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Bowl game picks: Day 1

The 2010 Bowl season officially gets underway today.  I always feel strange before the first Bowl game kicks off.  I'm excited for some football, but it's tempered by the knowledge that the end of the NCAA football season looms ever closer.  Sure, there is NCAA Men's Basketball to watch.  But to be honest, it's just not the same.  Nothing captures my attention, nor excites me as much as college football.  I'm going to cheer like crazy and enjoy the upcoming Bowl games.  But when the confetti settles on the BCS National Championship game, I'll likely be a little sad at the prospect of the long wait until week 1 of the 2011 season.

The end isn't here just yet, however.  So let's take a look at today's games.

New Mexico Bowl-  BYU Cougars (6-6, 5-3 MWC) vs. UTEP Miners (6-6, 3-5 C-USA)
I'm going to break with a previous pick here.  In a yet-to be revealed SBNation Bowl pick 'em, I took BYU to win.  I based that pick on the history of the program, and the spread.  Currently, ESPN lists BYU as a 12 point favorite.

But I have to go with my heart on this one.  There is just something about the UTEP Miners that makes me want to root for them here.  Maybe it's the long stretch of time since their last bowl win, in 1967.  But it's not all sympathy that is shaping my pick.  If you look at the schedules, neither team in this game has any truly impressive victories this season.  Further, while most of the team stats are similar, UTEP leads in total yards, passing yards, and total points.  Not surprisingly, I see UTEP's Senior QB, Trevor Vittatoe as the most important factor in this game.  He'll certainly be more poised and calm than BYU's Freshman QB, Jake Heaps, but how long will his injured ankle hold up?

I'm taking the UTEP Miners to win a close one, 31-34.

My picks for the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl, and the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl after the jump.

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl-  Northern Illinois Huskies (10-3, 8-0 MAC) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4, 5-3 WAC)
I like the Huskies a lot in this game.  The stats to look at, are the most important.  Northern Illinois is ranked 13th nationally in 'points for', and Fresno State is ranked 79th in 'points against'.  Look for QB Chandler Harnish and RB Chad Spann to light up the Bulldogs, and lead the Huskies to a big win.

I'm taking the Northern Illinois Huskies to win big, 45-16.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl-  Ohio Bobcats (8-4, 6-2 MAC) vs. Troy Trojans (7-5, 6-2 Sun Belt)
For me, this is the most difficult game of the day to pick.  Both teams seem to be averaging about as many 'points for' as 'points against'. So I'd expect this one to be a close game, with the team that makes the fewest mistakes winning.  I don't imagine we'll see an impressive show of defense from either team, but I'll give the edge in that category to Troy.  I see Troy's Sophomore DE, Jonathan Massaquoi ultimately being the difference in this contest.

I'm taking the Troy Trojans to win a close one, 34-28

Now, call up the buddies, and grab some snacks.  It's time to watch some Bowl games!