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Bowl hopes do not spring eternal – 10 teams that must win this weekend

This week I am going to go out on a limb and give you my predictions for 1o games that feature teams fighting for bowl births.    You might just be surprised by a few of my predictions, and I’d love to hear your comments or predictions.

VANDERBILT 7-4 AT WAKE FOREST 5-6    Congrats go out to the Commodores for a huge win over rival Tennessee Saturday.    The Commodores have now won five straight games, as they hit go on the road to Winston-Salem for a crucial game against Wake Forest.   The Demon Deacons have struggled on offense over the last six games averaging only 12.8 points-per -game.    The Dores could suffer a bit of a let down here, but in the end Jordan Rodgers, Zac Stacy and Jordan Mathews prove to be too much.    Vandy 34-Wake Forest 22

VIRGINIA 4-7 AT VIRGINIA TECH 5-6     It’s hard to imagine that the Hokies need a win in their home to continue a bowl streak that goes back to the 1997 season.   This past weekend, the Cavaliers had their bowl hopes squashed with a loss at North Carolina.   The Cavaliers now hope to spoil the season for the Hokies in this bitter rivalry.    The Hokies get this opportunity after coming from behind to beat Boston College in overtime.    Logan Thomas has been terribly inconsistent all year but gets the nod over the duo of Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims of Virginia, as the Hokies keep the bowl streak alive.   Virginia Tech 27 -Virginia 20

MICHIGAN STATE  5-6 AT MINNESOTA 6-5     Before the season, not many people would have thought Minnesota would make it to a bowl, after finishing 3-9 last season.  Michigan State finished with an 11-3 record last season including a win over Georgia in the Outback Bowl, and many people picked the Spartans to return to the Big Ten Championship.  This Saturday, the Spartans will need a road victory over the bowl-eligible Gophers to earn a bowl trip.  But Minnesota has had their number as the Gophers have beaten the Spartans the last two times at home and four of the last five!  This time, La’Veon Bell proves to be the difference as his 1,382 yards and 10 touchdowns prove to be too much!     Sparty 27-Goldy 17

INDIANA 4-7 AT PURDUE 5-6   The Hoosiers come into this rivalry giving up an average of 33.3 ppg.   They’ll face a Purdue offense has started to gel lately, with wins against Iowa and Illinois.    The home teams has lost the last three games in this series, but I look for that trend to come to an end here.  The Boilermakers pound out a 21-17 home victory for the “Old Oaken Bucket.”

MARSHALL 5-6 AT EAST CAROLINA 7-4    Marshall features one of the most prolific offenses in the country, averaging 360 passing yards per game good for  No. 2 nationally.    The Herd is led by Quarterback Rakeem Cato who has thrown for 3,883 yards and 32 TDs, and Tommy Schuler who has 96 receptions good for 997 yards.   The problem is on the defensive side where the Thundering Herd allow 41.1 PPG.    The Pirates have a nice balanced offense, have had a nice season to this point and Marshall has NEVER won in Greenville.    The streak continues, as the Pirates get this one too – 41-34.

TULSA 9-2 AT SMU 5-6    Tulsa travels to Dallas to close the season against the Mustangs.    The Hurricane have advantages on both offense, defense and special teams, but following a huge win over Central Florida 23-21 last week, the Hurricane emotions may be at an exceptionally low tide.   Last week, the Mustangs blew a chance to get bowl eligible with a loss to Rice.    The Mustangs have been plagued by injuries to the offensive line all season, but they do have exceptional talent both at running back and receiving corp.    If Garrett Gilbert plays up to his potential,  they have a shot.  But  I think Tulsa has too much to contend with here,   Tulsa 34 – SMU 27

RICE 5-6 AT UTEP 3-8   Taylor McHague has the Owls seeking a bowl birth for the first time since 2008.   McHague has thrown for 1,971 yards and 11 TDs, and leads the team in rushing with 611 yards and another 11 scores.    Rice has won three straight and are averaging 44 PPG during the streak!    This will be an emotional game for the Miners, as coach Mike Price has announced his retirement after a 31 years coaching, including nine at UTEP.   I have to go with the Owls in this game as Rice appears to be rolling.  Owls 38- Miners 28

CENTRAL MICHIGAN 5-6  AT UMASS 1-10     This has been the first year for the Minutemen at the FBS level.    It’s been a struggle, as they have the worst offense in the FBS, averaging only 11.9 PPG.    The defense isn’t much better as they give up 40 per game.    The lone victory came a few weeks ago when they upset Akron.   The Chippewas, led by quarterback Ryan Radcliff and running back Zurlon Tipton, should have their way here as the Chips get bowl eligible in a big way 42-14.

MISSOURI 5-6 AT TEXAS A&M  9-2    I am still in shock that Missouri blew a 4th quarter lead against Syracuse at home last week, seriously damaging hopes for the Tigers to go a bowl game.   The Tigers now have to go to A&M and pull off a huge upset.   Every week,  Johnny Manziel just seems to get better as the freshman quarterback gets more experience.   He has accounted for an astounding 4,161 yards and 38 TDs this season.  Expect more of the same this week, Aggies 42 -Tigers 21

MISSISSIPPI ST 8-3 AT MISSISSIPPI 5-6     This will be the 109 th edition of the “Egg Bowl”  and it has huge stakes this year, as the Rebels need a win to make it to a bowl game.    The Rebels have been a surprise, after struggling last year at 2-10, but they have dropped three straight.    The Bulldogs broke a three game losing streak Saturday with a big 45-14 win over Arkansas.  The Bulldogs have won the last three games in this series, and this game really comes down to the battle of quarterbacks.     The home crowd, senior day and possibility of going to a bowl with a win, tip the scale to Ole Miss.  Rebels 23-Bulldogs 20.



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