Aaron Murray leads the Georgia Bulldogs against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl. Florida State takes on Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl, and South Carolina meets Michigan in the Outback Bowl. So here are my big game picks for these News Years Day bowl games.
The Big Games
15 Northern Illinois - 24
12 Florida State - 35
This appears to be a lopsided matchup on paper. Northern Illinois does not have to type of athletes that Florida State has, and the MAC is not on the level of the ACC in terms of competitiveness. But after a one point loss in their season opener to Iowa the Huskies are on a twelve game winning streak. They feature one of the best players in the country that not many people know about in QB Jordan Lynch.
Lynch is like the MAC’s version of Johnny Manziel, in that he runs a wide open spread attack, is very good as a passer, but even more so as a runner. The Huskies will not have the coach who led them to this point, as Dave Doeren left to become the head coach at N.C. State. So this may have an impact on how the Huskies perform in this game.
Florida State’s season culminated with winning the ACC Championship, and they have returned to being a top 10 caliber program. However, they struggled against SEC power Florida and barely escaped with a win in the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech. So even though they have a decided talent advantage, Florida State is not in a position to take Northern Illinois for granted.
A loss to Northern Illinois would be disastrous to the Seminoles, so they need to be playing their best football. Because the Huskies will enter this game with nothing to lose, and an us against the world mentality. Jordan Lynch should be able to move the Huskies offense between the 20′s, but in the red zone they will have a problem due to the size and speed advantage of Florida State.
Look for the Seminoles to run the football successfully and after an initially push by the Northern Illinois, I look for reality to set in by halftime, and the Noles advantage in the trenches should wear the Huskies down and Florida State will pull away in the second half. Noles win.
10 South Carolina - 35
18 Michigan - 20
The Michigan Wolverines began the season against an SEC teams and it ends the season with one. Michigan came into this season with a lot of momentum and immediately ran into a strong Alabama team and were humiliated. An ugly loss to Notre Dame then sent them on an up and down roller coaster ride, but then late on the season the Wolverines seemed to find their footing and had a three game winning streak. But in the last game they lost to unbeaten Ohio State.
South Carolina began their season with a five game winning streak which culminated with a 35-7 thrashing of Georgia. The Gamecocks were ranked in the top 10 and appeared to be a favorite to win the SEC East. But then two straight losses to LSU and FLorida derailed all of that. But then they finished the season with four straight wins, and have a lot of momentum coming in to this game.
Michigan QB Denard Robinson will provide a Johnny Manziel like threat to the Gamecock defense, and he should be able to run the ball with some success. However, passing the ball is a different story. South Carolina feature one of the top pass rushers in the country in Jadeveon Clowney, and he will make things hard on Robinson. South Carolina will have a clear advantage in size and speed defensively, so Michigan won’t light up the scoreboard.
Coach Steve Spurrier will run the ball to success against Michigan, and they should capitalize of some turnovers from the Wolverines. I think Michigan will start fast, but by the end of the game, they will clearly struggle against another SEC team. South Carolina wins.
Capital One Bowl
7 Georgia - 38
16 Nebraska – 24
Georgia came extremely close to playing for the National Championship, but a heartbreaking loss on the last play of the SEC Championship game to Alabama has placed the Bulldogs in the Capital One Bowl. It has to be a huge let down for Georgia to go from the extreme of a shot a the National Championship, to not even in the BCS, but losing this bowl game would be an even bigger let down, so Mark Richt can’t afford to look past Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers are coming off of their own tremendous let down, as they missed out on playing in the Rose Bowl, after being blown out in the Big Ten Championship game by a mediocre Wisconsin team. So Nebraska has a huge challenge facing them, as Georgia will be a huge step up in competition from Wisconsin, and the Big Ten has struggled mightily when going head to head with the SEC.
The SEC Championship game against Alabama will give Georgia a major advantage coming in to this game. As the size and speed of Alabama is something that Nebraska won’t be able to duplicate. The mindset of undertaking the task of beating Alabama will more than prepare Georgia for winning this game. Nebraska has a lot doubts after their performance against Wisconsin, and I think those doubts will remain once this game is over. Bulldogs win.
Championship Week review:
I went 3-1 in picks for Championship week, and that takes me to 35-20 overall and 64% on the season. I thought Georgia would beat Alabama in the SEC championship game. and while the Bulldogs came close, is wasn’t enough. And as a reminder, I only pick games between ranked opponents, which makes it much more of challenge, but I like it that way.
- BCS busting Northern Illinois ready for Orange Bowl (galesburg.com)
- College Football Bowl Picks 2012: Predicting Every New Year’s Day Game (bleacherreport.com)
- Northern Illinois Football: How the Huskies Can Win the Orange Bowl (bleacherreport.com)