Bowl Games 2020: Happy New Year!

The page is updated, and 2020 is almost over. Thank goodness.

Thursday, December 31

12:00: Tulsa vs. Mississippi State (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): This one is mostly a high watchability tier because Tulsa should put on a display in terms of shutting down a 3-7 Miss State team. I have the Golden Hurricane all the way here.
SP+ line: Tulsa by 6.9
Vegas line: Tulsa -2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Tulsa’s last bowl game was the 2016 Miami Beach Bowl, where they beat Central Michigan 55-10. And thanks to 2020 rules, 3-7 Miss State will be heading to their eleventh straight bowl game. The streak started with a 52-14 win over Michigan in the 2010-11 Gator Bowl, and last season they lost 38-28 to Louisville in the Music City Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Ian Fitzsimmons

2:00: San Jose State vs. Ball State (Arizona Bowl @ Tuscon, AZ; CBS): We’ve got a battle of champions here! And it could be good! But you’ll also have overlap between the earlier game and the later game, and this one may lose out. Plus, I like San Jose to cover here. The Spartans just flat out won the Mountain West this year and while their success seems a bit out-of-nowhere, they definitely earned it.
SP+ line: SJSU by 6
Vegas line: SJSU -7
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: For the Spartans, this is their first bowl game since the 2015 Cure Bowl, where they beat Georgia State 27-16. For Ball State, this is their eighth bowl appearance all-time, with the most recent being a 23-20 loss to Arkansas State in the 2013-14 Bowl.
Announcers: Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, Jamie Erdahl

4:00: West Virginia vs. Army (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): Look down at the announcers. It’s cool, I can wait. Okay, now that you’re back, I AM SO PSYCHED. Former Voice of the Yellow Jackets Wes Durham will be on the call, along with former Yellow Jacket Roddy Jones! Talk about a perfect duo to call some flexbone offense. I am here for this. So… the awkward part is that West Virginia is a touchdown favorite even by the advance metrics. And I’m here to say, look, Army probably wanted to play in a bowl game this year more than any team not in the playoff, and maybe more than one or two of those teams. I think they will show up ready, while West Virginia will not. Against an option team, this is deadly.
SP+ line: WVU by 6.8
Vegas line: WVU -7
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Three, and they were all a long time ago. Army won the first two meetings in 1941 and 1946, 7-6 and 19-0 respectively. The last meeting was in 1961, where WVU won 7-3.
Last bowl game: West Virginia’s last bowl appearance was the 2018 Camping World Bowl, where they lost 34-18 to Syracuse. Army’s last bowl appearance was the 2018 Armed Forces Bowl, a 70-14 rout of Houston.
Announcers: Wes Durham, Roddy Jones, Eric Wood

Friday, January 1

12:00: Cincinnati vs. Georgia (Peach Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Hoping this is more like Georgia’s game against Texas two years ago rather than their game against Baylor last year. Cincy’s certainly got the defense to pull this off, and I don’t buy this business about UGA’s offense suddenly being competent. I’m taking Cincy straight-up here.
SP+ line: Cincinnati by 1.4
Vegas line: UGA -7
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Just one, in 1976. Georgia won 31-17.
Last bowl game: Cincy’s made three straight bowl games. In 2018 they beat Virginia Tech 35-31 in the Military Bowl, and last season they beat Boston College 38-6 in the Birmingham Bowl. For Georgia, this is their 24th straight bowl game, dating back to the 1997-98 Outback Bowl, where they beat Wisconsin 33-6. Last season they beat Baylor 26-14 in the Sugar Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Kris Budden

1:00: Northwestern vs. Auburn (Citrus Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): This is certainly a bowl game that will probably happen. Auburn did finally do the thing and Fire Gus, but in the end they wound up making a sensible hire, so that’s not even that funny. That said, it’s not like Harsin will be coaching this game, and let’s see who will be on the sidelines for the Tigers instead…ah right, it’s the guy who tried to start a coup, Kevin Steele. Wonder how he feels about not getting the big job? I’ll take Northwestern to come out ready to play and to hold on to win.
SP+ line: Auburn by 0.7
Vegas line: NU -3.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Just one, a 38-35 Northwestern victory in the 2009-10 Outback Bowl.
Last bowl game: Northwestern’s last bowl game was the 2018 Holiday Bowl, a 31-20 win over Utah. Auburn’s been to seven straight bowls, going back to the a 34-31 loss to Florida State in the 2013-14 BCS Championship Game. Last season they lost 34-24 to Minnesota in the Outback Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Paul Carcaterra

4:00: Alabama vs. Notre Dame (Rose? Bowl @ Arlington, TX; ESPN): This is just wrong, but apparently the city of Pasadena is getting $2 millions for the use of the Rose Bowl name, so I more power to them I guess. That said, I don’t have a lot of reason to think this will be anything other than a dominant Alabama victory. Thanks for playing, Irish.
SP+ line: Bama by 13.3
Vegas line: Bama – 19.95
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Seven. The first was in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, a 24-23 Notre Dame win. They met a few times in the regular seasdon in the 80’s, and you probably already know about their most recent meeting, a 42-14 Alabama win in the 2012-13 BCS Championship Game. Notre Dame holds an overall 7-2 advantage in the series, though.
Last bowl game: In 2004, Alabama lost 20-16 to Minnesota in the Music City Bowl, a return of sorts after improving to 6-6 from 4-9. They’ve gone to the postseason every year since then. Last season, they didn’t make a New Year’s Six bowl, but beat Michigan 35-16 in the Citrus Bowl anyway. The Irish have been to four straight bowl games, dating to the 2017-18 Citrus Bowl, where they beat LSU 21-17. Last season they beat Iowa State 33-9 in the Camping World Bowl.
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Todd McShay, Allison Williams

8:00: Clemson vs. Ohio State (Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): I think Clemson will win, but I am tired of hearing so far in bowl games about how Ohio State hasn’t played enough games and blah-blah-blah. So I essentially hope this is (yet again) the best bowl game of the season and it entirely proves the Buckeyes deserve to be here.
SP+ line: Clemson by 1.8
Vegas line: Clemson -7.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: These two have played each a few times recently. Their first meeting was a 17-15 win Clemson back in the 1978 Gator Bowl. The previous three have all also been Clemson wins, most recently 29-23 in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, you know, last season’s playoff semi-final. Clemson therefore has a 4-0 overall series lead.
Last bowl game: Clemson beat Colorado 19-10 in the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl, and including that they’ve been to bowl games in 16 straight seasons. Last season, they beat Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl and then were felled by LSU 42-25 in the CFP Championship Game. Ohio State has been to eight consecutive postseasons, dating to a 40-35 loss to… Clemson in the 2013-14 Orange Bowl. And as previously stated, they lost 29-23 to Clemson in last year’s excellent Fiesta Bowl. Let’s hope this is more of the same.
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor, Tom Rinaldi

Saturday, January 2

12:00: North Carolina State vs. Kentucky (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN): This game exists purely to hold you over until the fireworks start at the bottom of the hour. I have NC State here.
SP+ line: NCSU by 4.3
Vegas line: UK -3
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Just one, a 1970 27-2 win for NC State.
Last bowl game: The Wolfpack were last seen in the postseason as participants in the 2018 TaxSlayer Bowl, where they lost 52-13 to Texas A&M. Kentucky have been to five straight bowl games, starting with a 33-18 loss to Georgia Tech in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl (woo). Last season they beat Virginia Tech 37-30 in the Belk Bowl.
Announcers: Anish Shroff, Tom Luginbill, Lericia Harris

12:30: Indiana vs. Mississippi (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ABC):  HERE WE GO. Indiana is a fun team that, while missing their all-time great QB, is still fun to watch and pretty good. Ole Miss, meanwhile, runs what I am calling the “YOLO Offense” because their playcalling is essentially “eh, screw it, throw it deep”. And it seems to work! This game should have all the points. Well, hopefully. That said, Indiana actually plays a little defense, so I think the Hoosiers will get a spot and pull out a win.
SP+ line: Indiana by 7.2
Vegas line: Indiana -7
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Indiana’s making their second consecutive bowl season, after last season’s narrow loss to Tennessee in the Gator Bowl, 23-22. Ole Miss is appearing in their first bowl game since the 2015-16 Sugar Bowl, where they beat Oklahoma State 48-20.
Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic

4:00: Oregon vs. Iowa State (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): Iowa State has had an all-time great season by their standards, and I think they’ll carry that all the way through to a victory.
SP+ line: Iowa State by 2.9
Vegas line: Iowa State -4.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This will be the fourth straight bowl appearance for the Ducks, dating to a 38-28 loss to Boise State in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl. Last season, they beat Wisconsin on a perfect day in Pasadena, 28-27. The Cyclones have now been to four straight bowls, dating to a 21-20 win over Memphis in the 2017 Liberty Bowl. Last season they lost 33-9 to Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Mike Golic, Quint Kessenich

8:00: North Carolina vs. Texas A&M (Orange Bowl @ Miami Gardens, FL; ESPN): And finally, what will probably be the last bowl game before the title game. And boy howdy I hope Carolina wins, because the TAMU whining after not getting in the playoff was awful. That’s not a great basis for prognostication, but it’s what I’ve got.
SP+ line: UNC by 2.5
Vegas line: TAMU -6
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: UNC won last year’s Military Bowl 55-13 over Temple. TAMU has been to 12 straight bowl games, dating to the 2009 Independence Bowl, a 44-20 loss to Georgia. Last season they beat Oklahoma State 24-21 in the Texas Bowl.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Katie George