but it should be enough to win a close game against the Rebs. Texas Tech 27, Ole Miss 21
Jason's Take: It's a matchup of the explosive offense versus the strong defense as Texas Tech will try to outrun Ole Miss. The Rebels will make it tough on Graham Harrell, but a shaky secondary will do them in against Michael Crabtree. Texas Tech 24, Ole Miss 20
Mark's Take: Ole Miss has pass coverage issues so this is a terrible matchup for the Rebels against the pass-happy Red Raiders. Texas Tech 41, Ole Miss 24

Liberty Bowl, 4 p.m. CT, ESPN
Kentucky (6-6, 2-6 SEC) vs. East Carolina (9-4, 6-2 C-USA)

Stephen's Take: Beating four cupcakes then winning two of the next eight doesn't sound like the makings of a bowl team, which is what Kentucky did. East Carolina beat three bowl teams throughout the season and Kentucky beat none. East Carolina 35, Kentucky 21
Jason's Take: Kentucky finally escaped playing in Nashville, only to get to travel to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl. East Carolina is a formidable foe, but Kentucky will get the win in a close one. Kentucky 24, ECU 14
Mark's Take: Look for the Pirates to take care of business against a less than dynamic group of Wildcats. East Carolina 28, Kentucky 20

Sugar Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, FOX
Utah (12-0, 8-0 MWC) vs. Alabama (12-1, 8-0 SEC)

Stephen's Take: The Crimson Tide couldn't be too excited about an undefeated regular season, losing to Florida and playing a non-BCS conference opponent in a bowl game. Emotion favors the Utes, but everything else favors Alabama. Alabama 34, Utah 14
Jason's Take: Even without Andre Smith this one will be a cakewalk for Alabama as they pummel Utah behind a stingy defense. Alabama 35, Utah 17
Mark's Take: There's not a lot of excitement about this matchup in New Orleans even though the Utes are unbeaten. Alabama 27, Utah 14

Saturday, Jan. 3

International Bowl, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN2
Buffalo (8-5, 5-3 MAC) vs. Connecticut (7-5, 3-4 Big East)

Stephen's Take: Playing a January bowl game in Toronto doesn't seem like much of a reward to me, but at least these two teams are used to the cold. Buffalo 24, Connecticut 17
Jason's Take: Turner Gill will have yet another chance to show off his Buffalo squad, but this one will be all UCONN and running back Donald Brown. Drew Willy will keep the Bulls in it, but Brown can deliver. Connecticut 20, Buffalo 17
Mark's Take: The surprising MAC champs from Buffalo ought to feel right at home north of the border, but that probably won't be enough against the UConn Huskies of the Big East. Connecticut 28, Buffalo 17

Monday, Jan. 5

Fiesta Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, FOX
Ohio State (10-2, 7-1 Big 10) vs. Texas (11-1, 7-1 Big 12)

Stephen's Take: What a fitting way to settle the tie from the home-and-home series. Ohio State has a lot of experience playing in the desert, but the Longhorns have better players. Texas 24, Ohio State 23
Jason's Take: Texas should have no problem winning this one although Ohio State's defense could make things interesting. Texas 27, Ohio State 13
Mark's Take: One of the fastest guns in the West, Texas QB Colt McCoy should have a big day in the desert vs. the Buckeyes. Texas 31, Ohio State 17

Tuesday, Jan. 6

GMAC Bowl, 7 p.m. CT, ESPN
Ball State (12-1, 8-0 MAC) vs. Tulsa (10-3, 7-1 C-USA)

Stephen's Take: How much of a distraction is the exit of Gus Malzahn? How will Ball State rebound from the conference championship loss to Buffalo? I don't know, but this one has the makings of a fun, competitive game. Ball State 31, Tulsa 28
Jason's Take: The GMAC Bowl will be one of the most watched games of the season as Gus Malzahn's offense will be on display. Tulsa will need every trick in the book to pull this one out. Tulsa 38, Ball State 35
Mark's Take: Of particular interest to Auburn fans because Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is headed to Auburn after this game, look for the Golden Hurricane to knock off 23rd-ranked Ball State. Last year Tulsa whipped Bowling Green 63-7 at the bowl game in Mobile and Ball State should be the next MAC team to lose in that game. Tulsa 41, Ball State 31

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