On Saturday, #1 LSU took on #4 Oklahoma for the first spot in the National Title game. LSU completely destroyed OU, 63-28, in a game far worse than what the score would indicate.
On the way to victory, Joe Burrow broke several records, including passing touchdowns in the first half, 6 and 7 total for the game.
Clemson played Ohio State for the other finalist in the National Title game. They won a hard fought battle, 29-23.
Clemson will now play LSU for the National Title. The performance of LSU against Oklahoma clearly makes them the favorite in the National Championship Title game.
Now that the National Title game is set, we can look at the other games to be played on Dec 30 and Dec 31. These are ultimately games played for bragging rights. Quite often, there will be unexpected upsets because it can be who has the greater “motivation” that will result in winners. That said, let’s look at the games.
First Responder Bowl: Western Kentucky (-2.5) vs. Western Michigan
First year coach for Western Kentucky Tyson Helton did an admirable job, leading his team to victories over 4 ranked teams during the regular season while going 8-4. Arkansas transfer Ty Storey did good, leading the Hilltoppers to a 45-19 victory over his former team.
Western Michigan was 7-5 for the season, defeating MAC champion Miami of Ohio and Central along the way. The Broncos will be relying upon running back LaVante Bellamy, who rushed for 1,412 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.
Western Kentucky’s defense, ranked #6 nationally on third down plays, will be challenged to stop Bellamy, but must do so to win.
Western Michigan wins in an UPSET.
Music City Bowl: Louisville (-3.5) vs. Mississippi State
First year coach Scott Satterfield returned Louisville to winning ways with a 7-5 record and a Bowl game. He received ACC Coach of the Year honors.
Offensively, the Cardinals are in good shape going into this game, but the defense needs work.
Mississippi State had only a 6-6 record, but playing in the SEC will do that to a team. Look to Kylin Hill running the ball (1,347 rushing yards) and quarterback Garrett Shrader (587 rushing yards) to overshadow the Louisville big-play offense.
Mississippi State wins in an UPSET.
Redbox Bowl: Cal (-6.5) vs. Illinois
The Illini returns to a Bowl game for the first time in five years. Sporting a 6-6 record, the Illini had a signature win against Wisconsin, and an unexplainable signature loss against Northwestern. However, they do play in the Big 10 which had its share of quality teams, so 6-6 might be 8-4 elsewhere.
Illinois meets up with a Cal team that was less than stellar with a 7-5 record. They had no memorable wins in a conference that had only 2 quality teams, Oregon and Utah.
The Illinois defense with 28 takeaways and led by linebacker Dele Harding will be tested in this game like most other games. They must contain Cal quarterback Chase Garbers who has thrown for 1500 yards, 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Meanwhile the Illini linebacker Evan Weaver should prove a force for the Cal offense to contend with.
Illinois wins in an UPSET.
Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech (-3) vs. Kentucky
After a 2-2 start, Virginia Tech got into gear, finishing the season at 8-4, and losing the conference title in a hard fought game against arch rival Virginia. They come into this game with no signature wins, but having lost to Norte Dame by only 1 point in the regular season.
Kentucky finished the regular SEC season with a 7-5 record, losing to a bevy of better SEC teams. Now, they are 3 point underdogs against the Hokies.
Tech;s task is to contain Kentucky wide receiver Lynn Bowden who has 30 receptions for 348 yards and 1 touchdown, while slowing down the nation’s 4th best rushing team with 274 yards per game.
On offense, the Hokies must get their ground game in gear against a Wildcat defense that can pressure the quarterback and defend against the pass.
Give this one to Kentucky.
Kentucky wins in an UPSET!
Liberty Bowl: Kansas State vs. Navy (-1.5)
Navy is the Academy team to play in a Bowl game, with Air Force winning its game. Now Navy goes against the Big 12 team, Kansas State.
Kansas State enters this game with an 8-4 record and a signature win that handed Oklahoma its only loss. Navy was 10-2 with wins over SMU and Air Force.
Both teams are running teams who like to control the clock. Navy has the edge in defense, ranked #17 nationally in run defense versus Kansas State at 62nd. Much of this difference can be explained by the strength of schedule where Kansas State played tougher teams that Navy.
Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry has 1,027 yards passing with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, playing on a team which is mostly a rushing team. When on defense, watch for linebacker Jacob Springer who has 38 solo tackles and 8 sacks for the Midshipman. If Kansas State cannot control him, then Navy should win.
Navy wins and COVERS the spread.
Alamo Bowl: Utah (-7) vs. Texas
Texas entered the season with high hopes. They were ranked in the Top 10 and expected to fight for a Playoff position. Alas, those hopes were quickly dashed when playing LSU in their second game and they never recovered, finishing with a 7-5 record.
Utah started the season as Texas, with hopes of competing for a Playoff position after winning the PAC 12 title. This too came to an end with losses to USC and then Oregon in the PAC 12 title game, which probably cost them a Playoff position. They finished with a 10 – 2 record.
Utah now goes to the Alamo Bowl to play Texas, in a game that could well be considered a “home game” for the Longhorns. They enter as 7 point favorites.
Strength of schedule goes to Texas who has played and lost to Playoff teams LSU and Oklahoma, as well as Baylor, who lost to OU twice. Utah has only played Oregon, who finished at # 6 with two losses.
Texas ranks #127 against the pass. If the Utah team shows up that played most of the season, then they will prevail. If it is the Utah team that showed up for the PAC 12 title game, then Texas should win.
Texas wins 28-24 in an UPSET.
Arizona Bowl: Wyoming (-7) vs. Georgia State
What can you say about a Bowl game where each team lost three of their last four games and each had identical 7-5 records? Too many bowl games now being played would suffice.
Each team has a win against an SEC opponent, but Missouri and Tennessee were not the quality teams of days past.
Wyoming ranked 6th nationall in rushing yards allowed and 27th in rushing offense. Xazavian Valladay ran for 1000 yards for the Cowboys with 5 touchdowns. Against Georgia State’s 116th ranked run defense, Valladay should have solid success.
Georgia State quarterback Dan Ellington threw for 2,291 yards, 27 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He will need a career day against Wyoming for State to win.
Wyoming’s defense contains the Georgia State offense.
Wyoming wins and COVERS the spread.
Sun Bowl: Arizona State (-5.5) vs. Florida State
Florida State goes into the game with a 6-6 record, having lost to Clemson, Florida, Boise State and Virginia, all ranked teams at one time or another. Arizona State is 7-5, having played and lost to Utah and Oregon.
Arizona State is led by Freshman Quarterback Jayden Daniels who passed for 2,748 yards, 17 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. His favorite targets are Brandon Aiyuk (who is sitting out the game for the NFL) and Frank Darby. Daniels threw for 408 yards against Oregon and needs another performance like that to make up for the lack of a real rushing game.
Running back Eno Benjamin will join Daniels in the backfield and needs to perform well enough to take the pressure off of Daniels.
Florida State is normally led by junior running back Cam Akers who rushed for 1,114 yards and 14 touchdowns. He will be sitting the game out in preparation for the NFL draft. The Seminoles will need to rely on defense to stay in this game.
Arizona State wins and COVERS the spread.
Next up will be the New Year’s Day games.