Bowl season, so it’s time to pick ’em

Arizona is a 9½-point favorite against Nevada in Game 1 in N.M.

Zach Sudfeld and Nevada first will catch the college football bowl season fever against Arizona today in Albuquerque. The two teams will play in the New Mexico Bowl, and Nevada is the 9½-point underdog. Enlarge photo

Cathleen Allison/Associated Press file photo

Zach Sudfeld and Nevada first will catch the college football bowl season fever against Arizona today in Albuquerque. The two teams will play in the New Mexico Bowl, and Nevada is the 9½-point underdog.

It seems the only folks happy about No. 16 Northern Illinois playing in the Orange Bowl against No. 13 Florida State are the Huskies and their fans.

When Louisiana Tech got left out of the postseason all together, much criticism was directed at an athletic director who had the nerve to want more than scraps for his program and little at a bowl system that saves room for .500 teams – or worse – but not for the 9-3 Bulldogs.

College football definitely does not embrace the underdog.

Worse, the bowl system gives few opportunities for David even to get a chance to slay Goliath. And when it does, it seems forced.

So, instead of the Huskies being celebrated, they are scorned by many for doing nothing more than having a really good season and taking advantage of a flawed system.

Hey, I’m sure NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch and his teammates would have liked to have seen Oklahoma play Florida, too.

As for Louisiana Tech, athletic director Bruce Van De Velde has taken quite a bit of heat for not jumping on an invite to the Independence Bowl to play Louisiana-Monroe. Instead, he calculated the high-scoring Bulldogs could grab a slightly more appealing bowl trip than the hour drive from Ruston to Shreveport. He calculated wrong.

Seems the more troubling part of the Bulldogs’ plight is a system in which Iowa State and Purdue, at 6-6, get the bids that could have gone to Louisiana Tech – or that the NCAA felt compelled to let Georgia Tech, at 6-7, in the postseason.

Louisiana Tech, which averages 52 points a game and played toe-to-toe with Texas A&M, against Southern California in the Sun Bowl sounds a whole lot better than Georgia Tech vs. USC.

But that’s not the way it works in college football, where the underdog might as well take a walk.

Saturday, Dec. 15

New Mexico Bowl: Nevada (plus 9½) vs. Arizona – good offenses, bad defenses, the bowl season kicks off with a wild one. Pick: Arizona, 55-38.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Toledo (plus 10½) vs. Utah State – MAC vs. WAC, score one for WACtion. Pick: Utah State, 28-17.

Thursday, Dec. 20

Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State (plus 2½) vs. BYU – Cougars have won four of their last five bowl appearances. Pick: BYU, 20-14.

Friday, Dec. 21

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: Ball State (plus 7) vs. UCF – the player to watch is Knights’ kick returner Quincy McDuffie, who has three touchdown returns. Pick: Ball State, 24-23.

Saturday, Dec. 22

New Orleans Bowl: East Carolina (plus 5½) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette – Ragin’ Cajuns won their first bowl game here last year. Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette, 38-31.

MAACO Bowl: Boise State (minus 5½) vs. Washington – the Broncos have won three bowls in a row. Pick: Washington, 23-21.

Monday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl: SMU (plus 12) vs. Fresno State – the last time June Jones returned to Hawaii (2008), the Mustangs won. Pick: Fresno State, 42-14.

Wednesday, Dec. 26

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Central Michigan (plus 5½) vs. Western Kentucky – first bowl for the Hilltoppers. Pick: Western Kentucky, 28-17.

Thursday, Dec. 27

Military Bowl: Bowling Green (plus 7) vs. San Jose State – Round 2 in MAC vs. WAC. Pick: Bowling Green, 27-21.

Belk Bowl: Duke (plus 7½) vs. Cincinnati – another Bearcats’ bowl game without the coach who got them there. Pick: Cincinnati, 34-21.

Holiday Bowl: Baylor (plus 1) vs. UCLA – old-school Holiday Bowl, expect plenty of points. Pick: UCLA, 50-45.

Friday, Dec. 28

Independence Bowl: Louisiana-Monroe (minus 7) vs. Ohio – pair of September darlings face-off in December. Pick: Louisiana-Monroe, 37-24.

Russell Athletic Bowl: Virginia Tech (minus 2½) vs. Rutgers – Hokies are 0-2 against the Big East this season. Pick: Rutgers, 20-16.

Meineke Car Care Bowl: Minnesota (plus 12½) vs. Texas Tech – Gophers have won two Big Ten games, one against Illinois. Pick: Texas Tech, 48-10.

Saturday, Dec. 29

Armed Forces Bowl: Rice (plus 1) vs. Air Force – both teams like to run. Neither can stop the run. Pick: Air Force, 38-35.

Fight Hunger Bowl: Arizona State (minus 14) vs. Navy – Navy rarely is fun to play in a bowl. Pick: Arizona State, 35-24.

Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse (plus 4) vs. West Virginia – NFL prospects playing QB for both teams. Pick: West Virginia, 48-42.

Alamo Bowl: Texas (plus 2) vs. Oregon State – Longhorns will try to avoid going into the offseason on a three-game skid. Pick: Texas, 28-24.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan State (plus 2½) vs. TCU – In a year full of excruciating losses for the Spartans ... Pick: TCU, 17-16.

Monday, Dec. 31

Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt (minus 6½) vs. N.C. State – The player to watch is Commodores wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Pick: N.C. State, 28-24.

Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech (plus 10) vs. Southern California – Not exactly the way most figured Matt Barkley would end his career. Pick: USC, 45-21.

Liberty Bowl: Iowa State (plus 3) vs. Tulsa – Golden Hurricane are known for offense, so bring a pretty good D. Pick: Tulsa, 23-17.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU (minus 3) vs. Clemson – SEC Tigers vs. ACC Tigers. Pick: LSU, 31-21.

Tuesday, Jan. 1

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Purdue (plus 18½) vs. Oklahoma State – Cowboys are better than a 7-5 record. Pick: Oklahoma State, 45-24.

Gator Bowl: Mississippi State (minus 2) vs. Northwestern – Wildcats last and only bowl win, the 1949 Rose Bowl. Pick: Northwestern, 38-37.

Capital One Bowl: Georgia (minus 8) vs. Nebraska – only two bowl teams that have a worse turnover margin than Nebraska. Pick: Georgia, 28-21.

Outback Bowl: South Carolina (minus 4) vs. Michigan – the players to watch are Gamecocks’ defensive end Jadeveon Clowney vs. Wolverines’ offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. Pick: South Carolina, 24-13.

Rose Bowl: Stanford (minus 6½) vs. Wisconsin – power vs. power. Pick: Stanford, 24-18.

Orange Bowl: Northern Illinois (plus 15) vs. Florida State – can the Huskies pull a Boise State? Pick: Florida State, 35-14.

Wednesday, Jan. 2

Sugar Bowl: Florida (minus 13½) vs. Louisville – Gators’ D will be the toughest test by far for Cardinals’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Pick: Florida, 31-14.

Thursday, Jan. 3

Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State (plus 9½) vs. Oregon – would make for a nice semifinal. Pick: Kansas State, 35-31.

Friday, Jan. 4

Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M (minus 3) vs. Oklahoma – Heisman winners have won the last three bowl games. Pick: Oklahoma, 38-37.

Saturday, Jan. 5

BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh (plus 1½) vs. Mississippi – three trips in a row to Birmingham, Ala., for the Panthers. Pick: Mississippi, 31-24.

Sunday, Jan. 6 Bowl: Kent State (plus 4) vs. Arkansas State – the player to watch is Golden Flashes’ running back Dri Archer. Pick: Arkansas State, 35-30.

Monday, Jan. 7

BCS National Championship: Notre Dame (plus 7½) vs. Alabama – Roll Repeat!

Pick: Alabama, 21-10.