Category Archives: college football

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.


  • 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.


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


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.

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/24

Men, Georgie’s a fine football team, a very fine football team. Georgie’s bigger and faster than we are. Probably a little tougher, too.

That’s okay, because we’re smarter than they are.

Now, let me tell you what’s going to happen. That Georgie team’s going to come running out of the tunnel screaming and foaming at the mouth and smashing one another upside the head just to get warmed up.

We won’t do any of that. While they waste their energy, we’ll conserve ours. I’ve told you that they’re bigger, faster, and tougher than you. That’s true. But we do have that one big advantage.

We … are … smarter.

Think about what I teach you. Play field position. Play great defense. Make no mistakes on offense. Be great in the kicking game. Do that and we’ll keep it close.

As the game goes on, they’ll start to get tired because they wasted so much energy in the beginning. Because we’re smart, we’ll have plenty of energy left, and at some point in the fourth quarter they’ll make a mistake.

When they do make that mistake, we’ll get the football. And when that happens, I’ll think of something and we’ll win!

Coach Bobby Dodd, as told by Bill Curry

This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Florida @ Florida State (“The Sunshine Showdown”; ABC): Florida State had 36 straight seasons where they made a bowl game. I’m using the past tense for a reason.
  • Michigan @ Ohio State (“The Game”; FOX): So outside of fans of these other games, this will be the game drawing the most attention. And that’s fair. Michigan has lost six straight and the game is in Columbus. When I really look at it, though, I see a team struggling mightily in most of their last several games in Ohio State, and meanwhile for the most part Michigan has cruised through the season. This is not indicative of a situation that favors the Buckets, at least to me. In addition, the Buckeyes have a host of struggles: their offense is one-dimensional and their defense is prone to collapses. I favor the Wolverines here.
  • Syracuse @ Boston College (ESPN): BC seems to have let their 27-7 loss to Clemson get to them, losing 22-21 to FSU last weekend. The Orange, though, got blown away by Notre Dame last weekend. I see these teams as about equal and so it’s a question of which team will recover better from their blowout loss to a superior team. I’m actually going to favor the Orange and their offense a bit.
  • Purdue @ Indiana (ESPN2): The Old Oaken Bucket is at stake here, as well as a bowl bid for either side. I still like the Boilermakers for whatever reason, so I’ll go with them.
  • Baylor vs. Texas Tech (@Arlington, TX; FS1): Another bowl bid is at stake here. TTU is backsliding into the end  of the season and Baylor has looked moderately better, so I’ll go with them.
  • Navy @ Tulane (ESPNU): Navy’s defense has just been bad. Tulane should get bowl eligible here.
  • Georgia Tech @ Georgia (“Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate”; SEC): TO HELL WITH GEORGIA
  • Western Kentucky @ Louisiana Tech (CBSS): How did things get so bad at Western Kentucky? LaTech should roll.

12:20: North Carolina State @ North Carolina (Raycom): I almost have to think that UNC will be happy to just get this season over with.

12:30: Wake Forest @ Duke (ACC/RSN): Wake has shown a spark at certain times this season, but Duke seems to be a tier above them right now.

3:00: Stanford @ California-Los Angeles (Pac12): Stanford scuffled in some of their late-season big tests, and UCLA has come in strong in the second half and upset USC last weekend. I’m still going with the Cardinal here, though, they’re a better all-around team than UCLA at this point.


  • Auburn @ Alabama (“The Iron Bowl”; CBS): We can hope against hope that Auburn will keep this interesting, but interesting against this year’s version of Bama could almost be defined as just covering the three-score spread.
  • Maryland @ Pennsylvania State (ABC): The Terps could get bowl eligible with a win, but probably to the relief of everyone involved, they probably won’t.
  • Pittsburgh @ Miami (ESPN): It figures that Pitt is going to put the Canes out of their misery in this game.
  • Minnesota @ Wisconsin (ESPN2): With an upset here, Minnesota can row that boat to a bowl game! Unfortunately, even that modest goal appears unlikely since it involves beating Wisconsin at home.
  • Arizona State @ Arizona (“The Duel in the Desert”; FS1): Boy howdy, a lot of bowl bids on the line today, eh? And good luck trying to decipher how these teams are doing by looking at common opponents, so this is essentially a coinflip. I’ll buck my own bowl predictions and say Arizona gets to 6-6. Congrats, Wildcats!
  • Temple @ Connecticut (ESPNU): Temple.
  • Illinois @ Northwestern (BTN): As a reminder, Northwestern is Big Ten West Champions and Illinois is… really bad. I’ll take the Wildcats.
  • Southern Methodist @ Tulsa (CBSS): This game looks grim. In this timeslot, I’d see if anything weird happens in the Iron Bowl, and then when nothing weird happens, switch over to Minnesota at Wisconsin or ASU at Arizona. This is the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. I’ll take, uh, SMU?


  • Rutgers @ Michigan State (FOX): Speaking of grim, hoo boy, yeah Sparty should have this one.
  • Tennessee @ Vanderbilt (SEC): THE BATTLE FOR BOWL ELIGIBILITY CONTINUES. Tennessee pretty much always wins this game, so I’ll go with them.


  • South Carolina @ Clemson (“The Palmetto Bowl”; ESPN): While not quite as Death Star-esque as Alabama against Auburn, yeah, I’m not giving the Gamecocks much of a chance here.
  • Kentucky @ Louisville (“The Commonwealth Cup”; ESPN2): It should say “The Bourbon Bowl” over there, but, alas, it doesn’t. Either way, Kentucky should roll against a Louisville that will just be glad to get out of there.
  • Kansas State @ Iowa State (“Farmageddon”; FS1): I feel obligated to point out again that K-State will get bowl eligible if they win. As for the next statement, I feel bad about saying it, but it’s my honest gut feeling. I think they will lose, and it will be Bill Synder’s last game.
  • San Jose State @ Fresno State (ESPNU): Fresno.
  • Colorado @ California (Pac12): Cal.

7:30: Louisiana State @ Texas A&M (SEC): A&M is ranked at 7-4 because beat… (checks) Kentucky! Yeah, LSU’s got this.


  • Oklahoma State @ Texas Christian (FOX): SO MUCH FIVE AND SIX. TCU is fighting for bowl eligibility here, but that doesn’t figure to matter against a feisty and rejuvenated Oklahoma State.
  • Notre Dame @ Southern California (ABC): USC could also get bowl eligible, but, uh… yeah, they won’t.

9:30: Nevada @ Nevada-Las Vegas (“Battle for Nevada”; CBSS): UNLV has been lost in the desert for most of this season, and that doesn’t figure to change against a Nevada team that’s won four straight against superior competition.

10:00: Brigham Young @ Utah (“The Holy War”; FS1): BYU’s wins over Wisconsin and Arizona continue to look stranger as time goes on. The Utes should roll.

10:15: Utah State @ Boise State (ESPN): Well hey there, some stakes! That is to say, the Mountain West Mountain division! Unfortunately, Boise doesn’t figure to be as snowy as Pullman was last night, but nonetheless this is a big game, but the blue turf figures to give the Broncos a slight advantage.

10:30: Hawaii @ San Diego State (ESPNU): And finally, and perhaps appropriately, we close out the last full weekend of the college football season with a Hawaii game. Both teams here have clinched bowl games, and I figure the Aztecs will comfortably run all over the Rainbow Warriors. Nonetheless, despite currently being on Eastern Time, I will try my damndest to make it to the end. Sure, we’ve got Championship Week next week, and bowl games not long after, but it’s appropriate the true weekend both fall on Thanksgiving and also stuff us full of delicious college football. 14 games yesterday, 33 games today. There’s nothing like it, and that’s why I do this year after year. Shout out to everyone who actually reads this, all three of you. Thanks.

This Week in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


3:30: Colorado State @ Air Force (CBSS): There is a trophy involved here! Outside of that, it’s been a rough year for both of these teams, neither of which is going to go to a bowl. With the Rams losers of four straight and the game at Air Force, I’m going with the Falcons.

7:30: Mississippi State @ Mississippi (“The Egg Bowl”; ESPN): Here’s a game that will definitely feature some emotion. For Ole Miss, this is their bowl game: they’re on a bowl ban to try to appease the NCAA gods. For Miss State, they still have an outside chance at a New Year’s Six bowl (yes, folks, 4-loss teams are in contention for prestigious bowl games) and would pay dearly if they mess this up. The main problem for the Rebels, though, is their completely awful defense, and while their offense is actually decent it’ll be hard for them to keep up with what their defense is allowing.



  • Nebraska @ Iowa (FOX): Iowa was on the skids, but fortunately the Big Ten has teams like Illinois and Rutgers to act as cures for what ails you, as the Hawkeyes annihilated Illinois to the tune of 63-0 last week. Meanwhile, the Huskers doing nicely for themselves as well, as winners of four of their last five, including their own 54-35 pasting of Illinois and a, uh, very Big Ten 9-6 win over Michigan State. That said, Iowa is still the favorite here.
  • Houston @ Memphis (ABC): The winner here earns the right to lose to UCF next week, so a fair bit is on the line. Memphis comes into this game pretty hot, but Houston will get future first round pick Ed Oliver back for this game. Honestly, this game figures to be fun and may be your best bet in this timeslot. I’m picking Memphis, but I could go either way.
  • Texas @ Kansas (FS1): If Texas doesn’t screw this up, they’ll be in the revived Big 12 title game.
  • Buffalo @ Bowling Green (ESPNU): After getting blown out by Ohio last week, the Bulls can still clinch a spot in the MAC title game by beating a very beatable Bowling Green, which I think they will.
  • Akron @ Ohio (CBSS): Ohio can clinch a spot in the MAC title game by beating a very beatable Akron team and hoping that Buffalo blows it against Bowling Green. I rate their chances for the former a lot higher than the latter.

2:30: Arkansas @ Missouri (CBS): Back in Alabama, we had a saying: “Thank God for Mississippi”. The Razorbacks should say the same, because the Ole Miss Rebels are the only reason they’re not the proprietors of the worst defense in the SEC. This is not a good sign when you’re playing one of the better offenses in the SEC, and boy howdy are the Tigers rolling right now. I’ll take them.


  • Virginia @ Virginia Tech (ABC): You have heard this already, but I will say it again: Virginia has lost 14 straight to Virginia Tech. Plus, they come in after a completely baffling loss to Georgia Tech. (Seriously, I’m a GT fan. I have no idea how we won.) That said, the Hokies have lost four straight, and for the most part, they’ve lost them bad, most recently losing to a bad Miami offense 38-14. Against the worst defense Bud Foster has ever fielded, this has to be the year for the Cavs, right?
  • East Carolina @ Cincinnati (CBSS): Cincy’s good, but UCF is mostly in a different class than the rest of the ACC. Fortunately for the Bearcats, they’re also a tier above ECU.


  • Central Florida @ South Florida (“War on I-4”; ESPN): Back in October, this game still looked pretty enticing, but USF has lost four straight to all the other good/decent AAC teams and, as noted above, UCF is just better than everyone else.
  • Oregon @ Oregon State (“The Civil War”; FS1): The weather for this game should be about 50 degrees and raining, in other words, what the weather for this game should look like. Unfortunately, that may be all that goes right for Oregon State. Both these programs are rebuilding right now, but the Ducks appear to have had a pretty good head start.

8:00: Oklahoma @ West Virginia (ESPN): This game and next are the most interesting games of the day for me, and I kind of love that they’re half an hour apart. Oklahoma’s all-everything offense is definitely favored in my mind, and they’re my pick. But we’re also talking about Morgantown, at night, in the cold. Couches beware.

8:30: Washington @ Washington State (“The Apple Cup”; FOX): Speaking of fanbases that would probably show up in a top-ten list titled “Most Likely to Set Furniture on Fire”, let’s go to Pullman. The sun will set just before kickoff, and it will be cold and rainy. Will that, and the UDub defense, be enough to upend Wazzu’s dream season? I’d like to think it won’t be, because these Cougars are just so much dang fun to watch. But Washington can still book a trip to Santa Clara next weekend with a win. I ultimately think Wazzu’s offense will be enough to prevail, but this game should be worth watching.