Buffalo (+14.5) v Ball State
I've liked both of these teams throughout most of the season - it's nice to see them get some positive press, win some games, and get to a bowl game. But the predictions and actual games aren't about what I like - Cardinals role.
The Call: Ball State by 21
The Result: Buffalo 42-24
And, the Cardinals will roll all the way to the International Bowl. A rough way to end the season, especially with those two enormously costly turnovers in the second half, but they have a lot to be proud of. Buffalo is a great story themselves, and whether or not Gill stays, here's to hoping they can continue the winning ways he started.
Navy v Army (+11)
The Midshipmen have some solid W's on their schedule, and their only blowout loss was to Pitt. A good year. Army isn't so good, losing to I-AA New Hampshire in week 2 and going 3-8 on the season. But this is a rivalry game... who knows what's going to happen...
The Call: Navy by 14
The Result: Navy 34-0
That makes seven in a row for Navy - how long can they continue the streak?
East Carolina v Tulsa (-12.5)
This one's not really a neutral site game, since it's in Tulsa, but that's not the Pirates' biggest problem - stopping the Tulsa offense is. The Hurricane have stopped their two-game slide, getting to 10-2 with wins over Tulane & Marshall, but the only really good win on their schedule was over Rice. Yeah. Kind of a tricky one.
The Call: Tulsa by 17
The Result: East Carolina 27-24
You know, when you're -6 for the game in turnover margin and only lose by 3, there's nothing to do afterwards but kick yourself. Really. Props to the Pirates for perservering after enduring an hugely up and down season. They're not going to be an easy opponent for whichever SEC team they face in the Liberty bowl.
Boston College v Virginia Tech (even)
The Eagles are on a bit more of a winning streak than the Hokies, all while playing better teams too. But this is an ACC game, and the higher ranked team has lost a high percentage of time in that conference this year. With the Orange Bowl and a date with Cincinnati on the line, who will get it done?
The Call: Boston College by 7
The Result: Virginia Tech 30-12
Note to self - If Virginia Tech loses to Boston College in the regular season next year, then plays them again in the conference championship, put money on the Hokies. Should be a good match for Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl.
Washington @ California (-35.5)
This is the Huskies last chance to avoid possibly the worst season in NCAA history. They've had two weeks to prepare. Their opponent is Cal, the team who has made a habit of late season chokes these last few years. It's their coach's last game. There's so many things working in their favor here.
The Call: California by 38
The Result: California 48-7
Whew, the season is finally over for the Huskies. Cal finishes with two wins in a row, which is better than normal. They get to stay close to home for their bowl, the Emerald.
Alabama v Florida (-9.5)
This is shaping up to quite the entertaining game - Tebow vs the Bama D, Saban vs Meyer, East vs West, Harvin vs Harvin's ankle, Cody vs the buffet. Lotsa good stories too, not the least of which is the winner going to the National Championship game. Just remember this - Tebow gets it done.
The Call: Florida by 14
The Result: Florida 31-20
And the Gators punch their ticket to Miami. Great effort from both, but Florida's offense is just too punishing. Imagine what it would have been like it Harvin had played? Bama's in good shape though, with few seniors - as long as they have solid QB play next year, they should stay at the top of the SEC west.
USC @ UCLA (+32.5)
As usual, this one comes down the USC's offense - will they perform well or will they sputter? They've sputtered to the tune of 45 & 38 points their last two games, which is good, and the Bruins usually give up a good amount of points. But this rivalry means a lot to Neuheisel, and you know he's going to pull out all the tricks in his bag.
The Call: USC wins, but UCLA covers the (high, as usual) spread
The Result: USC 28-7
The Trojan's defense is usually the story, but they're going to have to focus on their offense if they're going to score on a stingy Nittany Lion D in the Rose Bowl. We might get one of the lowest scoring Rose Bowls in recent memory...
South Florida @ West Virginia (-7.5)
Both of these two have had disappointing seasons by the standards they set last year. But the Mountaineers have had to endure more, and considering their off-season, the 2008 campaign went a lot better than it could have. The Bulls have no excuse, but 7-4 isn't terrible by any means. They might give their bowl opponent some problems, depending on how this one goes...
The Call: West Virginia by 10
The Result: West Virginia 13-7
Great way for Pat White to end his career at WVU. A Sun Bowl matchup between Oregon State and West Virginia might be one of the best non-BCS bowls this season.
Missouri (+16.5) @ Oklahoma
This one's simple. Missouri can put up points, and they'll be decent against the Sooner D, maybe putting up 3 or 4 TD's. But their own D isn't enough to stop Oklahoma's juggernaut offense.
The Call: Oklahoma by 35
The Result: Oklahoma 62-21
And the Sooners punch the other ticket to Miami. We knew Missouri was going to have a hard time of it, and they did - in addition to seemingly having the Tigers' number, the Sooners are just too powerful.
6 of 9 this week straight up and 5 of 9 against the spread. I'll take it. Overall, that finishes my regular season at 169 for 240 (70%) straight up, and 131 for 240 (55%) AtS. Better than last year, so I'm improving. We'll see how the bowls go...