At the Christmas break, we’ve gotten through the biggest chunk of the “Group of Five” bowl games, concluding with the Louisiana Tech 31-14 victory over Hawai’i in the Warriors’ home stadium in Honolulu. As for our picks, we’re doing pretty well so far – our entry in the ESPN “College Bowl Mania” contest is in the top 10%, winning ten and losing five so far – mostly in the first chunk of games! At one point, we were 8-0 before losing five of the last seven, including three of the four games Saturday. Fortunately, when we miss a game, it’s been a close game – that LaTech win is as big a defeat as we’ve made so far!
Coming up, we’ve got 25 more games that we’ve predicted, and if you missed our earlier forecasts from the ELO-Following Football computer system, here they are:
Boston College v Boise State – all the numbers favor the blue turfers, but BC has had their number in the past. Also, when the Broncos fall down to some level below what they were expecting (as with this season), they’re usually flat in the bowl game, too. We’re taking Boston College.
Minnesota v Georgia Tech – I guarantee that Tech will send Paul Johnson out a winner! Georgia Tech in a runaway train game.
California v TCU – the Frogs are simply a better team than the Cal bunch at this stage – TCU should win a close one.
Temple v Duke – As much as I love Duke’s team, and as much as I worry about Temple’s coaching transition… I think it’ll be like the App State game – too good a team playing too well for Duke (losers of their game 59-7) to beat. Temple wins.
Miami-Florida v Wisconsin – Traditionally strong teams playing below their normal fighting weight. It’s going to depend on which team “shows up” and which one “phones it in” – with very little else to go on. We’re taking Miami.
Baylor v Vanderbilt – Baylor barely (excuse me: bearly!) snuck in with an upset, while Vandy is at the point of expecting to be here. Take Vandy.
Purdue v Auburn – unfortunately, you can put all that “motivation” stuff aside here. The Tigers are simply BETTER than the Boilermakers this season, although I can see Purdue getting there in the near future. Pizza is nearly here, and so are the Auburn Tigers.
West Virginia v Syracuse – Before we heard about the WVU defections, this was an easy pick: WVU by a Grier-slide. But with him choosing not to play, it really becomes a toss-up. I’ve had to override the ELO-FF prediction and go with Syracuse.
Washington State v Iowa State – As much as I admire ISU with their scrappy defense and third-string offense, Wazzu will be a terrible match-up for them. WSU big.
AND NOW, THE BIG BOWLS APPROACHETH..
PEACH BOWL: Florida v Michigan – Are you kidding me? Michigan, big.
South Carolina v Virginia – See previous post. South Carolina, bigly.
Nevada v Arkansas State – How did these two slip in here? I’m not sure, but I’m taking ASU in a slight upset.
COTTON BOWL: Clemson v Notre Dame – Contrary to opinion, the Irish won’t embarrass themselves. However, Clemson may do it for them. The Tigers in a rout.
SUGAR BOWL: Oklahoma v Alabama – I know Kyler Murray is great. I get it. But Alabama is favored by two touchdowns for a reason. It should be three. Alabama will confirm Bama/Clemson IV.
The next two games are just condemnations of the quality of the ACC outside of Clemson this year: Stanford over Pitt and Cincinnati over Virginia Tech. Sorry, ACC.
Oregon v Michigan State – This used to be the “Foster Farms” bowl, among other things, but the important part is that it’s in the San Francisco bay area. Rarely do the non-Pac12 teams bother to put up a fight here. Oregon wins big.
Similarly, I have questions about which O-K-State team will show up against a Missouri team that just keeps getting better as the season progresses – again. Missouri big over Oklahoma State.
The last two games of 2018 should be easy pick’ns for you “punters” out there – Utah over Northwestern and then Texas A&M over North Carolina State. There’s nothing wrong with NW OR NC State, but they’re simply going to be outmatched by bad bowl selections this season.
CITRUS BOWL: Penn State v Kentucky – The “little engine that could” might be perfectly capable of upsetting a PSU team that comes in expecting to win. If, however, the Nittany Lions are more interested in winning that being in cruise control, then Penn State should win fairly comfortably.
FIESTA BOWL: LSU v UCF – The annual “can the best Group of Five team beat a top-twelve P5 club?” debate, which almost always ends in the G5 team winning. They will again. Central Florida in an “upset for the ages” as they (or Boise or TCU or …) do every year. (The G5 champs are 5-1 against P5 teams in this format. Hawaii screwed this up for “us”, says the Boise fan.)
ROSE BOWL: Washington v Ohio State – Poor Chris Petersen. OSU is going to the Rose Bowl to play Urban Meyer’s last game before he retires to become assistant AD and do nothing except try to find ways around the NCAA laws. Don’t you think that team will do EVERYTHING it possibly can to win one last time for the Urb? Ohio State in a dramatic victory of some kind.
ORANGE BOWL: Texas v Georgia – Another case of “Texas is really good… but Georgia could very well be the second best team in the country, especially if no one gives ‘Bama a challenge in the CFP. Bulldogs BIG.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Probably Alabama v Clemson. We played this as a three-game set for the title in our 255-team challenge bracket. ‘Bama won two out of three, and I suspect that’s about the odds here, too. There’s a 2/3 chance that the Tide wins AGAIN. I suspect nobody else except Clemson has a good chance against them this season.