For those of us that enjoy the splendor of college football, today marks the beginning of an annual ritual. The bowl season! We get to feast on 35 games, if we choose too. So, for me, depending on what the matchups are, or what my lovely wife may have planned, it takes both time and concentration to deteremine what are my best choices.
My pick of the day is the Las Vegas Bowl, which features Fresno State vs USC. OK, yeah it puts two teams from California facing each other, but that is the beauty of it, and they are both ranked! USC is old school, traditional, and a power in college football. Although the past few seasons have not been up to Trojan fans expectations, they at least get to go bowling. Fresno State on the other hand, is almost like an ugly stepsister that has to hear about all the accollades that the Trojans have garnished over the years. Look for the fanbase to be Bulldog friendly, as Fresno fans travel very well.
So here are todays games. Enjoy!
New Mexico Bowl
Washington State (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-6)
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Time/TV: 12:00 pm ESPN
Line: Washington State by 4
Bowl Records: Washington State 6-4 , Colorado State 5-7 , Series: First Meeting
The Washington State Cougars are bowling for the first time since 2003, rely on the play of QB Connor Halliday, who has amassed an amazing 4,187 yards in the Mike Leach offense with 28 TDs, but threw 21 interceptions. They have had an up and down season, but look for Leach to pull some tricks out of his bag. Colorado State University needs to win Saturday's New Mexico Bowl against Washington State to fulfill the "dream" part of their "One Town, One Team, One Dream" motto for the season.
Washington State loss by only seven to #2 Auburn to open the season. This is a team can play, that is, if they show up. Look for this one to be a high scoring affair.
The Colorado State Rams offense is more balanced, though it generally operates through running back Kapri Bibbs. He has rushed for 1,572 yards and 28 TDs. Quarterback Garrett Grayson is fully capable of lending aerial support, but he'll have to watch out for Cougars safety Deone Bucannon. The Rams toughest opponent was Alabama, which resulted in a 31-6 loss, have the ability to play with the Cougars. If they can stick around long enough, they have a good shot to pull out a win. Like they say, you never know, that is why they play the game.
Las Vegas Bowl
No. 20 Fresno State (11-1) vs. No. 25 Southern California (9-4)
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Time/TV: 1:30 pm ABC
Line: USC by 6.
Bowl records: USC 31-17, Fresno 10-11. Series: 1-1 (USC won last meeting 50-42 in 2005).
The Bulldogs will be the first ranked squad to take the field in bowl season, though they were hoping for a much longer layoff. Their BCS aspirations ended with a 62-52 loss November 29 at San Jose State, but they regrouped to win the Mountain West title game, 24-17 over Utah State to earn this date with the Trojans. USC enters in a state of flux, as offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be the team's second interim coach this season before Steve Sarkisian takes over. Though these programs have met only twice, the Bulldogs 33-28 victory over the Trojans came in the 1992 Freedom Bowl. Quarterback Derek Carr, the Mountain West offensive player of the year, led the Bulldogs with 4,983 yards of total offense, topping the nation, and he has a streak of 32 games with a touchdown pass. Wide receiver Davante Adams has been an extremely productive target,leading the nation with 23 touchdown catches. USC QB Cody Kessler will try to keep pace. Unfortunately, he'll likely be without tailback Silas Redd (knee) once again. Kessler does hope to have wide receiver Marqise Lee (50 catches despite missing three games) at full speed, but Bulldogs linebacker Ejiro Ederaine will create problems for the Trojan offense. USC should beat the spread, especially if they can't get pressure on Carr.
Idaho Potato Bowl
Buffalo (8-4) vs. San Diego State (7-5)
Location: Boise, ID
Time/TV: 3:30 pm ESPN
Line: SDSU by 1
Bowl records: San Diego State 2-6, Buffalo 0-1. Series: First meeting
San Diego State was one of 12 FBS programs to start the season 0-3 and is the only one that reached the postseason. The Aztecs are bowling for a fourth consecutive season but seeking their first postseason win since a 35-14 Poinsettia Bowl triumph against Navy in 2010. Running backs Adam Muema and Donnel Pumphrey provide ample ground support for Aztecs QB Quinn Kaehler. But they'll be up against one of the top linebackers in the game in Buffalo's Khalil Mack. He recorded 94 total tackles, including 19 for loss, while adding three interceptions and five forced fumbles en route to being named Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year. The Bulls offense features the trio of tailback Branden Oliver, quarterback Joe Licata and wide receiver Alex Neutz.
New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. Tulane (7-5)
Location: New Orleans, LA
Time/TV: 7 pm ESPN
Line: Tulane by 1
Bowl records: Louisiana-Lafayette 2-0, Tulane 4-6. Series: Tulane leads 21-5 (Louisiana-Lafayette won last meeting 41-13 in 2012).
Both teams can claim somewhat of a home-field advantage. The Tulane Green Wave, bowling for the first time since 2002, is happy to be playing in the Superdome, which it called home for one more year this season while its on-campus facility was under construction. The Ragin' Cajuns will be just as comfortable, as their two bowl victories came at this event. Neither team enters the game with momentum, however, as Louisiana-Lafayette dropped its last two contests by a combined 25 points while Tulane went 1-3 down the stretch. But it's New Orleans, so the atmosphere should still be quite festive. The Green Wave offense has been inconsistent with both Quarterback Nick Montana and running back Orleans Darkwa battling various injuries throughout the campaign. Wide receiver Ryan Grant has been a bright spot with nine TD receptions. The Tulane defense has been outstanding, with cornerback Lorenzo Doss leading a unit that has produced 33 takeaways. But Louisiana-Lafayette is at its best when its ground game is working. TB Alonzo Harris is the workhorse, but Elijah McGuire, the Sun Belt freshman of the year, is a big contributor. Quarterback Terrance Broadway is also a threat to run, but he missed the regular-season finale against South Alabama with a wrist injury and remains questionable.