Bowl Predictions – Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bowl prediction record: 15-13 SU, 12-16 ATS, 14-13-1 O/U

Birmingham Bowl
Auburn (6-6) vs. Memphis (9-3), Birmingham, noon, ESPN
Auburn -3 – O/U 62

Scoring Offense: Auburn, 27.2 (77th); Memphis, 42.7 (6th)
Passing Offense: Auburn, 175.5, (109th); Memphis, 324.3 (13th)
Rushing Offense: Auburn, 191.8 (40th); Memphis, 186.2 (46th)
Scoring Defense: Auburn, 27.3 (68th); Memphis, 27.0 (66th)
Passing Defense: Auburn, 218.3 (73rd); Memphis, 269.3 (116th)
Rushing Defense: Auburn, 203.5 (87th); Memphis, 137.8, (29th)
Turnover Margin: Auburn, +0.33 (38th); Memphis, +0.5 (28th)
Key Players: Auburn – RB Peyton Barber (976 yards, 13 TDs); S Johnathan Ford (113 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 INTs); LB Cassanova McKinzy (74 tackles, 10 TFL, 5 sacks); Memphis – QB Paxton Lynch (3,670 yards, 28 TDs, 3 INTs); WR Mose Frazier (66 rec., 750 yards, 4 TDs); LB Leonard Pegues (64 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack)
Bottom line: Auburn is probably the most disappointing team in the country, having been picked as a playoff contender, but instead limping into the bowls with six wins. They’ll match up an OK rushing offense against Memphis’ strong rushing defense. (Memphis terrible passing defense will be OK – Auburn can’t pass the ball). Meanwhile, Memphis QB Paxton Lynch should find easy sledding against Auburn’s weak defense (which, in one season under supposed defensive wizard Will Muschamp, actually got worse). Neither team is strong, but the one that has been consistently stronger will win. Prediction: Memphis 38, Auburn 27.

Belk Bowl
Mississippi State (8-4) vs. N.C. State (7-5), Charlotte, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Mississippi State -6 – O/U 60.5

Scoring Offense: Mississippi State, 33.0 (42nd); N.C. State, 33.7 (37th)
Passing Offense: Mississippi State, 311.1 (16th); N.C. State, 210.5 (78th)
Rushing Offense: Mississippi State, 140.3 (103rd); N.C. State, 201.4 (31st)
Scoring Defense: Mississippi State, 22.8 (37th); N.C. State, 23.8 (41st)
Passing Defense: Mississippi State, 216.8 (57th); N.C. State, 188.5 (20th)
Rushing Defense: Mississippi State, 171.7 (70th); N.C. State, 144.0 (37th)
Turnover Margin: Mississippi State -0.42 (99th); N.C. State, +0.83 (14th)
Key Players: Mississippi State – QB Dak Prescott (3,413 yards passing, 541 yards rushing, 35 total TDs); WR Fred Ross (933 yards, 5 TDs); LB Richie Brown (90 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks); N.C. State – QB Jacoby Brissett (2,448 yards passing, 303 yards rushing, 24 total TDs); RB Matt Dayes (865 yards, 12 TDs); DE Bradley Chubb (10 TFL, 5 sacks); DE Mike Rose (15.5 TFL, 9 sacks); DT B.J. Hill (11 TFL, 3.5 sacks)
Bottom line: Today will be tough for Mississippi State fans as they say goodbye to one of the most beloved players in their history – QB Dak Prescott. Both teams look fairly similar, except that the Bulldogs like to air out the ball more, while the Wolfpack churns it out more on the ground. Everything points to this being close, with N.C. State perhaps having the upper hand. But the Bulldogs will find a way to send Dak Prescott out a winner.  Prediction: Mississippi State 31, N.C. State 27.

Music City Bowl
Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Louisville (7-5), Nashville, 7 p.m., ESPN
Louisville -4.5 – O/U 47.5

Scoring Offense: Texas A&M, 28.3 (68th); Louisville, 28.8 (65th)
Passing Offense: Texas A&M, 254.4 (40th); Louisville, 246.6 (43rd)
Rushing Offense: Texas A&M, 171.7 (66th); Louisville, 159.7 (82nd)
Scoring Defense: Texas A&M 21.6 (31st); Louisville, 24.3 (45th)
Passing Defense: Texas A&M, 161.3 (4th); Louisville, 204.7 (39th)
Rushing Defense: Texas A&M, 205.9 (105th); Louisville, 118.8 (14th)
Turnover Margin: Texas A&M, -0.33 (95th); Louisville, -0.25 (88th)
Key Players: Texas A&M – RB Tra Carson (1,059 yards, 6 TDs); WR Christian Kirk (925 yards, 6 TDs); DE Myles Garrett (18.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks); DE Daeshon Hall (12.5 TFL, 7 sacks); S Donovan Wilson (5 INTs, 1 TD); Louisville – QB Lamar Jackson (1,613 passing yards, 734 rushing yards, 19 total TDs); LB Keith Kelsey (99 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 3 sacks); DE Devonte Fields (19.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks); LB Trevon Young (10 TFL, 8.5 sacks); DE Sheldon Rankins (12 TFL, 6 sacks)
Bottom line: Louisville struggled in their first three games, and lost all three by a touchdown or less. After a 5-0 start, the Aggies limped to a 3-4 finish. A&M is in a bit of disarray, with starting QB Kyle Allen already out the door in a transfer to another school, leaving freshman Kyler Murray with the start in the bowl. Murray might be great down the road, but he’s not there yet. The Aggies will have to win with defense, and theirs simply isn’t that strong. Prediction: Louisville 24, Texas A&M 17.

Holiday Bowl
USC (8-5) vs. Wisconsin (9-3), San Diego, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
USC -3.5 – O/U 50.5

Scoring Offense: USC, 34.9 (30th); Wisconsin, 27.1 (78th)
Passing Offense: USC, 273.5, (30th); Wisconsin, 229.3 (57th)
Rushing Offense: USC, 176.2 (62nd); Wisconsin, 148.1 (96th)
Scoring Defense: USC, 25.9 (55th); Wisconsin, 13.1 (1st)
Passing Defense: USC, 253.8 (96th); Wisconsin, 168.9 (6th)
Rushing Defense: USC, 147.2 (40th); Wisconsin, 98.2 (4th)
Turnover Margin: USC, +0.92 (8th); Wisconsin +0.17 (57th)
Key Players: USC – QB Cody Kessler (3,315 yards, 28 TDs); RBs Justin Davis and Ronald Jones (combined 1,815 yards, 13 TDs); WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (1,389 yards, 10 TDs); LB Su’A Cravens (78 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks); Wisconsin – RB Dare Ogunbowale (769 yards, 7 TDs); WR Alex Erickson (924 yards, 3 TDs); LB Joe Shobert (73 tackles, 19 TFL, 9.5 sacks); S Tanner McEvoy (6 INTs, 98 yards)
Bottom line: If the Rose Bowl could have been between two somewhat above average teams with weaknesses on one side of the ball, then this would have been a great matchup. USC has a decent offense, especially in the passing game, but is average to below average on defense. Wisconsin is terrible on offense, but has perhaps the best defense in the country. USC simply hasn’t seen a defense like Wisconsin’s. (The best unit in the Pac-12 is Washington, which averages 100 yards and five points more than the Badgers – and USC only scored 12 on the Huskies.) Of course, the best offense the Badgers saw was Alabama, and they were scorched for 35 points in that game. USC will score less than they’re used to, and Wisconsin will score more. Playing close to home might make the difference for the Trojans.  Prediction: USC 27, Wisconsin 21.



About Douglas Blaine

Capnpen is a writer who was a newspaper and magazine journalist in a previous life. A college journalism major, he now works as an administrator, but gets his writing fix by blogging about a variety of topics, including politics, religion, movies and television. When he's not working or blogging, Capnpen spends time with his family, plays a little golf (badly) and loves to learn about virtually anything.
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