Bowl Games 2018: You Have One Week Left to Finish Your Christmas Shopping

No, seriously, you do.

Anyway, I did pretty well on the opening day of bowl games, though honestly I spent most of it flying in circles at the Palo Alto airport. Regardless, you can find all of my picks and the schedule right here. This post will get through the rest of the pre-Christmas bowls.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Tuesday, December 18
7:00: Northern Illinois vs. Alabama-Birmingham (Boca Raton Bowl @ Boca Raton, FL; ESPN): So after a few days of having to talk about odd NFL playoff scenarios, we’re back to what’s really import this time of year: bowl games. And this should actually be a good one. NIU upset Buffalo to win the MAC earlier this month, and UAB are C-USA champs, so we’ve got a champ versus champ matchup here. That said, it’ll be close and tight, but I think the Blazers can score enough to win the end. (Go Blazers!)
S&P+ line: UAB -2.2
Vegas line: UAB -2.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: NIU went to last year’s Quick Lane Bowl and lost 36-15 to Duke. UAB will go to a consecutive bowl for the first time in its history, though they’re likely hoping for a better result than last year’s 41-6 loss to Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Lamont, Desmond Howard, and Jonathan Vilma

Wednesday, December 19
8:00: San Diego State vs. Ohio (Frisco Bowl @ Frisco, TX; ESPN): I hope you don’t like points, because there won’t be many in this game. I think the Aztecs are the better all-around team, but their offense is, well, it’s not good. I’m picking SDSU, but I also think it’ll be tight.
S&P+ line: SDSU -1
Vegas line: Ohio -2.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: The Azetcs have a nifty nine-game bowl streak going. Back in 2010 they beat Navy 35-14 in the Poinsettia Bowl. Last year they faced Army and lost 42-35 in the Armed Forces Bowl. This should be Ohio’s tenth bowl game in a row, but they went 6-6 in 2014 and didn’t get invited, so instead this is their fourth. They lost 31-29 to Appalachian State in the 2015 Camellia Bowl, and beat UAB 41-6 in last year’s Bahamas Bowl.
Announcers: Kevin Brown and Andre Ware

Thursday, December 20
8:00: Marshall vs. South Florida (Gasparilla Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN): The more I look at USF’s season, the less I understand it. Especially the part where they manhandled us (well, that and ran what seemed like 50 kicks back for scores) and started 7-0 with increasingly shaky results (like only beating a dreadful UConn team 38-30). USF’s record is now 7-5, where they weren’t even on UCF’s level in the second half that game. Just by talent, USF’s should win this game, and that win over Tech is why I’m picking them. But it’s hard to feel good about it.
S&P+ line: MU – 0.9
Vegas line: MU -2.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Marshall beat Colorado State in last year’s New Mexico Bowl 31-28. This is USF’s fourth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2015 Miami Beach Bowl, where they lost 45-35 to Western Kentucky. Last season they beat Texas Tech 38-34 in the Birmingham Bowl.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Dan Orlovsky

Friday, December 21
12:30: Toledo vs. Florida International (Bahamas Bowl @ Nassau, Bahamas; ESPN): I haven’t watched either of these teams all year, so I don’t have any strong opinions on this one. Well, other than that I really think Toledo is going to win.
S&P+ line: Toledo -6.5
Vegas line: Toledo -5.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Three. The two met in 2008 and 2009, and as well as the 2010 Little Ceasars Bowl. FIU won that game 34-32 and leads the all-time series 2-1.
Last bowl game: This should be the ninth game in a row for the Rockets, but they didn’t go bowling despite a 7-5 record in 2013. So, instead, their five bowl streak starts with a 63-44 win in the 2014/15 Bowl. They got blanked 34-0 by Appalachian State in last season’s Dollar General Bowl. FIU lost 28-3 to Temple in last year’s Gasparilla Bowl.
Announcers: Steve Levy and Desmond Howard

4:00: Brigham Young vs. Western Michigan (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): WMU’s only two wins of the season over teams above 0.500 are Eastern Michigan (understandable) and Northern Illinois (less so). They also got shellacked by the early season Power 5 teams they played. BYU isn’t a power team, but they can at least kind of hang with Power 5 teams (and have that win at Wisconsin). The Stormin’ Mormons appear to just be a better team.
S&P+ line: BYU -9.4
Vegas line: BYU -11.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Five, all from 1962-1970. WMU won 35-17 in their last meeting, but BYU leads all-time, 3-2.
Last bowl game: BYU’s 12-game bowl streak was broken by least year’s 4-9 record, so they’re starting anew. Their last bowl appearance was a 24-21 win over Wyoming in the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl. For the Broncos, they didn’t go to a bowl game last season despite a 6-6 record, so their last bowl game was the 24-16 loss to Wisconsin the 2016/17 Cotton Bowl.
Announcers: Roy Philpott and Tom Ramsey

Saturday, December 22
12:00: Wake Forest vs. Memphis (Birmingham Bowl @ Birmingham, AL; ESPN): Thanks to the magic of ACC scheduling, Wake Forest is in our conference and we haven’t played them in years, and as a result I haven’t watched a lot of Wake recently. They seem pretty good, but not spectacular. The Tigers, though, whoo boy, when they can get the offense rolling, they can roll. The only real inexplicable loss on their schedule was a 40-24 loss to Tulane. Otherwise, they lost to Navy (limited possessions), Mizzou (just got outscored and couldn’t keep up), and UCF (twice, the first time nearly pulling of the upset and still scoring 41 the second time). So, yeah, I like the Tigers here.
S&P+ line: Memphis -12.1
Vegas line: Memphis -4.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: It’s tied 2-2 all-time, with “all-time” consisting of four games from 1964-1967. Memphis won that last contest 42-10.
Last bowl game: For the Demon Deacons, this is their third bowl game in a row going back to the 2016 Military Bowl, where they beat Temple 24-26. Last season they won an unexpectedly lit Belk Bowl over Texas A&M, 55-52. For Memphis, this is their fifth straight bowl game, dating to the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl which they won 55-48. (A game almost certainly more famous now for the fight that took place afterward, but it was a good game on its own, too!) They lost 21-20 in their own stadium to Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl last season.
Announcers: Dave Neal and DJ Shockley

3:30: Houston vs. Army (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): About Army’s only hope here is that they essentially do the same thing they did to Oklahoma: limit possessions, hold on the ball, and hope for a lucky break. Well, that and the usual “more talented but unmotivated team” thing we sometimes see in bowl season. Generally speaking, I don’t bet on either of those things.
S&P+ line: UH -7.8
Vegas line: Army -2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Seven consecutive from Army’s ill-fated stint in Conference USA from 1998-2004. The Cougars won the last game 35-21 and lead the all-time series 5-2.
Last bowl game: For the Cougars, this is their sixth consecutive bowl. Their streak dates to the 2013/14 BBVA Compass Bowl, where they lost 41-24 to Vanderbilt. They lost last year’s Hawaii Bowl 33-27 to Fresno State. For Army, this is the first time in their history they have gone to three consecutive bowl games. They beat North Texas 38-31 in the 2016 Heart of Dallas Bowl, and then beat San Diego State 42-35 in last year’s edition of this game.
Announcers: Chris Cotter, Emmanuel Acho, and Jim Mora Jr.

7:00: Buffalo vs. Troy (Dollar General Bowl @ Mobile, AL; ESPN): Okay, so Troy didn’t beat LSU this year and they somehow lost to Liberty, but this still a good, exciting team. Myself, along with the rest of the college football internet universe, is completed baffled at how Neal Brown hasn’t gotten a bigger job yet despite building Troy into a consistent winner. I like them better than Buffalo, who took a 10-2 season into the MAC title game and blew it against Northern Illinois.
S&P+ line: Troy -1.2
Vegas line: UB -2.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: For the Bulls, this is their first bowl game appearance since the 2013 Potato Bowl, where they lost 49-24 to San Diego State. For Troy, this is their third consecutive bowl game, after 2016’s 28-23 win over Ohio in the Dollar General Bowl and last year’s 50-30 win over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl.
Announcers: Anish Shroff and Ahmad Brooks

10:30: Hawaii vs. Louisiana Tech (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Well, it’s not on Christmas Eve this year thanks to the NFL, but the Hawaii Bowl is still basically Christmas Eve in my mind. And also, Santa will definitely be enjoying this one with some milk and cookies because boy howdy that’s a late bowl game kickoff. Anyway, you just about have to take Hawaii in the Hawaii bowl, don’t you? I certainly did.
S&P+ line: LTU -2.3
Vegas line: EVEN
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Back in the WAC (2003-2011), these teams met seven times, with an additional meeting in 2000 for good measure. Hawaii won the last matchup 44-26 and leads 8-2 all-time.
Last bowl game: Hawaii last bowled in the 2016 edition of this game, where they beat Middle Tennessee State 52-35. For the Bulldogs, they have now gone to five consecutive bowls, dating back to the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, where they defeated Illinois 35-18. Last season they defeated SMU 51-10 in the Frisco Bowl.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Kirk Morrison

Bowl Games 2018: Opening Slate

All the same rules apply as last year, except you can find the full slate here.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

1:30: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (Cure Bowl @ Orlando, FL; CBSS):

I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they’re real
I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel

Remembering you standing quiet in the rain
As I ran to your heart to be near
And we kissed as the sky fell in
Holding you close
How I always held close in your fear
Remembering you running soft through the night
You were bigger and brighter and whiter than snow
And screamed at the make-believe
Screamed at the sky
And you finally found all your courage to let it all go

Remembering you fallen into my arms
Crying for the death of your heart
You were stone white so delicate
Lost in the cold
You were always so lost in the dark
Remembering you how you used to be
Slow drowned you were angels
So much more than everything
Hold for the last time
Then slip away quietly
Open my eyes but I never see anything

If only I thought of the right words
I could have held on to your heart
If only I’d thought of the right words
I wouldn’t be breaking apart
All my pictures of you

Looking so long at these pictures of you
But I never hold on to your heart
Looking so long for the words to be true
But always just breaking apart
My pictures of you

There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart
My pictures of you

I’m going with the Ragin’ Cajuns here.
S&P+ line: ULL -1.6
Vegas line: Tulane -3.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: These two in-state foes have met 28 times since 1911. 11 of the meetings were before 1930, with occasional meetings resuming in 1974. Their most recent game was a regular season content in 2016, which the Green Wave won 41-39 in overtime.
Last bowl game: This is Tulane’s first bowl game since that 2013 New Orleans Bowl. ULL was last in a bowl game in the 2016 New Orleans Bowl, where they lost to Southern Mississippi 28-21.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn and Aaron Taylor

2:00: Utah State vs. North Texas (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): These are both teams on the rise, but that almost means their head coaches have been hot commodities. So far, Utah State has lost theirs, but they’re still a better team from a better conference. Going with the Aggies.
S&P+ line: USU -2.7
Vegas line: USU -9.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Seven meetings in total, with the Aggies holding a 4-3 advantage. The last meeting was in 20014, which UNT won 31-23.
Last bowl game: The Aggies lost to New Mexico State 26-20 in last year’s Arizona Bowl. This is UNT’s third straight bowl game, following a 28-21 loss to Army in the 2016 Heart of Dallas Bowl and a 50-30 loss to Troy in last year’s New Orleans Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Neely and John Congemi

3:30: Arizona State vs. Fresno State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ABC): HERM! In Vegas! As head coach leading a charge of jazzed Sun Devils thanks to leading them to… 7-5… the same record they had last year. Meanwhile, Jeff Tedford just keeps anonymously rollin’ along down in Fresno, and it looks like it’s about time for the Bulldogs to crush another mediocre Pac-12 team.
S&P+ line: FSU -12.8
Vegas line: FSU -4.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Only three, and all a long time ago: 1931, 1933, and 1941. All were Arizona State wins.
Last bowl game: Arizona State lost 52-31 to North Carolina State in last year’s Sun Bowl. Fresno State has a much shorter trip this season, though they did at least get a 33-27 win over Houston in last year’s trip to the Hawaii Bowl.
Announcers: Rece Davis and Kirk Herbstreit

5:30: Eastern Michigan vs. Georgia Southern (Camellia Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): By EMU’s standard, making two bowl games in three seasons means this is practically a golden age. Meanwhile, Georgia Southern fans have to be seriously contemplating if it was worth trading national championships for trips to Montgomery. Either way, I still like Southern here.
S&P+ line: GSU -0.9
Vegas line: EVEN
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: EMU’s last bowl game was a 24-20 loss to Old Dominion in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl. For Georgia Southern, this is their first taste of postseason play since the only bowl game they’ve everp layed, the 2015 Bowl. They beat Bowling Green 58-27.
Announcers: Mike Corey and Rene Ingoglia

9:00: Middle Tennessee State vs. Appalachian State (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): The New Orleans Bowl returns to its rightful place: prime time. Hopefully the Superdome will be rockin’, but unfortunately the excitement may not last long. I really like the Mountaineers here.
S&P+ line: ASU -12.7
Vegas line: ASU -6.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Back in 1974, Appalachian State beat MTSU 18-7.
Last bowl game: By all rights, this should be the seventh bowl game in a row for the Blue Raiders, but they didn’t get a trip in 2012 when they went 8-4 (!) or one in 2014 when they went 6-6 (more understandable). Instead, their current streak dates to 2015, a 45-31 loss to Western Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl. Last season they beat Arkansas State 35-30 in the Camellia Bowl. UAB is in their second bowl game in a row, and the third in school history. They lost 41-6 to Ohio in last year’s Bahamas Bowl.
Announcers: Jason Benetti and Kelly Stouffer

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Noon: Colgate @ North Dakota State (NCAA Division I Quarterfinal; ESPN): I like to at least mention the FCS playoffs in these posts, but I don’t have enough background for the FCS schools to really say anything definitive.

3:00: Navy vs. Army (@Philadelphia, PA; CBS): Obviously, you should watch this, but this is as big of an advantage for West Point as I can ever recall. This Navy team has struggled this season, and while the circumstances of this game ensure they’ll at least be there, I can’t see their defense stopping Army. Again, the Cadets are as big of favorites as I can ever recall.

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.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

Naturally, I have to try to follow up my 5000 word… thing and write a normal post. It’s also really late and I have to be at work tomorrow. Here goes!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


7:00: Northern Illinois vs. Buffalo (Mid-American Conference Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): I’m just going to assume the Bulls got this. You got this, right Bulls?

8:00: Washington vs. Utah (Pac-12 Championship @ Santa Clara, CA; FOX): I wonder if I could just, like, show up at Levi’s tomorrow and they’d let me in. I’m pretty sure the Pac-12 could use the help. Whereas it would’ve at least been fun if Wazzu could make it here, this is just, well, it’s a thing that definitely shows off the Pac-12 can play defense, too. UDub should be able to out-athlete the Utes, as long as Jake Browning keeps them in the game, at least.



  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (Big 12 Championship @ Arlington, TX; ABC): Second verse, same the first? Nah, probably not. And for the sake of wanting an interesting team in the playoff, I really, really hope not.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette @ Appalachian State (Sun Belt Conference Championship; ESPN): It’s the Fun Belt title game and I’m taking App State the whole way. Next up: make up game lightning round!
  • East Carolina @ North Carolina State (ACCE): NCSU
  • Marshall @ Virginia Tech (ACCE): VPI
  • Akron @ South Carolina (SECA): USC

1:30: Alabama-Birmingham @ Middle Tennessee State (Conference USA Championship; CBSS): So here’s a situation where UAB actually kinda got waxed against MTSU last weekend. But hey, the Blazers turned it over a couple of times and got sacked a bunch, so… I’ll ignore my own advice from the Big 12 game above and say Go Blazers!

3:00: Stanford @ California (“The Big Game”; Pac12): By far the more interesting of the two Pac-12 games this weekend, it’ll probably be kind of a mess up in Berkeley due to the rain. Which, well, if we’re running and sliding everywhere, let’s face it, that probably favors Stanford.

3:30: Memphis @ Central Florida (American Conference Championship; ABC): UCF should be good enough without Milton that they’ll win anyway, but nonetheless… would they be the G5 pick even with a loss? Hopefully we don’t have to find out.

4:00: Georgia vs. Alabama (Southeastern Conference Championship; CBS): Bama. Because the last thing I need right now is a Georgia upset that all but guarantees that they both make the freakin’ playoff.

7:45: Fresno State @ Boise State (Mountain West Conference Championship; ESPN): This should actually be pretty fun, but considering the probably conditions (Boise in the first weekend of December) I’m going with the hometown Broncos.


  • Northwestern vs. Ohio State (Big Ten Conference Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): Well, maybe keep an eye on that Mountain West title game because boy howdy these primetime games look bleak. After Ohio State did… whatever they did Michigan last week, they have to be prohibitive favorites here. And they are.
  • Clemson vs. Pittsburgh (Atlantic Coast Conference Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ABC): Clemson is our best chance for something interesting to happen in the playoff if Oklahoma doesn’t get in. They have to win. They just have to.