Welcome back to Bowl Mania! This article is slightly late, but in fairness, there are 41 games to cover. That takes time.
Last year, I was 26-15 in my bowl predictions. Not too shabby, right? This year I will obviously be 42-0, so make sure to bet on every team that I’ve picked.
I have saved the best for last and will come out with a College Football Playoff article soon, so those picks are not included here. Be patient.
Go out and enjoy bowl season. We’ve earned this.
2016/Overall Record: 26-15
Celebration Bowl: North Carolina A&T vs Grambling State
This may come as a shock, but I know nothing about either of these teams. Maybe because they do not participate in the FBS system. So, your guess is as good as mine.
Pick: North Carolina A&T
New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs North Texas
Troy was rather unimpressive for most of their Sun Belt Championship game against Arkansas State until the final drive and subsequent game-winning touchdown. They relied on turnovers to keep it close. North Texas is fresh off of a Conference USA Championship blowout loss to FAU. I like the Trojans because of their stout defense and momentum going into this game.
Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky vs Georgia State
The Panthers of Georgia State have had a great year, finishing at 6-5 under a rookie head coach. Western Kentucky had a down year, finishing at 6-6 and failing to defend their back-to-back run at Conference USA Championships. However, the Hilltoppers are seeking their fourth bowl win in as many years while the Panthers are making just their second-ever bowl appearance.
Pick: Western Kentucky
Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs Oregon
This has the makings of an interesting matchup. Oregon is without their head coach, while Boise State’s Brian Harsin is a candidate for that position. The Broncos are fresh off of their first Mountain West title since 2014, finishing 10-3, while Oregon fell from a 5-1 start to a 7-5 finish after their quarterback suffered an injury.
Pick: Boise State
New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs Colorado State
I would be lying to you if I said I followed either of these teams this season. I’m having to look up 100% of the information about this game. Both schools finished 7-5 on the season and it is their first meeting ever in collegiate football. That’s a cool narrative. I’m just going to take a shot in the dark on the winner, though.
Pick: Colorado State
Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State vs Middle Tennessee
Last year I picked Arkansas State to lose to UCF. I was wrong. Will I repeat my mistakes this year? Maybe so. The Red Wolves have underwhelmed me through their final stretch of the season, losing to South Alabama and Troy and scraping by against a Monroe team while allowing 50+ points. Middle Tennessee, though, is equally unimpressive, if not more so. Their best win of the season came on the road against a team that beat the No. 1 Clemson Tigers. That sounds impressive at first until you remember that Clemson somehow lost to Syracuse. This could shape up to be a good grudge match between two former conference rivals.
Pick: Arkansas State
Boca Raton Bowl: FAU vs Akron
Lane Kiffin has turned FAU into a school that people talk about. Not because of how they play, but because of his tweets and press conference comments. Either way, the Owls are relevant for the first time…ever? Fresh off a Conference USA Championship, the Owls are ready to take on the Zips from LeBron’s hometown. Akron comes into this game at 7-6 after an unimpressive season. Multiple losses to Toledo, a loss to Troy and blowout losses to Penn State and Minnesota highlight their schedule more than their wins do. This one might not be that close.
Pick: Florida Atlantic
Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs SMU
SMU is in a bowl game for the first time since 2012, but they are currently without a head coach. Louisiana Tech is in a bowl game for the fourth-consecutive season after finishing 6-6. The Mustangs have reached the postseason for just the fourth time since the death penalty. I didn’t get to see much of LA Tech this season, but did watch SMU dominate Arkansas State earlier in the year. Even without a head coach, I’m giving them the edge in this one.
Gasparilla Bowl: FIU vs Temple
I remember a time when Florida International went multiple seasons without a win. Now they sit at 8-4 and have reached a bowl game. The Temple Owls finished 6-6 thanks to a strong finish. A fan of Temple told me before the year started that the Sun Belt was garbage and that Arkansas State wouldn’t win anything, so I can’t, in good faith, pick them in this game. I wouldn’t have anyway, but I hope you’re reading this.
Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs Ohio
I have literally never watched either of these teams participate in any sporting event. I like the UAB mascot, so I pick them. Just being transparent here.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan vs Wyoming
The Wyoming quarterback is pretty good. Central Michigan is called the Chippewas. Isn’t that cool? Can you tell that this is a strenuous process to give a rundown of 41 games? I’m taking Wyoming.
Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs South Florida
South Florida has been dominant this season, coming into this matchup with a 9-2 record. Texas Tech needed a win over Texas in the season finale just to become bowl eligible. That’s enough for me.
Pick: South Florida
Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs San Diego State
Army beat Navy again and won the Commander In Chief’s Trophy. Kawhi Leonard played at San Deigo State, but that’s in basketball.
Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs Toledo
I wish they would give this bowl a decent name. Formerly the GoDaddy.com and GoDaddy Bowl, the Dollar General Bowl has to be one of the worst-named bowls ever. However, this game should be great. Last year, these teams met in the Camellia Bowl, with App State winning 31-28. This year, both teams are conference champions and facing off in a rematch. Appalachian State finished with a share of the Sun Belt title while Toledo won the MAC for the first time since 2004. Expect a shootout, but I’m taking the Mountaineers in this one.
Pick: Appalachian State
Hawaii Bowl: Houston vs Fresno State
I picked Houston in their bowl game last year and they disappointed me. You have to prove yourself before I ever pick you again.
Pick: Fresno State
Heart of Dallas Bowl: West Virginia vs Utah
This one is interesting. Before doing my homework, West Virginia would have been my pick. However, they are without their star quarterback. Also, the coach for Utah is 10-1 in bowl games. Isn’t that crazy? I’ll take the 6-6 Utes.
Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs Northern Illinois
Marvin Bagley III is an outstanding athlete. Too bad he plays for the Duke basketball team.With him, they may not have gone on a six-game losing streak in the middle of the season. Northern Illinois is a mid-major powerhouse when it comes to the postseason, and that’s why they’re my pick.
Pick: Northern Illinois
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs UCLA
I like Josh Rosen. A lot. I watched him play against Memphis this year and was thoroughly impressed. He is expected to play in this game despite the upcoming NFL draft. The Bruins will be without a head coach for this contest as they take on the legendary Bill Snyder and his Kansas State Wildcats. The Wildcats finished 7-5 while the Bruins sit at 6-6. As great as Rosen is, and as bright as his future is, I don’t see UCLA pulling this one out.
Pick: Kansas State
Independence Bowl: Florida State vs Southern Miss
What a year for Florida State. They had to play a game they canceled (Louisiana Monroe) just to reach bowl eligibility. They’re without their quarterback and head coach, and their fan base has forsaken them. They should be favored to win this game because they are the better team, but I’m going with the worst ending possible for this season for the Seminoles.
Pick: Southern Miss
Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs Boston College
Iowa beat Ohio State 55-24. That’s why the Buckeyes missed the playoff. Do I need any more of a reason to pick the Hawkeyes? Good because that’s the only reasoning I have.
Foster Farms Bowl: Purdue vs Arizona
This game doesn’t even sound halfway intriguing. Maybe there will be some professional bowling on or a nice cricket match. I’m not wasting my time on this game.
Texas Bowl: Texas vs Missouri
How embarrassing is it for Texas fans that Mizzou is favored in the Texas Bowl? Don’t mess with Texas? More like don’t mess with the worst bowl-eligible team in the SEC.
Military Bowl: Virginia vs Navy
Navy is playing this game at home on the heels of their second-straight loss to rival Army. Virginia hasn’t made a bowl game since 2011. Neither team was good down the stretch, as they both lost five of their final six games. Isn’t that crazy? This one is just a gut feeling, but I’m taking the Midshipmen.
Camping World Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Oklahoma State
FINALLY a game worth watching. Maybe. Oklahoma State lost close games to Oklahoma, TCU and Kansas State. Virgina Tech had a close loss to Clemson early in the year. These are two teams that were close, but ultimately fell short of a conference championship appearance. Should make for a fun game, though.
Pick: Oklahoma State
Alamo Bowl: Stanford vs TCU
Here are two teams that failed to live up to expectations. Stanford beat USC and then did nothing the rest of the season. People though TCU was good until they played an actual team with talent. People who argue for an expanded playoff want teams like this to be on the cusp of making it. Is that really what you want to see in a winner-take-all tournament?
Holiday Bowl: Michigan State vs Washington State
Michigan State was pretty decent this year and Washington State wasn’t too bad. They both got a little too much hype at one point or another but ended up about right where they should be. This should be a great game to watch, but don’t pick this over the Celtics and Rockets game.
Pick: Michigan State
Belk Bowl: Wake Forest vs Texas A&M
Texas A&M had a typical season. They started off strong and finished like garbage. This led to the firing of Kevin Sumlin and the hiring of Jimbo Fisher. Wake Forest isn’t all that good, but with a struggling A&M program, they may just have a chance. I’m not picking them, though.
Pick: Texas A&M
Hyundai Sun Bowl: NC State vs Arizona State
Why are there so many meaningless bowl games?
Pick: NC State
Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs Northwestern
Kentucky started the year off strong until a one-point loss to Florida. They finished with a few bad losses, but had a tough stretch of schedule featuring Georgia and Louisville. Northwestern finished the season on a seven-game winning streak, three of which came in overtime in consecutive weeks. I think it’s a safe bet to take the Wildcats in this game (they’re both the Wildcats).
Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs Utah State
Pick: New Mexico State
TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs Mississippi State
This should be a good game. Louisville finished strong with Lamar Jackson returning to Heisman form in November. Mississippi State lost one of the worst games you’ll ever watch in the Egg Bowl finale against Ole Miss. The Bulldogs are without their head coach in the sport where coaching matters more than anything, so I’ll take the Cardinals.
Liberty Bowl: Memphis vs Iowa State
Memphis is playing in their home stadium. The only losses the Tigers suffered this year were both on the road against undefeated UCF, the latter of which coming in the AAC Championship in overtime. Iowa State upset Oklahoma early in the year, but don’t expect another game like that from the Cyclones.
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs South Carolina
I just hope there’s another “The Hit”.
Pick: South Carolina
Citrus Bowl: Notre Dame vs LSU
LSU improved vastly down the stretch after a home loss to Sun Belt Champion Troy. Notre Dame was exposed against Miami late in the year, killing their CFP hopes. I still like the Fighting Irish, though, as they fight to prove their legitimacy against an SEC West foe.
Pick: Notre Dame
New Year’s Six Bowls
Cotton Bowl: 5 Ohio State vs 8 USC, Dec. 29, 7:30 P.M. ESPN
USC has been one of the most up and down teams in the country this year. At times they’ve looked like world beaters and at times they’ve looked like a 7-5 squad. Sam Darnold won the Rose Bowl a year ago but will have to go through Ohio State to repeat that success. Ohio State missed the College Football Playoff due to a blowout loss at the hands of Iowa. They lost to Oklahoma early in the year, but have improved vastly since then. I like the Buckeyes in this one, and I don’t think it will be close. They have the biggest chip on their shoulder in the league.
Pick: Ohio State
Orange Bowl: 6 Wisconsin vs 10 Miami, Dec. 30, 7:00 P.M., ESPN
Clemson demolished Miami in a statement game to prove they were the best team in the land. Wisconsin fell to Ohio State in a close game in the Big Ten Championship. This could fare to be a good game, but I don’t see it. Wisconsin had a very weak strength of schedule while Miami pulled off a ton of close wins against solid teams. The Hurricanes are more tested and proven in my eyes, and should win this game by double digits, though Wisconsin has the potential to keep it close.
Fiesta Bowl: 9 Penn State vs 11 Washington, Dec. 30, 3:00 P.M., ESPN
Penn State struggled down the stretch to prove they belonged at the top of the college football world, but at the end of the day, they are still one of the best teams out there. Barkley is a straight-up stud, and I expect him to show out.
Pick: Penn State
Peach Bowl: 7 Auburn vs 12 UCF, Jan. 1, 11:30 P.M., ESPN
The hate is real for UCF. They finished the season undefeated and AAC Champions, yet were not even mentioned in the CFP race. This has set a precedent that the playoff is exclusive to Power 5 schools. Auburn had a couple wins against top-ranked teams this year but fell short in the SEC Championship game. The Tigers should be favored, but my heart tells me which team to pick.
College Football Playoff (Article to Come Soon)
Rose Bowl: 2 Oklahoma vs 3 Georgia, Jan. 1, 4:00 P.M., ESPN
Sugar Bowl: 1 Clemson vs 4 Alabama, Jan. 1, 7:45 P.M., ESPN