2017-18 Bowl Preview and Recap

So many bowl games! Forty total. 78 teams. Are they all motivated? Probably not. But I’ll pick them anyway for fun and to beat my dad. I’ll post the final scores after the games. Thanks for reading this season!

*All times Eastern

How I fared in the regular season: 62-28 (that’s 68.88%)

My bowl record: 20-20
My dad’s bowl record: 20-20

December 16:
New Orleans Bowl: Troy(-4.5) vs. North Texas; Troy had a great season and got a huge win over LSU. The Trojans’ only two losses came on the road to Boise State and a let down game against South Alabama the week after beating LSU. North Texas won their division, but lost in the CUSA Champ game to FAU. They have been a good team and have scored a lot of points, but I think Troy is the more well rounded team. Their defense should be the difference in the game. I am picking Troy. 1pm on ESPN
Final: Troy 50 North Texas 30
This game went about as I expected. Troy went up, let UNT back in, then put the game away. UNT turned the ball over 5 times, so props to the Troy defense for making me look smart.

Cure Bowl: WKU vs. Georgia State(-5.5); Western Kentucky didn’t put up the points that I expected them to this season. Their defense also gave up some points this year. Georgia State has been doing pretty well but lost their last two games. Georgia State is probably the better team, but my gut instinct was to pick WKU, so I’m just going to stick with that. Weirdly, WKU’s defense will need to step up to win this game. Who knows? Bowl are weird. I am picking WKU. 2:30pm on CBSSN
Final: Georgia State 27 WKU 17
My instinct was wrong. WKU struggled on offense and the threw 2 picks deep in GAST territory in the fourth quarter. That isn’t the best way to win.

Las Vegas Bowl: 25Boise State vs. Oregon(-7); I’m so sad I can’t be home for this game. The Las Vegas Bowl tends to be a great game, or at the very least feature good and fun teams. This year is no different. Boise State finished the season with a MWC Championship win over a good Fresno State team. Oregon lost their head coach to Florida State after being in Eugene for just under one year. The Ducks do have their starting QB, Justin Herbert, back and healthy. I don’t think Boise State will be able to score enough points to beat Oregon with a healthy offense. Should be a good game though. I am picking Oregon. 3:30pm on ABC
Final: 25Boise State 38 Oregon 28
Well, Royce Freeman didn’t play and Oregon’s defense decided to take most of the game off. Boise State looked great and got a huge win in style. The Ducks did have two long defensive TDs in a span of about 30 seconds late in the second quarter, but their rally fell short. Again, I blame Royce Freeman for my incorrect pick. You know what’s worse? My dad picked Boise State.

New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs. Colorado State(-3); I haven’t seen too much of either of these teams. Colorado State tends to play competitively. It was just brought to my attention, while listening to The Solid Verbal (a CFB podcast), that Albuquerque is about a mile above sea level, Fort Collins is also about a mile above sea level, and Marshall is less than 500 feet above sea level. That’s a big difference. Being used to the elevation is an advantage for CSU. I also like Nick Stevens as a QB for the Rams and I think he will be the difference. I am picking Colorado State. 4:30pm on ESPN
Final: Marshall 31 Colorado State 28
This was a great game. Neither team was able to score in the first half, but the second quarter saw 35 combined points. Marshall took a 31-14 lead into the 4th quarter, CSU rallied but was unable to get close enough to take the lead or tie it up. CSU was unable to stop Marshall’s big plays. The Thundering Herd had 3TD plays of 68+ yards.

Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas State(-4); Both these teams are pretty decent. Arkansas State can score a ton and their defense is alright. Middle Tennessee has been up and down this season and I don’t think they will be up enough to beat the Red Wolves. AState does tend to have trouble against non-conference teams, so that might make this game a little close. Could be a lot of points scored in this game. I am picking Arkansas State. 8:00pm on ESPN
Final: Middle Tennessee 35 Arkansas State 30
The major difference in the game was a scoop and score in the second quarter by MTSU. The Red Wolves mounted a comeback, but QB Justice Hansen was sacked on the final two plays of the game to seal MTSU’s victory. Arkansas State continues to struggle against non-conference teams.

December 19:
Boca Raton Bowl: Akron vs. FAU(-23.5); I think this is the least disputed game of bowl season. FAU is a 23.5 point favorite. This is also basically a home game for the Owls. I hope Akron comes to play, but I just don’t see this game going in their favor. FAU is a ton of fun to watch and it’s the only game on. Enjoy the crazy offense of Lane Kiffin. I am picking FAU. 7pm on ESPN
Final: FAU 50 Akron 3
I was so right about this game. Also, Lane went for a two-point conversion late because someone from Akron was talking trash and Lane said “that’s on him” and I think that’s hilarious. Kiffin announced that he got a 10-year contract extension before the game. Good for him. Keep doing you, Lane.

December 20:
Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. SMU(-4); This is an interesting game. In case you didn’t know, SMU’s head coach, Chad Morris, is now Arkansas’s head coach. So that makes it difficult to gauge the motivation of the team. LaTech was not nearly as good as I thought they were going to be. Three of their six losses came by one point, including one to South Carolina. SMU likes to score and play fast and lots of other exciting things. This game is also in Frisco, which is near SMU. I think this will be a relatively competitive game. I am picking SMU. 8pm on ESPN
Final: Louisiana Tech 51 SMU 10
I guess losing all your offensive coaches does, in fact, make an impact. I was very wrong. Hey, LATech, where were all these points during the regular season?

December 21:
Gasparilla Bowl: Temple(-7) vs. FIU; This is an interesting matchup. Temple had to win 3 of their last 4 games to get to bowl eligibility. FIU scores a lot of points, but like my WKU pick, Temple was my gut pick. I could be very wrong about this. FIU might win this game by a ton, but the Owls are favored by 7 points. So, I guess I’m not totally crazy for picking Temple. I think Temple is riding some momentum and that will carry into this game. I am picking Temple. 8pm on ESPN
Final: Temple 28 FIU 3
Woo! I was right about Temple. Also my dad picked FIU. FIU turned the ball over 3 times in this one. This game was pretty boring. So much so, the “Drive of the Game” was the lawn mower race from the day before.

December 22:
Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs. Ohio(-6.5); I’m so excited for UAB! The Blazers came back from being dead for two years and they ended the season 8-4. I think they have the momentum and motivation needed for a bowl win. Ohio is a good team, but they lost their last two games. Both were close losses and they kept Ohio out of the MAC championship game. The Bobcat players might be more excited about getting to go to the Bahamas rather than playing in the bowl game. UAB likes to play close games, so I think this will be a great game and I really want UAB to win. Go Blazers! I am picking UAB. 12:30pm on ESPN
Final: Ohio 41 UAB 6
This game made me sad, and not just because my dad picked Ohio. I wanted UAB to win this game so bad. It was still an amazing season for the Blazers. Eight wins in their first year back is awesome and I can’t wait to see what this team does next year. Neither team turned the ball over. Scoring 41 points without a turnover is very impressive.

Potato Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Wyoming(-3); Wyoming QB Josh Allen was hyped up at the beginning of the season. He unfortunately did not live up to that hype. The Cowboys have struggled on offense this season against good teams. They ended the season with a bad loss to San Jose State. Central Michigan ended the regular season on a five-game winning streak. The Chips scored a ton of points during their final 5 games. I think this game could go either way, but if Josh Allen doesn’t play, I expect CMU to win. I am picking Wyoming. 4pm on ESPN
Final: Wyoming 37 Central Michigan 14
While turnovers are still on our minds, these two teams were one and two in turnovers in the country! CMU’s defense came into this game having forced 31 turnovers and Wyoming had forced 30. Wyoming forced EIGHT turnovers in this game (4INTs, 4 fumbles). Josh Allen had a great game and then declared for the NFL. My dad had CMU, so yay for me!

December 23:
Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs. South Florida(-2.5); Texas Tech was 1-6 in games where they gave up more than 24 points. USF scored less than 30 only twice this season. The Bulls’ offense has been great, taking a lot of pressure off their defense. Texas Tech needed 14 points in the 4th quarter of their last game against Texas to win and become bowl eligible. USF was really one of the better teams this season, but they were overlooked by the CFP committee. I think USF will overpower the Red Raiders for a comfortable win. I am picking South Florida. 12pm on ESPN
Final: South Florida 38 Texas Tech 34
This game was great, especially since the last few games have been blowouts. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to watch the whole thing, but I did get to see the 4th quarter. The game was tied at 10 at halftime, which was not expected. These two got it rolling in the second half and it was really fun. They combined for 1110 yards. I did expect a bigger win from USF, but Tech came to play.

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State(-6.5) vs. Army; San Diego State’s only losses came to the two teams who played for the MWC championship. The Aztecs also have the nation’s leading rusher in Rashaad Penny. Army just got a huge win over Navy in a game that featured 3 total pass attempts. Both of these teams lean heavily on their run game, but I think SDSU’s passing game will be the difference. Expect most of this game to be played in the trenches. I think this will be a very close one. I am picking San Diego State. 3:30pm on ESPN
Final: Army 42 San Diego State 35
The real final score of this game was 36-35, but Army returned a fumble on the last snap. This was a great game. Army scored with 18 seconds remaining in the first half, but then let SDSU return the kick for a TD to tie it at 21. Army scored a TD with 18 seconds left and then went for 2 to take the lead. These teams rushed for 695 yards (440 for Army) and passed for 31 yards. Army had the ball for 46 minutes. SDSU’s Rashaad Penny rushed for 221 yards and 4TDs on just 14 carries. Absurd.

Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo(-6); If you enjoy good football, watch this game. While both of these teams come from the Group of 5 conferences, they are two of the best. The Rockets have had another great season, going 11-2. Their losses are to Miami, FL and then a weird one to Ohio. Logan Woodside has done a great job at QB this season and has helped lead a prolific offense. Appalachian State is also led by a great QB in Taylor Lamb. Lamb is much more of a runner than Woodside. This should be a very interesting QB matchup, but having seen Toledo play a couple times this season, I have to give them the edge. I am picking Toledo. 7pm on ESPN
Final: Appalachian State 34 Toledo 0
I was so wrong about this one. Lucky for me, I didn’t see any of this game. I was at a hockey game. Not just any hockey game either. I was at a Vegas Golden Knights hockey game, so I’ll recap that instead of this bowl. First of all, T-Mobile Arena is beautiful. My dad and I had amazing seats just 3 rows up from the glass (thanks, mom!). VGK scored all three of their goals in the first period right in front of us. It was one of the most exciting sporting events I’ve ever been to and I didn’t even really know what was going on. The arena was totally packed and it was such an awesome environment. VGK beat the Washington Capitals 3-0. It is also amazing how many people around Las Vegas wear VGK stuff. The city has truly become a hockey city and it’s great. GO KNIGHTS GO!

December 24:
Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. Houston(-3); Fresno State had a great season and an amazing turnaround from last year. Their defense was very strong this season. Only giving up more than 21 points 3 times (all 3 were losses). Houston felt the loss of head coach Tom Herman. They didn’t have a bad season, but it wasn’t great either. They stumbled in the middle of the year, but finished pretty strong with wins over USF and Navy down the stretch. I expect this to be a close game that Fresno State will be more motivated for. I am picking Fresno State. 8:30pm on ESPN
Final: Fresno State 33 Houston 27
This was a really competitive game. Fresno State’s kicker was the reason the Bulldogs won, going 4/5 on the night. (The missed FG was blocked and returned 94 yards for a TD.) They also had a big pick 6 late to put the game out of reach.

December 26:
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah(-7) vs. West Virginia; Utah had a few very close losses to good teams this season, but they did ok against teams that weren’t so great on offense. Unfortunately for the Utes, West Virginia has a strong offense. Though they will probably be without QB Will Grier. I am interested to see how both of these teams will play in this game. Both have been a little up and down and struggled with good competition. I just don’t think that Utah will be able to score enough to beat West Virginia. I am picking West Virginia. 1:30pm on ESPN
Final: Utah 30 West Virginia 14
Wrong again. And this time my dad was right. The Mountaineers struggled big time without Will Grier. Utah was just the better team here. Not much else to say.

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke(-5.5) vs. Northern Illinois; This game pits a perennial MAC power in NIU against a Duke team that ended the year surging after an 0-6 skid. The Blue Devils shut down Georgia Tech then were able to stop a high scoring Wake Forest team (that felt weird to type). I think the momentum favors Duke in this game. NIU had another good year, but they failed to win their division and ended the season with a loss to CMU. I think Cutcliffe will have his team hungry for the win and that this will be a fun game. I am picking Duke. 5:15pm on ESPN
Final: Duke 36 Northern Illinois 14
Ha! My dad had NIU. The Blue Devils went up 14-0 early before NIU came back and tied it up. After that it was all Duke. The Huskies were only 1-12 on 3rd down and 0-6 on 4th down. That’s not great.

Cactus Bowl: Kansas State(-6) vs. UCLA; UCLA had a tough season. It started out strong with a big comeback win over Texas A&M, but then went downhill after a loss to Memphis. Their defense was not good this season, and that really hurt them. Kansas State ended the season with two big wins: one at 13th ranked Oklahoma State and the other at the last second against Iowa State. Offense isn’t this team’s strong suit, but by putting up 45 against the Cowboys, we know they can score against average defenses. I am interested to see if UCLA plays up to impress Chip Kelly, but I don’t think that will be the case. I am picking Kansas State. 9pm on ESPN
Final: Kansas State 35 UCLA 17
My dad had UCLA so that’s good for me! UCLA had a 10-point lead going into halftime, but they were shut out in the second half. Josh Rosen did not play and that is probably the reason they didn’t win. The Wildcats ran the ball 49 times for 344 yards and held UCLA to just 69 yards on the ground. UCLA shot themselves in the foot with 8 penalties for 78 yards.

December 27:
Independence Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Florida State(-13); This game comes down to Florida State’s level of motivation. I don’t think they will be motivated at all. Though their win against ULM kept their bowl streak alive, I think a lot of the players will be a little annoyed that they have to play in Shreveport when they came to FSU to play for the National Championship. This is a huge game for Southern Miss. They have the chance to beat a big name team. The Golden Eagles can score a ton of points and should come in ready to roll. I think Florida State will be focused on next season while Southern Miss will be focused on this game. I am picking Southern Miss. 1:30pm on ESPN
Final: Florida State 42 Southern Miss 13
Florida State ended up showing up for this one. Unfortunately, my dad picked the ‘Noles. This really wasn’t a game after the first quarter. FSU was too big and too talented for Southern Miss. Fun fact: Florida State should not have been allowed to play in a bowl. Their FCS game did not meet the standard to count as a win toward bowl eligibility, but since no one in the NCAA caught it in time, they were allowed to play. There were 3 real 6-6 teams that did not get to go to a bowl this season.

Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa(-2.5) vs. Boston College; Iowa didn’t make a ton of sense this season. Their blowout win over Ohio State is an anomaly. They struggled to put points up against almost everyone else they played. Their defense was opportunistic, but many times wasn’t good enough to win the game. Boston College scores a lot of points. I know that sounds like #fakenews, but it’s true. The Hawkeye defense will be tougher than most defenses they faced in the ACC, but I still think they will be able to put points up. I am picking Boston College. 5:15pm on ESPN
Final: Iowa 27 Boston College 20
Another win for my dad. I was on a plane for most of this game. BC turned the ball over on its two possessions following their game-tying FG. They got the ball with just under a minute left, but were unable to gain any yards.

Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona(-2.5) vs. Purdue; Now this is an interesting matchup. Arizona didn’t do great in their final two games, but they are still an interesting team. They can score a ton of points. Khalil Tate is a really fun player to watch and I think he’ll be the difference maker in this game. Purdue’s defense has been their strength this season. With the news that they are keeping their coach, I think they will be ready for this game. I think it will come down to the end. I am picking Arizona. 8:30pm on FOX
Final: Purdue 38 Arizona 35
Man, I wish I could’ve watched this one. I was in the air and driving for most of this one, and then when I got home I completely forgot that it was on. Purdue took a 31-14 lead into halftime, but Arizona wasn’t going to go quietly. The Wildcats scored the next 21 points to take a 35-31 lead. Purdue ruined the comeback by scoring with 1:44 remaining then picking off Khalil Tate with 1:16 left.

Texas Bowl: Texas vs. Missouri(-3); Missouri comes into this game on a 6-game winning streak, but they lost their OC when he left to become the head coach at UCF. Missouri’s offense has been unstoppable during their win streak. They have scored at least 45 points in all six games, and until giving up 45 to Arkansas, hadn’t given up more than 21. Texas dropped the ball in their final game against Texas Tech, but had a strong team. Their defense was, once again, very impressive. This is a great bowl game and a great time slot. I don’t think motivation will be a question for this game. I do think Texas’s defense will be too much. I am picking Texas. 9pm on ESPN
Final: Texas 33 Missouri 16
I hate it when Texas wins, but at least my pick was correct. Missouri struggled on offense without their OC who has since taken the head coach job at UCF. I also missed most of this game because of my flight and then my drive home. Missouri turned the ball over 4 times. That is not the recipe for success.

December 28:
Military Bowl: Virginia vs. Navy(-2.5); Virginia started the season very strong, winning 5 of their first 6 games. This included a huge win at Boise State where the Cavaliers thumped the Broncos. UVA then lost 5 of their last 6 games to end the regular season at 6-6. Their final game was an 0-10 loss to rival Virginia Tech. Navy had a very similar season, starting out strong then losing down the stretch. For the second year in a row, they lost a close one to Army, this time in the snow on a missed last second FG. I think this will be a very competitive game and that Navy’s rushing attack will wear out Virginia’s defense. I am picking Navy. 1:30pm on ESPN
Final: Navy 49 Virginia 7
Virginia started this game off very strong, returning the opening kick 98 yards for a TD. That was the end of Virginia’s scoring. Navy’s ground game completely dominated. QB Zach Abey rushed for 5TDs and as a team, Navy rushed for 452 yards. Virginia just couldn’t get anything going.

Camping World: 22Virginia Tech vs. 19Oklahoma State(-5.5); This is the first bowl game that pits two ranked teams against each other. Virginia Tech had a very good season, but they didn’t play many high powered offenses. Oklahoma State can sling the ball and score a ton. I think the number of weapons that the Cowboys have will be way too much for the Hokies. I don’t think they will be able to score enough points to beat them. I am picking Oklahoma State. 5:15pm on ESPN
Final: 19Oklahoma State 30 22Virginia Tech 21
Virginia Tech did a better job on defense than I thought they would. My dad had the Hokies in this one so that’s good for me. Oklahoma State never really put this one away, making for a good game. I was working for most of this one, but I did my best to keep up with it. I was a little sad more points weren’t scored by Oklahoma State.

Alamo Bowl: 13Stanford vs. 15TCU(-3); Now this is a great matchup. Stanford has come on strong late in the season and nearly upset USC in the Pac12 championship game. Bryce Love should be a little healthier for this one and I think he will be the difference. TCU got stomped by Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game and were unable to stop the big play. I think this will be a hard-fought and competitive game, and I am looking forward to getting to watch it. I am picking Stanford. 9pm on ESPN
Final: 15TCU 39 13Stanford 37
I should’ve known better than to pick against TCU in the Alamo Bowl. They pulled off another great comeback. The Horned Frogs were down 9 going into the 4th quarter. Two quick TDs game them the lead and then after giving up a TD, they were able to drive down the field and kick a FG to take the lead. The win was sealed by an INT during Stanford’s final drive. This was the best game of the bowl season so far. I don’t even care that I picked it wrong. Bryce Love rushed for 145 yards and 2TDs, but had to leave the game late due to a bad cut on his thumb. He was unable to get into the game on the final Stanford drive.

Holiday Bowl: 18Washington State vs. 16Michigan State(-2.5); First of all, I’d like to voice my annoyance that this game and the Alamo Bowl are on at the same time. Second, I am really interested to see how this one plays out. Michigan State was a strong team this season and made a big turnaround from last year. Washington State did what they have been doing, play well, but not well enough to win a conference championship. The Cougs have two really weird losses and then they got stomped by Washington in the Apple Cup. I think Michigan State’s defense will be the star of this game. Washington State needs to limit their turnovers if they want a chance to win this one. I am picking Michigan State. 9pm on FS1
Final: 16Michigan State 42 18Washington State 17
This wasn’t a game. The Cougs took an early lead with a FG, but went into halftime down 3-21. Luke Falk did not play in this game due to a wrist injury to his non-throwing hand. Michigan State outplayed WSU in this game. Lucky for me, my dad picked Washington State.

December 29:
Belk Bowl: Wake Forest(-3.5) vs. Texas A&M; Wake Forest scored a ton of points this season. They also gave up a pretty decent amount of points as well. Texas A&M ended their season with a big loss to LSU. They fired Kevin Sumlin and then promptly hired Jimbo Fisher for too much money. (At least in my opinion.) It will be interesting to see the kind of mindset the Aggie players have in this game. I think they are a pretty good team when they want to be. If they come out flat, Wake Forest could potentially blow them out. We’ll have to wait for the game to find out. I am picking Texas A&M. 1pm on ESPN
Final: Wake Forest 55 Texas A&M 52
This was a fun one. It started off looking like A&M would run away with the game, then Wake scored 31 unanswered points. Over the second half of the second quarter though early in the 4th quarter, A&M surged and outscored Wake Forest 31-10 to take a 45-41 lead. The teams traded TDs, then with just over 2 minutes remaining, Wake Forest scored what would be the game-winning TD. On the Aggie’s last drive, they were moving down the field, but never made it past the 50 and turned the ball over on downs with 28 seconds left. These two combined for 1260 yards of total offense and the TOP was almost split down the middle. These two also combined for 63 first downs. What a fun game, I’m not even mad that I picked this one wrong.

Sun Bowl: 24NC State(-4.5) vs. Arizona State; NC State had a very good season and had a couple very impressive wins. Their defense was strong and kept them in most of their games. Arizona State scored at least 37 points in each of their last 4 games. Despite beating Arizona to end the season, HC Todd Graham was fired. Herm Edwards is now the head coach. I don’t see the Sun Devils coming in with the right motivation for this game. I think NC State is the better team and their defense will stifle ASU. I am picking NC State. 3pm on CBS
Final: 24NC State 52 Arizona State 31
This game was on around the same time as the Belk Bowl so I didn’t really watch it. It was never all that close. But my pick was right so yay!

Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs. 21Northwestern(-7.5); Northwestern comes into this game riding a 7-game winning streak. Their last two wins were blowouts where they won by a combined score of 81-7. Their defense has been strong and their offense has been reliable. Kentucky’s last two games were blowout losses. Once one the road against Georgia and the other at home against Louisville. All the momentum is on Northwestern’s side. I can guarantee one thing: the Wildcats will win. I am picking Northwestern. 4:30pm on ESPN
Final: 21Northwestern 24 Kentucky 23
This ended up being a pretty interesting game. It also featured some horrible refs. I still don’t understand how or why Benny Snell got ejected. Snell put UK on top early with a TD. Northwestern scored the next 17 points to go into the half with a 17-7 lead. Kentucky was able to hold Northwestern to just a TD in the second half, but they were unable to successfully to connect on the two-point conversion at the end of the game. I did enjoy Stoops going for the win instead of the tie. It’s a bowl game! Have fun!

Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Utah State(-5.5); Much like the prior game, I am 100% sure the Aggies will win this one. Which Aggies? Well, I think the Aggies from New Mexico State will win. NMSU had to win their final two games to become bowl eligible, and when they beat South Alabama, they stormed the field. I think they are going to be excited for this game and come ready to play. Utah State is a good team, but they were not as good as we are used to them being. I think NMSU’s excitement for their first bowl since the 60’s will lead to a win. I am picking New Mexico State. 5:30pm on CBSSN
Final: New Mexico State 26 Utah State 20 (OT)
This was the first overtime game of the bowl season. I tried to do my best to keep up with this one, but the Music City Bowl and the Cotton Bowl got in the way a little. This was NMSU’s first bowl since 1960 (a game in which NMSU also beat Utah State). I’m really excited that New Mexico State won because that means that Arkansas beat a team that won a bowl game. Utah State missed a FG in the first possession of OT. Larry Rose III scored the game winner on a 21-yard TD run for NMSU.

Cotton Bowl: 8USC vs. 5Ohio State(-10); Wow! What a matchup! In my preseason predictions I had this as the Rose Bowl Semifinal matchup. Both of these teams won their conference but didn’t do enough in the regular season to make it into the Playoff. Ohio State was just edged out by Alabama for the final Playoff spot. (Protip: don’t lost to Iowa by 31 points.) USC’s bad loss to Notre Dame and the lack of strength in the Pac12 made it almost impossible to make it to the Playoff. Despite this being a consolation prize, I think both teams will be ready for this one. Sam Darnold has looked better in recent games and has been able to hold onto the ball. Ohio State is just a good team. I think this will be a very competitive and fun game. Hopefully it rivals lasy season’s Rose Bowl. I am picking Ohio State. 8:30pm on ESPN
Final: 5Ohio State 24 8USC 7
I’m so disappointed by how this game went. All the scoring came in the first half. USC turned the ball over 4 times and they just couldn’t get a run game going. At least I picked Ohio State. And congrats to JT Barrett for finally ending his 12 year playing career at Ohio State.

December 30:
TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville(-6.5) vs. 23Mississippi State; This is a tough game for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs first lost their QB to an injury in the Egg Bowl, then lost the Egg Bowl, then lost Dan Mullen to Florida. Though their new head coach looks to be a great hire, I think this bowl game is not something the players will be excited for. Louisville had another strong start, but once again their defense hurt them. I don’t expect Mississippi State to be able to stop Lamar Jackson consistently. This one might be all Cardinals. I am picking Louisville. 12pm on ESPN
Final: 23Mississippi State 31 Louisville 27
I was ok with Louisville losing because of a lot of reasons, but then I found out my dad had picked Mississippi State and tied things back up. I did not see any of this game. I was way too busy having a heart attack at the Arkansas Tennessee basketball game. The Hogs won 95-93 in a thrilling overtime game. Bud Walton was so loud. It was a crazy game. This bowl game looks like it was exciting. The Bulldogs had to score 14 points in the final quarter to win. Louisville had two chances after MSST went up, but Lamar Jackson threw an INT and then they ran out of time after MSST turned it over on downs. Lamar threw 4 picks in this game.

Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. 20Memphis(-3.5); This is a home game for Memphis. Iowa State had a big year, knocking off two top-5 teams in October. But after their big win over TCU, the Cyclones went 1-3. All 3 losses were very close (by a combined 12 points), but they were still losses. Memphis ended the season with a very exciting loss to UCF in the AAC championship game. I think Memphis’s offense will overpower Iowa State, but the Cyclones might be the more motivated team. I think this will be an exciting game and it has the potential to feature a lot of scoring. I am picking Memphis. 12:30pm on ABC
Final: Iowa State 21 20Memphis 20
This one was also on during the basketball game. When I got the update of the final score I was very confused. Neither team was able to rush the ball. Memphis was only 3-12 on third downs. Iowa State had two long drives at the end of the game that helped kill a lot of clock. Memphis’s final two drives resulted in a punt and a turnover on downs. That’s really weird for the way the Memphis offense played all season.

Fiesta Bowl: 11Washington vs. 9Penn State(-3); Because of a strange loss to Arizona State, Washington was bumped out of the Playoff and Pac12 pictures. The Huskies were a very good team this season, but they played almost no one. Like Alabama, their best non-conference win came against Fresno State. They did make easy work of Washington State in the Apple Cup. Penn State only dropped two games this season, and they were back to back road losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. Those two losses were by a combined 4 points. PSU had a very good team this season and one of the best players in Saquon Barkley. The matchup between these two very strong teams should be really fun to watch. I am picking Penn State. 4pm on ESPN
Final: 9Penn State 35 11Washington 28
Penn State took control of this game early, but Washington very nearly came back. They at least made it exciting late. After scoring on a 69-yard Myles Gaskin TD run, the Huskies pulled within a score. Penn State then went on a 13-play, 6:18 drive that ended in a missed FG. They only gave Washington 34 seconds to work with, and on their final play they had an extremely poorly executed lateral. Dante Pettis had made the first down with 5 seconds left, but instead of just going out of bounds he tried to lateral back and it ended up right in the hands of a Penn State defender. It was a pretty uncool way to end what was an exciting finish.

Orange Bowl: 6Wisconsin(-6.5) vs. 10Miami; Wisconsin’s only loss of the season came to Ohio State in the Big 10 championship game. The Badgers played an extremely easy schedule this year and would’ve had to go 13-0 just to make the playoff. I think the Badgers will be looking to show off a little in this game. Miami won the first 10 games of their season before looking bad against Pitt. The Hurricanes then laid an egg against Clemson in the ACC championship game. There is a possibility that neither team is motivated for this game because of how close they came to the playoff, but since they are playing good opponents, I think this will be a game. Wisconsin’s defense is very good and I think that will be the difference maker in this game. I am picking Wisconsin. 8pm on ESPN
Final: 6Wisconsin 34 10Miami 24
With Wisconsin’s win I am back in the lead! Miami started off strong and held a 14-3 lead after the first quarter of play. Wisconsin dominated the 2nd quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points. It was just enough to keep the game out of reach. Malik Rosier threw 3INTs in this game, including one on Miami’s final possession. Wisconsin controlled the ball for nearly 40 minutes of game time. They were able to execute their plan and looked very good in this game.

January 1:
Outback Bowl: Michigan(-9) vs. South Carolina; The last time these two teams played in the Outback Bowl we saw one of the best hits ever. Jadaveon Clowney hit a guy so hard his helmet flew off. It was a clean hit and it was beautiful. I’m excited for this matchup for the sole purpose of seeing that replay multiple times. Michigan has struggled with QBs (and offense) this season, but Brandon Peters should be healthy for this game. South Carolina had a good season and was a scrappy team. I think this will be a mostly competitive game, but Michigan’s defense will win it for them. I am picking Michigan. 12pm on ESPN2
Final: South Carolina 26 Michigan 19
This was a weird game. The weather wasn’t great and neither offense could get going in the first half. But the second half got very interesting. With just under 6 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Michigan took a 19-3 lead and it seemed as though the Big 10 would go undefeated in bowl games this season. It was not to be. South Carolina scored the final 23 points of the game to get the win. Here are the results of Michigan’s final five drives: fumble, punt, INT, downs, INT. The two teams combined for 8 turnovers and went a combined 4-32 on third down. It wasn’t a great game. But lol at the Big 10.

Peach Bowl: 12UCF vs. 7Auburn(-10.5); UCF should be ranked higher than 12. Now that I’ve said that, I think Auburn will win this game. Kerryon Johnshon will have time to heal up from the SEC championship game and having him will be huge for the Tigers. This game will be a major test for UCF and I am confident that every player on that team will be ready to go. That’s why I think this will be a competitive game. It is very strange that Scott Frost and his staff will coach the bowl game. I’m very interested to see how that plays out. I am picking Auburn. 12:30pm on ESPN
Final: 12UCF 34 7Auburn 27
Well, I can’t say I’m very surprised by the outcome of this game. Neither offense was able to do much in the first half, but Auburn came out strong in the third quarter to tie it up at 13. They then took the lead on a Kerryon Johnson TD. UCF scored the next 21 points, the third TD coming by way of a pick 6. Auburn drove down the field quickly and scored to get within a TD. UCF then missed a FG and gave the Tigers one last chance, but after making it all the way to the UCF 21, Jarrett Stidham threw another pick to seal the UCF win. The UCF AD then proclaimed that they were the real national champions. The Knights are the only undefeated team in the FBS.

Citrus Bowl: 14Notre Dame vs. 17LSU(-2); These two played in a bowl a couple years ago. I would like both of them to lose but unfortunately that is impossible. So, I have to root for the SEC. I think Notre Dame is a little overrated. LSU isn’t the greatest team, but they are competitive and actually have a competent offense this season. Danny Etling has been a good QB and Derrius Guice is a great running back. The Fighting Irish have a great RB in Josh Adams. Expect the running backs to be featured in this one. It should be a very good game. I am picking LSU. 1pm on ABC
Final: 14Notre Dame 21 17LSU 17
And with Notre Dame’s come from behind win, my dad and I are tied. I didn’t enjoy this game because I wanted both teams to lose. Having to root for LSU was painful. I still can’t believe the way the game ended. It was an amazing TD catch and the receiver made the two LSU defenders look really dumb.

Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal): 3Georgia(-2.5) vs. 2Oklahoma; What a matchup! I am so excited to watch this game. Oklahoma’s offense is amazing. Heisman winner Baker Mayfield can score on anyone. This will be the best defense that Oklahoma has faced this season. They are tough and fast and fun to watch. Georgia’s offense is also a fun one. They have 3RBs who can run the ball and run it well. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel each have 13 rushing TDs on the season. Michel is just 52 yards away from having a 1000 yard season. D’Andre Swift isn’t bad either. I think this will be a back and forth game that has a lot of points and is just fun to watch. I am picking Oklahoma. 5pm on ESPN
Final: 3Georgia 54 2Oklahoma 48 (2OT)
If you didn’t watch this game I feel really bad for you. This was one of the most exciting games I have watched. I wanted it to go on forever. I felt bad someone had to lose. Both teams played so hard and fought with all they had. Georgia’s defense didn’t show up until the second half, and still gave up 48 points. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb combined for 326 rushing yards and 5 rushing TDs. Michel also caught a TD. Baker Mayfield was great, throwing 2TDs and also catching one. Rodney Anderson rushed for 201 yards and 2TDs for the Sooners. The turning point for the game was when an OU squib kick didn’t go as planned and led to a 55 yard FG by UGA to end the half. What a game. So much fun. An instant classic.

Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal): 4Alabama(-3.5) vs. 1Clemson; For the third season in a row, Clemson and Alabama will face off in a Playoff game. This year they will be in a semifinal, but it should still be exciting. Alabama was hurt big time by injuries in their Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. Their linebackers should be healthy when this game rolls around. I think since this is a semi and Clemson won last year, the Tide will be very hungry in this one. Clemson has been a weird team this season. I’m not really sure they are the best team in the country, but I don’t think there are many teams I would put ahead of them. Their only loss came to Syracuse (don’t get me wrong, it’s a very bad loss), but they won out and won the ACC. They have still looked good without Deshaun Watson, but I don’t think they will have enough to overcome a healthy Crimson Tide team. I am picking Alabama. 8:45pm on ESPN
Final: 4Alabama 24 1Clemson 6
This was such a letdown after the Rose Bowl. But, nearly anything after the Rose Bowl would’ve been a letdown. Though it never really felt like the game was out of reach for Clemson, Alabama controlled this one. The best part of this game was Da’Ron Payne. He picked off Kelly Bryant then on the ensuing drive got to catch a TD. It was great. This win means that it will be an all SEC National Championship game. I cannot wait to be there for it.

Quick Update on Me:
You read that right, I will be at the National Championship! I won a Twitter contest put on by AT&T that asked, “How do you watch football?” and I sent in a picture from week 2 when I was watching 4 games at once on 4 different screens. And I won! I’m very excited to go to this game. It will also be the 50th college football game I’ve attended over the last 5 seasons:
-46 Arkansas Razorback football games (traveled to 18 regular season games, 3 bowl games)
-2 National Championship games
-1 SEC Championship game
-1 UNLV Rebel football game
During that time, I also earned a degree in Marketing with a minor in Sports Management from the University of Arkansas while also being a full-time manager for the Razorback Softball team. Here’s to 50 more over the next 5 years!

January 8:
National Championship: 4Alabama vs. 3Georgia; Even with a playoff system in place, the SEC was able to get two teams in the National Championship game. But it was a down year for the conference. (It really was, but these two were just really good.) Georgia is coming off one of the most exciting games of college football I’ve ever watched. Their 2OT thriller against Oklahoma was an instant classic. That could make this game tough for them. They had to go all the way to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl and played a physically and mentally exhausting game. Alabama got to play closer to home and didn’t really struggle against Clemson. Nick Saban was smiling and cracking jokes after their game. He seemed genuinely happy about how his team played. Alabama is no stranger to playing in the National Championship game. This will be their third year in a row doing just that. This is very nearly a home game for Georgia, so expect the crowd to favor the Dawgs. That said, Alabama is no stranger to Atlanta, but this will be their first game in the new stadium. Both of these teams have great defenses. Georgia’s was missing for most of the Rose Bowl, but stepped up when needed at the end. While Alabama still isn’t 100% healthy, their total domination of Clemson was a very good sign. This game should be great football. Nick Saban is 11-0 against former assistants. Can he make it 12-0 while also tying the great Bear Bryant by winning his 6th National Championship? I think so, but we will have to wait until Monday night to find out.I am picking Alabama. 5pm on ESPN
Final: 4Alabama 26 3Georgia 23 (OT)
(I’ll do a separate post about my experience at the game, this will just be a brief overview of the game itself.) What a game! Georgia started strong and took a 13-0 lead into halftime. Their defense stifled Jalen Hurts and the rest of the Bama offense. Tua Tagovailoa played the entire 2nd half and OT for the Tide at QB. This meant that both QBs were true freshman. Alabama cut the lead to just 13-7 before Jake Fromm connected with Mecole Hardman for an 80yard TD. After that it was all Bama. Alabama had a chance to win the game as time expired, but Andy Pappanastos missed a 36 yard FG and the game went to OT. After a huge sack by Alabama, Rodrigo Blankenship nailed a 51 yard FG to put the Dogs up 23-20. Georgia was able to sack Tagovailoa on Bama’s first play, but then Tua threw a beautiful 41 yard pass to DeVonta Smith to win the game. This mean’s Nick Saban has tied Bear Bryant for most National Championships in the poll era with 6. This game was the perfect way to end the season.

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CFP Top 25

1. Georgia
2. Michigan
3. Alabama
4. Cincinnati

5. Oklahoma State
6. Notre Dame
7. Ohio State
8. Ole Miss
9. Baylor
10. Oregon
11. Michigan State
12. BYU
13. Iowa
14. Oklahoma
15. Pittsburgh
16. Wake Forest
17. Utah
18. NC State
19. San Diego State
20. Clemson
21. Houston
*23. Kentucky
*24. Louisiana
25. Texas A&M

Dropped Out: 14Wisconsin, 22UTSA

Poll released on Tuesdays

AP Top 25

1. Georgia (12-0,8-0)
2. Michigan (11-1,8-1)
3. Cincinnati (12-0,8-0)
4. Alabama (11-1,7-1)
5. Oklahoma State (11-1,8-1)
6. Notre Dame (11-1)
7. Ohio State (10-2,8-1)
8. Ole Miss (10-2,6-2)
9. Baylor (10-2,7-2)
10. Oregon (10-2,7-2)
11. Michigan State (10-2,7-2)
12. BYU (10-2)
13. Oklahoma (10-2,7-2)
14. Utah (9-3,8-1)
15. Iowa (10-2,7-2)
16. Houston (11-1,8-0)
17. Pittsburgh (10-2,7-1)
18. Wake Forest (10-2,7-1)
19. San Diego State (11-1,7-1)
20. Louisiana (11-1,8-0)
21. NC State (9-3,6-2)
*22. Clemson (9-3,6-2)
23. ARKANSAS (8-4,4-4)
24. Texas A&M (8-4,4-4)
*25. Kentucky (9-3,5-3)

Dropped Out: 15UTSA (11-1,7-1), 19Wisconsin (8-4,6-3)

Bowl Eligible Teams

SEC: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M
Big 10: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big 12: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, West Virginia
ACC: Boston College, Clemson, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Pac12: Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah
Independents: Army, BYU, Liberty, Notre Dame
American: Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulsa, UCF
Mountain West: Air Force, Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State, Utah State, Wyoming
Sun Belt: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Louisiana, Western Kentucky
C-USA: Marshall, MTSU, North Texas, Old Dominion, UAB, UTEP, UTSA
MAC: Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan,

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