While I have a lot of reservations about the fact that we can have 34 bowls that feature teams that barely made it to a .500 record, it is still a fairly remarkable feat that five college teams from Florida made it to the postseason. It’s another reminder that Florida remains a state rich in football talent, a fact which helped all these programs succeed this season.
But getting to a bowl game isn’t the same as winning. Here’s my fearless bowl predictions for the next three weeks of college football madness.
BCS National Championship Game (Florida vs. Oklahoma): The worst thing about the college post-season is the long layoff. There’s always a small concern that a team that has been playing with such forceful momentum will get out of sync. But since October I said time and time again that the Gators have been playing some of the best college football I have ever seen. The Gators offense can keep pace with the Sooners offense in what could be a high-scoring game. But I continue to think that people have overlooked the UF defense. I think it is good enough to put the brakes on the Oklahoma high-wire act and I bet Coach Urban Meyer will put in a game plan that will emphasize long, time-consuming drives to keep the Sooners off the field. Florida 35, Oklahoma 24
Emerald Bowl (Miami vs. California): So is having your inconsistent starting quarterback suspended for the game a blessing or a curse? Well, we’ll soon find out as the Canes have to play the Golden Bears without QB Robert Marve. But even though this is close to a home game for California, the Canes have enough talent to win this game provided the defense shows up. This could be the game that sets the stage for Miami’s return next year as a national contender. Miami 34, California 27
Champs Sports Bowl (Florida State vs. Wisconsin): There are so many reasons I should pick against FSU. Inconsistent quarterback play. The collapse of the defense in the final weeks of the regular season. The weekly reconfiguration of the playbook by FSU head coach in waiting Jimbo Fisher. But here’s what I will say about Fisher and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. I think both of them have had enough time before this game to probably come up with a game plan that will work. The Badgers themselves have had loads of problems with their quarterbacks and the team had to go into overtime to beat a Division 1-AA team. (Sorry, I can’t go along with that nonsense that changed their classification to Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision.) Florida State 24, Wisconsin 14.
Motor City Bowl (Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan):I know that Coach Howard Schnellenberger has never lost a bowl game in his storied career. But then again, I’m not sure he ever took a 6-6 team into a bowl game that is essentially played in the opponent’s back yard. I just don’t think FAU even belongs in a bowl. Central Michigan 28, FAU 10.
magicjack St. Petersburg Bowl (University of South Florida vs. Memphis):This is of course not where the Bulls wanted to end up but that’ s what happens when you lose five out of your last seven games. I’m also trying to figure out who thought it was a great idea to play a football game at Tropicana Field. Memphis does have a solid running attack. But I don’t think USF is going to play poorly in what is essentially a home game against a team that just made it to .500. USF 28, Memphis 17