New Year's Eve Bowl Primer

By michaelcronin
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

As 2012 closes down and we move into 2013 there are some solid bowl games for us all to feast on. Particularly as you get ready to go out for your evening festivities. Wherever you go, make sure you’ve got a TV close and primed to the Chick-fil-A game which should be a dandy. Let’s break them all down…

MUSIC CITY BOWL- NC State Wolfpack vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

This is basically a home game for Vanderbilt, as it is as LP Field, just down the street from their campus. Vandy is red hot finishing their season with six straight wins. They’ve got a great running back in Zac Stacy and when quarterback Jordan Rodgers is actually on they can be explosive in the pass game. Both Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd are some of the top receivers in the conference. Matthews is especially outstanding after the catch. His matchup with NC State corner David Amerson will be fascinating  Amerson was thought of as a first round pick by NFL scouts heading into the season but his lack of straight line speed has been exposed.

Meanwhile, NC State lives and dies with quarterback Mike Glennon. With the lack of elite quarterbacks in the upcoming NFL draft, he could make himself a lot of money with a strong showing. NC State’s offensive line has got to give him a chance to throw the ball though. They’ve struggled all year long but perhaps the extra practices will make a difference.

Prediction: Vandy 31-14.

SUN BOWL- USC Trojans vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

USC does not want to be here. They were ranked #1 overall in the preseason and had a tremendous fall from grace. The defense was super young up front and it showed. Additionally, the lack of scholarships due to sanctions really wore down this team. Star QB Matt Barkley won’t play in this one due to a shoulder injury. Expect to see a lot of Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal in this one. That’ll take pressure off redshirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek.

Georgia Tech runs the triple option which can cause teams a lot of problems however with the month layoff I don’t expect it to be that much of a factor. What I do expect to cause a problem is the rushing attack in general. The Trojans defense struggled with it all year. The power game especially should cause some problems and that’ll make this closer than most think.

Prediction: USC 31-24.

LIBERTY BOWL- Iowa State Cyclones vs. Tulsa Hurricanes

Talk about a snoozer. These two teams already faced each other earlier this season in a game the Cyclones won. Tulsa is coming off a C-USA title though and I expect them to be ultra motivated. The Hurricanes pose one of the best rushing attacks in the country and that’ll be on display early and often. The major difference for Iowa State will be the play at quarterback. Freshman Sam Richardson didn’t play in their first meeting and he is expected to start. He was extremely accurate and finally gave coach Paul Rhodes some stability under center. This should be a tight ballgame throughout.

Prediction: Tulsa 34-31

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL- #8 LSU Tigers vs. #14 Clemson Tigers

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Two top 25 teams will battle as the nation gets ready to welcome in 2013. These teams were both a few plays away from being serious contenders for the national title game. Clemson has playmakers at nearly every skill position but it all starts with quarterback Tajh Boyd. He will need to use his mobility in order to survive the Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo pass rushing tandom. Expect a lot of quick hitters early to keep them off balance. I want to see Sammy Watkins get back in the groove. His suspension really threw off his rhythm and this is one of the bigger stages of bowl season.

Meanwhile, LSU will run the rock a lot. The four headed monster of Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hillard, Spencer Ware and Michael Ford should be able to wear down a thin Clemson front 7. However, I want to see Les Miles throw the ball a bit more. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was coming on the last four games and you can’t play it close to the vest with the explosiveness Clemson has. Especially when you’ll be without star punter Brad Wing who was suspended.

Prediction: LSU 24-20.

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.

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