Forty one bowl games and reasons to watch all of them


Ralph D. Russo - AP College Football Writer



Ralph D. Russo

AP College Football Writer

There are 41 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) games, involving 80 teams, scheduled to be played from Saturday to Jan. 11.

FORTY-ONE! Losing football teams will play in bowls. Teams from the same conference will play each other in a bowl.

If the postseason keeps growing at its current rate, Kansas could qualify for a bowl game before it is done paying Charlie Weis to not coach the Jayhawks.

Too many bowls? Hogwash! Every bowl is special and you should watch them all.

Here’s why:

SATURDAY

New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque

Arizona (minus 9 1/2) vs. New Mexico

F. Scott Fitzgerald said “there are no second acts in American lives.” Former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie is proving him wrong with the Lobos.

Pick: ARIZONA 35-30.

Las Vegas Bowl

BYU (plus 2 1/2) vs. Utah

A Holy War in Las Vegas. This is also the plot line of a future Michael Bay movie.

Pick: UTAH 28-24.

Camelia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.

Ohio (plus 8 1/2) vs. Appalachian State

Reminisce about Ohio coach Frank Solich’s time as Nebraska coach and realize those should now be considered the good ol’ days in Lincoln.

Pick: APPALACHIAN STATE 28-21.

Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

San Jose State (minus 3) vs. Georgia State

The first Cure Bowl. The first bowl game for Georgia State. The Panthers’ reward? A 5-7 opponent playing 2,800 miles from home.

Pick: GEORGIA STATE 31-27.

New Orleans Bowl

Louisiana Tech (minus 2) vs. Arkansas State

By watching consecutive games with Appalachian State, Georgia State and Arkansas State, you will be the foremost authority on Sun Belt Conference football at your office Christmas party. Unless you happen to work for the Sun Belt Conference.

Pick: LOUISIANA TECH 35-31.

MONDAY, DEC. 21

Miami Beach Bowl

South Florida (plus 2) vs. Western Kentucky

Best matchup of up-and-coming coaches this bowl season: USF’s Willie Taggart and WKU’s Jeff Brohm could both be coaching Power Five schools in 2017.

Pick: USF 42-28.

TUESDAY, DEC. 22

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise

Akron (plus 6 1/2) vs. Utah State

Do not adjust your television: Yes, the field is blue … and Terry Bowden is coaching Akron.

Pick: UTAH STATE 31-14.

Boca Raton Bowl

Temple (minus 1) vs. Toledo

Last chance to see Owls All-America LB Tyler Matakevich tackle everything in sight.

Pick: TEMPLE 26-23.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 23

Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego

Northern Illinois (plus 7 1/2) vs. Boise State

The winningest programs outside the Power Five since 2010.

Pick: BOISE STATE 34-24.

GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Bowling Green (minus 7 1/2) vs. Georgia Southern

This is what makes college football fun: Bowling Green, with its up-tempo, Baylor-inspired offense, has thrown the third-most passes in FBS at 560. Georgia Southern, with its triple-option, has thrown the third-fewest at 129.

Pick: BOWLING GREEN 40-27.

THURSDAY, DEC. 24

Bahamas Bowl in Nassau

Middle Tennessee (plus 3) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)

Remember the last-second, Hail Mary, lateral touchdown Central Michigan scored at the end of last year’s Bahamas Bowl? Well, certainly THAT won’t happen again … right?

Pick: WESTERN MICHIGAN 29-24.

Hawaii Bowl

Cincinnati (minus 1 1/2) vs San Diego State

‘Twas the night before Christmas and instead of putting your kid’s bike together you can watch the Bearcats and Aztecs play.

Pick: SAN DIEGO STATE 28-23.

SATURDAY, DEC. 26

St. Petersburg (Fla.) Bowl

Marshall (minus 4) vs. Connecticut

‘Twas the day after Christmas — and you still haven’t put that bike together.

Pick: UCONN 20-17.

Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas

Miami (plus 3) vs. Washington State

The Hurricanes try to snap a five-game bowl losing streak.

Pick: MIAMI 42-35.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Washington (minus 9) vs. Southern Mississippi

The Huskies will be a trendy top-20 pick heading into next season.

Pick: WASHINGTON 35-24

Pinstripe Bowl in New York

Duke (plus 2) vs. Indiana

Basketball schools playing a football game in a baseball stadium.

Pick: INDIANA 31-21.

Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

Virginia Tech (minus 13) vs. Tulsa

Frank Beamer coaches his last game for the Hokies. #ThanksFrank

Pick: VIRGINIA TECH 38-21.

Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif.

Nebraska (plus 7) vs. UCLA

Bruins fabulous freshman QB Josh Rosen against the 122nd-ranked pass defense. The Rosen One, indeed.

Pick: UCLA 38-24.

MONDAY, DEC. 28

Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md.

Navy (minus 3 1/2) vs. Pittsburgh

Salute: Midshipmen QB Keenan Reynolds plays his last college game.

Pick: PITTSBURGH 24-23.

Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit

Central Michigan (plus 5) vs. Minnesota

Testing the powers of #MACtion. Is it enough to make a 5-7 team ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in offense interesting?

Pick: MINNESOTA 21-17.

TUESDAY, DEC. 29

Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas

Air Force (plus 7 1/2) vs. California

Jared Goff plays his last game for Cal before becoming the next quarterback to have his pro career ruined by the Browns.

Pick: CAL 35-31.

Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

North Carolina (plus 3) vs. Baylor

The top two offenses in the country in yards per play. The Bears hope to have at least one injured quarterback back.

Pick: BAYLOR 45-38.

Arizona Bowl in Tucson

Nevada (plus 3) vs. Colorado State

Finding the game between Mountain West conference rivals on TV might be tricky. Your best bet is to stream it online like one of those trendy shows you binge watch on the weekend. Call it Breaking Bobo.

Pick: COLORADO STATE 28-20.

Texas Bowl in Houston

Texas Tech (plus 7) vs. LSU

Leonard Fournette vs. the 126th-ranked run defense in FBS, with a chance to lead the nation in rushing.

Pick: LSU 35-24

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 30

Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl

Auburn (minus 2) vs. Memphis

The Tigers try to make it 2 for 2 against the SEC West.

Pick: MEMPHIS 31-24.

Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.

NC State (plus 5 1/2) vs. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs say goodbye to Dak Prescott, the best quarterback to ever play at Mississippi State.

Pick: MISSISSIPPI STATE 27-20.

Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn.

Louisville (pick’em) vs. Texas A&M

Couple of exciting freshmen quarterbacks square off in the Cardinals’ Lamar Jackson and the Aggies’ Kyler Murray.

Pick: LOUISVILLE 28-23.

Holiday Bowl in San Diego

Wisconsin (plus 3) vs. Southern California

The Trojans are in need of a defensive coordinator. Badgers assistant Dave Aranda is a really good one. Which bus will he get on after the game?

Pick: USC 28-17.

THURSDAY, DEC. 31

Peach Bowl in Atlanta

Houston (plus 7) vs. Florida State

At his current career trajectory, Cougars coach Tom Herman will be coaching the New England Patriots within five years.

Pick: FLORIDA STATE 34-24.

Orange Bowl (Playoff Semifinal) in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Clemson (plus 3 1/2) vs. Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield is a magician. Deshaun Watson is a wizard. You might have to watch on your phone at work, but it is football so you will watch.

Pick: CLEMSON 35-31.

Cotton Bowl Classic (Playoff Semifinal) in Arlington, Texas

Alabama (minus 10) vs. Michigan State

Over/under 40 carries for Derrick Henry?

Pick: ALABAMA 27-20.

FRIDAY, JAN. 1

Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

Northwestern (plus 8 1/2) vs. Tennessee

The Vols’ special teams are pretty special. Evan Berry leads the nation in kick returns with a 38.3-yard average and Cameron Sutton is second in punt returns at 18.7.

Pick: TENNESSEE 27-17.

Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Michigan (minus 4 1/2) vs. Florida

Two turnaround teams trying to avoid ending the season on losing streaks.

Pick: MICHIGAN 20-17.

Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

Notre Dame (plus 6 1/2) vs. Ohio State

The case for an eight-team playoff: How’s this for a first-round matchup?

Pick: OHIO STATE 31-27

Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Iowa (plus 6 1/2) vs. Stanford

The Hawkeyes return to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1991. Viva Ferentz!

Pick: STANFORD 28-23.

Sugar Bowl in New Orleans

Oklahoma State (plus 7) vs. Mississippi

Scouts will be watching Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah vs. Rebels left tackle Laremy Tunsil. You should, too.

Pick: OLE MISS 38-21.

SATURDAY, JAN. 2

TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

Penn State (plus 7) vs. Georgia

The Christian Hackenberg era ends at Penn State. He probably deserved better.

Pick: GEORGIA 14-10.

Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.

Kansas State (plus 11 1/2) vs. Arkansas

Playing in the same conference as Henry and Fournette, Razorbacks TB Alex Collins is highly underappreciated.

Pick: ARKANSAS 35-17.

Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas

Oregon (plus 1) vs. TCU

Vernon Adams vs. Trevone Boykin. First to 50 wins.

Pick: OREGON 51-45.

Cactus Bowl in Phoenix

West Virginia (pick’em) vs. Arizona State

You’ll likely need a six-pack of Red Bull to keep up with Oregon-TCU. WVU-ASU, the last of 22 games in a six-day span, will help you crash.

Pick: ARIZONA STATE 29-26.

MONDAY, JAN. 11

College Football Playoff Championship Game

Clemson vs. Alabama

The dynasty is not dead. Nick Saban does the Dab dance.

Pick: ALABAMA 31-21.

Picks

Last week’s record: 6-3 straight; 4-5 vs. spread.

Overall: 208-75; 137-134-3.

Upset specials: 4-11.

Best bets: 5-7.

Ralph D. Russo

AP College Football Writer

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