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

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Nov 22, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky performs during the game against the Washington State Cougars at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian -USA TODAY Sports

December 27

Military Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati. Ironically, the last time a Tommy Tuberville team won its conference, it faced Virginia Tech in a bowl game (Auburn, 2004). The Bearcats were one of several teams to win a share of the AAC crown. Gunner Kiel has thrown for 3,010 yards and 30 touchdowns this season, but the Bearcats’ defense has been a liability, and to call it that is generous. Virginia Tech’s defense, meanwhile, has been strong again this season, but the Scot Loeffler-led offense has been horrible. Usually, in battles between bad offenses and bad defenses, it’s smart to go with the offense, but I have no faith in Virginia Tech’s offense. This is a offense that was shut out for 60 minutes against Wake Forest, one of the nation’s worst football teams. Give me Tuberville for the win. Cincinnati 27, Virginia Tech 14

Sun Bowl: #15 Arizona State vs. Duke. Both of these teams entered November with conference title hopes, and for the Sun Devils, a national championship didn’t seem like an impossibility. November took its toll on both teams, however, and now they both are 9-3 heading to El Paso. Arizona State has one of the country’s most explosive offenses, and this program will continue to rise under Todd Graham. Duke also has a good offense, but it is a more inconsistent unit than Arizona State’s. Also, El Paso, Texas, is far closer to Tempe than it is Durham, NC, so the crowd will be decidedly in favor of ASU. It’s hard to go against the Devils here. #15 Arizona State 49, Duke 31 

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Independence Bowl: South Carolina vs. Miami (FL). South Carolina was supposed to contend for a national title in 2014, but those dreams were dashed quickly when they allowed 52 points against Kenny Was Trill But Then Chilled Until He Didn’t Even See The Field. Their defense never got any better, and the Gamecocks slid to 6-6 and lost to Clemson in the season finale. Miami, meanwhile, has a bright young star in QB Brad Kaaya, but a 6-6 season wasn’t exactly what they had hoped for, either. Neither of these teams really want to be here, but since they’re still going to play regardless, I don’t think the Gamecocks will be able to stop Kaaya, Duke Johnson and the ‘Canes. Miami 38, South Carolina 24

Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State vs. Boston College. If you like low-scoring games, this one’s for you. Penn State has the nation’s 2nd-best defense (270 YPG), while Boston College has the nation’s 11th-ranked unit (313 YPG). The Nittany Lions, who are in the postseason thanks to a sudden change of “heart” by the NCAA, have struggled offensively in James Franklin’s first season, but their defense is top-notch. Boston College, meanwhile, has continued to be strong on the ground, rushing for 251.8 YPG. Florida transfer Tyler Murphy has had a great season for the Eagles, passing for 1,526 yards and 11 TDs and rushing for 1,079 yards and 10 TDs (the only QB this year with over 1,000 yards on the ground). I think Murphy’s playmaking ability makes the difference in a hard-hitting, low-scoring game. Boston College 17, Penn State 13

Holiday Bowl: #24 USC vs. Nebraska. USC had an underwhelming year in Steve Sarkisian’s debut season, losing 4 games, but QB Cody Kessler quietly was one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Kessler threw for 292 YPG with 36 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Nebraska fired Bo Pelini after another good-but-not-great season, so now the Huskers are led by interim coach Barney Cotten, as Mike Riley won’t take over until after the bowl game. The Trojans will be playing very close to home in San Diego, and with the coaching turnover affecting Nebraska, I think USC will pull it out late. #24 USC 34, Nebraska 28

Next: December 29-30