By Brad Carroll
With so many bowls making up the college football season, there isn't a Saturday separating the official end of the regular season, as Navy beat Army last week, and the start of the postseason. For those that love the sport, this is the best time of year, and it starts with five games.
We preview and our college football experts pick against the spread the New Orleans Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Idaho Potato Bowl and the Camellia Bowl. Check back throughout the days and weeks ahead, as we will pick each and every bowl game of the season here. Follow us on Twitter for previews, analysis and picks.
New Orleans Bowl
New Orleans, 11 a.m., ESPN
Nevada (7-5) vs. LA-Lafayette (8-4)
The Spread: Nevada -1; LA-Lafayette +1
Brad's Breakdown: This bowl is Louisiana-Lafayette's home away from home, as it has played in and won the last three New Orleans Bowl games. All three games have been close, however, with the Ragin' Cajuns winning by a total of 14 points, including a 24-21 win over Tulane last year. This year's version features two similar teams, with both Lafayette and Nevada featuring running quarterbacks. Nevada should have the edge, though, with Cody Fajardo the better dual-threat player than Terrance Broadway. Farjardo passed for 2,374 yards and 18 touchdowns and also led the team in rushing with 997 yards and 13 scores. He has thrown 11 picks, though. Broadway has thrown for 2,073 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions and has 634 rushing yards and three scores. Both teams average right around 31 points per game and allow 28, so there could be lots of scoring in this game. Nevada lost the three biggest games of its season, but by only seven to Arizona, five to Boise State and seven to Colorado State. Lafayette has won seven of its last eight games. This may be Lafayette's home bowl, but Nevada is the better team and should pull out a close one.
Brad's Score: Nevada 42, LA-Lafayette 38
Craig's Score: LA-Lafayette 31, Nevada 28 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: LA-Lafayette 38, Nevada 35 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: LA-Lafayette 35, Nevada 28 (upset pick)
New Mexico Bowl
Albuquerque, NM, 2:20 p.m., ESPN
Utah State (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5)
The Spread: Utah State -10.5; UTEP +10.5
Brad's Breakdown: Utah State is seeking a 10-win season and its third bowl victory in a row, continuing a quest to become a mid-major power. Utah State has been impressive in its two previous bowl wins, topping then-No. 24 Northern Illinois 21-14 last year and 41-15 over Toledo two years ago. UTEP is working its way up to Utah State's current status, going 7-5 this season after winning just two games last year. UTEP is also trying to win its first bowl game in 47 years. Utah State features a great defense that allows 20.8 points per game, 20th in the nation. That number was even better before the Aggies lost to Boise State 50-19 in the regular season finale, a defeat that cost them a shot at the Mountain West championship. UTEP is a running team, averaging 212.7 yards per game, 32nd in the nation. But the Miners allow more points per game than they score. Utah State is the better team, but 10.5 points is a lot to give to a team looking to make a statement on the big stage.
Brad's Score: Utah State 34, UTEP 24
Craig's Score: Utah State 28, UTEP 20
Glenn's Score: Utah State 48, UTEP 20
Matt's Score: Utah State 42, UTEP 20
Las Vegas Bowl
Las Vegas, 3:30 p.m., ABC
No. 22 Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2)
The Spread: Utah -3.5; Colorado State +3.5
Brad's Breakdown: Everything about this game points to a Colorado State upset, as the Rams are an up-and-coming team that won 10 games this season. But Colorado State coach Jim McElwain, the Mountain West coach of the year, has left the program for the Swamp in Florida, which makes how the Rams will play in this game a question mark. But if there is no letdown, Colorado State has the talent to beat a ranked Utah squad. Colorado State averages over 35 points per game and is 12th in the nation in yards per game, at just under 500. Quarterback Garrett Grayson has thrown for 3,779 yards with 32 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Running back Dee Hart has 1,254 yards and 16 touchdowns and receiver Rashard Higgins caught 89 passes for 1,640 yards and 17 touchdowns. Colorado State had won nine games in a row before losing by three to Air Force in the regular season finale. Utah is ranked in the top 25 despite having four losses and dropping three of its final five games. The Utes lost to Arizona State, Oregon and Arizona in that time. On the season. Utah had big wins over USC, UCLA and Stanford. Utah does have the pass defense to slow down Colorado State, as it allows 245 yards per game and has 53 sacks. The Utes beat Colorado by four in the season finale, a team the Rams beat by 14 in the season opener. Even without their old head coach, Colorado State gets the job done in a close victory.
Brad's Score: Colorado State 28, Utah 27 (upset pick)
Craig' Score: Utah 34, Colorado State 24
Glenn's Score: Utah 38, Colorado State 30
Matt's Score: Colorado State 28, Utah 27 (upset pick)
Idaho Potato Bowl
Boise, Idaho, 5:45 p.m., ESPN
Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3)
The Spread: Western Michigan +1.5; Air Force -1.5
Brad's Breakdown: Western Michigan and Air Force combined to win three games last season. This season, the programs are playing each other in a bowl game. It's a great turnaround story, and unfortunate that both won't be able to end the season on a positive note. Air Force and Ole Miss are the only programs in the country with two wins against 10-win teams, as the Falcons beat Boise State and Colorado State in the regular season finale. Western Michigan's seven-win improvement this season tied TCU for best in the nation. The Broncos won six straight games before losing the regular season finale by 10 to Northern Illinois. They're 32nd in points per game (34.6) and 39th in points against (23.8) in the country. Air Force rushes for over 272 yards per game, eighth best in the country, and averages 30.9 points on offense and allows 24.2 points per game. The Falcons have the better resume, and with both teams motivated to win, they should outlast the Broncos.
Brad's Score: Air Force 33, Western Michigan 28
Craig's Score: Air Force 20, Western Michigan 17
Glenn's Score: Western Michigan 31, Air Force 28 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Air Force 31, Western Michigan 28
Montgomery, Alabama, 9:15 p.m., ESPN
South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6)
The Spread: South Alabama -3; Bowling Green +3
Brad's Breakdown: After starting the season 5-2, South Alabama finished with four losses in its last five games, including a 37-12 defeat to South Carolina. The Jaguars did lose by just two to Navy in their regular season finale. South Alabama is a running team, averaging 182.6 yards per game, but averages just 22.1 points per game. Bowling Green has lost three games in a row entering this game, after winning five of its previous six. The Falcons did beat a Big Ten team this season, Indiana, but also lost by 51 to Wisconsin. Bowling Green averages 29.8 points per game but has a porous defense, allowing 33.9 points per game, one of the worst in the nation. This is one of those bowl games that could easily go either way, but since South Alabama can't score and Bowling Green's offense can put up points, the Falcons are the pick in an upset.
Brad's Score: Bowling Green 28, South Alabama 24 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: South Alabama 27, Bowling Green 21
Glenn's Score: Bowling Green 45, South Alabama 30 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: South Alabama 27, Bowling Green 23
Brad Last Week: 1-1 (spread), 2-0 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Brad Season: 89-97-1 (spread), 136-51 (straight-up), 12-12 (upsets)
Craig Last Week: 1-1 (spread), 2-0 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Craig Season: 85-101-1 (spread), 132-55 (straight-up), 9-12 (upsets)
Glenn Last Week: 1-1 (spread), 2-0 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Glenn Season: 102-84-1 (spread), 131-56 (straight-up), 13-19 (upsets)
Matt Last Week: 2-0 (spread), 1-1 (straight-up), 0-1 (upset picks)
Matt Season: 92-94-1 (spread), 134-53 (straight-up), 9-12 (upsets)