DEC. 18 HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR
I had a college professor who advised students, when doing a paper, to write the introduction last. “Otherwise,” he said, “how do you know what you’re introducing?”
So that’s what I’ve done here. And what I am introducing is long, so I’ll keep this short.
Time for my annual college bowl game predictions, and my annual friendly wager with Mark. Proceed with caution.
New Mexico: Colorado State vs. Washington State. Teams nicknamed the “Rams” always have cool helmets. CSU by 3.
Las Vegas: Fresno State vs. USC. Bowl games can be fun because smaller programs can sometimes defeat national powers. Let’s try that here. Fresno State by 2.
Famous Idaho Potato: Buffalo vs. San Diego State. It was inevitable that, one day, there would be a Potato Bowl. San Diego State by 7.
New Orleans: Tulane vs. UL-Lafayette. The annual coin flip game. Tulane is heads. Heads it is. Tulane by 1.
St. Petersburg: East Carolina vs. Ohio. Go with the school you’ve heard of. Ohio by 4.
Hawaii: Boise State vs. Oregon State. The blue turf boys have taken a tumble recently. Oregon State by 6.
Little Caesars Pizza: Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh. My son Ian loves all things Pittsburgh. This one’s for you, buddy. Pitt by 7.
Poinsettia: Northern Illinois vs. Utah State. My mile-a-day running streak has, as of Monday, reached 38 days. I’ve done some of them outside, some on a treadmill at a local fitness center, two at a fitness center in Anita, Iowa; and two from my sister’s house in Apple Valley, Minn. In honor of the streak, I’m picking NIU by 38.
Military: Marshall vs. Maryland. Maryland might massacre Marshall. Maybe Marshall manhandles Maryland. Marshall musters more. By 2.
Texas: Minnesota vs. Syracuse. Nobody in Minnesota saw an 8-4 record coming. Nobody. Very nice. And while a different bowl might have been more attractive, this one gives the Gophers a better chance to win. By 3.
Fight Hunger: BYU vs. Washington. Some proceeds from this bowl go to help feed hungry people. Which makes it awesome. Washington by 5.
Pinstripe: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers. As much as I dislike Notre Dame and its exclusive network contract, the Irish are probably better here. By 7.
Belk: Cincinnati vs. North Carolina. Some basketball schools are becoming more proficient at football as well. NC by 3.
Russell Athletic: Louisville vs. Miami (Fla.). Very appealing pre-New Year’s matchup. With apologies to devout Louisville supporter Dianna Rucker, Miami by 4.
Buffalo Wild Wings: Kansas State vs. Michigan. I’m not sure which Michigan to believe. Kansas State by 6.
Armed Forces: Middle Tennessee vs. Navy. Take the armed force. Navy by 3.
Music City: Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss. I’m still mad about an Ole Miss win decades ago when Archie Manning was their quarterback. I don’t recall the circumstances, or even the opponent, but I’m still mad. Georgia Tech by 9.
Alamo: Texas vs. Oregon. Texas has succeeded in pushing out a coach who brought them a national championship and had a 10-year streak of 10 wins or more. Oregon by 7.
Holiday: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech. Go with the school playing closer to its home. Arizona State by 1.
Sun: UCLA vs. Virginia Tech. Basketball footnote: I was a supporter of Steve Alford when others around here weren’t. After he dumped New Mexico in favor of UCLA, however, I’m beginning to see their side. That has nothing to do with this game, of course, so I’ll pick UCLA by 5.
Liberty: Mississippi State vs. Rice. May I use the “going against the grain” joke one more time? Mississippi State by 7.
Chick-fil-A: Duke vs. Texas A&M. Amazing how I can dislike a school in one sport and pull for it in another. Duke by 1.
Gator: Georgia vs. Nebraska. Pelini finally got some come-uppance for his, you know, attitude. Georgia by 10.
Heart of Dallas: North Texas vs. UNLV. Don’t know anything about these football teams, but in general, I like Vegas. UNLV by 4.
Capital One: South Carolina vs. Wisconsin. One of the best games on this bowl schedule, and one of the hardest to pick. I’ve learned, over the years, not to pick against any team from Wisconsin. Badgers by 3.
Outback: Iowa vs. LSU. I was SO glad to see Iowa finish this season strong. It has silenced the misguided “Fire Ferentz” crowd, who wanted the head of the coach who has brought them four season-ending top-10 rankings. LSU might like revenge for 2005, but I’m saying they won’t get it here. Iowa by 2.
Rose: Michigan State vs. Stanford. A nice, traditional Rose Bowl. This will be fun to watch. I’ll try Michigan State by 1.
Fiesta: Baylor vs. UCF. Blowout Special. Baylor by 24.
Sugar: Alabama vs. Oklahoma. The Saban-to-Texas hype is exactly what is wrong with sports journalism today. Now reporters are “breaking” rumors on the off chance they might be true. Alabama by 17.
Cotton: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State. Turns out Missou is just fine in the SEC. I would have bet against that. Missouri by 6.
Orange: Clemson vs. Ohio State. This game should prove whether or not Ohio State was overrated all year. I vote yes. Clemson by 7.
BBVA Compass: Houston vs. Vanderbilt. When in doubt, go SEC. Vandy by 5.
GoDaddy: Arkansas State vs. Ball State. See what happens next. Arkansas State by 3.
BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn. Is anyone headed to Vegas between now and Jan. 6? If so, I’d like to send some cash with you. When I first saw the line for this game, dollar signs lit up in my eyes like they do for old cartoon characters. I might be willing to GIVE the eight points. Auburn by 15.