Armed Forces Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl, Music City Bowl and Insight Bowl Previews

December 30, 2011

We are now in the thick of the bowl season, where multiple games are being played several days in a row.

On December 30th, we get a full slate of games that will run from noon until the end of the night.

They don’t call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing, you know.

Here is the preview for the bowl games taking place on December 30th.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

BYU vs. Tulsa

This bowl game is one of the more interesting of the entire bowl season. Both BYU and Tulsa have looked good against inferior competition, but neither has really beaten a marquee opponent this season. This game is the chance for one of these teams to finally get a win against a decent opponent.

BYU had a quarterback controversy throughout most of the season, but it is pretty much settled now. Former starter Jake Heaps has transferred to Kansas, which means that Riley Nelson will be the starter in both the bowl game and probably to start next season. Nelson likes to use his legs, but will need to become comfortable using his arm early in this game because of the potential for it to be an offensive shootout. The Cougars also have a solid defense, which has seemed to be Tulsa’s kryptonite this season. BYU has the ability to dictate what type of game this will be, which is an advantage.

Tulsa’s pre-conference schedule was one of the most difficult in the nation, with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State being three of the teams the Golden Hurricane played in their first four games. While they did not fare well against any of them, it did toughen them up for their conference schedule. The Golden Hurricane ripped off seven straight victories before being humbled by Houston in their season finale. The winning streak was thanks to the offense and quarterback G.J. Kinne, who is a gunslinger and not afraid to thread the needle. Kinne will be especially important in this game, as Tulsa is going against a capable defense that is as good as any that it has faced this season.

I don’t feel that confident about it, but I have BYU for 21 points in this game. I believe that their defense will be able to contain Kinne, and Nelson will do just enough to lead the Cougars to a close victory.

Final Score: 24-21 BYU

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Rutgers vs. Iowa State

Going to New York to play a football game in Yankee Stadium sounds fun, right? Maybe the first time, but only one of these teams will be making their first appearance to the Bronx.

It will be interesting to see whether the Scarlet Knights are emotionally invested in this game. Rutgers was battling for the Big East’s automatic BCS bid (like every other team in the conference) and instead ended up in New York, where they played Army earlier this season. The Scarlet Knights are decent defensively, and will probably need to rely on the defense in order to win this game. Rutgers is woefully inept in the running game and is going against an Iowa State defense whose only strength is the secondary. The Scarlet Knights will need to keep this game in the low 20s if they want to win.

Iowa State’s claim to fame this season is its game played on November 18th, when the Cyclones shocked the nation and upset Oklahoma State in double overtime. In addition to making Iowa State bowl eligible, it essentially squashed the Cowboys’ chances of playing for a national title. Iowa State’s 6-6 record may not actually reflect how good they may be. The Cyclones are a disciplined team that does not hurt itself with mistakes very often, so there is a good chance they will still have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. If they can get things going on offense, they have the ability to outscore Rutgers.

I think that motivation could be a factor in this game, and I think that Iowa State is happier to be playing in this game than Rutgers. Defense will dominate this game, but I think that the Cyclones will do just enough to get the win and come away with the hardware in this one. I have Iowa State for 6 points in the College Bowl Mania game.

Final Score: 20-13 Iowa State

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest

You know what you have to hope for when two 6-6 teams square off in a bowl game? That the score will be close.

I had high hopes for Mississippi State this season. Issues at the quarterback position and playing in the SEC West division were the undoing of this team, though. While Chris Relf was not spectacular for the Bulldogs throughout the season, he will probably be a key component for them in the bowl game. Relf’s running ability makes him dangerous in the pocket, and Wake Forest had a lot of trouble stopping Vanderbilt’s Jordan Rodgers in their season finale. If Relf holds onto the football and doesn’t commit costly turnovers (which have been an issue for him) the Bulldogs may have a lot of offensive success in this game.

The wheels started to come off for Wake Forest during the second half of the season after starting the first half so well, but the good news is that their quarterback play was still solid. Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price has become a solid piece to an offense that likes to move the ball through the air, throwing 20 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions this season. Price will have to bring his A-game to Nashville if the Demon Deacons want to come away victorious, because it is likely that head coach Jim Grobe will want to take advantage of a Mississippi State pass defense that was torched by pass-happy Arkansas but did pretty well against the power rushing attacks of LSU and Alabama.

Mississippi State probably thinks they should be in a better bowl game after last year’s 9-4 record offered so much promise for 2011. However, no bowl eligible team wants to end the season under .500, so motivation should not be much of an issue for either team. There isn’t much to go on when picking a winner here, so I’m going to take the SEC’s middle-of-the-road team over the ACC’s. I have Mississippi State for 14 points in this one.

Final Score: 28-27 Mississippi State

Insight Bowl

Iowa vs. Oklahoma

Iowa has a track record of showing up for its bowl game, and Oklahoma probably doesn’t want to be playing this early into the bowl season. Throw both of those things into a pot, stir it up, and you have the potential for a very close, entertaining game.

The Hawkeyes do have a quality win against Michigan, but some would argue that it is negated by the fact that they lost to Minnesota the weekend before. This may not be the most talented team head coach Kirk Ferentz has had to work with, but he has the uncanny ability to get his team fired up for postseason play. The suspension of running back Marcus Coker doesn’t make this game any easier for the Hawkeyes, but it is hard to argue that it makes it all that more difficult. Iowa’s strength has been its passing game thanks to quarterback James Vandenberg, who can take advantage of Oklahoma’s suspect pass defense. It has been proven three times already this season; if you want to beat the Sooners, you have to beat them through the air.

Oklahoma’s defensive secondary has been its Achilles’ heel all season. An otherwise solid defensive squad was humbled on three different occasions this season, and every time it was against a team with a quarterback who wasn’t afraid to throw the ball downfield. Considering that Iowa has little to lose and it is their strength, the Sooners better be ready to face yet another heavy dose of the passing game. If Oklahoma can limit the productivity of Iowa’s passing game and maybe force a turnover or two, then they should be in good shape. Landry Jones has been shaky at times this season, but should be able to take advantage of an Iowa defense that gives up a Big Ten worst 228 yards per game through the air.

I think that Iowa will have considerable success against Oklahoma’s secondary, which will keep this game close. However, the Sooners will get the turnover or two that they need and capitalize on those possessions. In what will be a high scoring affair, I have the Sooners for 34 points.

Final Score: 34-26 Oklahoma

– K. Becks

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