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Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Big East bowl predictions

By Andrea Adelson

Both Matt and I posted 2-1 records in the final week of the regular season. The goal now during bowl season -- perfection!

Here is how we see the games playing out. And yes, we both believe the Big East will post yet another winning bowl record.

One friendly reminder. You will see pregame posts for each Big East bowl. Just look at the byline to see who is writing these posts and making the prediction.

Belk Bowl

Cincinnati vs. Duke, Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m., ESPN. The story line that has prevailed is how Cincinnati will fare with Butch Jones hitting the road to Tennessee, taking half the coaching staff with him. That is not a huge concern of mine going into this game. I think these players are focused in on getting win No. 10, and want to prove this is a program that can survive with or without its head coach. I see this game being won up front. While I believe Duke will be able to get some yards down the field with its terrific receivers, I think Cincinnati will be able to get enough push up front to make things difficult for the Blue Devils offense all day. And I'm not sure Duke will be able to slow down the Cincinnati rushing game. The Blue Devils rank No. 102 in the nation against the run. Cincinnati 37, Duke 30.

Matt's pick: Cincinnati 35, Duke 20

Russell Athletic Bowl

Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech, Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m., ESPN. Just about everybody is predicting a slog in this game, with two offenses that have not looked great all year, and two defenses that have played pretty well for the most part. Rutgers has to force Logan Thomas into mistakes to improve its chances at winning this game. Of his 14 interceptions, 12 have come in losses. And the Scarlet Knights are pretty opportunistic. While Rutgers has dropped two straight, the Scarlet Knights play pretty well in bowl games, with the nation's longest active bowl winning streak at five. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is not exactly known as a strong bowl team though the Hokies have plenty of motivation to avoid a losing season. I still think Rutgers has the edge in most matchups. Rutgers 17, Virginia Tech 16.

Matt's pick: Rutgers 16, Virginia Tech 10

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Syracuse vs. West Virginia, 3:15 p.m., Dec. 29, ESPN. Syracuse has found a way to keep the West Virginia offense off balance in its last two meetings, winning both. Can the Orange do it again? Both teams should be able to score, as they have terrific quarterbacks and talented receivers. Syracuse has a much better defense, and I think that gives the Orange the edge. Here is how I see the game playing out -- Syracuse will be able to control the clock with its balance on offense, and do just enough to throw Geno Smith off his game. Syracuse has some distractions it has to deal with in this one because of player suspensions/discipline, but its key players are available and will keep this team rolling. Syracuse 45, West Virginia 44.

Matt's pick: West Virginia 31, Syracuse 24

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Louisville vs. Florida, Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m., ESPN. This is not exactly the matchup many people hoped for, but Louisville got into the BCS fair and square and earned this opportunity to take on one of the best teams from the SEC. Now we will see whether the Cardinals can be competitive and potentially pull off the upset. We all know this game features former Florida assistant Charlie Strong going against his old team and players. But that is just an ancillary story line. The Gators are far superior on defense, particularly up front, and I think will harass Teddy Bridgewater with the same intensity as UConn, perhaps even more. While the Florida offense has looked as pretty as a broken down Chevette, I think the Gators will be able to run on Louisville. The Cards will keep it close early, but Florida will run away in the end. Florida 30, Louisville 17.

Matt's pick: Florida 17, Louisville 14

BBVA Compass Bowl

Pitt vs. Ole Miss, Jan. 5, 1 p.m., ESPN. Yes, the Panthers are back in Birmingham for what feels like the three zillionth time, to take on one of the more pleasant surprises in the SEC this season, Ole Miss. My question for Pitt in this game is motivation. We have seen this team have a problem with that all season long. They have not put together consistent enough efforts at all. This is the final game for guys like Ray Graham and Tino Sunseri, so they should find a way to get their teammates fired up. But I think this bowl appearance may mean a little more to Ole Miss. And, well, Pitt has followed this crazy lose two-win two pattern all year. Pattern says -- Pitt loss. Ole Miss 24, Pitt 20.

Matt's pick: Pitt 17, Ole Miss 16