Seriously, folks, it’s starting to become an epidemic. Maybe, just maybe, one of these four games will be close.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Saturday, January 2
Noon: Pennsylvania State vs. Georgia (Taxslayer Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN): Georgia is one of three teams I’ve actually seen in person this year, but if anything, that almost makes me biased against them. Their offense is predictable and stagnant, yet, better than Penn State’s, which is just kind of bad (and sack-prone, to boot). UGA should, unfortunately, have no trouble at all.
Previous Meetings: Just one, all the way back in the 1982-1983 Sugar Bowl, which had national title implications. UGA, however, flubbed their shot at grabbing the title, losing 27-23.
Last bowl game: Penn State won last year’s Pinstripe 31-30 over Boston College. This is Georgia’s nineteenth straight bowl game, dating back to the 1997-1998 Outback Bowl, where they beat Wisconsin 33-6. They beat Louisville 37-14 in last season’s Belk Bowl.
Announcers: Allen Bestwick and Dan Hawkins
3:20: Kansas State vs. Arkansas (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): The Razorbacks had one of the worst starts to this season you can imagine outside of Washington State, losing to Toledo 16-12 in Week 2. It didn’t look to get much better from there, as they then lost to old SWC foes Texas Tech and Texas A&M. But then there was a win over a resurgent Tennessee squad, and then staying in the game against Alabama. They then went off, scoring at least 50 points in four of their remaining six games. K-State failed to find any such moments of clarity as they suffered massive struggles on offense. They lost six in a row in the middle of the season, but recovered to close out their last three against Iowa State, Kansas, and West Virginia. This allowed them to go 6-6 to get their bowl bid, though they would’ve been eligible at 5-7 this season. Suffice it to say, I’m going with Arkansas.
Previous Meetings: In the battle of the correct way to pronounce “Arkansas”, there have been five previous meetings. The first two where enthralling 5-0 and 3-0 K-State victories back in 1910 and 1911. K-State won again in 1926, but the fun stops there for the folks from the Little Apple. Arkansas won in 1967, and most recently in the 2011-2012 Cotton Bowl by a 29-16 score.
Last bowl game: This is K-State’s sixth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, where they lost 36-34 to Syracuse. Last season saw a 40-35 defeat to UCLA in the Alamo Bowl. Arkansas defeated Texas 31-7 in last season’s Texas Bowl.
Announcers: Anish Shroff and Ahmad Brooks
6:45: Texas Christian vs. Oregon (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): Well, this looked like it was going to be a close game. After a sloppy start to the season and injuries to their quarterback, Oregon got a healthy Vernon Adams back and then started looking like their previous selves, winning their last six in a row and upsetting Stanford and Southern Cal in the process. TCU was in the Big 12 mix once again, but their losses to the Oklahoma schools put them here. I picked Oregon anyway, but as I said earlier, I thought this would be close. Instead, TCU’s all-everything quarterback, Trevone Boykin, punched a cop the other night. Suffice it to say, I now really think it’s going to be Oregon.
Previous Meetings: Just two. Oregon won 29-24 in 1977, and then TCU returned the favor the next year, 14-10.
Last bowl game: As previously stated, TCU walloped Mississippi in last season’s Peach Bowl, 42-3. This is the Ducks’s eleventh straight postseason, dating to the 2005 Holiday Bowl, where they lost 17-14 to Oklahoma. Last season they memorably defeated Florida State 59-20 in the Rose Bowl, advancing to the College Football Playoff Championship, where they lost 42-20 to Ohio State.
Announcers: Dave Flemming and Mack Brown
10:15: West Virginia vs. Arizona State (Cactus Bowl @ Phoenix, AZ; ESPN): Both these teams had uneven seasons, to say the least. I don’t feel particularly good picking either way in this one. West Virginia’s offense, in particular, worries me, so I’m somewhat reluctantly taking the Sun Devils here.
Previous Meetings: Just one, in 1979. The Sun Devils won 42-7.
Last bowl game: The Mountaineers lost 45-37 in last season’s Liberty Bowl. The Sun Devils, meanwhile, have a five game streak dating to the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl, where they got smacked by Boise State 56-24. They defeated Duke in last season’s Sun Bowl 36-31.
Announcers: Dave Neal and Matt Stinchcomb