After a 6-0 start with the picks, PUP is all the way down to 11-8 so far. Can we improve upon it? Probably not but we’ll try.
NC State Wolfpack vs. Vanderbilt Commodores | 12pm ET | VAN -7.5 | ESPN
Vanderbilt had a respectably good season in an always-tough SEC; they didn’t beat anyone great, but they did close out on a six-game win streak to secure a good bowl game in their home town. NC State, now sans Tom O’Brien, has not been good away from Raleigh this season. Vandy’s defense was very good this year and I think that makes the difference.
2012 Music City Bowl Pick: Vanderbilt
USC Trojans vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets | 2pm ET | USC -7.5 | CBS
Georgia Tech already knew their way to El Paso; they played in this game last year and gagged up the game one year ago in overtime against Utah. This time, they get to play an underachieving, probably disinterested USC squad. One issue of concern for USC is that their run defense is only middle of the road this season, and Georgia Tech is a triple-option, run-first, run-last, run-always team. The Jackets are probably going to control time of possession, but their defense is nothing great. GT is the sort of team that can hang 50 or get 50 hung on them on any given day. I think USC has the better talent and pulls through, but I would not be surprised if this is a very close game.
2012 Sun Bowl Pick: USC
Iowa State Cyclones vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane | 3:30pm ET | ISU -1 | ESPN
Tulsa had a great year in winning the C-USA title and they’re looking to cap it off with a win in the Liberty Bowl. The curiosity here is that these two teams met in Week 1 of the season in Ames — the Cyclones won, 38-23. This isn’t the same ISU, though, nor is it the same Tulsa, and these two teams have headed in different directions since the Fall. The Golden Hurricane have a great run game and ISU’s run defense is mediocre; that could put Tulsa over the top.
2012 Liberty Bowl Pick: Tulsa
LSU Tigers vs. Clemson Tigers | 7:30pm ET | LSU -5.5 | ESPN
Easily the most high-profile matchup of the four, and the last college football game to be played in 2012. It’s almost a “bonus BCS bowl” because of how highly-ranked they are. Both of these teams have wonderful talent and some blazing speed, and hey, they’re both “the Tigers,” but they derive their strength from different areas. Clemson is a big-time offensive team with Tajh Boyd and company, but LSU has the stout defense. As a general rule, I go for defense in big games, but this is another game I expect to be close.
2012 Chick-Fil-A Bowl Pick: LSU