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Weekly Bowl Preview and BSD Challenge III: Dec. 28-Jan. 1

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We’re getting to the good stuff!

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl
Virginia (6-6) vs. Navy (6-6)
ESPN 1:30 p.m.

Virginia was starting to look like they were ready to bounce back, before falling part down the stretch to lose five of their last six against the meat of the ACC schedule (and Pitt). They may struggle to stop Navy’s triple option, even with a month to prepare.
Prediction: Navy-31, Virginia- 20

Camping World Bowl
(#22)Virginia Tech (9-3) vs.(#19)Oklahoma State (9-3)
ESPN 5:15 p.m.
After a mostly disappointing start to the bowl season, things begin to heat up with the first game that features two ranked opponents. This is an intriguing match-up, as both teams flirted with the top 10 during the season but couldn’t topple any of the heavyweights on their schedule. It’s also a clash of styles, as Oklahoma State’s wide open attack will face one of the nations’ stingiest defenses. This is one of those games were any outcome seems plausible.
Prediction: Virginia Tech-28, Oklahoma State-27

Alamo Bowl
(#13)Stanford (9-4) vs. (#15)TCU (10-3)
ESPN 9 p.m.
This should be a fun one between two evenly matched squads. Bryce Love should be back to full health, and is easily one of the nation’s most electrifying players. TCU has a stour defense (at least, when they aren’t playing Oklahoma who light them up twice) and will be a great challenge for Stanford’s outstanding ground game. If you like smashmouth football, this is the one that should be determined in the trenches.
Prediction: Stanford- 26, TCU-23

Holiday Bowl
(#18)Washington State (9-3) vs. (#16) Michigan State (9-3)
FS1 9 p.m.
This seems like a shootout in the making featuring two outstanding quarterbacks. But it may turn into a low-scoring affair, as Washington State has its best defense of the Mike Leach era while Michigan State is fast on track to become one of the nation’s premiere defense once again. This is the Holiday Bowl, however, so expect some fireworks.
Prediction: Michigan State-30, Washington State-24

Friday, Dec. 29

Belk Bowl
Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
ESPN 1 p.m.
Both teams took a different path to 7-5- for Wake Forest it was a promising season, but for Texas A&M it was a disappointment that lost Kevin Sumlin his job. Texas A&M seems to be the much more talented team on paper, but Wake Forest is a consistent team who would be much more motivated to pick up its eighth win of the season.
Prediction: Wake Forest-31, Texas A&M-27

Sun Bowl
(#24) North Carolina State (8-4) at Arizona State (7-5)
CBS 3 p.m.
This is an unfortunate reality of bowl games- both programs are in a state of flux of each i in the process of replacing its coaching staff. NC State is worth your time though, as they are a hard-nosed team that was able to overachieve and make some noise in the ACC. It may also be entertaining to learn what the heck is going on with the Arizona State program now that they brought in TV yeller Herm Edwards to be the head coach/CEO of the Sun Devils.
Prediction: NC State- 27, Arizona State-17

Music City Bowl
Kentucky (7-5) vs. (#21)Northwestern (9-3)
ESPN 4:30 p.m.
After a difficult start to the season, Northwestern caught fire to reel off seven consecutive victories, including a huge upset of Michigan State. Kentucky exceeded expectations, but also built up its record by beating up on the cellar dwellers in an overall down year for the SEC. This one could get ugly if Northwestern comes out to play.
Prediction: Northwestern-35, Kentucky-17

Arizona Bowl
New Mexico State (6-6) at Utah State (6-6)
CBSSN 5:30 p.m.
This is weird timing for a bowl game that seems more appropriate for the first week, as opposed to New Year’s weekend that features the very best of bowl season. It may be a battle of 6-6 teams with little fanfare, but it’s still one of the last college football games of the season. If nothing else, it will help pass the time before the highly-anticipated Cotton Bowl between Ohio State and USC.
Prediction: Utah State-35, New Mexico State-20

Cotton Bowl
(#8)USC vs. (#5) Ohio State
ESPN 8:30 p.m.

This should be a pretty entertaining game, as one side features a team that had hoped to return to the playoffs, and the other side features Sam Darnold. Ohio State managed to best Penn State in a thriller, and put themselves in the driver’s seat for a shot at the playoffs, only to lose in blowout fashion to Iowa the very next week. USC meanwhile rolled through most of its schedule, dropping games at Wazzu and Notre Dame. I think the Buckeyes get the W.
Prediction: Ohio State-38, USC-35

Saturday, Dec. 30

Taxslayer Bowl
Louisville vs. (#23) Mississippi State

This game should hold an interesting spot in Penn State fans’ hearts, as it features the Mississippi St Bulldogs, the new home of Joe Moorhead. Moorhead was a huge part of the success the Lions saw on the field the last two years, and I wish him nothing but the best. All in all, this should be a fun game, as it features Lamar Jackson on one side, and one of more entertaining SEC squads on the other.
Prediction: Mississippi State-38, Louisville-27

Liberty Bowl
Iowa State vs. (#20)Memphis
ABC 12:30 p.m.

Every so often you see a bowl game that is a de facto home game for one of the teams - last year’s Rose Bowl being a prime example. This is actually worse, as Memphis is literally playing on its home field for this one. While the Iowa State Cyclones had an entertaining year, cracking the top 25 at one point, I don’t think they have the firepower to keep up with the Tigers.
Prediction: Memphis-28, Iowa State-21

Orange Bowl
(#6)Wisconsin vs. (#10)Miami
ESPN 8 p.m.

This game features a pair of ‘what might have been’ teams. Wisconsin finished the regular season undefeated, only to lose to Ohio St in the B1G Championship game. Miami, meanwhile, clinched the ACC Coastal, and were undefeated heading into the final week of the regular season - only to lose to lowly Pitt, and then get blown out by Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Both of these teams will be looking to go out on a high note, but I think Wisconsin is actually a pretty good team, and gets the win.
Prediction: Wisconsin-24, Miami-20

Mon., January 1

Outback Bowl
Michigan vs. South Carolina
ESPN2 12 p.m.

This has to be the weirdest game held on New Year’s Day, as it features two not-so-good teams. Still, it will let fans start their college football binging at noon, before the better games start just a bit later.
Prediction: Michigan-28, South Carolina-17

Peach Bowl
(#12)UCF vs. (#7) Auburn
ESPN 12:30 p.m.

There is a notion that a Group of 5 team can theoretically make the playoff - they need to go undefeated, and look good doing so. UCF did those things, and finished 12th in the rankings. If I were the Group of 5 teams, I’d strongly consider breaking off from the Power 5 conferences, and crowning my own champion. This system seems incredibly biased against them. Still, Auburn has a fantastic defense, and a not-bad offense. I think War Eagle gets the win.
Prediction: Auburn-35, UCF-28

Citrus Bowl
(#14) Notre Dame vs. (#17)LSU
ABC 1 p.m.

In another odd scheduling setup, the Citrus Bowl gets the national broadcast spot on ABC, while the Peach Bowl is on ESPN. It also features a team that lost to Troy this year, but somehow managed a top 20 ranking nonetheless. See my complaint above about UCF. As I said, these teams are okay, and at one point Notre Dame was actually making a name for itself for a playoff bid. The Fighting Irish prevail.
Prediction: Notre Dame-27, LSU-20

Rose Bowl
(#3)Georgia at (#2)Oklahoma
ESPN 5 p.m.

After a long slog through bowl season, we’re finally here - the playoffs. Georgia found itself all the way up at #1 in the country before losing to Auburn 40-17. The Bulldogs would then win out - including a rematch with Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, which Georgia won 28-7. Oklahoma had a slightly stranger misstep, as the Sooners lost to Iowa State in the fifth week of the season. OU would win out, beating TCU twice in the span of four weeks to claim the Big 12 title. Make no mistake, this matchup features two really good teams, but I think Georgia just has a special quality about it this year.
Prediction: Georgia-35, Oklahoma-31

Sugar Bowl
(#4)Alabama vs. (#1)Clemson
ESPN 8:45 p.m.

The last game on the docket features a re-rematch between Clemson and Alabama. These two teams met in the national championship game in both 2016 and 2017, and now get to square off in the semifinal in 2018. Alabama cruised through its schedule undefeated until losing to Auburn in the last week of the season, dropping them to #5 in the rankings. A loss by Wisconsin the next week pushed the Rolling Tide back into the playoffs. Clemson, meanwhile, managed to lose to Syracuse 27-24 in the middle of the season before steamrolling the rest of the way. There was a time when I thought it impossible for Alabama to lose, and I think the loss to Auburn will light a fire under the Fightin’ Sabans.
Prediction: Alabama-27, Clemson-20

BSD Bowl Challenge

Through two weeks, we have a trio at the top of the leaderboard - Jared, Clay, and Rowen lead the pack by just one game. The huge amount of games this week should make for a fun race to the finish.

For this week, the staff has decided on the following games unanimously:

  • (#24)North Carolina State over Arizona State
  • (#21)Northwestern over Kentucky
  • (#9)Penn State over (#11)Washington
  • Michigan over South Carolina

That leaves a whopping 14 games up for grabs!

Let’s take a look at some of the big hitters. The staff was pretty evenly split on Stanford-TCU, while only Dena picked USC over Ohio State. Dena and Rowen also went with Miami over Wisconsin. Lastly, the playoffs caused a bit of discussion, as all four combinations of winners were picked by someone. Someone on the masthead is going to get the championship game participants correctly! So what say you, dear reader, did the staff get it right?