Category Archives: College Football

College Football Bowl Season – 12/31-1/1

Final two days of Bowl Season before the National Title Game next Monday night. Here are my selections for all the Bowl Games to end the season:

Military Bowl
Cincinnati over Virginia Tech | 12/31, 12:00pm ESPN

Sun Bowl
Pittsburgh over Stanford | 12/31, 2:00pm CBS

Redbox Bowl
Oregon over Michigan State | 12/31 3:00pm FOX

Liberty Bowl
(23) Missouri over Oklahoma State | 12/31, 3:45pm ESPN

Holiday Bowl
(22) Northwestern over (17) Utah | 12/31, 7:00pm FS1

Gator Bowl
(19) Texas A&M over North Carolina State | 12/31, 7:30pm ESPN

Outback Bowl
(18) Mississippi State over Iowa | 1/1, 12:00pm ESPN2

Citrus Bowl
(12) Penn State over (14) Kentucky | 1/1, 1:00pm ABC

Fiesta Bowl
(8) UCF over (11) LSU | 1/1, 1:00pm ESPN

Rose Bowl
(6) Ohio State over (9) Washington | 1/1, 5:00pm ESPN

Sugar Bowl
(5) Georgia over (15) Texas | 1/1, 8:45pm ESPN

College Football Bowl Season – 12/29

The New Year’s Six Starts TODAY! Our College Football Playoff Semifinal matchups take place tonight, with a battle of traditional powerhouses to start us off in the Peach Bowl. Here are my selections for the day:

Peach Bowl
(7) Michigan over (10) Florida | 12/29, 12:00pm ESPN

The New Years’ Six opens up with a clash of schools rooted in history.  The Wolverines and the Gators.  They have played each other only four times in history, all of which coming in this century, and will be playing for the second consecutive season (and third time in four seasons; previously 2016 Citrus Bowl and 2017 Advocare Classic).  When we last saw Michigan, they went down in stunning fashion at the horseshoe to Ohio State, dashing their Big Ten title and Playoff hopes; meanwhile, Florida has rebounded off of their back to back home losses to Georgia and Missouri, with three straight wins against South Carolina, Idaho, and a blowout win at Florida State.  While not the most impressive stretch of games, their season has been one of success, with wins at Mississippi State and against then #5 LSU.  Both teams are very similar in their dynamic, each carry a dynamic passing attack with a running game to back it up.  But, the biggest difference comes in their defenses, with the Wolverines winning on that side by a great margin.  While there is a dynamic nature to the Florida defense, which they’ve provided many times, can they get a stop once the Michigan offense starts rolling?  I think not.

Belk Bowl
Virginia over South Carolina | 12/29, 12:00pm ABC

Always a treat to watch, the Belk Bowl brings in two programs that are on the rebuild in their respective conferences.  The Gamecocks are only a few pieces away from being a mid-level contender in the SEC West while the Cavaliers showed their ability earlier this year, but faded into the background in the weak ACC.  The Belk Bowl gives us a glimpse into this matchup of 7-5 teams, both very evenly matched, and see where the future will lie between them.  Virginia has fallen after two back-to-back overtime losses on the road, and is still seeking just its second win away from home.  Meanwhile, South Carolina has shown a bit of their ability with QB Jake Bentley, but with the turnovers they’ve had this season, it’s easy to see why their record is what it is.  A few less turnovers and this season could have been very different.  This will be a battle of who can keep the ball, and I find Virginia to be a bit more reliable in that sense, and more reliable in forcing turnovers.

Arizona Bowl
Arkansas State over Nevada | 12/29, 1:15pm CBSSN

A very close game is expected in Tucson when the Wolfpack and the Red Wolves faceoff at Arizona Stadium.  Nevada won the inaugural edition of this game in 2015 and looks to take their second with a record of one better.  They looked enroute to five straight to end the season until they lost a close one in the Battle for the Fremont Cannon against rival UNLV.  As for Arkansas State, their season was defined by wins against all their easy opponents and four losses to Alabama, App State, Georgia Southern, and UL Lafayette.  This will be their toughest ask since that game against the Ragin’ Cajuns.  I liked this Nevada team earlier in the year – a team that could score easily and was in the game with anyone, but they haven’t shown me enough lately to warrant that type of pick here.

Cotton Bowl Classic – First Semifinal
(2) Clemson over (3) Notre Dame | 12/29, 4:00pm ESPN

Our first College Football Playoff Semifinal Game will take us to Jerry World for a matchup of two great defenses.  The Fighting Irish and the Tigers have met each other three times, with a home-and-home series in ’77 and ’79 starting it off and then most recently in 2015, with Clemson getting the edge in Death Valley 24-22.  This season has a different feel for both squads; Notre Dame has built themselves up playing a more modern offensive style with a quick defense (much different than that 2012 team) while Clemson has become a high-powered offense under freshman wonder Trevor Lawrence, while their defense hasn’t missed a step.  Both Brian Kelly and Dabo Swinney have their schools in positions to continue this success for years to come… but next year is meaningless in the scope of Saturday.  Clemson will be without Dexter Lawrence, who is suspended after a drug test came back with traces of a banned substance; I can’t see this being too much of an effect on the defensive line, with the amount of depth that this team has – Higgins and Wilkins have been stars for Clemson all season and have produced just as well if not better than Lawrence has.  It is a loss, but one that this team can easily overcome.  Meanwhile, Ian Book’s team has been phenomenal on offense since he has taken over – they’ve controlled the game and possession throughout the season and have made it difficult for teams to catch-up.  By far, this will be their toughest ask though.  This will be the most well put together team either side has faced this season.  It is hard to pick a winner here, with many unknowns.  Notre Dame has played better football throughout the season, but the running game of Clemson with Travis Etienne and one of the most ferocious defenses in the nation will be the undoing for the Irish.  Tigers march on for a matchup in the National Title Game.

Orange Bowl – Second Semifinal
(4) Oklahoma over (1) Alabama | 12/29, 8:00pm ESPN

Boomer Sooner.  Roll Tide.  Two storied programs – 24 National Championships, 9 Heisman winners, and 154 Consensus All-Americans between them, two premier coaches in Nick Saban and Lincoln Riley, and two fan bases that are louder than almost any other will set the stage in Miami for what may be the best Orange Bowl we have seen in many years.  One of the biggest keys to this game will lie with what Alabama’s offense can do.  While Tua believes that he will be healthy and at 100% for the game, his ability resides in the strength that he has in his legs, hips, knees, and ankles.  His throw is very much like hitting a home run in baseball, a lot of momentum change and hip movement from his back foot to his front foot.  Anything less than 100% and this offense will look much like it did for three quarters against Georgia.  Jalen Hurts would be better suited to run this offense, but I don’t think he has what it takes to win this game.  On the other side of the field, Heisman winner Kyler Murray looks to cap off his football career with a National Championship.  The Big 12-style offense that Lincoln Riley runs has been potent and much is due to Kyler’s ability with his legs, extending plays and finding ways to score when the passing option is out the window.  However, the key will be with running back Kennedy Brooks.  Getting a running game going against Alabama, and finding ways to get Brooks into the offense, is a major way to beat this Crimson Tide team.  Take a tip from FCS The Citadel, which ran the ball with much success over Alabama in the first half of their game – which was 10-10 at the half.  SEC teams have tried to pass against the Crimson Tide secondary, with little success, but if Brooks can get going, that should open up the deep ball of Kyler Murray, and put away Saban and Alabama.  This should be the changing of the guards style game in Miami.

College Football 2019 Bowl Season – 12/26-12/28

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 here.

Cheez-It Bowl
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.

Independence Bowl
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.

Pinstripe Bowl
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.

Texas Bowl
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.

Alamo Bowl
(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!

College Football 2019 Bowl Season – 12/22

Another Saturday of football and four bowls on tap for this second weekend of Bowl Games. Here are my picks:

Birmingham Bowl
Wake Forest over Memphis | 12/22, 12:00pm ESPN

We have a first to forty style game at historic Legion Field in Birmingham.  Memphis wasn’t able to keep scoring against UCF in the American Championship Game, though truthfully it was more of their defense letting up than their offense.  That won’t bode well against the Demon Deacons, who have been a run-up-the-score type in their wins this season.  I don’t see the break slowly them down and should be able to score up and down the field on the Tigers defense.  High scoring for sure, but Wake Forest should come out on top.

Armed Forces Bowl
Army over Houston | 12/22, 3:30pm ESPN

Coming out of a win against Navy, the Army Black Knights look for their first ever 11-win season against the Ed Oliver-less Houston.  The Cougars have lost three of their last four to end the year and have been bleeding on the defensive side of the ball.  Productivity is key for Army, who has the second best rushing attack in the nation and one of the best rushing defenses.  They are stout and tough to get past, as shown from their near miss against Oklahoma earlier in the year.

Dollar General Bowl
Buffalo over Troy | 12/22, 7:00pm ESPN

Troy won this game just two years ago and has grown well since then.  A perennial contender in the tough Sun Belt, the Trojans look for the semi-home field advantage to propel them over a Buffalo team that has been the best in the MAC but coming up just short in the Championship game.  This will probably be the most competitive game on the day, and one that could go either way.  Troy will be fighting, but I go with the Bulls, who have been on of the toughest teams all year and led by a very versatile quarterback in Tyree Jackson.

Hawaii Bowl
Louisiana Tech over Hawaii | 12/22, 10:30pm ESPN

While I will miss my Christmas Eve tradition of the Hawaii Bowl, this type of game will do.  A matchup of formal WAC teams, the Rainbow Warriors and the Bulldogs face-off in Hawaii in what could be a very high scoring affair.  Louisiana Tech always finds a way to go bowling and has won their last 4.   They have a high power offense, scoring at will almost every game and get a team in Hawaii that lets up over 35 points per game.  Give me the Bulldogs.

College Football 2019 Bowl season – 12/18-12/21

Week 2 of Bowl Season is Among Us! Here are my selections for the weekday games:

Boca Raton Bowl
UAB over Northern Illinois | 12/18, 7:00pm ESPN

A matchup between two conference champions goes down in Florida as the C-USA Champion UAB takes on the MAC Champion Northern Illinois.  After striking back at Mid Tennessee in the championship game after losing to them a week prior, UAB set up another bowl trip since coming back from having their football program shutdown.  This team has been led by a stout defense all season but will be facing a Northern Illinois team that is rolling off their three unanswered scores to shock Buffalo a few weeks ago.  The Huskies looked as if they in reverse the last few games of the season, losing back-to-back to Miami (OH) and Western Michigan as quarterback Marcus Childers couldn’t find his rhythm; but a four touchdown night in Detroit came at the right time.  QB play has not been the best for either of these teams down the stretch, but I’ll give the edge to a gritty UAB team.

Frisco Bowl
Ohio over San Diego State | 12/19, 8:00pm ESPN

The Aztecs had everything rolling early this season, with wins over Arizona State and Boise State, but dropping three straight now has led this team to a tough spot against an offensive powerhouse in Ohio.  The Bobcats, led by the trio of Rouke, Ouellette, and White (all of which could find themselves with a spot in the NFL someday), average over 470 yards of offense and more than 40 points per game.  This is an offense unlike those that San Diego State has faced thus far, and with their recent skid, this trip to Texas doesn’t bode well for the Aztecs.

Gasparilla Bowl
Marshall over USF | 12/20, 8:00pm ESPN

Moving out of the dome and to the pirate ship, USF gets to stay home for their bowl game.  USF won the first edition of this bowl game, then known as the magicJack Bowl, while Marshall has won two prior games, back in 2011 and 2015.  Both come in off of what-could-have-been seasons, with USF dropping their last 5 after starting 7-0 and Marshall failing to improve upon their eight win season last year in what looked to be a possible C-USA Championship year.  With the bulls offense sputtering and their defense giving up over 400 yards per game, I will look to the Thundering Herd to grab the advantage in Tampa Bay.

Bahamas Bowl
Toledo over FIU | 12/21, 12:30pm ESPN

Heading out of the country for this bowl, the Bahamas Bowl sees two great offenses facing off.  FIU and QB James Morgan have been lighting up the board as of late while Toledo has been doing a few touchdowns better with their offense.  Both teams can easily score 40 on each other.  Toledo should be able to control the tempo here and put on a show, ending their two year bowl game losing streak.

Idaho Potato Bowl
Western Michigan over BYU | 12/21, 4:00pm ESPN

We end up on the blue turf of Boise State for this bowl game out west.  Western Michigan was on a skid throughout much of the end of the season losing QB Jon Wassink for the season with a broken collarbone, but beat Northern Illinois in the season finale to move to 7-5; meanwhile BYU started the year strong at 3-1 with a win over then 6th ranked Wisconsin, but since then they have struggled, losing 7-6 to Northern Illinois, dropping the game right here against Boise State, and last out a crushing one score loss at Utah.  Freshman quarterback Kaleb Eleby will be the key for Western Michigan as they face a stingy rush defense in the Cougars.  If he can play smart and not turn the ball over, the Broncos will come out alive.

College football 2019 Bowl Season – 12/15

Bowl season kicks off with 5 bowls this Saturday, including a few conference champions.  Check out my picks below for the Week One Bowls!

Cure Bowl
Tulane over Louisiana | 12/15, 1:30pm CBSSN

The Green Wave heads back to a bowl game for the first time since 2013, facing the same team that beat them in the New Orleans Bowl (ironically was the last home game played at the Superdome before moving the new Yulman Stadium).  Willie Fritz has been building this program since coming from Georgia Southern, and more notably Sam Houston State, instating a tough and balance offense.  But it has been their defense that has let them slip to a 6-6 record, giving up in crucial spots and keeping games close.  They will need their best showing against a young and growing Ragin’ Cajuns team under first-year head coach Billy Napier.  They’ve gotten here after a 7-6 record, which included two losses at SEC foes.  While their offense is known to put up points, they have not been able to put points up away from Cajun Field, and that could very well be the key here in what is a very close on paper all-Louisiana game in Orlando.

New Mexico Bowl
North Texas over Utah State | 12/15, 2:00pm ESPN

This is a first to 40 style game – two high octane offenses squaring off in Dreamstyle Stadium.  In just ten years, Utah State, under Gary Anderson and Matt Wells, has risen from one of the worst teams in the FBS to one of the best teams in the Mountain West and one of the better Group of 5 teams overall.  Even better, this season was put together when the MW was at its strongest in years.  But now Matt Wells is off to Texas Tech and in place will be alumnus and assistant coach Frank Maile, until Gary Anderson returns to the program next year.  Meanwhile Seth Littrell has built this North Texas program from the ground up in three years, taking them to three consecutive bowl games.  Their spread offense, 3-3-5 defense, and use of unique schemes has left them in a good position to win their first bowl game under Littrell.  This team is rolling and should be ready to shock this Aggies team.

Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State over (21) Fresno State | 12/15, 3:30pm ABC

When Herm Edwards was hired at Arizona State, no one expected a huge year right out of the gates, but the energy he brought with him has helped make it a year of success.  While struggling early in conference play, the Sun Devils have one four of their last five, and every loss this year has been by one possession.  They have been putting up yards through the air and on the ground, though their keys have been a stout defense when it matters.  But, they get a tough test against Mountain West Champion Fresno State. Led by senior Marcus McMaryion, the Bulldogs have given everyone they’ve faced a tough test.  While their last four games have been a bit of a cold spell, the last time they were in Las Vegas, they crushed UNLV.  Their last seven games will have been played at just three stadiums, 3 games at Bulldog Stadium, 2 at Albertsons Stadium, and now 2 at Sam Boyd Stadium.  However, the Sun Devils have been the hot team at the end of the year, and I think that momentum (and a bit of much needed rest) will help them jump to the top.

Camellia Bowl
Georgia Southern over Eastern Michigan | 12/15, 5:30pm ESPN

A matchup of run v pass will be on display in Montgomery.  Eastern Michigan comes in with one of the better defenses in the FBS in yards allowed but stopping the run hasn’t been their specialty.  Meanwhile Georgia Southern with one of the best running attacks in the nation, as expected, averaging over 260 yards per game on the ground.  In what looked to be a Sun Belt Championship season early, late slides against UL-Monroe and Troy kept them out of the title game, but Chad Lunsford’s squad has righted the ship after a two-win season in 2017.  No matter what happens, the Eagles will win… just which one is the question.

New Orleans Bowl
Appalachian State over Mid Tennessee | 12/15, 9:00pm ESPN

My favorite bowl game of the opening day pits the Sun Belt Champion against the C-USA Runner-Up.  Appalachian State has been one of the top small-school football programs for over a decade now, which included three straight National Championships at the FCS level between 2005 and 2007.  They moved up to the FBS level and didn’t skip a beat, now winning their third straight Sun Belt Championship (first outright) and heading to another bowl game (winning the last four, including a shut out of Toledo last year).  But, they lose head coach Scott Satterfield to Louisville; alumni and longtime assistant Mark Ivey will take over for the game.  I love this choice – he has led his defense for years, grooming some of the best linebackers in the Sun Belt.  This very good passing attack of Mid Tennessee will need to be even better than they’ve been to stop the Mountaineers.

Who’s In? CFP 2018 Projections

In the aftermath of all the conference championship games yesterday, the only thing up for grabs now is that final CFP spot.  Alabama is in.  Clemson is in.  Notre Dame should be in, but could be dropped out for Oklahoma and Ohio State.  Georgia is on the bubble, but has a huge case to be in.  And UCF is still praying that someone wants them.  We will see Who’s In and Who’s Out at noon today on ESPN.  Here are my projections for the CFP Top 12 and associated New Year’s Six Bowls:

CFP Top 12 Projections

  1. Alabama – They’ve been the best team all year; no reason to drop them.
  2. Clemson – Beaten who they needed to beat and have yet to face any adversity since Lawrence was full time QB.
  3. Notre Dame – Ran their schedule well and beat who they needed to beat; defense is one of the best in FBS and deserves a spot.  Could see dropped to 4th.
  4. Oklahoma – The best winner yesterday; slayed their demon in Texas avenging the loss really pushes them above.
  5. Georgia – Nearly beat Alabama, but injuring starting quarterbacks always seems to go against the Bulldogs; still an elite team and with a huge case to be made to be in.
  6. Ohio State – Can’t see them dropping here after winning, but their resume just doesn’t stack up.
  7. UCF – Jumps Michigan due to being a conference champion (as that does play some weight).
  8. Michigan – Drops down one below UCF but maintains based on strength of record.
  9. Washington – Jumps after winning Pac-12 but strength of win was far from what they’ve been used to.
  10. Florida – Maintains.
  11. LSU – Maintains.
  12. Penn State – Maintains.

New Year’s Six Bowl Projections

  • Capital One Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal)
    • (1) Alabama v (4) Oklahoma
  • Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (CFP Semifinal)
    • (2) Clemson v (3) Notre Dame
  • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
    • (8) Michigan v (10) Florida
  • PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
    • (7) UCF v (12) Penn State
  • Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual
    • (6) Ohio State v (9) Washington
  • Allstate Sugar Bowl
    • (5) Georgia v (15) Texas

NCAAF Conference Championships 2018

It is defacto quarterfinals weekend for many teams – its time for the Conference Championships in College Football!  With CFP spots still on the line, there is a lot up for grabs going into this weekend.  With that, let’s go into all of the Conference Championship games this weekend:

MAC Championship – Northern Illinois v Buffalo (Friday, 7:00pm, ESPN2)

A loss two weeks ago against Ohio stopped the Bulls chances of being ranked in the final CFP poll dead in their tracks, but they do get a matchup with perennial top MAC foe Northern Illinois, who is coming out of a very weak Western division.  Buffalo has been outscoring opponents big time this year, scoring over 30 points nine times this season and gets an NIU team that has been allowing more points than they’ve scored on average (19.9 to 20.9).  Quarterback Tyree Jackson has been leading the offense for the Bulls this season and doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon.
MY PICK: Buffalo over Northern Illinois, 34 – 14

Pac-12 Championship – Utah v Washington (Friday, 8:00pm, FOX)

Two great offenses face off in Santa Clara as a Rose Bowl bid is on the line.  The Huskies won in this spot two years ago while Utah looks for its first Pac-12 title.  These two teams played in Salt Lake City back in September, with Washington getting the best of the Utes.  But that was before Kyle Whittingham’s team got it going on all cylinders.  Jake Browning and Miles Gaskin came alive last week against Washington State, but the Huskies have looked like a different team when they leave their home state.  This should be thrilling and a close one.
MY PICK: Washington over Utah, 27 – 24

Big 12 Championship – Texas v Oklahoma (Saturday, 12:00pm, ABC)

The first Red River Shootout this year was one of the best games of the year, so why not do it again.  Revenge is on the line in Jerry-World, as the Sooners look to win round two against hated rival Texas.  The savior of the Longhorns program, Sam Ehlinger, and Heisman hopeful Kyler Murray look to duel it out.  A month ago, Texas looked as if all hope was lost in getting here, with back to back losses at Oklahoma State and against West Virginia, but the pieces fell in place.  Meanwhile, the Oklahoma offense has gotten the best of the rest of its foes – outscoring each since that fated day at the Cotton Bowl – although allowing monster points and yards in doing so.  Offensives will be on display in a true shootout.
MY PICK: Oklahoma over Texas, 52 – 46

Sun Belt Championship – Louisiana v Appalachian State (Saturday, 12:00pm, ESPN)

One of the most well put together and veteran teams of the Group of Five, Appalachian State, tries to go 6-0 against Louisiana in the first ever Sun Belt Championship game.  In their now five years in the Sun Belt, App State has had a share of the Sun Belt title in the last two, but looks for their first outright this year.  Louisiana gets here with first year head coach Billy Napier and off of great offensive play, with a 2000 yard passer in Andre Nunez and a 1000 yard rusher in Trey Ragas.  The Ragin’ Cajun’s have had one of the best scoring offenses in the Sun Belt this year and looks to avenge the loss they had right on this field just over a month ago; that win for the Mountaineers gave them their first AP Top 25 ranking.  A strong rushing game by Darrynton Evans will be the key for App State here.
MY PICK: Appalachian State over Louisiana, 38-21

C-USA Championship – UAB v Mid Tennessee (Saturday, 1:30pm, CBSSN)

This isn’t de-ja-vu, UAB and MTSU will be at it again in Murfreesboro for the second straight weekend.  The Blue Raiders stifled the Blazers offense last week, holding them to 3 points and 89 total yards.  I highly doubt we will see that type of game again this week, but UAB is going to need to improve greatly to be even in this game.  The Blazers offense has to run through receiver Xavier Ubosi, who has been having a great senior season.  In just its second year back from the football program being shutdown, UAB has really bounced back and no matter what the outcome is on Saturday, should be proud of making it to this point.
MY PICK: Mid Tennessee over UAB, 33-27

American Championship – Memphis v UCF (Saturday, 3:30pm, ABC)

Memphis has yet to beat UCF since they’ve been playing regularly in 2005, but they haven’t been playing like they are outmatched.  The last two matchups, here last year in this game and earlier this season, have been thrilling editions of what could be the next American Athletic Conference rivalry.  With Milton going down last week, possibly ending his career, Darriel Mack, Jr. will be leading the Golden Knights when they hit the field in Orlando.  Close friends with Mackenzie Milton, Mack will need his best to outscore a Memphis Tigers offense that has been on fire this season.  If you thought that the Big 12 Championship will be high scoring, this could very well top it.
MY PICK: UCF over Memphis, 58 – 52

SEC Championship – Alabama v Georgia (Saturday, 4:00pm, CBS)

A rematch of last year’s National Championship Game, which was the birth of the Tua era at Alabama, and of the 2012 SEC Championship Game looks to be the best game of the day.  Nick Saban looks to continue what is arguably the best season by a college football team since the 1888 Yale Football Team (who outscored opponents 694-0).  However, this will be the first challenge that Alabama will face this season, and they have not looked in the mindset these past two weeks, being tied 10-10 at halftime to FCS team The Citadel two weeks ago and struggling in the first half against Auburn; they pulled out both games in the second half, but looked far from the team was the first ten games of the season.  The Tide have won four straight in this rivalry, but all guns will be blazing in what could end up being a prelude to a possible rematch in the National Title Game this year if certain things fall in line.  By the way, Saban looks to go 16-0 against former assistants.
MY PICK: Alabama over Georgia, 34 – 24

Mountain West Championship – Fresno State v Boise State (Saturday, 7:45pm, ESPN)

The Broncos have made it (and hosted) three MW Title Games, each time having to duel it out with the Bulldogs.  They’ve won the last two, but this year they go up against the best Fresno State team they’ve faced.  These two teams played on the Smurf Turf in early November, a 24-17 Broncos win, but was one that could have gone either way.  The Bulldogs defense has been solid in their last two while the Broncos offense is firing.  Get ready for a good ole fashion matchup in Idaho.
MY PICK: Fresno State over Boise State, 28 – 27

ACC Championship – Clemson v Pittsburgh (Saturday, 8:00pm, ABC)

Clemson looks to be the first team in over two decades to win, outright, four straight conference titles.  But standing in their way is a Pittsburgh team that has never lost to Clemson, beating the Tigers in 2016 in Death Valley.  This is a much improved Pitt team, although they have been a bit Jekyll and Hyde this season.  One of the major pitfalls of Dabo lead Clemson teams – they struggle against strong running teams.  Pittsburgh loves to power through and run the rock; don’t write off the Panthers – even after they only put up 3 on Miami.
MY PICK: Clemson over Pittsburgh 32 – 21

Big Ten Championship – Northwestern v Ohio State (Saturday, 8:00pm, FOX)

The Buckeyes snuck into this game after upsetting Michigan.  They haven’t looked all that great this season, especially throughout the second half of the year, but they have gotten past these slow, defense first teams, very well, like Minnesota and Michigan (and what Northwestern runs).  Pat Fitzgerald was asked  before the season, after his third 10 win season and being ranked 17, what was next for his program and he said “win the Big Ten.”  Now, he is one step away from that.  This is a huge hurdle, but the Wildcats defense has been stopping potent offenses in their tracks.  Dwayne Haskins has struggled majorly when defenses can get pressure – and this is a defense that can get a hand in your face.
MY PICK: Northwestern over Ohio State, 21 – 18

College Football 2018 Week 10 Bets

In the middle of one of the biggest betting weekends of the year in horse racing, I still find some time to make college football upset picks.  Of course, with the first CFP Poll out and season altering games such as Alabama-LSU, Notre Dame-Northwestern, Georgia-Kentucky, and Michigan-Penn State, this is a weekend to sit down and just enjoy all the action.  Here are my five upsets of the Saturday card:

Season: 12-13 (8 Outright)

  • AIR FORCE (+6.5) at Army
    • The Commander-In-Chief Trophy is on the line when these two military academies face off.  Air Force has already beaten Navy and a win over Army would see the Trophy come back west.  Air Force has the points scoring offense to match up with Army very well and this should be anything but a blow out either way.  A close game that might be decided by just a point.
  • IOWA (+3.0) at Purdue
    • The Boilermakers are still riding high off of their win against Ohio State, at least in the eyes of Vegas.  They didn’t look too great against Michigan State last week (but good enough to keep it close) but now face an Iowa team that wants revenge after last week’s loss in Happy Valley.  Watch out for the Hawkeyes.
  • PENN STATE (+12.0) at Michigan
    • 12 points is a huge line to give an in-conference rival.  Especially one that hasn’t lost by double digits in two years (though that game was against Michigan, and in the Big House).  I’m under the belief that Penn State’s offense will find ways to score and keep them in this game, one that could easily become a shootout.
  • COASTAL CAROLINA (+14.0) v Appalachian State
    • Last week, App State saw their quarterback Zak Thomas go down with an injury.  He has since been day-to-day and mainly sitting out of reps instead of practicing.  While I do think they still will win, the Chanticleers have been rolling strong and should put up a test to the bruised Mountaineers, keeping this game close on the surf turf.
  • TEXAS TECH (+13.5) v Oklahoma
    • It has been just a bit over two years since Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes dueled out in an absolute offensive onslaught in Lubbock.  Now the teams meet again under the lights at Jones AT&T Stadium.  The Red Raiders have been playing with a much better defense than previous years and have been scoring at will against many good teams; meanwhile Oklahoma has been on a tear since their loss in the Red River Shootout.  This could be another memorable classic, and one that should be decided by whoever has the ball last.

(All spreads from ESPN)

College Football 2018 Week 9 Bets

Week 9 is headlined by the Florida-Georgia/Georgia-Florida rivalry in Jacksonville, a top matchup in Palo Alto between Washington State and Stanford, a tough Iowa team making the trip to Happy Valley, and Texas going under the lights against Oklahoma State trying to get another statement win in the Big 12.  But outside of those big games, there are plenty of matchups to look at and games to bet.  Here are my five upsets of the week:

Season: 10-10 (7 Outright)

  • TEXAS TECH (+ 6.0) at Iowa State
    • The Cyclones have blown out the Red Raiders the last two years… but Texas Tech has gotten themselves a defense this year.  Revenge is a sweet sweet thing and Texas Tech has been playing well.  Iowa State might have a great defense, but can’t see a blowout going their way.
  • NORTHWESTERN (+ 3.5) v Wisconsin
    • The Badgers haven’t won back to back games in Evanston since ’97/’99.  They’ve won the last two years, but Northwestern has been getting much better and rarely lets Wisconsin grab three straight as of late in this rivalry.  A win for the Wildcats would spoil Wisconsin’s chances at a Big Ten title, and put themselves in a big spot for their own Big Ten title quest.
  • USF (+ 8.0) at Houston
    • Vegas loves the Cougars this week, but without Ed Oliver, can they stop the Bulls?  USF loves to score and Houston has been playing close games against good teams.  More than a touchdown is a lot of points to give.
  • NAVY (+ 24.0) v Notre Dame (Neutral Site)
    • San Diego County Credit Union Stadium plays host to a long standing rivalry of Navy and Notre Dame.  The Irish will be heading into Navy territory on the West Coast against a team that runs a very tough to stop offense.  This will be a new look for Notre Dame to see this year and they have struggled against big underdog teams.  It is a lopsided rivalry, but never a blowout; 24 is a lot of points to give.
  • HAWAII (+ 26.0) at Fresno State
    • The Bulldogs would love to make their case for the best Group of Five team, and a big win against Hawaii would go a long way.  Hawaii’s offense hasn’t been rolling since their 5OT game against SJSU, but they will need to to beat Fresno State.  This will be Fresno State’s first tough test, and although they should win, it will be a close one.

 

(All lines from ESPN)