UPDATE. I went 22 -17 on my bowl game picks, but considering that the two playoff games were pretty much gimmee’s, I am not sure there’s much to brag about. Next week, I will hopefully post my annual summary of the year’s travels.
With ‘Bama favored by five, I like Clemson in the national championship. The Tide may win, but I don’t think they will cover that number. I am not sure it would even go toward settling the best conference for the year. I would have leaned toward the SEC prior to the bowl games but weak showings by Georgia and LSU did not bolster the SEC’s case. What it does clearly indicate is that an eight team playoff is more than overdue.
While I haven’t been to Levi Stadium, I hear the fan experience rates right up their with Fedex field. In that case, you are better off watching from home. And, I don’t think it will be a raucous affair with ticket prices dropping like a stone. The Bay area stadiums that I have been to have all had one thing in common: tepid fan bases so there is no upside there either. If you factor in the cost of going to the west coast for Clemson and ‘Bama fans, they may need to get some nerds from the silicon valley to digitize the crowd for the broadcast. So enjoy the game, hopefully from your couch.
This week I was hoping to catch the Stagg Bowl in Shenandoah, Texas, but I have a conflict. If the party I am at turns out to be a dud, I may be able to catch the second half. Mount Union will probably roll anyway. That’s a D3 program in name only from what I have heard.
Here are my thoughts on this year’s bowl games:
SATURDAY, DEC. 15
Celebration Bowl, Atlanta
NC A&T (9-2) vs. Alcorn State (9-3), Noon (ABC) – No clue on this one, the line is 7 ½ NC A&T, so let’s just go with that. My guess is the MBUSA stadium will be about 2/3 empty for this one.
LOSER for me. NC A&T wins by 2.
Cure Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
Tulane (6-6) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (7-6), 1:30 p.m. (CBSSN). Tulane’s a plucky bunch, but I think the Cajuns are going to be just a bit better. Take them and the 3 1/2 points. It should be an entertaining game but the tailgating will be even better.
LOSER. Tulane wins Big Time
New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque
North Texas (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2), 2 p.m. (ESPN). Two bowl worthy teams in this one. The Mean Green had another good year, but I like Utah State for this game despite the 10 points they are giving.
WINNER Utah who easily covered.
Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State (11-2) vs. Arizona State (7-5), 3:30 p.m. (ABC). Interesting game. For some reason, I think Herm Edwards will have the Sun Devils ready. Take them and the 4 points Vegas is giving them.
LOSER. Bulldog Victory gets the win by 11. Maybe Herm’s luster is wearing off.
Camellia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
Georgia Southern (9-3) vs. Eastern Michigan (7-5), 5:30 p.m. (ESPN). It’s only their second bowl ever, so I hardly think Georgia Southern will complain about going to Montgomery. I only saw Eastern Michigan play one game this year and they looked awful. Ga Southern all the way.
WINNER. Georgia Southern in a 2 point squeaker.
New Orleans Bowl
Middle Tennessee (8-5) vs. Appalachian State (10-2), 9 p.m. (ESPN). The only way App State loses this game is if there’s no curfew on Friday night.
WINNER. App State rolled and covered easy.
TUESDAY, DEC. 18
Boca Raton (Fla.) Bowl
UAB (10-3) vs. North Illinois (8-5), 7 p.m. (ESPN). UAB is a feel good story this year. It may be FAU’s home stadium and a Tuesday night game, but it is still a pretty sweet venue. Winner: UAB in one of the nicer locales for a lower tier bowl.
WINNER UAB big winner.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 19
Frisco (Texas) Bowl
San Diego State (7-5) vs. Ohio (8-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN). I had to look up where Frisco is. It is a suburb of Dallas Fort Worth. Ohio is the favorite by three. So yeah, let’s go with that.
WINNER. Just like the Bobcat sitting on my driveway, the Ohio Bobcats chilled their way to a 27-0 shut out.
THURSDAY, DEC. 20
Gasparilla Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Marshall (8-4) vs. South Florida (7-5), 8 p.m. (ESPN). Geez, this is practically a home game for the Bulls. Take South Florida despite being a 2 ½ point underdog.
LOSER. Contrary to conventional wisdom, when you mess with the Bull, you get the win.
FRIDAY, DEC. 21
Bahamas Bowl, Nassau
Toledo (7-5) vs. FIU (8-4), 12:30 p.m (ESPN). You have to hand it to the MAC, first place goes to Boca and third place goes to the Bahamas. It almost makes it worth having to play a third of your season in freezing weather and on Tuesday nights. Take the FIU Panthers and the 6 points they are getting in this one.
WINNER. The Panthers win outright.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise
Western Michigan (7-5) vs. BYU (6-6), 4 p.m. (ESPN). Not too far to go for the Cougars so maybe that’s why they are a 12 point favorite. They may not win outright, but I would take the Broncos in this one.
LOSER. The storm’n Mormons take care of business.
SATURDAY, DEC. 22
Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl
Memphis (8-5) vs. Wake Forest (6-6), Noon (ESPN). ACC is weak this year. I like Memphis to run all over Wake Forest.
LOSER. Wake Forest wins by 3. Damn ACC
Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas
Houston (8-4) vs. Army (9-2), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN). Maybe Oliver not playing for Houston will cure some of this chemistry of this team. Army on the other hand, has all the heart. I like the Black Knights in a tight one.
WINNER. This one wasn’t even close. The Knights by 56!
Dollar General Bowl, Mobile, Ala.
Buffalo (10-3) vs. Troy (9-3), 7 p.m. (ESPN). Congrats Buffs – Second place gets you to Mobile, Alabama instead of the Bahamas. I wonder what is in the Dollar General swag bag? $1 steaks, can of beans and generic Gatorade? Troy wins as they capitalize on the Buff’s disappointment.
WINNER. Troy by 10.
Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu
Louisiana Tech (7-5) vs. Hawaii (8-5), 10:30 p.m. (ESPN). I saw La Tech nearly lose to UTEP. Take the Rainbow Warriors in a home game even if La Tech hardly ever loses bowl games.
LOSER. I was told the Dawgs never lose a bowl game. I am now a believer
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 26
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, Dallas
Boston College (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-3), 1:30 p.m. (ESPN). Again, ACC is weak and BC lost their QB for the season against Clemson. Boise State wins this one and covers the 3.
This game was cancelled due to lightning. You would have thought they would have had some sort of contingency plan for this.
Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit
Minnesota (6-6) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5), 5:15 p.m. (ESPN). Ugh, these two teams deserve this game. Who cares? Georgia Tech wins.
LOSER. Like I said, the ACC is weak this year.
Cheez-It Bowl, Phoenix
California (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6), 9 p.m. (ESPN). Same for this game. California I guess.
WINNER. Cal in a 10 -7 OT thriller?!?
THURSDAY, DEC. 27
Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.
Temple (8-4) vs. Duke (7-5), 1:30 p.m. (ESPN). I just don’t like Duke’s team this year. Well, I really don’t like them any year, but this year in particular. Temple for the win.
LOSER. The Blue Devils win by 29. Man, the ACC is Jekyll and Hyde.
Pinstripe Bowl, New York
Miami (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (7-5), 5:15 p.m. (ESPN). Ooh – the Underachievers Bowl. Go with the Badgers getting 3 1/2 in the cold weather.
WINNER – Badgers crush the ‘Canes.
Texas Bowl, Houston
Baylor (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6), 9 p.m. (ESPN). Tickets for this game are $25 bucks and that includes a hotdog and a soda. Still not sure it is worth it. Vandy is a 4 ½ favorite. I think they will win, but they won’t cover.
WINNER. Vandy doesn’t even win, let alone cover.
FRIDAY, DEC. 28
Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn.
Purdue (6-6) vs. Auburn (7-5), 1:30 p.m. (ESPN). If Auburn loses this game, it will knock down the SEC a peg for sure. The Tigers will cover the 4 ½ points the Boilermakers are getting.
WINNER. War Eagle
Camping World Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
West Virginia (8-3) vs. Syracuse (9-3), 5:15 p.m. (ESPN). The Mountaineers are a flaky team and their QB is out. This used to be a good rivalry. Take the Orange and the 7 points they are getting.
WINNER. Orange win outright
Alamo Bowl, San Antonio
Iowa State (8-4) vs. Washington State (10-2), 9 p.m. (ESPN). Iowa State was a nice story, but I like the Cougars despite them giving 4.
LOSER. Cougars win but don’t cover
SATURDAY, DEC. 29
Peach Bowl, Atlanta
Florida (9-3) vs. Michigan (10-2), Noon (ESPN). Tough luck Gators. Harbaugh will have his team ready to bounce back and save his job. Michigan wins outright and covers the 7.
LOSER. Wolverines don’t even show up. He won’t get fired but losing these marquee games can help Harbaugh.
Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C.
South Carolina (7-5) vs. Virginia (7-5), Noon (ABC). Whew – another ugly bowl game. For some reason, I think Virginia will shake off their funk from the Va Tech game. The Gamecocks may win, but they won’t cover the 4 ½. Take the Cavaliers.
WINNER. The Whoos help the ACC get a win over the SEC with a 28-0 shutout of the ‘cocks.
Arizona Bowl, Tucson, Ariz.
Arkansas State (8-4) vs. Nevada (7-5), 1:15 p.m. (CBSSN). I like the Red Wolves in a pick ’em. No reason, I just like them.
LOSER. It took an OT, but the Wolfpack wins.
Cotton Bowl Classic, Arlington, Texas
CFP Semifinal: Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Clemson (13-0), 4 p.m. (ESPN). I have no reason not to believe in Notre Dame, but I just don’t. Clemson is favored by 11 and I think they will cover late.
WINNER. No luck of the Irish here. Clemson sets up rematch with ‘Bama.
Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla.
CFP Semifinal: Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Alabama (13-0), 8 p.m. (ESPN). I don’t want Bama to win, but really how can you bet against them?
WINNER. Roll Damn Tide
MONDAY, DEC. 31
Military Bowl, Annapolis, Md.
Cincinnati (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6), Noon (ESPN). Virginia Tech squeaked into this one. Maintaining their bowl streak was good enough for them and they will be looking forward to partying with friends that night since most of them are probably from DelMarVa. Take Cincy to cover the 6 points.
LOSER. Hokies remain consistent in their inconsistency but the Bearcats can’t cover.
Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Stanford (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (7-6), 2 p.m. (CBS). Oye, Pitt is hot and cold. Stanford is giving 6 ½. Take Pitt in a close one.
WINNER. The Cardinal win, but the Panthers cover.
Redbox Bowl, Santa Clara, Calif.
Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4), 3 p.m. (Fox). Meh – Oregon covers the 2 1/2 I guess.
LOSER. The Ducks win, but don’t cover in a 7 – 6 yawner.
Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.
Missouri (8-4) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6), 3:45 p.m. (ESPN). Oklahoma State is better than their record. The same can’t be said for Mizzou who is giving 8 1/2. They won’t cover that against the Cowboys.
WINNER. The Mullet leads the Cowboys to the win by 5.
Holiday Bowl, San Diego
Northwestern (8-5) vs. Utah (9-4), 7 p.m. (FS1). Northwestern gets 6 ½. I say they overachieve. Take them and the points.
WINNER. Northwestern wins outright.
Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.
NC State (9-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN). Like I said, NC State is weak. The Aggies will roll and easily cover the 4 1/2.
WINNER. This one was like taking candy from a baby. Jimbo has the Aggies rolling.
TUESDAY, JAN. 1
Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla.
Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Iowa (8-4), Noon (ESPN2). SEC slightly better than the Big 10. The Bulldogs will cover the 6 1/2
LOSER. The Hawkeyes win outright.
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
Kentucky (9-3) vs. Penn State (9-3), 1 p.m. (ABC). Penn State’s McSorely has one last big game. PSU covers the 5 ½.
LOSER. They wouldn’t have covered anyway. but why does Franklin take the ball out of McSorely’s hands at critical moments such as kicking the late field goal rather than going for the first down?
Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz.
LSU (9-3) vs. UCF (12-0), 1 p.m. (ESPN)
If UCF had their quarterback, I would say LSU was in trouble. The Tigers will probably cover the 7 ½ but the SEC will lose some serious credibility if they lose this game.
WINNER. But barely. LSU covers by 1/2 a point. I know the Tigers were missing some critical players but so was UCF. Had Mackenzie Milton not been hurt, LSU probably loses this one, by a lot.
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Washington (10-3) vs. Ohio State (12-1), 5 p.m. (ESPN). Buckeyes make their case for not getting into the playoff and will cover the 6.
LOSER. I, too, fall to the biggest bad beat of the bowl season. The Buckeyes win, but nearly blow their substantial lead late. Brutal.
Sugar Bowl, New Orleans
Texas (9-4) vs. Georgia (11-2), 8:45 p.m. (ESPN). The Longhorns are just happy to be playing on New Year’s. Georgia will win, but they won’t cover.
WINNER. Hook ’em Horns. Texas wins outright.
Enjoy the games.