St. Petersburg Bowl:
Rutgers vs. UCF
Why you are more than welcome to finish that last minute shopping:
Central Florida is happy to even be in the St. Petersburg after a one year absence. This will be Rutgers fifth consecutive bowl game as they look to take their fourth consecutive win, facing the Knights for the first time. Rutgers will be pushing for a nine-win season, but this task will not come easy. UCF is a good football team. The Knights have a terrific run defense, an aggressive defensive front, and can execute play in the backfield. Coach George O'Leary's pass defense needs some work, so expect Rutgers QB Tom Savage to have a solid day. Knights QB Brett Hodges looks to finish his senior year with a solid performance, after throwing for 705 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions in his final three games. I doubt this one will be a high scoring game, with UCF going 0-2 against BCS teams this year, and Savage having an inconsistent season. Although this is virtually a home game for UCF, I have to go with Rutgers on this one ... 24-21.
Nevada vs. SMU
Why you should wrap those last minute gifts in front of the tv:
Nevada is very fun to watch. This will be a game of firsts for SMU. First bowl game since 1984, and SMU Coach June Jones return to the islands for the first time since leaving Hawaii for SMU two years ago. Unfortunately, his return will not be a pleasant one. SMU will face a Nevada team that boasts the number one rushing offense in the nation as well as three 1,000 yard rushers. They are also 2nd in the nation in total offense and 1st in points scored. SMU had quite a turnaround this season after some early season injuries (QB Bo Levi Mitchell, shoulder) and will look for big contributions from those same players who stepped up. This includes RB Shawnbey McNeal who rushed for 1,125 yards and nine TDs. Wolfpack QB Colin Kaepernick has been great this season, and Nevada's running game is worth the watch. Expect them to post around 450 yards, but SMU will have a big day in the air against an awful Wolfpack pass defense. Nevada closes the gap early ... 45-28.