The Square Pigeon’s Pipeline NCAA College Football Bowl Games
The Square Pigeon Pipeline is in its third year here at the Spooky Express. Jason delivers his thoughts and picks on both college football and the NFL each and every week. This week, he is focused on the NCAA College Football Bowl Games!
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA
North Carolina A&T vs. Alcorn State
The Celebration Bowl features the winner of the MEAC and SWAC conference. This is the only bowl game that features FCS schools. The MEAC and SWAC conferences agreed to put their conference champions into this bowl game and forego entry into the FCS playoffs; however, the benefit of playing in a bowl game for these historically black colleges and universities goes beyond anything the FCS playoffs can offer. The nationally televised game offers exposure and publicity for the schools who play in the game. Plus, the first three games of this bowl’s history have all been one-score games. It’s a great game to kick off bowl season.
PICK: ALCORN STATE +8 OVER 47.5
New Mexico Bowl present by Progressive at Branch Field at Dreamstyle Stadium in Alberqueque, NM
Utah State vs. North Texas
This game should be a lopsided affair. Utah State was ranked as high as 14 this year. Their only two losses came against other ranked teams, Boise State and Michigan State. North Texas already struggles to stop passing attacks, so Jordan Love will cap his season with a dominant performance to lead the Aggies to a bowl victory since 2014.
PICK: UTAH STATE –7.5 UNDER 67.5
Auto Nation Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL
Tulane vs. Louisiana
Both of these teams narrowly made a bowl game. Louisiana played in the Sun Belt championship game against Appalachian State; they even managed to keep it closer than I thought they would. Tulane floundered in the America Athletic Conference finishing with a 6-6 record. Louisiana’s defense struggles against the run which plays into Tulane’s favor. Expect a big day from Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine for Tulane.
PICK: TULANE –3.5 UNDER 59
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV
Fresno State vs. Arizona State
Manny Wilkins put together another quality season as the quarterback of Arizona State. While he won’t wow you with anything he does on the field, Wilkins always manages to get the job done. He will need his defense to show up in this one because he won’t be able to keep up with the Fresno State offense if they start lighting up the scoreboard. In his first year as head coach, Herm Edwards hasn’t gotten the defense on track, and it will kill them against Fresno.
PICK: FRESNO STATE -5 OVER 54.5
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, AL
Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan
Georgia Southern is working their way to becoming a decent program. They finished the season at 9-3 which included a win over Appalachian State who was ranked #25 at the time. This is only their second bowl game in team history, but when this one is all over, they will be 2-0 in bowl games. Eastern Michigan never even played a ranked opponent this season. I can’t imagine that they will put up a fight since Georgia Southern will be out to prove they are the 9-3 team from this year, not the 2-9 team from last year.
PICK: GEORGIA SOUTHERN –3.5 OVER 47.5
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA
Middle Tennessee State vs. Appalachian State
This clearly looks like a mismatch on paper. App State were ranked during the season by playing great defense and keeping the offense balanced with a slight tilt to the run. The game will come down to Brent Stockstill, the Middle Tennessee State quarterback, against the Mountaineers pass defense. App State only allowed 148.2 passing yards per game during the season, so Stockstill will need to step up for the Blue Raiders to win.
PICK: APPALACHIAN STATE –6.5 OVER 47.5
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl at Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium
Alabama-Birmingham vs. Northern Illinois
Quality opponents ran through Northern Illinois all season, but they beat every team that they were supposed to beat. Their schedule was considerably more difficult than UAB which explains the difference in the two teams’ record. For the Blazers to have a chance in this game, they will need to up the pace to try and score points quickly. Northern Illinois is built to win a shootout.
PICK: NORTHERN ILLINOIS +3.5 OVER 42.5
DXL Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX
San Diego State vs. Ohio
This will be a run-heavy affair between these teams. Ohio should come out throwing the ball because San Diego State has the #4 rush defense in the country. If Ohio leans on the running game, which is their strength, the Aztecs will pull away early.
PICK: SAN DIEGO STATE +3 UNDER 54
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL
Marshall vs. South Florida
South Florida will be looking to win their first game since October 20th. Two months ago, the Bulls were undefeated and ranked #21 in the country. Then, they lost their next five games. In theory, they are a much more competitive team than Marshall who hasn’t played a ranked opponent all season. In Marshall’s defense, they did win games against the teams they should beat. I still think USF is the better school plus, Blake Barnett’s return for this game will put them over the top.
PICK: SOUTH FLORIDA +3 OVER 51
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas
Florida International vs. Toledo
It is easy to like Toledo in this game; however, FIU has more than a fighting chance. With this game being played in the Bahamas, it’s a short trip from Miami and presents a similar atmosphere. Nassau is a far cry from Toledo, Ohio. While the Rockets are the better team, they might not be able to overcome the distraction of playing in the Bahamas. The only thing for sure is that there will be a ton of points scored since neither team plays defense.
PICK: FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL +4.5 OVER 58.5
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Lyle Smith Field at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, ID
Western Michigan vs. Brigham Young
Western Michigan has limped into the bowl season after losing their starting quarterback Jon Wassink. Freshman Kaleb Eleby has played okay in his place, but the Broncos finished their season 1-3 with Eleby at the helm. BYU was an iffy team this year with wins over Arizona and Wisconsin (when they were ranked #6), but they posted bad losses against Northern Illinois and California. Despite the roller coaster, I like the Cougars in this one.
PICK: BRIGHAM YOUNG –12 OVER 50
Jared Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, AL
Memphis vs. Wake Forest
Memphis spent most of their season winning lopsided games unless they were playing anyone outside of their conference or UCF or Tulane. The two losses to UCF have to hurt the most because that means the Knights have beaten the Tigers 13 straight times including four times in the past two years. Of course, Wake Forest doesn’t play in the AAC, so they already have a big advantage over Memphis. A win gives the Demon Decans a winning record for the third straight year which hasn’t happened since the 1950s. Losing a double-digit lead against UCF’s back up quarterback might still be haunting the Tigers even if it was a month ago.
PICK: WAKE FOREST +3 UNDER 73
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX
Houston vs. Army
Army looks to defend their Armed Forces Bowl title that they won last year against San Diego State. This year they take on a team that is their offensive antithesis. Well, almost. Houston does their fair share of running the ball too, but they are far better known for throwing it around the field with their spread attack while Army still runs a triple option and throws the ball three times a game like it was 1923. This will be an interesting game to watch. I want to see the matchup between Houston’s offense and Army’s defense (who is surprisingly stingy).
PICK: ARMY –4.5 UNDER 59.5
Dollar General Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL
Buffalo vs. Troy
Troy lost their starting quarterback early in the season, but Sawyer Smith has taken over the job and played quite well. Neither of these teams played anyone particularly good. Troy did lose to Boise State when they were ranked #22 week one. Besides that, their best competition came from their respective lackluster conferences. Honestly, it is hard to get interested in this game. Troy is clearly the superior team in this bowl game that features teams that don’t deserve to be in FCS competition.
PICK: TROY +1.5 OVER 44.5
SoFi Hawai’i Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI
Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii
It’s hard to bet against a team who is hosting a bowl game. Jaylon Ferguson gives me hope for the visiting Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Ferguson, with his 15 sacks, leads the pass defense for the Bulldogs. Hawaii bases its offense on the pass. His sacks are joined with 10 team interceptions, so this will be a game of strength against strength. I’ll take the visitors.
PICK: Louisiana Tech +1 OVER 61.5
SERVPRO First Responders Bowl at Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX
Boston College vs. # 25 Boise State
Boise State lost the Mountain West Championship game to Fresno State, but they still ended up ranked in the selection committee’s ranking (23rd in the AP Poll). Boston College managed to get up into the top 25 until a late-season skid led to three losses in a row to Clemson, Florida State, and Syracuse. I know it is the first game of the day, but this might be the best of the three games on the day after Christmas. Boston College clearly faced the harder schedule this year, so they may be ready for the big game feeling; however, Boise State seemingly shows up for their bowl game every year.
PICK: BOISE STATE -3.5 UNDER 56.5
Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, MI
Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech
This is a bowl game features two lackluster teams. Minnesota finished the year at 6-6, and were possibly the worst Big 10 team not from New Jersey. They lost games to both Illinois and Nebraska. Also, they allowed 170 yards rushing a game, and they face a team who rushed 335 yards per game during the season. Georgia Tech finished the season going 6-2 (one loss was against a very good Georgia team), so they are hot and able to exploit the Golden Gophers biggest weakness.
PICK: GEORGIA TECH -5.5 OVER 37
Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ
California vs. Texas Christian
Why is Boise State/Boston College the opening game? This is another game featuring bad teams. Honestly, this game features the worst teams, and it is the prime-time game. Oh well, California at least remained competitive in most of their games. TCU will be starting their third-string quarterback with the first two down with injuries. Unless Grayson Muehlstein puts together an amazing performance (which he could because he has played well so far), Cal should roll this game.
PICK: CALIFORNIA –1 OVER 38.5
Walk-On's Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, LA
Temple vs. Duke
Daniel Jones is listed as questionable for this game, and Duke really needs him to play if they want to win this game. Several draft experts have Jones listed as a first or second round pick, and after his poor performance against Wake Forest in Duke’s last game, Jones needs to put up a good showing. Temple is a team that will hurt his chances to maintain his draft stock. The Owls only allow 166 passing yards per game. Part of that stat comes from the opponents that Temple played. The majority of their opponents average more rushing yards than passing yards per game. We will need to wait until a decision is made on Jones, but if he plays, I like Duke.
PICK: DUKE+3 OVER 54
New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York, NY
Miami vs. Wisconsin
The season looked bright for Miami as they started with a pre-season rank of #8. This came from their 10-0 start in the 2017 season. They lost their last three games of last year, and this year they struggled with a mid-season slump where they lost four straight games. Now, they face off against Wisconsin in their bowl game for the second straight year. Last year, the Badgers defeated them in the Orange Bowl, but Wisconsin also struggled this year. Struggles at the quarterback position really hurt the Badgers, but Jonathan Taylor is still a beast who will run all over the Hurricanes.
PICK: WISCONSIN +3 UNDER 47.5
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX
Baylor vs. Vanderbilt
How can Baylor be eligible for bowl games given their recent sex scandal-riddled past? Even more to the point, why do we have to watch a game with two 6-6 teams? Both teams lost all four of their games against ranked opponents. Both teams allow over 400 yards per game. I’ll give the slight edge to Vanderbilt because they play a tougher schedule since they are in the SEC, but don’t torture yourself by watching this game.
PICK: VANDERBILT -4 UNDER 55
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN
Purdue vs. Auburn
Purdue making it to a bowl game in consecutive years is a pretty big deal. Gus Malzahn has taken Auburn to a bowl game every single year since becoming the head coach. Jeff Brohm announced he turned down his alma mater, Louisville, to remain the head coach of the Boilermakers. I think this news should propel Purdue to the win. Auburn has little to play for, and it might be difficult to get this team up for the game.
PICK: PURDUE +3.5 OVER 55
Camping World Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL
#16 West Virginia vs. #20 Syracuse
First game featuring two ranked schools. West Virgina was expected to be in this position with their superstar quarterback Will Grier; however, Grier is sitting out of this game to prepare for the NFL Draft. With him not playing, Syracuse has yet another chance to show up in a big spot this year. A win will give Syracuse a double-digit win total for the first time since 2001 when they went 10-3 with a win in the Insight Bowl.
PICK: SYRACUSE –2 UNDER 66.5
Valero Alamo Bowl at Alamodome in San Antonio, TX
#24 Iowa State vs. #13 Washington State
Washington State should be playing in the playoff on December 29th, but they couldn’t figure out a way to get past Washington during rivalry week. Gardner Minshew threw two picks in the game as the snow came down. Nevertheless, Minshew had an amazing season, and he should look to blow up against the Cyclones to make up for the poor performance against Washington. Iowa State will need to figure out a way to slow down the Air Raid offense, but I can’t imagine they will.
PICK: WASHINGTON STATE –3 OVER 56
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA
#10 Florida vs. #7 Michigan
Michigan blew it again against Ohio State which keeps them out of the playoff. The Wolverines are clearly the better team in this game, and it may be the best team that Jim Harbaugh has put on the field since taking over the team. This game goes one of two ways. First, Michigan can show up and play this game at full go to prove to themselves and their fans that they were one of the best teams in the country. Or, they realize that they have nothing to play for which allows Florida to sneak into this game and win against a superior team. Michigan has gotten up for several big games this year, and I expect them to do it one more time.
PICK: MICHIGAN -6 UNDER 51
Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC
South Carolina vs. Virginia
The Gamecocks have a big problem in this game, and his name is Bryce Perkins. South Carolina allows 199 rushing yards a game, and Perkins, along with Jordan Ellis, run for 170 yards per game. Perkins also throws for over 200 yards per game. South Carolina will need to figure out a way to stop the ground game without overcommitting because Perkins will beat them if their attack focuses on the pass or the run. I’m actually surprised that Virginia is the underdog in this game.
PICK: VIRGINIA +5.5 OVER 53.5
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, AZ
Arkansas State vs.Nevada
Quietly, Arkansas State made it to their eighth straight bowl game this season while Nevada is making their first appearance since 2015. I’m not sure if Jay Norvell has the Wolf Pack ready to win quite yet. He has done a good job of the turnaround with this team after 3-9 season last year in his first season. I think the consistency and experience of Blake Anderson and his staff will have Arkansas State better prepared.
PICK: ARKANSAS STATE +1 UNDER 56.5
College Football Playoff Semifinal
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX
#2 Clemson vs. #3 Notre Dame
When looking at these teams’ respective schedules, it would seem that Notre Dame is the better team. They played more ranked teams (Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Syracuse), and they beat them all. Clemson also won their games against the two ranked opponents that they played (North Carolina State and Boston College), but the schedule is deceiving. Of the two teams, I think Notre is over valued by the name recognition on their schedule. Teams like USC and Florida State sound like quality opponents; however, they had a combined record of 10-14, and neither team was bowl eligible. Clemson has become a mainstay in the college playoff. This is their fourth consecutive season in with two of the last three resulting in a championship berth. They are clearly the better team.
PICK: CLEMSON –12.5 OVER 56.5
College Football Playoff Semifinal
Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL
#1 Alabama vs. #4 Oklahoma
Alabama is clearly the best team in the country. It isn’t even close. With that said, I think that Oklahoma is being a bit undervalued. Kyler Murray might be running the offense better than Baker Mayfield did last year. He has fewer passing yards, but his ability to run the ball more than makes up for it. The Sooners’ defense will kill their chance at winning. They allow nearly 450 yards of offense per game, so Alabama will have a field day against them. I still think that 14 points is way too many points to give.
PICK: OKLAHOMA +14 OVER 76.5
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman at Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marines Corp Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD
Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Since taking over for the injured Josh Jackson, Ryan Willis has struggled to get the Hokies on a roll. Willis has gone 4-5 as a starter even though he managed to lead them to victories the last two weeks of the season. If I were Cincinnati, I’d think this game is a slap in the face. The Bearcats are a much better team than Virginia Tech (without Josh Jackson), so they have little to prove in the game. Michael Warren II will be dominant in this game.
PICK: CINCINNATI -5.5 OVER 53.5
Hyundai Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, TX
Stanford vs. Pittsburgh
Bryce Love is sitting out this game to prepare for the NFL draft which is surprising given his bad season. I would think he would want to go out with a bang after he had the worst season of his college career this year. He had a poor season, but without Love, Stanford will be even more one dimensional. Pittsburgh has a terrible defense; however, they should be able to run the ball down the Cardinals’ throat and control the clock.
PICK: PITTSBURGH +4.5 UNDER 52
Redbox Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA
Michigan State vs. Oregon
Oregon received great news this week with Justin Herbert announcing that he would return for next season. It’s a slightly shocking decision given the lack of quarterback talent in the draft. This game he will take on a tough Spartan defense. This game is actually two teams who are directly opposite, Oregon only plays offense and Michigan State only plays defense. Michigan State’s offense is so bad that they won’t be able to keep up at all with Oregon.
PICK: OREGON –2.5 OVER 48
Auto Zone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, TN
#23 Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
These teams are going in opposite directions. Oklahoma State went 2-5 down the stretch while Missouri went 5-2 during the same time. This game will feature a ton of passing yards, but I believe Drew Lock will take over this game. Missouri plays a little bit of defense which will put them over the edge in this game.
PICK: MISSOURI –9 OVER 75
Tax Slayer Gator Bowl at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL
North Carolina State vs. #19 Texas A&M
This game isn’t nearly as evenly matched as it looks. Texas A&M played one of the toughest schedules in the country this year. They played both #2 Clemson and #1 Alabama which accounted for two of their losses. The other two losses were road games against South Carolina and Mississippi State. This makes their 8-4 look much better than NC State’s 9-3. The Wolfpack isn’t on the Aggies’ level.
PICK: TEXAS A&M –7 OVER 56.5
San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA
#22 Northwestern vs. #17 Utah
This might be one of the best matchups of the bowl season. Northwestern’s lack of defense is a little scary, but the numbers might be skewed based on their hard strength of schedule. They played some of the best offenses in the country. Utah played an easier schedule. Three of their four losses came to Washington and Washington State. I think the Utes can take advantage of the weak defense.
PICK: UTAH –7 OVER 46
Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL
#18 Mississippi State vs. Iowa
After an amazing first starting as a sophomore a couple of years ago, Nick Fitzgerald has failed to progress. Instead, Mississippi State has relied on their defense to carry the load. They only allowed more than 20 points twice this season. This included holding Alabama to 24 points which were their lowest point total of the season. Iowa also leans heavily on their defense, but it isn’t nearly at the same level as the Bulldogs. This will be low scoring, defensive game.
PICK: MISSISSIPPI -7 UNDER 41
VRBO Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL
#14 Kentucky vs. #12 Penn State
What more does Mark Stoops have to do at Kentucky for people to start taking him seriously as a head coach? The Wildcats were ranked this season for the first time since 2009 and will be postseason ranked for the first time since 1984 which was the last time the team won nine games. Stoops’ defense has produced arguably the best defensive player in the country with Josh Allen who finished the season with 14 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss. This high-profile bowl game will be a coming out party for Stoops and the Wildcats. They might be a serious contender next season.
PICK: KENTUCKY +6.5 UNDER 46.5
Playstation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ
#11 Louisiana State vs. #8 Central Florida
The longest winning streak in the country will come to an end in this game. The Knights have put together 25 consecutive wins which is amazing no matter what conference they play in. Last season, they made the most of their bowl game by defeating Auburn who was ranked seventh at the time. This year, they have to do it without their best offensive weapon, McKenzie Milton. I don’t want to take anything away from Darriel Mack after his great comeback against Memphis in the conference championship game, but LSU is not Memphis. The Tigers are a solid team, and it would take a miracle for lower tier team with a backup quarterback to take them down. As long as they show up to play, LSU ends the streak.
PICK: LOUISIANA STATE -7 OVER 57.5
Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA
#9 Washington vs. #6 Ohio State
I’ve been pretty vocal with the fact that Washington wasn’t the best team in the PAC-12, but Washington State continued to look terrible against their in-state rival. So now, we get stuck watching a game that will be brutally one-sided. Ohio State must be disappointed with missing the playoff this year. That slip up against Purdue destroyed their chances. They will simply walk all over Washington in this game. I will be watching this game and hoping that Myles Gaskin takes advantage of the Buckeyes’ poor run defense. I’d like to see him put on a show prior to the draft process starting. This season has been a bit of a step back, but I still think he has a great career coming in the NFL.
PICK: OHIO STATE –6.5 OVER 56.5
Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA
#15 Texas vs. #5 Georgia
Georgia is another team that had a slip up in the middle of the year that kept them out of the playoffs. Their loss to LSU hurt their chances at the playoff, but they had a chance to still get in if they could have beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Nevertheless, Georgia is a dominant football team on both sides of the ball. Both of their losses came against ranked opponents. Honestly, they could have had better performances than either Oklahoma or Notre Dame; however, I still think the National Championship would have remained the same. I don’t' see Texas putting up much of a fight in this game.
PICK: GEORGIA -13 OVER 58.5
2019 National Championship Game
#1 Alabama vs. #2 Clemson
Round four of Alabama vs. Clemson is once again for the National Championship after they met in the semifinals last season following back-to-back championship game matchups. This year, we have a quarterback matchup of Trevor Lawrence, a freshman from Clemson, and Tua Tagovailoa, a sophomore from Alabama. Tagovailoa is sitting in the driver’s seat. Alabama is the best team in the country (again), and he won it for them last year in a remarkable relief performance against Georgia. Lawrence better goes back and watch the 2016 tape of the championship and try his best to channel his inner Deshaun Watson if Clemson hopes to win. I don’t like their chances though. Alabama will get their fifth title game in ten years.