Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Music City Bowl
North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is a solid and steady program- they win the games they should win, but struggle against top-notch opponents (all four losses came to teams currently in the top 10 and Northwestern). NC State had a lackluster season, but was able to hand Florida State it's only loss of the season and keep them out of the BCS Championship consideration. NC State likes to air it out and light up the scoreboard, while Vanderbilt is typically more comfortable eating up clock on the ground and playing stiff defense. Whichever team is able to impose its game plan should come away with a close victory.
Prediction: Vanderbilt- 16 NC State- 14
USC vs. Georgia Tech
CBS 2 p.m.
USC in the Sun Bowl has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? The Trojans will do what they can to avoid their sixth loss of the season, which can't be what was expected when they started out the season ranked atop the polls. Teams not wanting to be in a certain bowl is always a factor, and USC is making it perfectly clear they do not think the Sun Bowl is good enough for them. Georgia Tech is not a very good team, and had to petition the NCAA to become bowl eligible despite a 6-7 regular season record. The Yellow Jackets will likely come in with more to prove, while USC will once again be without Matt Barkley and continue its season-long trend of inopportune turnovers and penalties.
Prediction: Georgia Tech- 21 USC- 17
Iowa State vs. Tulsa
3:30 p.m. ESPN
This game is actually a rematch from September 1, when Iowa State claimed a 38-23 victory at home. Iowa State did not take the leap many expected in 2012 as they stumbled to a 6-6 record. Tulsa had an impressive 10-3 record and took home the C-USA title. However, they didn't have a single win anyone would consider impressive and lost games to Arkansas and SMU in addition to the early-season loss against the Cyclones.
Prediction: Iowa State- 31 Tulsa- 20
(8)LSU vs. (14)Clemson
7:30 p.m. ESPN
Thanks to bowl sanctions and the general awfulness of the B10, this game (I know it's no longer the Peach Bowl, but I don't like change) takes the crown from the Citrus Bowl (see??) as the top non-BCS bowl of the year. LSU's offense certainly struggled at time this year, but no one can question Mad Hatter's ability to pull off big games. Keeping up with Clemson's offense may be a struggle, so look for the Tigers to try to play ball-control offense and keep the other Tigers offense watching from the sidelines.
Prediction: LSU- 25 Clemson- 19