The final week of College Bowl Games is also the time when we discover who plays in the College Football National Championship. The biggest bowl games of the year are from Dec. 30 through Jan. 1. On Jan. 1, 3 Georgia battles 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl while 4 Alabama takes on 1 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in the CFP Semifinals.
The winners of the College Football Playoff Semifinals battle it out in the National Championship on January 8. Let’s get to it!
2017-2018 College Bowl Week 3 Preview
Saturday, Dec. 30
Taxslayer Bowl – Louisville -6.5 vs 23 Mississippi State +6.5
It’s beyond me why Louisville is favored over Mississippi State. I think the Bulldogs are one of those decent football teams that plays in the best football conference in the nation. You must be great to contend with Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn.
Who’s the best team Louisville faced this season? Clemson. Clemson dominated Louisville 47 to 21. I like the Bulldogs.
Pick: Mississippi State +6.5
Autozone Liberty Bowl – Iowa State +3.5 vs 18 Memphis -3.5
Until this season, Iowa State had been one of the worst teams in the Big 12 Conference. This season, Iowa State upset both TCU as well as #2 Oklahoma. That’s allowed Iowa State to garner a bid to the Autozone Liberty Bowl.
How will Iowa State perform against one of the best non-Big 5 Conference teams in the nation? Memphis boasts the seventh ranked offense in college football based on yards per game. The Tigers average over 548 yards per. Memphis averages over 47 points per game.
But, I don’t believe this is a good match up for the Memphis Tigers. Iowa State is a defense first team. The Cyclones only allow 21 points per on average. Sounds like a lot until we take into account that Iowa State plays in the pass-heavy, high-scoring, Big 12.
Also, the Cyclones went 7 and 1 ATS in their last 8 regular season games. Iowa State is the play.
Pick: Iowa State +3
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl – 12 Washington +2 vs 9 Penn State -2
One of the best from the Pac 12 heads to Tempe, Arizona, to battle one of the best from the Big Ten on Saturday, Dec. 30. The Penn State Nittany Lions were ranked second in the nation until losses to Ohio State and Michigan State ended their College Football Playoff hopes.
Washington lost to ASU and Stanford. The loss to Stanford makes sense. The Cardinal really came on towards the end of the regular season. Losing to ASU makes no sense. Who wins in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl?
I’m going with Penn State. The trends are all over the Nittany Lions. Washington is a dreadful 1 and 4 against the spread in their last 5 non-conference games. The Lions are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games. Penn State is also 9-2-2 ATS versus a team with a winning record, and 16-4-2 against the spread in their last 22 games overall.
I don’t believe Washington’s defense can stop RB Saquon Barkley. I think the Nittany Lions roll.
Best Pick: Penn State -2
Capital One Orange Bowl – 6 Wisconsin -6.5 vs 11 Miami +6.5
Wisconsin had their chances in the Big Ten Championship. The Badgers had every right to upset Ohio State. Unfortunately, Wisconsin just wasn’t good enough to upset Ohio State. Will things be different in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30?
They should be. Miami is a decent football team. The Hurricanes aren’t a great football team. I believe that Coach Richt is the reason the Canes only lost 2 games this season. With any other coach, the Canes might have dropped up to 5 games.
The Hurricanes finished the regular season losing two straight. The loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship game was to be expected. However, the loss to Pittsburgh 14 to 24 wasn’t. I don’t feel Miami can stop Wisconsin’s rushing attack.
I’ll side with the Badgers.
Pick: Wisconsin -6.5
Monday, Jan. 1
Outback Bowl – Michigan -7 vs South Carolina +7
The 2017 Outback Bowl match is a strange one. Neither Michigan nor South Carolina appeared worthy of a January 1 bowl appearance. The Wolverines ended the season going 8 and 4. Michigan lost their last 2 games by a combined 55 to 30 score.
South Carolina also finished their regular season at 8 and 4. South Carolina lost to Kentucky, Texas A&M, Georgia and Clemson. To me, this is a toss-up game. I don’t see one team having a bigger edge over the other. My philosophy is to always take the points in a toss-up game.
That means I’m backing the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Pick: South Carolina +7
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl – 10 Central Florida +10.5 vs 8 Auburn -10.5
There’s a reason why Auburn lost to Georgia in the SEC Championship. A week before, the Tigers had beaten their most hated rival, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Auburn was in no shape to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship.
With that being written, we don’t know how good Central Florida really is. The Knights went undefeated during the regular season. The Knights also went 7-4-1 against the spread. But, Central Florida went 2 and 4 against the spread in their final 6 games.
Central Florida must beat Auburn by dominating a decent Auburn defense. The Tigers allow 17.3 points per game on average. If Central Florida can’t get past Auburn’s defense, and I’m not sure if they’ll be able to, Auburn’s the play.
Giving up 10.5 points in a game between two teams that have no clue about each other is tough. I’ve got the feeling that Central Florida hasn’t come close to facing a D as capable as Auburn’s. I’m going with the Auburn Tigers to cover the spread versus the Central Florida Knights.
Pick: Auburn -10.5
Citrus Bowl – 15 Notre Dame +3 vs 14 LSU -3
The 2018 Citrus Bowl is a contrast between one team that was hot early and cold late, and another team that was cold early and hot late. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were scorching early in the season. In their first 9 games of the season, Notre Dame went 8 and 1 straight up. Their lone loss was to the Georgia Bulldogs. The loss was by a single point. The Irish went 7 and 2 against the spread in those 9 games.
Things changed quickly for the Irish in their final 4 games of the season. Notre Dame went 2 and 2 straight up. They went 0 and 4 against the spread. Does that mean Notre Dame has no shot versus the LSU Tigers on Jan. 1?
I believe it does. LSU finished the regular season going 6 and 1 straight up and 6 and 1 against the spread. The Tigers lone loss was to Alabama. LSU covered the spread in that game. It’s difficult to see the Tigers allowing Notre Dame to keep it close on New Year’s Day.
LSU should beat Notre Dame by around 10 points on Jan. 1.
Rose Bowl – 3 Georgia -2 vs 2 Oklahoma +2
Georgia battles Oklahoma in the first College Football Playoff Semifinal. The game takes place in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Neither squad figures to have home field advantage. Due to their excellent defense, the Georgia Bulldogs are a 2-point favorite.
However, Georgia’s defense hasn’t faced anything close to Oklahoma’s offense. Usually, I’d go with the better defensive team. Based on the teams both squads have played this season, I’m siding with the better offensive team. That’s Oklahoma.
I don’t believe Georgia’s offense can keep up with the number one ranked offense in college football. The Sooners average 44.9 points per game off 583.3 yards per. Heisman Trophy winning QB Baker Mayfield is tough to deal with.
Georgia’s defense is good. But, shutting down offenses like Auburn’s, Tennessee’s, South Carolina’s, and Georgia Tech’s did nothing to prepare the Bulldogs for this CFP Semifinal. I think Oklahoma wins this one straight up.
Pick: Oklahoma +2
Sugar Bowl – 4 Alabama -3 vs 1 Clemson +3
A rematch of the 2017 College Football National Championship takes place in the 2018 Sugar Bowl on January 1. Alabama didn’t even win their conference. They still managed to make it to the CFP. Why? Bama made it because nobody can argue that they aren’t one of the top 4 teams in the nation.
For their efforts, Clemson gets to battle the Crimson Tide on January 1. That’s too bad for Clemson. Alabama lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl because they had suffered major injuries on defense. The Tide was banged up on D. Now? Enough time has passed for most of Alabama’s linebackers, that’s where they had the injury issue, to get healthy. That’s bad news for Clemson. The Tigers start a freshman QB. He’s good. He’s still a freshman.
I don’t see how a team that lost straight up to Syracuse can beat an Alabama squad that’s healthier than it’s been since the first month of the season. Alabama should dominate Clemson on Jan. 1.
Pick: Alabama -3