2017-01-01 11:05

Here they are, the last previews of the bowls from season 2016 (and a bit 2017, as always).

Like so many years before and for sure in the future did some games happen as expected and some did deliver a surprise.
We will see, whether this season will have a few more surprises as usual, or less.

Before I start with the previews, first the reviews of the last few bowls.


Fri. Dec. 30 - 12:00 pm ET
Georgia vs. TCU

This was an open game until the end of the 3rd quarter.
Then did TCUs offense just sputtered and was unable to score.
TCU missed a 30 yarder field goal, while Georgia did score a TD after that and TCU was unable to get things going, which lead to a Horned Frogs defeat.
For Georgia, this season did end on a high note, while TCU will have to work a lot harder next season to get back to BIG12 elite status.
Georgia 31 - TCU 23 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 17-11

Fri. Dec. 30 - 2:00 pm ET
#18 Stanford vs. North Carolina

Stanford did lead at halftime 13-7.
In the second half did UNC come back, got again behind and was then caught up again by UNC.
With 25 second to go did UNC score a TD to get in reach of 2 points.
The obviously needed 2-point-conversion did fail and Stanford recovered the onside-kick to seal the game.
A good ending for Stanford, which was without their star rusher, a disappointing ending for the Tar Heels on a disappointing season.
They will have to work hard during the off season to stay in the hunt inside their division.
Stanford 25 - North Carolina 23 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 18-11

Fri. Dec. 30 - 3:30 pm ET
Nebraska vs. #21 Tennessee

Was this luck or just the demonstration of skills which did lead Tennessee to that win over Nebraska?
Fact is, the Vols QB Joshua Dobbs had a great game here, throwing for 291 yards and a score and rushing for 118 yards on top and 3 scores on the ground.
The Huskers were unable to stop him, they had no tools to prevent his improvisation talent and his skills to prolong plays beyond rational time.
I think the Huskers will have to ask themselves how they will improve their team inside the now highly competitive BIG10, while Tennessee will have to hope that they will find a replacement for senior Dobbs.
Nebraska 24 - Tennessee 38 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 18-12

Fri. Dec. 30 - 5:30 pm ET
South Alabama vs. Air Force

The Jaguars were totally on the same level as Air Force for one halftime.
The teams did split 21-21 into the locker rooms, with the 2nd quarter already featuring a strong effort by the Falcons to tie the game, with a TD, a forced Jaguars fumble and another TD before the half.
Then, with the next kickoff, was Air Force dominant until the end of the game, keeping the Jaguars out of the endzone and scoreless the whole 2 quarters, while the Air Force offense did add points after points.
They won by 24 points, beating the Vegas margin of 13.5 heavily.
South Alabama 21 - Air Force 45 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 19-12

Fri. Dec. 30 - 8:00 pm ET
#6 Michigan vs. #11 Florida State

Florida State was the better team this day.
They started strong, had a little down time during the game, but finished strong.
Halftime score? 20-6 for FSU.
Michigan then did start playing better and at middle of the 4th quarter was this an open game.
With a bit under 2 minutes to play was Michigan able to get the lead in the game, first time, now 30-27 Wolverines.
FSU did collapse on the kickoff coverage and allowed a 66 yard return.
Can you see Michigan’s HC being angry? He was for sure.
FSU did score a TD but was block on the PAT and the Wolverines did return it to the house! 33-32 for FSU now.
Michigan needed a FG to win the game, but the ensuing drive was picked off and FSU won the game.
You can't blame the loss on that missed and collapsed kickoff coverage, but that was crucial and might have prevented that loss.
Michigan will for sure be a player inside the BIG10 next season, as will FSU be inside the ACC.
Michigan 32 - Florida State 33 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 19-13

Sat. Dec. 31 - 11:00 am ET
#20 LSU vs. #13 Louisville

THAT was an impressive game by LSU and a disappointing last game in that season by Heisman winner Jackson.
LSU did hold the Cardinals, that offense which did drive up the scoreboard too often, to 3 field goal in the whole game.
I'm curious to see, whether LSU will be really competitive next season or whether that new marriage feeling with Orgeron will wear off during the off season, but right now the future does look promising.
The Cardinals will have Jackson back next season, so we might see another run of Louisville on the FSU and Clemson dominance next season.
LSU 29 - Louisville 9 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 19-14

Sat. Dec. 31 - 11:00 am ET
Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky

It did not help Kentucky to wake up in the 4th quarter, they should have played football the other 3 quarters also.
At the end of the 3rd quarter the score was 23-3 for GT.
Kentucky was able to score 15 points in the 4th, but was unable to prevent additional points by Georgia Tech, so they lost that Bowl game.
For Georgia Tech this is a season which is a good one, for Kentucky this has to be considered also a good one, even with that loss.
The Wildcats are not often a winning team, more known as Basketball team, and they do finish still 7-6.
Georgia Tech 33 - Kentucky 18 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 20-14

Sat. Dec. 31 - 3:00 pm ET
#4 Washington vs. #1 Alabama

Well, Washington had a good 1st quarter and then it went downhill.
The stunning Alabama defense did force a fumble, which lead to a Tide field goal and the defense also intercepted the Huskies later in the first half for a pick six.
Halftime score 17-7.
Then did not happen much, only that Alabama did score later another TD and Washington was forced to play catch up more and more which lead to another interception late in the game.
Alabama is still the best team in the FBS and is very likely the favorite to win it all.
For Washington the season did end not so good, but I hope the team does realize that this was a great season and that the program itself might work itself into something special.
Washington 7 - Alabama 24 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 21-14

Fri. Jan. 1 - 1:00 pm ET
#3 Ohio State vs. #2 Clemson

I was stunned when I saw the result.
Clemson was able to shut down the Ohio State offense totally! Zero points!
We now get a rematch of last season’s final and Clemson might have a chance to beat Alabama.
Ohio State was obviously not the right choice to play in this game, maybe Penn State would have been better, but that can't be changed anymore.
This is the second consecutive season where the BIG10 team was held scoreless in the Semi-Finales. Last season had Alabama shut down Michigan State.
Ohio State 0 - Clemson 31 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 21-15

Well, now to the last bowl games.


Mon. Jan. 2 - 1:00 pm ET
#17 Florida vs. Iowa

@Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, Fla.
This is played since 1986 and is fielded at the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the South Florida Bulls.
Another SEC vs Big Ten Bowl and each team gets around 3.500.000$.
Again a tough pick.
Iowa had a mid-level season after last great season and Florida did somehow win the SEC East as team not to fall too much this season, only to get beaten by rival Florida State and get slaughtered by SEC West champ Alabama.
I don't think Florida is a bad team and they should be able to play here a good game, but they are far from being #17 from my point of view.
Vegas has them as 3.0-point favorite and that's fine I think.
Iowa can win this with a good defense effort, like they did against Michigan or Nebraska.
My heart says the Hawkeyes will win this, but gut feeling is, Florida will squeeze out a close win here, based on a little luck and SEC magic.
Kirk Ferentz has lost the last 4 bowls with the Hawkeyes, which is not a good sign.
Jim McElwain has lost last season with Florida in a bowl.
So, which streak will end?
I pick the Gators to win in an ugly game.
Gators win.

Mon. Jan. 2 - 1:00 pm ET
#15 Western Michigan vs. #8 Wisconsin

@AT&T Stadium - Arlington, TX
This one exists since 1937.
It was named one of the 6 CFP-Bowls.
The payout is part of the CFP-system.
Last season it was a semi-finale, this season it's the non-power5-best-team vs. at-large matchup, featuring MAC-champ Western Michigan and BIG10-championship game loser Wisconsin.
A high scoring offense against a very good defense and also a good defense against a good offense.
Believe it or not, Vegas does respect Western Michigan a lot, making them only an 8.5-point underdog.
Remember, Washington is a 10+ points underdogs as #4 against Alabama.
I think they do give Western Michigan a bit more credit than they did deserve.
Sure they might surprise me here, but I doubt it.
The likely best team the Broncos have beaten in their season? Northwestern by a single point at season start.
Northwestern did then later, in mid-season, lose to Wisconsin by 2 scores.
It's never the same and you can't compare those results, but I just wanted to state the facts.
I doubt that Western Michigan can hold Wisconsin’s offense in check for 4 quarters.
And I doubt that the Broncos offense will crack the Badgers defense all day long.
I hope for an open game, but I expect a 2 or even 3 score margin win by Wisconsin.
Badgers win.

Mon. Jan. 2 - 5:00 pm ET
#9 USC vs. #5 Penn State

@Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA
The mother of all Bowls is played since 1902!
It was permanently installed in 1916 and is played since then.
It was the Big Ten Champion vs. the PAC12 Champion, but with the CFP-System it's either a semi-finale or as this season, just a bowl game fielding a BIG10 team vs. a PAC12 team.
The payout is part of the CFP-system.
Last season it was PAC12-Champ vs. BIG10-Championship-loser, this season it's BIG10-Champ vs. PAC12 South runner-up.
A good matchup, even if I would have taken other teams.
Penn State had a great season and a bowl win would be the icing on the cake.
Interesting was that the HC was a bit in discussion at the start of the season, but now he is the hero.
Same for USC, which did start not that good, but worked it's way back to the top, only to fall short a shot for the PAC12-Championship.
Well, there is always next season.
This game here might become a good one.
Penn State is a tough team and USC can open up the field and can move the ball, also against tough teams, so everything is possible.
Funny thing is, USC is a 7.0-point favorite here.
I give the BIG10 champ the pick here, not saying USC is chanceless, but honoring Penn States season inside a very competitive division and conference.
Penn State will have to play good defense to keep USC in check and it will lose, if they can't control the line of scrimmage.
They did do all that in the past, we will see, whether they are motivated to do this in the Rose Bowl.
A team like Penn State should not have a problem with that, but overall, those kids will play as they play.
Nittany Lions win.

Mon. Jan. 2 - 8:30 pm ET
#14 Auburn vs. #7 Oklahoma

@Mercedes-Benz Superdome - New Orleans, LA
This bowl was established 1935 and is played since then.
The payout is part of the CFP-system and it's only 1 of the Big6 bowls again this season.
What a lame matchup.
A 4-loss Auburn team gets that spot against a 10-2 Oklahoma team.
I'm not sure Oklahoma is deserving that spot also, but as BIG12 champ, well, probably.
Auburn did finish 2nd in the SEC West, while for example Colorado did finish in the PAC12-Championship game and did not get a Big6 Bowl spot.
But that bowl is a SEC vs. BIG12 bowl, so the selection team had to choose between Auburn and Florida, which was not really a choice.
So, Auburn in in, congratulation.
You are a 3.0-point underdog, which is nice by Vegas.
I would have set that margin to 7.0+.
If Oklahoma comes out firing with all guns, Auburn will get crushed.
But there is that Bob Stoobs factor.
His bowl record is 8-9 and he lost the last 2.
His team seems to have total failures in some games, often important games and there is no way to say, whether they suck in THIS game or THAT game.
I pick Oklahoma, hoping for the best.
But Tigers fans, you can hope for a meltdown, so don't despair.
Sooners win.

Tue. Jan. 10 - 8:00 pm
#2 Clemson vs. #1 Alabama

@Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, Fla.
I did not expect to have Clemson back in this game, so welcome back.
Alabama on the other hand was expected.
This is the 3rd title game under the new system of the college football playoffs and both teams are here the second time.
No Vegas line so far, but I will give you a line by myself, saying Alabama will win by 7.0 points.
Last season this was a 45-40 game, won by Alabama.
This season I think the Crimson Tide defense is much better, while their offense is likely as good as last season.
Clemson in the other hand had not shown much improvement compared to last season, only that Semi-Finale win was very impressive.
But for me, not impressive enough to believe that the Crimson Tide will fall.
Of cause everything is possible and if Clemson can do what basically no team was able to do this season, avoiding turnovers forced by that defense, then they can win this.
It will be a fun game, for sure.
Crimson Tide win.

'Til next time

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