The final leg of the college bowl season includes 11 games with six bowls on New Year’s Eve and five more on New Year’s Day including the long-standing Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl. There’s some high-quality action with four Top 10 teams plus an angry UCF squad who were snubbed from the college football playoff.
Plus, Missouri and Oklahoma State will be a shootout in the Liberty Bowl featuring two of the more potent offenses in the country. And in the Redbox Bowl, you get a chance to catch a glimpse of Oregon’s Justin Herbert, who is supposed to be the #1 ranked QB in the upcoming NFL draft.
Cincinnati (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)… Cincy is a 5-point favorite. You don’t see too many 10-2 teams playing a barely bowl-eligible team at 6-6. Then again, non-Power Five teams get shafted by the Man all the time! Undefeated UCF got shut out of the playoff and fellow AAC conference member Cincy was relegated to a bowl that sounds like a faux bowl from an episode of The Simpsons.
Stanford (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (7-6)… Stanford is almost a touchdown favorite and riding a three-game winning streak. The Cardinal suffered tough losses to Wazzu, UW, Notre Dame, and Utah… who went to the Pac-12 title game. Pitt is 1-4 against ranked teams (with losses to Notre Dame, Clemson, UCF, and Penn State). Pitt relies on their one-two punch running attack with Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall.
Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4)… A pair of fourth-place teams from the Power Five slug it out. The Ducks are a FG favorite over the Spartans. The high-scoring Ducks go up against a tough defense that only allows 18 ppg. The only upside is watching Justin Herbert (28 TD), who will play despite injuring his shoulder in the Civil War game against Oregon State. Jon Gruden wants to draft Herbert to help bring home a Super Bowl for the Las Vegas Raiders. You know Derek Carr will be rooting for Michigan State.
#23 Missouri (8-4) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)… Missouri is almost a double-digit favorite. The total is one of the highest on the board at 73.5 and both teams score around 38 points each per game. The bookies expect a sick shootout in the Liberty Bowl. Two of Missouri’s losses were to Bama and Georgia, the #1 and #2 ranked teams (at the time) in the country. Mizzou QB Drew Lock gets to toy with Oklahoma State’s secondary.
#22 Northwestern (8-5) vs. #17 Utah (9-4)… Northwestern continues to get no respect. They went to the Big Ten title game against Ohio State (and lost), but the bookies have no faith in the Wildcats, who are +7.5 dogs against the Utes. If Pat Fitzgerald’s squad wants street cred, then they smoke Utah in the Holiday Bowl. The Utes still feel salty about getting jobbed with a no-call on an obvious UW penalty in the Pac-12 Championship game. It wasn’t the first time bad officiating cost a team a victory in the Pac-12. It’s so bad in the Pac-12 that fans openly boo the commissioner in public.
NC State (9-3) vs. #19 Texas A&M (8-4)… The Aggies are almost a touchdown favorite over the Wolfpack. Jimbo Fisher wants the win. He picked off #7 LSU in the last game of the season in the craziest college football game I’ve ever seen. LSU and A&M tied the record for most overtimes with seven and the final score was 74-72. A&M is 2-2 against ranked teams with losses to Bama and Georgia. NC State lost their only game against a ranked team (a 41-7 blowout against Clemson).
#18 Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Iowa (8-4)… Miss State is favorited by a touchdown. The Bulldogs have a stone wall for a defense that allows only 12 points per game. That’s not a typo. They held opponents to single digits in half of their games. Miss State picked off Auburn and Texas A&M, but lost to Bama and LSU. Iowa is no slouch on defense either allowing only 17.4 points per game. The total is 43.5 in this defensive battle.
#11 LSU (9-3) at #8 UCF (12-0)… UCF is the Rodney Dangerfield of college football. They got snubbed for a national title shot for a second year in a row. They’re 25-0 and have not lost a game since 2016. The Man stuck it to UCF and put them up against #11 LSU. LSU is a touchdown favorite because UCF has a backup QB at the helm. Starter McKenzie Milton busted his knee in a freak accident against USF. His backup, Darriel Mack, guided the team to an AAC title. Now it’s up to Mack to keep their 25-game winning streak alive.
#12 Kentucky (9-3) vs. #14 Penn State (9-3)… Two top 15 teams battling. This is UK’s best football team in nearly forty years, for a school most known for their basketball excellence. The Wildcats got off to a hot start this season before Georgia and Texas A&M shocked them back to reality. UK RB Benny Snell, Jr. (14 TDs) is one of the most exciting players to watch in the country and he’s skipping his final year to go pro.
#9 Washington (10-3) vs. #6 Ohio State (12-1)… The Big Ten champ always plays the Pac-12 champ in the Rose Bowl unless there are national title implications, which do not apply this year. Ohio State bubbled the college football playoff so they head out west to Pasadena to take on Pac-12 winner UW. This is supposed to be Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s last game before he hangs it up. For good. If so, the Buckeyes will want to win one for the Gipper. OSU is favorited by a touchdown.
#15 Texas (9-4) at #5 Georgia (11-2)… Georgia missed its chance to play for a national title game when they blew a 14-point lead and choked against Bama in the SEC Championship. Instead, the Dawgs are playing Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Texas is a 12-point dog at the Superdome. The Sugar Bowl is always one of the rowdiest crowds of all the games because fans from both sides have been partying on Bourbon Street for a couple days straight. Will anyone remember how this one ends?
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.