2016-17 College Football Bowl-A-Palooza

football_goalMy guys Greeny & Golic on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning have espoused the opinion that “too many bowl games” isn’t a problem, that the plethora of games isn’t hurting anyone so the more the merrier. On the surface I understand their point. Bowl games are fun for players, beneficial for coaches, & entertaining for fans whether they are traveling to see them in person or just vegging out at home and watching on TV. I get it…I really do. The problem is I just can’t completely agree. There are a multitude of issues with the current bowl system, from unimaginative & overly corporate names to mundane matchups to the fact that mediocrity (and worse) is rewarded. There are 18 teams playing in this post-season with a 6-6 record. Three teams with LOSING records received bowl bids because there weren’t enough eligible teams to fill all the slots. As much as I love watching football, in my humble opinion that means there are atleast ten pointless bowl games. In the near future I will be offering some modest solutions to this problem, as well as addressing other issues facing college football. Having said all of that, now is not the time. Our current task is to take a peek at all of these bowl games…appealing or not…and do that prognostication thing that we do.

 

A couple of reminders…

These picks are not part of our weekly Pigskin Picks of Profundity & we do not utilize point spreads. Neither Zach nor I know much about some of these teams, and even if we did there are just too many variables involved. I have broken the schedule down into three tiers. Tier 1 contains the more unappetizing games that even the most ardent football fans will probably choose to skip. Tier 2 games have potential to be enjoyable and we’ll certainly hope for the best. Tier 3 games are the ones that I’m really looking forward to and have the best chance to entertain the masses. Bowl location is noted unless it is otherwise obvious.

 

 

 

Tier 1

 

New Mexico

12/17 at 2pm

New Mexico (8-4)       vs.    Texas-San Antonio (6-6)

This will be the fourth appearance for the Lobos in this unimaginatively named game since its inception in 2006. They are 1-2 thus far. I believe this will be the first ever bowl game for the Roadrunners, so congrats to them.

My Pick:     New Mexico

Z’s Pick:     New Mexico

 

Cure

12/17 at 5:30pm (Orlando, FL)

Arkansas St. (7-5)                vs.              Central Florida (6-6)

In case you’re wondering it is breast cancer they want to cure. Proceeds from this game go toward that cause, which is nice, although it is still a completely unnecessary game. I keep wondering why Central Florida, which is actually the largest university in the United States, hasn’t accomplished more in collegiate athletics. One would tend to think they are a sleeping giant, but nothing impressive has ever materialized.

My Pick:     UCF

Z’s Pick:     UCF

 

New Orleans     

12/17 at 9pm

Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6)   vs.    Southern Mississippi (6-6)

Oh look…another testament to the ineptitude of poor marketing. Seriously…with all the cool things one could think of about New Orleans not a single person involved with running this game could think of a better name than the New Orleans Bowl?? It’s mind boggling.

My Pick:     Southern Miss

Z’s Pick:     Southern Miss

 

Miami Beach     

12/19 at 2:30pm                   

Central Michigan (6-6)                  vs.              Tulsa (9-3)

Nothing says success like playing in the mid-afternoon on a Monday. Is the game even being televised?? Ehhh…I’m sure it is. ESPN doesn’t hesitate to whore itself out for craptastic spectacles. Well hey, atleast these teams & their fans get to enjoy some warm weather in December.

My Pick:     Tulsa

Z’s Pick:     Tulsa


Potato

12/22 at 7pm (Boise, ID)     

Colorado St. (7-5)                vs.              Idaho (8-4)

I might actually be undervaluing this game. It could end up being fun. I kind of feel sorry for the Vandals because one would think that part of the reward for a successful season at Idaho would be getting to leave Idaho for a few days. The joke is on them.

My Pick:     Idaho

Z’s Pick:     Colorado St.

 

Bahamas  

12/23 at 1pm

Eastern Michigan (7-5)                 vs.              Old Dominion (9-3)

Kudos to all involved with these two teams. Players, coaches, & fans know that they have zero opportunity to compete on the highest level, so in the making lemonade from lemons department I think turning a pedestrian season in a subpar conference into Christmas in the Bahamas is a really neat trick.

My Pick:     Eastern Michigan

Z’s Pick:     Eastern Michigan

 

Hawaii       

Christmas Eve at 8pm         

Hawaii (6-7)                 vs.              Middle Tennessee (8-4)

Remember what I said about Christmas in the Bahamas?? Same thing here. Well, except for the fact that the Rainbows are already there, so basically they aren’t getting any kind of trip. It’s actually a really interesting question. Where do people who live in Hawaii or at the beach go on vacation?? To be honest I think it’s kind of a cop out for the powers-that-be to choose the home team for this game. I realize that it helps with ticket sales, but let’s be honest…I don’t think there’d be a huge problem enticing fans from the mainland to make the trek to paradise for Christmas. A bigger issue is the fact that Hawaii has a losing record and is undeserving of a bowl bid, but I’ll refrain from a rant.

My Pick:     Middle Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Middle Tennessee

 

St. Petersburg   

12/26 at 11am             

Miami (OH) (6-6)                   vs.              Mississippi St. (5-7)

The game is in Florida, not Russia…in case the question had popped into your mind. The Bulldogs are another team that should be at home watching bowl games on television instead of playing in one. Zach is being sucked into the SEC vortex.

My Pick:     Miami (OH)

Z’s Pick:     Mississippi St.

 

Quick Lane        

12/26 at 2:30pm (Detroit, MI)        

Boston College (6-6)           vs.              Maryland (6-6)

On the opposite end of the spectrum from spending the holidays in Hawaii or the Bahamas is getting “rewarded” with a trip to Detroit. These teams were ACC foes for a very brief time until Maryland bolted for the erroneously named Big Ten, although if the NCAA had any cahonas both would be playing in a very strong Big East. Neither team should have been given a bowl bid this season.

My Pick:     Maryland

Z’s Pick:     Boston College

 

Independence   

12/26 at 5pm (Shreveport, LA)     

NC State (6-6)             vs.              Vanderbilt (6-6)

Mediocre teams that will always be overshadowed by superior competition both within their conferences and their home states. I suppose a lot of people will have the Monday after Christmas off from work and be in a post-holiday couch potato haze, so this game might actually get some eyeballs.

My Pick:     Vanderbilt

Z’s Pick:     NC State

 

Heart of Dallas  

12/27 at Noon             

Army (7-5)          vs.              North Texas (5-7)

Ugh. It’s not even the Dallas Bowl. It’s the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which sounds like it should be televised on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime (Television for Women). To make it worse one of the teams has a losing record, and it’s not even one of those situations where reputation trumps a bad year, as in “Yeah, I know they’re 5-7, but it’s (insert notable team with an impressive pedigree)”. No…it’s freakin’ North Texas. Really?? If this is the best your suits can do then maybe…just maybe…this bowl game needs to be discarded.

My Pick:     Army

Z’s Pick:     Army

 

Military      

12/27 at 3:30pm (Annapolis, MD)

Temple (10-3)              vs.              Wake Forest (6-6)

Allow me to clear up any confusion…there is the Military Bowl and there is an Armed Forces Bowl. As much as I respect our folks in uniform I think that is a little redundant. At any rate, atleast for this year this is the lesser of those two games. Ten win Temple has to be wondering who hates them so much to match them up against an opponent that, on paper, they should dominate with one hand tied behind their back. It doesn’t seem like much of a reward for a pretty solid season. Even with their head coach having bolted for Baylor I think Temple will win easily.

My Pick:     Temple

Z’s Pick:     Temple

 

Birmingham       

12/29 at 2pm

South Carolina (6-6)            vs.              South Florida (10-2)

There are so many bowl games that the state of Alabama hosts three of them. When did Alabama become a desirable vacation destination?? The Bulls have the better record, but the Gamecocks play a tougher schedule. South Florida is also playing for an interim coach after Oregon poached Willie Taggart to be their new head coach. Former Texas coach Charlie Strong is on his way to Tampa to take the gig, but obviously that won’t matter for this game.

My Pick:     South Florida

Z’s Pick:     South Carolina

 

Arizona     

12/30 at 5:30pm

Air Force (9-3)             vs.              South Alabama (6-6)

To be fair the moniker Cactus Bowl was already taken, but this is still a horribly named game. South Alabama has only had a football program since 2009 and just moved to the FBS level in 2013. This will be their second ever bowl game, having lost the 2014 Camellia Bowl to Bowling Green. I almost always cheer for the military academies when they field a solid team.

My Pick:     Air Force

Z’s Pick:     Air Force

 

Gator

New Year’s Eve at 11am (Jacksonville, FL)

Georgia Tech (8-4)              vs.              Kentucky (7-5)

As always I refuse to use this game’s obnoxious corporate name…it’ll always be the Gator Bowl to me. I am probably undervaluing the matchup a little bit…it might actually be watchable. Or maybe I’m just feeling generous today. Much like the Independence Bowl here we also have two teams in good conferences that will always be buried on the proverbial depth chart by more glamorous competitors. This is probably the best they could ever hope to achieve…that alone might stimulate the competitive spirit.

My Pick:     Kentucky

Z’s Pick:     Kentucky

 

Outback    

1/2 at 1pm (Tampa, FL)       

Florida (8-4)                 vs.              Iowa (8-4)

Perhaps they should call this the Close-But-No-Cigar Bowl. Both teams had opportunities…the Gators against Tennessee & Florida St., the Hawkeyes against North Dakota St., Northwestern, & Wisconsin…to improve their fate, but they finished with solid records instead of really impressive ones. But at the end of the day this is still a pretty decent outcome. Florida will likely have a strong fan advantage, but The Vibes are telling me that really won’t matter all that much.

My Pick:     Iowa

Z’s Pick:     Iowa

 

 

Tier 2

 

Las Vegas

12/17 at 3:30 p.m.

Houston (9-3)              vs.              San Diego St. (10-3)

Now we’re getting things revved up. The Cougars came into the season with much potential and no shortage of expectations, but inexplicably dropped games to Navy, SMU, & Memphis after an impressive season opening victory over Oklahoma. Now their (former) head coach, Tom Herman, has bolted for the greener pastures of Texas. Ironically former Longhorns QB and coach-on-the-rise Major Applewhite has been tapped to take over the job. The Aztecs are almost always a tough out, and I think they’ll pull off the mild upset. Zach has some concerns due to Houston’s coaching situation, but he likes the fact that they have played a tough schedule and should be prepared for this battle.

My Pick:     San Diego St.

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

Camellia   

12/17 at 5:30pm (Montgomery, AL)

Appalachian St. (9-3)          vs.              Toledo (9-3)

Neither team plays in a sexy conference or has an eye-catching schedule, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good within their own strata. Any bowl game pitting two 9 win teams against one another has the potential to be quite competitive & entertaining.

My Pick:     Toledo

Z’s Pick:     Appalachian St.

 

Boca Raton

12/20 at 7pm

Western Kentucky (10-3)                      vs.              Memphis (8-4)

As a Marshall alum & a Thundering Herd fan I hate to say it, but the Hilltoppers are usually pretty fun to watch. They average 45 points per game, but the Tigers score almost 40 PPG themselves, so definitely take the over on this one…if you are into that sort of thing. Tuesday nights are usually rather boring at The Bachelor Palace, so I’m really looking forward to this game.

My Pick:     Memphis

Z’s Pick:     Memphis

 

Poinsettia

12/21 at 9pm (San Diego, CA)

BYU (8-4)           vs.              Wyoming (8-5)

The Cougars are independent right now, and they play a pretty tough schedule. Losing to Utah, UCLA, West Virginia, & Boise St. is nothing to be ashamed of. You know the term I love in these situations…battle tested. I expect a high scoring affair, but BYU will find a way to get the job done.

My Pick:     BYU

Z’s Pick:     BYU

 

Armed Forces

12/23 at 4:30pm (Fort Worth, TX)

Louisiana Tech          (8-5)           vs.              Navy (9-4)

I expect this game to be a lot more fun than the Military Bowl. Navy ended its season with a surprising loss to archrival Army, while the Bulldogs finished with a two game losing streak. I had Tech at #18 in my pre-season poll, and though they fell short of those lofty expectations they still had a solid season. I’d like to pull for the Midshipmen, but The Vibes are debating me on the point.

My Pick:     Louisiana Tech

Z’s Pick:     Navy

 

Dollar General   

12/23 at 8pm (Mobile, AL)

Ohio          (8-5)           vs.              Troy (9-3)

This is the former GoDaddy Bowl, so I suppose the name is a slight improvement. It’s still too corporate for my taste though. The matchup might look unattractive at first glance, but I think it might just be an enjoyable game.

My Pick:     Ohio

Z’s Pick:     Ohio

 

Holiday     

12/27 at 7pm (San Diego, CA)

Minnesota (8-4)          vs.              Washington St. (8-4)

The Gophers have to be psyched about escaping the freezing temperatures of Minnesota in late December to spend a few days in sunny San Diego. They may refuse to go home after the game is over. Having said that, I think the Cougars are probably the better team.

My Pick:     Washington St.

Z’s Pick:     Washington St.

 

Cactus      

12/27 at 10:15pm (Phoenix, AZ)

Baylor (6-6)                  vs.              Boise St. (10-2)

Is a mediocre major conference team equal to a good “lesser” conference team?? I suppose this game might provide an answer. The Broncos were probably hoping for the Cotton Bowl bid that went to undefeated Western Michigan so playing in this game might be a little bit of a disappointment. Meanwhile, the Bears have endured a tumultuous year and can now look forward to a fresh start next season under new head coach Matt Rhule. I’m sure Baylor will give it their best effort, but I just don’t think this one will be close.

My Pick:     Boise St.

Z’s Pick:     Boise St.

 

Pinstripe   

12/28 at 2pm (New York, NY)       

Northwestern (6-6)              vs.              Pitt (8-4)

I’m not sure if very many people will be watching a bowl game at 2 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun for those that do happen to catch it. The Wildcats, in my humble opinion, underachieved this season, while the Panthers exceeded expectations. Imagine how different the landscape might look if Pitt hadn’t upset both Penn St. & Clemson, or if Northwestern would have held onto a 4th quarter lead at Ohio St. The hook for this game is the fact that it is played at Yankee Stadium, which is admittedly cool.

My Pick:     Northwestern

Z’s Pick:     Pitt

 

Russell Athletic

12/28 at 5:30pm (Orlando, FL)

Miami (FL) (8-4)          vs.              West Virginia (10-2)

In the past this game has been known by many names…Blockbuster Bowl, Carquest Bowl, Micron PC Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl. If they could just come up with a fun, non-corporate name it would actually be a cool game. This matchup features two former Big East foes, but that was back when the Hurricanes were an elite program. They’ve been climbing back up the mountain after some hard times, and new coach Mark Richt is off to a solid start. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers are the most invisible ten win team in the country. Longtime readers know my bias, as I am a lifelong WVU fan and live less than an hour from the campus. I am being completely honest though when I say that these Hurricanes don’t strike fear into their opposition like they did two decades ago, so I have confidence that the ‘Eers can get the job done.

My Pick:     West Virginia

Z’s Pick:     West Virginia

 

Foster Farms     

12/28 at 8:30pm (Santa Clara, CA)       

Indiana (6-6)                vs.              Utah (8-4)

This game was previously known as the Fight Hunger Bowl and the Emerald Bowl. Foster Farms is apparently a California poultry company, which means that they really should call this the Turkey Bowl. Anyway, the Utes have had a tough second half. They had an early season victory over USC, but lost 3 out of 4 games at the end of their schedule. The Hoosiers are the very essence of mediocrity, but have occasionally shown flashes of…something. Maybe this game will be surprisingly competitive, but y’all might want to refrain from putting any money on that.

My Pick:     Utah

Z’s Pick:     Utah

 

Texas       

Dec. 28 at 9pm

Kansas St. (8-4)                   vs.             Texas A&M (8-4)

In the grand tradition of the Arizona, New Mexico, New Orleans, & Las Vegas Bowls we have another really humdrum name. Fortunately the matchup looks like it could be entertaining. I’m sure the powers-that-be in College Station really enjoy cashing those SEC checks, but from a purely competitive & aesthetic standpoint it sure would be nice to see A&M back in the Big 12. There has been some chatter that Aggies’ coach Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat. My question to anyone doubting Sumlin would be “What did you expect??”. I think 8 or 9 wins and finishing behind Alabama, Auburn, & LSU in the SEC West is about as good as any coach could do.

My Pick:     Texas A&M

Z’s Pick:     Texas A&M

 

Liberty       

12/30 at Noon (Memphis, TN)      

Georgia (7-5)               vs.              TCU (6-6)

These teams occasionally have great seasons, so they aren’t always overlooked in favor of more highly regarded conference rivals, but this just so happens to have been a pedestrian year for both. The Bulldogs are still finding their way under rookie head coach Kirby Smart and I’m sure they’ll be better next year. The Horned Frogs are probably only a good recruiting class away from getting back to 9 or 10 wins. So throw out the mediocre records and just enjoy the game. I think it’ll be a dandy.

My Pick:     TCU

Z’s Pick:     Georgia

 

Peach (Playoff Semifinal)

New Year’s Eve at 3pm (Atlanta, GA)

Alabama (13-0)           vs.              Washington (12-1)

I wish I could get more excited about a playoff semifinal. I do think that the Huskies deserve to be in this spot, but I’m not confident that they can stop the Tide from rolling. ‘Bama has barely broken a sweat this season, and quite honestly it’s become tedious. I don’t think that’ll change in this game.

My Pick:     Alabama

Z’s Pick:     Alabama

 

Cotton       

1/2 at 1pm (Arlington, TX)

Western Michigan (13-0)             vs.              Wisconsin (10-3)

The Broncos earned this spot by being the highest ranked non-power conference team, and I think they’re legit. They are fortunate to have retained their head coach for this game because it seemed like a slam dunk that he’d get one of the many “better” jobs that were available, but for some reason that didn’t happen. As much as I like to pull for the underdog, the difference between power conference teams and lower tier opponents usually shows up in the trenches. Top level teams recruit linemen that are 6ft4, 300 lbs. Second level teams sign the guys that are a few inches shorter, 20 lbs. lighter, & just a step slower. That disparity tends to take its toll in the 4th quarter. And that’s exactly what I expect here. The Badgers will just wear Western Michigan down and take over at some point in the second half of the game.

My Pick:     Wisconsin

Z’s Pick:     Wisconsin

 

Sugar        

1/2 at 8:30pm (New Orleans, LA)

Auburn (8-4)                vs.              Oklahoma (10-2)

You may have noticed that several of the elite bowl games are being played on January 2nd instead of New Year’s Day. That’s because the first day of the new year falls on a Sunday, which means you’ll be seeing NFL action that day. Anyway, this should be a really good game between two teams that were on the periphery of the playoff conversation at various times this season, although neither were ever serious contenders. The Sooners stubbed their toe right out of the gate back on Labor Day Weekend with a loss to Houston, a defeat that looked worse as the season went forward and the Cougars lost their shine. A couple of weeks later Ohio St. took care of Oklahoma, an outcome that ended the losers’ national championship dream and would prove to be vital for the winners. Other than those two losses Oklahoma has been impressive throughout the rest of the season. Auburn has rode the roller coaster, with big wins over LSU & Arkansas being balanced out with close losses to Clemson & Georgia. I suppose this is a decent reward for solid seasons that likely reflect a maximum output versus really tough schedules. A victory in this game might get the winner a Top 3 pre-season ranking in 2017.

My Pick:     Oklahoma

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma

 

 

Tier 3

 

Belk

12/29 at 5:30pm (Charlotte, NC)

Arkansas (7-5)            vs.              Virginia Tech (9-4)

I’m not quite sure why I am so intrigued by this game. Perhaps it is because Arkansas’ resume includes big wins over TCU, Mississippi, & Florida, while first year head coach Justin Fuente began the post-Beamer era in Blacksburg with victories over North Carolina & Pitt and the Hokies played tough in losses to Tennessee & Clemson. In other words, I think both teams are better than their records. Perhaps a victory in this game will be a harbinger of better things to come next year.

My Pick:     Arkansas

Z’s Pick:     Virginia Tech

 

Alamo       

12/29 at 9pm (San Antonio, TX)

Colorado (10-3)          vs.              Oklahoma St. (9-3)

Colorado had an outside shot at sneaking into the playoff, although I’m pretty sure a victory over Washington in the Pac 12 title game would’ve only cost the Huskies their spot and opened the door for Penn St. or Michigan, not the Buffaloes. The Cowboys are actually a ten win team since an alleged “loss” to Central Michigan is bogus and never should’ve happened, but I’m not sure it would’ve made much of a difference. The Buffs probably should be playing in the Rose Bowl, but the powers-that-be used a head-to-head loss against USC to justify choosing the Trojans for the “better” game even though Colorado has a better record. Both teams should come into this game with a chip on their shoulder looking to prove the doubters wrong, which means it should be a really fun game for the fans.

My Pick:     Oklahoma St.

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma St.

 

Sun  

12/30 at 2pm (El Paso, TX) 

North Carolina (8-4)            vs.              Stanford (9-3)

Did you know that the Sun Bowl is tied for the second oldest bowl game?? The Rose Bowl began in 1902, and the Sugar, Orange, & Sun Bowls were all created in 1935. This is one of the few bowl games not monopolized by ESPN, having been broadcast on CBS since 1968. The matchup itself features two marquee names…kind of…that will be plying their trade on Sundays next year. Stanford RB/WR/KR Christian McCaffrey was the early season Heisman frontrunner, but despite leading the nation in all-purpose yards didn’t even end up getting invited to the ceremony. Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky is being talked about as potentially the first quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft.

My Pick:     North Carolina

Z’s Pick:     North Carolina


Music City          

12/30 at 3:30pm (Nashville, TN)

Nebraska (9-3)            vs.              Tennessee (8-4)

Both teams had high hopes early in the season, but the Vols suffered thru three straight October losses and the Cornhuskers fell off their perch during a tough November. It’s always nice to see a competitive contest featuring two evenly matched teams during bowl season.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Tennessee

 

Orange     

12/30 at 8pm (Miami, FL)

Florida St. (9-3)           vs.              Michigan (10-2)

This might end up being the best game of them all. I don’t feel bad for the Wolverines for having missed the playoff field. They had an opportunity to beat Ohio St. and stay in the mix but blew their chance. Those are the breaks. It may be of little consolation, but I think the winner here probably ends up being next season’s pre-season #1, or atleast in the top three. Zach has left me stunned by picking against his beloved Wolverines. He has concerns about Michigan’s run defense and thinks Seminoles’ RB Dalvin Cook might have a big day.

My Pick:     Michigan

Z’s Pick:     Florida St.

 

Fiesta (Playoff Semifinal)

New Year’s Eve at 7pm (Glendale, AZ)

Clemson (12-1)           vs.              Ohio St. (11-1)

Some have opined that the Buckeyes aren’t deserving of their spot in the playoff. However, while I am a bit uncomfortable with the marginalization of both head to head results and conference championships I do not have an issue with the way things turned out. Its seems as though Clemson has been teetering on the brink all season long, and I think that’ll come to fruition in this game. Zach has an irrational disdain for Ohio St. We’ll see if it bites him in the ass.

My Pick:     Ohio St.

Z’s Pick:     Clemson

 

Citrus        

New Year’s Eve at 11am (Orlando, FL)

Louisville (9-3)            vs.              LSU (7-4)

The full throttle hype for Cardinals’ QB Lamar Jackson reached its zenith when he was awarded the Heisman Trophy despite his team losing its last two games. Conversely, the Bayou Bengals have fought thru adversity all season and arrived at a nicer location than they probably deserve. Interim head coach Ed Orgeron was given the permanent LSU gig, and though I hope he does well I’m not going to hold my breath. Unreasonably high expectations will probably doom his tenure within 2 or 3 years. The big picture is that Louisville is an overrated team riding the wave of their talented & fun to watch quarterback, while LSU is being overlooked because of coaching turmoil & a roller coaster season. At the end of the day I think LSU just has too much talent & athleticism to be denied victory. In his note to me about this game Zach said “LSU stuns Louisville”. I’m not sure why anyone would consider an LSU victory stunning.

My Pick:     LSU

Z’s Pick:     LSU

 

Rose

1/2 at          5pm (Pasadena, CA)

Penn State (11-2)                 vs.              Southern Cal (9-3)

The Nittany Lions might have a legitimate beef with being left out of the national championship playoff, but I can’t muster up much sympathy for a team that lost to Pitt. The Trojans are getting a lot of love from the talking heads. They’re riding an eight game winning streak after starting the season 1-3. It’s interesting to me that the haughty suits that run the playoff & talking heads at ESPN like to yap about a team’s “entire body of work” when crafting playoff scenarios, but because USC is USC and everyone has fallen in love with their quarterback that early season nadir doesn’t seem to matter. Despite those issues this will undoubtedly be a great game. If Penn St.’s coaches are smart they’ll harness resentment about being left out of the playoff into a fury that’ll result in victory.

My Pick:     Penn St.

Z’s Pick:     Penn St.

 

 

National Championship Game

1/9    Time TBD (Tampa, FL)

Alabama/Washington                  vs.              Ohio St./Clemson

This is it. This is the big one. I think it’ll end up being Alabama vs. Ohio St., and despite the Tide looking invincible all season long and the Buckeyes having the validity of their spot in the playoff questioned the fact is that this is the best case scenario for fans who would like to enjoy a competitive football game with a little drama instead of a three touchdown beatdown that is essentially over by halftime or a contest featuring two solid yet unspectacular conference champions. ‘Bama vs. the Buckeyes is a marketing dream, and Ohio St. is probably the only team in America right now that can actually be competitive against the Tide. I can’t bring myself to pick against Alabama, but to be honest I wouldn’t mind seeing an upset. Zach is predicting a ‘Bama/Clemson finale, but with the same outcome.

My Pick:     Alabama

Z’s Pick:     Alabama

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