More Bowl Picks!! Another exciting week of college football leading up to the New Years’ Six —
First Responders Bowl
(25) Boise State over Boston College | 12/26, 1:30pm ESPN
One of my favorite bowl games kicks
the day off when the Eagles and the Broncos face off at the Cotton Bowl. It won’t be a classic game, like the previous
Cotton Bowl game now at Jerry World, but you still have two teams that have
done a lot right this season, but not so much lately. Boise State comes in after giving up the
conference title on the smurf turf to Fresno State while Boston College has
lost three straight since hosting College Gameday for their matchup under the
lights against Clemson. Nonetheless,
both found a success earlier in the year that put them in this position. QB Brett Rypien and the stout run defense
will be the keys to this game for the Broncos in facing now 100% AJ Dillon.
Quick Lane Bowl
Minnesota over Georgia Tech | 12/26, 5:15pm ESPN
Our first game of the bowl season
featuring two Power Five opponents brings us to Detroit where the Golden
Gophers face off against the Yellow Jackets in Paul Johnson’s last game. Lots of emotions will be on the field for
this Georgia Tech squad as they look to go up to the motor city and steal a win
away from their opponent out of the Big Ten.
While the running game will be operating on all cylinders for GT, this
Minnesota defense has stepped up greatly since Robb Smith was fired as
Defensive Coordinator; running teams don’t generally fair too well in these
post-Christmas bowls and nothing will be easy against the Golden Gophers’
defense allowing just about 16 points per game since Smith’s firing. Big Ten power looks to stop Atlanta speed
California ove TCU | 12/26, 9:00pm ESPN
Starting out as a pick-em game and
now drifting to Cal favoritism by 1 point, this game has been the closest line
throughout the bowl season. Cal heads to
a bowl game for the first time since 2015 while TCU looks for its 10th
win in 13 bowl games, although struggled to be eligible this year, needing a
final week win to get here. Cal is a
tackling machine on defense, holding teams to playing behind the sticks and
putting the QB in tough situations throughout.
This will be no easy task for the Horned Frogs and will need a huge day
to get past the Pac-12 foe.
Duke over Temple | 12/27, 1:30pm ESPN
Not too many teams are pumped to go
to Shreveport, Louisiana for a bowl game, but Temple & Ed Foley sure are
pumped and ready to go when they face off with the Duke Blue Devils at the
Independence Bowl. Duke looked like they
could be a mid-level contender in the ACC after their 5-1 start but blow out
losses to Clemson and Wake Forest to end the season proved to be their
unravelling. Not much can be said for
why they collapsed, but nonetheless, QB Daniel Jones, who is perhaps one of the
most NFL ready quarterbacks in college today and is sure to be playing on
Sundays soon (possibly 2019 but seems to be leaning towards staying for his
senior year and coming out in 2020). He
looks to bring back the Duke offense that they lost these last few games and
put points up on Temple. Three straight
bowl wins for the first time in Duke history looks to be a reality.
Miami over Wisconsin | 12/27, 5:15pm ESPN
The Bronx and Yankees Stadium play
host to this Orange Bowl rematch. A year
removed from what was a Top 12 matchup, the Hurricanes and the Badgers have a
very different look and feel to their program.
Both started the season in the Top Ten with heavy playoff aspirations; a
year older for both, it seemed as if each would continue the success that they
had these past few years… until they didn’t.
Miami was a pre-season favorite of mine to make the playoffs, with an
easy schedule and a defense to go toe-to-toe with anyone; but that defense
failed them and dropped them down the ACC later. Meanwhile, Wisconsin lives and dies by the
running game, which couldn’t find the success it needed in close games. Big losses down the road and a much-maligned
schedule cost them any shot at the Big Ten title. I can’t say this game will be all that fun to
watch, with the Miami defense losing DC Manny Diaz (to Temple) and Wisconsin
playing without Alex Hornibrook, this could be a very low scoring and sloppy
game. Miami has a bit more to play for
as they try and get revenge for their loss to the Badgers last year.
Baylor over Vanderbilt | 12/27, 9:00pm ESPN
Wrapping up the Thursday slate is a
trip to Texas for the Commodores to play Matt Rhule’s Baylor Bears. Amazing how far Baylor has come from just a
few seasons ago when the team looked to be in complete shambles. They got past Texas Tech in their last game
to head to a bowl in a season that saw 4 solid wins in Big 12 company. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt had a schedule chock
full of Top 15 teams (fitting for the SEC) and needed to beat Ole Miss and
Tennessee to end the season to get a spot here.
This won’t be the game to garner the heavy ratings on the day, but with
no NFL football this evening, what else would you be watching. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn has been pushing
the offense for Vandy, averaging about 7 yards per game on each carry and
getting over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, but will need to put up enough points
to stop a high-scoring Big 12 offense.
The Bears look to cap off the comeback from 1-11 in 2017 with a win here.
Music City Bowl
Purdue over Auburn | 12/28, 1:30pm ESPN
Friday kicks off in Nashville as
the Boilermakers and the Tigers face off.
Jeff Brohm has made huge strides with this Purdue team, that could
easily have found themselves in the Big Ten title game had they won their week
one thriller against Northwestern.
Starting 0-3, Purdue surged onward with a solid, though up-and-down
season, capped off with a blowout win over Ohio State. Meanwhile, Auburn has had a less than stellar
season, starting as a Top Ten team and easily drifting into obscurity. The Tigers saw somewhat expected losses to
Alabama, Georgia, and LSU this season, but big losses to Mississippi State and
Tennessee, where their offense struggled, ended their underperforming season. Gus Malzahn will be coaching for what could
be his job – one that he may lose after next season. This is a tough game to pick, as both teams
have high highs and low lows, but Purdue seems to have more to play for and an
offense that includes one of the best freshman in the nation in Rondale Moore.
Camping World Bowl
(20) Syracuse over (16) West Virginia | 12/28, 5:15pm ESPN
An old rivalry will be renewed in
Orlando when the West Virginia Mountaineers square off against the Syracuse
Orange. 59 matchups between these teams
before conference realignment ended their rivalry in 2011… not that the College
Football Gods let that happen as they ended up matching up against each other
in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2012. They
still haven’t scheduled a game going towards 2026, but once again the Gods want
this rivalry to continue as they find themselves going at it again in another
bowl game. Sadly, the big key for the
Mountaineers offense, Will Grier, won’t be playing, as he announced that he
will be skipping the game for the Draft.
That is big blow to this West Virginia team that needs its offensive
fire-power to win games. That swings the
tied in the Orangemen’s favor for me, looking like Syracuse win.
(24) Iowa State over (13) Washington State | 12/28, 9:00pm ESPN
New Years’ Six Eve ends with a ranked
matchup in San Antonio. The Alamodome
gets Big 12 Iowa State, who continues on their upward swing in conference and
was in the mix for a title shot late in the season, and Pac-12 Washington
State, who had one of their best seasons in a decade and just missed on their
title shot with the loss against rival Washington in the snowy Apple Cup. Iowa State has found ways to shut down the
Big 12 style Air Raid offense all season, which of course is Mike Leach’s
favorite style of play (one of the founders and advocates of this
offense). This Cyclones defense will be
formidable and one of the toughest opponents that Washington State has
faced. Gardner Minshew looks to cap off
his season with a win here after finishing 5th in Heisman voting and
with a possible NFL contract up for grabs soon.
But Matt Campbell is one of the best game planners in college football
and will have a strong strategy written up to go against the Cougars. This is a game to watch!