Bowl Games 2019: The Road to New Year’s Day

I’m still working off the adrenaline from that Clemson-Ohio State game, so I figured I’d get us the rest of the way to New Year’s Day. You can also check the current status of my predictions.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 30
12:30: Western Michigan vs. Western Kentucky (First Responder @ Dallas, TX; ESPN): Welcome back, college football fans! Look, it’s definitely going to be easy to make jokes about the relative quality of this game versus the one that took place Saturday night, but these are both solid teams in their conferences and it should be a solid back and forth game. That said, I’ve got WKU here.
SP+ line: WKU -4
Vegas line: WKU -3.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: WKU’s last bowl game was the 2017 Cure Bowl, which the lost 27-17 to Georgia State. WMU lost 49-18 to BYU in last season’s Potato Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Neal and DJ Shockley


  • Illinois vs. California (Redbox Bowl @ Santa Clara, CA; FOX): So I mentioned this back when I originally predicted this matchup, so I won’t go into it too much here. But, again, this game features two of the universities that have played a large role in the development of computers as we know them today. That said, both of these teams enter this game a little banged up and with serious questions about their ability to function on offense. I’ve got Illinois as a slight favorite.
    SP+ line: UIUC -4.3
    Vegas line: Berkeley -6.5
    Watchability tier: I
    Previous meetings: The Illini are 7-3 all-time, and none of these games have been in the Rose Bowl. They first met in 1955, a 20-23 win for Illinois. They met a couple times in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and then four times in the early 2000’s. Their last meeting was in 2005, when Cal won 35-20.
    Last bowl game: As one might suspect, it’s been a minute since the Illini have been to a bowl game. In fact, they haven’t tasted the postseason since the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, where they lost 35-18 Louisiana Tech. Last season, Cal suffered the most spectacular 10-7 overtime loss ever in the Cheez-It Bowl against TCU.
    Announcers: Joe Davis and Brock Huard
  • 4:00: Louisville vs. Mississippi State (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): This game should feature some offense, however. This should be a nice coda for the Cardinals, whom were not expected to do anything after the smoking crater Bobby Petrino left last year. Miss State meanwhile is here with a slightly-less-than-predicted embattled head coach that nonetheless has gotten the Bulldogs in yet another bowl. I think they’re also slightly better than Louisville.
    SP+ line: Miss State -5.5
    Vegas line: Miss State -4.5
    Watchability tier: I
    Previous meetings: Five. All four regular season meetings were in the 70’s, from 1973-1976, all won by the Bulldogs. Their last meeting was in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl, a 31-27 Miss State.
    Last bowl game: Louisville’s last bowl game was the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl, a 31-27 loss to… Mississippi State. For the Bulldogs, this is their tenth consecutive bowl game. They beat Michigan 52-14 in the 2010 Gator Bowl, and last season they lost 27-22 to Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
    Announcers: Tom Hart and Jordan Rodgers

8:00: Virginia vs. Florida (Orange Bowl @ Miami Gardens, FL; ESPN): Virginia is a solid, middle-tier ACC team. The ACC Coast was extremely mediocre this year, but they won it. That’s good! Their reward, however, was to get slammed by Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, and now thanks to contractual obligations they also get to get pounded by Florida. At least they get a trip to Miami for their trouble, I suppose.
SP+ line: Gators -17.4
Vegas line: Gators -14.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Just one, a 55-10 Florida win back before Florida was even Florida in 1959.
Last bowl game: This is Virginia’s third straight bowl game. In 2017 they lost 49-7 to Navy in the Military Bowl, and last aseson they beat South Carolina 28-0 in the Belk Bowl. The Gators beat Michigan 41-15 in last season’s Peach Bowl.
Announcers: Steve Levy and Brian Griese

Tuesday, December 31
Noon: Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ABC): With Bud Foster retiring, the last vestiges of the Beamer era are also retiring from Virginia Tech. But I expect this game to be pretty close, and entertaining mainly due to the fact that Kentucky is essentially a one-man show at this point. Lynn Bowden is listed by ESPN was a wide receiver, yet he has 348 yards receiving on the year to 1,235 yards rushing. Thanks to injuries to Kentucky’s first and second string quarterbacks, they essentially decided to put Bowden and see what happens. And it’s worked, most recently in a 45-13 thrashing of rival Louisville Thanksgiving weekend. The fun will be seeing if it works again. I have Kentucky by a nose.
SP+ line: UK -0.6
Vegas line: VPI -2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Kentucky is 11-6-2 all time against VPI. The series dates to 1926, a surely enthralling 13-13 tie. (The other tie was 21-21 in 1942.) They met a few times in the 30’s, 40’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, but they haven’t met since 1987, a 14-7 Kentucky win.
Last bowl game: With Florida State falling last year, Virginia Tech owns the longest current bowl streak. This will be their 27th consecutive bowl game, dating to the 1993 Independence Bowl, a 45-20 win over Indiana. Last season they lost 35-31 to CIncinnati in the Miltary Bowl. This is now Kentucky’s fourth straight bowl game, dating to a 33-18 loss to Georgia Tech in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl. Last season they beat Penn State 27-24 in the Citrus Bowl.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Anthony Becht

2:00: Florida State vs. Arizona State (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): I think you could probably say either of these teams is the other of in their own conference, i.e., “Arizona State is the Florida State of the Pac-12”. Well, at least in terms of personality. Coming into this game FSU is a train wreck that fired their coach in the middle of his second season, while the Sun Devils are blossoming behind Herm Edwards, of all people. I like them here.
SP+ line: ASU -4.8
Vegas line: ASU -3.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Well, Florida State’s 36 game consecutive bowl streak ended last season, so now I’ll just note that their last bowl game was the 2017 Independence Bowl, a 42-13 win over Southern Miss. The Sun Devils has now been to three straight bowl games. They lost 52-31 to NC State in the 2017 Sun Bowl and lost 31-20 to Fresno State in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl.
Announcers: Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson

3:45: Kansas State vs. Navy (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): I’m going to go ahead and guess there’s not going to be a lot of passing in this game. That said, I’ve said before K-State has surpassed all expectations this year and they look to be heading in the right direction. Navy is way back this year, and I’ve actually got them as a favorite.
SP+ line: Navy -2.7
Vegas line: Navy -2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: K-State’s last bowl game was a 35-17 win over UCLA in the 2017 Cactus Bowl. Navy’s last bowl game was a 49-7 win over Virginia in the 2017 Military Bowl.
Announcers: Roy Philpott and Kelly Stouffer

4:30: Wyoming vs. Georgia State (Arizona Bowl @ Tuscon, AZ; CBSS): About the only reason to tune in this game is to see how ugly Wyoming’s brown uniforms are. Otherwise, this should be a rout.
SP+ line: Wyoming -9.1
Vegas line: Wyoming -7.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Wyoming’s last bowl game was the 2017 Potato Bowl, where they beat Central Michigan 37-14. Georgia State is making the third bowl game in their program’s history, and the first one that isn’t a Cure Bowl. They won the 2017 edition fo that game 27-17 over Western Kentucky.
Announcers: Rich Waltz and Aaron Murray

7:30: Texas vs. Utah (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): Both of these teams enter their bowl game embattled and looking for something to build on. Last year, Texas got that in the from of Bevo trying to gore Uga and then running out to a quick lead over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and holding on to win. Utah doesn’t have a live animal mascot, so in the absence of anything to charge at, the Longhorns are going to have think of a new plan. Utah also comes in disappointed, probably moreso after blowing the Pac-12 championship and watching Oklahoma get shredded by LSU (then again, LSU is really good, so maybe not). But considering Texas’s considerable struggles on offense this year, combined with Utah’s pretty good defense, it’s hard to see the “TEXAS IS BACK” narrative generators getting cranked up again after this one.
SP+ line: Utah -11.2
Vegas line: Utah -7.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Just one, a 1982 21-12 Texas win.
Last bowl game: Texas has been to three straight bowl games. In 2017 they beat Mizzou 33-16 in the Texas Bowl, and last season they beat Georgia 28-21 in the Sugar Bowl. The Utes have been to six straight bowl games, starting with the 2014 Las Vegas Bowl, where they beat Colorado State 45-10. Last season they lost 31-20 to Northwestern in the Holiday Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Flemming and Louis Riddick