Predicting Every Bowl Game in College Football
Predicting Every College Football Bowl Game
The bowl matchups are set, and it’s time to break down each one. Forty-one games in a little over three weeks. This is one of the best times of the year.
1. Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl: North Carolina Central vs. Grambling
(Noon ET, ABC, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia)
- A solid game to start off the bowl season. Watch Grambling running back Martez Carter run all over Central’s defense en route to a victory.
Prediction: Grambling State 33 NC Central 17
2. Gildan New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico vs. Texas-San Antonio
(2 p.m., ESPN, University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico)
- Former LSU assistant Frank Wilson has done an excellent job in his first season at UTSA, but the Roadrunners will struggle against the nation’s best rushing attack in New Mexico.
Prediction: New Mexico 24 UTSA 20
3. Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico: Houston vs. San Diego State
(3:30 p.m., ABC, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas)
- Houston brings the nation’s No. 3 rushing defense to Sin City to face San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey, a Las Vegas native who ranks second nationally in rushing yards (2,018). I expect Pumphrey to solidify his NFL Draft status as a RB who will excel at the next level, even if you haven’t heard of him.
- Houston will struggle without their head coach Tom Herman who took the vacant job at Texas.
Prediction: San Diego State 38 Houston 24
4. Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo
(5:30 p.m., ESPN, Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama)
- These teams matchup closely on paper, but it is Appalachian State’s defense that will set them apart, with a few players likely hearing their name called on Draft Day.
Prediction: Appalachian State 24 Toledo 16
5. AutoNation Cure Bowl: UCF vs. Arkansas State
(5:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida)
- UCF is back in a bowl game under first-year coach Scott Frost after going 0-12 in 2015, while Arkansas State climbed out of an 0-4 hole to win seven of its final eight.
Prediction: Arkansas State 20 UCF 17
6. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
(9 p.m., ESPN, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans)
- Two high-powered offenses will take the field in this matchup that will surely have a LOT of points scored. If you’re a betting man, take the over.
Prediction: UL-Lafayette 49 Southern Miss 45
7. Miami Beach Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Tulsa
(2:30 p.m., ESPN, Marlins Park, Miami)
- The first legit blowout we will see involves both of these teams.
- Tulsa quietly had one of the better seasons among Group of 5 teams, as quarterback Dane Evans led a fast and talented offense that eclipsed 30 points in all but one game (Ohio State).
- Central Michigan has faded badly down the stretch
Prediction: Tulsa 35 Central Mich 10
8. Boca Raton Bowl: Memphis vs. Western Kentucky
(7 p.m., ESPN, FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida)
- Another high-scoring game we will be in store for. Bettors take the OVER
- These teams combine to average 84.6 points per game. Western Kentucky has had four 50-point games, while Memphis scored 77 on Sept. 24.
Prediction: Memphis 50 Western Kentucky 49
9. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: BYU vs. Wyoming
(9 p.m., ESPN, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego)
- Two teams I watched a lot of over the course of the season. No doubt, BYU has more talent on paper, but the Cowboys don’t back down and head coach Craig Bohl will have his guys ready to play.
Prediction: Wyoming 28 BYU 23
10. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Idaho vs. Colorado State
(7 p.m., ESPN, Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho)
- Another set of teams I watched quite a bit this season. Colorado State has been up-and-down all season, but Nick Stephens can sling the rock–just not as well as Idaho’s Matt Linehan—yes the son of Dallas Cowboys OC Scott.
Prediction: Idaho 35 Colorado State 27
11. Popeyes Bahamas Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion
(1 p.m., ESPN, Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas)
- Eastern Michigan overperformed this year under Chris Creighton, but they are overmatched against a high-powered offensive team in Old Dominion.
Prediction: Old Dominion 42 Eastern Michigan 20
12. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. No. 25 Navy
(4:30 p.m., ESPN, Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas)
- Both teams lost conference championship games, but Navy lost their top playmaker and QB Will Worth. If Worth were playing I would pick the Midshipmen, but he’s not.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 42 Navy 30
13. Dollar General Bowl: Ohio vs. Troy
(8 p.m., ESPN, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama)
- Ohio gave Western Michigan a run for their money in the MAC Championship game, but Troy has too much firepower not to win this game.
Prediction: Troy 28 Ohio 17
14. Hawai’i Bowl: Hawai’i vs. Middle Tennessee
(8 p.m., ESPN, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii)
- Hawaii has home-field advantage, and Middle Tennessee lost top quarterback Brent Stockstill to a broken collarbone in November. Still, it’s hard not to pick the Blue Raiders, with an offense that scored 115 points in the final two games without Stockstill.
Prediction: Middle Tennessee 49 Hawaii 28
15. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (Ohio) vs. Mississippi State
(11 a.m., ESPN, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida)
- Mississippi State is 5-7 and Miami (Ohio) went from 0-6 to 6-6, so sizing up this one is tricky.
- I’ll take an SEC team to beat a MAC most days
Prediction: Mississippi State 31 Miami (OH) 14
16. Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland vs. Boston College
(2:30 p.m., ESPN, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.)
- Maryland and BC are Nos. 75 and 76 in FPI, just above 3-9 Arizona, and both struggled mightily against the elite of their respective conferences.
Prediction: Maryland 17 Boston College 13
17. Camping World Independence Bowl: NC State vs. Vanderbilt
(5 p.m., ESPN2, Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana)
- Defense will dominate this game and I like what NC State does on offense just enough to pull out a victory.
Prediction: NC State 17 Vanderbilt 13
18. Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Army vs. North Texas
(12 p.m., ESPN, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas)
- In Army’s first bowl appearance since 2010, I’ll take the Black Knights and their electric rushing attack to win this game.
Prediction: Army 33 North Texas 28
19. Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman: No. 24 Temple vs. Wake Forest
(3:30 p.m., ESPN, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland)
- Temple might be the Group of 5 version of USC: a team no one wants to play right now. Wake Forest struggled down the stretch and lacks the firepower to beat the remarkably balanced Owls, who outscored their opponents 427-224.
Prediction: Temple 42 Wake Forest 24
20. National Funding Holiday Bowl: Minnesota vs. Washington State
(7 p.m., ESPN, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.)
- Both defenses are solid, but quarterback Luke Falk gives Washington State a major advantage over Minnesota, which simply hasn’t seen the improvement it needed from veteran signal-caller Mitch Leidner.
Prediction: Washington State 42 Minnesota 30
21. Motel 6 Cactus Bowl: Boise State vs. Baylor
(10:15 p.m., ESPN, Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona)
- Does Baylor even want to play this game?
- I’ll take the hungrier of the two teams to pull out the victory.
Prediction: Boise State 31 Baylor 20
22. New Era Pinstripe Bowl: No. 23 Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern
(2 p.m., ESPN, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York)
- Pitt has the strongest 8-4 record in the country — wins over No. 2 Clemson and No. 5 Penn State — and a coach (Pat Narduzzi) who faced Northwestern as a defensive coordinator on various teams for years.
- I just hope it’s snowing like it has in years past in this bowl game.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24 Northwestern 14
23. Russell Athletic Bowl: No. 16 West Virginia vs. Miami
(5:30 p.m, ESPN, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida)
- A streaky Miami team ended the season on an upswing, but West Virginia has the experience and talent on both sides of the ball.
- WVU has the playmakers Miami lacks at this point in time
Prediction: West Virginia 38 Miami 35
24. Foster Farms Bowl: Indiana vs. No. 19 Utah
(8:30 p.m., Fox, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California)
- Despite Utah’s late-season fade, it’s hard to go against coach Kyle Whittingham, who is 9-1 in bowl games and brings the more talented squad to the Bay Area.
- Indiana’s head coach stepped down due to rumored misconduct against his players.
Prediction: Utah 28 Indiana 13
25. AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
(9 p.m., ESPN, NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas)
- Texas A&M has more talent but limped to the finish, while Kansas State finished strong against mostly weak competition.
- Bill Snyder will have his guys more amped to play than Kevin Sumlin.
Prediction: Kansas State 24 Texas A&M 23
26. Birmingham Bowl: South Florida vs. South Carolina
(2 p.m., ESPN, Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama)
- Remember what Deshaun Watson did to South Carolina a few weeks ago? Expect a slightly less severe version of that with South Florida’s Quinton Flowers, one of the nation’s most underappreciated stars.
Prediction: South Florida 52 South Carolina 21
27. Belk Bowl: Arkansas vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech
(5:30 p.m., ESPN, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina)
- Despite an ACC championship game loss, Virginia Tech is trending in the right direction under Justin Fuente. Arkansas is simply too inconsistent and surprisingly shaky along both lines.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 24 Arkansas 21
28. Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 12 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Colorado
(9 p.m., ESPN, Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas)
- I’ll admit it I am a die-hard Colorado fan, so this prediction will not come without a bias
- Sefo Liufau is the best QB no one is talking about and the Buffs are undefeated when he starts and plays the entire game (knocked out or didn’t play in Colorado’s three losses)
- The Buffs defense is the best in the Pac-12 and will give Mason Rudolph fits for the Cowboys.
Prediction: Colorado 31 Oklahoma State 24
29. AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. TCU
(12 p.m., ESPN, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee)
- TCU’s Gary Patterson is great in the postseason, winning eight of his past 10 bowl appearances.
- Kirby Smart will have his team ready to play come Dec. 30
Prediction: Georgia 34 TCU 31
30. Hyundai Sun Bowl: No. 18 Stanford vs. North Carolina
(2 p.m., CBS Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas)
- McCaffrey quietly has been very productive for the Cardinal and North Carolina allows 235.5 rush yards per game.
- In what could be his last game I see McCaffrey running wild.
Prediction: Stanford 42 North Carolina 34
31. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Nebraska vs. No. 21 Tennessee
(3:30 p.m., ESPN, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee)
- Both teams faded down the stretch, and it’s difficult to trust a Tennessee team that so rarely plays to its talent level. But the Vols will be playing a virtual home game, and Nebraska looked dreadful its last time out against Iowa.
Prediction: Tennessee 33 Nebraska 22
32. Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl: South Alabama vs. Air Force
(5:30 p.m., Campus Insiders, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona)
- South Alabama had one of the stranger seasons in the FBS, beating an SEC team (Mississippi State) and a league champion (San Diego State) but struggling in most of its road games.
- Air Force endured an October slide but boasts wins against Boise State and Navy.
Prediction: Air Force 28 South Alabama 14
33. Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Florida State
(8 p.m., ESPN, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida)
- The Michigan defensive line has a clear advantage over FSU’s offensive line.
- DeAndre Francois could be running for his life for most of this game.
Prediction: Michigan 28 Florida State 10
34. Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: No. 20 LSU vs. No. 13 Louisville
(11 a.m., ABC, Camping Ground Stadium, Orlando, Florida)
- Ed Orgeron draws Lamar Jackson, the likely Heisman Trophy winner, in his first game as LSU’s permanent head coach.
- Louisville was hoping for a better bowl slot and motivation could be a factor in this game
Prediction: LSU 21 Louisville 17
35. TaxSlayer Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky
(11 a.m., ESPN EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida)
- Both teams are looking to end their decent seasons on a high note.
- Kentucky’s run defense leaves a lot to be desired (225 rush yards per game)
- Georgia Tech is one of the best rushing teams in the nation
Prediction: Georgia Tech 49 Kentucky 38
36. Outback Bowl: No. 17 Florida vs. Iowa
(1 p.m., ABC Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida)
- The Gators’ season will end the same way as last year — SEC East division title, lopsided losses to Florida State and to Alabama in the SEC title game, and a bowl loss — although their bowl performance will be better this time.
Prediction: Iowa 21 Florida 17
37. Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 15 Western Michigan vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
(1 p.m., ESPN AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas)
- P.J. Fleck’s Boat Rowers are 2-0 against Big Ten teams this season, and star wide receiver Corey Davis will challenge a Wisconsin secondary that showed cracks against Penn State.
- Wisconsin’s run game and defensive front seven will be the main challenge for the Broncos.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28 Western Michigan 27
38. Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 9 USC vs. No. 5 Penn State
(5 p.m., ESPN Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California)
- No two coaches led better in-season turnarounds than USC’s Clay Helton and PSU’s James Franklin thanks in large part to quarterbacks Sam Darnold (USC) and Trace McSorley (PSU). Both teams and both quarterbacks are hot, and both have dynamic running backs
Prediction: USC 38 Penn State 29
39. Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 14 Auburn vs. No. 7 Oklahoma
(8:30 p.m., ESPN Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans)
- Auburn’s defense gives the Tigers a real chance here, but Oklahoma simply has too much firepower, and its own defense made strides down the stretch.
Prediction: Oklahoma 31 Auburn 17
40. College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
No. 4 Washington vs. No. 1 Alabama
- Washington actually has the type of defense and kicking game to keep pace with Alabama, but quarterback Jake Browning’s struggles against top competition — he completed just 38 of 80 passes against Utah, USC and Colorado — don’t bode well against a smothering Tide defense, which records another takeaway for points in the win.
Prediction: Alabama 34 Washington 17
41. College Football Playoff semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson
(7 p.m., ESPN University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona)
- This matchup pits two teams who have equal NFL talent, as well as two teams who have a chance to take down Alabama.
- I’ll take the QB I trust more, even though Clemson has looked inconsistent all season long.
Prediction: Clemson 45 Ohio State 42
42. College Football Playoff National Championship
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Clemson
(8 p.m., ESPN Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida)
- A rematch of last years remarkable game.
- I expect similar results, with Deshaun Watson showing he can pick apart the Alabama defense
- The Tide’s QB Jalen Hurts doesn’t get enough credit and he will be the deciding factor in the victory.
Prediction: Alabama 37 Clemson 31