2018 Bowl Previews and Recaps

This was a weird season of college football. In my opinion, it left room for improvement. I also think the bowl matchups are a bit sub-par. Hopefully the games will prove me wrong. I am very much looking forward to the Playoff this season. I personally would have put Georgia in at 3, but that doesn’t mean I think the committee got it wrong. We have 40 more games in the season, let’s dive into them.

*All times Eastern

How I fared in the regular season:
54-33 (That’s 62%. Down from last year but I picked less games this season)
7-3 in Conference Championships (6-4 in my preseason picks)

Through 12/20:
My bowl record: 6-2
My dad’s bowl record: 4-4

December 15:
Cure Bowl: Tulane vs. Louisiana; Louisiana is coming off a loss in the Sun Belt Championship game. They have been impressive down the stretch, but their defense needs some work. Tulane has won 4 of their last 5 games, with the only loss being to Houston. I think this will be a pretty close game, but my gut is going with the Ragin Cajuns. I am picking Louisiana. 1:30 on CBSSN
Final: Tulane 41 Louisiana 24
The Ragin Cajuns got off to a quick start but then entered the second quarter down 21-7. Tulane let ULL get close early on in the fourth quarter but then sealed the deal with two late TDs. The Green Wave had the ball for 40:31 of this game, making it difficult for ULL to get anything going.

New Mexico Bowl: Utah State vs. North Texas; This is a tough one to pick. Both teams are very good, but Utah State just lost their head coach to Texas Tech. I (very unfortunately) have seen North Texas play in person and they are an exciting team. Mentality will be the biggest factor in this one. I’m a little annoyed that neither of these teams got better bowl bids. Utah State won 10 games and UNT won 9 and beat an SEC team on the road. At least they get to play good competition, and this really should be a great game. I am picking North Texas. 2:00pm on ESPN
Final: Utah State 52 North Texas 13
So I was very wrong about this game. This one was never close. Four different players threw passes for the Mean Green. Their starter, Mason Fine, was very beat up and had to leave the game. His backup threw 3INTs and 4 total picks were thrown. It was a very bad game for UNT.

Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona State vs. Fresno State; Arizona State has been a bit of a surprise this year. Herm Edwards was able to make a decent transition to being a college head coach. Fresno State had another very strong year, edging out Boise State in the Mountain West Champ game. Both teams have something to prove and I think they should both come to play. I think Fresno State is the better team and will be able to outlast the Sun Devils. I am picking Fresno State. 3:30pm on ABC
Final: Fresno State 31 Arizona State 20
This was a really good game. I was pretty spot on with my prediction. The game was back and forth until late in the 3rd quarter when Fresno State pulled away.

Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan; Georgia Southern was one of the better teams in the Sun Belt this season. They had back to back losses to ULM and Troy, but their only other loss was to Clemson. Eastern Michigan continues to be one of the almost very good teams. They tend to lose games by a TD or less when they lose. I expect this game to be close early on, but then GASO should pull away in the second half. I am picking Georgia Southern. 5:30pm on ESPN
Final: Georgia Southern 23 Eastern Michigan 21
This game was exciting. Neither team pulled away and GASO won on a last second FG. It was a pretty evenly matched game and was a fun one to watch.

New Orleans Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State; I didn’t get a chance to watch many Middle Tennessee games this season. I know they are good, but they are coming off of a loss to UAB in the CUSA champ game. Appalachian State won the Sun Belt in the first ever Sun Belt Champ game by beating the Ragin Cajuns. I think the Mountaineers are the better team, but this should be a good game against two strong G5 teams. Appalachian State will be coached by an interim coach, so that is something to be aware of. I am picking Appalachian State. 9:00pm on ESPN
Final: Appalachian State 45 Middle Tennessee 13
This game was not close. The Blue Raiders could not stop App State. The stats were pretty even, but MTSU could not convert. The Mountaineers finish the season with 11 wins and a Sun Belt title.

December 18:
Boca Raton Bowl: UAB vs. Northern Illinois; I picked against UAB last weekend (against my heart). I am not going to make that mistake again. The Blazer are only a couple years removed from not having team. Northern Illinois underperformed this season but did end up coming back to beat Buffalo to win the MAC. UAB is an incredible story and also a very good team, I’d be surprised if they didn’t win this game. I am picking UAB. 7:00 on ESPN
Final: UAB 37 Northern Illinois 13
UAB started this game off with a 70-yard TD pass on the first play. They never looked back. The team that didn’t exist a couple years ago won a conference championship and 11 games this season. What a year for the Blazers.

December 19:
Frisco Bowl: San Diego State vs. Ohio; If you have been reading this blog, you know I’m a big SDSU fan. They have not been as strong this year as in the past. They even weirdly lost to UNLV. Ohio had a good 8-win season. Except for their loss to Virginia, their other three losses came by a combined 9 points. I think Ohio will be more motivated in this game and that is why they will win. I am picking Ohio. 8:00pm on ESPN
Final: Ohio 27 San Diego State 0
There isn’t much to say about this game. Ohio did everything they needed to do to win.

December 20:
Gasparilla Bowl: Marshall vs. South Florida; Marshall had a decent season this year and should play well in this game. The Thundering Herd lost to Virginia Tech at the end of the season, but because that game was to continue the Hokie bowl streak, it is hard to use it as an actual measuring stick. South Florida started the season off with 7 straight wins, then proceeded to lose their final 5. I do not see them being excited for this game. They also lost their OC to a head coaching opening in the FCS. I am picking Marshall. 8:00pm on ESPN
Final: Marshall 38 South Florida 20
Marshall was in control in this game. South Florida looked like they might make it a game late, but it wasn’t to be. USF will end their season on a 6-game losing streak.

December 21:
Bahamas Bowl: FIU vs. Toledo; Toledo had a bit of a down year by Toledo standards. They lost 5 games, the first time that has happened since 2013. FIU had a strong season. They did get blown out by (a not good) FAU team and lost a close one to Marshall to end the season. I think FIU is the better team here, but motivation is a big factor in this one. I’m sure both teams have enjoyed getting to go to the Bahamas, but they might only see this as a vacation rather than another football game. I am picking FIU. 12:30pm on ESPN
Final: FIU 35 Toledo 32
FIU started the game by fumbling the kickoff and basically giving Toldeo a free TD. Once the second quarter rolled around, they settled down. This game was never really out of reach for Toledo until FIU scored to make it a 10-point game with 41 seconds left. The Rockets scored a last second TD to make the final score more respectable.

Potato Bowl: Western Michigan vs. BYU; Western Michigan has struggled to finish the season. They won their final game against Northern Illinois, but before that they had lost 3 games in a row. BYU seemed like they were going to upset Utah before blowing their lead in the Holy War. I don’t really have a lot of faith in either team, but BYU always tends to play bowl games with a chip on their shoulder. This game is usually a night game, maybe having it start at 1pm local time will make it a little warmer but I doubt it. I think the Cougars have more to prove in this one. I am picking BYU. 4:00pm on ESPN
Final: BYU 49 Western Michigan 18
The Broncos took a 10-7 lead into halftime, but it was all BYU in the second half. BYU QB Zach Wilson finished the game 18/18 for 317 yards and 4TDs.

December 22:
Birmingham Bowl: Memphis vs. Wake Forest; Memphis has been an interesting this season. They once again have a very potent offense and an up and down defense. They finished pretty strong, winning their final four games of the regular season, but then they blew a big lead to UCF in the AAC championship game. I don’t think that is as much on Memphios as it was UCF wanting to keep their win streak alive even without QB Mackenzie Milton. Wake Forest is a confusing team. They scored 50 points four times this season but also scored less than 20 in three games. They ended the season by beating Duke by 52 points. This could be an extremely high scoring game. I am picking Memphis. Noon on ESPN
Final: Wake Forest 37 Memphis 34
This was a weird game. Four minutes into the second quarter, Memphis took a 28-10 lead after a 97-yard kickoff return TD. After that, Wake Forest scored the next 20 points. Memphis was able to finally get some more offense going late in the 4th and regained the lead but failed on the two-point conversion. Wake was able to score another TD with 34 seconds left. All Memphis needed to do was hit a FG to send the game to OT. A false start penalty got into the kickers head and he missed wide right as the clock hit zeros. It didn’t help that most of Memphis’s defensive line got hurt in this game.

Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Army; Houston hs been a rollercoaster this season. Ed Oliver will not be playing in this game (hurt knee) and they are banged up on offense. Army is a tough team to play. They’re coming off their third straight win over Navy and they just run other teams down. They gave OU a close game because OU barely had the ball. I just don’t see Houston being mentally ready to take on this Army team. I am picking Army. 3:30pm on ESPN
Final: Army 70 Houston 14
Army tied the record for most points scored in a bowl game. QB Kelvin HHopkins Jr rushed for 170 yards and 5 TDs and the Black Knights rushed for 507 total yards. Houston didn’t show up.

Dollar General Bowl: Buffalo vs. Troy; Buffalo had a great season, but they lost a heartbreaker to NIU in the MAC championship game. Troy only lost three games this season, but their offense has been lacking over the last couple of games. This should be one of the better games of the bowl season if both teams play to their potential. I am picking Buffalo. 7:00pm on ESPN

Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii vs. Louisiana Tech; Hawaii came out of the gate so fast this season. They won six of their first seven games, but then proceeded to lose their next four. They did win their last two and I think have the momentum going into this game. They also don’t have to travel. Louisiana Tech has been up and down this year. They lost their final two games and only scored 35 combined points in those games. I just don’t see Hawaii ending such a good season on a bad note. I am picking Hawaii. 10:30pm on ESPN

December 26:
First Responder Bowl: Boston College vs. 25Boise State; Boise State is coming off a tough home loss in the MWC Championship game to Fresno State. Boston College had a much better season than most people expected. They spent time ranked in the top 25. They dropped their final three games of the season (Clemson, Florida State, Syracuse). They will have to face another strong ranked team in Boise State to finish the year. This should be a mostly balanced game. Both are good on offense and defense. I think it will come down to the end of the game. I am picking Boise State. 1:30pm on ESPN

Quick Lane Bowl: Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech; I find it hard to think that Paul Johnson’s players won’t send him out with a win. The coach is retiring after being at the helm for as long as I can remember. Minnesota wasn’t great this season and they are going to most likely have a decent number of players suspended for this game. I don’t think this will be too much of a game. I am picking Georgia Tech. 5:15pm on ESPN

Cheez-It Bowl: California vs. TCU; I’m surprised that TCU made a bowl game. They were not good this season and needed two unlikely wins to get to 6 wins. They were able to beat Baylor and Oklahoma State to finish the regular season. California lost their last game to Stanford in a game that had to be postponed because of the wildfires in California. They have not won a game in which they have given up more than 23 points. I don’t think they will have a problem holding TCU under than mark. I am picking California. 9:00pm on ESPN

December 27:
Independence Bowl: Temple vs. Duke; Temple will be playing this game with an interim head coach and their QB is questionable. Duke ended the season with an astonishing 7-59 loss to Wake Forest. I really don’t know who will be the team that wants to play in this one, but I think Duke is more stable and that gives them the edge. I am picking Duke. 1:30pm on ESPN

Pinstripe Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin; This could be dubbed the “disappointment bowl”. These teams came into the season with CFP hopes. Those hopes were quickly dashed. Both teams have five losses so far this season. Honestly, I expect this to be a sloppy game that neither team is hyped for, but I think Miami has the better scoring ability.I am picking Miami. 5:15pm on ESPN

Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Vanderbilt; Matt Rhule has done a great job at turning Baylor around. They won just one game last season and are back to a bowl in year two. Vanderbilt had another strong season. Their offense was a bit stronger than it has been. The defense was ok, but nothing to write home about. I expect this to be an entertaining game. There should be a lot of back and forth. I have to go with the SEC team in this one. I am picking Vanderbilt. 9:00pm on ESPN

December 28:
Music City Bowl: Purdue vs. Auburn; I don’t think Auburn will be even a little excited about playing in this game. After Gus got a huge extension last year, the Tigers underperformed big time. Purdue barely made it to bowl eligibility, but they might be my favorite team of the year. Their big win over Ohio State kept the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff. They also upset a ranked Iowa team this year. I think they are going to be excited to play Auburn and it will show. It will still be close because of the talent and depth that Auburn has. I am picking Purdue. 1:30pm on ESPN

Camping World: 16West Virginia vs. 20Syracuse; This is our first ranked vs ranked matchup of the bowl season, and it could be a good one. WVU QB Will Grier will not be playing in this game but I’m sure the backup can sling the ball. Syracuse has had a great season and will be looking to get a huge win to wrap it up. I think they will be more motivated in this one. This should be a shootout, points on pretty much every drive. I’m excited for this one. I am picking Syracuse. 5:15pm on ESPN

Alamo Bowl: 24Iowa State vs. 13Washington State; Once again, Washington State comes up just short of playing in the Pac 12 Championship game. They can’t figure out how to beat Washington when they have to. Iowa State was wild and crazy again this season. And just like in the past couple years, it seems the ISU third string QB is starting caliber. I think this one will be close and fun. Expect a lot points in this one too, but I think it will be slightly more sloppy than the Camping World Bowl. I am picking Washington State. 9:00pm on ESPN

December 29:
Peach Bowl: 10Florida vs. 7Michigan; I am not all that excited about this game. I know it is a top-10 matchup, but it feels like we’ve seen this game every season for the last couple of years. Michigan, much like Washington State, hasn’t figured out how to beat their rival. Michigan will either be angry and ready to play, or they lost all motivation when they got trounced by Ohio State. Florida has been very good this season but, in my opinion, they have been under the radar. And I say that as someone who follows the SEC closely. I hope this game is good, but if I’m being honest, I’ll probably only have this game on until the Arkansas State vs Nevada-Reno game comes on. I am picking Michigan. Noon on ESPN

Belk Bowl: South Carolina vs. Virginia; And now for the best bowl. At least when it comes to social media. As far as the game goes, it really could be a good one. I don’t think it will be very exciting, though. Neither team has been great this season. They have been good and have done what they needed to. Both lost to their rivals to end the regular season. I think it will be an evenly matched game that will probably come down to a defensive or special teams’ score. I am picking South Carolina. Noon on ABC

Arizona Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Nevada-Reno; I am very interested in this game. UNLV played both of these teams (lost to Arkansas State and beat Reno). I think both are pretty decent, but Reno has got be angry about losing to UNLV and blowing a 23-point lead. I do think Reno will end up on top in this one, but it will be close. I am picking Nevada-Reno. 1:15pm on CBSSN

Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal): 3Notre Dame vs. 2Clemson; As much as it pains me to say this, Notre Dame has been very good this season. Clemson has also been great. They nearly fell to Syracuse early in the year, but since then have been unbeatable. Clemson is far better than any team that Notre Dame has faced this season, and I think it will show. I expect this one to be close until the fourth quarter. Clemson’s offense will be too much for Notre Dame to handle and we will be on a collision course for Clemson vs Alabama: Part IV. I am picking Clemson. 4:00pm on ESPN

Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal): 4Oklahoma vs. 1Alabama; This is such an intriguing game. I think this is the opponent best suited to beat Alabama. They are fast and high scoring, something the Tide hasn’t faced this season. They will need to stay healthy during the whole game to get this win. I think they do, because they are Alabama and I am not going to pick against them, but I think they have to claw and scratch to score enough to win. In my opinion, this matchup has the chance to look a lot like last year’s Rose Bowl. An instant classic that you don’t want to end. The Tide proved they are human in their game against Georgia, maybe OU learned enough to exploit those holes. I am picking Alabama. 8:00pm on ESPN

December 31:
Military Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech; Virginia Tech had to win their final two games to keep the nation’s longest bowl streak alive. They survived Virginia in overtime and then handedly beat Marshall in a game that was scheduled to make up for the game they canceled due to weather. Cincinnati was good this year, but just not good enough to get through the AAC unscathed. I expect both teams to be motivated in this one. I am picking Virginia Tech. Noon on ESPN

Sun Bowl: Stanford vs. Pittsburgh; This is an ugly matchup. I don’t think this game will be fun to watch. Both teams had flashes this year but never were able to sustain. Honestly, I am picking Stanford because I like them better, I have no idea who will win this game. I am picking Stanford. 2:00pm on CBS

Redbox Bowl: Michigan State vs. Oregon; Another not great matchup. I am of the opinion that a game that includes Michigan State won’t be a fun one. Oregon is better at scoring and I like their green better. I didn’t really see much of either team this year. Oregon will have to outwit the Michigan State defense to win this one. I am picking Oregon. 3:00pm on FOX

Liberty Bowl: 23Missouri vs. Oklahoma State; This game should be fun. It should be defense optional. Expect around 700+ combined passing yards. Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill will be sitting out this game to get ready for the NFL draft. I think that gives Missouri the edge in this one. Drew Lock will be playing the final game of his career and he should be more than ready and motivated for this one. I am picking Missouri. 3:45pm on ESPN

Holiday Bowl: 22Northwestern vs. 17Utah; Expect this to be a low scoring and an in the trenches game. If you like points, this is not the game for you. It should be very close and I think it will come down to the end. Utah has been weird this season. Northwestern has played strong against some very good teams. A little motivation will go a long way in this game. The Utah QB situation is also a little bit up in the air. Utah finds ways to win or at least almost win and I think that will be the difference in this one. I am picking Utah. 7:00pm on FS1

Gator Bowl: NC State vs. 19Texas A&M; This game could go either way. NC State does have a WR sitting out this one. I think this game will be sloppy and will be decided by turnovers. Jimbo needs a win here to show he is at least a little bit worth what they are paying him (he isn’t). Any team that can win a 7OT game has a lot of guts. I think they will use their depth to win this game in the fourth quarter. I am picking Texas A&M. 7:30pm on ESPN

January 1:
Outback Bowl: 18Mississippi State vs. Iowa; Big 10 teams are hard for me to watch. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy a good defense, they just play at a slower pace than I would like. Mississippi State had another average season and ended up in the top 20. I don’t expect Iowa to be able to score enough points to win this one. Hawkeye TE Noah Fant will also be sitting this game out. I am picking Mississippi State. Noon on ESPN2

Fiesta Bowl: 11LSU vs. 8UCF; I’m looking forward to this one. Big time. UCF has just been fun to watch. LSU ended their season by losing to Texas A&M in 7OTs. I think this game will be a battle. UCF does not want their winning streak to end. Even with McKenzie Milton out, I think the Knights will get it done. They have way more to play for than LSU. How can you not root for UCF? I am picking UCF. 1:00pm on ESPN

Citrus Bowl: 14Kentucky vs. 12Penn State; I think these teams are overrated but I don’t really think the teams ranked below them are better. As far as I know, no one is sitting out in this game and that is big. Kentucky still hasn’t really figured out to string a whole season together. They have dropped off on offense over the second half of the year. Penn State has been hanging around being just good enough. The Nittany Lions have more weapons on offense and that is why I think they will win. I am picking Penn State. 1:00pm on ABC

Rose Bowl: 9Washington vs. 6Ohio State; The big question will be if Ohio State can be motivated for this game. I think they are far and away the better team in this matchup, but Washington can be sneaky. This is Urban Meyer’s last game (until the USC job opens probably). I think this one will be a blowout by Ohio State. The Washington offense has struggled this season. I am picking Ohio State. 5:00pm on ESPN

Sugar Bowl: 15Texas vs. 5Georgia; This game could be amazing. Both teams are very good. They can play defense but prefer to beat you with points. I am very sure that this game will come down to who has the better kicker and punter. A well timed pin could decide this one. It should be a ton of fun and a fight to the finish. This will be a great game to close out the bowl season. I am picking Georgia. 8:45pm on ESPN

January 7:
National Championship: 1Alabama vs. 2Clemson; New season, same story. For the fourth year in a row, Alabama and Clemson will face off in a CFP game. In the five years the playoff has existed, this will be the third time these two will play for a national championship. Clemson made easy work of Notre Dame, holding their offense to just 3 points. Alabama was able to take care of Oklahoma and, once again, looked like the best team in the country. This game should be outstanding. Both teams play great offense and both teams play great defense. I can’t find it in me to pick against the Tide. Clemson has the best chance to beat them, but I don’t see it happening. We are in for another exciting National Championship Game. I am picking Alabama. 8:00pm on ESPN

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Posted in 2018 Season, Football

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CFP Top 25

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Alabama
4. Penn State

5. Clemson
6. Georgia
7. Oregon
8. Utah
9. Oklahoma
10. Florida
11. Auburn
12. Baylor
13. Wisconsin
14. Michigan
15. Notre Dame
16. Kansas State
17. Minnesota
18. Iowa
19. Wake Forest
20. Cincinnati
21. Memphis
22. Boise State
23. Oklahoma State
24. Navy
25. SMU

AP Top 25

1. LSU (9-0,5-0)
2. Ohio State (9-0,6-0)
3. Clemson (10-0,7-0)
4. Alabama (8-1,5-1)
5. Georgia (8-1,5-1)
6. Oregon (8-1,5-1)
7. Minnesota (9-0,6-0)
8. Utah (8-1,5-1)
9. Penn State (8-1,5-1)
10. Oklahoma (8-1,5-1)
11. Florida (8-2,5-2)
12. Baylor (9-0,6-0)
13. Auburn (7-2,4-2)
14. Michigan (7-2,4-2)
15. Wisconsin (7-2,4-2)
16. Notre Dame (7-2)
17. Cincinnati (8-1,5-0)
18. Memphis (8-1,4-1)
19. Boise State (8-1,5-0)
20. SMU (9-1,5-1)
21. Navy (7-1,5-1)
*22. Texas (6-3,4-2)
23. Iowa (6-3,3-3)
*24. Indiana (7-2,4-2)
*25. Oklahoma State (6-3,3-3)

Dropped Out: 20Kansas State (6-3,3-3), 22Wake Forest (7-2,3-2), 24San Diego State (7-2,4-2)

*New Team

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