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The College Football Report: HOT-N-READY

Our bowl series continues.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Time: Thursday, December 26, 6 p.m., ESPN (Ford Field, Detroit)

Teams: Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green (-7)

Forecast: Dough, followed by sauce and cheese

Comment: Mid-American Conference champions Bowling Green (10-3, 7-1 MAC) lost head coach Dave Clawson to Wake Forest following the close of the regular season, but look to be HOT-N-READY for this match-up versus the Panthers (6-6, 3-5 ACC). Despite a marginal regular-season record, Pittsburgh received a bowl bid by . . . well, we aren't sure. The Little Caesars should host the #2 team from the MAC against the #8 Big Ten squad or, lacking the latter, an eligible (i.e. six or more wins) team from the Sun Belt, or (!) an at-large selection. Bowl organizers must have taken a pass on the likes of Texas State (6-6, 2-5 Sun Belt), in favor of the vaguely nearby Panthers.

Bettors loved the 'dogs early, pushing the opening point spread, which favored BGSU by six, down all the way to four points, prior to the action coming in this week reversing course. The Falcons, now "giving" seven points, may be overvalued. Pitt's senior QB Tom Savage (2,834 yards, 21 TDs, 9 INTs) can spread the ball around, but his preferred target - WR Tyler Boyd - may prove the difference-maker. Boyd broke all the school receiving records for a freshman, previously held by All-American (and current Arizona Cardinal) Larry Fitzgerald. Boyd should command double coverage all night, otherwise Bowling Green risks getting burned on a DEEP!DEEP! route.

CFR Pick: Pittsburgh to win (+225) and the Over (49.5)

Sacred Chicken Proprietary Final Score Prophesy (SCPFSP): Pittsburgh 48, Bowling Green 22

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San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

NOMINEE: BEST DESTINATION

Time: Thursday, December 26, 9:30 p.m., ESPN (Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA)

Teams: Utah State (-1.5) vs. #23 Northern Illinois

Forecast: Mostly sunny, High 76 degrees, Low 47. Bastards.

Comment: The Huskies (12-1, 8-1 MAC) blew a chance at the BCS in the MAC championship game, losing to (aforementioned) Bowling Green, 47-27, a game in which Heisman finalist QB Jordan Lynch put up un-Lynch like numbers. Lynch set the single-game rushing record twice this year (with 316 yards on October 19, followed by 321 six weeks later) and became only the fifth player in history to post 20 touchdowns rushing and passing in a single season. But Lynch was noticeably off in the title game, managing to break 100 yards rushing, but only threw for 219 yards and compounded his difficulties with two interceptions.

We expect Lynch to bounce back in a big way. The Huskies should send out the senior in style, Utah State's stifling defense notwithstanding. The senior needs to break 119 yards rushing to become the first-ever quarterback to run and pass for more than 2,000 yards in a single season and has an outside shot of taking over the all-time rushing record by a quarterback. (Former Wolverine Denard Robinson holds the record with 4,495 yards.)

The Aggies (8-5, 7-1 Mountain West) boast the #7 defense in points against in the entire FBS, which is a gaudy stat for a Mountain West team forced to play high-scoring offenses like Utah and Boise State. But all that 'D' may not help if Utah State can't field a quarterback. Starter Chuck Keeton is out, backup Darell Garretson suffered a head injury in the season finale to Fresno State, and some guy named Craig Harrison, a junior third-stringer, ended the game with a grim stat line: 4-9, 55 yards, 0 TDs, and . . . one INT, deep in Fresno territory . . . to lose the game.

CFR Pick: Northern Illinois

SCPFSP: Utah State 2, Northern Illinois 46

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Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

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