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Weekly Bowl Preview: Dec. 22-28

It’s most blunderful time of the yeeeaaarrrr.

NCAA Football: Washington at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, December 22nd

Jared Birmingham Bowl

Memphis vs. Wake Forest

ESPN, Noon ET

Wake Forest gained bowl eligibility in their final game of the regular season with a 59-7 shellacking at Duke. Memphis meanwhile, will try and end their season on a high note after blowing a significant lead against a McKenzie Milton-less UCF squad. Two teams enter, one team leaves with all the diamonds.

Prediction: Memphis 37, Wake Forest 24

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Houston vs. Army

ESPN, 3:30 p.m.

The job that Jeff Monken has done at Army has been nothing short of spectacular. The Black Knights reached the top 25 this year for the first time in over a quarter of a century and don’t appear to be slowing down. Houston, meanwhile, has taken a slight step back since losing Tom Herman but Major Applewhite has the Cougars at 8-4 and playing some solid football.

Prediction: Army 31, Houston 24.

Dollar General Bowl

Buffalo vs. Troy

ESPN, 7 p.m.

An entire major city against a single human being seems a bit unfair, no? But seriously, Lance Leipold does nothing but win and that’s been no different since he got to Buffalo. The Trojans, meanwhile, come in at 10-3 and off a second-place finish to Appalachian State in the Sun Best. Neal Brown has turned Troy into a regular competitor in the south and a team you don’t want to see in the non-con (sup Nebraska?).

Prediction: Buffalo 34, Troy 30.

SoFI Hawai’i Bowl

Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii

ESPN, 10:30 p.m.

NOBODY COMES INTO ALOHA STADIUM AND PUSHES THE RAINBOW WARRIORS AROUND. Not gonna lie, guys, I’ll probably just watch Hawaii do the Haka pregame and then call in a night. But the Bulldogs come into this one at 8-5 under the guidance of Skip Holtz and looking to come out with the W. How anybody focuses on preparation for a bowl game while in Hawaii, I will never know. Because of that, I’m pickin’ the home team.

Prediction: Hawaii 27, LaTech 17.

Wednesday, December 26th

SERVPRO First Reponder Bowl

Boston College vs. Boise State

ESPN, 1:30 p.m.

Now we’re getting into the good(ish) stuff. We’ve got a style clash here as Steve Addazio and the Golden Eagles want to use the ground game and AJ Dillon to run you right over, while Boise State will air it out with potential NFL QB Brett Rypien. This is, strangely enough, one of the bowl games I’m most excited about.

Prediction: Boston College 30, Boise State 24.

Quick Lane Bowl

Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech

ESPN, 5:15 p.m.

Minnesota made a big step forward by making its first bowl appearance under second-year head coach PJ Fleck. The Gophers showed progress at times, but still need to find consistency. They beat a now-ranked Fresno State squad and blew out Purdue and Wisconsin. However, they also got stomped by Maryland, Illinois(!) and Nebraska. GaTech pulled things together after a slow start and went 6-2 down the stretch with wins over Miami, UVA and VaTech. This will also be the final game in the career of longtime head coach Paul Johnson.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 34, Minnesota 26.

Cheez-It Bowl

California vs. TCU

ESPN, 9 p.m.

I’ma be real with you guys. I had no clue that either of these teams made a bowl game. Despite my love for Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs were a tire fire this year and it appears playing it close with Ohio State is not, in fact, the sign of a good football team. Cal is coached by something named Justin Wilcox, who the internet says used to be the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. Good for him for getting the Golden Bears back on, well, some sort of track I guess. The nice thing about this game is who doesn’t love Cheez-Its?!

Predictions: Cal 32, TCU 23.

Thursday, December 27th

Walk-On’s Independence Bowl

Temple vs. Duke

ESPN, 1:30 p.m.

The irony is that Temple is playing in something called the walk-on’s bowl considering most of its roster is made up of PSU walk-ons. BUT I DIGRESS. Geoff Collins actually did a fantastic job in his tenure with the Owls. So good, even, that he’s now off to Georgia Tech to replace that Johnson fella we talked about. The, we’ll say spirited, Ed Foley takes the reins for the bowl game. Duke, meanwhile, boasts a victory over B1G runner-up Northwestern (you really got fix that shit, Delany) and David Cutcliffe has been an AARP member for the last 27 years of his career.

Prediction: Temple 23, Duke 17.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Miami vs. Wisconsin

ESPN, 5:15 p.m.

Had you offered most people a Miami-Wisconsin bowl game prior to the season, they likely would’ve been amped up for what should be a pretty fun Fiesta Bowl. Instead, what you get is a big, stinky pile of a Pinstripe Bowl and the hopes that Jonathan Taylor does some cool stuff after it turned out that Paul Chryst’s squad wasn’t really good at anything except for running the ball. Mark Richt feels that pain, only his team wasn’t even good at running the ball. Maybe N’Kosi Perry will do something fun? Probably not. Ugh.

Prediction: Wisconsin 17, Miami 10.

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

Baylor vs. Vanderbilt

ESPN, 9 pm.

Matt Rhule has begun to turn the Bears around the best he knows how, by making them incredibly boring. Baylor reached bowl eligibility on the final day of the regular season with a win over Texas Tech. Derek Mason, meanwhile, has done a solid job of keeping Vandy afloat in the post-CJF era. The Commodores (sung in a sultry tone) also reached bowl eligibility in the final game with a resounding 38-13 win over rival Tennesee.

Prediction: Vanderbilt 30, Baylor 20

Friday, December 28th

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Purdue vs. Auburn

ESPN, 1:30 PM ET

This game features a thrilling battle in Nashville between Jeff Brohm’s Purdue Boilermakers and the team Brohm will be coaching in 2020 [/braces for hate tweets from Purdue fans]. For Purdue to make it to a bowl game after a painful 0-3 start, with two of those losses coming on last-second field goals, is quite impressive. On the other hand, it’s rather disappointing to see an Auburn team that had a lot of preseason hype with Jarrett Stidham leading the offensive attack, sputter to a 7-5 record and fueling yet another offseason of “Gus Malzahn on the hot seat” talk.

Prediction: Purdue 31, Auburn 27

Camping World Bowl

West Virginia vs. Syracuse

ESPN, 5:15 PM ET

This game may have lost a little luster with Will Grier’s decision to forego playing in this game, but expect a fun, high-scoring contest nonetheless between two teams that love to air it out.

Prediction: Syracuse 45, West Virginia 42

Valero Alamo Bowl

Iowa State vs. Washington State

ESPN, 9:00 PM ET

Iowa State is coming off a narrow escape over scholarship-less Drake, while Washington State is coming off a beatdown at the hands of their bitter rivals in Seattle. If you haven’t had a chance to see Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew and his killer ‘stache in action, here’s your chance to do so. Alamo Bowls typically tend to be higher-scoring and wild, in general, so expect some fireworks in this one.

Prediction: Iowa State 38, Washington State 37