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Bowl Picks 2015: Arizona Bowl, Texas Bowl

Malachi Dupre, LSU, Texas Bowl
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, Tucson, @ Arizona Stadium (Dec. 29th, 6:30 pm CT on Campus Insiders)
Colorado State Rams (7-5) vs. Nevada Wolfpack (6-6)

The bowl season can create some interesting and exciting matchups. And, they can also produce some weird ones, like this battle between Mountain West foes. Colorado State, who went 7-5 in the first year of life after Jim McElwain, will square off with 6-6 Nevada. The Rams certainly missed the leadership of McElwain (who of course took the Florida job) and their offense also missed a number of key pieces. Though, receiver Rashard Higgins put on a solid encore to his breakout 2014-2015, with eight touchdowns and 933 yards. Nevada will also have to account for explosive Dalyn Dawkins out of the backfield and a growing-in-confidence Nick Stevens at quarterback. The Wolfpack have been solid defensively this year, but are still growing, which should make for an intriguing battle. On offense, Nevada will lean heavily on the services of back James Butler, who ran for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. Butler is a dynamic weapon with excellent vision and burst. Colorado State is a decent run defense team, but if they aren't prepared they could find themselves in a tough matchup. Nevada is rather one-dimensional offensively though, as the passing game has lagged behind. Junior Tyler Stewart has had his moments, but still lacks consistency, while receiver Hassan Henderson is a great talent, but hasn't got the touches he needs to fully succeed. Overall this bowl appears to be a meeting of solid, if rather underwhelming teams. Both don't have any gaping weaknesses, and don't exactly have an overly special unit either. I'll give the nod to the Rams, who seem to have a more proven defense and a dangerous weapon like Higgins equipped on the perimeter.
Colorado State, 28 Nevada, 24

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, Houston, @ NRG Stadium (Dec. 29th, 8 pm CT on ESPN)
LSU Tigers (8-3) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)

Things can change amazingly quick in college football, and LSU this season is the perfect example. The Tigers were smack dab in the Playoff picture at the season's midway point, and it appeared Leonard Fournette was poised to run away with the Heisman. Then, the Alabama loss, and the bottom fell out. Though, LSU did stick with head coach Les Miles, and Miles will hope to instill back some confidence into the program with a bowl win over a good Texas Tech team. The Red Raiders recovered nicely from a disappointing 4-8 slip in 2014 by winning seven games this year (and nearly beating TCU). The main reason for their success has been the play of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who went off in Kliff Kingsbury's offense this season. He had 4,283 yards and 32 touchdowns and was pretty efficient, surprising considering he was in an air raid system. He will be joined by a great group of receivers, headed by Jakeem Grant, along with one of the nation's most underrated backs. Only because he plays in the TTU system, DeAndre Washington has been largely overlooked. But, he had 1,455 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season, and showed plenty of playmaking ability in the open field. LSU lost so much on the defensive side of the ball to the NFL Draft this past offseason, as they typically do. That, combined with the loss of John Chavis to Texas A&M resulted in a relatively pedestrian season, by LSU standards, on the defensive side of the ball. They still have a great crop of defensive backs, including corner Tre'Davious White and safety Jamal Adams. That secondary should hold up pretty well against the Red Raiders, which will put LSU in a good position. Texas Tech just plain doesn't possess any personnel on the defensive side of the ball to stop Leonard Fournette. Sure, Fournette slowed down significantly down the stretch but still ran for 1,741 yards and 18 touchdowns, and abused defenders on the way. Texas Tech is not a great tackling team, so they could be in real trouble. They will definitely try to force LSU to throw the ball in this one. Sophomore Brandon Harris has been improved this year, but still has a ton of work to do. He does have a number of weapons to work with, particularly Malachi Dupre on the perimeter (who had 602 yards and six touchdowns in a very limited attack). LSU's struggles late in the year have been troubling and Miles will enter 2016 with a burning hot seat. But, they have the better team in this bowl game, and could make a statement as they sneak a peek towards their future by beating down Texas Tech.
LSU, 30 Texas Tech, 20

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