College Football Expert Bowl Picks: Holiday Bowl, Nebraska vs USC, Military Bowl, Independence Bowl, Sun Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl

December 26, 2014

By Brad Carroll

 

Saturday is college football day, and on this specific installment there is five bowl games that have their own special niche in the sport. The Military Bowl, Sun Bowl, Independence Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl and Holiday Bowl all have the cache to carry a college football Saturday and several big-name programs will be in action to give fans everything they could want as the season comes closer to its conclusion.

 

We preview and our college football experts pick all of those games against the spread here. Follow all of our picks and more on Twitter here.

 

[New Orleans Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Idaho Potato Bowl, Camellia Bowl picks against the spread here]

 

[Miami Beach Bowl picks against the spread here]

 

[Poinsettia Bowl and Boca Raton Bowl picks against the spread here]

 

[Bahamas Bowl and Hawai'i Bowl picks against the spread here]

 

[St. Petersburg Bowl, Heart of Dallas Bowl, Quick Lane Bowl picks against the spread here]

 

Military Bowl

Annapolis, Maryland, 1 p.m., ESPN

Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)

The Spread: Cincinnati -3; Virginia Tech +3

 

Brad's Breakdown: Virginia Tech will play in its 22nd consecutive bowl game Saturday afternoon, getting there by beating rival Virginia in the regular season finale. While that's something to be proud of, as it's the second longest streak in the country to Florida State's 33 straight bowl appearances, a 6-6 season has become the norm for Virginia Tech over the past few years, nothing like what the Hokies were just a short while ago. Coach Frank Beamer, who will coach from the press box after undergoing throat surgery, has lost his way with the program and probably should be fired if the school and fans looked at his recent results instead of a short stretch of great success with guys like Michael Vick running the show. The Hokies won two of their last three games coming into this game, including a win over then-No. 21 Duke and an embarrassing 6-3 defeat to Wake Forest in double overtime. Virginia Tech isn't a scoring machine, averaging just 23.3 points per game, but does sport a great defense, allowing 20.4 points per game, 18th best in the nation. Cincinnati won a share of the American Athletic Conference title this season, with two other teams. The Bearcats have won seven straight games by more than 20 points on average over that span. Quarterback Gunner Kiel has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. Most of the signs point to Cincinnati winning this game against Virginia Tech, but the Hokies should have enough magic left in the program to pull the upset and get over .500 for the season.

Brad's Score: Virginia Tech 21, Cincinnati 20 (upset pick)

Craig's Score: Cincinnati 17, Virginia Tech 10

Glenn's Score: Cincinnati 28, Virginia Tech 13

Matt's Score: Cincinnati 56, Virginia Tech 28

 

Sun Bowl

El Paso, Texas, 2 p.m., CBS

No. 15 Arizona State (9-3) vs. Duke (9-3)

The Spread: Arizona State -7.5; Duke +7.5

 

Brad's Breakdown: Arizona State was a College Football Playoff contender until an eight-point loss to unranked Oregon State in mid-November ruined those dreams. The Sun Devils beat Washington State after that loss but closed with seven-point defeat to then-No. 11 Arizona in the regular season finale, so they limp into the one bowl that isn't taken by the ESPN group. Duke is in the same situation as the Sun Devils, limping into this game after losing two of its last three games, against North Carolina and Virginia Tech, a pair of mediocre teams. The Blue Devils did beat Wake Forest by 20 their last time out. Both the Sun Devils and Blue Devils have solid offenses, with Arizona State averaging 37 points per game, 19th best in the nation, and Duke scoring 32.5 points per game, 44th. Defense separates the two, as the Sun Devils allow 27.7 per game to the Blue Devils' 20.6, which is 21st in the nation. Arizona State is a big favorite for a reason, however, and the Sun Devils will win the game, but Duke keeps it within a touchdown.

Brad's Score: Arizona State 34, Duke 27

Craig's Score: Arizona State 45, Duke 30

Glenn's Score: Arizona State 42, Duke 34

Matt's Score: Arizona State 63, Duke 17

 

Independence Bowl

Shreveport, LA, 3:30 p.m., ABC

Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)

The Spread: Miami -3.5; South Carolina +3.5

 

Brad's Breakdown: Two under-performing, well-known programs give this afternoon bowl matchup some juice even though neither Miami nor South Carolina are above .500 on the season. Miami is 8-10 since reaching No. 7 in the AP poll last year before being routed by Florida State. The Hurricanes will finish another season in single-digit wins, and haven't reached the 10-win plateau since 2003. Just about the only thing current Canes and their fans can do now is watch the ESPN documentary to remember just how good the program used to be. Miami does have a pair of talented players on offense, in running back Duke Johnson and ACC rookie of the year quarterback Brian Kaaya. The Hurricanes average a tick under 30 points per game, while allowing 24.3 points on defense. South Carolina began this season ranked ninth in the country, but that quickly went away with a 52-28 loss to Texas A&M at home in the season opener. The Gamecocks defense never recovered, allowing an average of 31.2 points per game. South Carolina averages 33.3 points per game on offense, but comes into this matchup following a 35-17 loss to then-No. 21 Clemson. Miami should have no problem knocking South Carolina under .500 for the season. 

Brad's Score: Miami 34, South Carolina 24

Craig's Score: Miami 35, South Carolina 24

Glenn's Score: South Carolina 28, Miami 24 (upset pick)

Matt's Score: Miami 37, South Carolina 10

 

Pinstripe Bowl

New York, 4:30 p.m., ESPN

Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6)

The Spread: Boston College -3; Penn State +3

 

Brad's Breakdown: There shouldn't be much scoring in the Pinstripe Bowl this year, which considering how poorly the Yankees have hit the last few years will be nothing new in the Bronx. Penn State has the second-ranked defense in the land, with Boston College close behind at No. 12. Penn State had its bowl ban lifted in September and barely worked its way into the postseason with a 6-6 record. The Nittany Lions haven't been impressive getting there, however, going just 2-6 in the Big Ten, beating Rutgers and Indiana by a combined nine points. Penn State has lost two games in a row. Boston College won seven games this season, highlighted by an upset of then-No. 9 USC in the early going. The Eagles also pushed Florida State to the brink, losing 20-17 on a field goal with three seconds left. Quarterback Tyler Murphy is the Boston College offense, and is more of a threat running the ball than passing it. Murphy is a Yankees fan, so this will certainly be a thrill for him. Penn State, however, won't allow him to enjoy it too much, as defense rules the day with a Nittany Lions upset victory.

Brad's Score: Penn State 23, Boston College 20 (upset pick)

Craig's Score: Boston College 24, Penn State 17

Glenn's Score: Penn State 24, Boston College 17 (upset pick)

Matt's Score: Boston College 24, Penn State 13

 

Holiday Bowl

San Diego, 8 p.m., ESPN

Nebraska (9-3) vs. No. 24 USC (8-4)

The Spread: Nebraska +7; USC -7

 

Brad's Breakdown: Nebraska is a program in flux, as the school fired coach Bo Pelini after a 9-3 season, a decision that drew the ire of many players and those that follow college football, calling the dismal unfair. Pelini didn't help matters following the fact, as he gave a profanity-laced tirade against the school's decision-makers for firing him and their lack of support for the program. Pelini is now the head coach at Youngstown State, while the Cornhuskers players will have to put all that behind them and get ready for a marquee bowl matchup against USC. It no doubt will be tough going for Nebraska. Even with Pelini at the helm, Nebraska was allowing a ton of points on defense, allowing 59 in a loss to Wisconsin, 28 in a loss to Minnesota and 34 in an overtime win over Iowa to close out the season. USC could have a field day going against that defense, especially with quarterback Cody Kessler on fire coming into this matchup. Kessler threw for 372 yards and six touchdowns in a 49-14 win over Notre Dame to close out the season. USC has lost to Arizona State, Utah and UCLA this season. Both teams come into this matchup heading in opposite directions, and USC will take advantage with a big win over Nebraska.

Brad's Score: USC 42, Nebraska 21

Craig's Score: USC 42, Nebraska 27

Glenn's Score: USC 42, Nebraska 27

Matt's Score: USC 45, Nebraska 3

 

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