35 Bowls in 24 Days: Day 14


Oklahoma and Iowa meet Friday night in the Insight Bowl (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Today’s installment in the bowl series will focus on four bowls — two on Friday night and two on Saturday afternoon. Georgia Tech fans, your Yellow Jackets are included in this blog, so be sure to check out how they’ll match up with the Utes.

More: See the other bowl games

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-6, 5-3 ACC) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6, 2-6 SEC), Friday, 6:40 p.m. [ESPN]

The Dec. 30 bowl parade on the four-letter network continues in the evening when this bowl will renew its annual ACC-SEC rivalry in Nashville. To be frank, this is a good time block to go get dinner.

These two teams are equally bad, and maybe that will make for a close game, but I doubt it will be anything exciting. Wake Forest and MSU both were severely disappointing this season. Unlike MSU, Wake actually was in contention for a conference title until late in the season, which can’t say anything good about the ACC.

Take my advice — save your headache for the New Year’s Day hangover … don’t get it 36 hours early by listening to four hours of Bulldog fans ringing their cowbells continuously and obnoxiously (yes, the Music City Bowl is going to allow them to bring their noisemakers into the stadium).

In Wake’s first bowl appearance since 2008, expect them to play a little better than their counterparts, and bet on the Deacons to win. Just don’t watch them do it.

My prediction: Wake Forest 24, Mississippi State 17

Insight Bowl: No. 14 Oklahoma Sooners (9-3, 6-3 Big 12) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten), Friday, 10 p.m. [ESPN]

Ahh, a game that will resemble organized football, unlike the game that precedes it.

Oklahoma is gutted because of injuries, but they have stockpiled talent as they always do. They’re deep enough to keep up with the Hawkeyes, who finished the year 7-5 — a letdown by their standards.

The Sooners are a 14-point favorite, and while I think that’s a bit much, I do believe Oklahoma is the better team. They have a great defense, forcing a total of 24 turnovers in their nine wins this year. But they were shredded in their final game of the season, a 44-10 dismantling at the hands of Oklahoma State in the de facto Big 12 Championship game.

These two teams have only met once previously, and that game was won by Iowa (21-6 in 1979). The Hawkeyes have won three consecutive bowl games, but it’s going to take a heck of an effort to extend that streak.

My prediction: Oklahoma 34, Iowa 24

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas A&M Aggies (6-6, 4-5 Big 12) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten), Saturday, Noon [ESPN]

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald totally has this program moving in the right direction. This is their fourth bowl appearance in a row after years upon years of bad football. But they are still winless in postseason play since the program’s 1949 Rose Bowl victory, and that drought is looming very large for a team that expects to be better.

The Aggies are dealing with a different kind of disappointment — a letdown that has happened this season, over and over. A&M started the year with big expectations and a No. 8 ranking in the AP Poll. But they couldn’t win close games, and they surely couldn’t hold leads in the second half. Thus, a team picked by some to win the Big 12 finished with a .500 record in the regular season.

Welcome to the Big 12.

Actually, goodbye. Tomorrow will be the final game as a member of the Big 12 for A&M — they’re off to play in the SEC in 2012. I can see them making their exit with a bang, because while Texas A&M has their own issues, they’re a more talented team than the Wildcats.

My prediction: Texas A&M 37, Northwestern 20

Hyundai Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. Utah Utes (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12), Saturday, 2 p.m. [CBS]

In their first season as a member of the Pac-12, Utah took a step back from past years of dominance, but that was expected with higher-quality opponents. They took their lumps against teams like USC and Arizona State, but they managed to win seven games and qualify for a bowl game in that first year. It should be all downhill from here.

Georgia Tech will prove to be a very good opponent for the Utes. It’s no surprise that the Yellow Jackets are a three-point favorite going into this game, but don’t be surprised if Utah figures out a way to rise up and win it. It’s been proven that teams who have more than a week to prepare for GT’s triple-option offense fare better than those who only have a week of preparation, and the Utes had far more than a week to get ready.

The Jackets have to stick to what they’re good at — dominating time of possession and keeping that third-ranked rushing offense on the field. Utah has won nine out of their last 10 bowl games, so these kids are experienced at winning postseason games.

In my opinion, the fact that the over/under in this game has been set at 50 points benefits the Yellow Jackets. If this is going to be a high-scoring affair, that means GT will have their offense rolling, and that’s good news with a team that seems like it’s all-or-nothing most of the time.

My prediction: Georgia Tech 35, Utah 27

Past Days: Day 13 | Day 12 | Day 11 | Day 10 | Day 9 | Day 8 | Day 7 | Day 6 | Day 5 | Day 4 | Day 3 | Day 2 | Day 1

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