Entering New Year's Eve, I'm 10-9 straight up and 8-11 vs. the spread, furthering the notion that picking bowl games is basically a coin flip. New Year's Day is Big Ten Day, with league teams in five of the six games. Lately, it's been Big Ten Massacre Day. The conference is 1-9 on New Year's Day for the last two years (Jan. 2 last year because Jan. 1 was Sunday). The Big Ten could really use a big day.
Flipping the cosmic coin ...
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Jan. 1, Purdue vs. Oklahoma State (-17) -- The Boilermakers are the biggest underdog of the bowl season and it's not close. However, the Boilers are much happier to be where they are, finally playing the right QB, and healthy on defense for the first time in a while. They should make a game of it.
Gator Bowl: Jan. 1, Mississippi State vs. Northwestern (-1.5, cover) -- When I wrote part two of the bowl picks, I said the Big Ten was an underdog in every game. Since then, this line has moved to NU. I agree. MSU hasn't played well in any of their big games this year. The Cats get their first bowl win since 1948.
Capital One Bowl: Jan. 1, Georgia (-8.5, cover) vs. Nebraska -- The Cornhuskers' defense is mediocre at best, and at its worst ... 63 against Ohio State, 70 against Wisconsin. If Georgia shows up, they should win big.
Outback Bowl: Jan. 1, South Carolina (-5.5, cover ) vs. Michigan -- USC-East hasn't been quite the same since the injury to Marcus Lattimore, but they're still winning. Their defense is ferocious. If Michigan can keep them off Denard Robinson, the Wolverines have a chance.
Rose Bowl: Jan. 1, Wisconsin vs. Stanford (-6) -- The Badgers have lost the last two Rose Bowls, although both games were close. Barry Alvarez returns to the sideline for UW, but I think the result is the same.
Orange Bowl: Jan. 1, Northern Illinois vs. Florida State (-13, cover) -- NIU is not up to the standard of its predecessors in the BCS and should get run off the field by the much more talented Seminoles. But, this is Florida State we're talking about, so you never know. Huskies' QB Jordan Lynch is the best signal caller you've never heard of, but he's about the only guy they have that would play for FSU.
Sugar Bowl: Jan. 2, Louisville vs. Florida (-14, cover) -- Teddy Bridgewater is a star in the making for the Cards, but their defense is going to have a really hard time stopping Florida. If the Gators play like the game means something, it should be a runaway win.
Fiesta Bowl: Jan. 3, Oregon (-9) vs. Kansas State -- Two high-flying offenses should provide for an entertaining game. I don't think either team will run away with it though. The Wildcats have the better defense, but Oregon's should be healthier than it has been in quite some time.
Cotton Bowl: Jan. 4, Texas A&M (-3, cover) vs. Oklahoma -- Two great quarterbacks leading two great offenses, so this should be a fun game to watch. Oklahoma's losses were due primarily to making too many mistakes. They will have to play a smart, disciplined game to beat the Aggies.
BBVA Compass Bowl: Jan. 5, Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss (-3.5, cover) -- Other than USC, I can't imagine a team less happy to be in a particular bowl than Pitt, which makes its third straight Compass Bowl appearance.
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Jan. 6, Kent State (+4) vs. Arkansas State -- Kent State is unique in that it's head coach is leaving, but still coaching the bowl game. Darrell Hazell is off to Purdue when this game ends. His team, making its first bowl appearance in 40 years, sends him off a winner.
BCS Championship Game: Jan. 7, Alabama (-9.5) 20, Notre Dame 17 -- The Irish defense has withstood every challenge this year, and here comes the best one yet. Alabama's offensive line is littered with All-Americans, and if they can do what no other team has done so far, run the ball effectively against Notre Dame, they may cover that lofty spread. I think it more likely comes down to a championship QB, AJ McCarron, making a championship play late in the game and giving the Tide it's third title in four years.