Russell Athletic Bowl Projections Round-Up, Week 2
Jerry Palm (CBSSports) – Virginia Tech vs. Kansas State
Brett McMurphy (ESPN) – Notre Dame vs. Kansas State
Mark Schlabach (ESPN) – Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State
Ben Kercheval (Bleacher Report) – Virginia Tech vs. Kansas State
Bill Bender (Sporting News) – Notre Dame vs. Texas
ESPN ACC/Big 12 Blogs – Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel) – Louisville vs. Oklahoma State
Notre Dame, Kansas State, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State are the favorites in this week’s bowl projections earning three votes each following impressive wins by each team in the season’s opening week.
Bill Bender of sportingnews.com and ESPN’s Brett McMurphy and Mark Schlabach all have the Fighting Irish visiting the newly-renovated Orlando Citrus Bowl after their sound defeat of Rice in South Bend, 48-17. Everett Golson led the green and gold, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for three in his return to quarterback after missing all of last season. Notre Dame’s last trip to Orlando saw the Florida State Seminoles score the game’s final 18 points to erase the Fighting Irish’s 14-0 lead in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl.
Jerry Palm and Ben Kercheval both predicted a Kansas State-Virginia Tech matchup, which would be the Wildcats’ first time playing in the Citrus Bowl. The Hokies have made 21 consecutive bowl appearances under head coach Frank Beamer who took over the program 1987. That included an overtime victory in the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl, the game’s first with Russell Athletic as a title sponsor. Prior to Beamer’s tenure, Virginia Tech had only taken part in six bowls dating back to their first postseason appearance in the 1947 Sun Bowl.
Similar to Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech, Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder took the Wildcats program to new heights, coaching them to 15 of their 17 bowl games. Returning as the program’s leader in 2009 following a three-year retirement, Snyder has led the Wildcats to four consecutive bowl games including last year’s victory against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for their first bowl win since 2002.
Oklahoma State was the choice of Brant Parsons, Mark Schlabach and the ESPN Big 12 blog after taking the reigning national champion Florida State Seminoles to the limit in a 37-31 loss. While the Cowboys have never played in the Russell Athletic Bowl, they knocked off BYU 49-21 in the 1976 Tangerine (currently Capital One) Bowl in front of a Citrus Bowl then-record crowd of 37,812.
Bill Bender projected Texas to make their first-ever appearance in the Russell Athletic Bowl after their opening week win under first-year head coach Charlie Strong while Brant Parsons predicted Strong’s former team, Louisville to return to the Russell Athletic Bowl after winning last year’s contest.
The Longhorns defeated North Texas 38-7 in Strong’s debut but will be without several players when they face BYU next week. After taking a hit in the team’s opening game, starting quarterback David Ash is suffering from concussion-like symptoms and will not be under center in their upcoming game. Along with Ash, the Longhorns starting center will not be able to play due to a fractured ankle while both of their offensive tackles have been suspended for the game.
The Louisville Cardinals are coming off of their first-ever appearance in the Russell Athletic Bowl where they overpowered the Miami Hurricanes winning 36-9. In a rematch of the bowl the Cardinals once again dismantled the Hurricanes, earning a 31-13 victory in front of their home crowd to open their season on Monday night.