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Happy Bowling: Complete CFB Bowl Predictions

Beginning with the Celebration Bowl on December 16 and ending with the National Championship on January 8, a total of 41 bowl games will be played.

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Here is a rundown of the bowls, teams, and most importantly the score as I break down all 41 bowls and predict the National Champion.

Dec. 16


Celebration Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta 11:00 a.m. CT on ABC: Grambling State (11-1) vs North Carolina A&T (11-0).


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Fresh off a 40-32 win over Alcorn State in the SWAC championship game, Grambling, led by Ole Miss transfer quarterback Devante Kincade, seeks to win their second straight Celebration Bowl after beating North Carolina Central 10-9 last season. NC A&T, champions of the MEAC, come in boasting a strong offense led by quarterback Lamar Raynard and his 26 touchdown passes. Expect a shootout in this one.

Prediction: Grambling 38-31.


R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans 12 p.m. CT on ESPN: Troy (10-2) vs North Texas (9-4).

Sun Belt champions Troy come in winners of six straight led by a stingy defense that surrenders just 17.5 ppg. North Texas, led by Oklahoma native and former OU assistant Seth Littrell, has engineered a quick turnaround finishing with a CUSA championship game loss to Florida Atlantic just two years after a 1-11 campaign. Locust Grover product Mason Fine leads a high-powered Mean Green offense averaging 35.9 ppg. One or two stops will probably determine who wins.

Prediction: Troy 28-24


AutoNation Cure Bowl, Camping World Stadium in Orlando 1:30 p.m. CT on CBSSN: Western Kentucky (6-6) vs Georgia State (6-5).

Hard to hype this one up as Western Kentucky has dropped four of its last five games while Georgia State was outscored 280-217 this season and lost to FCS Tennesse State. Look for WKU quarterback Sean White and his CUSA leading 3,826 yards and 24 touchdowns to get the job done.

Predictions: Western Kentucky 35-21


Las Vegas Bowl, Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC: Oregon (7-5) vs #25 Boise State (10-3).

With Head Coach Willie Taggart departing for Florida State Oregon enters as an unknown as to how they will show up. If the team comes out and plays like it has the past few weeks outscoring their last two opponents 117-38, Mountain West champions Boise State might be in trouble. However, the Broncos defense allowing just 22.5 ppg might have something to say about that.

Prediction: Oregon 35-28


GILDAN New Mexico Bowl, Branch Field at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico 3:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: Colorado State (7-5) vs Marshall (7-5).

Colorado State comes in with one of the nations best wide receivers in Biletnikoff finalist Michael Gallup. Gallup has hauled in 94 catches for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns on the season to help the Rams average 33.8 ppg. Marshall will need a strong performance from its defense, surrendering 19.2 ppg, to rebound after dropping four of it’s last five.

Prediction: Colorado State 38-21


Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama 7 p.m. on ESPN: Arkansas State (7-4) vs Middle Tennesse State (6-6).

Oklahoma transfer and Edmond Sante Fe product Justice Hanson leads a high-octane Arkansas State offense that is putting up 38.5 ppg. However, Hansons inconsistent play (six games with three or more passing touchdowns but three games with three or more interceptions) gives Middle Tennesse State a shot in a battle of former Sun Belt foes.

Prediction: Arkansas State 38-28

Dec 19


Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl, FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida 6 p.m. CT on ESPN: Florida Atlantic (10-3) vs Akron (7-6).


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Akron Head Coach Terry Bowden has done a wonderful job taking the program from three straight 1-11 seasons to the MAC championship game this season where they fell to Toledo. First-year Florida Atlantic Head Coach Lane Kiffin engineered quite the turnaround himself taking a program coming off three straight 3-9 seasons to a CUSA championship led by an offense that averages 491 yards of offense and 39.8 ppg. After giving up 45 points to Toledo, Akron will be hard pressed to hold FAU to anything less.

Prediction: Florida Atlantic 49-24

Dec 20


DXL Frisco Bowl, Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas 7 p.m. CT on ESPN: SMU (7-5) vs Louisiana Tech (6-6).

SMU, back in a bowl for the first time since 2012, has dropped three of its last four games after a close goal-line stand against Tulane in the season finale. Louisiana Tech doesn’t look particularly strong and will have a tough time handling Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn, both 1,000-yard receivers, and an offense averaging 40 ppg.

Prediction: SMU 42-27

Dec 21


Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida 7 p.m. CT on ESPN: Florida International (8-4) vs Temple (6-6).

Both teams have first-year head coaches and both did great jobs to get their respective teams to a bowl. Geoff Collins at Temple did a solid job continuing the momentum built by Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule despite significant personnel losses. Butch Davis made a huge splash guiding FIU to their first bowl since 2011. Expect this to be a defensive battle in a very tight game.

Prediction: Temple 24-21

Dec 22


Bahamas Bowl, Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas 11:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: UAB (8-4) vs Ohio (8-4).

One can’t help but feel happy for UAB Head Coach Bill Clark and the job he’s done posting eight wins riding a stingy run defense (25th nationally) two seasons after the program shut down. As solid of a mid-major program, as you’ll find, Ohio has ridden a strong run game (5.6 yards per carry with 40 touchdowns) en route to 38.9 ppg and a win in this one.

Prediction: Ohio 28-24


Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Lyle Field at Albertsons Stadium in Bosie, Idaho 3 p.m. CT on ESPN: Wyoming (7-5) vs Central Michigan (8-4).

This could be Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen’s last colligate game before he declares for the NFL draft so expect him to leave it all on the field. Central Michigan, led by Michigan transfer Shane Morris at quarterback, overcame a slow start to win its final five games with its balanced offensive attack. Expect a sixth straight win.

Prediction: Central Michigan 28-21

Dec. 23


Birmingham Bowl, Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama 11 a.m. CT on ESPN: Texas Tech (6-6) vs South Florida (9-2)


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Texas Tech Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury has his work cut out here. Not only does South Florida have one of the most explosive players in the country in quarterback Quinton Flowers, but the Bulls defense is fast and suffocating allowing just 22.8 ppg. After starting off strong, Tech’s offense went in the tank and so did it’s wins finishing 2-5 down the stretch needing a strong defensive effort on the final week to upset Texas and secure win number six. South Florida takes this one.

Prediction: South Florida 38-24


Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: Army (8-3) vs San Diego State (10-2).

Major credit should be given to Army Head Coach Jeff Monken who has done a tremendous job turning around the program and not only has them in back-to-back bowl games but a chance to win ten games and the Commander in Chief Trophy for the first time since 1996! This will be a smashmouth game with Army leading the nation in rushing (368.1 yards a game) and San Diego State’s 2,000-yard running back Rashaad Penny and a stingy defense. Heart says Army but mind says SDSU.

Predictions: San Diego State 24-21


Dollar General Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama 6 p.m. CT on ESPN: Appalachian State (8-4) vs Toledo (11-2)

Two very powerful mid-major teams in a Sun Belt vs MAC battle. Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside’s 3,758 yards and 28 touchdowns is a huge reason why the Rockets average 39.2 ppg and won the MAC. Although Appalachian State’s defense is surrendering just 21.9 ppg they have not faced an offense as strong as Toledo’s.

Prediction: Toldeo 38-28

Dec. 24


Hawai’i Bowl. Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: Houston (7-4) vs Fresno State (9-4)

Fresno State Head Coach Jeff Tedford engineered one heck of a turnaround job taking a 1-11 team to the Mountain West championship in year one behind a tough defense allowing 17.2 ppg including 21 points or fewer in all but one MWC game. Houston, under first-year Head Coach Major Applewhite, also boasts a strong defense holding opponents to 23 ppg including holding USF to 24. Expect a defensive battle.

Predictions: Fresno State 20-17

Dec. 26


Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, Cotton Bowl in Dallas, 12:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: West Virginia (7-5) vs Utah (6-6)


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This would be a much more interesting game if West Virginia starting quarterback Will Grier wasn’t injured. Back up Chris Chugunov as been less than stellar in relief and going up against Utah’s strong defense allowing 23.9 ppg doesn’t look promising. Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham’s 10-1 bowl record should go to 11-1 after this one.

Prediction: Utah 24-17


Quick Lane Bowl, Ford Field in Detroit, 4:15 p.m. CT on ESPN: Duke (6-6) vs Northern Illinois (8-4).

Duke can thank its stingy defense (20.8 ppg) for putting them in their fourth bowl appearance in five years as they helped end a six-game midseason slide. Northern Illinois run game (187.2 yards per game) against Duke’s defense should be a good one. Look for Duke to make enough offensive plays to pull out the win.

Predictions: Duke 21-14


Cactus Bowl, Chase Field in Phoenix, 8 p.m. CT on ESPN: UCLA (6-6) vs Kansas State (7-5)

Probably the last game for UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. UCLA comes in as a little bit of a wildcard as you never know which Bruins team will show up. You can, however, count on Kansas State and Bill Snyder to run the ball down UCLA’s throat (186.4 yards per game) to control the clock and keep Rosen off the field. Expect Kansas State to run their way to victory.

Prediction: Kansas State 35-28

Dec. 27


Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana 12:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: Florida State (6-6) vs Southern Mississippi (8-4)

The outcome of this game will be determined by how Florida State comes out of the locker room. This is not where FSU wanted to be but if interim coach Odell Haggins can keep his team motivated this should be an easy win as FSU will try to avoid a losing record for the first time since 1976.

Prediction: Florida State 35-17


New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Yankee Stadium in New York, 4:15 p.m. CT on ESPN: Boston College (7-5) vs Iowa (7-5).

Iowa is the reason Ohio State is not in the CFP with their 31-point trouncing of them back in November. They could not keep the momentum going and end up here where they will lose to Boston College. BC’s strong defense (22.5 ppg) and run game (224.2 yards per game) along with Iowa’s showing in recent bowl games (outscored 120-47 in past three bowls) gives them the edge in this one.

Prediction: Boston College 20-10


Foster Farms Bowl, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California 7:30 p.m. CT on FOX: Purdue (6-6) vs Arizona (7-5)

Expect a high scoring game here as Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate is one of the more exciting players in the country and will test a Purdue defense that hasn’t been tested much this season. Purdue comes in surrendering 19.3 ppg but hasn’t faced an offense as potent as Arizona’s as they come in averaging 41.9 ppg and 495 yards a game. Purdue will put up a good fight in its first bowl since 2012 but will fall short.

Prediction: Arizona 38-25


Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl, NRG Stadium in Houston, 8 p.m. CT on ESPN: Texas (6-6) vs Missouri (7-5)

A matchup of former Big 12 foes with Missouri winning the last matchup 17-5 in 2011. This should be an exciting game as Texas stout defense allowing 21.7 ppg goes up against Missouri’s high-powered offense averaging 39.3 led by former OU quarterback and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. While Texas will have a “home crowd”, the offense won’t be able to keep up and finish with a fourth straight losing season.

Prediction: Missouri 35-21

Dec. 28


Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland 12:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: Navy (6-5) vs Virginia (6-6)

As it stands now both teams enter the game losing five out of the last six games although Navy has a chance to end the slump Saturday against Army. Virginia is making their first bowl appearance in five years but won’t be able to stop Navy’s option attack and the emotion Navy will come out with playing at home.

Prediction: Navy 24-14


Camping World Bowl, Camping World Stadium in Orlando, 4:15 p.m. CT on ESPN: #19 Oklahoma State (9-3) vs #22 Virginia Tech (9-3)


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This is one of the best matchups of the bowl season as Oklahoma States high-powered offense led by quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington that’s averaging 46.9 ppg against Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s stout defense allowing 13.9 ppg. While OSU won’t score 40, the Hokies won’t be able to keep pace.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 33-24


Valero Alamo Bowl, Alamodome in San Antonio, 8 p.m. CT on ESPN: #13 Stanford (9-4) vs #15 TCU (10-3)

Another great matchup that pits the runner-ups of the PAC 12 and the Big 12. This is going to be another defensive battle as both teams will try to dominate the line of scrimmage and establish the run game. Whoever can muster a consistent passing game will win and I bet TCU’s the one to do it.

Prediction: TCU: 21-17


San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, 8 p.m. CT on FOX: #16 Michigan State (9-3) vs #18 Washington State (9-3)

Last game for Washington State quarterback Luke Falk. Both teams have strong offenses and it will be a shootout. That being said Michigan State hasn’t faced an air raid offense that WSU runs averaging 31.4 ppg. WSU will avenge their Apple Cup shellacking with a close win.

Prediction: Washington State 38-35

Dec. 29


Belk Bowl, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina 12 p.m. CT on ESPN: Texas A&M (7-5) vs Wake Forest (7-5)

Texas A&M enters hoping to finish 8-5 for the fourth straight season after another fast start that fell apart down the stretch the main reason why Kevin Sumlin was fired.Wake Forest and underrated quarterback John Wolford has an offense averaging 450 yards a game and 33.7 ppg, two points more than A&M. With all the changes around the A&M program, Wake Forest gets their second straight bowl win.

Prediction: Wake Forest 35-24


Hyundai Sun Bowl, Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas 2 p.m. CT on CBS: #24 NC State (8-4) vs Arizona State (7-5)

Fired Arizona State Head Coach Todd Graham is coaching his last game and his players will want to send him out a winner. The key to this game will be if ASU can stop NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb the winner of the Nagurski Award as the nations top defensive player after racking up ten sacks. NC State will come out on top in a close one.

Prediction: NC State: 31-24


Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee 3:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: #21 Northwestern (9-3) vs Kentucky (7-5)

Battle of the Wildcats. Northwestern is riding a six-game winning streak and is seeking their third 10-win season since 2012. Kentucky is in back-to-back bowls for the first time since 2009-2010. Both teams possess strong run games with Kentucky’s Benny Snell Jr. and Northwestern’s record-setting running back Justin Jackson. Expect Northwestern to win a close one.

Prediction: Northwestern 31-28


NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona 4:30 p.m. CT on CBSSN: Utah State (6-6) vs New Mexico State (6-6)

Former Kent State Head Coach Doug Martin has led New Mexico State to their first bowl game in 57 years after a thrilling season finale win against South Alabama. Utah State is looking to end their streak of losing seasons at three. Expect NMSU to come out on top in a rematch of the 1960 Sun Bowl by a similar score (NMSU won 20-13).

Prediction: NMSU 21-17


Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPN: #5 Ohio State (11-2) vs #8 USC (11-2)

The best non-playoff matchup pits the BIG 10 champion against the PAC 12 champion. This game has all kinds of storylines. Is this USC quarterback Sam Darnold’s last game? Can USC stop Ohio State’s running attack led by quarterback J.T. Barrett and J.K. Dobbins? Will Ohio State’s pass rush get to Darnold? How will Ohio State come out after being snubbed for the CFB playoff? Expect Barrett to go out a winner in his home state.

Prediction: Ohio State 35-31

Dec. 30


TaxSlayer Bowl, EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida 11 a.m. CT on ESPN: #23 Mississippi State (8-4) vs Louisville (8-4)


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Would be a better matchup if Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald wasn’t injured. That being said this one will still be close as MSU’s defense will give them a shot to win, but won’t be able to stop Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Prediction: Louisville 38-28


AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee 11:30 a.m. CT on ABC: #20 Memphis (10-2) vs Iowa State (7-5)

Iowa State has had quite the turnaround under Head Coach Matt Campbell engineering upsets against Oklahoma and TCU and will need another one here to get the win. Memphis and quarterback Riley Ferguson and co. return home after a tough loss UCF in the AAC championship. Expect an offense that averages 548 yards a game and 47.6 ppg to light up the scoreboard in a Memphis win.

Prediction: Memphis 49-35


PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona 3 p.m. CT on ESPN: #9 Penn State (10-2) vs #11 Washington (10-2)

Another high scoring matchup where stops will be crucial. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley will do his damage, but can the offensive line stop 340lbs Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea long enough to throw the ball win needed? That will be the difference as Washington takes the win.

Prediction: Washington 30-27


Capital One Orange Bowl. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida 7 p.m. CT on ESPN: #6 Wisconsin (12-1) vs #10 Miami (10-2)

Another game at Hard Rock Stadium where Miami is undefeated this season. However, Miami is on a two-game skid and miss the impact that running back Mark Walton Jr. brings. If Wisconsin can limit turnovers (23 on the season) and get running back Jonathan Taylor going they will pull out the close win.

Prediction: Wisconsin 21-19

Jan 1


Outback Bowl, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida 11 a.m. CT on ESPN2: Michigan (8-4) vs South Carolina (8-4)Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 9.50.48 PM.png

A win here would end a disappointing season for Michigan on a high note while South Carolina is looking to end their best season in four years with a win. Michigan’s defense along with a strong run game averaging 186.3 a game will get the win.

Prediction: Michigan 17-10


Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta 11:30 a.m. CT on ESPN: #7 Auburn (10-3) vs #12 UCF (13-0)

Fun game to watch as points will be aplenty in this one. Both offenses are strong so it will once again be a game of stops. Auburn has the edge defensively and possesses a strong run game to kill the clock in a close high scoring win.

Prediction: Auburn 45-41


Citrus Bowl Presented by Overton’s, Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida 12 p.m. CT on ABC: #14 Notre Dame (9-3) vs #17 LSU (9-3)

Opposite finishes as LSU finished strong winning their last three games while Notre Dame went 1-2 with two blowout losses. LSU carrying the momentum, a strong defense surrendering 18.8 ppg and a stout rushing attack averaging 210.8 yards a game will pound their way to victory.

Prediction: LSU 28-21


College Football Playoff at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Californa 4 p.m. CT on ESPN: #2 Oklahoma (12-1) vs #3 Georgia (12-1)

First ever meeting should be a good one pitting Heisman Trophy finalist Baker Mayfield against a strong Georgia defense allowing just 13.2 ppg. Georgia has not faced an offense like the on Oklahoma possesses averaging 44.9 ppg. Expect Oklahoma to make enough defensive stops to survive and advance.

Prediction: Oklahoma 35-31


College Football Playoff at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans 7:45 p.m. CT on ESPN: #1 Clemson (12-1) vs #4 Alabama (11-1)

The third meeting in last three seasons should be another good one. Clemson’s stout defense led by defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence will force Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts to throw. In another defensive battle, Alabama will make enough plays in the passing game to come away with the win.

Prediction: Alabama 26-24

Jan. 8


College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta 7 p.m. CT on ESPN: #2 Oklahoma vs #4 AlabamaScreen Shot 2017-12-10 at 9.52.15 PM.png

In a rematch of the 2013 Sugar Bowl, Oklahoma will look to continue their dominance over the SEC. With the best offensive line in the country led by arguably the best player in the country in Mayfield, Oklahoma will take home their first National Championship since 2000 in thrilling fashion with a last-second field goal.

Prediction: Oklahoma 35-32. 

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