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College Bowl Picks (Dec. 21-Dec. 23)

New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Washington State

Connor Halliday
Two programs that have struggled over the past couple of years (Colorado St.hasn't been in a bowl game since 2008, WSU in a decade) will square off an interesting New Mexico Bowl. Both of these teams have strong offenses that average over 400 yards a game. How they get that amount is a lot different. The Cougars are a pass-first team that is led by junior QB Connor Halliday who set records earlier this year for pass attempts and completions in a single game. Meanwhile, the Rams use back Kapri Bibbs and a strong ground attack to beat teams up. Colorado State is much more balanced than Washington State, they also boast a great QB in Garrett Grayson, who has thrown for 3,327 yards this season. In order to stop the balance that Colorado State brings to the table, the Cougars need some big plays from cornerback Damontre Horton or somebody else on this defense. When the Cougars offense is clicking it is one of the nation's funnest to watch but turnovers could still plague Washington State. Mike Leach will have his team pumped up and ready to play, which they will need to be against the Rams.
Washington State, 34 Colorado State, 30

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC
Derek Carr
For Fresno, this doesn't look anywhere close to as attractive as a BCS bowl, which they had a chance at, but beating a program with as much recognition as USC would be huge. Senior QB Derek Carr is ready for his grand finale, after a great 2013 that included 48 touchdowns and 4,866 yards. Much of his success should be credited to sophomore Davante Adams, one of the nation's best playmakers. The speedster had 122 receptions, 1,645 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns this year. The Trojans year completely changed when Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron took his place. USC went 7-2 under Orgeron, including a victory over No. 4 Stanford. Though, USC ended up hiring Washington's Steve Sarkisian and Orgeron resigned. Sophomore QB Cody Kessler played fantastic under Coach O, but it will be interesting to see what he will do without that leadership. Kessler is surrounded by a number of playmakers like back Tre Madden and receiver Nelson Agholor, who is also a monster in special teams. A lot of pressure will be on the offense, but the defense must step up to stop Fresno, who averaged over 45 points a game this season. Senior linebacker Devon Kennard who has had 9 sacks this year will apply pressure on Carr and will hope that someone like freshman Su'a Cravens can cause some turnovers and hang with the speed of the Bulldogs. Motivation will be key for USC and stopping Carr will be very tough.
Fresno State, 41 USC, 24

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Buffalo vs. San Diego State
The hot Buffalo Bulls enter this one with a lot of momentum against the San Diego State Aztecs. The 8-4 Bulls are led by senior back Branden Oliver who has ran for 1,421 yards and 15 touchdowns. Oliver is a load for any defense, he has decent speed but is dominant through the tackles and has great vision. The play of quarterback Joe Licata has been big for Buffalo, who lacked a consistent pass offense last year. The offense for San Diego St. also relies heavily on the ground game, with junior Adam Muema, who has 12 touchdowns in 2013. QB Quinn Kaehler has been efficient this year and is an accurate passer and has a true talent to work with in receiver Ezell Ruffin. The Aztecs' offense is decent but it will be tested by rangy linebacker Khalil Mack. The NFL prospect is a sure tackler that can also sneak into opponents' backfields and wreak havoc. San Diego State started off 0-3 and has played well since then but still has an issue on defense where they are still allowing 32.3 points per game, 97th in the nation. Another thing to consider: San Diego State is used to playing in the warm weather of San Diego, not the chilly Boise weather in December.
Buffalo, 31 San Diego State, 17

New Orleans Bowl: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
A Tulane program that had been floundering for years had a breakthrough 2013 thanks to a strong defense and good play at QB from Joe Montana's son, Nick. The 7-5 Green Wave also possess one of the nation's most underrated players in senior Ryan Grant. Grant had 70 receptions and 926 yards, constantly stretching the field for back Orleans Darkwa pounding the ball between the tackles. Darkwa, another senior, isn't an explosive runner but is a workhorse who is good for a couple yards. Lafayette looks to turn things around after two straight losses to weak Sun Belt teams, UL-Monroe and South Alabama. They still have an offense that has the pieces to score in bunches, led by dual threat QB Terrance Broadway and powerful junior back Alonzo Harris, who is a beast in the red zone recording 13 touchdowns. The issue for the Ragin' Cajuns has been turnovers and a defense that has struggled to be consistent this year.
Louisiana-Lafayette, 27 Tulane, 20

Beef O' Brady's Bowl: Ohio vs. East Carolina
One of the nation's most explosive offenses in the nation looks to get East Carolina to the double-digit win total. The Pirates are led by junior quarterback Shane Carden who has monster statistics. Carden has 3,866 passing yards and 32 touchdowns, distributing the ball to a number of playmakers that include Justin Hardy and back Vintavious Cooper. East Carolina is going to pass the ball a lot but Cooper has been fantastic on the ground, averaging nearly five yards a carry. Ohio meanwhile has been solid thanks to an experienced backfield led by Tyler Tettleton at QB and powerful bruiser Beau Blankenship. Ohio's offense has been suspect at times but their defense has been solid, especially their pass defense. Cornerback Travis Carrie has had four interceptions this year and will need a big day to shutdown Hardy. Forcing turnovers will be very important for Ohio, especially if their offense struggles against a decent East Carolina defense. Ohio is always a pretty safe pick, they have proven they can win big games and this will be their sixth consecutive appearance. But, stopping East Carolina has proven to be an extremely difficult task, and I don't think the Bobcats are up to it.
East Carolina, 35 Ohio, 21

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