We’re days away from the betting frenzy that is college football bowl season.
Matchups that would have been looked at as meaningless during the regular season will become all the rage, especially if a bowl game is the only sporting event on television on a Tuesday afternoon.
It all starts with a quintet of contests on December 16 and ends with the National Championship Game on January 8.
There are only four days off from the start of bowl season to New Year’s Day, with a one-week break occurring between the national semifinals and the National Championship. During that stretch, money will be lost, won back and lost again.
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (1 p.m. ET)
Troy (-5.5) vs. North Texas
Prediction: Troy 24, North Texas 17
AutoNation Cure Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET )
Western Kentucky (-4.5) vs. Georgia State
TV: CBS Sports Network
Prediction: Western Kentucky 24, Georgia State 19
Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET)
No. 25 Boise State (+5) vs. Oregon
Prediction: Boise State 49, Oregon 27
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET)
Marshall vs. Colorado State (-5.5)
Prediction: Colorado State 37, Marshall 21
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (8 p.m. ET)
Middle Tennessee (+3.5) vs. Arkansas State
Prediction: Middle Tennessee 31, Arkansas State 24
Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (7 p.m. ET)
Akron vs. Florida Atlantic (-17)
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 45, Akron 10
DXL Frisco Bowl (8 p.m. ET)
Louisiana Tech vs. SMU (-5)
Prediction: SMU 31, Louisiana Tech 21
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (8 p.m. ET)
Temple vs. Florida International (+8)
Prediction: Temple 24, Florida International 20
Bahamas Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET)
UAB (+7) vs. Ohio
Prediction: UAB 34, Ohio 31
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (4 p.m. ET)
Central Michigan (Even) vs. Wyoming
Prediction: Wyoming 37, Central Michigan 23
Birmingham Bowl (12 p.m. ET)
Texas Tech vs. South Florida (-2.5)
Prediction: South Florida 55, Texas Tech 49
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET)
San Diego State vs. Army*
Prediction: San Diego State 30, Army 23
Dollar General Bowl (7 p.m. ET)
Appalachian State vs. Toledo (-7)
Prediction: Toledo 27, Appalachian State 17
Hawaii Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET)
Fresno State vs. Houston (-1.5)
Prediction: Houston 34, Fresno State 31
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (1:30 p.m. ET)
West Virginia vs. Utah (-4.5)
Prediction: Utah 38, West Virginia 24
Quick Lane Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET)
Duke vs. Northern Illinois (+2.5)
Prediction: Northern Illinois 31, Duke 20
Cactus Bowl (9 p.m. ET)
Kansas State vs. UCLA (+3)
Prediction: UCLA 37, Kansas State 34
Walk On’s Independence Bowl (1:30 p.m. ET)
Southern Miss (+14) vs. Florida State
Prediction: Florida State 31, Southern Miss 24
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET)
Boston College vs. Iowa (-3)
Prediction: Iowa 17, Boston College 13
Foster Farms Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET)
Arizona vs. Purdue (+4.5)
Prediction: Purdue 37, Arizona 34
Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl (9 p.m. ET)
Texas vs. Missouri (-1)
Prediction: Missouri 37, Texas 31
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (1:30 p.m. ET)
Virginia vs. Navy*
Prediction: Navy 24, Virginia 21
Camping World Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET)
No. 22 Virginia Tech vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State (-6.5)
Prediction: Oklahoma State 31, Virginia Tech 21
Valero Alamo Bowl (9 p.m. ET)
No. 13 Stanford (+2) vs. No. 15 TCU
Prediction: Stanford 24, TCU 21
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (9 p.m. ET)
No. 18 Washington State vs. No. 16 Michigan State (+4.5)
Prediction: Michigan State 26, Washington State 23
Belk Bowl (1 p.m. ET)
Wake Forest (-2.5) vs. Texas A&M
Prediction: Wake Forest 35, Texas A&M 21
Hyundai Sun Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET)
No. 24 NC State (-5) vs. Arizona State
Prediction: NC State 28, Arizona State 21
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET)
No. 21 Northwestern (-6.5) vs. Kentucky
Prediction: Northwestern 37, Kentucky 24
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET)
Utah State (-3) vs. New Mexico State
TV: CBS Sports Network
Prediction: Utah State 20, New Mexico State 17
Goodyear Cotton Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET)
No. 5 Ohio State (-6) vs. No. 8 USC
Prediction: Ohio State 27, USC 21
TaxSlayer Bowl (Noon ET)
No. 23 Mississippi State vs. Louisville (-5.5)
Prediction: Louisville 41, Mississippi State 16
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET)
No. 20 Memphis (-3) vs. Iowa State
Prediction: Memphis 21, Iowa State 17
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (4 p.m. ET)
No. 9 Penn State (-4.5) vs. No. 11 Washington
Prediction: Penn State 31, Washington 21
Capital One Orange Bowl (8 p.m. ET)
No. 6 Wisconsin (-5.5) vs. No. 10 Miami (FL)
Prediction: Wisconsin 21, Miami (FL) 14
January 1, 2018
Outback Bowl (Noon ET)
Michigan (-7.5) vs. South Carolina
Prediction: Michigan 27, South Carolina 19
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET)
No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF (+8)
Prediction: Auburn 34, UCF 31
Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s (1 p.m. ET)
No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU (-1)
Prediction: LSU 31, Notre Dame 27
Rose Bowl (National Semifinal, 5 p.m. ET)
No. 2 Oklahoma (-1.5) vs. No. 3 Georgia
Prediction: Oklahoma 17, Georgia 14
Sugar Bowl (National Semifinal, 8:45 p.m. ET)
No. 1 Clemson (Even) vs. No. 4 Alabama
Prediction: Clemson 31, Alabama 20
January 8, 2018
National Championship Game (8 p.m. ET)
Expect High-Powered Offenses to Steal Early Headlines
Entertainment won’t come at a premium during the middle of bowl season as some of the nation’s best offenses take the field—against each other in some cases.
The Birmingham Bowl between Texas Tech and South Florida features a pair of top-20 offenses, but that’s only the start for enticing showdowns.
The Foster Farms Bowl showdown between Arizona and Purdue could be an early look at two up-and-coming teams experts will have their eyes on in 2018.
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate could end up being a favorite for next season’s Heisman Trophy depending on which talented upperclassmen depart for the NFL.
Missouri may not seem like one of the most exciting teams in the nation if you haven’t paid a ton of attention to the Tigers, but they will give Texas every bit of a challenge with Drew Lock, who threw for 43 touchdowns, leading the charge.
Also keep an eye on the nation’s leading passer, Mason Rudolph, and Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl as they take on Justin Fuente’s Virginia Tech team.
Liberty Bowl Will Not be a High-Scoring Game
Speaking of teams with a tremendous offensive output, the Memphis Tigers are playing at home in the Liberty Bowl on December 30 against Iowa State.
It may be one of the boldest predictions of bowl season to claim Memphis won’t score a ton of points, but that could be the case against an Iowa State defense that held six teams to 20 points or less, including TCU and West Virginia.
We’re not saying Matt Campbell‘s team has the most impenetrable defensive unit in the nation, but it’s risen to the occasion a few times and will be more than motivated to ruin Memphis’ bowl homecoming as the underdog.
Campbell, who will be going up against another hot upcoming name in coaching circles, Mike Norvell, will have a month to prepare for the high-flying offense of the Tigers led by Riley Ferguson.
New Year’s Six Games Should Be Mostly One-Score Contests
After the chaos of the early part of the bowl schedule fades away, the top programs in the nation will take center stage in the New Year’s Six games.
Most of the games should be one-score contests, and they could be decided by fewer than three points in some instances.
Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Auburn are all listed as comfortable favorites, but don’t expect each member of the quartet to cover. There’s a chance none of them cover and the underdogs prevail throughout the New Year’s Six.
When you take a glance at the pair of national semifinals, the margins will be even slimmer, but the lines are representative of that with Oklahoma being a slight 1.5-point favorite and the line in the Sugar Bowl being even.
Taking the underdogs isn’t a bad strategy if the lines stay as high as they are. If they creep down to three or four points, then the favorites in each game seem like more reasonable selections.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
All odds via Oddsshark.com
All statistics obtained from ESPN.com.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News