(41) Arkansas over Kansas State
Arkansas is just the better team overall, and I’m very confident of this. They have an explosive offensive attack led by QB Brandon Allen that will overwhelm Kansas State, who arguably shouldn’t even be in a bowl game given their lucky win against West Virginia. This is my most confident pick.
(40) Virginia Tech over Tulsa
Outside of being the more talented team, Virginia Tech will be playing withs tons of heart for Frank Beamer’s last game as a college head coach. They are stronger on both sides of the ball as well, respectively led by QB Michael Brewer and LB Dadi Nicolas.
(39) Stanford over Iowa
Iowa has gotten lucky all year long, and their genuine ineptitude showed in the B10 Championship loss to Michigan State. RB Christian McCaffrey will single-handedly prove too much for Iowa’s defense.
(38) Alabama over Michigan State
Alabama might be the most complete team in the nation, and Heisman Trophy winner RB Derrick Henry will destroy Michigan State’s front seven. They have impressive in-conference wins, so Nick Saban will likely best his protege Mark Dantonio in this playoff game.
(37) Tennessee over Northwestern
The Big Ten Conference is overrated, and they will likely get shellacked this bowl season. Tennessee’s rushing attack led by RB Alvin Kamara and RB Jalen Hurd will be too much for an overrated Northwestern defense.
(36) Western Kentucky over South Florida
I got this one right, and I’m not surprised. QB Brandon Doughty had a big game to end his collegiate career, and his team played with more heart than former coach Willie Taggart’s team.
(35) Louisiana State over Texas Tech
Texas Tech has a terrible defense. Even if they put up a good fight offensively, their gaping defensive holes will be exposed by RB Leonard Fournette, who was arguably the most dominant player in football this year, especially during the first half of the season.
(34) California over Air Force
Cal is by no means perfect. But this will likely be QB Jared Goff’s final game of his collegiate career, and the talented quarterback will have extra fight to come out on top. Their passing attack will be too much for Air Force’s secondary.
(33) USC over Wisconsin
Two very good teams, but USC is superior on both sides of the depth chart. QB Cody Kessler should fare well against Wisconsin’s subpar secondary, and their defensive backs led by CB Adoree Jackson shouldn’t have too much trouble against Wisconsin’s passing attack.
(32) Memphis over Auburn
This is an upset on the Vegas betting lines, and this is a high level of confidence. However, QB Paxton Lynch has been dominant all year long. Auburn has played spotty (at best) all year long on defense, and those issues should only be mired by Will Muschamp’s departure. Memphis should pull through by a fair margin.
(31) Marshall over Connecticut
Bob Diaco’s teams play with heart. But Marshall’s rushing attack led by RB Devon Johnson will be too much for their defense. Marshall has played better all year long, their resume grants them the right to be favorites here. This game could be closer than people expect though.
(30) Ohio State over Notre Dame
Ohio State could be the best team in college football. The messed-up playoff system didn’t pull in their favor this year. Ohio State is better on both sides of the ball, so I’m expecting them to win by a significant margin.
(29) Mississippi over Oklahoma State
Mississippi has an incredible team led by WR Laquon Treadwell and S Tony Conner. Their talent supersedes their opponent’s talent, not to mention Oklahoma State entirely fell apart in November.
(28) Missisippi State over N.C. State
Mississippi State has played consistent through the fall. They have more talent, are led by a good quarterback in QB Dak Prescott, and should pull through here against a weak N.C. State team.
(27) Navy over Pittsburgh
QB Keenan Reynolds is dominant, and broke several records this season. This team will find a way to pull through against a Pittsburgh team with a very strong defense but inept offense, hurt even more by Jim Chaney’s departure to Georgia.
(26) Boise State over Northern Illinois
This is the battle of two underwhelming teams. Don’t love either team, but I’d be very hard-pressed to pick against Boise State, who is favored by eight points and has played better this year against stronger competition.
(25) Temple over Toledo
Temple has one of the country’s best defenses, and have quite a talent in QB P.J. Walker. Toledo is also a very good team, they have a great passing attack, but Temple will be too much for them on both sides of the ball.
(24) Bowling Green over Georgia Southern
Both of these teams will be hindered by departures of head coaches, making this an unexciting event. However, BGSU QB Matt Johnson will have a lot to fight for in the last game of his collegiate career. His team, favored by 7.5 points, will likely pull through and get the dub.
(23) Utah State over Akron
Utah State has a strong offensive attack, speared by two good quarterbacks, that should overwhelm an Akron team that shouldn’t have qualified for bowl season (lucky wins).
(22) Arizona over New Mexico
I got this one right, and I’m not surprised. Anu Solomon had a good game and the Wildcats got the dub to start off bowl season.
(21) Western Michigan over Middle Tennessee State
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis a game-separater that will likely help carry his team to a victory over MTSU. They’re also 5-point favorites, which doesn’t hurt.
(20) Colorado State over Nevada
Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins is another stud receiver that should have a field day against Nevada’s secondary. It doesn’t hurt that the three-point favorites will face a Nevada without their offensive coordinator. Should be a win.
(19) North Carolina over Baylor
I have tons of respect for Baylor when they’re at full strength. However, this is a team that is on its fourth-string quarterback and lost to 4-8 Texas at home last week. UNC played incredibly against Clemson, arguably the best team in the country, and should have a field-day against this Bears team that’s depleted with injuries.
(18) Appalachian State over Ohio
I got this one right as well. They won a tight one at the end on a field goal. I’ll take the win, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.
(17) Arizona State over West Virginia
West Virginia just lost to a weak Kansas State team, and their head coach has faced a public “hot seat” over the past week, which must hurt their preparation for their upcoming bowl game. Arizona State is the better and more consistent team, and has a game-differentiating player in APB D.J. Foster.
(16) Texas A&M over Louisville
The A&M team has gone through a lot over the past few weeks with QB’s Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray transferring. However, I think the team has a ton of confidence behind JUCO transfer Jake Hubenak, and I’m expecting them to pull through in a team-effort, because they are better at almost every other position on the field. Surprised A&M are five-point underdogs on the Vegas betting lines.
(15) Washington State over Miami
Miami has gone through tons of change this offseason, which must hurt their psyche headed into this game. Washington State certainly has the better offense led by WR’s River Cracraft, Gabe Marks and Dom Williams. Washington State should win this in a shootout.
(14) Washington over Southern Miss
Washington is an eight-point favorite, and is balanced on both sides of the ball. However this should be a close game, for Southern Miss has a very potent offense. Washington should win in a close game, mainly because their defense should hold up better especially in the secondary. This also among the best teams Southern Miss has played this season.
(13) Cincinnati over San Diego State
Cincinnati did relatively well against a tough schedule, and have a great offense led by QB Gunner Kiel and WR Shaq Washington. They should do well against a weak SDSU team that will have no one to rely on in the crunch time.
(12) Oregon over TCU
In an even-money game, I’m going with Oregon because they are the more experienced team and they are less likely to be exposed for defensive flaws, which both teams certainly have.
(11) Utah over BYU
Got this one right. Put low confidence because I expected BYU to put up a better fight, but got this one correct nonetheless.
(10) Houston over Florida State
Houston’s offense has looked phenomenal in every game I’ve seen, with the one exception being Connecticut. QB Greg Ward Jr. is very dynamic, and is the only QB with 2500 Pass Yards and 1000 Rush Yards. Florida State has underwhelmed this year, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Thus, Houston could very likely pull this one out in a close upset.
(9) Arkansas State over LA Tech
I got this one wrong. In an even-money game, I went with ASU because they did better against better competition. However, LA Tech RB Kenneth Dixon went off and made this wrong. Not too upset about it.
(8) Penn State over Georgia
UGA has gone through a lot of turmoil this season, starting with Mark Richt getting fired and losing both coordinators. Furthermore, QB Faton Bauta is transferring to Colorado State. Needless to say, there will be a ton of distractions for this team headed into the game. Penn State HC James Franklin should take full advantage of this, and I’m betting on QB Christian Hackenberg to take full advantage of this opportunity with NFL scouts watching his likely final collegiate game.
(7) Clemson over Oklahoma
There’s a huge Oklahoma bandwagon going around right now in the press. I understand it. They have a star quarterback in walk-on Baker Mayfield and have a good supporting cast around him and on the defense. However, Clemson is the best team in the country and has played like one all year long. They outlasted UNC and Florida State, and I’m expecting them to do so to Oklahoma as well. QB DeShaun Watson will be a lot to handle, and I think they get an even further advantage by having weeks to study OU’s spread offense.
(6) San Jose State over Georgia State
I got this upset pick right, believe it or not. SJSU had better competition and played against a weak Georgia State team that was fighting for their coach’s job the whole season. Not surprised they won by as much as they did.
(5) Michigan over Florida
Don’t like picking against Florida, because they always seem to be competitive against good teams. However, Michigan’s defense should be too much for them to handle, and should win this game with a comfortable 5-10 point margin.
(4) Central Michigan over Minnesota
Central Michigan has played inspired ball for HC John Bonamego, who has been fighting cancer this entire season. Minnesota has played subpar since Jerry Kill resigned midseason, and I’m sure the players are pissed that new HC Tracy Claeys let go of several staff members. Just a hunch, but I’m going with CMU for non-metric purposes. All metrics would point to Minnesota winning this game.
(3) Duke over Indiana
This will be a nail-biter. I’m picking Duke because they started off the season very strong, then deteriorated towards the end. With a month to prepare, I think they get it back together and beat Indiana in the Pinstripe Bowl if they can handle UAB transfer RB Jordan Howard.
(2) Nebraska over UCLA
Part-bias here, but Nebraska has faced adversity all-year long and has lost many close games. QB Josh Rosen will be tough to maintain, but their strong defensive line should make this a 5-point game. I’m picking Nebraska because they know how to compete in tough games, will have a chip on their shoulders, and were the only team to beat #3 seed Michigan State.
(1) NC A&T over Alcorn State
Didn’t know anything about these two FCS teams. Picked favorite and got lucky.