College Football Bowl Preview: Part 2

December 18, 2008

With the holidays upon us, it can only mean one thing: Bowl Season. With the first of the thirty-four bowl games kicking off this weekend, The Daily Sports Herald presents our own game-by-game preview and predictions provided by staff writer Kweku Turkson.

1. MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL (December 27th): West Virgina (8-4) vs. North Carolina (8-4)

After starting off the season ranked in the top 10, West Virginia looks to finish off an otherwise disappointing season on a positive note. Offensively, they will be led by senior QB Patrick White, the NCAA’s all-time record holder for most yards rushing by a quarterback. The Mountaineer’s spread attack should also feature mercurial sophomore running back Noel Devine.

For the Tar Heels, playing in their home state is a definite plus, as is the return of quarterback T.J Yates from a broken ankle. Yates will look to get the ball to Brooks Foster and all-ACC wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Prediction: This one is anybody’s game headed into the stretch. In a close one, White goes out a winner, as Devine and the rest of the WVU offense prove too potent for the Tar Heels, 31-24.

2. CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL (December 27th): Florida State (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)

This game should be a good matchup featuring two teams committed to an old-school type of rush offense. Wisconsin will look to junior tailback P.J. Hill - a Ron Dayne clone if I ever saw one – as well as John Clay.

Florida State will counter with a stingy rush defense that allowed an average of just 2.7 yards per carry and one rushing touchdown a game. Offensively, inconsistent ‘Noles quarterback Christian Ponder will hand off to Antone Smith. Ponder will also throw downfield to a balanced receiving corps.

Prediction: Florida State capitalizes on some miscues in the Wisconsin kicking game and on the strength of its superior special teams play, emerges from Orlando with a 17-7 win.

3. EMERALD BOWL (December 27th): Miami (7-5) vs. California (8-4)

This Bay Area game should give the Bears a “home field” advantage over the Hurricanes. Miami will look to end the season on a positive note after dropping their last two regular season games, and will need to get consistent play from a true freshmen QB, now that QB Robert Marve has been suspended for violating team rules.

True freshman QB Jacory Harris took snaps from center this season, and at best, was consistently inconsistent, combining with Marve to throw 19 interceptions. Such inconsistentcy, coupled with a solid Golden Bears secondary, forces the ‘Canes to include a heavy dose of Graig Cooper carrying the rock. Javarris James also could contribute should he get healthy.

Look for Cal head coach Jeff Tedford to call sophomore Jahvid Best’s number often. Offensively, no player in the Pac-10 is as exciting as Best. Best was tops amongst ball carriers in the conference with a 126.7 yards per game average.

Prediction: In a rare and ironic twist of fate, Miami is unable to keep up with the speed of their opposition, coming up on the short end of a 28-14 ballgame in Cal's favor.

4. INDEPENDENCE BOWL (December 28th): Northern Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (7-5)

Despite being winless in games against bowl-eligible opposition, the NIU Huskies managed to secure a bowl bid of their own. Defensive end Larry English, the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the MAC, will be key to the Huskies’ defense slowing down quarterback Ross Jenkins and the Bulldogs’ offense.

Because of English and a veteran defensive backfield, the Huskies were very tough on opposing teams’ passing games, ranking fifth nationally in that category. Therefore, look for Tech to attack primarily on the ground, with 1,000 yard rusher Daniel Porter getting the bulk of the carries. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman QB Chandler Harnish will lead the Huskies’spread offense, and will look to move the ball against linebacker Quin Harris, safety Antonio Baker, and the rest of the Bulldog D.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech, bolstered by a partisan crowd cruises to the 28-17 victory.

5. PAPAJOHNS.COM BOWL (December 29th): Rutgers (7-5) vs. North Carolina State (6-6)

This game should be a close one, pitting two teams that looked to be dead in the water in October. Rutgers had a 1-5 record after six games, while NC State was 2-6 on October 25th. However, both finished the season on winning streaks and are carrying momentum heading into the game.

Greg Schiano’s Scarlet Knights averaged over 40 points a game in winning their last six games by an average margin of victory of almost 30 points. That surge saw Mike Teel distribute the ball effectively to a talented trio of pass catchers consisting of Kenny Britt, Tiquan Underwood, and Tim Brown.

Coach Tom O’Brien’s NC State squad will be led by redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson is a dual-threat both passing and running the ball. Wilson can go to several weapons on offense, including running backs Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene, and 6’3” receiver Owen Spencer.

Prediction: Using a dynamic offense and sound special-teams play, the Scarlet Knights prevail over a pesky NC State squad, 38-26.

6. ALAMO BOWL (December 29th): Missouri (9-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)

Playing in a pre-New Years Day bowl game in San Antonio against a surprisingly resurgent Northwestern team certainly isn’t what the Tigers envisioned at the season’s outset. Still, this bowl gives Missouri an opportunity to redeem itself after poor showings against Kansas and Oklahoma to end the regular season.

The Tigers offense is led by one-time Heisman hopeful Chase Daniel at quarterback, and big play threats Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman, at wide receiver and tight end respectively. Missouri’s firepower ought to give an improved Northwestern defense a firm test.

However, the Wildcats’ 4-3 attack-style defense could be up to the task, as that unit ranked in the top 15 in the country with 33 sacks. The D is led by All Big-10 selection Corey Wooten at defensive end.

Prediction: In an upset, the “smart guys” from Evanston pass this test with flying colors, 19-12.

7. HUMANITARIAN BOWL (December 29th): Nevada (7-5) vs. Maryland (7-5)

This game, to be played on Boise State’s blue “Smurf Turf” field, presents one of the more intriguing non-BCS matchups. Ralph Friedgen’s Maryland squad has been wildly inconsistent throughout the 2008 campaign. Despite four victories over teams ranked in the Top 25, the Terps were forced to settle for a berth in the Humanitarian Bowl.

The Terrapins will rely on all-Conference running back Da’Rel Scott and junior stud receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to get the offense going against a team that was stout against the run (ranked second nationally), but positively horrific against the pass (ranked dead last nationally).

Offensively for the Wolfpack, it will be all about the running of quarterback Collin Kaepernick, the WAC’s offensive player of the year, and running back Vai Taua. The ‘Pack featured the nation’s second ranked rushing attack with their vaunted pistol offense, as Taua and Kaepernick each gained over 1,000 yards rushing during the season, and combined for an impressive 32 touchdowns on the ground. Should the Terp’s defense deny the running game, Kaepernick will look to senior wideout Marko Mitchell (9 touchdowns).

Prediction: Despite frigid conditions in Boise, Friedgen’s troops come out smoking on offense. The Wolfpack rallies late, but Maryland holds on for the 37-34 win.

8. HOLIDAY BOWL (December 30th): Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Oregon (9-3)

This game promises to be high-scoring, as it pits two offensive minded teams that each averaged over forty points a game. The Ducks, currently ranked 15th nationally, will feature an attack with sophomore QB Jeremiah Masoli looking to get the ball into the hands of Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount. The Ducks dynamic offense is best described as explosive, as they have put up point totals of 66, 65, 63, 55, 54, and 44 in games this year.

The 13th ranked Cowboys will utilize a spread offense featuring the three-headed monster of QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter, and big play WR Dez Bryant. Bryant could have a field day against an Oregon secondary that is described as shaky at best.

Prediction: The Ducks win a wildly entertaining shootout 58-49.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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