College Football Bowl Predictions – Part Four Featuring the New Year’s Six

Straight Up 

Week One: 29-6 (83%)
Week Two: 29-6 (83%)
Week Three: 26-9 (74%)
Week Four: 27-8 (77%)
Week Five: 29-6 (83%)
Week Six: 27-8 (77%)
Week Seven: 26-9 (74%)
Week Eight: 26-9 (74%)
Week Nine: 23-12 (67%)
Week Ten: 22-13 (63%)
Week Eleven: 27-8 (77%)
Week Twelve: 26-9 (74%)
Week Thirteen: 25-10 (71%)
Week Fourteen: 8-3 (73%)
Army vs Navy: 1-0 (100%)
Bowl Season Part One: 5-5 (50%)
Bowl Season Part Two: 8-3 (73%)
Bowl Season Part Three: 3-1 (75%) {SO FAR}
Season: 367-125 (75%)

ATS Best Bets

Week One: 3-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 200$)
Week Two: 8-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 700$)
Week Three: 6-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 500$)
Week Four: 3-5 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve lost 200$)
Week Five: 4-3 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 100$)
Week Six: 3-2 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 100$)
Week Seven: 4-2 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 200$)
Week Eight: 2-4 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve lost 200$)
Week Nine: 4-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 300$)
Week Ten: 1-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve canceled out)
Week Eleven: 2-2-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve canceled out)
Week Twelve: 2-4 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve lost 200$)
Week Thirteen: 2-2 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve canceled out)
Week Fourteen: 1-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve canceled out)
Army vs Navy: 1-0 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 100$)
Bowl Season: 2-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 100$)
Season: 47-30-1 (100 dollar bet on each would’ve won 1,700$)

THIS IS THE SECOND TO LAST BOWL PREVIEW ARTICLE. CFB PLAYOFF SEMIFINAL PICKS COMING SOON.

Tier One Games (Must Watch)

#8 USC (11-2) vs #5  Ohio State (11-2) – 8:30PM ET, ESPN (Fri, 12/29) – Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

What is perhaps the best game outside of the actual College Football Playoff kicks off the home stretch of bowl season, with ten games to go, all ten are must watch, compared to just five of the first 29. These two will come in motivated, as the two major conference champions to be left out of the College Football Playoff: Ohio State out of the Big Ten, and USC out of the Pac-12. The two schools have played 23 times, many of which were inside the Rose Bowl, but USC has dominated the series of late. The last time the Trojans lost to the Buckeyes was in the 1973 Rose Bowl, since, USC has won six straight. JT Barrett and the Buckeyes look to end that streak in the three-time captain’s final game, and when this Ohio State is on, it might be the best team in the country (see: Michigan State on 11/11), USC on the other hand, has disappointed me. USC came into the year as a playoff contender (I had them as my first team out preseason) but they lost to the two best teams they played, and the key piece on their resume is two wins against a Stanford team that finished the year 9-4. This game will come down to who is motivated, but I’ve got confidence that Barrett will want to go out on a high note.

Prediction: Ohio State 40, USC 28

 Louisville (8-4) vs #23  Mississippi State (8-4) – 12PM ET, ESPN (Sat, 12/30) – TaxSlayer Bowl

This might be the least talked about bowl between two top-30 teams ever, but come on, get excited. This will be Lamar Jackson’s final game in college, that should be reason enough to get excited to watch a bowl sponsored by TaxSlayer. On the other side of things, Mississippi State has pretty much nothing to lose. Head Coach Dan Mullen has moved on to the same position at Florida, and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald’s injury during the Egg Bowl means that interim head coach Greg Knox will need to get creative with freshman Keytaon Thompson, who will have to make his first start on the big stage. The coaching change might mean that the full attention of this coaching staff wasn’t on getting Thompson ready for the bowl game, and because of that, I’ll take Lamar Jackson to pick up a victory in his final game.

Prediction: Louisville 35, Mississippi State 27

 Iowa State (7-5) vs #20  Memphis (10-2) – 12:30PM ET, ABC (Sat, 12/30) – Autozone Liberty Bowl

Boise State 38, Oregon 28 and USF 38, Texas Tech 34. Those were the two games so far this bowl season where a group of five team ranked in my top 30 faced a power five conference team, and the group of five team won both of them. Honestly, these cross-level matchups are probably my favorite part of the bowl season. Both of these teams are better than you think they are. Memphis is undefeated against teams not named “UCF” including a win over UCLA, and Iowa State (along with in-state rival Iowa) is actually ranked in the top-25 of Jeff Sagarin’s forward-looking Predictor rating despite their 7-5 record. This is also a matchup of two of the hottest young coaches in the business, between Memphis’ Mike Norvell, and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell. Iowa State might be a better team, but if you look at the matchup, Iowa State is 0-2 in games where they’ve let up more than 31 points, and Memphis averages 48 per game. I just don’t trust Iowa State in a shootout, and also, this game will be played in Memphis.

Prediction: Memphis 40, Iowa State 31

#11  Washington (10-2) vs #9  Penn State (10-2) – 4PM ET, ESPN (Sat, 12/30) – PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

This might be the least talked about New Year’s Six game, but I’m pretty excited for it. Washington has been the least talked about good team this year because they didn’t make their own conference title game due to tiebreakers, but the Huskies finished in my personal top ten. Penn State was, to me, probably one of the four best teams this year if they had just played to their potential. The Nittany Lions lost just two games, both on the road, to top 20 teams, by a combined four points, but you have to win those games if you want to get into the playoff, so PSU will have to settle for a New Year’s Six Bowl. Both of these teams have speed aplenty, but the difference maker to me is Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley is one of the best running backs in recent history (just check out my NFL Draft Prospect Breakdown) and even against a Washington defense ranked in the top-five of S&P+, he should make enough plays to bring James Franklin to an 11-2 season.

Prediction: Penn State 34, Washington 31

#6  Wisconsin (12-1) vs #10  Miami (10-2) – 8PM ET, ESPN (Sat, 12/30) – Capital One Orange Bowl

The nightcap of the second-best day of bowl season comes in the Orange Bowl, and my pick on this will probably make some people angry. I’ve disrespected Miami this whole year, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t relieved when the ‘Canes were knocked out of playoff contention when they were blown out by Clemson in the ACC Title Game. Miami finished the regular season outside of my top-12 (I bumped them for TCU) and my disrespect of Mark Richt’s squad will only continue here. Anybody that understands advanced metrics will agree with me, the ‘Canes rank 19th in S&P+, 15th in Sagarin, and 18th in my personal computer ratings, which are completely separate from my top 25. Give me this Wisconsin defense, the #1 defense in the country, to halt a Miami offense that has struggled, scoring just 14 and 3 their last two times out.

Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Miami 20

 Michigan (8-4) vs  South Carolina (8-4) – 12PM ET, ESPN2 (Mon, 1/1) – Outback Bowl

There was a big deal made this year of Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan team going 8-4, but it wasn’t really a bad season for the Wolverines. This year’s team returned just five starters, and I had them going 9-3 preseason, and they were just a few plays away from hitting that mark. South Carolina on the other hand, finished a far cry from where I had them in the preseason (5-7). This Will Muschamp team has largely flown under the radar, but he has put together a really decent team, with a much-improved offense. Two of the Gamecocks’ four losses are to teams in the playoff, and they own a win over NC State. This New Year’s Day Bowl has a lot of question marks, but this Michigan defense is the best unit in the game, and Michigan QB Brandon Peters has had a whole month to heal and get back on his feet. Give me the Wolverines in a low scoring game.

Prediction: Michigan 28, South Carolina 21

#12  UCF (12-0) vs #7  Auburn (10-3) – 12:30PM ET, ESPN (Mon, 1/1) – Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl

There is no team I’m cheering for more this bowl season than UCF. The Knights, despite being 3-0 vs my top 25 (For what its worth, Alabama was 1-1) received no consideration for even a top ten spot in the committee’s rankings (The Knights landed at #6 in mine). The focus of this game will be on how McKenzie Milton and the #2 offense in America reacts to Auburn’s defense, which ranks fifth in Bill Connelly’s S&P+, and of course, which team is motivated. UCF Head Coach Scott Frost will be moving on to his dream job, but in a rarely seen move, the future man at Nebraska will return to coach one final game with his players. It will be one of the biggest games in school history for UCF, the only other contender being during the final year of the BCS Bowl system in a Fiesta Bowl victory against Baylor. The “coach moving on that stays for one last game” is something we never see in College Football, and it is impossible to know how the UCF roster will react. The UCF offense will be great, they always are, but the Knights defense ranks in the bottom half of the country, and they’ve given up 974 passing yards and eight touchdowns against Riley Ferguson and Quinton Flowers the last two times out. I would give UCF a chance against a Wisconsin or a Miami, but the two-headed monster of Stidham and Johnson will eat this defense alive, and the added factor of Frost leaving leads me to pick Auburn straight up, but within the point spread.

Prediction: Auburn 42, UCF 34

#14  Notre Dame (9-3) vs #17  LSU (9-3) – 1PM ET, ABC (Mon, 1/1) – Citrus Bowl Presented By Overton’s

One final game before the beginning of the College Football Playoff, as Notre Dame and LSU square off in the Citrus Bowl. Notre Dame started the year 8-1, with the only loss coming to Georgia in a tight one, but after that, the wheels came off the wagon for Brian Kelly’s squad. The Irish finished the year 1-2, getting blown out by Stanford and Miami by a combined score of 79-28, and just barely scraping by a 6-6 Navy team. LSU had the opposite season, starting off SEC play with a 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, and then getting shocked by Troy in Death Valley. After August though, the Tigers only loss was to CFP contender Alabama. I’ll ride the hot hand in this one, Derrius Guice, who has racked up 30 touchdowns in his career with the Tigers while only starting this year. Give me Ed Orgeron to figure out Brandon Winbush and the Notre Dame offense.

Prediction: LSU 30, Notre Dame 27

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