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College Bowl Picks (January 1st)

Gator Bowl: Georgia vs. Nebraska
Both Georgia and Nebraska were disappointments this year but they could still
Ameer Abdullah
finish their respective seasons on a high note. Georgia started off their year strong with wins over South Carolina and LSU but their season was decimated by injuries. Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and Malcolm Mitchell all went down with injuries. Then to make things worse they lost four-year starter at quarterback Aaron Murray who tore his ACL. Junior Hutson Mason will start at quarterback after finishing the year filling in for Murray. This means that will lean heavily on the sophomore Gurley, who was so dominant before hurting his ankle. Nebraska, who was also had issues at quarterback, will rely on their back, speedy Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah proved to be one the most exciting players in the Big Ten this year, recording 1,568 yards and 8 touchdowns. The 'Huskers expect Tommy Armstrong to be healthy at quarterback and start over Ron Kellogg and the banged-up Taylor Martinez. Armstrong got has some help with Georgia's star safety Josh Harvey-Clemons suspended. Mason has seen some snaps already so he may be pretty comfortable and he does have some talent around him that includes Gurley, like agile Chris Conley and sure-handed Michael Bennett. The pressure is on for Nebraska and head coach Bo Pelini, who drew a lot of critics this year after his rant about his fans. If they don't stop Gurley and the offense continues to struggle his future could be in concern if they end up 8-5.
Georgia, 24 Nebraska, 13

Heart of Dallas Bowl: North Texas vs. UNLV
Neither North Texas nor UNLV have seen a bowl in a while, UNLV not seeing a bowl game since 2000 and North Texas not one in nearly a decade. The Mean Green were a pleasant surprise in their first year in the Conference USA, going 6-2 in their first year outside of the Sun Belt and going 8-4 overall. They will hope for a big day from senior Brandin Byrd, who ran for 1,023 yards. North Texas does have balance on the offensive side of the ball with QB Derek Thompson, another senior. Thompson threw for 2,640 yards this year but he does have one big issue: he struggles with turnovers. Thompson had 13 interceptions this season and lost a couple of fumbles in the process. UNLV, meanwhile, has been beaten up for years in the Mountain West but had a breakthrough this year, in large part to their back, Tim Cornett. The powerful Cornett racked up 1,251 yards this season and proved to be great down near the end zone, picking up 15 touchdowns. Quarterback Caleb Herring also had a great 2013 throwing for 22 touchdowns and just 4 picks. Both of these teams have balanced offenses and will be very excited for this game. Whoever ends up running the ball better against these average defenses will end up winning this one.
UNLV, 30 North Texas, 20

Outback Bowl: LSU vs. Iowa
The Tigers got some very bad news before a big game against a sneaky Iowa team when they learned senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger would not play in this one. After a rollercoaster of a year as a junior he had a great 2013, passing for 3,082 yards and cutting down on his turnovers. This means LSU will rely on freshman Anthony Jennings at QB, who has only thrown 10 passes in his time in Baton Rouge. Iowa's defense has been the big reason why they are 8-4, they have been able to stop teams on the ground and through the air. They won't have it easy though, LSU has a lot of playmakers this year. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are two dangerous receivers who are very reliable. Landry had 75 receptions this year, while Beckham averaged nearly 20 yards a catch this season. On the ground the Tigers will bring Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee to the table. After being suspended for the first couple of games this year , Hill has been great. Iowa has always been a power football team and that has not changed this year, they run right up the middle with bruiser Mark Weisman. Weisman in his second year since transferring to Iowa, he had 938 yards on 209 carries with 7 scores. In order to beat LSU, the Hawkeyes will definitely need a good day from quarterback Jake Rudock. LSU will put pressure on Rudock with guys like massive tackle Anthony Johnson and a secondary that includes Craig Loston. Even with Jennings at QB, LSU still has the defense and playmakers around him to get their 10th win of the year.
LSU, 31 Iowa, 28

Capitol One Bowl: South Carolina vs. Wisconsin
Entering the year, Wisconsin had hopes of being able to play for their fourth straight Rose Bowl. Michigan State will get that opportunity but the Capitol One Bowl is still a good consolation. The Badgers hope the combination of senior back James White and sophomore Melvin Gordon can carry them to their first bowl victory since the Champ Sports Bowl in 2009. South Carolina hopes they can get a big win to end the career of infamous defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney did not have the junior year that many people expected him to have but he should still be factor and should help guys like Chaz Sutton lanes at the quarterback, when he draws double teams. This Gamecocks' defense not only has to stop the Badgers' power run attack but also tame receiver Jared Abrederis. Abrederis had 73 catches and 1,051 yards in his final year with Wisconsin. South Carolina has a strong offense led by Mike Davis, a sophomore back who has reminded South Carolina fans of Marcus Lattimore when he was healthy. Senior QB Connor Shaw had a great year and make the right decisions, even though he did struggle with injuries through much of 2013. Under Shaw the Gamecocks rarely turned the ball over and he is still a dangerous dual threat. He has some proven targets in speedy, two-sport star Bruce Ellington and big play threat Damiere Byrd. Wisconsin's defense is not easy to run the ball against as they still have senior linebacker Chris Borland, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. This looks like it will be a good match up but if the Gamecocks can't stop Gordon this will be a very tough one.
Wisconsin, 37 South Carolina, 27

Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. UCF
Two teams with explosive offenses will collide in what will be an exciting Fiesta Bowl. UCF dominated the American Athletic through much of 2013, going 8-0 with a big win over Louisville. Junior QB Blake Bortles had an impressive year, showing he had a fantastic arm and making big plays with his legs. Head coach George O'Leary also has a lot more to work with in this offense with workhorse back Storm Johnson and J.J. Worton, who had 42 receptions for 665 yards and had one of the best catches of the year with his one-handed snag against Temple. Baylor had a fantastic year, winning the Big 12 title and nearly having an opportunity to sneak into the national championship before their only loss of the year to Oklahoma State. Junior quarterback Bryce Petty continued the trend of talented Baylor quarterback, that started with RG3 and Nick Florence. Petty threw for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns and looked like a legit Heisman threat. Other than Petty this offense also includes speedy Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk and explosive receiver Antwan Goodley, who had 1,319 yards this season. This one looks destined to be a shootout with all the playmakers for both teams. Baylor has combined for 116 points in their last two bowl games in wins over Washington and UCLA.
Baylor, 44 UCF, 38

Darqueze Dennard
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford
The Rose Bowl is celebrating it's 100th year and this could honestly be one of the best ones. The 12-1 Michigan State Spartans will hope to keep their hot streak alive against Shayne Skov and the Stanford Cardinal. These two teams have two of the best defenses in the nation. The Spartans have the best defense, statistically in the entire nation. Though, they had some rough news this week when senior linebacker Max Bullough was suspended for the game. Bullough is a tackle machine and the leader of the defense and he will be missed. But, this defense still has shutdown corner Darqueze Dennard and massive defensive end Shilique Calhoun. They will need the defense to be up to par against a powerful Stanford rush attack that is led by senior back Tyler Gaffney. Gaffney had 306 carries this year, about 23 a game. Gaffney had 1,618 yards this season and also had 20 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan had a great year, throwing for 20 touchdowns and also has great legs. Against Oregon, his running ability helped win that game as he kept the defense honest. Hogan also has some great downfield threats including Ty Montgomery and huge receiver Devon Cajuste. Skov and the Cardinal defense is constantly in backfields and will put a ton of pressure on Connor Cook, who has filled in very well for senior Andrew Maxwell. The Spartans' offense has become so much better since Jeremy Langford started playing better and he should help the offense gain yards agains this stiff defense. This game looks like a complete toss-up, both of these teams run very well and they are disciplined and play hard-nose defense. I'm picking Stanford mainly because they won this game last season and because of how difficult it is too stop Tyler Gaffney.
Stanford, 20 Michigan State, 16

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