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Notes from the sidelines: Bowl season kicks into overdrive

  • Alabama and Associated Press All-American defensive back Deionte Thompson face Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. AP

For the Recorder
Published: 12/26/2018 12:15:33 AM

I hope you had a merry Christmas. Now it’s time to kick back and watch the bowl season kicks into overdrive. Here’s a rundown of the matches from Wednesday through New Year’s. Picks are against the spread, and far from guaranteed.

*ATS — Against the Spead; **SOS — Strength of Schedule

Sources:,,,,,,,, wikipedia.


SERVPRO First Responders Bowl, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

No. 25 Boise State (10-3) vs. Boston College (7-5)

Cotton Bowl, Dallas

Line: Boise St. 2½ (55½)

ATS: Boise St. 7-5-1; BC (7-5)

SOS: Boise St. (53); BC 38

ONE LINERS: Preseason Heisman hopeful AJ Dillon rushed for 481 fewer yards than last year and quarterback Anthony Brown panicked in the pocket. BC’s Hamp Cheevers tied for most FBS interceptions with seven, and secondary is among the best in the nation. Boise State’s 106 third-down conversions were second to Army (112). Alexander Mattison’s FBS-best 302 carries were good for 1,415 yards and 17 touchdowns. Former UMass football voice Bob Behler does the Broncos’ play-by-play.

PICK: Boise State

Quick Lane Bowl, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Minnesota (6-6)

Ford Field, Detroit

Line: Ga. Tech 5 (56½)

ATS: Ga. Tech 5-7; Minn. 7-5

SOS: Ga. Tech 47; Minn. 45

ONE LINERS: Wreck’s four straight wins ended with a 45-21 loss at Georgia; lost to Clemson but destroyed Louisville and Bowling Green by a combined 129 points. Triple option attack features TaQuon Marshall and Tobias Oliver (1,903 yards; 23 TDs). Minnesota’s four straight losses nearly sunk it midstream, but Gophers dug out of it with November wins against Purdue and Wisconsin. Over/under opened at 61.

Pick: Ga. Tech

Cheez-It Bowl, 9 p.m., ESPN

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

Chase Field, Phoenix

Line: Cal 1 (38½)

ATS: Cal. 6-5-1; TCU 4-8

SOS: Cal. 57; TCU 25

ONE LINERS: Lack of firepower on both sides reflected by the lowest O/U of the bowl season. Golden Bears rank 112th in total offense and Horned Frogs are tied for 92nd; and were a respective 16th and 26th in total defense.

Pick: Cal.


Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

Temple (8-4) vs. Duke (7-5)

Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana

Line: Temple 3½ (55)

ATS: Temple 8-4; Duke 6-6

SOS: Temple (65), Duke (45)

ONE LINERS: Duke bedeviled by sluggish offense, outscored 94-13 in final two games. “Dropped passes, bad protection, bad throws, bad reads,” guard Zach Harmon told the Charlotte News & Observer. Owls a tough out, in baseball parlance. Played BC tough in defeat and won six of their last seven (lost by eight to undefeated UCF). Owls’ Chapelle Russell recovered five fumbles this season. Coach Geoff Collins left for Ga. Tech, interim coach Ed Foley is fired up.

Pick: Temple

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Miami (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)

Yankee Stadium, New York

Line: Miami 3 (47)

ATS: Miami 5-7; Wisconsin 3-9

SOS: Miami (44) Wisconsin (36)

ONE LINERS: Rematch of last year’s Orange Bowl (Wisconsin 34-24). Badgers ranked fifth in preseason off a 13-1 record in ‘17, still have leading rusher (Jonathan Taylor (165.8 YPG) best in nation. Hurricanes second in total defense (268.3) and first in red zone scoring (97.7 percent).

Pick: Miami

Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl, 9 p.m., ESPN

Vanderbilt (6-6) vs. Baylor (6-6)

NRG Stadium, Houston

Line: Vandy 4½ (55½)

ATS: Vandy 8-4; Baylor 5-6-1

SOS: Vandy (31); Baylor (49)

ONE LINERS: After four losses to Top 20 teams, Commodores finished strong beating Ole Miss and Tennessee. QB Kyle Shurmur (6-foot-3) threw for 23 touchdowns and six interceptions; Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for 1,001 yards and 10 scores. Not a lot to be inspired about from Baylor; nary a receiver nor running back gained 1,000 yards, though Bears’ offense was a respectable 36th yards per game (442).

Pick: Vanderbilt


Franklin Mortgage Music City Bowl, 1:30 p.m. ESPN

Auburn (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

Line: Auburn 4; (55)

ATS: Auburn 5-7; Purdue 7-5

SOS: Auburn (8); Purdue (21)

ONE LINERS: Tigers’ brutal schedule underscored by losses to LSU, Georgia and Alabama and contributed to low rankings — 97th average rush yards, 75th avg. passing yards and 88th in first downs. Purdue’s David Blough passed for 3,521 yards and 25 touchdowns (eight INTs); receiver Rondale Moore caught an FBS-best 103 passes.

Pick: Purdue

Camping World Bowl, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

No. 16 West Virginia (8-3) vs. No. 20 Syracuse (9-3)

Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida

Line: West Va. 2 (68½)

ATS: West Va. 6-3-2; Syracuse 8-3-1

SOS: WVU 19; Syracuse 42

ONE LINERS: Mountaineers lost by a combined seven points to Okie State and Oklahoma, QB Will Grier split for the pros and All-Big 12 tackle Yodny Cajuste went with him. Grier was top 5 in passing yards, passing efficiency and passing yards per game. Backup Jack Allison got in for seven plays this season. Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt converted 28 of 32 field goal attempts and 57 PATs, named first-team All America and Lou Groza winner. Freshman safety Andre Cisco named third-team All America. Offense averaged 85 plays from scrimmage, most in the FBS.

Pick: Syracuse

Valero Alamo Bowl, 9 p.m., ESPN

No. 13 Washington State (10-2) vs. No. 24 Iowa State (8-4)

Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

Line: Washington State 3½ (54)

ATS: Wash. St. 10-2; Iowa St. 8-4

SOS: Wash. St. 50; Iowa St. 27

ONE LINERS: It’s a quarterback battle. Wash. State’s Gardner Minshew II led FBS in passing yards per game (373), completions per game (36) and yards for the season (4,477). Cyclones’ Brock Purdy completed 66.3 percent of his passes, averaged 10 yards per catch with 16 TDs, 5 picks and 172.2 rating.

Pick: Iowa State


Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Noon, ESPN

No. 7 Michigan (10-2) vs. No. 6 Florida (98-3)

Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta

Line: Mich. 6½ (50½)

ATS: Mich. 6-6; Fla. 8-4

SOS: Mich. 7; Florida 10

ONE LINERS: Wolverines undefeated vs. Gators (4-0) and by a 16-point average. Michigan ranks first in total defense (268.3 ypg), and lost only three fumbles in 12 games. Gators offense ordinary under Felipe Franks, no studs by land or air. Kicker Evan McPherson made 15 of 17 FGs and all 45 PATs.

Pick: Michigan

Belk Bowl, Noon, ABC

South Carolina (7-5) vs. Virginia (7-5)

BOA Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

Line: So. Carolina 5 (54)

ATS: So. Carolina 7-5; Va. 8-4

SOS: So. Carolina 10; Va. 55

ONE LINERS: Gamecocks rule roost in bowl season, winning five of last six (including Michigan on last New Year’s Day) and averaging 31 points per game. Cavs’ DB Brcye Hall leads FBS in passes defended (1.8 per game); lost three of last four and the win against doormat Liberty.

Pick: South Carolina

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl, 1:15 p.m., CBSSN

Arkansas St. (8-4) vs. Nevada (7-5)

Arizona Stadium, Tuscon

Line: Ark. St. 1½ (57½)

ATS: Ark St. 6-6; Nevada 6-6

SOS: Ark. St. 100; Nev. 89

ONE LINERS: Red Wolves’ four losses were to bowl-bound teams, notably Louisiana, which was drubbed by Tulane in the Cure Bowl. Ark. State paced by QB Justice Hansen’s passing yards (3,172) and plagued by placekicker Blake Grupe’s three missed extra points and five field goal misses over 30. Wolves probably have lots of plays from Walt Bell’s playbook, its former offensive coordinator. Nevada QB Ty Gangi’s slung 409 passes for 23 touchdowns; DBs have 18 picks.

Pick: Nevada

CFP Semifinal Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, 4 p.m., ESPN

No. 2 Clemson (13-0) vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0)

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Line: Clemson 12½ (55½)

ATS: Clemson 7-6; N.D. 6-4-2

SOS: Clemson 14; N.D. 26

ONE LINERS: BC got a look at a ferocious Tigers defense that yielded the fewest first downs (14.7) and yards per play (4.1) in the FBS. Six-foot-5 freshman Trevor Lawrence threw 24 TD passes and only 4 interceptions. Defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence are shaping up as high first round draft picks. Notre Dame’s offense rang up over 40 points in eight wins, faces a team that allowed third-fewest. Irish CB Julian Love first-team All America; DT Jerry Tillery second-team.

Pick: Clemson

CFP Semifinal Capital One Orange Bowl, 8 p.m., ESPN

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1)

Hardrock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fl.

Line: Ala. 14 (78)

ATS: Ala. 8-5; Ok. 5-7-1

SOS: Ala. 2; Ok. 30

ONE LINERS: Highest over/under of bowl season. If ‘Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa can’t go, backup Jalen Hurts showed he can help Tide roll by leading the come-from-behind win against Georgia. Tide rides a 15-game win streak with three first-team All Americas: wideout Jonah Williams, DT Quinnen Williams and safety Deionte Thompson. Oklahoma Heisman winner Kyler Murray led the nation in yards per pass (11.92) and Kennedy Brooks led in yards per carry. Sooners ranked 111th in total defense, surrendering six yards a play.

Pick: Alabama


Military Bowl by Northrup Gruman, Noon, ESPN

Cincinnati (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.

Line: Cinci 5½ (53½)

ATS: Cinci 7-5; Va. Tech 5-7

SOS: Cinci 71; Va. Tech 54

ONE LINERS: Bearcats’ losses were to Temple (in OT) and UCF. Michael Warren II’s 17 rushing TDs ties him for fifth in FBS; defense yielded fewer than 15 first downs a game. A Hokies win would help atone for its 14-point loss to 117th-ranked Old Dominion. Steven Peoples paced Tech with nine TDs and 942 yards from scrimmage. Miss America sings the national anthem.

Pick: Cincinnati

Hyundai Sun Bowl, 2 p.m., CBS

Stanford (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (7-6)

Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas

Line: 6 (52)

ATS: Stanford 7-4-1; Pitt 7-6

SOS: Stanford 24; Pitt 18

ONE LINERS: Ranked No. 16 preseason the Cardinal needed more from Heisman hopeful Bryce Love (739 yards), who was hobbled by an ankle injury. All four losses were to teams that finished in the AP Top 25. Pitt lost its last two games — to Miami (24-3) and Clemson, 42-10 — but beat Syracuse and Ga. Tech. Panthers’ RB Qadree Ollison rushed for 1,190 yards and 11 TDs including a 97-yarder against Va. Tech.

Pick: Stanford

Red Box Bowl, 3 p.m. Fox

Oregon (8-4) vs. Michigan State (7-5)

Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Cal.

Line: Oregon 2½ (48)

ATS: Oregon 4-8; Mich. St. 4-8

SOS: Oregon 51; Mich. St. 13

ONE LINERS: Ducks’ 6-foot-6 junior QB Justin Herbert considered a top-10 pick if he declares for the draft. Spartans QBs Brian Lewerke and Rocky Lombardi threw more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (11) and team was botton 10 in points per game (19.8). Note the SOS disparity.

Pick: Mich. St.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl, 3:45 p.m., ESPN

No. 23 Missouri (8-4) vs. Oklahoma St. (6-6)

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis

Line: Missouri by 8½ (74)

ATS: Missouri 7-5; Ok. St. 6-6

SOS: Missouri 7; Ok. St. 30

ONE LINERS: Okie State’s Taylor Cornelius 10th in nation in passing yards (3,642) and Tylan Wallace is third in receiving yards (1,408). Missou’s Drew Lock averages 21 pass completions and needs four TD tosses to reach 100; draft boards have him pegged to go first round to the Jags or Bucs. Tigers clawed Cowboys 41-31 in the 2013 Cotton Bowl.

Pick: Missouri

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, 7 p.m. FS1

No. 17 Utah (9-4) vs. No. 22 Northwestern (8-5)

S.D.C. Credit Union Stadium

Line: Utah 7 (46)

ATS: Utah 7-6; NW 6-5-2

SOS: Utah 28; NW 23

ONE LINERS: Utes averaged 187 yards on the ground, keyed by Zack Moss (1,096 yards, 11 TDs) certain to be aided by a tame Wildcats defense that’s 102nd against the run. On the flip side, Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson threw for 2,942 yards with 15 TDs and 14 INTs but the Utes are a mild 64th in pass defense. NW’s Flynn Nagel, Bennett Skowronek and Cameron Green combined for 160 catches and 1,752 yards and nine TDs).

Pick: Utah

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

No. 19 Texas A&M (8-4) vs. N.C. State (9-3)

TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Fl.

Line: A&M 7 (58½)

ATS: A&M 8-4; N.C. State 6-6

SOS: A&M 4; N.C. State 59

ONE LINERS: N.C. State’s Ryan Finley is considered the most pro-ready QB in the crop by; receivers Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers both average more than 90 yards a game. Aggies’ $75 million coach Jimbo Fisher has his defense cranked to fourth nationally against the run but only 113th versus the pass (264.5 ypg). Trayveon Williams’ 150 all-purpose yards per game is FBS eighth best. Aggies’ 35-minute time of possession is second best to Army. Braden Mann’s punts go more than 50 yards.

Pick: N.C. State


Outback Bowl, Noon, ESPN2,

No. 18 Miss. State (8-4) vs. Iowa (8-4)

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

Line: Miss. St. 7 (44)

ATS: Miss. St. 8-4; Iowa 7-5

SOS: Miss. St. 5; Iowa 34

ONE LINERS: Bulldogs QB Nick Fitzgerald passed for 1,615 yards an ran for 1,018 to account for 19 of his team’s 33 touchdowns. Miss. State was third in total defense and lost only two fumbles all season. Third Outback Bowl in five years for the Hawkeyes, who previously lost to Florida (30-3) and LSU (21-14). Offense revolves around RBs Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young (285 rushes for 1,378 yards) and receivers T.J. Hockensen and Noah Fant (85 catches for 1,236 yards).

Pick: Miss. State

VRB Citrus Bowl, 1 p.m., ABC

No. 12 Penn St. (9-3) vs. No. 14 Kentucky (9-3)

Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fl.

Line: Penn St. 6 (48)

ATS: Penn St. 7-5; Ky. 5-7

SOS: Penn St. 12; Ky. 15

ONE LINERS: Penn State QB Trace McSorley’s 2,284 yards passing and 723 rushing yards complemented Miles Sanders’ 1,223 yards on 207 carries. Nittany Lions won five of last six but 11 fumbles are third-highest in FBS. Kentucky’s offense keyed by Benny Snell Jr.’s 1,305 rushing yards and 14 TDs, defense driven by Josh Allen’s 14 sacks— fourth-most in FBS.

Pick: Penn State

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, 1 p.m., ESPN

No. 11 LSU (9-3) vs. No. 8 UCF (12-0)

State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Az.

Line: LSU 7 (55½)

ATS: LSU 6-6; UCF 9-3

SOS: LSU 3; UCF 72

ONE LINERS: Two LSU players were involved in a fatal shooting on Dec. 22, but Baton Rouge police called it an act of self defense. One of the players was No. 2 rusher Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Tigers’ PK Matthew Wright perfect on all 71 PATs and 6-for-6 FGs inside the 40; cornerback Greedy Williams projected to go in the top five. Undefeated UCF was 9-3 versus spread, but the Knights played no ranked opponents. Backup QB Darriel Mack Jr. helped UCF put up 56 points in the AAC title game.

Pick: LSU

Rose Bowl Presented by Northwestern Mutual, 5 p.m., ESPN

No. 6 Ohio State (12-1) vs. No. 9 Washington (10-3)

Rose Bowl, Pasedena, Cal.

Line: Ohio St. 6 (58)

ATS: Ohio St., 6-7; Wash. 4-9

SOS: Ohio St. 9; Wash. 22

ONE LINERS: Buckeyes’ Dwayne Haskins threw 47 touchdown passes, 11 each to Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. Ben Burr-Kirven’s 165 tackles led the FBS. Buckeyes averaged 77 penalty yards per game, fourth highest in nation. Three-time national champion Urban Meyer calls it quits after today. Washington QBs passed for over 3,000 yards, and most of them went to Jake Browning, Aaron Fuller or Andre Baccellia.

Pick: Ohio State

Allstate Sugar Bowl, 8:45 p.m., ESPN

No. 5 Georgia (11-2) vs. No. 15 Texas (9-4)

Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans

Line: Ga. 13 (58)

ATS: Ga. 8-5; Texas 5-7-1

SOS: Ga. 1; Texas 17

ONE LINERS: Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm third in passing efficiency; kick returner Mecole Hardman led FBS in total yards (321) and yards per return (20.1). D’Andre Smith plus Elijah Holyfield equals 1,993 rushing yards and 17 TDs. Longhorns’ offense paced by Sam Ehlinger’s 3,123 passing yards, 25 TD passes and only five interceptions. Lil’Jordan Humphrey was his favorite target with 79 catches for 1,109 yards and nine TDs. Both teams beat four ranked opponents.

Pick: Georgia


CFP National Championship Presented By AT&T, 8 p.m., ESPN

Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

Teams TBD

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