Bowl Preview: Post-Christmas Bowls and College Football Semifinals

December 23, 2018inNews

The college football bowl season is in full swing. There’s a batch of 14 bowls after Christmas but before New Year’s Eve that also include the college football playoff. The Orange Bowl with #1 Bama vs. #4 Oklahoma should be a blow out for Bama, while the Cotton Bowl should be a close one with #2 Clemson vs. #3 Notre Dame.

The highlights among the other dozen bowl games include shootouts like Baylor and Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl, Washington State and Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl, and West Virginia and Syracuse in the Camping World Stadium Bowl.

 

QUICK LANE BOWL (DEC. 26)

Minnesota (6-6) vs. Georgia Tech (6-5)… Sounds like this is sponsored by a bowling alley chain. That would be pretty rad actually. You could host a Big Lebowski festival at the same time. The pre-game and after-shows would be some of the best partying of the bowl season. Tech is a 6-point favorite. The Yellow Jackets average 35.6 points per game running the option offense. A lot. QB TaQuon Marshall has 11 rushing TDs and only 5 passing scores. Tech had a four-game winning streak snapped by intrastate rival UGA. Tech also got spanked by Clemson and Georgia. Minnesota lost both games (Ohio State and Northwestern) against ranked teams in the Big Ten this year. Tech head coach Paul Johnson is retiring after this game.

 

SERVPRO FIRST RESPONDER BOWL (DEC. 26)

Boston College (7-5) vs. #25 Boise State (10-3)… BSU is a 3-point favorite. BSU had a seven-game winning streak snapped by Fresno State in overtime in the Mountain West championship. BSU had the benefit of a home game in the snow, but still lost by three. Boston College lost their final three games of the season and they should have won two of those. Despite the late-season skid, BC gave head coach Steve Addazio (1-3 in bowl games) a contract extension. However, OC Scot Loeffler got plucked and was offered a job at Bowling Green. BC is 0-3 against ranked teams.

 

CHEEZ-IT BOWL (DEC. 26)

California (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6)… This is one of the only games that opened a pick’em. TCU probably gets the edge because the Big 12 is a stronger conference than the Pac-12 these days. However, Cal has a tough defense and only allows 21.4 points per game. They went 1-2 against ranked teams and upset Washington 12-10. TCU won three out of their last four with a loss against West Virginia. Of course, the kids from Cal-Berkeley are playing in a bowl sponsored by one of the biggest stoner snacks on the market. I’m surprised it’s not sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream.

 

WALK-ON’S INDEPENDENCE BOWL (DEC. 27)

Temple (8-4) vs. Duke (7-5)… The Independence Bowl is hosted at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a bowl game since America’s Bicentennial in 1976. This bowl is sponsored by a “Cajun bar and bistreaux.” Cajun food and booze? Who is playing in this one? Who cares! It’s gonna be a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere in Shreveport. Temple is a 4-point favorite and won six out of their last seven games with a sole loss against #12 UCF. Duke dropped four out of their last six games.

 

NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL (DEC. 27)

Miami (7-6) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)… Miami is a 4-point favorite and finished the season on a strong note with two wins, including a blowout against Pitt. Wisconsin had a disappointing season. They lost three games to ranked teams and dropped three out of their last five games. The Pinstripe Bowl is hosted inside Yankee Stadium. Good thing this game starts at 2:15pm local time, because you really don’t want to be in the Bronx after dark.

 

ACADEMY SPORTS + OUTDOORS TEXAS BOWL (DEC. 27)

Baylor (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)… This bowl is hosted in Houston and Baylor has the home-state advantage, yet they are still a +3 (almost-home) dog. Baylor played four ranked teams and lost all four games by a combined 71 points. They upset Texas Tech on the last game of the season to become bowl eligible. Vandy is 0-4 against ranked teams (UGA, Florida, UK, and Notre Dame).

 

FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL (DEC. 28)

Purdue (6-6) vs. Auburn (7-5)… Auburn is a 4-point favorite. Two of Auburn’s final two losses of the season were Bama and Georgia. The Tigers upset Washington and Texas A&M, but lost to LSU by one point. The Boilermakers have big wins (Ohio State and BC), but also lost easy games they should have won (Eastern Michigan). Purdue dropped three out of their last five games. Purdue’s freshman WR Rondale Moore (13 TD) is fun to watch.

 

CAMPING WORLD STADIUM BOWL (DEC. 28)

#16 West Virginia (8-3) vs. #20 Syracuse (9-3)… This features two Top 20 teams, albeit in the bottom half. West Virginia is a slight favorite. Syracuse lost to two ranked teams (Notre Dame and Clemson). The total is 68 points and one of the biggest totals on the board. The bookies expect a shootout. Both teams crank out more than 40 points per game with WV averaging 42.3 ppg… but that’s with Will Grier at QB. Grier, a Heisman hopeful, will skip this game to focus on his NFL tryouts.

 

VALERO ALAMO BOWL (DEC. 28)

#24 Iowa State (8-4) vs. #13 Washington State (10-2)… Wazzu is favorite by a FG. Wazzu puts up 38.3 points a game using Mike Leach’s Air Raid and some guy named Gardner Minshew threw 7 touchdowns in a single game. Wazzu is 1-1 against ranked teams this year with a win over Stanford. Wazzu had a seven-game winning streak snapped by Washington in the Apple Cup. Iowa State won seven out of their last eight games. They went 2-2 against ranked teams with wins over WV and Oklahoma State and losses against Oklahoma and Texas.

 

CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL (DEC. 29)

#10 Florida (9-3) vs. #7 Michigan (10-2)…. Only in America is something called the Peach Bowl sponsored by a fried chicken joint. Two Top 10 teams will slug it out. John Harbaugh and the Wolverines are slated to win by a touchdown. He boasts one of the toughest defenses in the nation, allowing only 17.6 points per game. Michigan had a ten-game winning streak snapped by Ohio State. Michigan was 3-2 against ranked teams this year. Their other loss happened in Week 1 against Notre Dame. Florida is 2-1 against ranked teams with wins over LSU and Mississippi State. They lost to #7 Georgia by 21 points at Gator Growl.

 

BELK BOWL (DEC. 29)

South Carolina (7-5) vs. Virginia (7-5)… The Gamecocks are a 4-point favorite but will be Deebo-less. Star WR Deebo Samuel (9 TDs) is sitting out the Belk Bowl to prep for the NFL draft. All five of South Carolina’s losses happened against ranked teams (Georgia, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Florida, and Clemson). UVA has one major win during a monsoon game against Miami. They dropped three out of their last four games.

 

NOVA HOME LOANS ARIZONA BOWL (DEC. 29)

Arkansas State (8-4) vs. Nevada (7-5)… This is a close one to call for the bookies and algorithms. Arkansas State is a slight favorite. They finished the season tied for first place in the Sun Belt and are riding a four-game winning streak. They played only one ranked team and lost to Bama by 50 points. Ouch. Nevada, representing the Mountain West, had a four-game winning streak snapped by UNLV.

 

GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL (DEC. 29) – CFP SEMIFINAL

#3 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. #2 Clemson (13-0)… Two undefeated teams will fight to see which one moves onto the National Championship game. This should be the closer of the two playoff games. Freshman QB Trevor ‘Don’t Call Me Sunshine’ Lawrence will get the job done against the tough ND defense, which allowed only 17.3 points per game this season. The Fighting Irish are rare underdogs in this one.

 

CAPITAL ONE ORANGE BOWL (DEC. 29) – CFP SEMIFINAL

#4 Oklahoma (12-1) vs. #1 Alabama (13-0)… Can anyone beat Bama? Will this be Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray’s final game at QB before he hangs up his cleats and plays baseball professionally? It would be cool to see an upset, but Oklahoma is not the team to do it. Hawaii’s Tua Tagovailoa missed out on the Heisman trophy, so he’d love to get revenge with a win over Murray.

 

 


Pauly McGuire is a writer specializing in sports betting. He’s covered the NFL, NBA, college basketball, MLB, and the Olympics for numerous outlets. He’s the former co-host of the Everything Is Bettable podcast with Jesse May. You also might remember Pauly as the creator of the Tao of Poker blog. He was a partner in one of the first daily fantasy sports sites, Fantasy Sports Live.

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