Humanitarian Bowl: Bowling Green (7-5) vs. Idaho (7-5)
Yes, they are playing this game, and yes, it will be televised outside the state of Ohio and Idaho. The Vandals are actually quite a story this season under head coach Robb Akey. This will be the first bowl game for Idaho since 1998, the only other time the Vandals made a postseason appearance. The Vandals come in as losers of four of their last five after starting the season 6-1.
Bowling Green is making a return to the bowl scene under first-year head coach Dave Clawson. The Falcons went 6-2 in conference play, and can lay claim to wins over Troy and Buffalo. They only lost by a touchdown at Missouri in September.
Player to watch: DeMaundray Woolridge saved his best season for last at Idaho, rushing for 854 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2009. He topped the century mark in rushing yards twice this season, including a 143-yard output against WAC champion Boise State. He would love nothing more than to end his career with a few more highlight reel-worthy touchdowns in the bowl game.
Who has the edge? Bowling Green is the more accomplished team, and Idaho is coming in on a bit of a losing skid. Idaho does have the advantage of a virtual home game in Boise, and may not be affected by the blue turf, since they play on it every other year during the regular season. Still, Bowling Green is just that much better than Idaho at this point in time.
Bowling Green 37
Holiday Bowl: Arizona (8-4) vs. Nebraska (9-4)
This may be the most intriguing matchup of any bowl game on this year’s slate. Both teams are defined by great defenses. Mike Stoops at Arizona and Bo Pelini at Nebraska have built their respective programs around shutting down opposing offenses. The Wildcats entered November controlling their own Rose Bowl destiny. The Huskers nearly knocked off Texas in a controversial Big 12 championship game. This game will be the ultimate chess match between two of the game’s best defensive minds.
Player to watch: Ndamukong Suh is the best defensive tackle prospect to play college football since Warren Sapp in the mid-1990s. He wreaks havoc in every opposing backfield he faces. The fact that he was named a Heisman Trophy finalist speaks volumes for the respect he has earned by the national media as a force on the interior defensive line. This is a big-time NFL audition for Suh, who could be the first player selected overall in next April’s draft.
Who has the edge?
Nick Foles has come on strong as the Arizona quarterback in the latter part of the season, and has helped the Wildcat offense score enough points to support their great defense. He has not faced a defensive lineman anywhere near the caliber of Suh, however, nor a defense like Nebraska’s. The Huskers proved in the Big 12 championship that they could stop any offense put in front of them.