2015 Bowl Preview
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico 31 Arizona 20
The Lobo with their first winning season since 2007 get a home bowl game against Arizona, who took a big step backward this year, posting a disappointing record of 6-6. The Lobos quietly had a terrific season, even winning on the blue turf in Boise. The 6-6 Wildcats were in the middle of the pack of a mediocre Pac-12 and struggled on defense all season.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Utah 31 BYU 17
These two bitter rivals renew their civil war for the first time since Brigham Young decide to go independent and Utah joined the Pac 12. It will be the final game at BYU for Coach Bronco Mendenhall, who accepted a job at Virginia. While the Cougars will like to send Mendenhall out a winner, the Utes are the better team. Utah could even get a big boost if Devontae Booker is able to return from a knee injury. The original timetable was 4-to-6 weeks putting him on target for Vegas.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Appalachian State 30 Ohio 23
Congregations to Appalachian State on their first bowl appearance. The Mountaineers are quietly one of the better teams in the mid major conferences after being a top team in FCS. Their quarterback Taylor Lamb is ranked sixth in the country and is going to be somebody who gets a serious look on draft day.
Autonation Cure Bowl
Georgia State 37 San Jose State 10
These are one of the bowl games that need to be flushed away. The fact that these two teams have a combined record of 11-23. The Spartans are one of three 5-7 teams to have made it into a bowl game. I can’t pick a 5-7 team to win a bowl game.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana Tech 34 Arkansas State 30
The New Orleans Bowl always has tendency to be one of the more exciting early bowl games, with the fast track at the Superdome leading to a high scoring game. Louisiana Tech and Arkansas State both had strong seasons and can put points on the board. In this one I like Bulldogs getting the home crowd edge,
Miami Beach Bowl
South Florida 24 Western Kentucky 20
This matchup is personal for Willie Taggart coach of South Florida who takes on his former team in Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers were tops in Conference USA this year led by a high paced offence, while the Bulls defense has helped South Florida win seven of their last eight. Taggart gets the best of his old school as a good defense can slow a top offense when crunch time arrives.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Utah State 38 Akron 17
Utah State has gotten familiar with the blue turf of Boise, playing in the Potato Bowl for the second time in four years. The Aggies will have a home crowd edge with their northern Utah campus being a stone throw away from Boise. Utah State also has a solid passer in Chuckie Keeton who when health makes his team hard to beat.
Marmot Boca Raton Bowl
Temple 20 Toledo 10
You can count the number of bowl games that Temple has played in on one hand, but this season Owls were a bird of a different feather. Temple gave Notre Dame all they could handle and defeated Penn State for the first time since 1941 and were ranked for the first time since 1979. The Owls secret to success was a top notch defense led by Linebacker Tyler Matakevich. Temple looking to end the season strong after dropping the American Championship will be all out to impress in their bowl in South Florida.
Boise State 37 Northern Illinois 20
It has not been a vintage year for the Broncos as they lost four times this season. Turnover often have been the undoing for Boise State. Talent wise they are as strong as they have ever been, if they can avoid too many mistakes they should be able to handle Northern Illinois.
GO DADDY BOWL
Bowling Green 41 Georgia Southern 37
Both teams feature solid offenses, and could come down to the last team that has the ball to decide the winner. The Falcons will be saying good bye to Coach Dino Babers who is leaving for Syracuse. Bowling Green has always been a solid team under Babers and before turning around the Orange, he will guide the team in Orange and Brown to one last win in Mobile.
Popeye's Bahamas Bowl
Western Michigan 51 Middle Tennessee 48
Looking for offense on Christmas Eve? Tune into the Bahama Bowl as both teams are capable of lighting up the scoreboard and average more than 30 points per game and collect over 300 yards in passing. This should be a high scoring game and could go into to overtime.
San Diego State 37 Cincinnati 24
It was a disappointing season for Cincinnati as they began the year as the favorites in the American Athletic Conference, but posted a record of 7-5. San Diego State meanwhile won the Mountain West Championship. The Aztecs are a strong steady that does not make a lot mistakes. I like SDSU in this game due to their steady play as the Bearcats are often to frenetic, relying on the big play.
Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl
Marshall 38 UConn 17
UConn was one of the biggest surprises in the NCAA this year, qualifying for a bowl game in their first season with new Coach Bob Diaco. Among the Huskies biggest wins was their victory November 19th against Houston. It was the only loss that the Cougars suffered all season. The Huskies are turning things around, but Marshall is a consistent winner now. Winning nine games in 2015 after a 13-win season last year. The Thundering Herd should roll in this one.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Washington State 34 Miami 20
The Hurricanes hope to begin a revival next season under Mark Richt after dismissing Coach Al Golden earlier in the season. Since Golden was fired Miami won four of their last five games, but one has to wonder how much they will be into this game. Washington State like Miami finished 8-4 had a strong second half, winning six of their last eight games. The big question for the Cougars is the health of Quarterback Luke Faulk coming off a concussion. If Faulk is given the green light, Wazzu should be able to light up the field in El Paso.
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl
Washington 27 Southern Mississippi 17
It was an up and down season for Washington, as they needed to win their last two bowl games just to reach 6-6 and traditional bowl eligibility. The Huskies however, seemed to raise their game when the stakes were on the line beating former Coach Steve Sarkisian and USC on the road, and winning their last two games including the Apple Cup against Washington State. The Huskies will bring their best to Dallas and win again on the day after Christmas.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Duke 27 Indiana 20
Say Duke and Indiana and you have a meeting of two of the premiere programs on the hardwood thanks to Bobby Knight and Coach K. On the grind iron, however the two schools have never quite been able to find any consistency. The Blue Devils have not won a bowl game since 1961, and the Hoosiers have not won since 1991, making just their third bowl appearance since. Duke has gotten close in recent years as they are making their fourth straight appearance in a bowl game for the first time ever. Indiana was 6-6 and Duke was 7-5 righting the ship with a win over Wake Forrest after four straight losses beginning with the controversial loss to Miami. The Blue Devils are simply due.
Camping World Independence Bowl
Virginia Tech 24 Tulsa 20
Taking over in 1987, Frank Beamer turned Virginia Tech into a National Power, making them one of the best teams in the Big East and then the ACC year after year. The Hokies have played in some of the biggest bowl games and played for National Championships. That all ends in Shreveport as Beamer will coach his final game. There is no way the Hokies won’t be motivated to bring their A game. Look for Virginia Tech to send Frank Beamer out a winner by shutting down Tulsa’s high powered offense.
Foster Farms Bowl
UCLA 48 Nebraska 7
In most years UCLA against Nebraska would be a premier postseason matchup. However, the Cornhuskers are hardly worthy of a bowl this year, making it despite a 5-7 record. While, they did hand Michigan State their only defeat, Nebraska has not had a good season on either end of the ball, especially on offense and will get mauled by the Bruins in Santa Clara.
by Northrop Gruman Navy 37 Pittsburgh 13
The Midshipman get a home game as Keenan Reynolds plays in his final game. Reynolds is the most successful quarterback at the U.S. Naval Academy since Roger Staubach. It is a shame that he did not get invited the Heisman Trophy ceremony as a finalist. Reynolds is one of the best running quarterbacks in NCAA history and when his service is done, should at least get a tryout in the NFL. Keenan Reynolds could also pass with great skill, look for him to be the unquestioned star in this one as Navy wins easily.
Quick Lane Bowl
Central Michigan 30 Minnesota 20
Minnesota is the third 5-7 team to undeservedly make it into a bowl game, and while they have the better name than Central Michigan they will show in Detroit, why teams with losing records should not make it to bowl season. Central Michigan faced Oklahoma State and Michigan State and stayed somewhat competitive in both games. Chippewa QB Cooper Rush is excellent at passing accuracy and will get some scouts to take notice in this one.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Pittsburgh 31 Houston 17
As the nation gets set for the first real championship game a few bowl leftovers will help wet the appetite. This is a game will be the James Connor show as the Pittsburgh running back is going to be the best player on the field. The Panthers should be able win the game easily as Houston is not nearly as strong.
Russell Athletic Bowl
North Carolina 37 Baylor 27
Baylor once looked like a certified championship contender, but injuries to Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham ended those hopes. The Bears hope Stidham can return from an injured ankle, but even if he does play he will not be at the top his game. The Tar Heels quietly had a strong season, losing just one regular season game before falling to #1 Clemson in the ACC Championship. I think Carolina would love to show the nation what they could do.
Nova Arizona Bowl
Colorado State 41 Nevada 30
Colorado State had a solid season and qualified for a bowl game at 7-5 their reward a conference game on a neutral field against 6-6 Nevada. The Wolfpack are barely deserving of a bowl and only look acceptable with three 5-7 teams. This is exhibit #1138 that there are way too many bowl games.
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
LSU 48 Texas Tech 20
At one point LSU Running Back Fournette looked like a lock to win the Heisman Trophy, but after a late season collapse following a loss to Alabama he was not even invited to the Heisman ceremony. The cloud of Baton Rouge nearly claimed Les Miles his job but after public support the coach kept this job. Texas Tech has struggled to stop the run all year, looking to start a Heisman and National Championship campaign for 2016 Fournette will set the field in Houston on fire top 200 yards as the Red Raiders will not be able to hold the Tigers.
Auburn 24 Memphis 20
Auburn began the season with championship expectations but a 6-6 season had them as one of the most disappointing teams at 6-6. They are relegated to the Birmingham Bowl against Memphis. They really can’t lose a game against Memphis can they. The Tigers did beat Ole Miss, but in a bowl game can they beat Auburn. I just can’t see Auburn flaming out that bad.
Mississippi State 34 NC State 31
This will be a classic quarterback battle in Charlotte as Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott battles Jacoby Brissett of North Carolina State. This game has all the makings of a shootout. Expect both passers to top 300 yards with the winner being the team who has the ball last. Studying both passers Prescott is more reliable quarterback and will lead the Bulldogs to victory.
Franklin American Music City Bowl
Louisville 27 Texas A&M
Two teams going in opposite directions, the Cardinals started the season by losing their first three games, then won seven of nine. The Aggies meanwhile struggled late in the season as Quarterback Kyle Allen dealt with an injured shoulder suffered against Alabama. Louisville always seems to bring their best in bowl games and will do so again in Nashville.
National Funding Holiday Bowl
Wisconsin 13 USC 10
This could be one of the best defensive matchups of bowl season. Wisconsin allowed the fewest points in the Big Ten, and USC is one of the best defense in the Pac-12. On offense the Trojans have the edge in talent, but they are not that far ahead of Wisconsin to overcome the strength of the Badgers defense who will carry Wisconsin to a tenth win on the season.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Houston 37 Florida State 24
Houston is very much deserving of a spot in the New Year six bowl games. The Cougars posted a record of 12-1, with only loss against UConn coming Greg Ward Jr. was hurt. The Seminoles had a solid season at 10-2 but never quite found the offensive magic of previous seasons when they were led by Jameis Winston. Houston on the other had is one of the top offenses in FBS, despite gaining little attention in the American Athletic Conference. Not wasting his time in the spotlight look for Ward to have a big game as Houston wins in Atlanta.
Tennessee 27 Northwestern 10
Northwestern has never fared well in bowl season, losing 9-of-11 previous bowl appearances. The Wildcats offense has struggled all season, scoring over 30 points just twice. Their defense has carried them all year, but against a solid Tennessee offense they will have a tough time getting enough score to keep pace.
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Michigan 30 Florida 24
Both of these teams have risen faster than most expected with their new coaches. The Gators played in the SEC Championship with Jim McElwain, while Michigan posted a record of 9-3 under Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines overall are the stronger team, playing a tougher schedule as the Big Ten actually was the best conference this season. The game will be close, but Michigan looking to launch forward to win the Big Ten next year will get the win.
Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State 38 Notre Dame 13
There is no matchup in bowl season that could be worse for the Irish than Ohio State. The Buckeyes are one three-point loss in the rain away from playing for a second straight National Championship, and if the playoffs were expanded to eight teams it is easy to imagine Ohio State winning again. Notre Dame was also strong but the injuries piled up and caught up with them against Stanford. It is hard to imagine they will be able to contain the fast paced Buckeyes in Arizona.
by Northwestern Mutual Stanford 41 Iowa 17
The runners up in the Big Ten and Champions of the Pac 12 preserve the traditional Rose Bowl showdown between the two conferences. The Hawkeyes had a shot at the Final Four but lost a quarterfinal matchup against Michigan State. Iowa did not have the toughest schedule despite playing in a strong conference as they avoided Michigan and Ohio State. Stanford led by Christian McCaffrey has the superior talent and it will show as they will win going away.
All-State SUGAR BOWL
Oklahoma State 41 Mississippi 31
The last of the New Year’s Six bowl games sees a thriving showdown of Ole Miss and Okie State. Each team with a bounce here and there could be playing in the semifinals. The Cowboys lost their last two games after Quarterback Mason Rudolph sustained a foot injury. Rudolph is expected to be back in time for the Sugar Bowl, which is bad news for the Rebels. When Rudolph is on Oklahoma State in nearly unstoppable. In addition, Oklahoma State has won four their last five bowl games.
Georgia 20 Penn State 17
Despite their 9-3 record it was a season of disappointment for Georgia as losses to Alabama and Florida all but assured the end of Mark Richt tenure in Athens. With Richt heading to Miami, he will not coach in the Gator Bowl. Usually that would be a concern, but with the Nitany Lions horrendous offensive line leaking all season, Georgia should be able to exploit the weakness and win this game.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Arkansas 45 Kansas State 17
Arkansas playing in the SEC West got off to a terrible start, losing four of their first six games, but finished strong winning five of six. Their only loss a 51-40 overtime thriller against Mississippi State. The Razorbacks offense is explosive and Kansas State pass defense is among the worst in the Big XII. That is not a good combination for the Wildcats.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oregon 52 TCU 34
Two of the best offenses get together at the Alamodome, but with several key injuries it is hard to imagine the Horned Frogs being able to keep pace with the high flying Ducks. Struggling early in the season Vernon Adams finished the season with a flourish, leading Oregon to at least 38 points in their final six games. It Is hard to imagine that trend not continuing as they run up and down the field.
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
Arizona State 38 West Virginia 27
It was a disappointing season for Arizona State, as they managed just a 6-6 season. They do get a boost in this bowl as it will be played in their backyard in Phoenix. West Virginia is often mistake prone, leading the county in penalties. With the home field edge giving them a boost the Sun Devils will rise in the final bowl game for the Championship Game.
Capital One Orange Bowl
Clemson 41 Oklahoma 31
One of two National Semifinals on New Year’s Eve pits top ranked Clemson the only unbeaten team in CFB against #4 Oklahoma. Deshaun Watson a Heisman finalist was the best quarterback all year passing for 3,512 yards with 30 touchdowns while rushing for 887 yards and 11 scores. Oklahoma Baker Mayfield is also solid, but when these two teams met last season the Sooners had now answers for Clemson and lost 40-6 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. This game won’t be a blowout but the Tigers will prevail again.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Michigan State 16 Alabama 13
This one is going to be a defensive battle for sure as the Spartans defense is second to none and the Tide are nearly as strong. Alabama boasts the running of Heisman winner Derrick Henry who has been unstoppable late in the season. The Spartans meanwhile must hope Quarterback Connor Cook is healthy and ready to go. Both of these teams lost just once during the season, with the Spartans getting a miracle win over Michigan and later ending Ohio State’s winning streak. This is a special year for the Spartans and anyone that can win in Columbus can beat Bama on a neutral field.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Michigan State 27 Clemson 24
Clemson is the only unbeaten team in Division 1 FBS and the clear team to beat. Michigan State lost just once by one point on a controversial play. These are the two best teams in the nation and when they meet on January 11th they will put a show for the ages. The Spartans have won games in Ann Arbor and Columbus, they have made all the clutch plays when games have matter and Connor Cook when healthy is perhaps the best pro-style passer in college. Cook will be among the top players in the draft and will leave East Lansing with a memory for the ages, as he hands Mark Dantonio a National Championship as we get a Sparty Party for the ages in the desert.