A winning week from the first week of bowls puts us in the driver’s seat to finish the season with a winning record. Bowl season is nearly impossible to predict because the outcomes are often determined on a team’s motivation in a particular bowl game.
Navy (-1.5) vs. Virginia: Military Bowl
We saw how unfamiliarity with the option can cause athletic teams problems in the Armed Forces Bowl. Look for much as the same in the Military Bowl as Navy slowly beats down an opponent who isn’t used to facing the option. The Midshippmen will also have a homefield advantage as this game is being played in Annapolis.
#19 Oklahoma State (-5.5) vs. #22 Virginia Tech: Camping World Bowl
Mason Rudolph is the best QB VA Tech has played all year and the Cowboys represent a tremendous step up in offensive firepower from what the Hokies have faced thus far this season. Virginia Tech coasted to nine wins on a weak schedule and look for the Hokies to be exposed in Orlando.
#15 TCU vs. #12 Stanford (+3): Alamo Bowl
Never bet against Stanford as an underdog. The Cardinal will show a physical brand of football that TCU hasn’t seen in the Big XII this season, so look for Stanford to win this game in the trenches.
#16 Michigan State (-1.5) vs. #18 Washington State: Holiday Bowl
Wazzu opened as a favorite in this game, but the line has swung in MSU’s direction. Much like the Alamo Bowl matchup, look for the physical team to win out. The Cougars may have better offensive weapons, but Michigan State’s ability to run the ball and control the line of scrimmage will prove to be the difference.
#24 N.C. State (-6.5) vs. Arizona State: Sun Bowl
Even though the bowl has a tremendous history, finding motivation to play in El Pason in late December is not the easiest thing in the world. With the exception of a two week stretch that saw the Sun Devils down Washington and Utah in consecutive weeks, 2017 was largely disappointing for Arizona State. N.C. State is a team that had National Championship aspirations in late October before faltering down the stretch. The Pack have a overpowering defensive line and look for N.C. State’s defense to keep ASU in check en route to an easy Sun Bowl win.
#5 Ohio State vs. #8 USC (+7.5): Cotton Bowl
The Trojans are just as good as Ohio State, so this line doesn’t make sense. The Buckeyes have a coaching advantage, but the Trojans finished the season on a roll and look for them to cap 2017 with an upset victory.
#20 Memphis (-4) vs. Iowa State: Liberty Bowl
Memphis was one of the most undervalued teams of the season. They couldn’t get over the UCF hump, but Riley Ferguson commands one of the best offenses in the country. The Cyclones have a stout defense, but they won’t be able to keep up offensively.
Michigan vs. South Carolina: Outback Bowl – O/U: 43 – UNDER
Both of these teams went through offensive slumps during the season. I feel like South Carolina is in the Outback Bowl nearly every year, so hopefully that familiarity breeds success and the Gamecocks will be able to pull out the win, but the guarantee of the contest is that points will be scarce.
#17 Notre Dame vs. #17 LSU: Citrus Bowl – O/U: 51.5 – UNDER
If the Irish are unable to run the ball, they will have a tough time putting up points. Although LSU’s offense is improved from 2016, it is still conservative and lets the defense do the talking. This game will be close and low-scoring with a costly fourth quarter mistake proving to be the difference.
#4 Alabama (-3) vs. #1 Clemson: Sugar Bowl
Pretty simple – Nick Saban has one month to prepare for an opponent and revenge on his mind – you don’t bet against that.