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Weekly Bowl Preview

Gregory Shamus

Hawaii Bowl
Fresno State vs. SMU
8 p.m. ESPN
A Christmas Eve special featuring an underrated Fresno State squad and an SMU team that became bowl eligible in the final week of the regular season thanks to a win against Tulsa. This game should be over before you even get to your second glass of eggnog.
Fresno State- 42 SMU- 14

Little Caesars Bowl
Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan
7:30 p.m. ESPN
I saw a comment on Twitter this week that it says a lot about our country that our bowl games have gone from being named after fruit to being named after $5 pizzas. This game features a MAC team against a team you probably thought was in the MAC.
Prediction: Western Kentucky- 27 Central Michigan- 21

Military Bowl
(24)San Jose State vs. Bowling Green
3 p.m. ESPN
Not many college football experts thought San Jose State had a chance of being in the top 25 at season's end, but here they are. They need a win here to cap off a historic season for the program, but Bowling Green is a very scrappy team (just ask Florida) that will give San Jose State all they can handle.
Prediction: San Jose State- 37 Bowling Green- 35

Belk Bowl
Cincinnati vs. Duke
6:30 p.m. ESPN
This could be an interesting game just for the novelty of watching Duke play in a bowl game. The Blue Devils will appear in its first bowl since a loss to Wisconsin in the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl (now the Outback), and only its third since 1961. Cincinnati should be a strong favorite, but Duke's stability with its coaching staff could be a major advantage.
Prediction: Cincinnati- 24 Duke- 20

Holiday Bowl
Baylor vs. (17)UCLA
9:45 p.m. ESPN
The Holiday Bowl is almost always one of the most entertaining games of the bowl season, and this year should be no different. Drink an extra cup of coffee if you plan on watching this game- with the way these teams produce points the game could go until after 2 a.m. EST. Baylor has a fantastic offense, but is offset with an equally atrocious defense. UCLA should be able to put this game away at some point as the much more balanced team.
Prediction: UCLA- 51 Baylor- 42

Independence Bowl
Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe
2 p.m. ESPN
Both teams started the season with major upsets- ULM defeated a then top ten Arkansas team, and Ohio....well, let's not get into that. Ohio seemed destined for an undefeated season until the team became completely decimated by injuries. The Bobcats team that took the field the last few games bared almost no resemblence to the one that worked its way into the top 25 after a very hot start. Ohio may be able to salvage the season as several starters return to the starting lineup.
Prediction: Ohio- 27 ULM-24

Russell Athletic Bowl
Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
5:30 p.m. ESPN
This game features teams that had surprising seasons. Rutgers came a game away from heading to the BCS, while Virginia Tech struggled early and often in 2012. Both teams can be wildly inconsistent, so if you plan on placing a bet on this game you may be better off just burning your money.
Prediction: Rutgers- 21 Virginia Tech- 17

Car Care Bowl
Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
9 p.m. ESPN
Texas Tech lucked out by being paired with a team who would not appear in this game if it wasn't for bowl sanctions for Ohio State and Penn State. This game should get ugly unless the Red Raiders packed it in following the regular season.
Prediction: Texas Tech- 48 Minnesota- 17

Armed Forces Bowl
Rice vs. Air Force
11:45 a.m. ESPN
If you lose sleep on Friday because you're too excited for this game, you may have problems. Both teams are 6-6, but have impressive running games. This could easily be the shortest bowl game of the year.
Prediction: Air Force- 31 Rice- 21

Pinstripe Bowl
West Virginia vs. Syracuse
3:15 p.m. ESPN
West Virginia went from being a national title contender to fighting just to become bowl eligible by season's end. Syracuse put together a solid 7-5 season, which is a step in the right direction for the struggling program. If nothing out, you can scout the Orange prior to Penn State's 2013 season opener against Syracuse in the Meadowlands.
Prediction- Syracuse- 35 West Virginia- 34

Fight Hunger Bowl
Navy vs. Arizona State
4 p.m. ESPN2
Navy ended up having a respectable 8-4 record since getting smacked around by Penn State in week three. They may be outmatched again, but most of Arizona State's wins were picked up over some very poor teams.
Prediction- Arizona State- 31 Navy- 21

Alamo Bowl
(23)Texas vs. (13)Oregon State
6:45 p.m. ESPN
Texas dropped its final two games of the season to stumble to an 8-4 season, which is always a disappointment for the Longhorns standards. Mike Riley received coach of the year consideration after leading the Beavers to a very surprising 9-3 record, and were a couple plays away from an 11-1 record.
Prediction: Oregon State- 34 Texas- 23

Crappy Wings Bowl
TCU vs. Michigan State
10:15 p.m. ESPN
Like Minnesota, Michigan State finds itself outmatched thanks to failing up two spots in the B10 bowl pecking order. TCU isn't as good as the team that upset Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl two years ago, but they aren't extremely far of either. Michigan State's offense will need to improve at a drastic rate since the end of the regular season.
TCU- 31 Michigan State- 13