Bowl Watch Party 1/8-1/9

Tonight Bowl: Arkansas State (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3) @ 9 PM ET on ESPN

NFL prospects?: NIU QB Chandler Harnisch will likely be a 6th or 7th round pick. Fast Arkansas State SS Kelsie McCray is a 7th round prospect I see moving up the 5th.
Pick: NIU switched coaches from Jerry Kill to Dave Doeren and hasn’t missed a beat. The players will look at this as the last piece of the puzzle, having won the MAC Championship for the first time since 1983. Both teams will be fired up, as the only football game on national television the night before the BCS Championship. Arkansas State has been on a 9-game winning streak but FIU and Louisiana-Lafayette were the only teams they beat that made it to the postseason. NIU only beat bowl-selected Toledo and Western Michigan but has the more experienced quarterback with the better all-time stats (Harnisch 66-25 TD-to-INT ratio with 26-5 this season, Red Wolf Ryan Aplin 42-30). The overall offense for NIU has been a little better – scoring 40 or more in 7 of their last 10 – in a conference that’s a little superior to that of Arkansas State. Northern Illinois 34, Arkansas State 10.

January 9th
The Allstate BCS Championship: Alabama (11-1) vs. LSU (13-0) at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN

NFL prospects?: For the first round, you will see LSU’s CB Morris Claiborne (if he decides to file his paperwork) and DE Sam Montgomery off the board, along with Alabama’s Junior CB ‘Dre Kirkpatrick  and probably SS Mark Barron. Tide OLB Courtney Upshaw and ILB Donta’ Hightower are first-round talents that will probably go in the 2nd. CB Dequan Menzie will give a team solid depth at corner in the 6th round.
Pick: Two great defenses (#1 and #2 in FBS with Alabama’s 8.8 and LSU’s 10.5 PPG allowed, neither having played Big 12 teams) but I think Alabama will get revenge for a game they should have won. The team with the slightly superior quarterbacking (A.J. McCarron’s best receiver has been RB Trent Richardson, but he’s only 2.2 points behind the best LSU QB in rating) and the slightly superior head coach (though Saban can be a jerk) will win. As much as it sounds like fence-sitting, I graded out Alabama and Oklahoma State as equal. So, I definitely want a playoff system but I have no problem with these two being in the title game. Alabama 31, LSU 28.

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