Welcome to RBR's Glib Bowl Preview Guide: A glib look at thirty-five bowls broken down in three-sentences. This year, which gives us the least competitive MNC title game in the era of SEC hegemony, fortunately gives us the best bowl slate in years as well. Let's dive in.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl - Colorado State vs. Washington State (December 21, 2013)
RBR congratulates Jim McElwain, who has done wonders revamping a once-proud Rams team, and turned an afterthought RB like Kapri Bibbs into an All-American. But, we have a Washington State team that has really only lost to the conference and national upper echelon, and seems to be getting itself together under Dread Pirate Leach. Wazzu's defensive line, which has been pretty stout against the running game at times, gets it done and the Cougars win a tight one.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State vs. USC (December 21, 2013)
Poor Ed Orgeron righted the ship, reminding USC that they have talent and and can whip people at the line, yet he didn't even sniff an interview. Fresno State, meanwhile, has not tackled a soul all year long, and it finally caught up to the 11-1 MWC de facto champions. Fresno's noted inability to stop a pee wee offense, despite a great game by Carr, will be the difference as the Trojans win one for Da Outgoing Coach O in very physical fashion.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - San Diego State vs. Buffalo (December 21, 2013)
Buffalo cobbled together a quiet 8-4 season, in a relatively decent year for the MAC, largely on the strength of a good front seven, and a better-than-you-think offense. San Diego State remains a talented team that is baffling inconsistent, especially with its play on the road. Given SDSU's road woes, the winter weather in Boise favoring UB, and the fact that the Bulls want to be here, we give a slight nod to the upset-minded Bulls.
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (December 21, 2013)
In finally making a bowl appearance, Tulane has been getting it done cobbling together just enough offense, and turning the game over to a fundamentally-sound defense. ULL, before its season-ending slide, mainly kept to the Hudspeth script: bend-but-don't break defense, and flat out smoking people with a dynamic offense. The Superdome will not host a competitive Sugar Bowl, and this won't be close either, as Ooo-La-La stomps the Green Wave on Tulane's home turf.
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg - East Carolina vs. Ohio (December 23, 2013)
Frank Solich has turned the perpetually woeful Bobcats into a perennial MAC contender and bowl team, but this may be his weakest bowl team yet. ECU, a squad clearly on the rise, has been whacking above-average-to-good-teams all season with a dynamic passing attack and an opportunistic secondary. If this game were two years ago, it'd be a closer matchup, but in 2013 the Pirates are going to destroy the Bobcats then desecrate their remains.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - Boise State vs. Oregon State (December 24, 2013)
At one point, Oregon State was the nation's leading passing team until the realities of playing conference teams with as much/more talent set in. Boise State, fresh off losing Coach Peterson, has had a down season by their reckoning, particularly on the defensive side. I just don't see the close-knit Broncos, whose heads can't possibly be in this, winning, so we'll call for a slight Oregon State upset, as the more talented Broncos implode.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh (December 26, 2013)
Congratulations to Pitt on escaping Birmingham via their inconsistent defense, inconsistent-to-middling offense, and generally providing justification that there are too many bowls. The Falcons, after an excellent 10-3 season, find themselves searching for answers following Dave Clawson's demotion to man the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Even with the coaching change, we don't expect BGSU's balanced approach to change in this one; the system and season-long consistency favor the Falcons over the Panthers.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl - Utah State vs. Northern Illinois (December 26, 2013)
When Chuckie Keeton went down early, USU regrouped and played for the MWC crown using its defense and a balanced offense. NIU, meanwhile, just hands the ball to Jordan Lynch, and makes good things happen -usually in one-sided fashion. This could have been a fantastic Keeton-Lynch matchup, still, as it stands, NIU's dynamic running attack gets it done in a good, tight game against the Aggies.