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Picking the bowl outcomes

End Zone



You might think it would be easy, predicting the winners of bowl games every year as has been the ritual in this space.

In truth, it's exasperating. The bowls' selection committees are trying to create close matchups, and they often succeed. Also, you never know which teams will come up flat and which ones will play their best of the year, in spite of the odds and their regular-season performance.

The past two years, my record has been the same: 19-16 overall, 4-1 in the Bowl Championship Series. Can't remember ever doing better than that. The best pick a year ago was forecasting that Boise State would hammer Arizona State 57-24 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Actual score: 56-24.

Anyway, here's the new list of bowl picks, with games starting Saturday:

New Mexico, Dec. 15: Arizona 34, Nevada 23. Nevada wasn't the same after losing at Air Force.

Idaho Potato, Dec. 15: Utah State 31, Toledo 27. Should be highly entertaining to the end.

Poinsettia, Dec. 20: San Diego State 23, BYU 20. Like old times for the former league rivals.

St. Petersburg, Dec. 21: Ball State 27, UCF 17. Two teams that deserve more respect.

New Orleans, Dec. 22: East Carolina 35, Louisiana-Lafayette 31. Conference USA beats Sun Belt.

Las Vegas, Dec. 22: Boise State 26, Washington 24. Broncos are down but not that far.

Hawai'i, Dec. 24: Fresno State 41, SMU 20. Great season for Fresno coach (and Air Force graduate) Tim DeRuyter.

Little Caesars, Dec. 26: Central Michigan 19, Western Kentucky 16. Hardly anyone cares, except now Bobby Petrino is taking over at Western Kentucky.

Military, Dec. 27: San Jose State 33, Bowling Green 24. Best season for San Jose State in years, and coach Mike MacIntyre is heading for Colorado.

Belk, Dec. 27: Cincinnati 34, Duke 28. Bearcats lost their coach but not their offense.

Holiday, Dec. 27: UCLA 37, Baylor 34. This bowl always seems to have crazy shootouts.

Independence, Dec. 28: La.-Monroe 31, Ohio 24. Both started fast and faded late.

Russell Athletic, Dec. 28: Rutgers 16, Virginia Tech 14. Rutgers nearly made it to a BCS bowl.

Meineke Car Care, Dec. 28: Texas Tech 25, Minnesota 21. Red Raiders still can score.

Armed Forces, Dec. 29: Air Force 38, Rice 24. Healthy Falcons salvage a winning year.

Pinstripe, Dec. 29: Syracuse 24, West Virginia 23. What happened to the Mountaineers?

Fight Hunger, Dec. 29: Arizona State 34, Navy 19. Middies can't keep up with revived Arizona State.

Alamo, Dec. 29: Oregon State 30, Texas 16. Longhorns aren't as good as their record.

Buffalo Wild Wings, Dec. 29: TCU 17, Michigan State 13. Horned Frogs hang on.

Music City, Dec. 31: Vanderbilt 37, N.C. State 13. Vandy has something to prove in this one, and it's a home game in Nashville.

Sun, Dec. 31: Southern Cal 55, Georgia Tech 21. Mismatch, with Trojans running it up.

Liberty, Dec. 31: Iowa State 37, Tulsa 30. Cyclones are more dangerous than Hurricanes.

Chick-fil-A, Dec. 31: LSU 20, Clemson 16. This could be a good test for LSU's defense.

Gator, Jan. 1: Northwestern 31, Mississippi State 29. First bowl win for Wildcats since the 1940s.

Heart of Dallas, Jan. 1: Oklahoma State 34, Purdue 21. No trouble for OSU; Purdue changing coaches.

Outback, Jan. 1: Michigan 24, South Carolina 17. Denard Robinson ends his college career happily.

Capital One, Jan. 1: Georgia 40, Nebraska 24. Huskers shellshocked after lopsided Big Ten loss.

Rose Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin 27, Stanford 23. Picking a surprise as Badgers lean on Montee Ball.

Orange, Jan. 1: Florida State 30, Northern Illinois 27. Much closer than people expect.

Sugar, Jan. 2: Florida 23, Louisville 20. Almost an upset, but not quite; Gators overrated.

Fiesta, Jan. 3: Oregon 47, Kansas State 33. Ducks deserved more at the end of this season.

Cotton, Jan. 4: Texas A&M 38, Oklahoma 35. Johnny Manziel outduels Landry Jones.

BBVA Compass, Jan. 5: Mississippi 19, Pittsburgh 17. Two teams with late momentum., Jan. 6: Kent State 34, Arkansas State 30. Both sides losing their head coaches.

BCS National Championship, Jan. 7: Alabama 37, Notre Dame 27. Tide offense carries the day, and Irish will be unable to keep up.

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