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Weekly College Bowl Preview- Dec. 24-Dec. 30

Let’s go bowling!

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

On to week two of the bowl season!

Saturday, Dec. 24

Hawai'i Bowl
Hawai'i (6-7) vs. Middle Tennessee (8-4)
8 p.m., ESPN
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu

The first game of the second bowl week features a seven-loss Hawai’i team against a Middle Tennessee squad that suffered blowout losses to Vanderbilt, Texas-San Antonio and Marshall. At least there’s football on Christmas Eve, I guess?
Prediction- Middle Tennessee- 34, Hawai’i- 17

Monday, Dec. 26

St. Petersburg Bowl
Miami (Ohio) (6-6) vs. Mississippi State (5-7)
11 a.m., ESPN
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

On paper, this is a really intriguing match-up. Miami started the season 0-6 before winning out the second half of the season to reach bowl eligibility. Mississippi State is one of just three teams to be ranked number one by the Playoff Committee (Alabama and Clemson being the others), but is only playing this game because there are too many bowls and they had one of the highest APRs among teams with a 5-7 record. Regardless, the talent gap will probably be too much for the Redhawks to overcome. Prediction: Mississippi State- 33, Miami- 17

Quick Lane Bowl
Maryland (6-6) vs. Boston College (6-6)
2:30 p.m., ESPN
Ford Field, Detroit

This could be the shortest bowl game of the year, as both teams will mostly focus on moving the ball on the ground. BC’s plodding style of play will especially look to hang on to the ball and keep Maryland’s offense off the field as much as possible.
Prediction: BC- 20, Maryland- 17

Independence Bowl
NC State (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
5 p.m., ESPN2
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.

NC State is probably the most inconsistent team in the nation. They looked tremendous while beating North Carolina, outplaying Clemson and nearly upsetting Florida State. Other weeks they look like your run-of-the-mill 6-6 ACC squad. Vanderbilt slowly improved throughout the season, beating Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee down the stretch.
Prediction: NC State- 23, Vanderbilt 20

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Heart of Dallas Bowl
Army (6-5) vs. North Texas (5-7)
12 p.m., ESPN
Cotton Bowl, Dallas

This game not only features a 5-7 Sun Belt team, but it’s also a rematch of a game already played earlier in the season. North Texas won that game 38-17, but now Army is riding high after its first defeat of Navy in 14 years.
Prediction: Army- 24, North Texas 21

Military Bowl
No. 24 Temple (10-3) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)
3:30 p.m., ESPN
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.

Could Wake Forest finished much higher than .500 if not for the former assistant coach-turned-announcer-turned-mole working against them? Probably not. Temple had another strong season capped off with an AAC Championship, but must overcome the loss of former Nittany Lion Matt Rhule, who left to try to rebuild a scandal-plagued Baylor program.
Temple- 30, Wake Forest- 20

Holiday Bowl
Minnesota (8-4) vs. Washington State (8-4)
7 p.m., ESPN
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

A game that could easily be overlooked picked up plenty of attention during Minnesota’s brief flirtation to boycott the game over the suspension of 10 of its players. The game will be an interesting contrast between Minnesota’s style that focuses on ground control and tough defense facing off against Mike Leach and Washington State’s wide open attack- which actually features a decent run game this year!
Prediction: Washington State- 27, Minnesota- 21

Cactus Bowl
Boise State (10-2) vs. Baylor (6-6)
10:15 p.m., ESPN
Chase Field, Phoenix

Believe it or not, Baylor had playoff aspirations at the halfway point of the season before completely falling apart. Boise State has proven time and time again they can show up for big games and find a way to get past the Power 5 teams. They should be more than ready to do it again this year.
Prediction: Boise State- 40, Baylor- 21

Wednesday, Dec. 28

Pinstripe Bowl
No. 23 Pitt (8-4) vs. Northwestern (6-6)
2 p.m., ESPN
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

We should see a pretty entertaining battle at Yankee Stadium again this year. Pitt was able to beat two teams that finished in the top five, but struggled with consistency thanks to a porous defense. Northwestern is a plucky team, and the extremely underrated Wildcats wide receiver Austin Carr should feast on the Pitt secondary. Will it be enough to outshoot the Panthers?
Prediction: Northwestern- 38, Pitt- 34

Russell Athletic Bowl
No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) vs. Miami (8-4)
5:30 p.m., ESPN
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

West Virginia had a quietly outstanding season, but had trouble against both Oklahoma teams. If they show up motivated, the Hurricanes should be in trouble.
Prediction: West Virginia- 45, Miami 21

Foster Farms Bowl
Indiana (6-6) vs. No. 19 Utah (8-4)
8:30 p.m., Fox
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.

With the Big Ten’s top four teams each getting into a NY6 game, several teams rocketed up the bowl pecking order. Perhaps none more so than Indiana, who at 6-6 will face off against a Utah team that briefly flirted with a PAC 12 title and playoff spot. The Hoosiers are a pesky team though that always seemed to play to the level of its opponent under Kevin Wilson. Can we expect more of the same now that Wilson is no longer leading the Hoosiers?
Prediction: Utah-31, Indiana- 23

Texas Bowl
Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Kansas State (8-4)
9 p.m., ESPN
NRG Stadium, Houston

Texas A&M looked to be the second SEC team in the Playoffs at one point, but their explosive offense began to falter and was no longer able to make up for a mediocre defense. Bill Snyder is the model of consistency and playing smart football, and always has his teams ready to play.
Prediction: Kansas State- 31, Texas A&M- 27

Thursday, Dec. 29

Birmingham Bowl
South Florida (10-2) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
2 p.m., ESPN
Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.

South Florida had an unexpected 10-win season under head coach Willie Taggert, who landed in Oregon after the regular season. The Gamecocks had a strong finish to the season that allowed them to become bowl eligible in the first full season following the Steve Spurrier era.
South Florida-28, South Carolina-23

Belk Bowl
Arkansas (7-5) vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech (9-4)
5:30 p.m., ESPN
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

Arkansas had an extremely unreliable 2016, looking like SEC contenders (for second-place, at least) one week, and an FCS team the next. Virginia Tech took care of business in its first year following the Frank Beamer era, gradually improving before giving Clemson all they could handle in the ACC Championship Game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech- 27, Arkansas- 20

Alamo Bowl
No. 12 Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. No. 10 Colorado (10-3)
9 p.m., ESPN
Alamodome, San Antonio

This could being one of the best games up to this point in the bowl season, and the Alamo Bowl has a long history of entertaining match-ups. Colorado came out of nowhere to win the PAC 12 South, while Oklahoma State rode a seven-game winning streak after a disappointing 2-2 start. Both teams are capable of putting up points, but Colorado is more well-rounded thanks to a quick and disciplined defense.
Prediction: Colorado- 34, Oklahoma State- 24

Friday, Dec. 30

Liberty Bowl
Georgia (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6)
12 p.m., ESPN
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn.

Both of these teams had disappointing seasons, and you have to wonder if Georgia is starting to regret running Mark Richt out of town. If TCU’s two-faced offense gets off to a fast start, they should be in good shape to top the Bulldogs.
Prediction: TCU- 37, Georgia- 27

Sun Bowl
No. 18 Stanford (9-3) vs. North Carolina (8-4)
2 p.m., CBS
Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas

Stanford went from preseason playoff contender to unranked after a 4-3 start, which included losses to Washington, Washington State and Colorado. They would go on to right the ship by winning their last five games of the season, although the offense will suffer with Christian McCaffrey out of the lineup again. North Carolina had impressive wins against Florida State and Pitt, but stumbled down the stretch with losses to Duke and North Carolina State in the final three weeks.
Prediction: Stanford- 27, North Carolina- 24

Music City Bowl
Nebraska (9-3) vs. No. 21 Tennessee(8-4)
3:30 p.m., ESPN
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

Both of these teams briefly found their way in the top 10, but at least Nebraska made its way in for winning games, while Tennessee relied on undue preseason hype. The last time we saw the Volunteers, they were losing by double-digits to Vanderbilt.
Nebraska- 30, Tennessee- 28

Arizona Bowl
South Alabama (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)
5:30 p.m., Campus Insiders
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.

While the Army-Navy game captured the nation’s attention on the final week of the season, Air Force sat at home with the satisfaction of knowing they defeated both of their Armed Services foes. South Alabama will hope to provide another bookend upset to finish the season after their week one victory against Mississippi State set the wheels in motion for an improbable bowl run.

Orange Bowl
No. 6 Michigan (10-2) vs. No. 11 Florida State (9-3)
8 p.m., ESPN
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.

This is easily one of the best matchups of the bowl season and should be appointment viewing for all college football fans. Michigan was looking like a worthy foe of Alabama for the one-seed of the playoffs before its offense came crashing down to earth in the final three weeks. On the other hand, Florida State reminded everyone of its heavyweight status with a strong finish to the regular season. This should be an extremely hard fought battle that goes down to the final possession.
Prediction: Michigan- 28, Florida State- 26