The regular season is a wrap, and we move onto the mostly nonsensical bowl season. Where else can you get New Era, Chick-fil-A, and Vrbo all touting their brand names while a bunch of college kids run around for a few hours for exhibition games? Weird matchups between teams that have never played each other before, in strange and exotic locations such as Las Vegas, Nashville, and Da Bronx. Let’s see what’s up!
Guaranteed Rate Bowl
West Virginia (6-6) vs Minnesota (8-4)
10:15 PM Eastern, Tuesday, December 28, ESPN
I’m not gonna lie, I expected Penn State to slot into either this bowl or the Las Vegas Bowl. That the Lions jumped three separate 8-4 teams speaks volumes to just how much of a draw Penn State is when it comes time for bowls to pick their teams. Instead, we get to see 8-4 Minnesota battle .500 West Virginia. Both teams have had up and down seasons with some excellent wins and some head-scratching losses. It should be entertaining, if you can stay up late enough to watch!
Should You Watch? I’m a grown man, you think I’m gonna stay up until 1 AM to watch this game? Heck no.
Prediction: Minnesota 35, West Virginia 31
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Maryland (6-6) vs Virginia Tech (6-6)
2:15 PM Eastern, Wednesday, December 29, ESPN
At one point the Lions seemed destined for the Pinstripe Bowl, but played their way up a few rungs. This game should have a few story lines Penn Staters can take interest in - Brent Pry is the new head coach for the Hokies, Maryland is actually not a terrible football team, it’s the first bowl game the Lions went to under James Franklin. Should be fun!
Should You Watch? Yes indeed.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Maryland 24
TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Tennessee (7-5) vs Purdue (8-4)
3:00 PM Eastern, Thursday, December 30, ESPN
Am I the only one that thinks it’s a bit unfair when teams get to play in their home state? Sometimes it’s unavoidable, for playoff or New Year’s Six games, but for something like this it just seems a bit unfair that Tennessee gets to play in Nashville. Oh well. Purdue put together a fun season, but will lose a few key pieces for 2022. Could be the last time we get to watch some plucky underdogs in the black and gold.
Should You Watch? Yup.
Prediction: Purdue 42, Tennessee 27
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#12 Pittsburgh (11-2) vs #10 Michigan State (10-2)
7:00 PM Eastern, Thursday, December 30, ESPN
Michigan State -1.5
The first matchup between ranked teams, and boy howdy I can’t think of very many games that irk me more than this one. Kenny Pickett is a cool story, even if he takes advantage of rules designed to keep him safe and requires the NCAA to issue an update on their rules mid-season. Michigan State is... well, they’re certainly a team. If ties were possible, I’d pick a tie for this one, but they don’t pay me the big bucks to shirk my responsibilities!
Should You Watch? Ugh, no.
Prediction: Pitt 28, Michigan State 27
SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl
Wisconsin (8-4) vs Arizona State (8-4)
10:30 PM Eastern, Thursday, December 30, ESPN
Man I was all ready to watch Penn State in the middle of the got dang night, then got Lucy’d and the Lions landed in Tampa. Anyway, this game should be fun because of the history between Wisconsin and Arizona State. A few years back, the refs botched setting the ball for a potential game-winning Wisconsin field goal attempt, and the clock ran out on the Badgers. I doubt anyone on either team really cares, but the fans will care. They always do.
Should You Watch? You betcha!
Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Arizona State 21
CFP Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl
#3 Georgia (12-1) vs #2 Michigan (12-1)
7:30 PM Eastern, Friday, December 31, ESPN
I must admit, after the Wolverines barely escaped Penn State with a win, I thought Ohio State would trounce them, and Iowa would at least stymie their offense. Neither thing happened as Michigan torched their ostensibly more difficult foes en route to a playoff berth. Meanwhile, Georgia apparently forgot how to play defense against Bama, and suffered their first loss of the season in the SEC championship game. I hate to say it (I don’t really), but Michigan’s offense isn’t as prolific as Bama’s, and I expect UGA to win somewhat comfortably.
Should You Watch? Uhhhh yeah, what kind of question is that?
Prediction: Georgia 31, Michigan 17
Vrbo Citrus Bowl
#15 Iowa (10-3) vs #22 Kentucky (9-3)
1:00 PM Eastern, Saturday, January 1, ABC
The only thing I care about in this game is Will Levis, the baby bird who flew the coop, ventured on his own out into the world, and now comes back into our lives a fully grown and majestic eagle. That analogy got away from me a little bit, but the point stands. I want to watch Levis Smash™ the Hawkeyes into oblivion. But this game is on at the same time as Penn State, so I won’t get to do much actual watching of it happen.
Should You Watch? When the Lions head to commercial break, flip over to this game and see just how many different ways Levis Smash™.
Prediction: Kentucky 56, Iowa 3
Rose Bowl Game Pres. by Capital One Venture X
#11 Utah (10-3) vs #6 Ohio State (10-2)
5:00 PM Eastern, Saturday, January 1, ESPN
Ohio State -6.5
Talk about a tale of two teams. Utah comes into this game on fire, having played some of the best football in the country in November, and very well could have been a playoff team were it not for some early-season slip-ups. Ohio State, meanwhile, limps into this game having been smacked around by Michigan in The Game, a rarity to say the least. Will the Buckeyes actually care enough to play? Or will the Utes ride their momentum to another big late season win?.
Should You Watch? Penn State will have finished up for the day so yes, absolutely.
Prediction: Utah 27, Ohio State 21
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
#17 Wake Forest (10-3) vs Rutgers (5-7)
11:00 AM Eastern, Friday, December 31, ESPN
Wake Forest -14.5
This game was originally meant to feature Texas A&M, but a Covid outbreak caused the Aggies to bow out. All of the 6-6 teams were already slated to play in a bowl game, so there were only two choices: either cancel the game or find a 5-7 team to play. Well, here we are so you already know the outcome of that decision! With the highest APR of all 5-7 teams, Rutgers was asked to play in the game, and the Scarlet Knights said yes. Despite not having practiced for 3 weeks, 9 days before the bowl Greg Schiano got the boys back together to take on the ACC runner-up, having their best season in nearly two decades. MAN I love bowl season!
Should You Watch? OMG yes
Prediction: Wake Forest 56, Rutgers 17