By Brad Carroll
The first week of the college football bowl season had some upsets, big scores and surprises along the way, making for a solid start to the postseason. But as we enter the second week of the bowl season, the matchups truly start to have that "big-time" feel, especially on this second Saturday, where six games feature big-name programs throughout.
We preview, analyze and our four college football experts pick against the spread the St. Petersburg Bowl, Sun Bowl, Heart of Dallas Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl, Independence Bowl and the Foster Farms Bowl right here. Make sure to click here for all of our past, present and future bowl picks of the season. And follow us on Twitter for all of our updates, picks and more here.
St. Petersburg Bowl
Connecticut (6-6) vs. Marshall (9-3), St. Petersburg, 11 a.m., ESPN
The Spread: Connecticut +4; Marshall -4
Analysis: Connecticut is seeking its first winning season since 2010 and hasn't played in a bowl game in four seasons, so the Huskies should be plenty motivated to win this game. The Huskies do have a marquee win this season already, beating previously-undefeated Houston in late November to become bowl eligible and ruin whatever chance, small as it was, of the Cougars getting any College Football Playoff consideration. UConn doesn't have an offense to speak of, averaging just 17.8 points per game, and quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has thrown for just nine touchdowns against seven interceptions this season. Defensively, UConn is solid, allowing just 19.8 points per game. Marshall is going for its third straight 10-win season, but playing UConn in a bowl game the day after Christmas isn't exactly a game to get excited for. The Thundering Herd average nearly 33 points and just over 400 yards per game on offense. Quarterback Chase Litton has 22 touchdown passes to seven interceptions. The defense is solid as well, allowing just 18.4 points per game. UConn might have the motivation, but Marshall is clearly the better team.
Brad's Score: Marshall 38, UConn 28
Craig's Score: Marshall 24, UConn 10
Glenn's Score: Marshall 35, UConn 20
Matt's Score: UConn 28, Marshall 24 (upset pick)
Miami (8-4) vs. Washington State (8-4), El Paso, 2 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Miami +3; Washington State -3
Analysis: Miami is such a shell of its former self it is actually a field goal underdog against Washington State. The Hurricanes did win eight games this season, including a thrilling win over Duke, where they used lateral after lateral to return a kick for a game-winning touchdown. But Miami lost four games, including a 58-0 humiliation against Clemson, the worst loss in program history. Next season, former Georgia head coach Mark Richt takes over the Hurricanes. This season, Miami averages 28.9 points on offense and allows 28.8 points on defense. Joseph Yearby needs 61 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the year and quarterback Brad Kaaya has over 3,000 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. Washington State has the same record as the Hurricanes but a completely different feel. The Cougars have wins over Oregon, Arizona State and a ranked UCLA squad. Their offense is explosive, averaging 32.4 points per game, led by quarterback Luke Falk, who has passed for 4,266 yards and 36 touchdowns. The Washington State defense lets up 28.8 points per game. There should be plenty of offense with these two teams, but it'll be Washington State that gets the victory.
Brad's Score: Washington State 45, Miami 31
Craig's Score: Miami 31, Washington State 28 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Miami 24, Washington State 20 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Miami 35, Washington State 20 (upset pick)
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Washington (6-6) vs. Southern Miss (9-4), Dallas, 2:20 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Washington -8.5; Southern Miss +8.5
Analysis: Washington reached .500 in the regular season finale against rival Washington State, winning 45-10. Even though Cougars quarterback Luke Falk didn't play, it was a huge win for the Huskies. Washington averages 29.5 points per game and allows 17.8. The Huskies upset ranked Southern Cal and Washington State, but have been on an otherwise downward trend, losing four of their last seven games. Southern Miss is seeking a 10-win season, which would be huge for a program that has been more associated with losing than anything else the past several seasons. Quarterback Nick Mullens leads an offense that averages 40.6 points per game. Mullens has thrown for 4,145 yards and 36 touchdowns. Jalen Richard has over 1,000 yards rushing and Michael Thomas has over 1,200 yards receiving for the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss's defense does let up points as well, allowing 24.2 per game, and allowed 45 in a loss to Western Kentucky in the regular season finale. Washington should have enough to pull out a win, but Southern Miss will keep it close throughout.
Brad's Score: Washington 28, Southern Miss 23
Craig's Score: Washington 35, Southern Miss 28
Glenn's Score: Washington 42, Southern Miss 24
Matt's Score: Washington 56, Southern Miss 20
Indiana (6-6) vs. Duke (7-5), Bronx, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Indiana -2; Duke +2
Analysis: Indiana is playing in its first bowl game since 2007, so motivation will be easy to find for the Hoosiers looking for a winning season. Indiana started the year 4-0, then lost six straight, before winning the final two games, against Maryland and Purdue. Indiana can put up points, averaging 36.2 points per game. The Hoosiers can also let up a ton of points on defense, allowing 37.1 per game. They took Michigan to double overtime in mid-November before falling 48-41. It's a testament to what has become of the Duke program to say it has had a down season with a 7-5 record. The Blue Devils were 6-1 this season before losing a heartbreaking, controversial game against Miami, where a series of laterals won the game on a kick return for the Hurricanes. That started a four-game losing streak before Duke slipped past Wake Forest in the regular season finale. Duke averages 30.5 points on offense and 24.1 on defense. There are some high scoring averages in this game, but look for a low-scoring, close win by the Blue Devils.
Brad's Score: Duke 20, Indiana 17 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Indiana 24, Duke 20
Glenn's Score: Duke 24, Indiana 20 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Indiana 28, Duke 24
Tulsa (6-6) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6), Shreveport, 5:45 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Tulsa +13.5; Virginia Tech -13.5
Analysis: A similar situation developed with Florida State several years ago, where I was the only one of our college football experts to pick the Seminoles, solely based on the fact Bobby Bowden would be coaching his final game. Florida State won that game easily. This year, the circumstances are the same, legendary coach Frank Beamer will be coaching his final game and the Virginia Tech players will want nothing more than to win this game in his honor. It's a motivation that few teams will ever receive. On the field, Virginia Tech isn't anything special, and Beamer has been a lost coach for some time now, but all that doesn't matter Saturday evening. Virginia Tech, which averages 29 points per game and allows 24.2, did get bowl eligible in the finale, beating rival Virginia 23-20. That allowed the Hokies to make their 23rd straight bowl game. Tulsa is the unlucky team having to face Beamer in his final game. Tulsa averages 35.9 points per game on offense and allows 38.6 on defense. The Golden Hurricane also won their regular season finale to get into this bowl, beating Tulane 45-34. But, again, this is Beamer's game to win.
Brad's Score: Virginia Tech 35, Tulsa 17
Craig's Score: Virginia Tech 38, Tulsa 21
Glenn's Score: Virginia Tech 27, Tulsa 17
Matt's Score: Virginia Tech 49, Tulsa 13
Foster Farms Bowl
UCLA (8-4) vs. Nebraska (5-7), Santa Clara, 9:15 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: UCLA -6.5; Nebraska +6.5
Analysis: In name alone, this is one of the biggest bowl games of the season, as UCLA and Nebraska represent two of the historic college football programs. But that's about the only thing these two teams can lay claim to this season. Nebraska shouldn't even be playing in a bowl this year, as it finished the season under .500. The Huskers did have a gigantic victory this season, beating Michigan State 39-38 on a touchdown pass with 17 seconds left. The Spartans are one of four teams in the College Football Playoff. Nebraska lost to pretty much every other good team it played, including BYU, Miami, Illinois, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Purdue and Iowa. Not surprisingly, the Huskers turn the ball over a ton, with quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. throwing 16 interceptions alone. UCLA has a bright future at quarterback, with Josh Rosen throwing 3,351 yards with 20 touchdowns in his freshman season. But for the second season in a row, the Bruins lost their regular season finale, failing to reach the Pac-12 title game both times. In this game, UCLA has the talent to best Nebraska.
Brad's Score: UCLA 38, Nebraska 30
Craig's Score: UCLA 34, Nebraska 27
Glenn's Score: UCLA 38, Nebraska 28
Matt's Score: UCLA 49, Nebraska 10