#24Temple (10-3) vs Wake Forest (6-6) – Military Bowl pres. by Northrop Grumman in Annapolis, MD – 3:30PM ET, ESPN (Tue 12/27)
This bowl game will be a big deal for both teams. Temple hasn’t won a bowl game since 2011, and Wake Forest hasn’t won a bowl game since 2008. However, both teams might not have their heads 100% in the game. Wake Forest has had their football program under the microscope after the infamous “wakeyleaks” where Wake Forest’s radio announcer was found to be leaking plays to other teams. As for Temple, the Owls lost their head coach Matt Rhule after he left for a better job at Baylor. I really like Wake Forest’s pash rush, but the problem for the Deacs is that they just can’t seem to score on offense, and are faltering down the stretch, having lost five of their last six games. Temple on the other hand, Temple has won seven straight games, including the American championship, despite losing their coach, I’ve got the hot team, and that is Temple.
The Pick: Temple 34, Wake Forest 16 (Temple -12, Over 41)
Minnesota (8-4) vs Washington State (8-4) – National Funding Holiday Bowl in San Diego, CA – 7PM ET, ESPN (Tue 12/27)
Minnesota really cranked up the public interest for this game after the Minnesota football team almost boycotted the game because of the school suspending ten players, if that had happened their spot would go to Northern Illinois, but last week after meeting with school administrators, Minnesota decided to end the boycott. On the football field, Minnesota relies on a good run stopping and pass rushing defense, but the Golden Gophers haven’t played a very tough schedule. Washington State’s main calling card is Luke Falk, who is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Falk has thrown for the fifth most yards of any quarterback this year, as well as the fifth most passing touchdowns of any quarterback. Minnesota will put up some points, as Washington State’s secondary isn’t very good, but Washington State will come out on top.
The Pick: Washington State 30, Minnesota 24 (Minnesota +10, Under 61)
Boise State (10-2) vs Baylor (6-6) – Motel 6 Cactus Bowl in Phoenix, AZ – 10:15PM ET, ESPN (Tue 12/27)
If you are in a bowl confidence pool, I suggest you put this game at the top of the list. Baylor is a program in disarray. The Bears started the season winning six games in a row, but since then the Bears have been absolutely terrible, losing six straight games. There is one thing the Bears have going for them, their offense always seems to show up in bowl games, scoring 67, 49, 42, 41, and 49 in their past five bowl games. As for Boise State, the Broncos really should be in the Cotton Bowl, but they lost two games that they really shouldn’t have, if they had won one of them, they probably wouldn’t be in this game. Baylor’s defense has been destroyed over their stretch of losses, and it will be exposed by Boise RB Jeremy McNichols who has rushed for 1,663 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year. McNichols will carry the Broncos to the win, and a Cactus Bowl title.
The Pick: Boise State 41, Baylor 27 (Boise State -7.5, Over 67.5)
#23Pittsburgh (8-4) vs Northwestern (6-6) – New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York, NY – 2PM ET, ESPN (Wed 12/28)
The Pinstripe Bowl is a fun bowl every year, because it’s a football game played at a baseball stadium, and that’s cool. But this Pinstripe Bowl is a pretty interesting game too. North western’s star is receiver Austin Carr who has caught 84 passes for 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns, sixth best in the country for a receiver that has played twelve games. As for Pitt, the Panthers have had a pretty good year, they played a tough schedule and came out with an 8-4 record and wins over two of the top five teams of the country (Clemson and Penn State). Pittsburgh has relied on a stout offense, led by QB Nathan Peterman (2600 yards and 26 touchdowns) and RB James Connor (1060 yards and 16 touchdowns). I think Pitt will come out on top, but it will be tougher than expected without Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada, who left for LSU a few weeks ago.
The Pick: Pittsburgh 35, Northwestern 31 (Northwestern +5, Over 65)
#16West Virginia (10-2) vs Miami (8-4) – Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, FL – 5:30PM ET, ESPN (Wed 12/28)
This game is one of the most underrated bowl matchups of the year, both teams are playing with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. West Virginia is one of only eight power five teams with two or fewer losses, yet the Mountaineers are ranked no where near the top eight, and the other seven are ranked #1-7. As for Miami, the canes are riding a four game winning streak, their defensive line is one of the best in the ACC, and their offense is incredibly efficient, but it seems as if Mark Richt’s squad has gotten lost in the shuffle. This game will be a matchup of two passing teams, but different styles. Miami QB Brad Kaaya is a typical pro style quarterback, he’s accurate and efficient. West Virginia QB Skyler Howard is much more of an air it out, and see what happens, Big 12 style quarterback. Howard has shined under the bowl spotlight, throwing for over 530 yards and five touchdowns in his performance last year. Kaaya might have a future in the NFL, but in a high scoring game such as this, you have to give the edge to the Mountaineers.
The Pick: West Virginia 34, Miami 28 (West Virginia +2.5, Over 57)
Indiana (6-6) vs #19Utah (8-4) – Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, CA – 8:30PM ET, FOX (Wed 12/28)
The only bowl game on FOX this year is a weird one. Indiana had a fine season at 6-6, about what everyone expected, but on December 1st, they fired their coach for “philosophical differences” and immediately promoted defensive coordinator Tom Allen to head coach. It’s hard to tell how the Hoosiers will play under the new coach. They will be going up against the Utah Utes, the definition of a two faced team. The Utes are the only team to beat USC with Sam Darnold starting, but they also have lost three of their last four games. I’m not really confident in either of these teams, but the most sure thing in this game is Joe Williams, who has been a top tier runningback since coming out of retirement, and because of him, I’ve got the Utes in a close one.
The Pick: Utah 31, Indiana 26 (Indiana +6, Over 54.5)
Texas A&M (8-4) vs Kansas State (8-4) – Advocare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston, TX – 9PM ET, ESPN (Wed 12/28)
Texas A&M vs Big 12 teams are always fun, especially ever since the Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC. Teams going up against their former in conference rivals has been one of the most interesting storylines to watch since the wave of conference realignment a few years ago. Kansas State relies on its running game and it’s coach. Bill Snyder has schemed a team that shouldn’t have made a bowl to an 8-4 regular season, and I think he’ll find a way to get the Wildcats ready for this bowl game. As for Texas A&M, the Aggies are a better team on paper, but I’m a little worried about the motivation factor, Kevin Sumlin’s squad started the year 6-0, and was ranked #4 in the first college football playoff rankings this year, obviously the Aggies have fallen off that track, going 0-4 against SEC foes since. K State will be more motivated to be in this game, and the Wildcats will be the first Big 12 team to beat Texas A&M since they left the conference.
The Pick: Kansas State 34, Texas A&M 28 (Kansas State +2.5, Over 57.5)
South Florida (10-2) vs South Carolina (6-6) – Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, AL – 2PM ET, ESPN (Thu 12/29)
Will Muschamp did a fantastic job in his first year as head football coach at South Carolina, getting the Gamecocks to a bowl when few expected him too. As for South Florida, the Bulls had a fantastic year, finishing ranked 23rd in my top 25, one of only three mid-major teams to finish ranked by me. USF’s head coach Willie Taggart left for Oregon a few weeks ago, so I’m a little worried as to if the USF players will be playing wholeheartedly for interim coach T.J. Weist, who will be coaching the Bulls for this game only. Despite this, I’ve still got South Florida. QB Quinton Flowers had nearly 4000 yards and 37 touchdowns combined rushing and passing, he will get USF up early, and if the Bulls get a lead early, I trust the defense to keep it.
The Pick: South Florida 31, South Carolina 24 (South Carolina +10, Under 62.5)