Bowl Mania: Round 4 Post-Mortem & Round 5 Picks

(Ed.'s Note: I had this thing 3/4 of the way written by 2:45pm. Then we had a local Gopher pregame show at 3pm, so I had to break away from writing. And when I came back to it, the browser crashed and it had only saved the first 1/3. Lovely. Hopefully you trust my honesty when it comes to the timing of the picks!)

Hello again everybody!

Happy Wednesday to you all. And since this is my last post of 2008, allow me to wish you a Happy New Year! I managed to finish 2008 still gainfully employed (which can't be said for about 20 of my former colleagues), so here's to hoping I can set a slightly higher goal in 2009!

It's the last of the Bowl Mania heavy lifting today. Eight picks are headed your way as we start the downhill ride in the college football bowl season. But prior to the Round 5 picks, I have to break down those from Round 4. Did we get things back on track, or are we still slogging along -.500? Stay tuned and find out!

"I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."
- Noel Coward (1899-1973), English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer

I can't really add anything to this except: kudos Sir Noel!

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First up, it's the Round 4 Post-Mortem:

One holdover from Round 3... Bowl: North Carolina State vs. Rutgers -7

ST Pick: Rutgers -7
Hammer's Pick: Rutgers -7
Dark Star's Pick: Rutgers -7

Final Score: Rutgers 29, NC State 23

One freaking point?! Come on Rutgers! Help a guy out! Oof.

Sports Take: 5-8
Hammer: 4-9
Dark Star: 4-9

On to Round 4...

Valero Alamo Bowl: Missouri -12.5 vs. Northwestern

ST Pick: Northwestern +12.5
Hammer's Pick: Northwestern +12.5
Dark Star's Pick: Missouri -12.5

Final Score: Missouri 30, Northwestern 23 F-OT

I told all those Mizzou folks that the Wildcats would give them a game and boy did they ever! Fun game to watch. It took a big effort in the second half for Mizzou to get it into overtime and unfortunately it was a series of errors that finally did Northwestern in. But we covered! Woo!

Sports Take: 6-8
Hammer: 5-9
Dark Star: 4-10


Roady's Humanitarian Bowl: Maryland vs. Nevada -2

ST Pick: Nevada -2
Hammer's Pick: Maryland +2
Dark Star's Pick: Nevada -2

Final Score: Maryland 42, Nevada 35

The field was blue, and so was my pick apparently. Damn you Terrapins! Damn you!

Sports Take: 6-9
Hammer: 6-9
Dark Star: 4-11


Texas Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Rice -2

ST Pick: Rice -2
Hammer's Pick: Rice -2
Dark Star's Pick: Western Michigan +2

Final Score: Rice 38, Western Michigan 14

Nice to see a game I knew nothing about break my way! I'd love to tell you more, but I didn't see any of this game since it was on NFL Network (see: Insight Bowl in Round 5).

Sports Take: 7-9
Hammer: 7-9
Dark Star: 4-12

Next up...

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Oklahoma State -3 vs. Oregon

ST Pick: Oklahoma State -3
Hammer's Pick: Oregon +3
Dark Star's Pick: Oklahoma State -3

Final Score: Oregon 42, Oklahoma State 31

Ugh... And I officially lose the lead in Bowl Mania. But I'm going to get it back! You hear me Hammer! I'm going to get it back!

Sports Take: 7-10
Hammer: 8-9
Dark Star: 4-13

One more...

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Houston -3.5 vs. Air Force

ST Pick: Houston -3.5
Hammer's Pick: Houston -3.5
Dark Star's Pick: Houston -3.5

Final Score: Houston 34, Air Force28

Another pick I knew nothing about that came through! I should really start tracking these by "guesses" and "I think I know what I'm talking about's". But I'm afraid of how that might turn out. Never mind.

Sports Take: 8-10
Hammer: 9-9
Dark Star: 5-13

Penultimately (sort of...)

Brut Sun Bowl - Pittsburgh vs. Oregon State -2.5

ST Pick: Pittsburgh +2.5
Hammer's Pick: Pittsburgh +2.5
Dark Star's Pick: Oregon State -2.5

Final Score: Oregon State 3, Pittsburgh 0

Didn't see any of this one due to work interfering. Don't you hate when that happens? Looks like I missed a whole lot of nothing.

Sports Take: 8-11
Hammer: 9-10
Dark Star: 6-13

*At the time of this writing, the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl had yet to go final. That result will be included on Friday.

So on to Round 5 of Sports Take Bowl Mania!

First up...

Insight Bowl - Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Wednesday 12/31, 5pm CT (NFL Network)

Minnesota vs. Kansas -8

The Gophers are 7-5 (3-5 in the Big Ten). The Jayhawks are 7-5 (4-4 in the Big 12).

Kansas split their last 4 games, but beat Missouri to end their regular season.

Minnesota lost their last 4 in a row, including getting blown out in the finale against Iowa.

Neither team plays much defense, so this should be a fairly high scoring game. I just think Kansas is going to score more.

ST Pick: Kansas -8
Hammer's Pick: Kansas -8
Dark Star's Pick: Kansas -8


Chik-fil-A Bowl - Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Thursday 12/31, 6:30pm CT (ESPN)

LSU vs. Georgia Tech -4

The Tigers are 7-5 (3-5 in the SEC). The Yellowjackets are 9-3 (5-3 in the ACC).

LSU lost 3 of their last 5 and the two wins were against Troy and Tulane. And one of those losses was against a woeful Arkansas program. Not good.

Georgia Tech won 3 of their last 5 and had wins against Florida State, Miami and Georgia. Not too shabby!

"Not good" versus "Not too shabby"? Yeah, I'll take Tech.

ST Pick: Georgia Tech -4
Hammer's Pick: LSU +4
Dark Star's Pick: Georgia Tech -4


Outback Bowl - Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Thursday 1/1, 10am CT (ESPN)

Iowa -4 vs. South Carolina

The Hawkeyes are 8-4 (5-3 in the Big Ten). The Gamecocks are 7-5 (4-4 in the SEC).

Iowa won 5 of their last 6 and beat eventual Big Ten champions Penn State.

South Carolina lost 3 of their last 5 with the two wins coming against Tennessee and Arkansas.

I know that SC has the "ball coach" at the helm, but I don't think they have the talent to overcome their deficiencies.

ST Pick: Iowa -4
Hammer's Pick: South Carolina +4
Dark's Pick: South Carolina +4

Moving on...

Capital One Bowl - Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
Thursday 1/1, 12pm CT (ABC)

Michigan State vs. Georgia -7.5

The Spartans are 9-3 (6-2 in the Big Ten). The Bulldogs are 9-3 (6-2 in the SEC).

Try and find a clear separation between these two teams, I dare you.

As you've seen their records are identical. The Spartans two losses were to Penn State and Ohio State. Georgia's two losses were to Florida and Georgia Tech.

When it's this close, I say follow the money. The game opened at Georgia -7 and is now -7.5. That means the money's going Georgia's way, so my pick will go that way too!

ST Pick: Georgia -7.5
Hammer's Pick: Georgia -7.5
Dark Star's Pick: Michigan State +7.5

Are we still going? Yes we are!

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl - Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, FL
Thursday 1/1, 12pm CT (CBS)

Clemson -2.5 vs. Nebraska

The Tigers are 7-5 (4-4 in the ACC). The Cornhuskers are 8-4 (5-3 in the Big 12).

This is a tough one. I'm friends with a clan of Nebraska fans, but after my "homer" pick in the Champs Sports Bowl, I'm a little gun shy about personal connections.

Nebraska won 5 of their last 6. And all of their losses came to bowl teams. There's no question that the Cornhuskers can score as they put 40+ on the board in each of their last 3 games.

Clemson won 4 of their last 6. After firing Tommy Bowden, their defense took a big step forward allowing them to beat Boston College and South Carolina. And they gave up no more than 14 points in each of their last 3 games.

So I hate to do this to you Kelley family, but defense has been winning bowl games lately, so I'm going with Clemson! But don't fret, at my sub-.500 clip, I probably just guaranteed you a win!

ST Pick: Clemson -2.5
Hammer's Pick: Nebraska +2.5
Dark Star's Pick: Clemson -2.5

3 more to go, I promise...

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi - Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Thursday 1/1, 3:30pm CT (ABC)

Penn State vs. USC -9

The Nittany Lions are 11-1 (7-1 in the Big Ten). The Trojans are 11-1 (8-1 in the Pac 10).

I've said it in previous picks, and turned out to be both right and wrong, but I think this will be closer than the pundits predict.

Yes, USC is scary-good on defense, but I don't think they have the overpowering offense of past Trojan teams. And Penn State is no slouch on defense either.

I think USC will win, but I like Penn State to cover.

ST Pick: Penn State +9
Hammer's Pick: USC -9
Dark Star's Pick: USC -9


FedEx Orange Bowl - Dolphin Stadium, Miami, FL
Thursday 1/1, 7:30pm (Fox)

Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati -2.5

The Hokies are 9-4 (6-3 in the ACC). The Bearcats are 11-2 (6-1 in the Big East).

The least publicized of the BCS bowls might be one of the best.

Tech won 4 of their last 5 with the loss coming at Miami. And they blew out a tough Boston College squad in the season finale.

Cincinnati won their last 6 in a row with wins over Pittsburgh, West Virginia and South Florida. There's a loss to UConn on the schedule that bothers me a bit, but they've got a solid resume.

If I'm going with the defensive teams, I have to go with Tech, though I think a Cincy win would be a great story.

ST Pick: Virginia Tech +2.5
Hammer's Pick: Virginia Tech +2.5
Dark Star's Pick: Virginia Tech +2.5

Finally (yes, yes, I did that joke on Monday...)

AT&T Cotton Bowl - Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
Friday 1/2, 1pm CT (Fox)

Mississippi vs. Texas Tech -4.5

The Rebels are 8-4 (5-3 in the SEC). The Red Raiders are 11-1 (7-1 in the Big 12).

Ole' Miss won their last 5 in a row including a win at LSU. They also beat National Championship contender Florida earlier in the year and played Alabama close.

Tech's only loss was a blowout at Oklahoma. They also survived a scare in their regular season finale against Baylor.

Sounds like I'm leaning towards Mississippi doesn't it? As much as I like what Houston Nutt has done with the Rebels, I think Tech has way too much offense for Ole' Miss to deal with.

ST Pick: Texas Tech -4.5
Hammer's Pick: Texas Tech -4.5
Dark Star's Pick: Texas Tech -4.5

Whew! There you have it. Eight picks to get us through the bulk of bowl season. Only six more picks remain to be revealed. Three of those head your way on Friday. Until then, have a happy and safe New Year, enjoy some college football, and thanks for reading!


  1. You will regret that Gator bowl pick

  2. You mean like I regret my Champs Sports Bowl pick? Or my Bowl pick? Or my Humanitarian Bowl pick? Or my Music City Bowl pick? Or my...

    Well, you get the idea.

    Just know I won't ever be happier to be wrong!

  3. So, the -2.5 by their name means that team is favored by less than a field goal? Isn't that the bookie way of saying, "Too close to call?"

    You know, there's a Packer fan at work, and every Vikings/Packer game, he bets any Viking fan that will take him up on it that the Packers will lose.

    He says that if the Packers win, then, it doesn't hurt too much to pay out...and if his Packers lose, then the money helps salve his wounds.

  4. Exactly right...

    That sounds perfectly logical to me!