Now that we have gotten through a great first week of bowl games (wasn't the R & L Carriers New Orleans Bowl exciting?!), we finally enter the second week of the bowl season...also known as the time when teams that aren't mediocre start playing (with the exception of Boise and Utah, who obviously aren't mediocre). This also means that games involving the Big Ten will soon be underway, with Iowa kicking off the slate against Mizzou in Tempe, Arizona. Below are short descriptions of the bowl games with score predictions that will probably end up being wrong.
Iowa vs. Missouri: Insight Bowl: Both teams were probably hoping for better bowl games this season, especially Iowa, who is probably the best 7-5 team in the country. Iowa sort of suffered the opposite fate of what happened last season, as the margin of their losses adds up to only 18 points, with only one of those losses (Minnesota) being horrific. Unfortunately, the loss of DJK does hurt the production of Iowa's offense, but probably not as much as common wisdom would suggest. However, Iowa's last three losses came at the worst time...their last three games. I think Iowa could definitely win this one, but I think they lose in (another) heartbreaker.
Missouri 24, Iowa 23
Illinois vs. Baylor: Texas Bowl: So which Illinois team will we see in Houston? The one that played solid football against top ten teams in Ohio State and Michigan State? Or the one that showed up against Minnesota and Fresno State? What we do know is that Illinois needs their thirteenth ranked rushing game to show up against a Baylor squad that has given up no less than 22 points in each game since their Oct. 9 game against Texas Tech. Unfortunately for Illinois, Baylor has scored at least 24 points in each game they've played this season with the exception of their game against TCU. Considering Illinois' recent struggles on defense, this could be a major problem.
Baylor 37, Illinois 30
Northwestern vs. Texas Tech: TicketCity Bowl: This is going to be the biggest challenge for the Big Ten this bowl season, as Northwestern, who will be going up against an excellent passing offense, has recently been a disaster defensively. The fact that Dan Persa is out does not help the situation. The one thing that is on Northwestern's side is that Texas Tech's deffense has been nearly as bad as MICHIGAN'S, giving up 32.1 points per game. As a result, the Wildcats should be able to score, but they probably won't be able to keep up with Texas Tech's passing game.
Texas Tech 37, Northwestern 24
Penn State vs. Florida: Outback Bowl: It's probably safe to say that this will be a sloppy game with little offense. Both defenses are solid, and the offenses...err...aren't. However, Matt McGloin has been decent since he took over at QB in the last half of the season. While his completion percentage isn't great (58%), he has thrown 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Also, in general, Penn State improved over the last half of the season, going 4-2 in the last six games, including a solid game against MSU at the end of the season. Meanwhile, Florida is in surprisingly poor shape right now, at least for their standards. Urban Meyer will be coaching his last game, which would probably motivate his players more, but John Brantley is considering transferring, causing some uncertainty in the program, and a few distractions. In an offense that is barely in the top 50 in the "Points For" category, this could cause major issues. Meanwhile, defensively, starting CB Janoris Jenkins will be out due to injury; while defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders are going to be out as well. Overall, this, along with the fact that Penn State may have gotten their offense to respectibility, gives the advantage to Penn State.
Penn State 24, Florida 13
Michigan State vs. Alabama: Capital One Bowl: Both teams are definitely disappointed to be in Orlando, but who will respond to that disappointment well? Michigan State will likely be more motivated in this matchup, but they will need to bring their best to get the win. In other words, they can't play like they did against Iowa. As for Alabama, initially, their "Points Against" ranking (5th, 14.1 points per game) looks quite impressive...until you look at who they played. Games against San Jose State, Penn State (who despite only scoring three points in that game, actually got into the red zone multiple times), Duke, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia State (!) really gave them opportunities to put up impressive defensive numbers. Meanwhile, teams with solid offenses (besides Mississippi State) scored at least 20 points (Arkansas, South Carolina (?), LSU (??), and Auburn). Overall, Alabama's schedule has been quite average. I would not be shocked to see Michigan State take advantage of an average secondary for Bama, whose defense clearly hasn't performed very well against decent offenses. Unfortunately for MSU, Bama's offense has been quite solid, despite average seasons for Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson; as the Crimson Tide have scored no less than 21 points in any game this season. Overall, Alabama's offense will give the Tide a slight edge.
Alabama 24, Michigan State 23
Michigan vs. Mississippi State: Gator Bowl: Overall, Michigan has had a solid offense, led by Denard Robinson, who could certainly be the difference in this game. The problem, obviously, is the Wolverine defense. Against a solid offense, it would not be surprising to see Michigan give up at least 35 points. The good news for Michigan is that Mississippi State might be overrated defensively, as MSU has recently given up 23 points to Ole Miss, 31 to Arkansas, 30 to Alabama, 17 to Kentucky, and 24 points to UAB. While those numbers aren't horrible, they are certainly average at best. Expect a high scoring game, with Michigan getting the win because of Robinson.
Michigan 38, Mississippi State 35
Wisconsin vs. TCU: Rose Bowl: Wisconsin has possibly been the best team in the country as they have dominated in the last half of their schedule, scoring no less than 31 points since October 9th. Defensively, Wisconsin's numbers would probably be much better had they not had opportunities to put in their second-team. Meanwhile, TCU has obviously been excellent, going 12-0 this season. The major problem for TCU is that Wisconsin is by far the best team they have played all season. The best team the Frogs have beaten is either Oregon State, who finished with a 5-7 record (I know that the Beavers had one of the toughest, if not the toughest schedule, but they should at least be bowl eligible!); or Utah, who got destroyed by Notre Dame and recently got blown out by Boise State in their bowl. Overall, it is hard for me to see how TCU can keep up with a Wisconsin squad who is possibly playing the best football in the country.
Wisconsin 27, TCU 20
Ohio State vs. Arkansas: Sugar Bowl: Apparently, Ohio State is 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games. Who knew? Now, let's take a look at this fascinating statistic that will surely have an impact on the game:
Number of losses by Ohio State to the SEC
To teams not named Arkansas: 9
To teams named Arkansas: 0
Judging by this, the Buckeyes have no chance.
Sarcasm aside, I haven't been sure who will win this game. Originally, I thought OSU would win because I believed that Pryor could take advantage of a decent Arkansas defense that seems to be at a disadvantage against mobile quarterbacks. I also thought OSU would be able to get enough pressure on Mallet to force him to make mistakes. Then the NCAA fiasco showed up. After it was determined Pryor and other notable players sold rings and gold pants, I thought team chemistry would be hurt enough in the Sugar Bowl to give Arkansas the advantage. However, I think Tressel can keep the team chemistry decent and keep OSU from falling apart.
Ohio State 27, Arkansas 24 (ASSUMING NO PLAYERS ARE BENCHED)