This week we get into the real meat of the bowl season, so this week’s Top 10 Games will get back into a football frame of mind to give you the best games of the week. Don’t worry basketball fans, you’ll have all of January, February and March to yourselves. But this week belongs to the gridiron, so get ready to kick back and feast on bowl games this Saturday.
10. Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Michigan
Jan. 1, 1:30 PM, ESPN2
This will be Rich Rodriguez’s final game as the head coach at Michigan … or not. We’re not really sure and all the Rodriguez talk has all but died since the end of November. Whatever athletic director David Brandon decides, this is the Wolverines’ first bowl game in two years, something worth watching. We’ll make a bold prediction: not only will the Wolverines win, but Rodriguez will come back for 2011.
Prediction: Michigan 35, Mississippi State 24
9. Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. Washington
Dec. 30, 10 PM, ESPN
The last time these two teams played, freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez blew up with 150 yards and a touchdown through the air and 137 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in his first road start. A lot has changed since that game but the only thing any fan really wants to know is if Washington will bother to show up for this game. They played well their final three games of the season but it was against inferior competition. The Huskies will play better, but Nebraska will prevail.
Prediction: Nebraska 28, Washington 20
8. Champs Sports Bowl: West Virginia vs. NC State
Dec. 28, 6:30 PM, ESPN
Keep an eye on this game because the Wolfpack could very well be an ACC favorite next season and this game could be a springboard for 2011. Russell Wilson has had an up-and-down season but having a few weeks off to rest and prepare for an opponent might be perfect for an athletic stud like Wilson. We think he has a monster game.
Prediction: NC State 35, West Virginia 17
7. Insight Bowl: Missouri vs. Iowa
Dec. 28, 10 PM, ESPN
Both schools failed to reach the high expectations they set for themselves thanks to hot starts but at least Missouri recovered from its misstep. Iowa stumbled against Northwestern and then face planted in consecutive weeks to finish the year on a three-game losing streak. Then came all the bowl-game suspensions. How will they respond? The Hawkeyes will just be glad to get out of Tempe, AZ, with the shirts on their backs.
Prediction: Missouri 42, Iowa 13
6. Chick-fil-A Bowl: South Carolina vs. Florida State
Dec. 31, 7:30 PM, ESPN
At times this season, both schools have looked like world beaters and then middle-of-the-road teams. Now with plenty of rest and preparation heading into this game, the questions is which of these two two teams is legit? While we’ll take Christian Ponder over Stephen Garcia any day of the week, Marcus Lattimore is better than anything the Seminoles have. The Gamecocks pull out a win in a close one as the Ol’ Ball Coach wins another game over the ‘Noles.
Prediction: South Carolina 24, Florida State 21
5. Fiesta Bowl: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma
Jan. 1, 8:30 PM, ESPN
We wanted to reference Boise State and ask if Connecticut could pull off a Broncos-style upset against the Sooners but then we realized that a Huskies win would actually be a bigger upset. As of now, Oklahoma is a 16.5-point favorite over Connecticut. Boise State was just a 7.5-point underdog against the Sooners. Um, good luck to Randy Edsall – he’ll need it.
Prediction: Oklahoma 48, Connecticut 17
4. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Dec. 29, 9:15 PM, ESPN
It really doesn’t matter who Oklahoma State plays, always expect a shootout because the Cowboys don’t understand the basic concept of defense. But we’re not knocking the Wildcats. Nick Foles and that Arizona passing attack can put up big numbers quickly. But the defense has played poorly against high-scoring offenses (see Oregon and Stanford) and we see no reason why Arizona can snap a four-game losing streak that includes a loss to Arizona State. Expect some early New Year’s Eve fireworks in San Antonio.
Oklahoma State 45, Arizona 33
3. Capital One Bowl: Alabama vs. Michigan State
Jan. 1, 1 PM, ESPN
The Spartans can’t get any respect. First they get snubbed from the BCS despite beating Wisconsin and now most fans doubt they have a chance against Alabama. Well, we’re among those most fans who don’t think they have a chance. Michigan State is a good football team, but we still believe that a healthy Alabama with weeks of preparation is one of the best two or three teams in the country. Don’t be surprised if this game is used as a jumping off point for a title run in 2011.
Prediction: Alabama 27, Michigan State 14
2. Outback Bowl: Florida vs. Penn State
Jan. 1, 1 PM, ABC
According to College Football Talk, rumors are swirling that Urban Meyer may not be the only coach from this match-up retiring. Publicly Paterno said he’s coming back in 2011, but there’s a pretty good chance he thinks it’s 1970, so that declaration should be taken with a grain of salt. Based on sources inside the program, College Football Talk reported that the wheels for Paterno’s retirement have already been set in motion. Whether or not he officially retires following this game, it should still be entertaining and emotional, especially on the Florida sidelines. Emotions aside, we think Florida is just the better team.
Prediction: Florida 25, Penn State 18
1. Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU
Jan. 1, 5 PM, ESPN
It’s only fitting the Granddady of Them All has arguably the best non-national title game match-up with Wisconsin and TCU. It almost has the feel of a national title game, as the Horned Frogs are undefeated and the Badgers are playing as well as anyone in the country. The most exciting part of this game might be the defense. Both teams have a bruising style of play that should make for some big hits throughout the evening. The Badgers won’t drop an 80-spot on the Horned Frogs but we think they’ll get the job done in this defensive war.
Prediction: Wisconsin 23, TCU 14