Quick Bowl Looks - December 30 & 31
Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill
Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill
Posted Dec 28, 2011

The bowl season is about to blow up starting with a huge Friday of games. Here's a quick primer on each.

2011-2012 Bowl Season

Quick Looks At The Big Bowls 


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It's been an entertaining bowl season so far with some strong games from unlikely places, but now is when the fun really starts to kick in. Now is when the bowl season becomes the bowl season.

The slow trickle of games over the first two weeks are good, but this time of year is about gluttony. It's about a Friday with four games, a Saturday with five, and a January 2nd loaded with some of the best matchups of the year, closing out with the Rose and Fiesta Bowls. This is what we've all been waiting for.

While you can check out the CollegeFootballNews.com bowl previews for the breakdown, analysis, and prediction of each game, here's a quick primer on each of the bowls from Friday up until the GoDaddy.com Bowl the night before the BCS championship to know a little bit about each bowl matchup.

- Quick Looks - December 30 & 31
- Quick Looks - January 2 to 8
- Quick Looks - BCS Games

Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl
December 30, 2011 Fort Worth, TX, 12:00 pm ESPN 
Tulsa vs. BYU
- Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl Preview & Prediction
Tulsa has a fun, high-octane offense led by QB G.J. Kinne, and for purposes of entertaining bowl games, it has a fun, awful pass defense that gives up big yards in chunks. The Golden Hurricane won seven straight before losing to Houston in the final regular season game. The other three losses came to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State – Tulsa can play. BYU wasn't pretty early on this season, and the offense might not have been up to its normal standards, but the defense was terrific – finishing 16th in the nation in yards allowed, and the emergence of QB Riley Nelson provided a spark for the offense on the way to winning eight of the last nine games. Expect a wild shootout.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
December 30, 2011 Bronx, NY, 3:20 pm ESPN
Rutgers vs. Iowa State
- New Era Pinstripe Bowl Preview & Prediction
Rutgers is young and looking to close out the season strong to set the tone for a potentially big 2012. The offense is awful – averaging a pathetic 336.5 yards per game, but WR Mohamed Sanu is one of the Big East's premier all-around playmakers and the defense is among the best in the nation against the pass. Iowa State doesn't throw well, and the offense is wildly inconsistent, but the linebacker combination of Jake Knott and A.J. Klein will combine for 25 tackles. Rutgers has a devastating pass rush, and Iowa State has no pass rush. Iowa State can run the ball, and Rutgers has the nation's third-worst ground game. Neither team knows how to give anything less than an A effort.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
December 30, 2011   Nashville, TN, 6:40 pm ESPN
Wake Forest vs. Mississippi State
This would be a nice win for Wake Forest and the ACC. The Demon Deacons started out the season hot, highlighted by a win over Florida State, and then the wheels came off with wins over sad Duke and Maryland teams the only two in the final seven. The last game of the regular season was a 41-7 blowout to Vanderbilt – Mississippi State is better than Vanderbilt. Wake Forest has an effective passing game and a decent run defense, but the Bulldogs are terrific in the defensive backfield and have the potential to get the running game on a roll. Finishing up a tremendously disappointing season, MSU is still looking for its first strong win of the year. A loss to the Demon Deacons would put the pressure on head coach Dan Mullen to come up with a bounceback 2012.

Insight Bowl  
December 30, 2011 Tempe, AZ, 10:00 pm
Iowa vs. Oklahoma 
This could have disaster written all over it. Iowa struggled throughout a mediocre season and doesn't have the pass rush, the secondary, or the offensive line to put up any sort of a fight if Oklahoma plays up to its potential. If the Sooners try – and after finishing the regular season being blown out by Oklahoma State, the motivation appears to be there – they could put on a show. The preseason No. 1 team in the human polls lost to Texas Tech and Baylor in the final moments and had chances to win both games, but failed late. However, when OU wins, it wins big with all nine wins coming by ten points or more and didn't allow more than 28 points in any of them. In the three losses, the Sooners allowed 41 points or more in each. With star running back Marcus Coker out for a violation of team rules, Iowa doesn't appear to have the firepower to pull off the shocker.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
December 31, 2011 Houston, TX, 12:00 pm ESPN 
Northwestern vs. Texas A&M 

Northwestern is trying to ease its bowl pain having lost eight straight after winning its inaugural bowl appearance in the 1949 Rose. A four game winning streak – highlighted by a shocker over Nebraska – saved a season that wasn't going anywhere, and with QB Dan Persa and an ultra-efficient passing game, this might be the year the Wildcats finally end the season on a positive note. Texas A&M might be 2011's most disappointing team after coming into the year with national title hopes. The Aggies might be 6-6, but they lost five games by a touchdown or less thanks to collapse after fourth quarter collapse. Before taking off for the SEC with new head coach Kevin Sumlin, A&M has to come up with something positive after losing four of its final five games.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
December 31, 2011 San Francisco, CA, 3:30 pm ESPN 
Projection:  UCLA vs.  Illinois 
This is the bowl that give bowls a bad name. Illinois was the first team in college football history to lose six in a row after starting out 6-0, leading to the firing of head coach Ron Zook. While the offense fell off a cliff over the second half of the season, the defense, led by All-America DE Whitney Mercilus, was solid. The Illini have the nation's fourth-best pass defense, while UCLA would like to find any semblance of defense at all after giving up 99 points in its final two games to USC and Oregon. The Bruins had to petition the NCAA to be eligible for a bowl game after finishing 6-7 – thanks to the Pac-12 title game loss to the Ducks – and now they're trying to close out strong before new head coach Jim Mora takes over. UCLA has one of the worst pass rushes in America – finishing 112th in sacks and 102nd in tackles for loss – while the Illini is ninth in the nation in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss.

Hyundai Sun Bowl  
December 31, 2011  El Paso, TX, 2:00 pm CBS
Georgia Tech vs. Utah    
It's the big question mark: does the Paul Johnson offense work when good teams have time to prepare for it? Georgia Tech has lost six straight bowl games starting out with a 38-10 clunker to Utah in the 2005 Emerald Bowl. Utah struggled in a disappointing first year in the Pac-12, made worse by a choke at home to a bad Colorado team with a shot at the conference title on the line. The offense was the worst in the conference with the passing game tanking after losing star quarterback Jordan Wynn early on, but the team still closed strong with four wins before the gaffe against the Buffs and it had a month to figure out how to stop the option. The Yellow Jackets lost four of their last six after starting out 6-0, but they still finished third in the nation in rushing.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
December 31, 2011  Memphis, TN, 3:30 pm ABC   
Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt 

First-year head coach James Franklin took over the job declaring that Vanderbilt could be a winner. If he can get the Commodores through Cincinnati, this year, he'll be right. Vandy found an offensive spark when quarterback Jordan Rodgers – brother of Green Bay star, Aaron – started to boost the passing game, while the aggressive defense was strong enough to keep games against the top SEC teams from getting out of hand. Cincinnati came close to taking the Big East's BCS berth after closing strong with wins over Syracuse and Connecticut, but the loss of starting quarterback Zach Collaros changed the season at a critical time in late November. The defense led the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss and was dominant against the run. Don't expect a high-scoring shootout.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
December 31, 2011 Atlanta, GA, 7:30 pm ESPN 
Virginia vs. Auburn
Auburn has spent the year in total rebuilding mode, and it showed from the start needing a miraculous comeback to beat Utah State and struggling and sputtering through the SEC slate. The offense died against the decent teams – failing to score more than 17 points against anyone in the SEC outside of Ole Miss and Mississippi State – and finished 104th in the nation. Virginia was one of the ACC's biggest surprises, and while the blowout loss to Virginia Tech to miss out on a chance to play for the conference title was disappointing, this year appears to be a stepping-stone under head coach Mike London. The Cavaliers have a decent running game and a strong defense, but can it deal with Auburn's speed? Both teams will be far better next year, but the season will be defined for each in one way or another.

- Quick Looks - December 30 & 31
- Quick Looks - January 2 to 8
- Quick Looks - BCS Games