Monthly Archives: November 2021

Bowl Predictions 2021: Week 4

First off, the latest predictions are here. I would consider this week a bit of a “living document”, as if I can scrape together any news before this weekend abut anyone going anywhere I will try to include. This is significantly harder than it used to be, though, as I discuss below.

It turns out a bunch of stuff happened this weekend, and one of those things, to my surprise, was that we got over the 82-team bar that we needed to have enough bowl eligible teams. In fact, there’s 83!

So with that settled, there are also three teams that have accepted invites. My process this year, as detailed previously, is different in the past. One of things I have tried to do ensure that I have captured the agreements the conferences have with bowls as closely as possible. A typical agreement these days, especially for Group of Five conferences, is that they will have 2-4 “permanent” bowl affiliations and some number of teams they’ll provide to ESPN Events (which, again, owns about half of the bowl games). This number is anywhere from 1 to 5.

After I allocated those slots, I was left with 6 teams that did not have a bowl game, with 5 slots to fill. In the real bowl games, there can be some shuffling within the ESPN Events group of bowls and this is nearly impossible to predict. For instance, currently BYU is slotted to the Independence Bowl. However, it’s entirely possible that to create a more attractive matchup, they could be moved to some other ESPN Events bowl. While UTSA isn’t exactly chopped liver, it’s likely that BYU and ESPN would want a matchup more appropriate for a team that has gone 5-0 against the Pac-12 this year. (In some ways, where they really should be is in Vegas this weekend to play, say, Oregon for the Pac-12 title, but still.)

This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Georgia @ Georgia Tech (“Clean, Old Fashioned Hate”; ABC): TO HELL WITH GEORGIA.
  • Ohio State @ Michigan (“The Game”; FOX): Well, here’s the Game to potentially end all Games. Michigan is still an underdog, but the combination of a home game and having a vague chance is giving Wolverine fans something they haven’t had in a while: hope for their first win this series since 2011. I am not sure they will get it, but I have a feeling I’ll be watching large chunks of this.
  • Florida State @ Florida (“Sunshine Showdown”; ESPN): FSU has definitely been on the upswing, while Florida’s season has been basically a disaster. With the two teams playing for bowl eligibility, I suspect FSU will be the one that wants to continue playing.
  • Wake Forest @ Boston College (ESPN2): With NC State’s stirring comeback victory over UNC last night, the Atlantic scenario is simple. If Wake wins here, they’ll win the division; if they lose, NC State does. Wake should win this game, but I do wonder if folks are figuring out the offense a little bit.
  • Texas Tech @ Baylor (FS1): Baylor shouldn’t have any trouble here.
  • Navy @ Temple (ESPNU): It’s been a long season for the Midshipmen, and it’s not over yet. That said, this is game that could still get them in a bit of a better place before playing Army in 2 weeks.
  • Maryland @ Rutgers (BTN): The Maryland defense is a bit of a liability for them, but fortunately for them Rutgers isn’t in much of a position to exploit it.
  • Houston @ Connecticut (CBSS): Houston should have no issues here.
  • Army @ Liberty (ESPN+)
  • Akron @ Toledo (ESPN+)
  • Miami @ Kent State (ESPN+)
  • Sacred Heart @ Holy Cross (NCAA Division I Playoffs First Round; ESPN+)

12:30: Miami @ Duke (ACC/RSN): It’s been a tough season for the Canes, but capping it off with the Blue Devils with bowl eligibility already ensure is a good salve.

1:00: Louisiana Tech @ Rice (ESPN+)


  • Texas-San Antonio @ North Texas (ESPN+)
  • Charlotte @ Old Dominion (ESPN+)
  • Texas State @ Arkansas State (ESPN+)
  • Troy @ Georgia State (ESPN+)
  • Davidson @ Kennesaw State (NCAA Division I Playoffs First Round; ESPN+)

2:30: Georgia Southern @ Appalachian State (“Deeper Than Hate”; ESPN+)


  • Florida International @ Southern Mississippi (ESPN+)
  • Stephen F. Austin @ Wisconsin-Whitewater (NCAA Division I Playoffs First Round; ESPN+)
  • California-Davis @ South Dakota State (NCAA Division I Playoffs First Round; ESPN+)


  • Pennsylvania State @ Michigan State (ABC): In the battle for possibly the sport’s most… unique trophy, this one figures to be pretty even. Penn State’s had some tough breaks on the season, and I think this one will be even. I give Sparty a slight edge at home.
  • Alabama @ Auburn (“Iron Bowl”; CBS): I felt a lot better about Auburn being able to make something weird happen in this game until it turned out that Bo Nix was ruled out for the rest of the season. While I still hope for shenanigans, I think that Alabama will prevail in the end.
  • Oregon State @ Oregon (ESPN): This could be a pretty good game. It’ll be in the mid-50’s and raining, and the Beavers will try their darnedest to great chaos in the Pac-12 North. I don’t think the Ducks will lose unless they’re still store from getting absolutely demolished by Utah last weekend.
  • Indiana @ Purdue (“Old Oaken Bucket”; FS1): I figure Purdue will put the Hoosiers out of their misery in this one.
  • Northwestern @ Illinois (BTN): Speaking of misery, this whole is just… I guess the Illini will win?
  • Western Kentucky @ Marshall (CBSS): Battle for the C-USA Eastern division! Western Kentucky is an interesting case study of taking a successful FCS offense and importing it more-or-less wholesale to FBS. If WKU wins this, they’ll get an even bigger showcase for the concept next week, and who know where else we’ll see this strategy after that?


  • Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (SEC): So Vandy has won 5 of the last 9 of their games against Tennessee, but I feel pretty good about saying it’ll be 5 of the last 10 after this one.
  • Virginia Tech @ Virginia (“Commonwealth Cup”; ACCN): Well, the Hokies finally went and fired Fuente, but it remains to be seem if that will really do anything to fix their woes. In the team, the Cavilers should still win.


  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota (FOX): Are you ready for a lot of sideline shots of an axe? Good, because I’ve got the game for you. Wisconsin seems to have another “prototypical Wisconsin running back” in Braelon Allen, which doesn’t bode well for the Gophers’ chances of getting that axe.
  • Tulsa @ Southern Methodist (ESPN2): Tulsa can be tricky but this should be a “get right” game for SMU.
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Louisiana (“Battle on the Bayou”; ESPNU): I wish this game would be close, but considering the relatively massive gap between these two teams right now I don’t see anything other than the Cajuns raging pretty decisively.
  • Arizona @ Arizona State (“Duel in the Desert”; Pac12): Same as the above, except the gap is probably a little smaller and you need to replace “Cajuns” with “Sun Devils”.
  • Northern Iowa @ Eastern Washington (NCAA Division I Playoffs First Round; ESPN+)
  • Tennessee-Martin @ Missouri State (NCAA Division I Playoffs First Round; ESPN+)

5:00: Southern vs. Grambling State (Bayou Classic @ New Orleans, LA; NBCSN)

6:00: Southern Illinois @ South Dakota (NCAA Division I Playoffs First Round; ESPN+)


  • Texas A&M @ Louisiana State (ESPN): I think this is a game that many will want 2019-esque shenanigans out of, but I suspect it’s more likely that TAMU will end the Coach O era at LSU with a whimper moreso than a bang.
  • West Virginia @ Kansas (FS1): Mountaineers roll.
  • Middle Tennessee State @ Florida Atlantic (Stadium)
  • Florida A&M @ Southeastern Louisiana (NCAA Division I Playoffs First Round; ESPN+)


  • Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (“Bedlam”; ABC): Bedlam will roll into Stillwater with a chance for the Cowboys to pick up a rare win in the series. How rare? Well, they’ve only won it 18 times out of the 125 it’s been played. Will they win this time? Well, it’s hard to say with Oklahoma will do on offense from week to week, especially given State’s very stout defense. But as they say: “Anything can happen in Bedlam. Oklahoma can win by a large amount, Oklahoma can win by a medium amount, or Oklahoma can win by a small amount”. I think that will still hold true here.
  • Kentucky @ Louisville (ESPN2): I still don’t really understand how Louisville is good, but the shine is definitely off Kentucky from earlier this season. I’ll take Kentucky here, but this one could be unexpectedly fun.
  • Tulane @ Memphis (ESPNU): But if a disappointing year for both of these teams, but what I’d really like is for this to become more of a rivalry – after all, these are two towns that are defined very much by their relationship with the Mississippi River. There’s got to be something there. But at least for now, Memphis figures to win.
  • Clemson @ South Carolina (“Palmetto Bowl”; SEC): It looks like both of these teams have figured some things out. Last weekend, the Gamecocks upset Auburn and Clemson beat the brakes off of Wake Forest. It turns out there’s still some talent in the boys from upstate, and I think that will carry the day in Columbia.
  • Pittsburgh @ Syracuse (ACCN): Pitt shouldn’t have any trouble with the Orange.

8:00: Notre Dame @ Stanford (FOX): While Stanford somehow figuring out how to win this one would be kind of funny, I just don’t see any way that it happens.

9:00: Nevada @ Colorado State (CBSS): The Rams have been a bit of a trainwreck this season, so I’ll take Nevada.


  • Brigham Young @ Southern California (ESPN): The Stormin’ Mormons will head into the Coliseum as favorites, at least in my book. USC looked lifeless and clueless in their loss to UCLA, and I think BYU will be able to take care of that.
  • California @ California-Los Angeles (FS1): And finally, the Battle for California, where the state’s top two public universities duke it out. You can also tell they’re related because one’s the Bears and the others the Bruins, which is just… a bear. UCLA essentially features slightly shifted colors compared to Cal. At any rate, the battle figures to conclude with a UCLA win, as the Bears are just kind of hapless on offense when they’re not playing Stanford.

And that’s that. I hope you enjoy the last full weekend of college football this season with wall-to-wall games from noon until after midnight. Bowl predictions should be up late Sunday night.

This Week in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.



  • Western Michigan @ Northern Illinois (ESPNU): NIU is possibly the luckiest team in FBS football this season. Of their 11 games played, they have won or lost 9 of them by 7 points or less (and often the latter). Western, by all rights, is not good enough to beat them, but even if they were, it wouldn’t matter because NIU is apparently just some sort of team of destiny this season.
  • Buffalo @ Ball State (ESPN+)


3:30: Fresno State @ San Jose State (FS1): In the annual battle of the Central Valley vs. Silicon Valley, well, this year the Bulldogs appear to have the upper hand. Fresno has been a tough out all year, and meanwhile the Spartans haven’t quite lived up to their magical seasons from the past couple of years.

7:30: Mississippi @ Mississippi State (“Egg Bowl”; ESPN): Ole Miss should win, but this is truly a rivalry series of late where should doesn’t matter. The butterfly effect of a player pretending to pee like a dog after scoring a late touchdown in 2019 continues to reverberate around the sport of college football. Since 2012, Ole Miss is 5-4 in the series, and no team has won three in aroud over the other. You could watch some boring NFL game while trying to power through the tryptophan, or you could watch to see what happens in Starkville. I know where I’ll be.



  • Kansas State @ Texas (FOX): I figure K-State will go ahead and put the Longhorns out of their misery. Should K-State win this game? Well, no, Texas is a lot better than them, But that hasn’t seemed to matter since sometime in the 4th quarter of Red River.
  • Boise State @ San Diego State (CBS): Since a 24-17 loss to Air Force back in mid-October, the Broncos have won four straight. That said, why in the world is this kicking off at 9:00 AM local time? I mean, I know why, but the fact of the matter is that what should be a great game of the Broncos trying to score and San Diego State’s punter singlehandedly trying to thwart those efforts will probably be a near-literal sleepwalk. In that case, I like the Aztec’s chances.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Central Michigan (ESPNU): Both of these teams have beaten Western Michigan, so this is the fight for Directional Michigan Superiority. I like the Chippewas here just as the better team over the course of the season so far, plus they won comfortably against WMU while Eastern had to stage a comeback.
  • Ohio @ Bowling Green (CBSS): It’s been a long season for both of these 3-8 teams. At least the Bobcats have reeled off a couple more MAC wins, so I’ll take them.

1:00: Utah State @ New Mexico (FS1): While not as bad as their compatriots in Las Cruces, the Lobos aren’t actually good or anything. I’ll take Utah State here.

1:30: Iowa @ Nebraska (BTN): Nebraska is on track to possibly be the best 3-win team in the history of major college football over the course of a full season. My prediction is that they’ll play this tough and close, but make a few key mistakes and ultimately lose by a single score in the end. How do I know this? Because this practically how all of their games have gone this year, regardless of the opponent. I’m not sure Iowa even needs to show up, frankly.

2:00: Texas-El Paso @ Alabama-Birmingham (ESPN+)


  • Missouri @ Arkansas (“Battle Line Rivalry”; CBS): Mizzou beat Florida last weekend and got Dan Mullen fired, but that figures to be the high point of their season.
  • Cincinnati @ East Carolina (ABC): As I suspected last week, playing an opponent with a pulse was enough to wake up the slumbering beast that is the Bearcats and they drubbed SMU 48-14. ECU is 7-4 and after a couple early losses has put together a nice little season for themselves, especially considering that they’re usually one of the more, shall we say, downtrodden of the AAC teams. While they’re not as good as Houston, they should serve to have the same effect in terms of getting Cincy’s blood up.
  • South Florida @ Central Florida (“War on I-4”; ESPN): This is a rivalry with some beef. Unfortunately, except for that glorious 2017 contest these two teams have mostly never been on the same wavelength, and as of late UCF seems to have left USF behind. While the first season on the Gus-bus has been a bit uneven for the Knights, they shouldn’t really have any trouble here.
  • Nevada-Las Vegas @ Air Force (CBSS): UNLV has won two games this year, which is probably a prop bet a lot of people lost (as it’s more than ‘0’ or ‘1’). So while this season’s probably exceeded expectations for the Rebels, it’ll likely stop at 2 to this wrecking ball of an Air Force team.
  • Costal Carolina @ South Alabama (ESPN+)

4:00: Colorado @ Utah (“Rumble in the Rockies”; FOX): It’ll be a rumble, all right – the rumble of Utah’s players blocking, tackling, and ramblin’ past Colorado’s.

4:30: Texas Christian @ Iowa State (FS1): As I mentioned in my bowl post, I suspect there won’t be enough bowl eligible teams. TCU is 5-6 and, well, I can’t see how this team beats even what’s been a bit of a down year for the Cyclones.

7:00: North Carolina @ North Carolina State (ESPN): I think almost everyone, except maybe Mack Brown, agrees that this isn’t the kind of season the Tar Heels expected to have. Meanwhile, NC State continues to do NC State things: win most of their games and look competent doing it. I suspect they’ll do the same in this rivalry game.

8:00: Washington State @ Washington (“Apple Cup”; FS1): This is a particularly weird edition of the Apple Cup, and y’all that’s really saying something. Both teams will be rolling in with interim head coaches after Jimmy Lake was dismissed a couple weeks ago, and of course Wazzu’s head man has been gone for a while. But a funny thing happened for the Cougs while they’ve been searching for a new coach: they’ve mostly won. Since losing to Utah, they’ve won 5 out of 7, which the losses coming to a pretty good BYU team this year and the other to Oregon. For the Dubs, it’s just been a spiral: a 26-16 loss to Oregon that wasn’t really that close, a 5 point loss to Arizona State (where hey, they scored 30 for the only time this season), and then a 3 point loss last week to a… not good Colorado team. But nonetheless this game is in Seattle, and it’ll be cold and drizzly. Who knows what will happen? (I’ll still take the Cougs, though.)

Bowl Predictions 2021: Week 3

They’re in the usual place if you just want to see where I’m guessing teams will wind up.

As we get toward the end of the season, this gets a little easier, of course. But at some point, historically this week, I’d attempt to incorporate rumors or other hints about what bowl reps (generally known by their bombastically-colored blazers) were up to, i.e., “there were representatives from the Independence Bowl in the press box today…”

That doesn’t really happen anymore. Most bowl selections are now in the hands of the conferences and/or ESPN. Also, before the playoff era, teams would generally find out their postseason destinations after Thanksgiving. However, with the playoff and New Year’s Six bowls taking 12 teams from 6 conferences, how many teams a particular conference sends to these bowls greatly affects the downstream picture.

For example, in this set of predictions I have Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas A&M all in the playoff or New Year’s Six. So sure, the SEC currently has 11 bowl eligible teams, but in my scenario the conference still won’t fulfill its second tier bowl obligations.

Next up, we have the general outlook of the bowl picture. As it currently stands, there are 72 bowl eligible teams. There are 41 bowl games this season. (I obviously like bowl games a lot, but even I think that 41 might be too many.) My latest set of predictions – informed by SP+ – get me to 79 bowl eligible teams, which leaves me three short. The NCAA bowl eligibility rules then state that 5-7 teams are eligible, sorted by priority from highest APR down. So that’s how Rutgers, Middle Tennessee State, and Syracuse show up on my board. This is somewhat complicated by the fact I’m using old data because the NCAA has said that it will not publicly release the 2019-2020 data for APR.

So there we have it. The real test will come tomorrow night, when we see how the committee deals with Oregon’s loss.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Michigan State @ Ohio State (ABC): It’s not the Big Game, but this year at least it’s a close runner-up. That said, I’ll still take the Buckeyes here.
  • Iowa State @ Oklahoma (FOX): Oklahoma finally took a loss last week, as we’ve sort figured they would. But in what’s been a disappointing year for the Cyclones, I don’t see the trick repeating.
  • Wake Forest @ Clemson (ESPN): Wake also finally lost last week, though it doesn’t get any easier. This will be the ultimate test of their offense – and I’m not sure they’ll pass.
  • Texas @ West Virginia (ESPN2): Losing to Kansas seems like a lowpoint, and I guess my thing is that it just seems to indicative of the seeming dysfunction in Austin that I like the ‘Neers here.
  • New Mexico State @ Kentucky (SEC): No worries for the Wildcats here.
  • Purdue vs. Northwestern (@Chicago, IL; BTN): So, in case you didn’t know, this game is going to be played at Wrigley Field for some reason. I did the ballpark tour there over the summer, and it’s not unprecedented – the Bears did play there for years, after all. Nonetheless, it still seems kinda silly. At any rate, I also like the Boilermakers.
  • Rutgers @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): Rutgers is improved this year, sure, but not improved enough to win in Happy Valley.
  • Massachusetts @ Army (CBSS): Army should be able to handle their business against one of, if not the, worst teams in FBS.
  • Florida State @ Boston College (ACCN): BC’s quarterback should be able to have another field day against FSU’s defense.
  • Wofford @ North Carolina (ACC/RSN)
  • Florida Atlantic @ Western Kentucky (Stadium)
  • Charleston Southern @ Georgia (ESPN+)
  • Prairie View A&M @ Texas A&M (ESPN+)
  • Tennessee State @ Mississippi State (ESPN+)
  • Temple @ Tulsa (ESPN+)
  • Kent State @ Akron (ESPN+)


  • Illinois @ Iowa (FS1): Remember when Illinois beat Nebraska? Yeah… Hawkeyes all the way here.
  • Arkansas State @ Georgia State (
  • Montana State @ Montana (ESPN+)


  • Georgia Tech @ Notre Dame (NBC): So the conventional wisdom is that Tech can’t really afford to fire Collins at this point, and will probably need to wait until after next season to reduce his buyout.
  • Washington @ Colorado (Pac12): UDub should be able to take care of business against the woeful Buffs.


  • Arkansas @ Alabama (CBS): Arkansas has been one of the most surprisingly fun teams of the year, but this one doesn’t figure to be much fun.
  • Nebraska @ Wisconsin (ABC): My prediction is that Nebraska will keep it tight, but find a way to lose by 7 points or less.
  • Southern Methodist @ Cincinnati (ESPN): Cincy needs style points, and in some ways maybe playing a stronger opponent will actually work out better for them. We’ll see if that theory holds up, but either, this will be the best team they play unless they get Houston in the AAC title game.
  • Virginia @ Pittsburgh (ESPN2): UVA’s defense likely won’t be able to stop Pitt’s offense, which is an extremely weird sentence that probably will only make sense this year.
  • Michigan @ Maryland (BTN): Probably not this year, Terps.
  • Minnesota @ Indiana (BTN): This one could be weird – Minnesota’s been better than you realize, but probably not great. Indiana has had a down year due to injuries, but they can still claw this out. I’ll take the Gophers but I don’t feel great about it.
  • East Carolina @ Navy (CBSS): This just doesn’t seem like Navy’s year, I’ll take ECU.
  • Marshall @ Charlotte (Stadium)
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Texas-San Antonio (ESPN+)
  • Old Dominion @ Middle Tennessee State (ESPN+)
  • Appalachian State @ Troy (ESPN+)


  • California-Los Angeles @ Southern California (FOX): What this rivalry lacks in terms of a moniker it usually makes up for in style. While that should be true here, this nonetheless isn’t a great set of teams. UCLA’s been a tad better this year, so I’ll go with the Bruins.
  • Louisiana @ Liberty (ESPNU): Go Cajuns.
  • Florida @ Missouri (SEC): Yes, the Gators did lose to South Carolina. But I can’t see them losing to Mozzou, but I will also say I have zero plans or inclination to watch this at all.
  • Syracuse @ North Carolina State (ACCN): NC State should be okay here.
  • Connecticut @ Central Florida (ESPN+)
  • Kansas @ Texas Christian (ESPN+)
  • Rice @ Texas-El Paso (ESPN+)
  • Brigham Young @ Georgia Southern (ESPN+)
  • South Florida @ Tulane (ESPN+)

5:30: Baylor @ Kansas State (FS1): K-State is definitely the kind of team that can knock you off your “just beat OU” perch, But Baylor still figures to just plain out-score ’em.


  • Auburn @ South Carolina (ESPN): Even without Bo Nix here, Auburn should be a straightforward favorite.
  • Wyoming @ Utah State (“Bridger’s Battle”; CBSS): Wyoming is 5-5, but only one of those wins has come in Mountain West play. I expect this trend to continue.
  • California @ Stanford (“The Big Game”; Pac12): Well, both of these teams feature somewhat dysfunction offenses, but Cal has just generally looked worse over the course of the season. This doesn’t figure to be a classic edition of the Big Game for sure.
  • North Texas @ Florida International (


  • Oregon @ Utah (ABC): Oregon should win this, but by far the best they’ve looked all season was in Columbus. I still have the Ducks here, but going on the road to Salt Lake City is always going to be a tough out in the Pac-12.
  • South Alabama @ Tennessee (ESPNU): Vols should have no problems here.
  • Vanderbilt @ Mississippi (SEC): Ole Miss should have no problems here,
  • Virginia Tech @ Miami (ACCN): Well, VPI went and did it finally by firing Fuente. But I don’t think VPI has actually played all that badly, whereas Miami has just been, well, not great! I don’t think they’re on the verge of getting rid of Manny, though, so this game may actually be kind of awkward. I will honestly take VPI here.

8:00: Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech (FOX): Eh, I’ll still go with Okie State. Texas Tech is just the “oh yeah I definitely understand why they fired there coach a few weeks ago” sort of bad.


  • New Mexico @ Boise State (FS1): Boise’s not quite Boise this year, but they’re still Boise enough to beat New Mexico on the trademark blue turf.
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Louisiana State (ESPN2): Monroe has no prayer in this game, but it could still be funny. Plus: this may well the be the greatest tailgate in the history of college football. I almost wonder if there’s any andouille left in the state today?

10:30: Arizona State @ Oregon State (ESPN): And now, some Pac-12 After Dark. At the beginning of the year, I would’ve said Sun Devils all the way, but at this point – yeah, I’ll take those Beavers.