Yesterday I covered the College Football Playoff selections and games between Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma. Later yesterday after the CFP announcement, the bowl committee released the full bowl schedule to end the college football season.
Sugar Bowl: 5 Georgia Bulldogs vs 15 Texas Longhorns
After their loss to Alabama on Saturday behind Jalen Hurts’ Herculean effort, the Georgia Bulldogs fell out of the College Football Playoff in favor of the Oklahoma Sooners. The Dawgs are led by a strong running game in sophomore D’Andre Swift and junior Elijah Holyfield who have combined for over 2,000 total yards and 17 touchdowns and complemented by quarterback Jake Fromm and a tough defense led by projected first round pick, defensive back Deandre Baker. On the other hand, Texas is led by their dual-threat quarterback Sam Ehlinger, a running back pair of their own in Tre Watson and Keaontay Ingram, and a 1,000 yard receiver in Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Pair that offense with a dynamic defensive duo in Gary Johnson and Charles Omenihu (28.5 TFL, 14 sacks combined) and the Dawgs may have a challenge on their hands.
Rose Bowl: 6 Ohio State Buckeyes vs 9 Washington Huskies
I am very surprised to not see Ohio State in the CFP. I personally did not believe the Buckeyes would snag the 4 seed, but you never know with the selection committee. The Buckeyes will field their Heisman candidate quarterback Dwayne Haskins (69%, 4081 yards, 42 TDs, 7 INTs), a stud running back rotation of JK Dobbins and Mike Weber, and two playmaking receivers in Parris Campbell and KJ Hill. The defense has been inconsistent in the absence of edge rusher Nick Bosa, but is still able to pull out wins. Washington quarterback Jake Browning is not the Heisman candidate he was in previous years, but with the success of Myles Gaskin and the running game, it hasn’t seemed to matter. Gaskin posted a 1,076 yard, 10 TD season at running back for the Huskies this season. The defense this season has been forcing turnovers and could bother Haskins and Co. I have the Buckeyes in this one by a decent margin.
Fiesta Bowl: 11 LSU Tigers vs 8 UCF Golden Knights
UCF has another undefeated season and has yet again missed the CFP. Yes they play in a weak conference with a weak slate of nonconference games, but undefeated is still undefeated. I would love to see this UCF team compete against Power Five schools in the Playoff but alas, here we are. Last year, the Knights went undefeated and took down Auburn in their bowl game. This year, they take on another SEC powerhouse in LSU to see if they can repeat last season’s postseason success. LSU relies on their running game featuring Nick Brossette and their dual-threat QB Joe Burrow to use his legs to make plays. Their defense has been solid with standouts linebacker Devin White (115 tackles, 12 TFL, and 3 sacks) and DB’s Greedy Williams (2 INT’s) and Grant Delpit (5 sacks and 5 INT’s). The loss of quarterback McKenzie Milton hurts UCF a lot in this game as he was a legitimate Heisman candidate behind 3,000 total yards and 31 total touchdowns. They will rely on their running backs Adrian Killins and Greg McCrae and a defense that forces turnovers behind defensive back Richie Grant (97 tackles, 5 INTs). I have LSU in this game but a UCF win would not surprise me in the slightest.
Peach Bowl: 10 Florida Gators vs 7 Michigan Wolverines
The Gators are one of the top teams in college football because of their defense and their running game. They have four different players with multiple interceptions and a defensive lineman in Jachai Polite who has accumulated 18 TFL and 11 sacks. They have five players with over 200 rushing yards on the season, led by Lamical Perine and Jordan Scarlett. Feleipe Franks is a wild card at quarterback against a tough Michigan defense (Ohio State game excluded). Their defense has two DBs with 3 interceptions in Josh Metellus and Brandon Watson and a scary front seven headlined by Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary. Don’t forget their 1,178 yard rusher in Karan Higdon who also has 10 TDs and their dual-threat QB Shea Patterson. I think Michigan will win a close one against the Gators.
Citrus Bowl: 12 Penn State Nittany Lions vs 14 Kentucky Wildcats
Penn State struggled in the Big 10 this season and dropped out of the top ten pretty early. However, this is a very winnable game for the Nittany Lions behind a very strong running game in Miles Sanders (1,223 yards and 9 TDs) and QB Trace McSorley (2,285 passing yards, 723 rushing yards, 27 total TDs) and a defense that forces turnovers and makes plays. Three different players have 3 interceptions (Garrett Taylor, Nick Scott, Amani Oruwariye) and a defensive line that can get to the quarterback behind Yetur Gross-Matos (20 TFL, 8 sacks), Robert Windsor (10 TFL, 6.5 sacks), and Shareef Miller (14 TFL, 7 sacks). Bennie Snell may have been the best college running back this season behind 1,330 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in an offense that revolves around him. The Wildcats are a run-first offense behind Snell and quarterback Terry Wilson who has 10 less pass attempts than Snell has rush attempts. On the defensive side of the ball is Josh Allen (not to be confused with the Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback) who has 84 total tackles, 18.5 TFL, and 14 sacks. This can be a close game if Penn States cannot defend the run and McSorley isn’t getting destroyed by Allen all game. I think Kentucky pulls off the upset.
Camping World Bowl: 16 West Virginia Mountaineers vs 20 Syracuse Orange
I will always be one of the first to laud the game of Will Grier. The WVU quarterback has thrown for 3,864 yards, 37 TDs, and only 8 interceptions to put the Mountaineers at 8-3. His top two targets, David Sills (896 receiving yards, 15 TDs) and Gary Jennings (917 yards, 13 TDs), have feasted off of Grier’s passing ability. Grier should be the top quarterback in the upcoming draft in my opinion and is vying for the Heisman trophy alongside Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray, and Tua Tagovailoa. Syracuse is a run-first team and they have done it very well with four players eclipsing 300 rushing yards with quarterback Eric Dungey (732 yards and 15 TDs) and running back Moe Neal (823 yards and 5 TDs) leading the way. Dungey has been a fine QB for the Orange with over 3,200 total yards and 32 total touchdowns. Alton Robinson is a force on the defensive line with 10 sacks and 17 TFL, while the linebacker/safety duo of Ryan Guthrie and Klelan Whitner have combined for 197 tackles, 20 TFL, and 3.5 sacks. I will still take West Virginia in this game behind star quarterback Will Grier, but Syracuse can make this interesting.
Belk Bowl: South Carolina Gamecocks vs Virginia Cavaliers
This may be an irrelevant bowl to the rest of you, but to me and the Gamecock nation, we will take on Virginia in Charlotte on December 29th. Both teams are 7-5 and finished in the middle of the SEC and ACC conferences, respectively. I am excited about the Gamecocks here and think they have a legitimate shot at a victory after a disappointing season. Jake Bentley has come alive the past few weeks and is now sitting on 2,754 passing yards and 24 TDs. In the running back-by-committee approach, we have four players with over 300 rushing yards in Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams, Mon Denson, and AJ Turner, along with one of the best wide receiver duos in all of the NCAA in Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards. Sadly, almost the entire defense is banged up and are relying on inexperienced freshman (sound familiar Eagles fans?) but did play extremely well against Akron on Saturday. I am giving the advantage to the Gamecocks as the SEC is a much more difficult conference to compete in than the ACC and Virginia lacks a scary passing offense.
Independence Bowl: Temple vs Duke
To all of the Philadelphia fans reading this, Temple is returning to a bowl game for the fourth season in a row and is 8-4 on the season after an 0-2 start. The quarterback play of Anthony Russo and Frank Nutile has been suspect all season, but a phenomenal season from running back Ryquell Armstead has kept the ship afloat (1,098 yards, 13 TDs). Michael Dogbe has been a beast on the defensive side racking up 69 total tackles, 12.5 TFL and 7 sacks on the season. Duke went 7-5 out of the ACC and ranks 79th and 70th in points per game and opponent points per game, respectively, compared to Temple’s 22nd and 46th ranks. Duke doesn’t do anything extremely well. They don’t put pressure on the quarterback and force turnovers, they don’t have a rusher with over 806 rushing yards, nor a receiver with over 600 receiving yards. Granted, they have played against a much tougher conference in the ACC than Temple in the American Athletic Conference, but I do not see Duke winning this game. Go Owls.
Picture Courtesy of Eleven Warriors
University of South Carolina ’21