Author Archives: ASimPerson

Bowl Games 2019: Final

It was a pretty good bowl season for me, I’m at about 64% right now in terms of picking winners. I’ll take that all day, every day.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, January 13

8:00: Louisiana State vs. Clemson (College Football Playoff Championship Game @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Hoo boy, this is going to be a ball game, folks. I like both of these teams. Clemson probably really wishes they had that defensive line from last year, as the main occasions where LSU has really been challenged at all this year, they were facing fantastic defensive lines that could keep Joe Burrow contained. I think Clemson is actually still good enough to challenge them again this year, and they’ve certainly showed they can hang with a challenge by coming back against Ohio State. I think, ultimately, my pick here is going to be to hedge this one a little bit. I’ve got LSU winning a close one and Clemson covering the 5.5.
SP+ line: LSU -2.5
Vegas line: LSU -5.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Three all time, and none in the regular season. LSU won the 1958-9 Sugar Bowl 7-0, and then prevailed 10-7 in the 1996 Peach Bowl. The Tigers from South Carolina finally got a win in the series back in the 2012 Chick-fil-a Bowl, 25-24.
Last bowl game: LSU had no problems with Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl back on December 28, winning 63-28. Clemson, though, gritted out an instant classic with a 29-23 win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

Bowl Games 2019: 2020

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Wednesday, January 1
1:00:

  • Michigan vs. Alabama (Citrus Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): There’s definitely been plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth about how this “clash of the titans” will be overhyped on the way to New Year’s Day. Which, look, I understand: I’m as tired of hearing about Michigan and (especially) Alabama as anyone. But that said, this should still be a pretty good football game! Well, provided Bama doesn’t just up and run away with it. Which is entirely possible.
    SP+ line: Bama -11.3
    Vegas line: Bama -6.5
    Watchability tier: IV
    Previous meetings: The series is even, a 2-2 split. Three of the previous meetings were bowl games: the 1987-88 Hall of Fame Bowl (28-24, Michigan), the 1996-97 Outback Bowl (17-14, Bama), and an overtime thriller in the 1999-2000 Outback Bowl that Michigan won 35-34. They kicked off the regular season in 2012, and Bama won 41-14.
    Last bowl game: This is Michigan’s fifth straight bowl game, dating to the 2015 Citrus Bowl, where they beat Florida 41-7. Florida then got them back in the Peach Bowl last season, where the Gators won 41-15. Alabama has been to sixteen straight bowl games, dating to a 20-16 loss to Minnesota in the 2004 Music City Bowl. Last season, they defeated Oklahoma 45-34 in the Orange Bowl, and then used their kicker as a lead blocker on a fake field goal while getting blown out 44-16 by Clemson in the College Football Playoff Championship Game.
    Announcers: Dave Pasch and Greg McElroy
  • Minnesota vs. Auburn (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN): Congratulations on one of the best seasons in school history, Minnesota! Your reward is to lose in some bizarre way to Auburn, the random number generator of college football teams.
    SP+ line: Auburn -4.3
    Vegas line: Auburn -7.5
    Watchability tier: IV
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
    Last bowl game: Minnesota defeated Georgia Tech 34-10 in last season’s Quick Lane Bowl. Auburn has been to seven straight bowl games, dating to the 2013 BCS Championship Game, where they lost 34-31 to Florida State. Last season they beat Purdue 63-14 in the Music City Bowl.
    Announcers: Jason Benetti and Rod Gilmore

5:00: Wisconsin vs. Oregon (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): This actually seems like a perfectly fun Rose Bowl! I don’t really have a good idea of who will win. There are both really-good-not-great teams that should produce a fun contrast of styles: Wisconsin should be able to run Jonathan Taylor behind their huge offensive line, but Oregon should be faster. I think (slash am hoping) that this will produce a close, fun matchup, though I think Wisconsin will win in the end.
SP+ line: Wisky -3.1
Vegas line: Wisky -2.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Wisky is 3-2 overall against Oregon. The first four meetings were in 1977, 1978, 2000, and 2001. Wisky won the first three. Their last meeting was the 2011-12 Rose Bowl, a 45-38 Oregon win.
Last bowl game: Wisconsin has been to 18 consecutive bowl games, dating to a 31-28 win over Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. Last season they demolished Miami 35-3 in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Ducks have been to three consecutive bowl games. They lost 38-28 to Boise State in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl and beat Michigan State 7-6 last season in the Redbox Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

8:45: Baylor vs. Georgia (Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): I’m not really giving Baylor much of a chance in this one, but the the main thing that could keep them in it is Georgia’s offense, which hopefully remains pretty much non-functional against a Big 12 defense. If Georgia gets up by multiple scores, though, this is (probably) over.
SP+ line: UGA -7.8
Vegas line: UGA -6.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: UGA is 4-0 all-time against Baylor. They first met in 1972, a 24-14 UGA win. Their last meeting was in 1989, a 15-3 Georgia win.
Last bowl game: Baylor defeated Vandy 45-38 last season in the Texas Bowl. Georgia has the country’s second longest consecutive bowls streak, now at 23 games. Their streak dates to the 1997 Outback Bowl, where they defeated Wisconsin 33-6. They lost 28-21 to Texas in last season’s Sugar Bowl.
Announcers: Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge

Thursday, January 2
3:00: Boston College vs. Cincinnati (Birmingham Bowl @ Birmingham, AL; ESPN): Let’s see… Cincy is pretty good, BC just fired their coach and is kinda bad on offense… yeah, this isn’t looking good for a Boston College win.
SP+ line: Cincy -12.3
Vegas line: Cincy -6.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: BC is 4-3 all-time against Cincy. They first met in 1961, a 23-0 BC win. They last met in 1997, a 24-6 Cincy win.
Last bowl game: Boston College’s last bowl game was the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl, a 27-20 loss to Iowa. Cincy defeated VPI 35-31 in last season’s Military Bowl.
Announcers: Kevin Brown and Andre Ware

7:00: Indiana vs. Tennessee (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN): So I picked Indiana a couple weeks ago, but I’ve since started talking myself into the Vols. They finished the season pretty strong! Whereas I don’t really know what to make of the Hoosiers at all. I’ll stick to my guns, though.
SP+ line: Indiana -4
Vegas line: Vols -1.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Just one, a 27-22 Tennessee win in the 1987-88 Peach Bowl.
Last bowl game: Indiana’s last bowl game was the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl, a 26-24 loss to Utah. This is the first bowl game for the Vols since the 2016 Music City Bowl, where they beat Nebraska 38-24.
Announcers: Dave O’Brien and Tim Hasselbeck

Friday, January 3
3:30: Nevada vs. Ohio (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): I don’t think that Nevada is actually two touchdowns bad, but, yeah, on paper at least this should be close. But we’ll see if the data actually bears that out.
SP+ line: Ohio -15
Vegas line: Ohio -7.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Nevada defeated Arkansas State 16-13 in last season’s Arizona Bowl. For the Bobcats, this is their fifth straight bowl game, dating to a 31-29 loss to Appalachai nState in the 2015 Camellia Bowl. Last season they shutout San Diego State 27-0 in the Frisco Bowl.
Announcers: Anish Shroff and John Congemi

Saturday, January 4
11:30: Tulane vs. Southern Mississippi (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): Tulane had a fantastic season and should be able to cap it off with a win over a mediocre Conference USA team.
SP+ line: Tulane -10.8
Vegas line: Tulane -6.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: USM leads the all-time series 23-7 between these closely located former conference-mates (from 1996-2010). Tulane won the first matchup in 1979, but it’s been all downhill from there, including losing the last six in a row.
Last bowl game: Tulane beat Louisiana-Lafayette 41-24 in last season’s Cure Bowl. Southern Miss’s last bowl game was a 42-13 defeat to Florida State in the 2017 Independence Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Cotter and Mark Herzlich

Monday, January 6
7:30: Miami vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (Mobile Alabama Bowl @ Mobile, AL; ESPN): And, finally, the last bit of college football for an entire week. It’ll be odd to go back to, well, normal as it were? It’s the first indication of the long dark of the offseason. And, unfortunately, this should really be a romp by the Cajuns. But I’ll watch it anyway.
SP+ line: Cajuns -19.2
Vegas line: Cajuns -13.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: I was fully expecting that this would be the first meeting between these teams, but it’s not! They first met in 1991, a 27-14 Miami victory, and then again in 1993, a 29-28 Miami win.
Last bowl game: Miami’s last bowl game was a 17-16 loss to Mississippi State in the 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl. ULL los 41-24 to Tulane in last season’s Cure Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Lamont and Gene Chizik

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

4:00:

  • 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

Bowl Games 2019: Talking About Playoffs

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday, December 26
4:00: Miami vs. Louisiana Tech (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN): Look, I picked Miami to win this game because there is no reason they should lose. But… Miami has also already lost multiple times this season to teams they shouldn’t have lost to. Florida International is the most obvious example, but heck even their loss to us was downright disconcerting if you’re at all concerned with goings-on in Coral Gables. Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, may be the best team this season you haven’t heard of. They sort of blew a shot at the Conference USA title, but they’re 9-3 and beat that FIU team Miami lost to. This one figures, at a minimum, to continue to frustrate Miami fans.
SP+ line: Canes -12.9
Vegas line: Canes -5.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Amazingly, there have been four meetings between these teams, and all in the regular season. Miami won the first one in 1979, a 6-0 win, and then blowouts in 2000, 2003, and 2004.
Last bowl game: For the Canes, this is their seventh bowl in a row, dating back to a 36-9 loss to Louisville in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl. Last season they got housed by Wisconsin 35-3 in the Pinstripe Bowl. For Louisiana Tech, this is their sixth bowl in a row, dating back to the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, a 35-18 win over Illinois.
Announcers: Wes Durham and Roddy Jones

8:00: Eastern Michigan vs. Pittsburgh (Quick Lane Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): EMU’s strange path to 6-6 involved a 34-31 win over Illinois that turned out to be the difference, as the Eagles finished 3-1 in out-of-conference play and 3-5 in the MAC, which is not typically how MAC teams get bowl eligible. Suffice it to say, I have Pitt as heavy favorites here.
SP+ line: Pitt -11.2
Vegas line: Pitt -10.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Just two, and EMU lost both them in blowout fashion in 1995 and 2007.
Last bowl game: For EMU, this is their fourth bowl appearance all-time, and the first time they’ve appeared in bowl games in consecutive seasons. Last season they lost 23-21 to Georgia Southern in the Camellia Bowl. Last season, Pitt lost 14-13 to Stanford in the Sun Bowl.
Announcers: Mike Corey and Rene Ingoglia

Friday, December 27
Noon: North Carolina vs. Temple (Military Bowl @ Annapolis, MD; ESPN): I have this one has being close and low-scoring, so I also have it as a bit of a coin-flip. Temple plays solid defense and UNC is just kinda mediocre. I have UNC as a slight favorite, but I’m not confident about it at all.
SP+ line: UNC -0.9
Vegas line: UNC -4.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Carolina’s first bowl appearance since the 2016 Sun Bowl, where they lost 25-23 to Stanford. This is Temple’s fifth bowl appearance in a row, dating back to a 32-17 loss to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl. Last season they lost 56-27 to Duke in the Independence Bowl.
Announcers: Mike Couzens and Kirk Morrison

3:20: Wake Forest vs. Michigan State (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): For a hot minute there, it looked like Wake was going to be interesting. Even after losing three of their last four they still finished 8-4, which by Wake standards is awesome. As you’ve probably figured out, though, that means they started 7-1, which probably had some in Winston-Salem with visions of a late December vacation to Miami dancing in their heads. Instead, it’s off to New York, to play perhaps the Sparty-est Michigan State team ever. I’m predicting a low-scoring win for MSU.
SP+ line: Sparty -4.4
Vegas line: Sparty -4.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Wake’s fourth bowl appearance in a row, starting with a 34-26 win over Temple in the Miltary Bowl. Last season they beat Memphis 37-34 in the Birmingham Bowl. This is Sparty’s third bowl game in a row, with the previous two being a 42-17 win over Wazzu in the Holiday Bowl and a miserable 7-6 loss to Oregon in the Redbox Bowl.
Announcers: Adam Amin and Matt Hasselback

6:45: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (Texas Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): While not completely historic foes (remember, the Texas schools only started regularly playing the other Big 12 schools in the mid-90’s, after the Southwest Conference collapsed and they sought refuge in what was then the Big 8), they did play each other a lot in the Big 12, and I’m sure everyone is perfectly happy that this is the Big 12 South rivalry that is being renewed in a bowl game. I certainly can’t think of any other game involving Texas A&M that anyone would want to see. At any rate, the narrative is that Texas A&M is the best 7-5 team in the country, and well, they kinda are. Their losses are to Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU. Those are all teams that are definitely better than TAMU! They otherwise didn’t get upset by anyone (though they did have to dodge some close calls against Arkansas and Ole Miss). I can pretty safely that OSU would’ve lost to all those teams, and I also feel pretty good about saying they’ll lose to TAMU.
SP+ line: TAMU -5.2
Vegas line: TAMU -7.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: TAMU is 17-10 all-time against their former Big 12 conference mate. They met 12 times before the collapse of the Southwest Conference, beginning with a 3-0 OSU win in 1913. They had regular season meetings off-and-on over the decades and also met in the 1981 Independence Bowl, a 33-16 TAMU win. Overall, TAMU was 8-4 before they met in the Big 12 for the first time in 1996. A&M continued to dominate the series when it was a conference game from 1996 through 2011, compiling a 9-6 record. However, the Cowboys won the last four in a row before the Aggies fled for the SEC.
Last bowl game: This is OSU’s 14th consecutive bowl appearance, dating all the way back to a 34-31 win over Alabama in the Independence Bowl (now those were the days!). Last season they beat Mizzou 38-33 in the Liberty Bowl. For A&M, make it 11 seasons in a row with a bowl appearance, dating to the 2009 Independence Bowl, where they lost 44-20 to Georgia. Last season they beat NC State 52-13 in the Gator Bowl.
Announcers: Kevin Brown and Andre Ware

8:00: Iowa vs. Southern California (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; FS1): Well, I guess the upside of USC retaining Clay Helton is that I finally remember his name and kinda know what he looks like, which is definitely how I think most people who follow college football would call the ideal head coach for USC. After all, what is the glitz and glamor of coaching Los Angeles’s most successful football team (period) for if not shying away from it? That said, when it comes to stodgy and boring football, well, the masters are Iowa, and you’re not going to beat Iowa at their own game.
SP+ line: Iowa -1.6
Vegas line: Iowa -1.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Southern Cal is 7-2 all-time against Iowa. They first met in 1925, a 18-0 USC win. Their only 21st century meeting was a 38-17 USC win in the 2002/3 Orange Bowl.
Last bowl game: For the Hawkeyes, this is their seventh bowl appearance in a row, with the streak starting with a 21-14 loss to LSU in the 2012-13 Outback Bowl. Last season they won the Outback Bowl, with a 27-22 win over Mississippi State. USC’s last bowl appearance was the 2017 Cotton Bowl, a 24-7 loss to Ohio State.
Announcers: Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt

10:15: Air Force vs. Washington State (Cheez-It Bowl @ Phoenix, AZ; ESPN): The “III” watchability rating pretty much exists for this exact type of game. You’ve got service academy option football versus a terrible defense and the Air Raid versus an undersized defense. If you need any additional justification, just think of it as practice for staying up late to watch the playoff Saturday night. Anyway, I have Wazzu, but expect points y’all.
SP+ line: Wazzu -0.2
Vegas line: AF -2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Air Force’s last bowl appearance was the 2016 Arizona Bowl, a 45-21 win over South Alabama. This is Wazzu’s fifth bowl game in a row, dating to the 2015 Sun Bowl, a 20-14 win over Miami. Last season they won 28-26 over Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Ryan Leaf

Saturday, December 28
Noon:

  • Memphis vs. Pennsylvania State (Cotton Bowl @ Arlington, TX; ESPN): And so the New Year’s Six begins. I want to believe that Memphis has a chance in this game, and with the way they can move the ball they certainly do. But it’s hard to see them prevailing in the end against Penn State.
    SP+ line: PSU -4.4
    Vegas line: PSU -6.5
    Watchability tier: IV
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
    Last bowl game: This is the sixth bowl appearance in a row for Memphis, dating to a 55-48 win over BYU in the Miami Beach Bowl. Last season they lost 37-34 to Wake Forest in the Birmingham Bowl. Penn State has made six straight bowl appearances, dating to a 31-30 win over Boston College in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl. Last season they lost 27-24 to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.
    Announcers: Mark Jones and Dusty Dvoracek
  • Notre Dame vs. Iowa State (Camping World Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): A pretty good Iowa State season figures to end in a loss, but hey, at least they got a trip to Orlando out of it.
    SP+ line: ND -3.6 
    Vegas line: ND -3.5
    Watchability tier: II
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
    Last bowl game: Notre Dame has now appeared in three straight bowl games. Two seasons ago they beat LSU 21-17 in the Citrus Bowl, and last season Clemson tidily disposed of them 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl. Iowa State has also now appeared in three straight. Two season ago they beat Memphis 21-20 in the Liberty Bowl, and last season they lost 28-26 to Wazzu in the Alamo Bowl.
    Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky

4:00: Louisiana State vs. Oklahoma (Peach Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): And here we go. First up, we have what should be an interesting 1 vs. 4 matchup. Ultimately, I don’t think OU’s defense will be able to get enough stops to put the brakes on LSU’s offense, but this is certainly a chance for the Sooner offense to maybe expose some of the weaknesses in LSU’s defense that, say, Georgia couldn’t. This should be a good, interesting game to watch, but I’m not sure the outcome is in much doubt.
SP+ line: LSU -6
Vegas line: LSU -13.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Unsurprisingly, their only previous meetings have been in the Sugar Bowl. In the 1949-1950 contest, the Sooners won 35-0, but LSU turned in the tables in the 2003-2004 game to win 21-14.
Last bowl game: For LSU, this marks 20 straight bowl appearances, dating all the way back to a 28-14 win over Georgia Tech in the 2000 Peach Bowl. Last season they beat UCF 40-32 in the Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners are doing the Tigers one better, as this is their 21st straight bowl appearance, going all the way back to a 27-25 loss to Ole Miss in the 1999 Independence Bowl. Last season they lost 45-34 to Alabama in the Orange Bowl.
Announcers: Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge

8:00: Ohio State vs. Clemson (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): And this is what you’re staying up for. Unstoppable force meets immovable object. Two undefeated major conference teams. The defending national champions. Two of the best quarterbacks in the nation (that aren’t playing in the other game). Of course, Justin Fields’s knee is a concern coming into this, but he didn’t seem very limited in the Michigan game, and he’s had a month to heal since then. The difference in this game figures to come down to the defensive lines. Clemson had to replace everyone off their defensive line from last year, and while those replacements are very good, they have also not been tested like this, even if Fields is limited. (This is by far Clemson’s biggest test of the season; their best win is probably over the Greatest 7-5 Team in the World, Texas A&M.) I hate to use phrases like “The ‘X’ Factor'”, but The ‘X’ Factor in this game figures to be Chase Young. He will get loose in the Clemson backfield at least a couple of times. Will those couple of times be enough to generate at least one turnover from Trevor Lawrence, a turnover that could well decide this game? I think so. I have the Buckeyes as slight favorites here, much to my chagrin.
SP+ line: OSU -6.1
Vegas line: Clemson -1.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Clemson is 3-0 all-time against the Buckeyes, and all their previous meetings have been in bowl games, and mostly relatively recently. In the 1978 Gator Bowl Clemson win 17-15, in the 2013-14 Orange Bowl the Tigers won 40-35, and somewhat famously, the Tigers won 31-0 in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl/playoff semi-final.
Last bowl game: This is OSU’s seventh straight bowl appearance, dating back to a 40-35 loss to Clemsin on the Orange Bowl. Last season they beat Washington 28-23 in the Rose Bowl. This is Clemson’s 15th straight bowl appearance, dating to the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl, a 19-10 win over Colorado. As previously mentioned, they shellacked Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl, allowing them to advance to the CFP Championship Game, where they beat Alabama so badly (44-16) that the Tide elected to use their kicker as a lead blocker.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

Bowl Games 2019: Opening Slate, or, Oh, Right, Bowl Season Starts on Friday This Year

So we had a late Thanksgiving this year, which means that the whole college football calendar is out-of-whack. As a result, we’ve got FRIDAY BOWLS. I’ll be on airplane during the first one most likely, but such is life. Also, my full predictions are here.

I’m back once again with all the other information you need for bowl games, including the idea I totally didn’t rip off from anyone else: the Watchability Rating. It’s easy:

  • I: Before Christmas, have it on while you’re wrapping presents. After Christmas, maybe have it on in the background while you do something else, possibly like interacting with your family, but I’m not here to judge if that’s a problem for you.
  • II: This could be interesting, but it could also be a blowout at halftime. Worth having on just in case.
  • III: The College Football Geek Special, i.e., if you the equivalent of me hanging around, I’ll probably make you watch this.
  • IV: Obvious must-see games between marquee teams or playoff games.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Friday, December 20
2:00: Buffalo vs. Charlotte (Bahamas Bowl @ Nassau, Bahamas; ESPN): Look, y’all, 2019 has been tough. And not half as tough for me as it’s been for others I know; all I’ve got to complain about are the usual things like work and whatnot, which means I’m barely getting these predictions out in time. Anyway, the 49ers (the North Carolina edition, as the nickname doesn’t have anything to do with gold or when the school was founded; instead, it dates to when the school was saved from being, um, unfounded) are making their first ever bowl game, which is real good for them, you know? And it’s in the Bahamas which… oh, right 2019 wasn’t real great there. Um, Buffalo will probably win.
SP+ line: Buffalo -2
Vegas line: Buffalo -6.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: The Bulls lost to Troy 42-32 in last year’s Dollar General Bowl. This is Charlotte’s first ever bowl game.
Announcers: Steve Levy and Greg McElroy

7:30: Kent State vs. Utah State (Frisco Bowl @ Frisco, TX; ESPN2): I like Utah State here, sorry to any Golden Flashes fans out there.
SP+ line: Utah State -8.2
Vegas line: Utah State -5.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Two. In 1973, Kent State won 27-16, and a year later the Aggies won 27-24.
Last bowl game: This is Kent State’s first bowl game since the 2012 season, where they lost 17-13 to Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The Aggies have been to three straight bowl games, dating to 2017’s Arizona Bowl, a 26-20 loss to New Mexico State. Last season they beat North Texas 52-13 in the New Mexico Bowl.
Announcers: Anish Shroff and John Congemi

Saturday, December 21
2:00: San Diego State vs. Central Michigan (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Eventually, we’ll get to the games where I know anything about the teams involved. This isn’t one of them. I have the Aztecs here.
SP+ line: SDSU -4
Vegas line: SDSU -3.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This season makes it 10 straight for the Aztecs, dating to the a 35-14 victory over Navy in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. Last season they got blanked 27-0 by Ohio in the Frisco Bowl. CMU lost the 2017 Potato Bowl 37-14 to Wyoming.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Ryan Leaf

2:30: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern (Cure Bowl @ Orlando, FL; CBSS): A serious note before I do the silly thing I usually do for this game: this game benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a less famous but much more efficient cancer charity than certain other ones. Onward.

I’ve waited hours for this
I’ve made myself so sick
I wish I’d stayed asleep today
I never thought that this day would end
I never thought that tonight could ever be
This close to me

Just try to see in the dark
Just try to make it work
To feel the fear before you’re here
I make the shapes come much too close
I pull my eyes out
Hold my breath
And wait until I shake

But if I had your faith
Then I could make it safe and clean
If only I was sure
That my head on the door was a dream

I’ve waited hours for this
I’ve made myself so sick
I wish I’d stayed asleep today
I never thought that this day would end
I never thought that tonight could ever be
This close to me

But if I had your face
I could make it safe and clean
If only I was sure
That my head on the door
Was a dream

I like Georgia Southern here because I find the idea of having to root for Liberty completely unpalatable.
SP+ line: Liberty -0.2
Vegas line: GSU -4.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Liberty’s first ever bowl game. Georgia Southern won last year’s Camellia bowl 23-21 over Eastern Michigan.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn and Aaron Taylor

3:30: Florida Atlantic vs. Southern Methodist (Boca Raton Bowl @ Boca Raton, FL; ABC): Well, the Fightin’ Lane Kiffins are no more, thanks to their namesake’s departure to Oxford, MS. If SMU shows up to this game motivated at all I think they will roll.
SP+ line: EVEN
Vegas line: SMU -2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: FAU won the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl 50-3 over Akron. SMU lost 51-10 to Louisiana Tech in the 2017 Frisco Bowl.
Announcers: Tom Hart and Joey Galloway

5:30: Florida International vs. Arkansas State (Camellia Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): I have FIU here, because, well, I probably misread the lines below when I was making the picks on my webpage. But that’s what I got.
SP+ line: ASU -4.2
Vegas line: ASU -2.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: These former conference mates have had 8 meetings all time, and Arkansas State leads the series 8-2. They won 66-24 back in 2005 and 34-20 in their last meeting in 2012.
Last bowl game: FIU has now made bowls in three consecutive seasons. They lost 28-3 to Temple in the 2017 Gasparilla Bowl, but won last year’s Bahamas Bowl 35-32 over Toledo. Arkansas State has eight consecutive postseason appearances, dating to a 38-20 loss to Northern Illinois in the 2011-12 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Last season they lost 16-13 to Nevada in the Arizona Bowl.
Announcers: Taylor Zarzour and Matt Stinchcomb

7:30: Washington vs. Boise State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ABC): This is a true outlier in these early games, a compelling game with good teams and a good storyline. Chris Peterson is a true anomaly among college coaches, and it’s kind of appropriate that the only two jobs he’s been tied in the past almost two decades are the teams involved in his final game. I have Washington here, but I think this game could go either way.
SP+ line: UW -8.3
Vegas line: UW -3.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Just four for these two Pacific Northwest foes. They first met in a 24-10 UDub win in 2007. In 2012, the Broncos beat the Huskies 28-26 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Less than a year later, they kicked off the 2013 regular season and the Huakies got a 38-6 win. In 2015, Boise won 16-13, resulting in an evenly split series.
Last bowl game: UDub has been to ten straight bowl games, dating to the 2010 Holiday Bowl, a 19-7 win over Nebraska. Last season they lost 28-23 to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. I’m not sure how to count Boise’s streak. Last season they were due to play in the First Responder Bowl, but the game was canceled due to weather. I’d say that still counts, though, so they’ve got 18 straight postseason appearances now, dating to a 34-16 win over Iowa State in the 2002 Humanitarian Bowl. As previously noted, they were supposed to play Boston College in the First Responder Bowl last season.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Kirk Herbstreit

9:00: Alabama-Birmingham vs. Appalachian State (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Oddly, the New Orleans Bowl features no Louisiana teams this year, and also, “Go Blazers!” and all but App State is going to roll y’all.
SP+ line: AppSt -14.1
Vegas line: AppSt -16.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: UAB has appeared in three straight bowl games after coming back to life. In 2017, they lost 41-6 to Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl. Last season, they beat Northern Illinous 37-13 in the Boca Raton Bowl. App State has appeared in five straight bowl games, dating to the 2015 Camellia Bowl, where they beat Ohio 31-29. Last season they beat MTSU 45-13 in this very bowl game.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Anthony Becht

Monday, December 23
2:30: Marshall vs. Central Florida (Gasparilla Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN): UCF, not even close.
SP+ line: UCF -21
Vegas line: UCF -17.5
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: UCF leads the all-time series 8-3. Marshall won the first three metings from 2002-2004, but UCF reeled off 8 in a row before departing for the AAC.
Last bowl game: The Thundering Herd have stampeded their way into three straight bowl games, beating Colorado State 31-28 in the 2017 New Mexico Bowl and South Florida in the 38-20 in the 2018 Gasparilla Bowl. UCF has now appeared in four straight bowl games, dating to the 2016 Cure Bowl, a 31-13 loss to Arkansas State. Last season they lost 40-32 to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.
Announcers: Roy Philpott and Kelly Stouffer

Tuesday, December 24
8:00: Hawaii vs. Brigham Young (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): It’s Christmas Eve. Get the fire going, spike some eggnog, get some cards going, and have this on in the background, live from Hawaii. Sounds pretty good to me. Also, I have BYU here.
SP+ line: BYU -4.5
Vegas line: EVEN
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: There have been 31 meetings all-time between the Stormin’ Mormons and the Rainbow Warriors, and the former hold a 23-8 lead. They first met in 1930, a 49-13 Hawaii win. They met a few more times in the 50’s and 60’s, but in 1978 they played every year until 1998 as members of the WAC. Notably, the Warriors gave the Cougars a game in their 1984 title season, as BYU escaped with a narrow 18-13 win. Since 2002, these two have met four times in the regular season, all BYU wins. Last season BYU won 49-23.
Last bowl game: Hawaii lost 31-14 to Louisiana Tech in last season’s Hawaii Bowl. BYU beat Western Michigan 49-18 in the 2018 Potato Bowl.
Announcers: Joson Benetti and Rod Gimore