Life is balance. And balance caused me to miss the last batch of bowl games. I only had a play on two of them (WV vs. Miami [loss on WV ML] & KSU vs. aTm [Win KSU ML]) with the rest not striking me as all that compelling. That said, the Pinstripe Bowl was one of my favorite of the year so far. A highly entertaining game between Northwestern and Pitt that the Wildcats eventually won.
But it was Christmas, and I needed a break and some alone-time with the wife that didn't involve picking college football games. That's done now, and I'm back, so here's the next fresh, piping hot group of useless predictions....
First, it should be noted that I went 3-3 in the last group of games, including (again) 3 underdogs who pulled the outright upset win. That puts me at 6-4 for the bowl season (7-5 if you want to include the two plays yesterday, which I did post Twitter via CappedIN.)
Birmingham Bowl, Thursday, December 29th, 1:00 PM CST.
South Florida (-10.5) at South Carolina [61.5]. One of the most difficult things to do in football is to determine bowl motivation. It's why picking bowls is hard, and even the best of experts find themselves sub-.500 more years than not. That said, I think this is a classic motivation game. South Carolina is happy to be here while South Florida was hoping for better. I don't think the Gamecocks have the firepower to beat the Bulls, but the American Athletic Conference has looked terrible this year so it wouldn't shock me either. Plus, Willie Taggart is gone. USF 27 USC 24. Pick: South Carolina to cover +10.5 and you might take a peek at that under.
Belk Bowl, Thursday, December 29th, 4:30 PM CST.
Arkansas @ Virginia Tech (-7) [59.5]. There are few coaches in college football that I dislike more than Bielema. And I think the SEC is pretty overrated this year. One thing about the Razorbacks however, they're either going to lay a spectacular egg or they're going to pull a humiliating upset. There never seems to be any middle ground. Arkansas 10 Virginia Tech 38. Pick: Va Tech to cover -7
Valero Alamo Bowl, Thursday, December 29th, 8:00 PM CST.
Oklahoma State @ Colorado (-3) [62.5]. Typically one of the more frustrating bowl games of the season as this pits the two teams from the Big X(II) and the Pac-12 who just missed a NY6 bowl. It promises fireworks, and often delivers, but it's brutal to pick because you never know who's going to show up and who isn't. HUGE lay-off game for me. But, since it must be done. Oklahoma State 42 Colorado 45. Pick (such as it is) OVER.
Autozone Liberty Bowl. Friday, December 30th, 11:00 AM CST.
Georgia @ Texas Christian University (-2.5) [48.5]. This bowl has gotten a LOT better since it stopped being the championship payoff for the C-USA. You typically get an under-the-radar matchup between two teams who were disappointing in their conference but who want to use this as a springboard toward the next year. I see the same here. What I also see is that Georgia will have much better QB play than will a TCU team whose defense has also been abysmal this year. Georgia 35 TCU 17. Pick: Georgia on the ML for the mild upset.
Hyundai Sun Bowl, Friday, December 30th, 1:00 PM CST.
Stanford (-2.5) @ North Carolina . Everyone's favorite "out there" bowl game keeps on keeping on as CBS' lone bright spot of the bowl season. The bowl that the Foster Farms Bowl is aspiring to become for Fox. If you like college football you like the Sun Bowl. This year especially so because we're going to find out if Stanford can do anything offensively sans McCafferey. My bet is no. I also think UNC has a good team and the PAC-12 is overrated talk heading into the Bama/UDub semi-final game is going to be deafening. Stanford 7 UNC 28. Pick: UNC on the ML for the mild upset.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. Friday, December 30th, 2:30 PM CST
Nebraska @ Tennessee (-6.5) [58.5]. The powers that be at ESPN hope that you watch the Liberty Bowl, and then don't change the channel to watch this mess of a game pitting two teams who underachieved all year against one another. Nebraska will be missing star QB Tommy Armstrong, who is "hoping" to be available as a backup. Tennessee is a hot mess. Watch the Sun Bowl instead. I've got no feel for this game as the Cornhuskers are tough to decipher, and the Volunteers have been a beautiful disaster all season. But still.... Nebraska 10 Tennessee 30. Pick: I guess play the UNDER, but I'm not touching this mess.
Nova Homes Arizona Bowl. Friday, December 30th, 4:30 PM CST.
South Alabama @ Air Force. (-13.5) . Why this game is played on Friday and not during the first week of the bowl season is beyond me. It's out of place, out of a good time slot, and will be relegated to ESPN 2 which means that it's going to be lightly watched as well. South Alabama was a good story this year, they had a great upset and a good season, but Air Force is just too good. I don't think this one will be close. South Alabama 20 Air Force 52. Pick: Air Force to cover -13.5 and the OVER.
Capitol One Orange Bowl. Friday, December 30th, 7:00 PM CST.
Michigan (-6.5) @ Florida State . Pretty much every pundit in the country, excepting Joey Galloway, thinks that this Michigan team is good. Galloway thinks they're "hype" which doesn't explain why they came within one inch of besting his beloved Buckeyes. But Joey's season-long idiocy aside there are two very talented teams matching up here. Yes, Dalvin Cook will be out and Michigan's defense is going to stifle Florida State's inconsistent Freshman QB. But the Florida State defense is for real and should keep this relatively close. As is my custom, I never (ever) make picks on Michigan games because I always believe they are going to win by 30 (unless they are playing Ohio State of course, and I continue to maintain that I'll be happily wrong the first time they beat the Buckeyes.) Michigan 33 Florida State 3. Pick: Go Blue!!!
I'll be back with the final batch of games, probably on Saturday morning. Including the two CFP games although I'm unsure if I'm going to have plays on that more than I just have predictions and some analysis.