2022-23 COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL-A-PALOOZA (Part Deux)

I haven’t been keeping close track of the early results, but I don’t think I’ve been doing too well with these bowl picks. To be honest I haven’t actually watched many games thus far, and it’s not because I’m super busy…I am not. Perhaps the latter half of the slate will hold more interest for me. I hope The Manoverse had a very Merry Christmas, and whatever you have planned for New Year’s festivities be safe, end 2022 on a high note, and turn the page with hope, faith, kindness, and a renewed spirit.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28

Military Bowl
Duke vs. Central Florida 
2pm/ESPN – Annapolis, MD

Everyone knows Duke is a basketball school, but the football team has done fairly well in recent years. They come into this game 8-4, having won three out of their last four. The Knights are 9-4 but got blasted in the AAC title game. I have always opined that UCF is a sleeping giant, something they’ll have an opportunity to prove when they join the Big 12. This could be a sneaky good game, and I think UCF prevails. Conversely, Zach believes the Blue Devils will win easily. 

My Pick: UCF

Zach’s Pick: Duke 

Liberty Bowl
Arkansas vs. Kansas
5:30pm/ESPN – Memphis, TN

I see what the cunning linguist bowl organizers did here!! I’m actually low key excited about this one. The Jayhawks started out hot at 5-0, but faded fast, losing six out of their last seven. The Razorbacks almost tracked the same, showing flashes of being good, but not nearly enough. I think both teams are better than the records indicate, and I think we’ll see Kansas recapture some of that early success in late December. Zach, on the other hand, sees speed as a key factor and likes Arkansas.

My Pick: Kansas

Zach’s Pick: Arkansas 

Holiday Bowl
Oregon vs. North Carolina
8pm/Fox – San Diego, CA

Perhaps the most underrated game of the postseason. The 9-3 Ducks were six total points away over two games of playing field the PAC 12 title, but of course we all know close doesn’t cut it. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels lost their final three games, including the ACC title game. I think UNC will hang tough for awhile, but look for Oregon to pull away in the 4th quarter. Zach thinks it’ll be a shootout and doesn’t have much faith in Carolina’s defense. 

My Pick: Oregon 

Zach’s Pick: Oregon 

Texas Bowl
Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss
9pm/ESPN – Houston, TX

I don’t know…I’m having a hard time getting juiced about two middle of the pack teams in their respective conferences facing off in the fourth game of the day. I think there will be alot of scoring (definitely take the over), but ultimately the Red Raiders will pull away for a double digit victory. Zach thinks rumors of head coach Lane Kiffin bolting for Auburn factored into them losing 4 out of 5 games down the stretch, and now that the issue has been put to rest they can focus on winning. 

My Pick: Texas Tech 

Zach’s Pick: Ole Miss 

THURSDAY, DEC. 29

Pinstripe Bowl
Minnesota vs. Syracuse
2pm/ESPN – NY, NY

It’s a matchup of two underrated teams. Three of the four Gopher losses came consecutively during a rough October, although it should be noted that they played neither Ohio St. nor Michigan. Syracuse started 6-0 before dropping five straight games. Cold weather in The Bronx shouldn’t bother either club, but ‘Cuse will have more fans in the stands. I foresee a low scoring grinder in which Minnesota controls the clock in the 4th quarter to secure a close win. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Minnesota  

Zach’s Pick: Minnesota 

Cheez-It Bowl
Florida State vs. Oklahoma
5:30pm/ESPN – Orlando, FL

Five years ago this would have been a marquee matchup. My perception is that Florida St. is a team on the rise, while Oklahoma is a team in transition. I think it’ll be a rather comfortable victory for the Seminoles. Zach feels that it’ll be close, but foresees the same outcome. 

My Pick: Florida St. 

Zach’s Pick: Florida St.

Alamo Bowl
Washington vs. Texas
9pm/ESPN – San Antonio, TX

It could be a pretty good game. Maybe. I hope. The 10-2 Huskies were back-to-back mid-season losses away from playing for the PAC 12 title, while the 8-4 Longhorns are trying to claw their way back to relevancy before heading to the SEC in the near future. Obviously the crowd will be strongly pro-Texas, but I think Washington will find a way to  snag victory from the jaws of defeat late in the contest. Zach sees Texas outscoring their opponents in a high scoring contest. 

My Pick: Washington 

Zach’s Pick: Texas 

FRIDAY, DEC. 30

Orange Bowl
Tennessee vs. Clemson
8pm/ESPN – Miami, FL

Okay, now we’re getting to the good games. Both teams coulda/woulda/shoulda been in playoff contention, but things happened & they fell short. Vols fans are probably still flummoxed by the ass whoopin’ their guys received from South Carolina in mid-November, while the 11-2 Tigers aren’t in the playoff for a second consecutive season after six straight appearances. I’d love to see Tennessee win the game, but after losing QB Hendon Hooker to a torn ACL late in the season I don’t think this one will be particularly close. Zach thinks defense & coaching are the difference makers, which favors Clemson. 

My Pick: Clemson  

Zach’s Pick: Clemson 

Duke’s Mayo Bowl
North Carolina State vs. Maryland
Noon/ESPN – Charlotte, NC

I prefer Miracle Whip, but I suppose that doesn’t matter. The 8-4 Wolfpack fell short of my expectations, while the 7-5 Terrapins get lost in the Big Ten shuffle & really should consider another conference. NC St. might have a bit of a “home” field advantage, and I  think that’ll be enough. Zach disagrees and thinks those Tagovailoa genes matter. 

My Pick: NC St.

Zach’s Pick: Maryland 

Sun Bowl
UCLA vs. Pitt
2pm/CBS – El Paso, TX

The Sun Bowl remains one of the few bowl games not controlled by the Disney Machine. UCLA comes into the game having lost 2 of the last 3 games, while the Panthers are riding a four game winning streak. Normally I’m a big momentum guy, but I think the Bruins find a way to pull this one out. Zach concurs.

My Pick: UCLA

Zach’s Pick: UCLA

Gator Bowl
South Carolina vs. Notre Dame
3:30pm/ESPN – Jacksonville, FL

I had the Gamecocks in my preseason poll, and though they are unlikely to finish in the Top 15 I believe they will be close with a victory. Certainly their wins over Clemson & especially Tennessee were impressive. The Irish haven’t been as good as I thought they’d be, but the back half of they improved in the back half of their schedule. This is what a bowl game should be…an opportunity for two teams that rarely play one another but have something to prove as they build for the future to make a statement. I see bright things ahead for South Carolina, and this could be an important moment for them. Zach, on the other hand, doesn’t think the Gamecocks have any magic left in the tank.

My Pick: South Carolina 

Zach’s Pick: Notre Dame 

Arizona Bowl
Ohio vs. Wyoming
4:30pm/Barstool – Tucson, AZ

Okay, this is weird. Apparently the game isn’t being broadcast on television at all. I am only vaguely familiar with Barstool Sports, but they’ve expanded into streaming live events now. If you’re a really big fan of either team I am sure you will be able to look around & find it, but one can assume that most casual fans won’t bother. At any rate, I think Wyoming has a more explosive offense and will score on a few big plays. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Wyoming 

Zach’s Pick: Wyoming 

SATURDAY, DEC. 31

Fiesta Bowl – Playoff Semifinal
Michigan vs. Texas Christian 
4pm/ESPN – Glendale, AZ

We made it. We’ve finally gotten to the only games that really matter. I know Zach will pick Michigan, and honestly I can’t disagree. The Horned Frogs have had a great season & deserve all kinds of kudos, but the Wolverines are really good. They have better depth & athleticism. I cannot foresee any circumstance, after falling short against Georgia a year ago, in which Michigan fails to get to the next step. To be honest I wouldn’t totally be shocked if it’s not particularly competitive, although as a football fan I’d prefer a close, exciting game. Zach has decided to be conservative and predict a Michigan victory with a late field goal.

My Pick: Michigan 

Zach’s Pick: Michigan 

Peach Bowl – Playoff Semifinal
Georgia vs. Ohio State
8pm/ESPN – Atlanta, GA

At this moment it looks like I’ll be home on New Year’s Eve, and I’ll probably be hanging with my crazy neighbor who is a big Ohio St. fan. Can they beat the defending champions?? I don’t know. Both teams are loaded with NFL caliber talent. I think I’d give the coaching edge to Georgia, but I like the Buckeyes’ QB a little better. It’s going to come down to discipline & the mental aspects of the game…turnovers, penalties, & clock management. Obviously the Bulldogs will enjoy a huge “home” field advantage. Is that enough?? I really hope this isn’t one of those disappointing games that is built up to be so fantastic only for it to be a blowout that is essentially over by halftime, although it wouldn’t shock me that much. The Buckeyes played in the 2020 National Championship but a) they lost to Alabama & b) many people thought they didn’t belong anyway because of their Covid shortened season, so perhaps they feel like they have something to prove. Not surprisingly, Zach is predicting a blowout win for Georgia.

My Pick: Ohio St.

Zach’s Pick: Georgia 

Music City Bowl
Iowa vs. Kentucky
Noon/ABC – Nashville, TN

These teams deserve more respect. First, everyone will be buzzing about the semifinal games later in the day, plus Alabama is playing on another channel at the same time, and y’all know how that goes. The 7-5 Hawkeyes had a tough stretch in October and are better than the record indicates. The 7-5 Wildcats started strong but faded fast. They’ll be without the services of QB Will Levis, who is hoping to be a Top 5 NFL Draft pick. I think Iowa controls the clock with good ol’ fashioned smashmouth football and grinds out a win. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Iowa 

Zach’s Pick: Iowa 

Sugar Bowl
Alabama vs. Kansas State
Noon/ESPN – New Orleans, LA

I’m not a gambler and haven’t researched it, but I’d almost guarantee ‘Bama is a heavy favorite and most of the “experts” aren’t giving K-St. a snowball’s chance in Hell. That’s not how I roll though. I believe the Wildcats have an opportunity to improve the collective opinion of the masses about their program and the Big 12 conference. Does that mean I think they’ll win?? No. However, don’t be surprised if the outcome is in doubt much deeper into the fourth quarter than anyone expected. Zach, though he agrees on the outcome, falls in line with the masses in predicting a huge & fairly easy Tide win. 

My Pick: Alabama 

Zach’s Pick: Alabama 

MONDAY, JAN. 2

ReliaQuest Bowl
Mississippi State vs. Illinois
Noon/ESPN2 – Tampa, FL

Because the NFL takes precedence on Sunday the traditional New Year’s Day college games are happening the next day. This was formerly known as the Hall of Fame & then the Outback Bowl. In case you are curious ReliaQuest is a cybersecurity company in Tampa. Obviously the big storyline will be the recent passing of Bulldogs coach Mike Leach, and I have to think that every football fan outside of Champaign, IL will be pulling for State. The Illini had a six game hot streak in the middle of the season but lost 3 out of their final 4. Mississippi St. is 8-4 in a roller coaster year. The X’s & O’s don’t really matter, because we all know the best outcome is a State victory in honor of Coach Leach. Zach is confident Illinois can slow the pace of the game to their comfort level & grind out a victory. 

My Pick: Mississippi St.

Zach’s Pick: Illinois 

Citrus Bowl
LSU vs. Purdue
1pm/ABC – Orlando, FL

The Bayou Bengals are unpredictable to say the least. At 9-4 they had the opportunity to win the SEC & maybe sneak into the playoff, but they also lost to 5-7 Texas A&M. Which LSU team will show up?? The Boilermakers are another overlooked Big Ten team that were never in the playoff hunt but did earn a spot in the conference title game. This has the potential to be a fantastic game, but I think LSU has the edge in speed & big play ability. Zach doesn’t think it’ll be particularly competitive.

My Pick: LSU 

Zach’s Pick: LSU 

Cotton Bowl
Southern California vs. Tulane
1pm/ESPN – Arlington, TX

The Trojans would’ve been playoff bound had they not screwed the pooch against Utah in the PAC 12 title game. Tulane has had a nice 11 win season, including an AAC Championship, but let’s be real…this might be one of the worst bowl matchups in recent memory. Southern Cal will be playing third stringers by halftime and still win by atleast three TDs. Zach agrees.

My Pick: USC 

Zach’s Pick: USC 

Rose Bowl

Utah vs. Penn State
5pm/ESPN – Pasadena, CA

I have to give the Rose Bowl credit…even in a playoff obsessed environment they’ve figured out how to remain relevant & make the game still feel like an event. Or maybe I just perceive it that way because I am of a certain age and embrace the history & pageantry of college football. It doesn’t hurt that the Big Ten & PAC 12 are deep leagues with several talented teams. Utah might be the most dangerous team out there. I guarantee none of the four playoff contenders would want to face the 10-3 Utes. The Nittany Lions won’t be intimidated though. Their only two losses were against Michigan & Ohio St., which is nothing to be ashamed of obviously. I really like Utah and believe they could be a playoff team next season, so why not get the party started early?? Zach thinks it will be close, but agrees on the outcome. 

My Pick: Utah  

Zach’s Pick: Utah 

MONDAY, JAN. 9

National Championship Game

Michigan/TCU vs. Georgia/Ohio State 
7:30pm/ESPN – Los Angeles, CA

I’m looking at a Michigan-Ohio St. matchup, while Zach thinks it will be Michigan vs. Georgia. Either way it’s going to be a tough task for the Wolverines. The Buckeyes have tremendous offensive prowess, while Georgia is an intimidating defensive force. Michigan marched into Columbus at the end of November and left with a huge 3 TD+ victory, but the stakes are much higher now. At the end of the day I’m not sure the Wolverines are there quite yet. I think they might have to wait another year to get over the hump. Surprisingly Zach agrees, although he thinks it’ll be the defending champs going back-to-back by defeating his beloved Wolverines. 

My Pick: Ohio St.  

Zach’s Pick: Georgia 

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