Category Archives: bowl predictions

Bowl Games 2018: Epilogue

The bowls are done and dusted. Thanks to Clemson, I wound up going 21-18 overall, good for a 53.8% clip and back on the right side of being better than flipping a coin 39 times. Since 1999, I’m now 357-298, meaning 54.5% of my picks are right.

That about wraps it up for now. Unless I’m struck by some other burst of inspiration, we’ll be dormant until our annual look at out-of-conference scheduling in the summer.

Bowl Games 2018: Final

I’m running at about 53% for my bowl predictions, which means I’ll finish on the right side of 0.500 again this season. Anyway, let’s get to it.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Alabama vs. Clemson (College Football Playoff National Championship @ Santa Clara, CA; ESPN): Well, here we go again. And the thing is, we were all right. If you’d asked anyone in the know what the most likely national championship matchup was going to be this season, they probably would’ve said “Clemson and Alabama, and maybe Georgia?” And the thing is, this is going to be close. These teams are obviously the class of college football this year, as between the two of them they have defeated all major challengers.
As I type this on the plane back to the Bay Area (where, for reasons that have nothing to do with college football, this game is being held; also, I live there), I can’t say I really have a very good idea of who will win this one. Both teams have essentially the same strengths and weaknesses. Bama’s offense at peak efficiency is perhaps slightly more dynamic since Tua can run and pass, but Trevor Lawrence is so good for Clemson it doesn’t matter. That said, both defense are suffocating. Clemson got up on Notre Dame because all of their defensive backfield was hurt or otherwise on the bench. While secondaries are not typically where Nick Saban’s defenses make their hay, the Tide will have no such issues with their two-deep. Speaking of depth, though, Clemson’s defensive line play remains the class of college football. Even without Dexter Lawrence, it was just “next man up” and they absolutely suffocated Notre Dame’s offense for four quarters.
I don’t think last season’s semi-final loss will have any actual bearing on this game for Clemson. Also, their offense is just plain better than it was last year, and I think they’ll be able to run (well, let’s be honest, both teams are going to pass a lot) with Alabama and pull out a win in the end.
S&P+ line: Alabama by 1
Vegas line: Alabama by 6.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: These teams have now met 18 times. Despite what it feels like, only three of these meetings took place in the last five years. The series dates to a 35-0 Clemson win 1900. They would go on to record wins in 1904 and 1905, before embarking on a 17 game losing streak with meetings mostly in the 30’s and 60’s. They met in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship in 2016, where Alabama won 45-40. In 2017, Clemson finally broke the streak and won 35-31. Last season, they met in the semi-finals. Clemson lost the Sugar Bowl 24-6.
Last bowl game: On December 29, Alabama defeated Oklahoma 45-34, and Clemson dominated Notre Dame 30-3.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

Bowl Predictions 2018: Final

And here they are, my final bowl projections.

I don’t have a lot of energy to really do a full write-up, but I’ll give it a stab.

  • There’s not a lot of changes from last week, but I was able to confirm a few more things and get a better idea on some others.
  • I am assuming that Oklahoma will be the #4 seed in the playoffs.
  • Otherwise, I am here for a West Virginia-Washington State Alamo Bowl. It won’t snow in the Alamodome, that’s for sure.
  • As a reminder, due to ESPN’s influence over several game, there can (and likely will) be bizarre, unpredictable results. I have listed all of these games on the bottom of the page, but so far the only way I’ve used them is to predict where BYU is going to go.

At any rate, this will all be moot soon. From there, it’ll be all about figuring out how the actual matchups will go.

Bowl Predictions 2018: Week 5 Redux

So the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings came out yesterday and they were news enough to me that I felt the need to revise this week’s predictions to adjust for the inevitable four-team SEC scenario. A look at the top 10 of the rankings is all I need to prove my point:

  1. Alabama (in the playoff no matter what)
  2. Clemson (in the playoff with a win over Pitt)
  3. Notre Dame (12-0 and doesn’t play a game this weekend)
  4. Georgia (in the playoff if they beat Alabama, otherwise in the Sugar since they probably won’t fall below Florida or LSU)
  5. Oklahoma (in the playoff if they beat Texas and Georgia loses to Alabama)
  6. Ohio State (in the Rose Bowl if they beat Northwestern, but needs help to get to the playoff)
  7. Michigan (doesn’t play this weekend, at-large berth at a minimum)
  8. Central Florida (probably gets G5 bid even if they lose to Memphis)
  9. Florida (doesn’t play this weekend, at large berth for sure)
  10. LSU (doesn’t play this weekend, so at large berth for sure)

The at-large berths in the New Year’s Six bowls go to the top-rated G5 team and the other top three ranked schools not otherwise included. Since only some of these teams will even play this weekend, it’s likely that we’re looking at something below the final rankings. The only drama is that in the event of a Texas loss, they could fall below West Virginia, which would give the the Sugar Bowl bid to the Mountaineers in the case that Oklahoma is in the playoff.

So this does change my predictions to the SEC bowls drastically, but for the other games not so much.

Bowl Predictions 2018: Week 5

A fresh copy is here. Before we begin, let me also link this touching eulogy to Florida State’s bowl streak. It was 36.

In some ways, this week was easier. With a better distribution of New Year’s Six games across all the conferences (well, except the ACC), that meant that more of the power conference filled more of their obligations. Provided Virginia Tech beats Marshall Saturday, we will be at 81 teams out of the 78 we need.

However, in some ways this was harder. I had to try to predict what the committee will do with Washington State and LSU. So let’s start there.

The Playoff and New Year’s Six Bowls

  • Michigan’s loss to Ohio State is a seismic event for the predicted playoff field. The question is, of course, barring any other upsets (more on that in a second), Ohio State or Oklahoma? I have no idea what the committee will prioritize, but personally I’d go with the team that didn’t lose by 29 to Purdue.
  • Upset scenario #1: Both Oklahoma and Ohio State are in, of course, if both win their conferences and Clemson loses to Pittsburgh. I don’t rate this as likely, suffice it to say.
  • Upset scenario #2: Georgia beats Alabama. This my personal worst-case scenario, as both 1-loss Georgia and 1-loss Alabama would almost certainly be in, probably as #3 and #4 seeds, respectively.
  • Playoff certainty: Notre Dame is in. Bank it.
  • Somewhat ironically, Washington’s upset in the Apple Cup will probably actually help the Pac-12 get two teams into the New Year’s Six. Wazzu still only has two losses and should rank above other at-large candidates, ensuring they get an at-large bid. The winner of the Pac-12 title game goes to the Rose Bowl regardless.
  • Also helpful: if Wazzu doesn’t drop too far, the SEC will probably only get three teams into the New Year’s Six. Georgia is probably Sugar Bowl bound unless they get absolutely obliterated by Alabama, so that leaves Florida as probably ranked ahead of LSU and Kentucky. This may also depend on how far Texas falls if they lose to Oklahoma, so this is really to-be-determined. This could very well change for the last predictions depending on how we see the committee’s priorities when the new rankings are released.
  • I’m putting Central Florida in the Fiesta purely because they went to the Peach last year. I actually don’t know if this is a factor or not. Right now, I also don’t know how the committee will regard McKenzie Milton’s injury. If they defeat Memphis, I still suspect all is good. However, if UCF goes down, then the spot probably belongs to the Mountain West winner.

ACC

  • Barring a catastrophic upset of Clemson, the ACC picture is pretty clear at the top: either Syracuse or NC State will head to the Camping World Bowl.
  • After that, the ACC is mush. I figure NC State will go to the Belk if they don’t go to Orlando, otherwise that spot will probably go to Pitt or Virginia.
  • I think the Sun Bowl will wind up with either Pitt or Boston College, with the team that doesn’t go there in the Pinstripe.
  • I think the Gator Bowl will want Miami, which hasn’t necessarily proven to be the case in the past, but I deem it likely. If not Miami, then maybe Georgia Tech.
  • Since the Military Bowl is in Annapolis, they’re going to look for either easy travel for alums or a team that hasn’t been there before. Possibilities along those lines are Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, so I’ll put them in the former.
  • At this point, we’re to the Independence Bowl, so I think that is where Georgia Tech will wind up.
  • The Quick Lane Bowl can then choose between Virginia, Duke, and Wake Forest. Considering that Duke’s only a national brand in basketball, I figure UVA will get this slot.
  • Then in a battle between Duke and Wake Forest, I’m taking Duke in the Gasparilla Bowl.
  • This does leave Wake Forest without a bowl bid, so I slotted them in the ESPN-controlled First Responder Bowl as a replacement for a missing Big Ten team.

Big Ten

The Big Ten is relatively straightforward due to its bowl contracts. Michigan and Ohio State will wind up in the playoff-controlled bowls one way or the other, so the rest is just fitting the puzzle pieces together.

Big 12

The only drama is whether Iowa State or West Virginia will go to the Alamo Bowl. I picked the latter. There is more drama if Texas doesn’t get a New Year’s Six bid, though, in which case UT probably goes to the Alamo and then WVU and Iowa State will be fighting for the Camping World Bowl slot.

Pac-12

With both Washington teams likely now in New Year’s Six bowls, it’s pretty straightforward here as well.

SEC

There seems to be a lot of rumors out there that an SEC West team, probably Texas A&M, will go to the Outback Bowl this year. Kentucky is probably a lock for the Citrus since they will probably be the highest rated team left out of the New Year’s Six, but that really depends on how far LSU falls. As-is, I slotted LSU into the Gator.

Everyone Else

To give teams time to get passports in order, the Bahamas Bowl already announced their teams: Toledo and FIU. I do kinda wish this was like the old days when many of the bowls could announce teams after Thanksgiving, but alas the New Year’s Six just introduces too many variables. Regardless, the real debate for me in this space was what to do with BYU and Army. Most seem to think Army will head back to the Armed Forces Bowl since there won’t be enough Big 12 teams to fill that spot. As for BYU, they supposedly have a deal with ESPN to put them in an ESPN-controlled bowl, that seems to have mostly centered around the now-defunct Poinsettia Bowl. I wound up putting them as an at-large in the Cheez-It Bowl, working under the assumption ESPN wouldn’t be able to find them anything since most of the other at-large spots are tied up by conference backup affiliations. However, there’s been shenanigans around these things in the past and ESPN moves in mysterious ways. I will be keeping an eye out for news on this front.

As-is, the next projections will be out as soon as I can get them out Saturday night or Sunday morning.