By Brad Carroll
As we head into the second week of bowl games, starting with three on Saturday the 23rd and one on Sunday the 24th, the programs and matchups become more clear and the understanding, not to mention appeal, gets stronger. Known commodities Texas Tech and South Florida play first, while Fresno State and Houston wrap this session of bowl games on Christmas Eve, with a couple of interesting matchups in between.
As always, our college football experts have you covered with previews and picks against the point spread for those four games leading into Christmas. Make sure to follow all of our bowl previews and picks here and give us a follow on Twitter so you’re always in the loop on our posts..
Saturday, Dec. 23
Texas Tech (6-6) vs. South Florida (9-2), 12, ESPN
Spread: South Florida -2.5
Brad’s Breakdown: South Florida finished its regular season with a loss to UCF, but it was an amazing, back-and-forth game the Bulls easily could have won. South Florida led in the fourth quarter, and after losing the lead, tied the game with 1:41 to play. But UCF answered with a kick return for a touchdown and finished off one of the wildest wins and games of the season. That was by far South Florida’s toughest game, however, as its schedule left a lot to be desired, but nine wins is still nine wins. Texas Tech beat Texas in its regular season finale, but couldn’t beat any of the mid-to-great caliber teams on its schedule. This game could come down to respect, and the AAC desperately wants it, while the Big 12, obviously, already has it.
Brad’s Final: South Florida 45, Texas Tech 42 (South Florida)
Craig’s Final: South Florida 38, Texas Tech 30 (South Florida)
Glenn’s Final: South Florida 56, Texas Tech 48 (South Florida)
Matt’s Final: South Florida 45, Texas Tech 38 (South Florida)
Armed Forces Bowl
San Diego State (10-2) vs. Army (9-3), 3:30, ESPN
Spread: San Diego State -7
Brad’s Breakdown: Here are two programs on the upswing and will play each other in what should be a fun bowl game. Plus, it’s always fun watching a service academy play football. San Diego State won 10 games this season and was ranked for a time, but back-to-back losses to Boise State and Fresno State knocked it down a peg. The Aztecs did rally to win their final four games and boasted big wins over Arizona State and Stanford in the early going. So, this was a tremendous season for San Diego State. Army, coming off an always-emotional win over Navy, surviving a last-second field goal miss, will have to deal with an Aztecs defense that allows just 18.4 points per game. Of course, Army’s offense isn’t your run-of-the-mill college system. The Black Knights, with the most intimidating logo in all of sports (click the link to see our Top Ten list of most intimidating logos), have won seven of their last eight games, with the lone setback coming before the Navy game, a loss to North Texas, 52-49. I’m not sure Army will be able to score enough points against a strong Aztecs defense to win, but I also don’t believe the Black Knights will let this game get away. It should be a close one.
Brad’s Final: San Diego State 28, Army 24 (Army)
Craig’s Final: San Diego State 27, Army 14 (San Diego State)
Glenn’s Final: Army 24, San Diego State 17 (Army)
Matt’s Final: San Diego State 24, Army 20 (Army)
Dollar General Bowl
Appalachian State (8-4) vs. Toledo (11-2), 7, ESPN
Spread: Toledo -8
Brad’s Breakdown: This is another interesting bowl game featuring a couple of programs looking to build for the future and are doing a great job of it so far. Michigan fans remember Appalachian State for all the wrong reasons, while everyone else roots for the Mountaineers just because of that upset. Appalachian State has won eight games, including its last three. Its three losses, not counting a 31-10 loss to Georgia in the season opener, came by just 11 points combined, so the Mountaineers have been in every game this season. Toledo has had a great season as well, winning 11 games, with its only losses against Miami and Ohio. The Zips won the MAC championship game, beating Akron 45-28 in a game that wasn’t even that close. Quarterback Logan Woodside has had a big season, throwing for over 3,700 yards with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions. Toledo should roll to victory here.
Brad’s Final: Toledo 49, Appalachian State 31 (Toledo)
Craig’s Final: Toledo 34, Appalachian State 21 (Toledo)
Glenn’s Final: Toledo 24, Appalachian State 13 (Toledo)
Matt’s Final: Toledo 35, Appalachian State 20 (Toledo)
Sunday, Dec. 24
Fresno State (9-4) vs. Houston (7-4), 8:30, ESPN
Spread: Houston -2.5
Brad’s Breakdown: After losing back-to-back games to Alabama and Washington in Weeks 2 and 3 (talk about a tough way to open) , Fresno State won eight of its last nine games, including a win at home over then-No. 23 Boise State, 28-17. The following week, Fresno State and Boise State played again in the Mountain West championship game in Boise, with the Broncos coming out on top in that one, 17-14. Fresno State’s defense has been outstanding this season, allowing just 17.2 points per game. The Bulldogs average 26.7 points on offense. Houston has won three of its last four, including wins over then-No. 17 South Florida and Navy. The Cougars also beat Arizona in its first game of the season. Houston averages 28.4 points per game on offense and allows 23 a game on defense. The Cougars are the favorite, but I just don’t see it that way, so I’m going with the Fresno State upset.
Brad’s Final: Fresno State 28, Houston 21 (Fresno State)
Craig’s Final: Fresno State 27, Houston 24 (Fresno State)
Glenn’s Final: Houston 38, Fresno State 31 (Houston)
Matt’s Final: Houston 28, Fresno State 13 (Houston)