After two big wins from Navy and Ole Miss, my confidence started to return. I was quickly brought back down to earth after being reminded why Texas forced out Mack Brown. Later last night, Arizona State didn’t show up ready to play and was embarrassed by Texas Tech. The Sun Devils left numerous opportunities on the field and QB Taylor Kelly forgot how to play football. My bowl record is now 8-11, with just a 2-5 mark in Golden Picks. All members of the media will struggle for attention during the 2014 season, with ESPN’s Tim Tebow dominating college football coverage. The next few days are my final chance to earn respect.
Today won’t be a day worth remembering for the ACC. I expect all three teams to lose by double digits. Texas A&M will pick Duke apart and Johnny Manziel will lead a Golden Pick victory tonight shortly before we watch the ball drop in Times Square. Sonia Sotomayor has been a Supreme Court Justice for four years, but approximately 90% of the nation will hear her name for the first time tonight when she presses a button. I wish everyone a Happy New Year. Writing for State of the U has been a great experience this fall and I appreciate the support and feedback.
AdvoCare V100 Bowl
ARIZONA -7 vs Boston College 1230pm – ESPN
This matchup is all about the running backs. BC’s Andre Williams was a Heisman candidate at one point this season and racked up huge numbers on the ground. Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey rushed for over 1700 yards and has unique explosiveness when he finds a hole in the defense. Neither defense is very good, but Arizona has more weapons on offense. QB B.J. Denker is a dual-threat playmaker for the Wildcats and I expect a big performance from him this afternoon. While both Carey and Williams have a great chance to be successful in the NFL, I think Carey’s burst makes him truly elite. Arizona will have two guys on BC WR Alex Amidon and force QB Chage Rettig to find a less reliable target in key situations. Rich Rod’s team pulls away in the second half thanks to a speed advantage on both sides of the ball.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
UCLA -7 vs Virginia Tech 2pm – CBS
Virginia Tech has been a tough team to figure out this season. The Hokies have a very stout defense, but QB Logan Thomas has been inconsistent and doesn’t have a lot of playmakers around him. Virginia Tech averages just 23 points per game and won’t be able to keep up with the high-scoring Bruins. UCLA has an explosive offense led by future NFL star QB Brett Hundley. LB/RB Myles Jack had a tremendous November and will continue his impressive play. Jim Mora reaffirming his commitment to UCLA was huge for this program. He has the Bruins heading in the right direction, while the Hokies don’t seem to have much momentum under Frank Beamer. Look for a two-touchdown victory margin for UCLA this afternoon.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
RICE +7 vs Mississippi State 4pm – ESPN
Don’t fall for simply backing the Bulldogs because they play in the SEC. At 6-6, Mississippi State is the 9th best team in their conference. MSU will have significant fan support in Memphis, but too many people are underestimating the Rice Owls. David Bailiff’s team has won nine of its last ten games and is confident coming off a Conference USA Title. The noise of cowbells won’t intimidate the Owls. Rice will be able to control the line of scrimmage with a power running game led by bruising RB Charles Ross. Senior QB Taylor McHargue will play well in his final collegiate game. Mississippi State struggles to score and has only put up more than 30 points once in their last eight games. If you are looking for an upset special today, this is it. Rice will have a chance to win in the 4th quarter.
TEXAS A&M -12 vs Duke 8pm – ESPN
Congrats to Duke and David Cutcliffe on an incredible season. This game won’t be close tonight. Duke won’t have an answer for Johnny Manziel and I expect the Aggies to score on nearly every possession. Jake Spavital will be calling plays for the first time tonight for TAMU and he and Manziel have a good relationship. I expect the Aggies to be aggressive throughout. WR Mike Evans will have a huge game and continue to impress NFL scouts. Evans is too physical for Duke’s secondary and will dominate in the red zone. Duke QB Anthony Boone has played well this season, but he doesn’t have the weapons to be able to bring his team back from a large early deficit. Texas A&M will shine on one of the SEC’s biggest stages and remind everyone just how much college football will miss the legend that is Johnny Football.
SOTU STAFF PICKS
Jerry Steinberg (11 - 8 record) – BC, VaTech, Miss State, TAMU
Josh Maser (9 - 10 record) – Arizona, UCLA, Miss State, TAMU
Michael Grunewald (7 - 12 record) - Arizona, UCLA, Miss State, TAMU