2023-12-30 10:20

We are closing in to the last game of the season, but several bowls have to be played prior to that and most important, the participants have to be found in the College Playoff Semi-Finales.

But before that we have to review the played bowls of the past few days.

The THIRD SET OF BOWLs from next Wednesday, 27th to Friday, 29th of December.

Wednesday, December 27
Military Bowl Presented by Peraton
Virginia Tech vs Tulane

When you look at the final score, it seems Virginia Tech was the dominating team, but Tulane was close in every quarter (except the 4th), just not able to turn the game for good.
Both teams did commit several errors, most of the time turnovers, which did keep both team on the edge.
Over time did of course VT just accumulate too many points to really believe in a comeback of the Green Wave.
The 1st quarter went to VT 10:7, the 2nd 7:3.
In the 3rd did VT then have another 10:7 performance and at that point Tulane had one crucial fumble and on their next drive they had to play out the 4th down to stay keep the chance on a win alive, but failed.
The results was a 14:3 quarter for the Hokies and a 41:20 win overall.
Jacks BOWL Score: 14-7

Duke's Mayo Bowl
North Carolina vs West Virginia

In this game, North Carolina did not really like to play.
I believe they are a much better team, but just failed to click.
Virginia Tech was only in the 2nd quarter close to actually losing the game, when UNC did get their things together (after a series of errors) and scored a TD to close the gap to a 10:14 deficit.
But with less than 30 ticks left in the half did the Mountaineers manage to get a few longer plays and kicked for a field goal to walk off the field with a 17:10 lead.
All hopes for a Tar Heels comeback were likely already shattered when they ended their 1st drive of the 2nd half with an INT.
At the end did West Virginia manage the clock perfectly, limited UNC to ZERO additional points and scored on their offense 13 more to win 30:10.
Jacks BOWL Score: 15-7

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
#15 Louisville vs USC

This was an good example for a team with a start sitting out the bowl for the draft and becoming stronger.
The backup QB did just play for the chance and scored and scored and scored.
A USC team in THAT shape would have been at least a contender in the PAC-12, if not for the playoffs.
Louisville had no chance, lost the game seriously in the 2nd quarter, when USC did score 21 points, while limiting the Cardinals to just one score.
Leading 28:14 at the half, did then USC manage the game carefully and kept Louisville in the distance, winning 42:28.
Jacks BOWL Score: 15-8

Mercari Texas Bowl
Texas A&M vs #20 Oklahoma State

When you lose your starting QB on the 1st play of the game, you are in trouble.
A&M was already down a few starters, since they wanted to go for the draft or transfer (including the #1 QB), but it did then lose their #2 QB, who started, and the field was left for the backup-backup, who did play OK, but was unable to make enough offense pressure to overcome the Cowboys.
Down 6:24 at the half did then Texas A&M try to turn the game around, but was just unable to keep the Cowboys out of scoring range.
The deficit become smaller, but they would have needed a much better performance than a 3:0 4th quarter to win.
For Oklahoma State it ends one of their best seasons ever, even at least for me, it just does not feel that way.
Jacks BOWL Score: 15-9

Thursday, December 28
Wasabi Fenway Bowl
#24 SMU vs Boston College

It did not start well for SMU when they ended their 1st drive with a fumble.
The Eagles got a field goal out of that gift a few plays later.
Then came a period, where it did look like SMU got the game a bit better under control and was lucky that BC missed a FG and SMU scored 2 TDs, while BC only one.
As result did SMU lead 14:10 at the half.
The 3rd quarter was scoreless, because BC fumbled the ball away and SNU missed a FG a few drives later, and the rest was just defense.
When the Eagles got the ball back short before the 3rd quarter ended, they started a drive, which gave them the lead in the 4th.
And SMU tried on the next drive a 4th and 2 and failed, giving BC excellent field position.
They used that to score another TD and from that time on SMU was lost.
The Mustangs did try a lot, but failed to move the ball and had to give it away more than once, losing the game at the end 14:23.
For BC an end on a high note, for SMU a completely idiotic game, from my point of view.
Jacks BOWL Score: 15-10

Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl
Rutgers vs Miami

Man, this was a close game, but overall did Rutgers just commit less errors and scored a bit more often than Miami.
The game was more than once shifting and it did look Miami COULD show some of the potential so many had seen in them before the season, but in total did they too often just fail, and Rutgers won the game 31:24.
I hope both teams do find some more strength for next season.
Jacks BOWL Score: 16-10

Pop-Tarts Bowl
#18 NC State vs #25 Kansas State

All units did shine over the game periods, but more often did the Kansas State offense just play better than the NC State Defense.
On top came the fact that NC State committed too many errors, while KSU did nothing like that.
So at the end did the Wildcats win 28:19.
Jacks BOWL Score: 17-10

Valero Alamo Bowl
#14 Arizona vs #12 Oklahoma

I got my wish, Arizona DID win, but I did not trust them and picked the Sooners.
But the Sooners had many turnovers in the 1st half and Arizona did score on those positions.
Oklahoma still scored 2 TDs in the 1st half and did actually lead 14:13 before the break.
Then in the 3rd quarter did Oklahoma really look like the team I expected to see and made it to 24:13, when they lost a fumble and Arizona took that ball to the endzone and even scored a 2-pointer on top.
The Sooners got the ball back and then throwed an INT on the 2nd play, which Arizona used for a field goal, to tie the game at 24.
And then the game got out of hand for the Sooners, who had to punt, were unable to stop Arizona to score, lost a fumble on the next drive and did Arizona go to the end zone again.
They tried to get back into the game, but needed too long and were also not able to score, so they lost 24:38.
Jacks BOWL Score: 17-11

Friday, December 29
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
#22 Clemson vs Kentucky

I say, this was a really entertaining game, as long as you are a Clemson Tigers fan.
At 1st the game did not look too good for Clemson, they lost an early 3:0 lead by a Kentucky TD, scored a bit later to regain the lead, but were unable to stop Kentucky on the very next drive, so the lead was gone again, and the Tigers trailed 10:14 at the half.
Then did Kentucky got the ball on the kickoff for the 2nd half and returned it 100 yards to the house! Tigers now trailing 10:21.
After this a period of instability came, which must have frustrated both teams fans.
The Tigers has scored a TD to cut the deficit, tried a 2-pointer to get close to 3 points, but failed.
On the 3rd play on the next Kentucky drive did they lose a fumble and Clemson was back in the game with a chance to take the lead.
But in the 1st play of their drive they were intercepted! Chance lost.
Kentucky took the ball and gained some yardage but was intercepted also a few plays later and Clemson got a 2nd chance.
The Tigers only got a field goal out of this, but at least they were now close.
And Kentucky did ... fumble again on their next drive, which started the last phase of the game, which was an offense firework.
Big Play Tigers for a score and afterwards a 2-pointer, 27:21 Tigers.
Then 3 plays later a big play by Kentucky for a score, Kentucky ahead by 1 point.
Tigers got a long return but failed on offense and settled for a field goal, Tigers ahead 30:28.
Big Play by Kentucky and a bit more for a Touchdown, Kentucky ahead 35:30.
And with 2:40 left to play, Clemson finally did slower marched across the field and scored the game winning TD with 17 ticks left for the score of 38:35.
The desperate last Kentucky play was intercepted and that did end the game with Tigers taking a knee.
Jacks BOWL Score: 18-11

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
#19 Oregon State vs #16 Notre Dame

This can be described fast, because Oregon State was toothless for 3+ quarters and scored only in garbage time when they were already down 0:33 and only 6 mins left to play.
Why they did then play for 8 points in total is a mystery, but the final score was 40:8 for Notre Dame, which caps a quite successful season for the Irish and ended a great season for the Beavers with a bad bowl performance.
Jacks BOWL Score: 19-11

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Memphis vs Iowa State

Man, Iowa State was soooooo not ready for this game ....
Memphis did start 19:0 in the 1st quarter, when finally Iowa State started scoring and their defense joined the game, keeping Memphis to a field goal in the 2nd quarter.
At halftime it was Memphis leading 22:13.
Likely at that time the Cyclones fans had hoped for a slow turnaround to win this game, but when in the 3rd quarter Memphis scored another TD, while Iowa State did not, it was clear that Memphis won't go down easily, if ever.
Iowa State did score a bit later, but at that time Memphis had already scored twice, so the score was 36:20 after the Cyclones TD.
When Memphis was stopped afterwards and the field goal try missed, the Cyclone fans might have hoped again.
The Cyclones did score a TD, but failed the 2-pointer and gave Memphis the ball back with almost 10 mins left to play. Lots of time, right?
Only if you stop Memphis, fast enough.
But the Cyclones defense did fail to stop the Tigers on crucial plays and granted 1st downs like candy.
When finally Memphis was stopped, it was 4th and 2 on the Iowa State 2 yard line, still leading by 10 points with 42 ticks left to play.
Iowa State tried their best but failed and the game ended with a Tigers win, 36:26.
Jacks BOWL Score: 19-12

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
#9 Missouri vs #7 Ohio State

And the last game of this set was ... a defense battle and became only interesting in the last quarter.
Ohio State was able to kick a field goal in the 1st quarter after several drives of the Buckeyes and the Tigers to take the 3:0 lead.
And from that point onward it was punt for every drive until Ohio State did miss a field goal try in early in the 3rd quarter.
Then more punts until Missouri got the ball late in the 3rd quarter and started a drive, which did carry over to the 4th quarter and which was crowned by a Touchdown on the 1st play in the quarter!
Ohio State had to react and ... got nothing, punted.
And Missouri did manage to get another long drive constructed and ate away the clock, capped with another TD!
But still 5 minutes left to play, so Ohio State did get the ball and fumble the ball in Missouris half, which basically ended the game.
The Tigers did burn down the clock and the Buckeyes defense was incapable like the last 2 drives, so Missouri won 14:3.
Jacks BOWL Score: 20-12

And now the rest except the National Championship game.

The FOURTH SET OF BOWLs from next Saturday, 30th to Monday, 1st of January.

Saturday, December 30
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#11 Ole Miss vs #10 Penn State

@Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
In the rotation of the big bowls, the Peach Bowl is again an at-large vs at-large bowl, after last years semi-finale for the playoffs.
The bowl is played since 1968 and is played now inside the new home of the Atlanta Falcons.
The most participations since ever does have the SEC with 39 matches and of those 22 wins.
Second is the ACC, with 37 games, but only 15 wins.
The matchup this season is ... strange.
We have a quite defense driven Penn State team against a quite offense driven Ole Miss team.
Penn State did play a very good season, except they lost the 2 most crucial games, against Ohio State and against Michigan, so 10-2 right now.
Ole Miss had almost a similar season (10-2), by beating everyone, but the 2 SEC-Championship game teams, Georgia and Alabama.
It seems Vegas is favoring the defense, by making Penn State a 4.5-point favorite.
And not many do see Ole Miss winning here.
I think the most interesting matchup will be, the Ole Miss defense against the Penn State offense, since Ole Miss had a lot of issues on that side of the ball and did rely heavily on their offense to overcome that deficit, while Penn State did score often, but only against weaker teams.
So if Ole Miss can stop Penn State, this will be a long day, but if not, Ole Miss will have a hard time scoring often enough against that defense of the Lions.
My pick?
Ole Miss under Kiffin has a bad bowl record, while Penn State under Franklin is quite OK, so I do expect the Lions to be better prepared and motivated and to win this.
Nittany Lions win.

TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Auburn vs Maryland

@Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
This is played in the Tennessee Titans home stadium.
The bowl itself exists since 1998.
It's a ACC vs BIG10 vs SEC game bowl this season.
Also, here the SEC had the most teams send to the bowl so far, with a 9-14 record, including last seasons loss.
When I saw the final matchup, I thought 'god damn it, why such a boring matchup?'
Auburn did play a rollercoaster season (6-6) by winning easy game, almost winning tough games, losing easy games and almost losing easy game.
What to do with that stuff in a bowl?
And Maryland (7-5) started with 5 wins, lost then 4 in a row and made it to a bowl with those mixed results in the last 3 games by winning 2 of them.
Auburn is favored by 6.5 points, maybe also because the Terrapins starting QB did declare to skip the bowl for the draft.
But I think the main reason is, that Auburn did look like they would get their thing under the new HC together and that team did almost beat Alabama.
So ... quick and dirty ...
Tigers win.

Capital One Orange Bowl
#6 Georgia vs #5 Florida State

@Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Another season as at-large-bowl in the rotation of the big bowls for the playoffs.
It should feature a ACC/SEC/BIG 10/Notre Dame matchup, but I think at the end it's always what suits best.
The SEC has a 22-17 record here, including last years win. The conference has the most wins in this bowl.
But the record-holder for games is the old Big Eight conference (out of which in the mid-90s the BIG-12 was founded) with 42 games.
This is the game, many do look for.
Why? Because the whining Florida State (13-0) have to face the 2nd best SEC school (12-1).
Rumor is, when the committee did build the final list for the playoffs, the Bulldogs were at #5 and FSU at #6, but because of the political impact, to have a perfect season ACC-Champ BEHIND the 1-loss Bulldogs which did win only a division, the sorting was switched, which did still left the Seminoles out of the playoffs, but did at least sort them into the TOP5 of all Champs.
Well, now FSU can prove they would have belonged into the TOP4.
If they win here, the whining will get into overdrive.
Vegas does believe in Georgia and puts them into the favorite role with .... 20.0 points!
That's a lot. It was only 13.5 points at the start, which for me, as picking party here, was not enough.
But it did adjust.
Georgia wins.

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl
Toledo vs Wyoming

@Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
The Bowl exists since 2015 and is supposed to field a Mid-American team against a Mountain West team.
The contest is played on the home field of the Arizona Wildcats.
Quite new, the bowl did feature in all bowls so far (no contest in 2021) a Mountain West (8) team and they have a .500 record, including last seasons OT loss.
But in 2015 did TWO MWC teams fight against each other .... hmmm. How do you record that?
Well, Toledo (11-2) did win their division and did look like a big winner for the MAC Championship, but lost that game.
Wyoming (8-4) did play a good season, but lost crucial games inside the conference, which left them out of the championship game.
For the HC, it will be his last game of his career and I would assume the team will pay tribute to that and will play like hell.
Vegas favors the Cowboys, by 3.5 points, the ESPN community does favor the Rockets.
I personally got a big hit by the Rockets loss in the Championship game, against a Miami (OH) team, which now already lost to Appalachian State in a bowl game.
And as stated, the Wyoming players will be motivated, so I will not pick Toledo to win as MAC team against a Mountain West team, which wants their Coach to go into retirement with a bowl win.
Cowboys win.

Monday, January 1
ReliaQuest Bowl
Wisconsin Badgers vs #13 LSU

@Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Played in the home stadium of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this bowl exists since 1986. Until 2021 this was known as the Outback Bowl.
It's another BIG10 vs SEC bowl.
The SEC did participate 33 times, and won 19 of those games, including last years win, and vacated 1 win (LSU 2013).
The BIG10 had 34 games and won only 13 times.
This season we have the 7-5 Badgers against the 9-3 Tigers.
No question LSU is favored here to win, not only because of their record, but also because they had a much tougher schedule than Wisconsin.
The only good thing Wisconsin can bring on is a quite good defense, but they got 20+ points from Northwestern and Indiana and LSU should be much better, even without their Heisman winning QB.
Vegas has the Tigers ahead by 10.0 points, which is quite fair.
If the Tigers find their rhythm, those won't be enough as margin.
Wisconsin can only win here, if they limit LSU dramatically and find rare chances to score.
I don't believe in that.
Tigers win.

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl
#17 Iowa vs #21 Tennessee

@Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
The Citrus bowl was established in 1947 and does feature a SEC team vs a BIG10 team.
The stadium is only used for Citrus Bowl and this you-name-it-bowl (Pop-Tarts Bowl) and is also the home field of the XFL team Orlando Guardians since 2023.
Though the years did the SEC play 39 matches here and won 24, including last year. The BIG10 did play 31 games and won 13.
Tennessee (8-4) will play without their QB, who skips the bowl, but that should still be more than enough to just destroy Iowa.
The Hawkeyes (10-3) will have a hard time to score on offense, so maybe we will see something similar to the BIG10 Championship game, where the team did score not a single point.
For whatever reason is Tennessee only favored by 6.0 points.
Iowa can only win, if the defense steps up.
Volunteers win.

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl
#23 Liberty vs #8 Oregon

@State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
The Bowl exists since 1971 and is played in the home site of the Arizona Cardinals.
This season the rotation of the college Football playoffs made it the best-group-of-5 vs at large bowl.
Independent teams had played the most games here, 21, and won 10, but since the conference did rotate and the BCS- and CFP-rules did basically s e l e c t any team from any conference if ranked high enough, every power-5-conference did play here several games and even group-of-5-teams did already play here.
But Conference USA is new.
The PAC-12 has a record of 6-6-1.
Liberty did earn the spot by being declared the best group-of-5-team of the season, which a personally doubt. They have a good team, sure, but the BEST group-of-5-team, coming from the conference USA? Not SMU, not Tulane, not Boise State, not Troy?
OK, Liberty is 13-0, did win all games, their schedule did not even feature a bad power-5 team, nor a good power-5 team, just none.
And they play against the PAC-12-Championship-Game-loser Oregon (11-2), which did win several crucial games against contending pwoer-5 teams.
Vegas line? Oregon -16.5 Points.
Nuff Said.
Ducks win.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential
#4 Alabama vs #1 Michigan

@Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
A College Football Playoffs bowl, usually connected with the PAC-12 and the BIG10.
This season one of the semi-finales.
Played in the Rose Bowl stadium, home of the UCLA Bruins.
The Rose Bowl exists since 1902. The oldest bowl game of all.
Traditionally the PAC-12-Champ did play the BIG10-Champ, but this was abandoned when BCS and CFP were introduced, and other matchups had to be made possible.
Still, if possible, they try to have at least a PAC-12 vs BIG10 matchup (like last season), but this year it was of course not possible.
The PAC-12 has most played games in this, 101, with a record of 52-43-3, while the BIG10 has 73 with 34-39, including last years win.
All other teams together do come only to 44 games, 20-21-3.
The 1st semi finale is quite interesting.
Alabama (12-1) had lost at the start of the season against Texas, but did then win all games since then, won the SEC and somehow did jump into the playoffs over unbeaten FSU.
They are the underdogs in this game, by 1.5 points, because Michigan (13-0) did overcome all challenges and did beat even Ohio State without the HC.
I personally do not bet against Alabama here, since Nick Saban has proven then with preparation and time he usually can win such games.
But I expect a close game and would not be surprised by any winner, but I just can't ignore the Alabama resources here.
Crimson Tide win.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl
#3 Texas vs #2 Washington

@Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
The Sugar Bowl is this season the 2nd semi-finale in the CFP-series, and it is alive since 1935.
Usually, a BIG 12 team battles a SEC team, but also here is valid, invited is what fits best.
It's played in the home of the New Orleans Saints.
By far the SEC did send in the past the most teams, 81, and has a record of 42-38-1. That includes also teams on both sides.
Last year the SEC team won.
This semi finale is much more challenging.
Texas had some great wins, but lost once against the Sooners during the season. As BIG-12-Champ they got into the playoffs and are actually favored by 4.0 points here.
Washington on the other hand did win all games (13-0) and had to fight a lot of good teams.
The Huskies have a star QB, who might decide the game with his feet and improvisation.
Texas has proven they can win big games and I would not be surprised to see them winning here, but I do lean on the Huskies and their QB.
Huskies win.

That's for the 4th set of bowls.
When this is over, only the National Championship game is left to play.

'Til next time

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