Category Archives: bowl games

Bowl Predictions 2022: Week 2

Okay, they’re hot and ready right over here.

Let’s actually talk shop a bit, since I did the last ones in a rush. For starters, the site is now full of information. I don’t think a lot of other people take the time to actually figure out bowl and conference affiliations, at least to the extent that I do. While the proliferation of ESPN Events bowls makes affiliation less important than it used to be, some conferences do still have subtle agreements in place that makes a difference.

We’re now up to 52 bowl eligible teams (from 37) after last weekend. I forecast the remaining games on each potential team’s schedule using SP+, which allows me to be as consistent as possible. Of course, this also means that I’m more or less going chalk whenever possible. Upsets do happen, which is more or less how we’re going to get the 82 eligible teams that we need.

There are some question marks that I do not know the answer to, other than just the general idea of trying to do these predictions in the first place. For starters, based on my reading of the NCAA rules, I think that James Madison may be eligible before any 5-7 teams are eligible. Again, as we gain more and more eligible teams this may be moot (they were the “last team in” to borrow a term from the NCAA basketball tournament), and maybe that’s what everyone is banking on. Also, I need to determine if Army needs to get to 6 wins before the two-week break they have before the Navy game. Right now I have them getting their 6th win against the Midshipmen, so this matters.

Then, of course, there’s the other order of the day due to the events of the past weekend, where Tennessee, Alabama, and Clemson lost. Since I try to do these on Monday, before the new CFP rankings come out, it’s hard for me to use the new rankings as an indication of the Committee’s thinking. For sure, if Georgia and Ohio State win out, they will be #1 and #2, and Michigan is also likely #2 if they win out. From there, I am not sure of the exact order of these teams:

  • 1-loss ACC Champ Clemson
  • 1-loss ACC Champ North Carolina
  • 1-loss Ohio State or Michigan
  • 1-loss Pac-12 Champ Oregon
  • 1-loss Tennessee
  • Undefeated Big 12 Champ TCU

Right now I have it somewhat easy because I have TCU losing twice to Texas (due to SP+). What you see on the site currently reflects that and also what I think the Committee will do. Oregon will get a shot if they win out. Despite their 40+ point loss to Georgia Labor Day weekend, they’ll have an otherwise good resume from beating the other top teams in the Pac-12. Clemson and UNC have now both lost to Notre Dame, and this also leaves the both of them without a true “statement” win (Clemson’s best win is probably… Florida State?). So, yeah, I could see a 1-loss Tennessee getting in over either, and that’s what I think will happen.

Otherwise, this promises to be an interesting bowl season. If for no other reason than because if I’m right, we’ll get the rematch of the best worst bowl game ever.

Bowl Games 2021: Epilogue

Well, the worst case scenario happened. The Georgia Bulldogs are national champions.

I finished 20-18 on the year, a 52.6% picking winners. Not too bad, but I’ll need to do try to do a bit more research next year.

And with that, our college football coverage for the 2021 season comes to a close. Thanks for coming along for the ride, and I’ll hope you’ll be back in the summer for non-conference schedule coverage.

Bowl Games 2021: Final

It hasn’t been a banner year for my bowl picks. While it’s not an outright disaster, there’s definitely a few picks that are a bit of a head scratcher in retrospect. I’m sitting at 54.1% correct for winners.

At any rate, it’s time to talk about the two national title games this weekend.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, January 8

2:00: North Dakota State vs. Montana State (NCAA Division I Championship @ Frisco, TX; ESPN2): The Bison are favorites here, pretty much because they only are. Imagine if the FBS national title had been won by Bama 9 of the past 12 years and you have a pretty good idea of what NDSU is all about. But the Bobcats are no joke: traditionally the lesser of the two Montana schools, they’ve thundered their way to Frisco. Don’t forget, the two previous quarterbacks from NDSU became NFL draft picks, so there’s talent on this field. I don’t pick FCS games because I don’t know enough about the teams involved, and that remains true here, but I suspect this will be worth a watch.

Monday, January 10

8:00: Georgia vs. Alabama (College Football Playoff Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; ESPN): Oh, this game again. Let’s quickly review the last time they played, back at the beginning of December. Both teams were forced to rely on the passing game for the first time all season. Bryce Young played brilliantly and clinched the Heisman; Stetson Bennett threw two picks, including a pick-6 that pretty much sealed Bama’s comeback. Neither team was troubled in their semi-final. Bama avoided Cincy’s quality cornerbacks by pretty much rushing for 6 yards a carry. Young wasn’t really very good in the game, but he didn’t need to be. Yeah, Bennett made the throws against Michigan and the game got out of hand, but it really seemed to me more that Georgia’s defense just smothered Michigan. On the rare occasions Michigan had time to throw, they were able to move the ball in the passing game, which is the closest thing Georgia has to a weakness. This Bama offense has beaten them once. It will require another superhero performance from Young to do it again, and that’s what I’m banking on.
SP+ line: Georgia by 7.2 (note: this does not factor in the SEC championship or semi-finals)
Vegas line: Georgia by 2.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Bama has a commanding lead in the all-time series between these conferences foes: 42-25-4. They first met in 1895, a 30-6 Georgia win. They played each other consistently from 1901 until 1965, but since then they played sporadically in conference, and since the SEC’s expansion to 14 teams they’ve only met in the regular season twice (2015 and 2020). Their last meeting a month ago was a 41-24 Alabama win.
Last bowl game: Alabama has made bowl games in 18 straight seasons, dating to a 20-16 loss to Minnesota in the 2004 Music City Bowl. Their last bowl game was a 27-6 win over Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl back on New Year’s Eve. Georgia owns the country’s longest bowl streak, at 25 straight seasons. The streak began with a 33-6 win over Wisconsin in the 1997-98 Outback Bowl. Most recently, they beat Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

Bowl Games 2021: Happy New Year!

Well, those semi-finals were a bit of a let down, eh? At least there’s still a chance Georgia won’t win the national title.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, January 1

12:00: Pennsylvania State vs. Arkansas (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN2): Penn State is probably not super happy with their season, but it was still pretty good overall. Arkansas should be thrilled with the response they got their bruising style of play and a reminder of what is good about college football. I have Penn State as a slight favorite, but I could go either way here.
SP+ line: Penn State by 2.3
Vegas line: PSU by 1.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Penn State’s last bowl appearance was a 53-39 win over Memphis in the 2019 Cotton Bowl. Arkansas’s last bowl game was the 2016 Belk Bowl, a 35-24 loss to Virginia Tech.
Announcers: Dave Flemming and Rod Gilmore

1:00: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): Notre Dame had an excellent season on their own, but I’m sort of glad someone got to lose to Alabama instead of them. Instead, they get a Oklahoma State team that will remind a national audience that they do in fact play defense in the Big 12 now. The departure of Brian Kelly won’t, strangely, have a huge effect on this team. I think the Irish will be able to do enough to ultimately pull this out in the end.
SP+ line: ND by 4.1
Vegas line: ND by 1.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Notre Dame has been to five straight bowl games, dating to the 2017-18 Citrus Bowl, where the beat LSU 21-17. Last season they lost 31-14 to Alabama in the “Rose” Bowl. Oklahoma State has been to 16 straight bowl games, dating to a 34-31 win over Alabama in the 2006 Independence Bowl. Last season they beat Miami 37-34 in the Cheezi-It Bowl.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky

1:00: Iowa vs. Kentucky (Citrus Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): This is definitely the battle of a fun offensive team versus a stodgy defensive team, and in that contest, I’ll take the offensive team every time. I like Kentucky here.
SP+ line: Kentucky by 2.4
Vegas line: Kentucky by 2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Iowa had been on a seven game bowl streak, but they didn’t go bowling last year, so their last appearance was a 49-24 win over Southern Cal in the 2019 Holiday Bowl. Kentucky has been to six straight bowl games, dating to the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl, where they lost 33-18 to Georgia Tech. Last season they beat NC State 23-21 in the Gator Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Dust Dvoracek, and Tom Luginbill

5:00: Ohio State vs. Utah (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): The Buckeyes were last seen getting pound into dust by Michigan, and the Utes will definitely present plenty of problems: after all, through Oregon they have a 2x transitive victory over the Buckeyes. Nonetheless, even with Olave out, I think the Buckeyes will be able to overpower the Utes with their talent. Either way, Southern California should still look like the reason why we love this sport.
SP+ line: Ohio State by 12.7
Vegas line: Buckeyes by 6.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: In a reminder that the Utes have not always been a power conference team, the Buckeyes shellacked them 64-6 back in 1986.
Last bowl game: The Buckeyes are on a nine game postseason appearance streak, dating to a 40-35 loss to Clemson in the 2013-14 Orange Bowl. Last season they beat Clemson 49-28 in the Sugar Bowl, and then lost to Bama 52-24 in the national championship game. For the Utes, their last bowl appearance was a 38-10 loss to Texas in the 2019 Alamo Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

8:45: Baylor vs. Mississippi (Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Finally, the wrap-up to the day is in New Orleans. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this one, I just hope there’ll be some points. I did apparently pick Ole Miss, so let’s go with that.
SP+ line: Ole Miss by 2.8
Vegas line: Baylor by 1.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Back in 1975, Baylor won 20-10.
Last bowl game: Baylor’s last bowl appearance was the 2019-20 Sugar Bowl, where they lost 26-14 to Georgia. Ole Miss beat Indiana 26-20 in last season’s Outback Bowl.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore and Greg McElroy

Tuesday, January 4

9:00: Kansas State vs. Louisiana State (Texas Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): Honestly, the betting line on this game should be whether ESPN spends more time (for a game that kicks off at NINE PM EASTERN!) talking about the playoff or the game itself. As for the game itself, the send-off for Coach O was really the victory over Texas A&M back in November, and he won’t be coaching in this game. I don’t expect LSU to really be here, if you know what I mean.
SP+ line: K-State by 5.8
Vegas line: EVEN
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Just one, a 21-0 LSU win in 1980.
Last bowl game: K-State’s last bowl appearance was the 2019 Liberty Bowl, a 20-17 loss to Navy. LSU had a 20 season streak before the pandemic, but they didn’t go a bowl last season at 5-5. Their last postseason appearance was thus the 2019 national title run: a 63-28 win over Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl, and then a 42-25 win over Clemson in the national title game.
Announcers: Dave O’Brien and Tim Hasselbeck

Bowl Games 2021: Playoffs?!?

By the time this post goes up, I should have updated the main bowl webpage with the latest stats and bowl re-shuffling. If not, well, the previews for New Year’s Eve-Eve and New Year’s Eve are below. Enjoy!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday, December 30

11:30: North Carolina vs. South Carolina (Mayo Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): These occasional rivals meet in the most Carolina bowl of them all. I kinda feel for South Carolina in some ways because they were having a swimmingly good season under Shane Beamer, beat Auburn, rolled in with some momentum into the Palmetto Bowl, and then… got completely waxed 45-0 by Clemson. Same old same old. I like UNC here.
SP+ line: UNC by 7.1
Vegas line: UNC by 6.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: These two were tied at the hip in the Southern Conference and ACC for a time. Their first meeting was in 1913, a 17-0 UNC win. Starting in 1922, they were conference-mates, up until South Carolina’s departure from the ACC after 1971. They most recently met in an out-of-conference game in 2019, a 24-20 UNC win. The Tar Heels lead the overall series 33-19-4.
Last bowl game: The Tar Heels are currently on a three game bowl streak. In 2019, they beat Temple 55-13 in the Military Bowl, and last season they lost 41-27 to Texas A&M in the Orange Bowl. The last bowl appearance for the Gamecocks was a 28-0 loss to Virginia in the 2018 Belk Bowl.
Announcers: Anish Shroff and Mike Golic Jr

3:00: Purdue vs. Tennessee (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): I thought Purdue kind of had a somewhat better season, but the Vols are solid favorite here. The Vols mostly won and lost the games they should’ve. Overall, I view this as fairly even with a slight lean toward the Vols.
SP+ line: Vols by 9.2
Vegas line: Vols by 4.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Just one. The Boilermakers won the 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl 27-22.
Last bowl game: Purdue’s last bowl game was the 2018 Music City Bowl, a 63-14 loss to Auburn. Tennessee’s last appearance was the 2019-20 Gator Bowl, a 23-22 win over Indiana.
Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, and Cole Cubelic

7:00: Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh (Peach Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): My enthusiasm for this game is somewhat tempered by the fact Kenneth Walker and Kenny Pickett won’t play, but this should still a sold, physical matchup. However, without Pickett I really worry about Pitt’s ability to generate offense, and if it’s really a war of attrition, I think that favors Sparty.
SP+ line: Pitt by 8.3
Vegas line: Sparty by 1.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: There’s been 7 meetings between these teams, and it’s been all Sparty. They won the first game in 1945 12-7. The most recent was a 2007 regular season meeting, where a Pitt team that would later become famous for other reasons lost 17-13. Michigan State leads the overall series 6-0-1 (the tie was 7-7 in 1960).
Last bowl game: Sparty’s last bowl game was a 27-21 win over Wake Forest in the 2019 Pinstripe Bowl. Pitt didn’t play in a bowl game last year, so their last appearance was the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl, a 34-30 win over Eastern Michigan.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Robert Griffin III, and Quint Kassenich

10:30: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ESPN): Welcome to the shiny, upgraded Las Vegas Bowl, which swapped a Mountain West team for a Big Ten team. Unlike some other bowl destinations, Wisky won’t be able to drain Vegas of its booze, and they are solid favorites here in my mind.
SP+ line: Wisky by 6.3
Vegas line: Wisky by 6.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: The Badgers have considered Arizona State in four previous regular season matchups. The first was a 42-16 Sun Devils win in 1967. The most recent was a 32-30 Arizona State win in 2013, giving them a 3-1 series lead.
Last bowl game: The Sun Devils last appeared in the 2019 Sun Bowl, a 20-14 win over Florida State. Wisky has been to 20 straight bowl games, going all the way back to 2002 Alamo Bowl, where they defeated Colorado 31-28. Last season the Badgers pasted Wake in the Mayo Bowl, 42-28.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Kirk Morrison

Friday, December 31

11:00: Wake Forest vs. Rutgers (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN): Rutgers got called in as a replacement last week, and while I’m sure they’re happy to make a bowl again, I can’t imagine they’re all that excited about facing one of college football’s wackiest offenses on a week’s notice. I like Wake big here.
SP+ line: Wake by 11.6
Vegas line: Wake by 12.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Just two. The first was in 1997, a 28-14 Wake Forest win. The next was in 1999, a 17-10 Wake Forest win.
Last bowl game: Rutgers makes their first bowl game since the 2014 Quick Lane Bowl, a 40-21 win over North Carolina. Wake has made six straight bowl games, going back to 34-26 win over Temple in the 2016 Military Bowl. Last season they lost 42-28 to Wisconsin in the Mayo Bowl.
Announcers: Taylor Zarzour and Matt Stinchcomb

12:30: Central Michigan vs. Washington State (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): Similarly, CMU replaced Miami here. If Wazzu shows up for this, they’ll be big favorites.
SP+ line: Wazzu by 8.1
Vegas line: Wazzu by 8
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: The Chips were last seen in the postseason in the 2019 New Mexico Bowl where they lost 48-11 to San Diego State. Wazzu had a mini-streak interrupted by the pandemic, so they were last in a bowl game in the 2019 Cheez-It Bowl (Arizona version), where they lost 31-21 to Air Force.
Announcers: Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson

3:30: Alabama vs. Cincinnati (Cotton Bowl @ Arlington, TX; ESPN): And here we go. Bama-Cincy being the early game was a decision for sure, but honesty I’m here for both of these matchups. I think Cincy’s defense can hang with Bama, but I just can’t intellectually convince myself of taking the upset. I do think it’ll be closer to the SP+ margin below than the Vegas margin.
SP+ line: Bama by 4.2
Vegas line: Bama by 13.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: There’s been four previous meetings between these teams, and you get no bonus points for guessing that Bama is 4-0 in those games. The first one was a 21-3 win in 1982, and the most recent was a 45-7 win in 1990.
Last bowl game: Cincy has made four straight bowl games, dating to the 2018 Military Bowl, where they beat Virginia Tech 35-31. They lost 24-21 to Georgia in last season’s Peach Bowl. Bama has made 18 straight bowl games, dating to the 2004 Music City Bowl, where they lost 20-16 to Minnesota. Last season they beat Notre Dame 31-24 in the “”Rose”” Bowl and beat Ohio State 52-24 in the national championship game.
Announcers: Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge

7:30: Michigan vs. Georgia (Orange Bowl @ Miami Gardens, FL; ESPN): I watched Michigan-Ohio State, Michigan-Iowa, and Georgia-Bama in the last two weeks of the season. (I did also watch Georgia-Georgia Tech, but unfortunately we’re not good enough for that to be instructive in any way, shape, or form.) What I saw does not convince me that Georgia has the offensive capability to overcome Michigan’s defense, and I don’t think the opposite is true. I have Michigan in what is technically an upset.
SP+ line: UGA by 5.8
Vegas line: UGA by 7.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: There’s been two previous meetings, and they were both in the Big House. Michigan won 26-0 in 1957, but #10 UGA edged out #7 Michigan 15-7 in 1965.
Last bowl game: Michigan’s last bowl game was the 2019 Citrus Bowl, a 35-16 loss to Alabama. UGA now owns the country’s longest bowl streak after Virginia Tech didn’t go to a bowl last season, which is now 25 straight seasons. (VPI went 5-6 last season, so I’ll count that as interrupting the streak.) The UGA streak began with a 33-6 win over Wisconsin in the 1997-98 Outback Bowl. Last season they beat Cincinnati 24-21 in the Peach Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit