By Harry Allison
Five bowl games are sprinkled throughout today’s sports day, and none will have greater viewership in the Philly region than Penn State’ Pinstripe Bowl test against Boston College, which is coached by former Temple boss Steve Addazio and also highlights the last game for Nits LB Mike Hull (photo above).
Military Bowl — Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech — ESPN, 1 p.m.
Line: Cincinnati -2.5
Your early game features a team that scores a lot of points and gives up a lot of points (Cincinnati ) going against a group that doesn’t score much, and doesn’t allow much, either (Virginia Tech ).
The Hokies will be looking to avoid their first losing season since 1992, which is quite the impressive streak when you think about it. To do so they’ll have to beat a Cincinnati team that enters the game on a seven-game winning streak and claimed a share of the American Athletic Conference title.
Sun Bowl — No. 15 Arizona State vs. Duke — CBS, 2 p.m.
Line: Arizona State -7.5
Neither of these teams finished the regular season as strong as they’d been hoping to, as Arizona State lost two of its final three games to fall from the lead in the Pac-12 South to also-ran status. Duke found itself in the driver’s seat of the ACC’s Coastal Division as well until losing two of its final three games.
A win in El Paso would give Duke its first bowl victory since 1961, though this is their third straight trip to a bowl game. The Blue Devils lost the last two after taking early leads against both Cincinnati and Texas A&M, but they’ll have a very tough test in the Arizona State offense. It will be interesting to see how the Duke pass defense — which finished in the top 20 in defensive pass efficiency — handles a strong Arizona State passing attack that features one of the best receivers in the country in Jaelen Strong.
Independence Bowl — Miami vs. South Carolina — ABC, 3:30 p.m.
Line: Miami -3.5
A couple of seasons that did not live up to expectations will come to an end in Shreveport on Saturday. South Carolina came into the 2014 season considered a favorite in both the SEC East and in the SEC, but things did not work out that way at all. Instead the Gamecocks limped to a 6-6 record overall, and only went 3-5 in conference play, though two of those wins did come against Georgia and Florida.
And then there’s Miami . A team that has made a bit of a habit of failing to meet the expectations. The Hurricanes are also 6-6 and come into this game on a three-game losing streak.
Pinstripe Bowl — Boston College vs. Penn State — ESPN, 4:30 p.m.
Line: Boston College -2.5
If you’re looking for a high-scoring game to enjoy on Saturday afternoon, this probably shouldn’t be the game you look to. The over/under is set at 40 points, which is the lowest point total for any of the bowl games this season, and for good reason.
Both of these teams pair very stingy defenses with offenses that consistently get lost on their way to the end zone. Of course, we could have said the same thing about the Miami Beach Bowl last week, and that game turned into a tennis match with both teams marching up and down the field. So maybe the same thing can happen here between BC and Penn State .
Either way, it’ll likely be a close game.
Holiday Bowl — No. 24 USC vs. Nebraska — ESPN, 8 p.m.
Line: USC -7
You’ll finish your day with two traditional powers who didn’t have the most powerful seasons. We’re all aware of how things finished for Nebraska , as the Cornhuskers lost key games against both Wisconsin and Minnesota down the stretch and Bo Pelini lost his job because of it. How the Huskers respond to Pelini’s dismissal could go a long way in determining just how good this game can be. If they’re fired up we could have ourselves one of those old-fashioned high-scoring Holiday Bowls of yore. If not, it could get ugly.
USC may only be 8-4 this season, but this is still a team loaded with talent, including quarterback Cody Kessler, who had a fantastic season without much fanfare attached to it.