Bowl Previews and Predictions (playoff predictions to come)

By: Dan H

The 2014-2015 College Football season has come and passed, and only 4 teams remain in the hunt for a National Championship thanks to a newly implemented playoff. The inaugural playoff will host 4 teams who will meet in the semifinals and the winners will advance to play for a National Championship. However, before we get to the exciting semifinal matchups of No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State and No 2. Oregon vs. No 3. Florida State, there is a full slate of 36 other bowls, some with great matchups, and others that will be blowouts. I’ll predict the winner of every bowl starting from December 20 all the way until the National Championship game on January 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

 

Bowl: R+L Carriers New-Orleans Bowl

When: December 20, 11:00 AM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)

Player to Watch: Nevada Quarterback Cody Farjado, who is only the 2nd quarterback  in college football history to pass for 9,000 yards and rush for 3,000. The first was current 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is also a Nevada alum.

Nevada: Nevada has showed that it can play with major college football programs, only losing to current #10 Arizona by 7 and current #20 Boise State by 5. Their offense, led by Cody Farjado, has the ability to put up big numbers, but the defense is very weak and has ended up costing Nevada a few wins.

ULL: After a 1-3 start to the year, including blowout losses to Ole Miss and Boise State, the Raging Cajuns have won 7 of their last 8, only dropping one conference game to Appalachian State and finishing 2nd in the Sun Belt.

Final Score: Nevada 41, ULL 27

 

Bowl: Gildan New Mexico Bowl

When: December 20, 2:20 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Utah State(9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5)

Player to Watch: UTEP’s Aaron Jones, who is 23rd nationally in rushing yards per game (112.1 ypg) and had 7 touchdowns in the first three games for the Miners

USU: After starting QB Chuckie Keeton was lost for the year in a September 13th win over Wake Forest, 3 weeks later backup quarterback Darell Garretson led the Aggies to an upset win over then #18 BYU.

UTEP: After a humiliating 55-3 loss to C-USA rival Louisiana Tech, the Miners bounced back and won 4 of their next 5. Early in the season they almost upset Texas Tech, leading up until the last three minutes, where Texas Tech scored a touchdown and won by 4.

Final Score: Utah State 28, UTEP 17

 

Bowl: Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

When: December 20, 3:30 PM

Where to Watch: ABC

Who: Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2)

Player to Watch: Utah defensive end Nate Orchard, who averages over a sack a game and is second in the country with 17.5 sacks on the year. He also had 20 tackles for loss.

Utah: The #22 ranked Utes went into Los Angeles on October 4th and came away with an upset win at then #8 UCLA. They also beat then #20 USC and Stanford but suffered drubbings against two current top 10 teams in Arizona and Oregon (you may remember Kaelin Clay celebrating too early before scoring a TD, where Oregon picked up the loose ball and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown for the Ducks).

Colorado State: CSU’s head coach, Jim McElwain, just left to go to Florida, who recruited McElwain hard after Colorado State’s 9 game winning streak, but losses to Air Force and Boise State knocked them out of Mountain West title contention. It will be interesting to see how the Rams play for interim coach Dave Baldwin.

Final Score: Colorado State 38, Utah 31

 

Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

When: December 20, 5:45 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3)

Player to Watch: Western Michigan’s freshman running back Jarvion Franklin, who is 9th in the country with 1,525 rushing yards and is second in the country with 24 rushing touchdowns, behind only Heisman Trophy Candidate Melvin Gordon.

Western Michigan: After going 1-11 last year, the Broncos have had a major turnaround thanks to Jarvion Franklin, and went 6-2 in MAC play. They only played 5 teams this year that are playing in bowls, and lost to 3 of them, including 6-6 Virginia Tech and 11-2 Northern Illinois.

Air Force: After a huge 3 point win against then 10-1 Colorado State Rams, expect the Falcons to come out pumped after a 9-3 season where they beat 4 bowl bound teams, including #20 Boise State by two touchdowns.

Final Score: Air Force 41, Western Michigan 35

 

Bowl: Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

When: December 20, 9:15 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6)

Player to Watch: In a matchup of barely bowl-eligible teams, Bowling Green’s leading receiver Roger Lewis is your player to watch, as he has racked up nearly 1000 yards but only 5 TD’s, a stat he looks to increase in The Camellia Bowl.

South Alabama: Despite being bowl-eligible in 2013, the Jaguars were snubbed from a bowl, however, this year, despite being 6-6 again, they were selected to participate in their first bowl game ever, which should describe the fighting attitude of each member of the team, especially the upperclassmen.

Bowling Green: The MAC East champs won a big game against Big Ten Indiana 45 -42 on a TD pass with 7 seconds to go, which looked great, especially after the next week when Indiana upset SEC East champion Missouri. However, their defense is very suspect, giving up 59 points and 569 passing yards to Western Kentucky in Week 1, and later in the season 68 points to Wisconsin (including 5 touchdowns by Melvin Gordon).

Final Score: Bowling Green 28, South Alabama 10

 

Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl – (Interesting note, this game will take place in the new Marlins stadium)

When: December 22, 2:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: BYU (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3)

Player to Watch: Memphis’ quarterback Paxton Lynch has accounted for a school record 28 TD’s this season, and has not thrown an interception in over 6 games.

BYU: The independent Cougars had a very streaky season, starting with a 4 game win streak, followed by a 4 game losing streak, before finishing off the season by winning their last 4. BYU is one of 4 independents, and out of them (Army, Navy, and Notre Dame) BYU finished with the best record.

Memphis: The AAC champs had a great season, going 7-1 in the conference, losing at home against Houston 28-24. Their only other two losses? On the road against then #11 UCLA by 7 and at then #10 Ole Miss 24-3.

Final Score: Memphis 38, BYU 21

 

 

Bowl: Boca Raton Bowl

When: December 23, 6:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2)

Player to Watch: Marshall QB Rakeem Cato, who has thrown a TD pass in 45 consecutive games, and has thrown for 37 TD’s this season, including 7 in a 67-66 Overtime Loss against Western Kentucky. Expect a shootout whenever he plays

Marshall: College football’s Cinderella/2nd most controversial team besides Florida State most of the way through the year, made the decision not to put them in a New Year’s Bowl easier for the Committee after the aforementioned loss to Western Kentucky. All year long they were also knocked for playing a very weak schedule, the 124th softest out of 128 FBS teams.

Northern Illinois: The MAC champs have been riding high for a few years now, and even after Jordan Lynch’s graduation they still were able to amass a 11-2 record after winning their last 6. They lost their last 2 bowl games.

Final Score: Northen Illinois 42, Marshall 35

 

Bowl: San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

When: December 23, 9:30 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Navy (6-5) vs. San Diego State ()

Player to Watch: In most cases, this would go to Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who has had a great season, but Donnel Pumphrey is an under the radar running back who has amassed 1,761 yards, good for third best in the country, and only needs 82 yards in the bowl game to break his school single-season record of 1,842 yards rushing in a season.

Navy: The Midshipmen’s season is not over yet, as they still have to play Army at home, but they were already bowl eligible. Aside from close losses to top 25 teams (Lost by 17 to then #5 Ohio State after leading in the 4th quarter and lost to then #10 Notre Dame by 10 after a game winning/tying drive fell short and the Fighting Irish went down the field and scored a touchdown), they have won some close games and lost a few other heartbreakers, including after a comeback against Rutgers fell short by 7 after stalling at the Rutgers 5 yard line in the final seconds.

San Diego State: The MWC West Champs were never threatened when they had the lead, as they were one of only 3 teams with a winning record to win all their games by at least 10. However, they did lose 5 games, only 2 of which they came within 10 points (at then #21 UNC where they suffered a 4 point loss and at Boise State where they lost by 9).

Final Score: Navy 35, SDSU 24

 

Bowl: Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl

When: December 24, 12:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)

Player to Watch: Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky’s QB, has been putting up some ridiculous numbers, with 4,344 yards passing and 44 touchdowns, including games where he threw for 569, 592, and 491 yards, the last of which was an upset win over Marshall where he also had 8 TD passes.

Final Score: When Central Michigan found out they were going to the Bahamas, they had an awesome celebration (check out the link here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7So2Whzna04) and I think they are pumped enough to pull out the W.

Central Michigan 21, Western Kentucky 17

 

Bowl: Hawai’i Bowl

When: December 24, 8:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Fresno State (6-7) vs. Rice (7-5)

Player to Watch: Fresno WR Josh Harper has had 29 career receiving TD’s, which currently ranks 4th among active players.

Final Score: Although this is Fresno’s third straight season with a bowl trip, they were blown out the last 2 and have not won a bowl game since 2007. This is only the 10th time in school history Rice has won 8 games or more, but are becoming a C-USA title contender.

Rice 38, Fresno State 34

 

Bowl: Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

When: December 26, 1:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5)

Player to Watch: Honestly, who cares? This is a game between two underachieving teams that could have done a lot more and both disappointed this season. Big Ten competition crushed Illinois and although Louisiana Tech won 8 games, they lost to an FCS team in Northwestern State and lost to Old Dominion.

Final Score: In a crappy game with Illinois’ terrible D against Louisiana Tech’s nation leading 40 turnover causing defense, expect a blowout.

Louisiana Tech 31, Illinois 10

 

Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl

When: December 26, 4:30 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Rutgers (7-5) vs. UNC (6-6)

Player to Watch: Rutgers QB Gary Nova, who Rutgers fans have had a few ups and downs to deal with. There are 2 sides to Nova, shown perfectly in 2 games, a 26-24 win over Michigan where he threw for 404 yards and 4 TD’s, and a 13-10 loss to Penn State where he threw 5 interceptions.

Final Score: This is the tale of 2 teams. Rutgers is flying high after a 41-38 comeback win against Big Ten while UNC limped to the finish, losing by 28 to instate rival NC State.

Rutgers 42, UNC 28

 

Bowl: Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl

When: December 26, 8:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: NC State (7-5) vs. UCF (9-3)

Player to Watch: UCF QB Justin Holman, who has to fill the shoes of Blake Bortles and has had an OK first season as a starter with 20 TD’s and 2,661 yards.

Final Score: UCF was able to come losing star QB Blake Bortles to the NFL to post another great season, while NC State started out strong and ended strong, but it is all about what could have been after they were in quite a game with Florida State but in the end were not able to pull out the upset.

UCF 27, NC State 13

 

Bowl: Military Bowl

When: December 27, 1:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)

Player to Watch: Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel, who transferred from Notre Dame, and has completed 60.2% of his passes this year for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Final Score: Virginia Tech’s season was lackluster, but an upset victory over then #8 (and currently a playoff team) Ohio State in Columbus saved their face, Cincinnati was a co-champ of the AAC, but they got blown out by Ohio State… but that doesn’t mean anything.

Cincy 24, VT 10

 

Bowl: Hyundai Sun Bowl

When: December 27, 2:00 PM

Where to Watch: CBS

Who: Arizona State (9-3) vs. Duke(9-3)

Player to Watch: Whoever plays QB for Arizona State, as they are in the midst of a controversy between Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici (who replaced Kelly in the loss at Arizona which cost ASU the South title).

Final Score: ASU had a great win against USC where Bercovici threw a Hail Mary in the final seconds to win 38-24, but lost by 35 to UCLA and lost to Oregon State. Meanwhile, Duke almost won the ACC Costal Division, coming in 2nd to #12 Georgia Tech, who they beat by 6 in October, which, ironically, was the only game Duke won against a team who had a winning record.

ASU 30, Duke 17

 

Bowl: Duck Commander Independence Bowl

When: December 27, 3:30 PM

Where to Watch: ABC

Who: Miami (FL) (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)

Player to Watch: Miami RB Duke Johnson, who rushed for six 100 yard games and rushed for 1,520 yards, averaging seven yards per carry.

Final Score: Miami, like many other teams, had the opportunity to upset #1 Florida State, but they too, fell short by 4 points, when they gave up the lead with 3 and a half minutes to go. Miami beat only one Power 5 team with a winning record: Duke.  South Carolina upset then #6 Georgia 38-35 in September and nearly upset Auburn, but had bad losses to Tennessee and Clemson. They still are a very dangerous team.

South Carolina 38, Miami 27

 

Bowl: New Era Pinstripe Bowl

When: December 27, 4:30 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6)

Player to Watch: Penn State’s quarterback Christian Hackenburg. This highly rated NFL prospect has had a season to forget, mostly due to his terrible offensive line. Expect him to rebound to go out strong to end the year.

Final Score: Boston College fans stormed the field after upsetting then #8 USC 37-31 at home and also beat VT, but they lost at home by 3 to Colorado State and also had tough losses to Pitt, Louisville, and Clemson (lost 17-13), but the worst loss was probably by a last second field goal from Roberto Aguayo where top ranked Florida State beat them 20-17.

 

Bowl: National University Holiday Bowl

When: December 27, 8:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Nebraska (9-3) vs. USC (8-4)

Player to Watch: Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah was having a great season, of course it was overshadowed by Big Ten counterpart Melvin Gordon, but Abdullah topped 200 yards 4 times and also had an amazing 58 yard TD catch to save Nebraska from an upset by McNeese State.

Final Score: USC would have won the Pac-12 South if not for a loss on a Hail Mary against Arizona State, but they had season defining wins at then #13 Stanford, at #10 Arizona, and a 35 point blowout win against Notre Dame. Nebraska’s defense got gashed by Melvin Gordon but other than that held strong, but Nebraska was just a step below the Big Ten’s best.

Nebraska 42, USC 34

 

Bowl: AutoZone Liberty Bowl

When: December 29, 2:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Texas A&M (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

Player to Watch: Top WVU receiver Kevin White has been having a stellar season, leading the Big 12 with 102 receptions and 1,318 receptions, including over 100 yards in the first 7 games.

Final Score: Texas A&M had to overcome losing the Johnny Football himself, and started out nicely with a 52-28 win over then #9 South Carolina (which does not look so good now), after starting 5-0 they lost 3 straight blowouts to then #12 Miss St., then #3 Ole Miss, and a humiliating 59-0 loss to then #7 Bama. They upset then #3 Auburn 41-38, but finished the season with losses to Mizzou and LSU. West Virginia lost by 10 to Bama, 12 to then #4 Oklahoma, by 1! Point to then #7 TCU and by 6 to then #12 K-State, but they did beat then #4 Baylor 41-27.

West Virginia 31, Texas A&M 21

 

Bowl: Russell Athletic Bowl

When: December 29, 5:30 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Oklahoma (8-4) vs. Clemson (9-3)

Player to Watch: Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine, who broke Melvin Gordon’s 1 week old record for the most rushing yards when he had 427 against Kansas.

Final Score: For Oklahoma, they lost all 3 games they played against ranked opponents and also lost at home against in-state rival OK State in OT, a demoralizing loss. On the other hand, Clemson has a quarterback quandary as Deshaun Watson and Cole Stoudt both underperformed. Watson is the projected starter, even though he has a “torn ACL.” They lost to Florida State in OT in a game that they should definitely have won.

Oklahoma 24, Clemson 20

 

Bowl: AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl

When: December 29, 9:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6)

Player to Watch: Although there are no real star players in this game, the thing to watch is the Arkansas D. This game has the potential to be interesting; especially because of the way Arkansas achieved bowl eligibility. They had to win 2 out of 4 games against this tough schedule: Ole Miss, Mizzou, Miss. St, and LSU. They ended up shutting out both LSU and Ole Miss to become bowl eligible.

Final Score: Texas has had a rocky season in Charlie Strong’s first season as coach, losing QB David Ash and no really great wins, but they did have blowout losses to BYU, Baylor, K-State, and by in-state “rival” TCU, a 38 point loss on Thanksgiving.

Arkansas 17, Texas 3

 

Bowl: Franklin America Mortgage Music City Bowl

When: December 30, 3:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Notre Dame (7-5) vs. LSU (8-4)

Player to Watch: LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette, who was a top prospect coming into this year, but although did not meet the ridiculous expectations, ended up with quite a good season, rushing for almost 900 yards and had 8 TD’s.

Final Score: Both teams ended on a sour note, so it will be interesting to see how each team responds. Notre Dame lost their last 4, including a 35 point season ending loss to rival USC in which starting QB Everett Golson was pulled. Controversy… we’ll see. Interestingly enough, even with a much tougher schedule, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights were able to manage the same record as Notre Dame. LSU got shutout 17-0 to Arkansas and lost by 34 at Auburn. However, they did beat then #3 Ole Miss and lost in OT to then #5 Alabama.

LSU 41, Notre Dame 17

 

Bowl: Belk Bowl

When: December 30, 6:30 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Georgia (9-3) vs. Louisville (9-3)

Player to Watch: Georgia’s running game, especially freshman running back Nick Chubb, who stepped up when the second most controversial player in college football behind Jameis Winston, Georgia RB Todd Gurley, had a season-ending injury.

Final Score: Georgia shut out SEC East Champ Mizzou 34-0 and beat Auburn 34-7, but lost to South Carolina, Georgia Tech, and… Florida! Louisville’s first season in the ACC was a success, especially their 31-28 win at Notre Dame, but had some ridiculous losses, including to 5-7 Virginia and blowing a 21 point lead against Florida State to lose by eleven, 42-31.

Georgia 41, Louisville 23

 

Bowl: Foster Farms Bowl

When: December 30, 10:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Maryland (7-5) vs. Stanford (7-5)

Player to Watch: This award should go to the Stanford Defense, which has been up and down, but for one player, it goes to Maryland leading WR Stefon Diggs, coming off 3 games off (1 for suspension and 2 for injury), vastly improves this offense.

Final Score: Maryland was a huge favorite over Rutgers in the season finale for the two Big 10 newcomers, and had a 25 point lead in the 2nd quarter, but ended up blowing it and losing 41-38. They also could not hang with the Big Ten’s best, including a 28 point loss to Ohio State and a 45 point loss to Wisconsin. Stanford had high expectations coming into the season, but vastly underperformed with losses to USC (13-10), to ND (17-14), to Arizona State (26-10), to Utah (20-17), and a ridiculous 45-16 loss to Oregon. They managed to save their season, however, with two wins at the end, 38-17 against rival Cal, and in the finale stunned UCLA 31-10.

Stanford 31, Maryland 17

 

Bowl: Peach Bowl

When: December 31, 12:30 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Ole Miss (9-3) vs. TCU (11-1)

Player to Watch: TCU’s Trevone Boykin finished last year as a Wide Receiver, but transferred to quarterback this year and lead one of the most potent offenses in the country, an offense that scored over 30 points every game, and even put up 82 in a blowout win over Texas Tech.

Final Score: TCU has a team full of angry players that feel like they got screwed from the College Football Playoff. In the penultimate ranking from the committee, TCU was ranked #3, but after a 52 point blowout win over Iowa State… they were dropped to #6 and pushed out of the 4 team playoff. Expect them to try and run up the score on offense to make a point. Ole Miss had a great start to the season, starting 7-0 and ranked as high as #3 in the country before close losses to Auburn and LSU. Late in the season, they also had an embarrassing 30-0 loss to perennial SEC bottom team Arkansas.

TCU 73, Ole Miss 41

 

Bowl: Vizio Fiesta Bowl

When: December 31, 4:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Boise State (11-2) vs. Arizona (10-3)

Player to Watch: Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, who is having a monster season, rushing for 25 TD’s (in his last 8 games, 7 of them have been multi-TD games) and has 2,225 all-purpose yards.

Final Score: After losing head coach Chris Peterson to Washington last year, the Boise State Broncos have rebounded quite nicely, finishing the season ranked #20 in the CFP Committee’s polls, the highest non-power 5 team. Arizona’s kicker Casey Skowron missed a potential game winning field goal against USC, but also got quite lucky on a very fortunate bounce during a last-second Hail Mary win against Cal.

Arizona 27, Boise State 20

 

Bowl: Capital One Orange Bowl

When: December 31, 8:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Mississippi State (10-2) vs. Georgia Tech (10-3)

Player to Watch: Hail State’s star quarterback Dak Prescott led Miss. St to perhaps the most successful season in school history, with definitely the best start, going 9-0 and ascending the ranks until they reached the #1 ranking.

Final Score: After getting to the top of the polls, Miss. St lost its magic touch, losing a tough one to Alabama 25-20 and a poor showing to end the season against in-state rival Ole Miss, losing by 14, which knocked them out of the national title race. Georgia Tech had a tough time starting the season against an easy schedule.   They were 5-0, but had to sweat out wins against Virginia Tech and Miami, and needed a lucky play to beat Georgia Southern. Late in the season, however, they really pulled themselves together, beat then #19 Clemson and at rival then #9 Georgia in OT. However, on the biggest stage, in the ACC championship game against FSU, they were in it the whole way but had a disappointing 2 point loss.

Hail State 38, GT 24

 

Bowl: Outback Bowl

When: January 1, 12:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN2

Who: Auburn (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (10-3)

Player to Watch: Auburn QB Nick Marshall led the Tigers to the National Championship game, but this year he led them the same way, yet they did not get another Immaculate Reception or Kick-6 and that was the difference between a New Years 6 Bowl and the Outback Bowl.

Final Score: Both teams were hit hard by tough schedules. Auburn lost all 4 games to SEC counterparts, including at then #3 Miss. St and at #1 Alabama. They did, however, win at home against then #15 LSU and on the road against #4 Ole Miss and at #20 K-State, but lost at then #15 Georgia by 27. Wisconsin actually lost to LSU, on the first week of the season but after that won 10 of their next 11, only a blemish at Northwestern killed them. Unfortunately, their season ended on a horrific loss in the Big Ten Championship Game, a 59-0 drubbing at the hands of Ohio State.

Auburn 30, Wisconsin 20

 

Bowl: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

When: January 1, 12:30 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Michigan State (10-2) vs. Baylor (11-1)

Player to Watch: Baylor’s QB Bryce Petty, who has lead the high-flying Bears to a top 5 ranking in the final College Football poll. The Bears offense averages 48.8 points per game, good for best in the nation.

Final Score: Michigan State dominated most of the Big Ten East, but fell short in the 2 biggest games of their season, losing by 19 to then #3 Oregon and by 12 to then #14 Ohio State. They destroyed pretty much everyone else, but the competition was not fierce. Baylor’s only blemish on their record was a 14-point loss at West Virginia, and they beat three top 15 teams in then #15 Oklahoma by 34 points, then #9 Kansas State, and then #9 TCU in a Texas sized war after which Baylor came out victorious 61-58. Expect a shootout in this one.

Baylor 51, Michigan State 38

 

Bowl: Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl

When: January 1, 1:00 PM

Where to Watch: ABC

Who: Missouri (10-3) vs. Minnesota (8-4)

Player to Watch: Mizzou’s quarterback Maty Mauk will be the key to this game. He led Missouri to the SEC Championship game, but also has an SEC leading 11 interceptions this season.

Final Score: Mizzou had 2 tough losses this season, against Indiana (who lost to Bowling Green), and a blowout loss at home against Georgia. They go 3 and out on 1/3 of their drives every game. Minnesota had a great season, hanging with Big Ten and CFP Contenders Ohio State and Wisconsin, but had a tough loss to Illinois. They knocked off Nebraska on the road and David Cobb set the school record for rushing yards in a season.

Missouri 27, Minnesota 14

 

Bowl: Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

When: January 2, 12:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)

Player to Watch: Pitt’s James Conner, who was awarded the ACC Player of The Year award, who finished 4th in the nation with 1,675 rushing yards and 2nd in the country with 24 TD’s.

Final Score: Houston started off the season with a rough start, a 20-point loss to UTSA, but bounced back in AAC play, as all 3 in-conference losses were very close and showed that the Cougars could be a contender in the American conference. Pitt recently left the Big East/AAC, bolting for the ACC. Rumors are going on that Pitt head coach Paul Chryst is going to bolt for Wisconsin, but nothing is confirmed yet. After starting 3-0, Pitt lost 6 of 7 in the middle of the season, but won their last 2 against ACC counterparts Syracuse and Miami (FL) to become bowl eligible.

Houston 31, Pitt 27

 

Bowl: Tax Slayer Bowl

When: January 2, 3:20 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Iowa (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)

Player to Watch: The battle in the trenches between the Hawkeyes O-line and the Volunteers defensive line. Iowa boasts athletic left tackle Brandon Scherff, who is probably going to be taken in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL draft. The Volunteers have freshman defensive end Derek Barnett, who has 10 sacks on the year and 20.5 tackles for loss.

Final Score: Iowa started the season 5-1 and looked like potential Big Ten West contenders, but could not beat the Big Ten’s best and also suffered a 37-point loss to Minnesota which knocked them out of contention for the Big Ten West title. Tennessee got off to an 0-4 start in SEC play, as they could not hang on in close losses, but they had a huge 45-42 OT win at South Carolina.

Iowa 21, Tennessee 20

 

Bowl: Valero Alamo Bowl

When: January 2, 6:45 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Kansas State (9-3) vs. UCLA (9-3)

Player to Watch: UCLA 2 way star Myles Jack made a case early in the season to become a Heisman finalist and first round draft pick, but he fizzled out and made way for another UCLA star and probable first round draft pick quarterback Brett Hundley, who will try to impress NFL scouts in his last game as a Bruin.

Final Score: On a Thursday night early in the season, Kansas State almost upset then #5 Auburn, but fell short even though they had lots of opportunities. They beat Oklahoma 31-30 but lost to Baylor in the last game of the season, which, if they had won, would have given them Big 12 Co-Champ status. UCLA started the season ranked #7, but lost two of their first three Pac-12 games, but came back strong, especially in a 18 point victory over their Los Angeles rival USC. They were in good position to win the Pac-12 South and play Oregon for the Pac-12 Title and potentially a spot in the CFP, but they lost by 21 at home to a then 6-5 Stanford team.

UCLA 31, Kansas State 27

 

Bowl: Ticket City Cactus Bowl

When: January 2, 10:15 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: Washington (8-5) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)

Player to Watch: Washington RB/DB Shaq Thompson, who started the year at defensive back, but ended with 61 rushes for 456 yards and 2 scores, including a 57 yard TD.

Final Score: The Huskies beat Cal by 24 on the road and also beat instate rival Washington State, but went 0-5 against ranked opponents (all of their wins were against unranked opponents), but only lost by 1 to Arizona and by 7 to Stanford. They were blown out against Oregon, Arizona State, and UCLA. Oklahoma State was a surprise contender early in the season but limped towards the end of the season. Needing a win against rival Oklahoma to become bowl eligible, they somehow pulled out the win to snatch a ticket to the Ticket City Bowl.

Washington 41, Oklahoma State 17

 

Bowl: Birmingham Bowl

When: January 3, 12:00 PM

Where to Watch: ESPN

Who: East Carolina (8-4) vs. Florida (6-5)

Player to Watch: Florida Quarterback Treon Harris, who took the starting job from Jeff Driskel in the last month of the season, and is a duel threat, having 10 scores, 3 of which were rushing.

Final Score: East Carolina was one of the best teams in the Group of 5 these season, as they had a tough loss to South Carolina (which they should have won, but gave away the game late), and beat Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Florida had a rough season, and Will Muschamp took the heat for it, getting replaced by Colorado State coach Jim McElwain. For many underclassmen, this will be an “audition” for the next year’s starting jobs under a new coach.

Florida 24, East Carolina 10

Week 15 NFL Previews and Predictions

Overall: 99-49

Last Week: 10-5

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) -2.5 at Atlanta Falcons (5-8):

After a huge win against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers remain only a half game out of the division lead, but need to continue forcing the ball to Le’Veon Bell if they want to win and make the playoffs. The Falcons may have been awful for most of the season, but they still have the division lead and have been playing better of late.

Steelers win 35-28

Spread pick: Steelers

Washington Redskons (3-10) +6.5 at New York Giants (4-9):

The Redskins continue to have questions at quarterback, whether it be Colt McCoy or RG3, which makes their offense incredibly stagnant and impossible to watch. The Giants were able to snap their seven game losing streak against the struggling and they hope to end their underachieving season on a high note.

Giants win 24-13

Spread pick: Giants

Miami Dolphins (7-6) +7.5 at New England Patriots (10-3):

The Dolphins were defeated at home against the Ravens due to the inconsistency of Ryan Tannehill and the offense, which will likely end the Dolphins hope of making playoffs. The Patriots’ performance last week should scare opponents because they were able to rebound after a difficult defeat and the defense is playing at an extraordinarily high level.

Patriots win 28-13

Spread pick: Patriots

Oakland Raiders (2-11) -10.5 at Kansas City Chiefs (7-6):

The Oakland Raiders had a great win against the 49ers at home, which could ultimately cost the Raiders in the draft, but the recent play of Derek Carr has given confidence to the Oakland fan base. The Chiefs still have a chance to make the playoffs, but they must win the rest of their games and their offense needs to play at a significantly higher level.

Chiefs win 23-17

Spread pick: Raiders

Houston Texans (7-6) +7 at Indianapolis Colts (9-4):

The Texans have been hurt by quarterbacks who can throw the ball down the field to explosive wide receivers. Unfortunately, they may be playing against the best wide receiver-quarterback combination, Luck and Hilton. Although the Colts will most likely win the division anyway, this win would officially clinch them a playoff spot and allow Luck and the Colts’ porous defense to focus on the top teams that they will be playing in January and hopefully February.

Colts win 27-21

Spread pick: Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) + 14 at Baltimore Ravens (8-5):

The Jaguars may have only won two games, but they continue to play hard on defense under Gus Bradley and their offense has steadily improved over the past few weeks. The Ravens won a critical game last week against the Dolphins with their dominating defense and diverse offensive attack, but they need to continue winning, if they are going to catch the Bengals in the division or claim one of the wild card positions.

Ravens win 21-13

Spread pick: Jaguars

Green Bay Packers (10-3) -4.5 at Buffalo Bills (7-6):

Although they did not play well during the second half of the game against Atlanta, they have established themselves as the premier team in the NFL, especially if they can have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Bills were in the playoff hunt, but unfortunately have to play the Broncos and Packers in back to back games, which will ultimately extend their playoff drought to 15 years.

Packers win 31-21

Spread pick: Packers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) +4.5 at Carolina Panthers (4-8-1):

Although the Bucs possess dynamic weapons of offense, Doug Martin, Mike Evans, and Vincent Jackson, they cannot score more than 17 points in a game, which puts too much stress on a lackluster defense to stop opposing offenses during every possession. The Carolina Panthers received terrible news when they found out that their starting quarterback, Cam Newton, will likely be missing the game due to two broken vertebrae caused by a devastating car crash.

Panthers win 17-13

Spread pick: Buccaneers

Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) +1.5 at Cleveland Browns (7-6):

Whenever the Bengals have a chance to solidify themselves as one of the better teams in the league, they always lose. The Bengals need a big performance from the defense in order to confuse the Browns and their new starting quarterback. The debut of Johnny Manziel is the moment that every Browns’ fan has been waiting for since they drafted him in the first round.

Bengals win 24-17

Spread pick: Bengals

Denver Broncos (10-3) -3.5 at San Diego Chargers (8-5):

Courtesy of Fox Sports
Courtesy of Fox Sports

The Broncos are currently tied with the Patriots for the best record in the AFC so I expect Peyton Manning to put forth a very impressive game plan against a tough San Diego squad. The Chargers are another 8-5 team that has the chance of making the playoffs, but need their offense to take a step forward after being shut down by the Pats at home last week.

Broncos win 24-21

Spread pick: Chargers

Minnesota Vikings (6-7) +7.5 at Detroit Lions (9-4):

The Vikes’ offense has not been very impressive throughout the regular season, but the defense has been able to score and keep the team in games. The Lions have a great chance of making the playoffs, but the defense needs to play well and Stafford cannot throw interceptions so they can win this game at home.

Lions win 24-17

Spread pick: Vikings

San Francisco 49ers (7-6) +10 at Seattle Seahawks (9-4):

The 49ers will not make the playoffs this season, but they are always can be a difficult matchup because they are proven winners and have the to potential to play a physical brand of football, which gives many teams problems. Like last season, the Seahawks seem to be hitting their stride at the best time because their defense, especially the secondary, is starting to put fear into defenses and the offense has been impressive because of their physical running game.

Seahawks win 21-13

Spread pick: 49ers

Dallas Cowboys (9-4) +3.5 at Philadelphia Eagles (9-4):

The Boys were unable to establish their offense on Thanksgiving Day, which desperately needs to change if they want to give Romo enough time to pass. The Eagles control their own destiny in the NFC East because they have been able to apply pressure on the quarterback and McCoy has reestablished his past form which made him one of the best in the league.

Eagles win 31-27

Spread pick: Eagles

New Orleans Saints (5-8) -3.5 at Chicago Bears (5-8):

Although the Saints have a lot of talent and an extremely high payroll, they are one of the most disappointing teams this season. Miraculously, they still have the chance to make the playoffs and have a home game, if they can win out or at least just finish above the Falcons. The Bears are very similar to the Saints because they have a dynamic offense while their defense has been horrendous.

Saints win 24-20

Spread pick: Saints

Grading MLB Offseason Moves before Winter Meetings

New York Yankees:

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The Yankees have done all of their shopping thus far on one day as they traded for 24 year old shortstop, Didi Gregorious, and nasty, lefty relief pitcher Andrew Miller. Gregorious has not experienced much success offensively, .243 (average)/ .313 (on-base percentage)/ .366 (slugging percentage), but he has been touted as a very good defensive shortstop with great range. Andrew Miller, originally a lefty specialist, has become one of the best relievers over the past three seasons, 2.56 ERA and 13.65 Strikeout/9 innings, and can replace David Robertson, if the Yankees choose to not re-sign their former closer.

Remaining Needs: 1B/3B, SP, and RP

Grade: A-

Boston Red Sox:

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The Red Sox made the two largest deals of the offseason as they signed Pablo Sandoval, 5 years-$95 million, and Hanley Ramirez, 4 years-$88 million. Sandoval has been great during postseason play over the past five season and his defense is above average, but he must hit more than 16 home runs and record more  than 73 RBI. The addition of Ramirez was very puzzling because he is frequently injured and the Sox already have a third baseman and shortstop so he will be forced to play left field, although he has never played their before this season. However, no one will deny Ramirez’s hitting ability with a career slash of .300/.373/.500.

Remaining Needs: two SP

Grade: B

Toronto Blue Jays:

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Like their AL East counterparts, the Blue Jays made two big deals this offseason as they signed catcher Russell Martin, 5 years-$82 million, and traded for third baseman Josh Donaldson. Martin does not have the traditional stats to warrant a huge deal, but Martin gets on base at a very high clip, .402 on base percentage last year, plays very good defense behind the plate, and is a proven winner, 6 playoff appearances in the last 7 years. The Jays were forced to give up a few promising prospects for Donaldson, but Donaldson is one of the best all around players baseball as he has averaged 27 home runs, 95 RBI, 91 runs, and 2.7 defensive WAR while finishing top 8 in the AL MVP voting the past two seasons.

Remaining Needs: SP

Grade: A

Arizona Diamondbacks:

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The Diamondbacks made one of the boldest moves of the offseason by signing Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas, 6 years-$68.5 million. Although their are many question marks, Tomas has an incredibly strong lower body, like Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig, which allows him to possess incredible raw power, even though he does not possess the same hitting talent as Puig or Abreu.

Remaining Needs: Lots

Grade: A-

Seattle Mariners:

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The Mariners realized that they were devoid of power from the right side so they decided to buy the best right handed power hitter on the market, Nelson Cruz. Cruz came back from his PED suspension and put forth a monster season for Orioles, .271 average, 40 home runs, 108 RBI, and 87 runs.

Remaining More offense

Grade: A-