Bowl Games 2021: Leading up to Christmas

I’m heading into Christmas week 0.500 overall to this point. I’d say all my misses are upsets so far, so there’s at least that.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 20

2:30: Tulsa vs. Old Dominion (Myrtle Beach Bowl @ Conway, SC; ESPN): Tulsa getting bowl eligible snuck up on me somewhat, and the same kind of goes for ODU. But it turns out that Tulsa’s close-but-not-quite wins against quality AAC opponents adds up to an advantage for them, and I’m inclined to agree with the math.
SP+ line: Tulsa by 11.1
Vegas line: Tulsa by 9.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Tulsa lost to Miss State 28-26 in last season’s Armed Forces Bowl. ODU’s previous, and to this point only, bowl appearance was a 24-20 win over Eastern Michigan in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl.
Announcers: Kevin Brown, Huston Mason, and Marty Smith

Tuesday, December 21

3:30: Wyoming vs. Kent State (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): The forecast for Boise on Tuesday appears to be pretty cold and a little windy, but no snow until after the game. Darn. At any rate, Wyoming was too inconsistent on the year for me to be able to pick them here, so I’m going with the Flashses.
SP+ line: Wyoming by 4.5
Vegas line: Cowboys by 2.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Wyoming’s last bowl game was a 38-17 win over Georgia State in the 2019 Arizona Bowl. Kent’s last bowl game was a 51-41 win over Utah State in the 2019 Frisco Bowl.
Announcers: Bill Roth and Kelly Stouffer

7:30: Texas-San Antonio vs. San Diego State (Frisco Bowl @ Frisco, TX; ESPN): Now here we go. We have UTSA’s fun-ask-heck offense versus San Diego State’s defense and punter. The problem for the Road Runners is likely to be that SDSU is just more talented than them, but I still think this could be a fun one.
SP+ line: SDSU by 0.1
Vegas line: Meep Meep by 2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: The Road Runners’s lost to Louisiana 31-24 in last season’s First Responder Bowl. The Aztec’s last bowl appearance was a 48-11 romp over Central Michigain in the 2019 New Mexico Bowl.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Rocky Boiman

Wednesday, December 22

8:00: Missouri vs. Army (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): Army’s loss to Navy was pretty shocking, but they’re getting a supremely mediocre Mizzou team here that could well not care for getting knees hit for 4 quarters. I’ll still take Army here.
SP+ line: Army by 5.2
Vegas line: Army by 3.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: “These teams have met four times. The first meeting was in 1968, a 7-3 Mizzou win. The most recent was A 23-10 Mizzou win in 1982. Mizzou leads the series 3-1.”
Last bowl game: Army lost 24-21 in last season’s Liberty Bowl to West Virginia. Mizzou’s last bowl appearance was also the Liberty Bowl. In 2018 they lost 38-33 to Oklahoma State.
Announcers: Tiffany Greene and Jay Walker

Thursday, December 23

3:30: Miami vs. North Texas (Frisco Football Classic @ Frisco, TX; ESPN): After all of the other bowls were announced, there was still an extra team. So this game was created so that MAC Miami and 6-7 Hawaii could go to bowl games. Why it got called a “Classic”, which it didn’t even exist a month ago, remains a mystery. Since it also kicks off less than 4 hours before the Gasparilla Bowl, that also makes it likely to delay that game. Great. At any rate, the Mean Green weren’t terribly good this year, and SP+ has the Redhawks as an 8 point favorite, so I’ll go with them.
SP+ line: Miami by 7.8
Vegas line: Miami by 2.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: UNT played in last season’s Myrtle Beach Bowl and lost 56-28 to App State. Miami lost 27-17 to Louisiana in the 2019/20 Mobile Alabama Bowl.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Rocky Boiman

7:00: Central Florida vs. Florida (Gasparilla Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN): UF should win this game. The problem for the Gators, and ultimately for Dan Mullen, is that there were many games this year they should have won. They are also facing a foe is not unfamiliar with the Gators with Gus Malzahn over on the Golden Knight’s sideline. Plus, the game is in Tampa, the vertex of a very humid triangle with Orlando and Gainesville. I still will pick the Gators, but I have zero confidence about it.
SP+ line: Florida by 8.9
Vegas line: Gators by 6.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: These teams have met twice. Florida won the first meeting, a 58-27 win in 1999, and again 42-0 in 2006.
Last bowl game: This is the fourth straight bowl game for the Gators. The streak started with a 41-15 win over Michigan in the 2018 Peach Bowl. Last season they got waxed 55-20 by Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
Announcers: Wes Durham and Roddy Jones

Friday, December 24

8:00: Memphis vs. Hawaii (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Memphis was definitely down this year, but Hawaii just wasn’t, like, good. But hey, it’ll be a home game for them. I’m still picking Memphis though.
SP+ line: Memphis by 0.6
Vegas line: Memphis by 6.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is Memphis’s eighth consecutive bowl appearance. Their streak dates to the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl, a punchy (literally) 55-48 win over BYU. Last season they beat FAU 25-10 in the Montgomery Bowl. Hawaii has made four straight bowl games, starting with a 31-14 loss to Louisiana Tech in the 2018 Hawaii Bowl. They beat Houston 28-14 in last season’s New Mexico Bowl.
Announcers: Jason Benetti, Andre Ware, and Paul Carcaterra

Saturday, December 25

2:30: Ball State vs. Georgia State (Camellia Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): I don’t know anything about this Ball State team, and the Panthers are nearly a two-score favorite. Plus, this game is during the day on Christmas Day. Will anyone actively watch this?
SP+ line: GSU by 9.3
Vegas line: Panthers by 4.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: These teams have met twice. The first was a 31-19 Georgia State win in 2015. In 2016, Ball State won 31-21.
Last bowl game: Ball State beat San Jose State 34-13 in last season’s Arizona Bowl. Georgia State has made three straight bowl games. They lost 38-17 to Wyoming in the 2019 Arizona Bowl and beat Western Kentucky 39-21 in last season’s Lendingtree Bowl.
Announcers: Roy Philpott and Huston Mason