Preview & Predictions for Every Bowl Game, Including the National Championship

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Oct 25, 2014; Huntington, WV, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato (12) celebrates with fans following the victory against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Marshall defeated Florida Atlantic 35-16. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

December 22-December 24

Miami Beach Bowl: BYU vs. Memphis. The Cougars of Brigham Young were once seen as a team that could run the table and make noise in a New Year’s Six bowl. However, things changed when star QB Taysom Hill was lost for the season with an injury. BYU had a winless October and just like that, 2014 was a disaster. However, Bronco Mendenhall’s group rebounded in November, going 4-0, outscoring opponents 175-65 and beating California in Berkeley in the season finale. Now, they face Memphis, a sneaky-good team. Justin Fuente has done a remarkable job with the Tigers, winning the AAC this season, going 9-3 (losses to UCLA, Ole Miss and Houston) and shutting teams down with a tough defense. Memphis won their final six games, holding opponents to 13.3 PPG. I like Memphis to ride their great defense to their 10th win of 2014. Memphis 21, BYU 13

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Boca Raton Bowl: Marshall vs. Northern Illinois. This is the lone non-playoff bowl that pits two conference champions against each other. Marshall lost their shot at a New Year’s Six bowl with a stunning 67-66 loss to Western Kentucky, but they still have future NFL draft pick Rakeem Cato at QB, and a 12-1 season with a C-USA title is a great accomplishment. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois has continued to be a force in the MAC. The Huskies won their 3rd MAC title in 4 years and their record over the past four seasons is 46-9. This year, their only losses are to Arkansas and Central Michigan. Both teams have a lot going for them, but in the end, I think Rakeem Cato will make enough plays to help the Herd pull it out. Marshall 38, Northern Illinois 33

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Navy vs. San Diego State. Another year, another winning record and bowl berth for Navy. Ken Niumatalolo’s team is 7-5 and once again among the nation’s best when it comes to running the football. However, this is basically a home game for the San Diego State Aztecs, who are led by RB Donnel Pumphrey (1,755 yards and 19 touchdowns). San Diego State 24, Navy 16

Bahamas Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky. If you’re one of those people who think there are too many bowl games and that nobody cares about these games, try telling that to the players of these schools. Central Michigan announced this bowl game to their players in a very creative way that sent the team into a frenzy. Both of these teams have a great win on their resume (CMU beat Northern Illinois and WKU beat Marshall), and you can be sure both teams will be motivated to put on a show in paradise. Western Kentucky 31, Central Michigan 27

Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. Rice. Speaking of football in paradise, there’s the annual “Good excuse to separate yourself from your family and glue yourself to the TV” bowl. However, viewer be warned, this might be the worst bowl game of the year. The Bulldogs won their weak division despite starting 0-3 and finishing 6-6 in the regular season. They lost 28-14 to Boise State in the conference championship game, so they enter this game with a 6-7 record. Rice also started 0-3 before winning 7 of their next 8 (lone loss to Marshall, 41-14). However, the regular season ended on a sour note for the Owls, as they lost 76-31 to Louisiana Tech. This game won’t exactly be a very good one, regardless of how close it is. Fresno State 38, Rice 28

Next: December 26