The bowl season kicks off in the Bahamas in a bowl match up buried on a Friday workday. Neither school has ever won a bowl game, Buffalo is 0-3, while Charlotte is making their bowl debut. The Bulls are a solid team with some pro prospects. This one should be close, but having an edge of playing on this stage will help Buffalo get the win.
Kent State is making just its fourth bowl appearance, the school has never been a football powerhouse, though Julian Edelman has become their best known NFL alumn. Utah State has become a bowl regular, appearing in bowl games in eight times in the last nine years. Last season the Aggies crushed North Texas. I expect a similar result this year, as quarterback Jordan Love has become a hot pro prospect who will showcase his talents in Frisco.
San Diego State is always a solid choice during a bowl game, while Central Michigan is 3-8 all-time in bowls, with losses in their last four postseason games. The Aztecs have a strong defense that should shut down the Chippewas’ attack.
Liberty, a recent transfer from FCS to FBS, is making its first bowl appearance. Georgia Southern knows all about that journey, having done so at the start of the decade. The Eagles have won to bowls in two bowl appearances, look at them make it three-for-three as the smother the Flames in Orlando.
SMU, with a 10-2 record, had their best season since before the death penalty. Florida Atlantic also had a strong season at 10-3 and will be playing this game on their campus. However, with several players suspended, the Owls go into the game with a disadvantage. Look for the Mustangs and their superior offense to have a big game as the gallop to victory.
This is one of those bowl games that exist for the players and students and families only because neither team has much juice. Neither team has a great history in bowl games, and both teams are beyond mediocre. Look for the Panthers to get the win in a snoozer.
This should be called the Chris Petersen Bowl. Petersen helped make the Boise State football program what it is today and has turned around the revitalized the Washington program. Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl is his final game as a coach as he will step down to work in the AD’s office. Petersen has not had much success in bowl games with Washington, and that trend will continue as Boise State gets the win with their strong defense leading the way.
It has been a strong season for Appalachian State as they won the Sun Belt Championship. UAB is the team that would not die as their fans saved the program. The Blazers are pesky, but they don’t have enough weapons to win the game. It should be fairly competitive until the fourth quarter when the Mountainers are able to get that second score to win the game.
Central Florida did not make a big run this year and did not crack the Top 25, but they are still a talented team after posting a record of 9-3. The Golden Knights won’t have too far to travel with the bowl game in Tampa. Look for an easy win for UCF as Marshall does not match up well with their firepower led by quarter Dillon Gabriel.
Some years it feels that if there were not a bowl game in Hawai’i, the Rainbow Warriors would not get to play in the postseason. This is not one of those years, as Hawai’i won nine games and played for the Mountain West Championship. Led by Cole McDonald, the Warriors had the sixth-best passing offense in the country. McDonald could be a dark horse in the draft, one of those middle round finds in the vain of Gardner Minshew, watch him light up BYU as Hawai’i gets to ten wins.
The Bulldogs get to play in their backyard, as the Independence Bowl is a virtual home game for Louisana Tech. At 9-3, Tech had a strong but quiet season under Skip Holtz, who has led them to five straight bowl wins. Miami limped to 6-6 in 2019, losing at home to Florida International in the penultimate game of the regular season. These are not your father’s Hurricanes, as the U is not even a shadow of its former glory.
Pittsburgh had their moments during the season as a strong defense kept them in most games. While their offensive struggles prevented them from winning more than seven games. Eastern Michigan went 6-6 in the MAC, and that is all you need to know about them, as the Eagles will have trouble even getting the ball on the Panthers side of the field in what could be the least interesting bowl game of the season.
North Carolina may be the best 6-6 team in bowl season, as all six losses were by seven points or less, including a one-point loss to Clemson. Temple had a solid season in Conference USA, posting a record of 8-4, but did not play well when they faced other teams that made the postseason. The Tar Heels should win this one.
Wake Forest was having a terrific season, but an injury to receiver Sage Surratt led the Deamon Deacons to lose their final three games. Surratt will not return for the bowl game, likely further compromising their chances. Michigan State had their ups and downs too, as a five-game losing streak nearly derailed their bowl hopes. The Spartans had to win their final two games to get a bowl appearance, and that will help as they win in the Bronx.
Texas A&M has lost five games. All five losses were to teams in the top five, including two teams that have made College Football Playoff. Oklahoma State had their moments, but their lack of a reliable defense and struggles against strong teams does not bode well. Look for the Aggies to come out strong and win the Big Belt Buckle in Houston.
Iowa had one of the best defenses in the NCAA this season. Facing USC in the Holiday Bowl, they could get a boost for next season with a win. The Trojans had their ups and downs as they struggled outside of the Pac-12. It was not a great season for the Pac-12 as they did not get a team into the CFB Playoff. Look for defense to make the difference as Iowa gets the win.
Washington State looked like they were going to have a strong season, but a collapse in their fourth game against UCLA seemed to send the Cougars into a bad direction the remainder of the season as they lost six of their last nine games. Air Force meanwhile went 10-2, winning their last seven games. Look for the Falcons to continue this trend by winning in Arizona.
Memphis had an excellent season and were the best-ranked team of the group of five, getting their shot in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. The team they will face will be Penn State. The Nittany Lions are not a good matchup for the Tigers, as their defensive prowess will prevent any chance of an upset. Look for Penn State to win this one easily.
Notre Dame had its ups and downs in 2019. They again won ten games, but when facing adversity and bad weather did not play well. Iowa State could be a pesky opponent, but if the Irish are at the top of their game, it is hard to imagine them losing in Orlando. I expect a big game from Ian Book as Notre Dame’s offense will be too much for the Cyclones to handle.
LSU went through one of the toughest schedules in the NCAA without losing a game. That was thanks in a big way to the play of Joe Burrow, who won the Heisman Trophy. The Sooners also had a strong season with Jalen Hurts, losing just once as they won the Big XII. The Sooners will be without three key players due to suspension, including their top pass rusher Ronnie Perkins. LSU does have injury issues, but with Burrow leading the way, look for the Tigers to roar in Atlanta.
Clemson puts their long winning streak on the line as they seek a second straight National Championship. The Tigers have won 29 consecutive games, dating back to the semifinals of the 2017 College Football Playoff. Clemson has expressed dissatisfaction with their #3 ranking, feeling disrespected. The Buckeyes could be the worse possible matchup for Clemson as Chase Young helps lead the top-ranked defense. Ohio State and Young will harass Trevor Lawrence all game and get the win by a field goal.
After last year’s First Responder Bowl ended in a washout due to thunderstorms, the game has seen a significant reduction in luster as it will see Western Kentucky from Conference USA facing Western Michigan of the MAC. The game is also taking a backseat to hockey as it will take place at Gerald Ford Stadium on the campus of SMU, due to the Cotton Bowl being home the Winter Classic on Wednesday. The Broncos just missed a chance to play in the MAC Championship and overall have the more talented team. Look for WMU to hang the Hilltoppers out to dry.
It was a surprise season for Louisville, who recovered from an awful 2018 season to win seven games and qualify for a bowl game in Scott Satterfield’s first season as head coach. Mississippi State meanwhile needed a win in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving against archrival Ole Miss just to get a bowl game. The Bulldogs can blame much of their struggles on playing in the SEC West with powerhouses like LSU, Auburn, and Alabama. Mississippi State does have a significant edge in the run game of Kylin Hill, who led the conference in rushing with 1,347 yards on the ground. Look for Hill to be the key as Mississipi State demonstrates SEC superiority.
Both teams had their ups and downs this season. California finished strong, getting wins in their last two games, including beating rival Stanford. The Illini meanwhile lost their previous games and finished 6-6 after scoring upsets over Wisconsin and Michigan State earlier in the year to help lift them to their first bowl game in five years. This will be like a home game for the Bears, which does not bode well for Illinois, who needs the win more for the sake of the program. Their defense should keep the game close, but when the game is on the line, Cal who is 6-0 when quarterback Chase Garbers starts will get the win.
What an unappealing, unappetizing bowl game, to be considered part of the New Year’s Six Menu. Notre Dame was somehow left out of the mix, while Virginia, who won the Coastal Division in the ACC and was pummeled by Clemson. The Cavaliers lost to the Irish by 15 in South Bend and only won their division because the ACC had a historically weak season. Florida meanwhile, finished 10-2 and showed great promise in the SEC, which again was the best conference in the NCAA. Both losses the Gators suffered were to teams that played in the Conference Championship, including a hard-fought loss to LSU. The Gators finished last season with a solid win over Michigan. They will look to set themselves up as a top-five team perhaps by taking no prisoners and crushing an overmatched Virginia team.
These two teams have many similarities in that they try to win on defense and have limitations on offense. The Wildcats, after facing a tough early schedule, finished strong, winning their last three games and four of their previous five games. As with any SEC Team, you now that they are battle-tested. The ACC had their ups and downs, as the Hokies lost a chance to play in their conference championship when they lost to rival Virginia. Look for Kentucky to win a close defensive battle in Charlotte.
It was a season to forget for Florida State as they fired Willie Taggert in the middle of his second year in Tallahassee. The Seminoles did manage to get to 6-6 and get a bowl bid, but with a new coaching staff coming in, it is hard to see them providing much in this year’s Sun Bowl. Arizona State meanwhile appears to be close to making gains with Herm Edwards. A beautiful bowl win to close out 2019 will help set the Sun Devils for the future. Look for the ASU to come out strong and win this one going away.
It was a season of significant highs and lows for Kansas State as they beat Oklahoma while losing late in the season to West Virginia. The Midshipman meanwhile had a great season, as they won ten games, with Malcolm Perry becoming the last master of the Naval triple option. As Perry goes, so goes the rest of his team. Look for Navy to run rings around the K-State defense and tire them out to get a late fourth-quarter win.
Look for this to be a rather low scoring game. Wyoming found their way to 7-5, by winning several close games throughout the season. The Cowboys are not the type of team that is capable of blowing anybody. Georgia State had a good season, as they were among the top teams in the Sun Belt. Look fort he game to be close, with Wyoming winning as they have the edge in talent.
It was a highly disappointing season for the Longhorns, who went 7-5 after they expected to challenge for the Big XII. The Utes meanwhile lost the Pac-12 Championship Game to Oregon and missed a chance to play in the Playoffs. The key will be if Utah can bounce back from that disappointing loss. If they can, they should be able to roll all over Texas, which had one of the weaker defenses in the NCAA this season. The expectation should be in favor of Utah, as they look to build to the future, while Texas tries to figure what went wrong.
It was an excellent season for Minnesota, as the Golen Gophers won ten games. However, against top-ranked teams, they did not fair as well, as they lost two of their last three games. Auburn posted a record of 9-3 in the SEC, including a win over Alabama, that knocked their arch-rivals out of playoff contention. All three losses by Auburn were to teams in the top ten, including LSU and Georgia, who played in the Conference Championship Game. Bo Nix has shown signs of greatness in his freshman year at Auburn; a great finish could set the Tigers up to be a top-five team if they win the Outback Bowl.
One thing that has become symbolic at Michigan during the tenure of coach Jim Harbaugh is poor performances against the elite of college football. Alabama, with a loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, is missing the College Football Playoff for the first time since the NCAA went to a Final Four five years ago. The Crimson Tide had their injury issues, losing Tua Tagovailoa their star quarterback. Despite the injury of Tagovailoa, Bama still scored 45 against a strong Auburn defense. Look for the Tide to roll all over the Wolverines as they win this one going away.
The Rose Bowl takes on a familiar setting as Oregon the Pac-12 Champion faces Wisconsin the Big Ten runner up. On paper, Wisconsin is the better team and has a defense that could ruin the Ducks plans in Pasadena. However, with an eye toward the NFL Draft, a good game is imperative for quarterback Justin Herbert who will be seeking to catch the attention of NFL scouts. Look for Herbert to have a big game as the Ducks win the battle for the roses.
As seen in the Peach Bowl, when an SEC team faces a team from the Big XII, take the SEC team. This game sees the losers of the SEC Championship facing the Big XII title game loser, with each knowing that they missed out on a shot at the College Football Playoffs. The Bears are a decent team, but two losses to Oklahoma show that they are not quite at the elite level. Georgia meanwhile faced tough teams nearly every week. This experience will come up big as Georgia wins the Sugar Bowl.
It was a disappointing season for Boston College as they needed a win in their final game to finish 6-6. It was not enough to save the job of coach Steve Addazio. The Eagles have moved on to Jeff Hafley, but Rich Gunnell will coach the Ticket Smarter Bowl. Cincinnati meanwhile had a terrific season, winning ten games in the AAC. The Bearcats may have lost the American Conference title game, but they are in a better position to win this game as the uncertainty of a new coach will be the primary concern at BC.
When the season began, Tennessee was an utter mess, losing four of their first five games as they looked to be on the way to another terrible season. However, the Volunteers improved throughout the season and won their last five games to finish at 7-5. Indiana similarly showed significant improvement over last season, going 8-4. A win in the Gator Bowl could be just what each program needs to take another step forward. Indiana has never been above average in the Big Ten, while Tennessee is a slumbering giant looking for the big recruiting class to return to its former glory. LOok of Tennessee to get a big boost with a bowl win.
Can there be a worse bowl game? You are playing on the Blue Turf of Boise, after New Year’s Day, on a Friday afternoon in which many people have gone back to work, with Christmas Vacations at an end. I have been to Idaho at this time of year, and its rather cold and desolate this time of year. Ohio has a quarterback in Nathan Rourke that will look to garner the attention of NFL scouts. Rourke should have a strong game on the Blue Turf, as Nevada has been vulnerable on defense throughout the season.
Tulane struggled over the second half of the season, playing the hard part of their schedule. Southern Miss had their ups and downs but struggled on offense most of the season. The Eagles will have their work cut out for them as the Green Wave are the more talented team. Look for Tulane as Justin McMillan will have all the time in the world, with the lack of a Souther Miss pass rush.
Almost as if it is going to be played in a vacuum, the Lending Tree Bowl is on a Monday Night one week before the Championship Game and after the first weekend of NFL Playoff football. At ten wins, the Ragin’ Cajuns are superior in every way. Levi Lewis had a strong season at quarterback, passing for 2,804 yards, while Elijah Mitchell and Trey Regas provide a solid 1-2 punch at running back.
At long last, the National Championship Game is upon us as we get a real battle of the top Tigers in College Football. After 40 bowls and a month of mostly meaningless games, Clemson and LSU will meet with all the marbles on the line at the Superdome in New Orleans. For Clemson, it is about their winning streak, as they have lost in two years since the Semifinals in 2017. For LSU, it is about completing the dream with Heisman winner Joe Burrow leading the way. LSU has passed every test they have faced this season going unbeaten in the SEC, which again was the best conference in the FBS. Clemson had their struggles early but did enough to maintain their winning streak, and as they did last year finished strong as they seek a third national championship in four years for Dabo Swinney. This game might be the toughest test yet, not does Clemson have to face Joe Burrow and LSU high powered offense, but they will be doing it on the road, as the Superdome is right in LSU’s backyard in New Orleans. This one has the makings of a classic, look for Trevor Lawrence to play well, but Burrow with the help of the home crowd to get the win on a last-second field goal.