Bowl Previews – International, Papa Johns, Cotton, Liberty, Alamo

The second day of the new year is just as busy as the first one was. The only problem is that the games mostly aren’t as intriguing as yesterday’s were. I’ll take a look at all five games, but I might cut a couple of them short if they aren’t doing it for me.

International Bowl

South Florida (-6.5) vs. Northern Illinois
12:00 pm ET

These two teams head to Toronto to play in the Rogers Centre – the home of the Blue Jays and the second worst building I have been in after the former home of the Montreal Expos. The atmosphere won’t be good, and the game likely won’t, either. South Florida has far more talent, but they have lost five of their last seven, and coach JimLeavitt is embroiled in a scandal over allegedly hitting a player. That’s all good news for Northern Illinois, but to win their defense will have to be much, much better than it was during the season.

Papa Johns Bowl

South Carolina (-4) vs. Connecticut
2:00 pm ET

This game doesn’t do much for me because neither of the teams excite me very much, and the matchup doesn’t offer a lot of intrigue. Both teams have had more than their share of problems, and lost more than their share later in the season. The only thing that divides them and justifies the price in my eyes is that South Carolina has played a tougher schedule, so they are more seasoned for this one.

Cotton Bowl

Ole Miss (-3) vs. Oklahoma State
2:00 pm ET

Oklahoma State is the ranked team here, but Ole Miss is, in my eyes, favored for three reasons – people still buy into Jevan Snead as an elite QB, the SEC is far more respected than the Big 12, and Oklahoma State was humiliated by Oklahoma. I don’t love Snead at all, but I like the other two reasons, and I think Ole Miss’ DexterMcCluster is the best player on the field.

Liberty Bowl

Arkansas (-7.5) vs. East Carolina
5:30 pm ET

I just can’t care about this game. Arkansas is favored by more than they should be, but that’s because no one knows or cares about East Carolina. RyanMallett vs. Patrick Pinkney in a battle of quarterbacks could be interesting. If Mallett has a big game here he will likely go pro.

Alamo Bowl
Texas Tech (-7) vs. Michigan State
9:00 pm ET

I said that yesterday’s Sugar Bowl had the oddest bowl lead-up ever, but this one is almost as odd. Michigan State has 11 players suspended for this game after a campus brawl. Included in that is their best cornerback , and that’s a real problem because the Spartans are terrible against the pass and are facing an explosive passing offense. It shouldn’t be close. The problem, of course, is that Texas Tech is in total chaos after Mike Leach was fired this week. It’s impossible to know if the Red Raiders will be ready and focused.

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