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Weekly Bowl and Playoff Preview: Dec. 29-Jan. 1

Now we’re getting to the really good stuff.

Notre Dame v Clemson Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Sat., Dec. 29

Peach Bowl
(#7)Michigan vs. (#10)Florida
Noon, ESPN

The wheels came off the bus of the revenge tour as Michigan was humiliated against Ohio State and saw its season crumble yet again in Columbus. Now they will be down four starters, who have opted not to play in the Peach Bowl. Florida will be at full strength and ready to prove they are a top 10 team with an eye of joining the playoff hunt in 2019.
Prediction: Florida-24, Michigan-17

Belk Bowl
Virginia vs. South Carolina
Noon, ABC

A classic bowl game between a team with surprisingly good results and a team that didn’t quite meet expectations. On paper this isn’t a very exciting matchup but the Belk Bowl is usually one of the more exciting games each season.
South Carolina - 38, Virginia - 20

Arizona Bowl
Nevada vs. Arkansas State
1:15 p.m., CBSSN

These two teams are pretty evenly matched which should create a good game. I’m not going to lie, this is the game I know the least amount about. That being said, I’m taking the Red Wolves.
Arkansas State 45, Nevada 42

Cotton Bowl
(#2)Clemson vs. (#3)Notre Dame
4 p.m., ESPN

The first College Football Playoff matchup on Saturday presents two teams who had rather easy paths. While both teams certainly have looked beatable through the season neither were able to be knocked off. The Trevor Lawrence led Tigers are looking for a third National Championship Game appearance in four years and it’s hard to see this Notre Dame team stopping the Tigers. The Irish are talented but their lack of big game experience may prove to be fatal. Overall, it will be a good appetizer for the Orange Bowl.
Clemson - 32, Notre Dame - 24

Orange Bowl
(#4)Oklahoma vs. (#1)Alabama
8 p.m., ESPN

Georgia was able to at least prove Alabama was mortal in the SEC Championship Game after the Tide looked to be an all-time, unbeatable force throughout the regular season. If anyone can outscore Alabama, it’s Heisman winner Kyler Murray and the high-flying Sooners offense. Tua Tagovailoa is hopeful to return after his injury against Georgia, setting up a potential classic match-up between the clear Heisman frontrunner and the man who won the race to take it home. Make sure you’re in front of the TV on Saturday night, as this could be a barnburner to remember.
Alabama-49, Oklahoma-42

Mon, Dec. 31

Military Bowl
Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati
Noon, ESPN

The Hokies for the first time in a while had a really tough season and barely escaped the regular season to get to the Military Bowl at 6-6. Cincinnati at one point this was ranked and enters the game with a a 10-2 record. The Bearcats have a win over UCLA under their belt as well and I’m not sure that Virginia Tech is all that much better than the Bruins.
Prediction: Cincinnati- 34, Virginia Tech 24

Sun Bowl
Stanford vs. Pitt
2 p.m., CBS

Get those ‘Sun Bowl Participant’ keychains ready, Pitt fans! To the Panthers credit, they did what they had to do to win a weak ACC Coastal Division and finish with a winning record. Stanford’s 8-4 record was a disappointment considering the team’s playoff dreams at the start of the season. The Cardinal will be without star running back Bryce Love, but should have enough stability on offense to impose its ‘ground and pound’ attack on Pitt’s defense.
Prediction: Stanford-20, Pitt-14

Redbox Bowl
Oregon vs. Michigan State
3 p.m., FOX

This is the most appropriate pairing with the bowl sponsor, as fans of both teams would prefer to watch a Blu-Ray of a bowl game from five years ago when they were a national power. The Spartans have one f the best defenses in the nation, but also one of the worst offenses. They will need to limit the Ducks to a couple scores, otherwise they just won’t be able to keep up.
Prediction: Oregon-23, Michigan State-13

Liberty Bowl
(#23)Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
3:45 p.m., ESPN

Oklahoma State had one of the more bizarre seasons in recent college football history. They had two wins against top 10 team against Texas and West Virginia, a win against #17 Boise State, and was a failed two-point conversion away from upsetting Oklahoma and still stumbled to 6-6. But that’s what happens when you have a high-powered offense and a porous defense. Mizzou found success with balanced offensive attack that keeps defenses on its toes. Expect loads of points in a marathon match-up.
Oklahoma State-54, Missouri-48

Holiday Bowl
(#17)Utah vs. (#22)Northwestern
7 p.m., FS1

This game I have a feeling will be an offensive struggle. Both teams struggle offensively at times while both field competent defenses. It’s also a matchup between two of the longest tenured coaches in college football between Kyle Whittingham and Pat Fitzgerald. But one star tells you all you need to know, Utah is 11-1 under Whittingham in bowl games.
Utah - 20, Northwestern - 13

Gator Bowl
(#19)Texas A&M vs. NC State
7:30 p.m., ESPN

Texas A&M this season has been one of the more competitive teams in the country despite their 8-4 record. The Aggies have played tough all season and even upset LSU in a 74-72 overtime thriller that you probably remember. I expect a bit more defense on this one but I believe Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies make a statement as they look ahead to next season. NC State is a good program but they don’t have the athletes like Texas A&M.
Texas A&M - 45, NC State 21

Tue., Jan. 1

Outback Bowl
(#18)Mississippi State vs. Iowa
Noon, ESPN2

Joe Moorhead faces his first Big Ten foe since leaving Penn State. However, this don’t be surprised if this turns into a defensive slugfest. Both teams have tough defenses, but Mississippi State’s offense, led by Nick Fitzgerald, the SEC’s all-time leading rushing quarterback, should be able to extend drives and up enough points to outlast the Hawkeyes.
Prediction: Mississippi State-24, Iowa-17

Fiesta Bowl
(#11)UCF vs. (#8)LSU
1 p.m., ESPN

The defending National Champions will look to defend their crown and finish off their second-straight perfect season. They’ll have to do it without star quarterback McKenzie Milton but a win is still possible. LSU had a rather surprising season and will look to end it with a Fiesta Bowl Championship and maybe even some gumbo if they’re lucky.
LSU- 27, UCF 21

Rose Bowl
(#9)Washington vs. (#6)Ohio State
5 p.m., ESPN

Ohio State will come out fired up in Urban Meyer’s final game (for now), and will look more like the team that pounded Michigan rather than the one that had close calls to the likes of Nebraska and Maryland. Washington has a tough defense, but hasn’t faced anyone as explosive as the Buckeyes offense in a putrid season for the PAC 12. The Huskies may keep it close a bit, but won’t be able to survive the onslaught once Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes offense gets rolling.
Prediction: Ohio State-45, Washington-21

Sugar Bowl
(#15)Texas vs. (#5)Georgia
8:45, ESPN

Georgia should have no problem if they come in focused and plays to its full potential. However, that’s easier said than done after letting its national title hopes slip away in the final minutes for the second consecutive year against Alabama. Texas, on the other hand, will be incredibly fired up for a chance at marquee win on a huge stage as it looks to rejoin college football’s elite. While Georgia is the much better team, the motivation factor should even things out in the penultimate college football game of the season.
Prediction: Georgia-34, Texas-30