26 Dec 2020 CFB Bowl Tracker With Picks
2020 CFB Bowl Tracker
Welcome to our 2020 CFB Bowl Tracker. I will be updating these as the games approach, and keeping a running tally of the results as well. My algorithm factors in several key components of the matchups between the two team’s style, pace, and recent trends. For reference, I always like to get to half points, or traditional football combinations. So if you see a pick that doesn’t match the line, assume points were purchased. Also bear in mind I am giving a pick for every single Bowl game, regardless of if I love the odds/matchup or not. This will alter the overall W/L number. Make sure to check back before kickoff, and if you are looking to wager please be responsible. You can activate a new account with MyBookie and get a nice sign up bonus matching your deposit with our XTB access code. Just click the link below. Best of luck!!
2020 Bowl Record: 13-15 full bowl schedule listed at bottom
CFP National Championship
Monday January 11, 2021 – 8pm on ESPN
Alabama -8.5 (75)
#1 Alabama (12-0) vs #3 Ohio State (7-0)
It feels like forever that we last saw College Football, but it was just a week ago, and tonight we now get the climax to the season and crown a new champion. I’ve been going back and forth on this for a while, but today we cannot procrastinate any longer. My model has it as a 38-31 Alabama victory, and the line hasn’t really moved much since an initial adjustment. After watching the Buckeyes dismantle Clemson (who dismantled Notre Dame), you would think this is easily in line for a one score game, and to take the free points Ohio State affords you. That’s the great thing about gambling… the obvious is never the obvious! In this case I have to stick to the model. Jaylen Waddle is a game time decision, possibly returning after a 7 game layoff with a fractured ankle. I believe he will wind up playing in this game, even if in a limited capacity. It has the potential to disrupt the Alabama offensive flow, just enough to stall a few early drives, especially if they are trying to force feed him to get his timing back. Could he have a seamless return, and Bama routs the Buckeyes? Of course. But I’ll give credit to Ohio State not being afraid of this stage, and the recent ground surge led by Trey Sermon to continue. Overs have gone 14-11 this Bowl season, and coincidentally favorites have the exact same mark of 14-11. Still, 75 feels like a ton, and falls short of the models projection. I’ll stick to what it says for this one. Thanks to all who have been following this thread, and hope it provided some entertainment and insight. Best of luck with this one!
Pick: Ohio State +8.5 and/or Under 75.5
Myrtle Beach Bowl
Monday December 21, 2020 – 2:30pm on ESPN
Appalachian State -21 (66.5)
Final score: Appalachian State 56-28
North Texas (4-5) vs Appalachian State (8-3)
Both teams enter this bowl having won 3 of their last 5, but in far different fashion. The Mountaineers have been running at will and have averaged 215 yards on the ground over their last three. Meanwhile, the Mean Green have been getting run over to the tune of 309 yards allowed per contest. Appalachian State is the better team, and should be able to handle this North Texas squad in convincing fashion. The model has this as Appalachian State winning 42-22. But, in games like this, with teams like this, I can’t ignore this many points.
Pick: North Texas Mean Green +21.5 L
Recap: In hindsight, even with the loss, I still think this was the right play. I said North Texas was a sieve against the run, and they proved that by allowing an insane 502 yards on the ground – including 319 on 23 carries with 5 TDs to sophomore Camerun Peoples. He definitely Came to run and is one to watch heading into 2021. Despite all of that, North Texas controlled possession by 15 minutes, had less penalties, converted 8 more first downs, and only committed one turnover (albeit a big one). Still, TD runs of 70, 64, and 62 are never going to be easy to beat, and that was what did them in.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Tuesday December 22, 2020 – 3:30pm on ESPN
Tulane -1.5 (56.5)
*Line has moved ~2 points towards Nevada and the over*
Final score: Nevada 38-27
Tulane (6-5) vs Nevada (6-2)
This is my favorite line of the first few games to open Bowl Season. Not only has Tulane been winning of late, but they have been doing it in convincing fashion. Their only defeat in the last five games was a double OT loss to Tulsa, who just took Cincinnati to the brink. This Green Wave team is a good squad, and Nevada has been getting torched in the passing game. My model pegs this as an 11 point Tulane victory, with a final score of 32-21. It’s not enough to like the total, but sign me up for a strong play on the Green Wave.
Pick: Tulane -1.5 L
Recap: This was definitely not the same Tulane team of the past 5 weeks. The Wolf Pack defense was menacing all night, chasing Michael Pratt for 8 sacks. Nevada came into the contest with just 15 team sacks in their 8 game season, and produced 8 in one night. That was the difference. A few times Tulane looked like they were going to get back in it, only to be intercepted twice, including two in the red zone. Nevada QB Carson Strong, who is one to watch in the NFL Draft process next year, put forth his finest game of the year tossing 271 yards with 5 TDs and no turnovers.
Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl
Tuesday December 22, 2020 – 7pm on ESPN
BYU -6.5 (76)
*Line has moved 4 points towards the total*
Final score: BYU 49-23
BYU (10-1) vs UCF (6-3)
Both of these teams come in pretty hot, having each won 4 of 5, and both only suffered losses to ranked teams. UCF fell to Cincinnati by 3, and BYU succumbed to Coastal Carolina by 5. While home field in 2020 is far less meaningful, I will point out UCF lost at home, and BYU on the road. The Cougars also hold a decent edge in strength of schedule, and have an advantage in the passing game. The Knights give up nearly 100 more yards per game thru the air over their last three. The model has this as a 6 point BYU win, but there is enough here to want the TD margin. The safest play might be the under, which at 60 is well below the line.
Pick: BYU -6.5 W and/or Under 76.5 W
Recap: And there it was… 425 passing yards from BYU QB Zach Wilson, evenly dispersed amongst 5 receivers all with 60 or more receiving yards. Sprinkle in 176 yards on the ground from RB Tyler Allgeier, and this was a drubbing right from the start. The total opened at 72, which amazed me to see it climb 4 points by kickoff. They had it right all along! Either way, both BYU and the total covered, finally getting on the board this Bowl Season and evening the record at 2-2.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Wednesday December 23, 2020 – 3pm on ESPN
Georgia Southern -6.5 (48)
Final score: Georgia Southern 38-3
Louisiana Tech (5-4) vs Georgia Southern (7-5)
We’ve seen several noticeable performances from Running Backs in recent days, and this has the makings of another one. Dual threat QB Shai Werts leads an Eagles team that is averaging 256 on the ground over their last three, and 262 per game on the season. LA Tech has been allowing over 275 on the ground per contest, setting this up to be a blowout. Werts has been injured and may miss this one, but the distribution on the roster has been fairly even amongst five Running Backs. LA Tech is also with their backup QB. The model pegs GASO as an 18 point favorite at 37-19, which is also well above the total.
Pick: GASO -6.5 W and/or Over 47.5 L
Recap: Talk about bad luck! Uggh, we were so close to the sweep. The model came out aces with the predicted blowout, but it couldn’t account for LA Tech’s ineptitude at the quarterback position. Starter Aaron Allen threw three interceptions, including two in the end zone. When they finally made the change it was too late. JD Head looked much better, but needed a little more time. He almost came through with a miraculous TD throw with 0:02 seconds left on the clock. But, it was ruled incomplete as the ball hit the ground. Shai Werts not only played, but was really good in leading the offense. Hoping you just played the line and not the total here.
Wednesday December 23, 2020 – 7pm on ESPN
Memphis -9 (52.5)
*Line has moved 3 points towards the total*
Final score: Memphis 25-10
Memphis (7-3) vs Florida Atlantic (5-3)
These two teams have risen to national prominence over the last few seasons, most notably due to their prolific coaches in Lane Kiffin and Mike Norvell. Both have moved on to bigger programs, and if you’re expecting to see an explosive high octane offensive shootout, you’re going to be disappointed. The Owls bring a sack happy defense, and will keep this close, but the Tigers combo of QB Brady White to WR Calvin Austin will be too much to contain. They have enough juice to cover the two score line in what should be a low scoring affair, projected at 26-16 in the model.
Pick: Under 52.5 W
Recap: Exactly the win we needed, and the model had this predicted almost exactly to a tee. A brief scare to open the second half with FAU putting up 10 quick points, but both teams went scoreless in the 4th quarter and no harm was done. I originally had both the spread and total up, but decided to pull it based on how close it was to the prediction. Sacrificed another win, but we’ll take it nonetheless. Congrats to Memphis QB Brady White who completes his Tigers career with a Bowl win, 284 yards, and 3 TDs. He most certainly will continue playing somewhere as a professional, although more than likely in a backup role.
New Mexico Bowl
Thursday December 24, 2020 – 3:30pm on ESPN
Houston -9.5 (60)
*Line dropped 3 points towards Hawai’i*
Final score: Hawai’i 28-14
Hawai’i (4-4) vs Houston (3-4)
This is a surprisingly close matchup across the board for these two teams. Houston may be the most affected program in college due to covid, with a total of 8 games they had interrupted. It doesn’t exactly look right to see a team with a losing record in a Bowl game, but that is just something we are going to have to accept this year. I mentioned these two teams are matched up extremely close, but Houston holds a significant edge in their strength of schedule. Overall, I do believe they are the better program, and they should easily win the ground game and control special teams. The model projects this to be a 35-23 Cougars win, however I would prefer to get it under the 10 point mark. The total is entirely too close to entertain. Line has dropped to exactly where we want it at HOU -9.5
Pick: Houston -9.5 L
Recap: This one hurt. We knew Houston was not going to be at full strength, but in the midst of running around for last minute Christmas Eve needs, I did not get a chance to pick up on the Cougars almost not being able to field a team! A boatload of players missed this one for various reasons, and the line fell to -6.5 right before kickoff. They were almost able to show how superior they are as a program, and mounted a comeback that started out making the second half look it would be theirs. If you follow me on twitter, I will take solace in pounding the table for the Under, which did come true. That win won’t show up on this stat sheet, but it still exists.
Friday December 25, 2020 – 2:30pm on ESPN
Buffalo -4.5 (54)
Marshall (7-2) vs Buffalo (5-1)
Final score: Buffalo 17-10
Buffalo should be pissed! Hell, I’m pissed for them. The Bulls have emerged as one of the better small school programs over the last decade, producing a few NFL players led by Khalil Mack. They have another one in XTB friend, Running Back Jaret Patterson, who was on pace for a 2,000 yard and 40 TD season – had the team played a full schedule. He was injured in the 3rd quarter of the MAC Championship, lending to a Bulls loss to a talented Ball State team. It was enough to trip up their undefeated season. They should be pissed, and playing with a chip. The model likes them to cruise to a 33-23 victory. Their staple is the run, and Marshall is pretty stout against it. Not sure about a ten point margin, or this total, but they should be able to cover this line.
Pick: Buffalo -4.5 W
Recap: This turned out to be arguably the most boring game of this Bowl season. Jaret Patterson did not suit up, but Buffalo was able to run his backup Kevin Marks for 138 yards and the late TD that was enough to push this to a win. These two teams entered this game averaging over 80 points per contest combined, and couldn’t even get to half of that in this one.
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Saturday December 26, 2020 – 3:30pm on ABC
Louisiana -13.5 (54.5)
Final score: Louisiana 31-24
#19 Louisiana-Lafayette (9-1) vs Texas-San Antonio (7-4)
Two high powered programs that have been rolling. For every feel good Coastal Carolina, Cincinnati, and even BYU article you read, the Ragin’ Cajuns have every argument to be right there in the same conversation. In fact, their only loss came to Sun Belt Conference rival Coastal Carolina, and that decision came from a field goal late in the 4th quarter. This is a dangerous team, and they should be playing with a chip on their shoulder. It makes you want to believe they should cover two scores and blow the lid off this one. But, the model has this as a 36-23 ULL victory for a reason… the Roadrunners can score as well, led by sophomore Running Back Sincere McCormick. I know my friend and former Cajun Running Back Emory Hunt will be watching this with a ton of interest, however, I don’t want to get in the weeds of the spread here, because it feels like a major trap. I will say these two teams should combine for tons of fireworks in a high scoring and entertaining tilt.
Pick: Over 54.5 W
Recap: After what turned out to be a boring Buffalo/Marshall game, I could not wait for this contest to kick off. As I mentioned in the preview, I really like Louisiana as a powerful mid-major team, and San Antonio is no slouch either. The two teams didn’t disappoint, and after a slow first half were able to pick up the scoring a tick in the second, to deliver literally exactly what we needed. In fact, this game was so close to the line that it went down to 54.5 for a few hours before kickoff, which was the window we needed. An announcer jinxed missed 42 yard FG from one of the best in the nation Hunter Duplessis would have done the trick, but regardless, we cleared the hurdle and sweat the W. Sincere McCormick rumbled for a total of 23 carries and 122 yards.
Lending Tree Bowl
Saturday December 26, 2020 – 3:30pm on ESPN
Georgia State -3.5 (49.5)
Final score: Georgia State 39-21
Western Kentucky (5-6) vs Georgia State (5-4)
This is a very interesting matchup for me of two teams that have been trending in different directions. The Hilltoppers come in on a three game winning streak, where they have increased their rushing yards per game by nearly 40 per contest. Georgia State has won two straight, and over their last three games have been averaging 60 more passing yards per game than their season average. Western Kentucky’s defense has been playing much better, which not only should keep this total low, but keep them in the game for the possible upset. My model projects this to finish as a 23-21 Western Kentucky victory, making a parlay of the spread and total very tempting. Georgia State sophomore Wide Receiver Sam Pinckney is one to watch in this game.
Pick: Western Kentucky +3.5 and Under 49.5 L
Recap: Full disclosure: I did not watch a single live down of this game, only the game-cast. Way off on both! Looks like Georgia State was +14 their pace in the 2nd quarter, which came as a result of three straight drives finding the end zone – two from intercepting Western Kentucky. If those points are not there this would have made much more sense, and would have remained in the hunt. At least I called this as a parlay that totally failed, keeping this to just one loss on the ledger. My guy Sam Pinckney tallied 3 catches for 62 yards and a TD, but QB Cornelious Brown IV was the real story, chucking for 232 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT. On to the next.
FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl
Saturday December 26, 2020 – 7:30pm on ESPN
Coastal Carolina -7 (59.5)
Final score: Liberty 37-34
Liberty (9-1) vs #12 Coastal Carolina (11-0)
This is the game many have circled amongst all of the Bowl games. The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina have become the darling Cinderella team of the 2020 season, and take an undefeated record into Orlando. Many wanted to see Coastal in the Top 10, and some even argued for the National Playoff, but this is still a terrific matchup against a very talented Liberty team led by coach Hugh Freeze. In fact, you can make almost as strong of case for Liberty being the popular choice to root for. The two teams look like carbon copies on paper, in every statistical category, including record against the spread. This level of closeness is too much to ignore a 7 point margin, to which I will gladly take the Flames, as the model projects this to be decided by a Field Goal with a 28-25 outcome. That is enough to fall almost a full touchdown below the total, so I will take both the spread and total in this affair. Two balanced and efficient offenses, but keep tabs on Coastal Carolina Wide Receiver Jaivon Heiligh.
Pick: Liberty +7.5 W and Under 59.5 L
Recap: Not always do hyped up games live up to their billing, but, this one certainly held its own. Of course I’m disappointed with splitting, the record now sitting at an even 6-6 after a week of Bowl games. It will get better. It has to get better. We have another 17 games left this week to go! I told you this one would be close, and not to discount Liberty, and that rang true. I told you to watch for WR Jaivon Heiligh, and all he did was catch 13 balls for 178 yards. Check, and check. That damn total tho! QBs Malik Willis and Grayson McCall were not having any of it, as both put on monstrous rushing performances. They proved plenty capable of slinging downfield, but they were doing whatever they wanted on the ground. Both of these guys are going to be very intriguing draft prospects, and I hope the Auburn transfer Willis returns for another season. McCall still has one year to go at minimum.
Malik Willis brought the fire with the Liberty Flames
357 Total Yds
4 TDs pic.twitter.com/QuWqNnEiLJ
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 27, 2020
Tuesday December 29, 2020 – 5:30pm on ESPN
Oklahoma State -1.5 (62)
Final score: Oklahoma State 37-34
#21 Oklahoma State (7-3) vs #18 Miami (8-2)
We got a nice little two day break to recover from Round 1 of Bowl Season, plus digest our Christmas meals, but now were in the home stretch and the big boys are coming out to play. Two ranked teams lead us off, and while some big names for the NFL Draft have opted out, there is still a lot of star appeal to look for – most notably Miami QB D’Eriq King, who has announced he will return to Coral Gables next fall. King should be the best player on the field, and full disclaimer I am personally a Canes fan, but I truly believe Miami has once again began to recruit well and has a much deeper roster. The Hurricanes lived on the Defensive Line this season, and not only did they get trounced by North Carolina’s dynamic duo, but they now are without their two studs Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche, both of whom opted out of the bowl for the draft. RB Dezmon Jackson has filled in more than admirably for Chuba Hubbard, and WR Tylan Wallace will be looking to end his college career with a bang. All in all, while Miami has the deeper pool of talent, it is not all molded yet. Oklahoma State should have more rhythm, and the model projects them to be a 31-28 victor, making them the play in what essentially has become a Pick’Em.
Pick: Oklahoma State ML -115 W
Recap: The win is in, and the model was spot on for the spread with a 3 point OK State victory. I hate going against my Canes, but even worse was seeing D’Eriq King suffer a knee injury. On the plus side, N’Kosi Perry was more than admirable filling in, but Cowboy QB Spencer Sanders was the real story, tossing 300+ yards with 4 TDs and zero INTs. We didn’t get nearly the running games I expected, nor the Tylan Wallace big finish. Stud Miami TE Brevin Jordan certainly made himself some money, as he vies to be the second at the position taken in the NFL Draft behind Kyle Pitts. Jordan hauled in 8 passed for 96 yards and 2 scores. Add that to his regular season finale of 6-140-1 versus North Carolina, and he is entering draft season on quite the high note.
Tuesday December 29, 2020 – 9pm on ESPN
Texas -7.5 (64.5)
#20 Texas (6-3) vs Colorado (4-1)
Final score: Texas 55-23
I happen to like Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger. He is a fringe NFL arm for me, and while he has spread the ball nicely to his top three receivers, his O-Line is in shambles heading into this one. Make no mistake, Texas is the better team, even though Colorado is not a slouch. Coach Tom Herman has gone from one of the most sought after college coaches, to on the way out. He needs this win to buy some more time in Texas, and his undefeated Bowl record should be a confidence boost. The model pegs this as a 34-26 Longhorns victory, coming in just shy of the total, and what would look to be in the Buffaloes favor. However, Texas has blown teams out and has the core of their offense in tact. Buffalo has a shinier record, but they have let inferior teams hang around. I am pretty comfortable deviating from the model to take Texas -9.5 in this contest, which could get ugly. There’s just not enough firepower for Colorado to keep pace with Texas, making the Under a viable option as well.
Pick: Texas -6.5 W and/or Under 64.5 L
Recap: If you just played the line, you did well. The blowout I anticipated came to fruition, as Texas freshman RB sensation Bijan Robinson totaled 220 yards and 3 TDs. The total was well on pace to come in with the under, and then felt even better when Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Wrong! Backup sophomore Casey Thompson came in and torched the Colorado secondary, tossing 170 yards for 4 TDs, which included a 73 yard strike. He had the offense clicking for 38 second half points from Texas alone, nearly shattering the game total by themselves. Robinson was the real story in this one, and figures to be a prominent name on the national scene for many years to come.
Duke’s Mayo Bowl
Wednesday December 30, 2020 – 12pm on ESPN
Wisconsin -9.5 (51.5)
Final score: Wisconsin 42-28
Wake Forest (4-4) vs Wisconsin (3-3)
This game has taken a turn in the lead up to kickoff. While the line has moved nearly 3 points in the Badgers favor, the total has dropped 2, and we have no idea who is playing quarterback for Wisconsin. Freshman (sensation) Graham Mertz is questionable, and hasn’t nearly be the same since his debut. Stalwart Jack Coan is unavailable, having just entered the transfer portal. And, to top thing off, this is not the Wisconsin teams you typically think of with a strong run game. The Defense is still imposing, especially against the run, and Wake is without it’s most efficient rusher Kenneth Walker III and his 13 TDs. That leaves things to the duo of QB Sam Hartman and WR Jaquarii Roberson. The model has this as a 31-20 Wisconsin win, which makes me squeamish looking at the spread. However, with the uncertainty of Wisconsin’s QB + their Defense, I do think this could be a dry low scoring affair.
Pick: Under 51.5 L
Recap: Ave Maria, why don’t you just serve this one on a silver platter to the Badgers. Wisconsin did nothing special in this one. Literally. Not so sure you could call their defense heroic or fortunate, as Wake Forest handed the ball over on FOUR straight possessions, three of which resulted in Wisconsin TDs. Couple that with a late meaningless TD from the Demon Deacons with two minutes on the clock, and there are your unforeseen 28 points. The play was right, and this should have come in way under, but we get this shocking total instead. This is the game we play breaking down the games they do. Back to the drawing board, onto the next. Jaquarii Roberson was special in this one, compiling 8 receptions for 131 yards and 3 TDs. My player of the game.
Wednesday December 30, 2020 – 8pm on ESPN
Oklahoma -8 (65.5)
Final score: Oklahoma 55-20
#7 Florida (8-3) vs #6 Oklahoma (8-2)
Well, this is will be a big disappointment for fans who were looking to see Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney for Florida. It is such a hit, that the Gators went from 3 point favorites to -4.5 underdogs, and now -8. When you consider that those two combined for 23 of Florida’s 56 TDs, taking away 41% of the offense is going to sway things significantly. Kyle Trask will still be under center, but I fear the shakeup won’t help his prospect status. In the red corner, Sooner freshman QB Spencer Rattler has been as good as advertised. The OU defense, despite being a Big 12 team, has played solidly all season and limited opponents scoring. Florida is still a deep, talent laden SEC program, but Oklahoma can make those same claims. This won’t be the matchup we wanted, and I can see this getting out of hand. The adjusted model has a 34-17 Sooners surge, which is significantly below the total, and well ahead of the spread. I like a surprise parlay with this one.
Pick: Oklahoma -6.5 and Under 65.5 L
Recap: Where to begin? Should it be with the fact we knew Florida wasn’t at full strength, or the fact that they were so out of sorts they maybe should have skipped this game all together? Everyone (literally everyone) knows of the 3 interceptions Kyle Trask threw in the first quarter. One was a pick-6. The backbreaker though was the Gator defense showing little effort, horrible recognition, and porous tackling on defense. They were giving up big plays left and right that I think even Oklahoma was surprised at how easy it was. Rhamondre Stevenson > 18 carries, 186 yards, 1 TD. That is an insane average of 10.3 ypc, which is surprisingly somehow lower than the team average of 10.9 ypc on their way to rushing for 435. I’m excited to see him in a few weeks at the Senior Bowl. I’m distraught about dropping below .500 with the record. I can’t even call these picks ‘average anymore!
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Thursday December 31, 2020 – 12pm on ESPN
Mississippi State -1 (46)
Final score: Mississippi State 28-26
#24 Tulsa (6-2) vs Mississippi State (3-7)
A matchup I was excited to see, is getting knocked down a little bit today. First and foremost, Tulsa is a tough and competitive team that has earned its ranking. They deserve to be here, and are better than the casual fan realizes. However, standout LB Zaven Collins has opted out, and the weather is set to be brutal with a heavy downpour and winds. Those two factors have dropped the line almost 2 in Mississippi State’s favor, and the total has fallen almost 5. Coach Mike Leach is starting to get the Bulldogs rolling in the Air Raid, and I would suspect to see both QBs KJ Costello and the freshman Will Rogers in this one. Rogers has been the more prolific of the two, is the future, and will be putting up huge numbers. But not yet, not today, not with everything mentioned above. The model, without those considerations, has it as a 30-21 Tulsa victory. The one thing the model hasn’t accounted for in these Bowl games is the number of turnovers, and more specifically points scored off those turnovers. These two teams combined have covered today’s total 10 of 18 times. Tulsa has done it 6 of 8, and Mississippi State has done it 4 of 10, although 3 of those were within a field goal of this number. It feels too easy, and I hope it’s the case.
*Line has continued to move and now favors Mississippi State, and add 2 to the total*
Pick: Over 44.5 W
Recap: The day starts off exactly as planned (hoped)! Sharps were on this one with Mississippi State eking out a two point victory. The game sailed over after a sluggish first half, but 41 total points in the second helped us cruise to the win. Game honors have to go to Tulsa senior WR Keylon Stokes, who wraps up a productive career with 9 receptions for 117 yards with a TD. The rain proved to make conditions sloppy, and the vaunted Tulsa defense had Will Rogers looking like the true freshman QB he is.
Offerpad Arizona Bowl
Thursday December 31, 2020 – 2pm on CBS
San Jose State -9.5 (64)
Final score: Ball State 34-13
Ball State (6-1) vs #22 San Jose State (7-0)
Such a tough contest to call between two programs that collectively are really good, but individually don’t have a lot of star talent. I have fallen in love with the Aztecs this season, particularly their defensive unit, which is uniquely fluid and blended into one. They work magnificently together and have been the catalyst for what the team has produced, which is the schools best record in history. I think the lure of finishing undefeated is enough to serve as motivation for sixty minutes, but Ball State will be a tough out. They are equally talented, albeit a bit more of a balanced attack led by the offense, but nonetheless a really good team. This might be the first Bowl game we see that resembles the regular season a little bit more. San Jose State wears opponents down over the course of the game, and while they have won every game by double digits, have not had a single contest go above today’s total. I think that trend continues.
Pick: Under 64.5 W
Recap: It was a double digit victory, but not the one expected. Yes, Ball State is as good as was advertised here, but wow this was an upset of a blowout. They started early, jumping all over the Aztecs for 27 first quarter points. It was never really a game again after that. The Cardinals offense was what I thought would help them, but their defense was the key, intercepting Nick Starkel 3 times, including a pick-6. Ball State’s offense was led by RB Will Jones and WR Yo’Heinz Taylor. I’m not surprised with the winner, I am just surprised by the fashion in which it happened.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Thursday December 31, 2020 – 4pm on ESPN
West Virginia -7 (41)
Final score: West Virginia 24-21
West Virginia (5-4) vs Army (9-2)
This game feels so boring, and I hate to say it considering our Army is involved. The Black Knights do not pass. Sincerely, they do not pass. Over their last three games they are averaging just 17 yards per game. You read that correctly. West Virginia on the other hand isn’t exactly a juggernaut, and has been in somewhat of a tailspin since Dana Holgersen left. Still, they are a much more advanced football program, and should be able to cover this line simply by showing up. I really do not mean to make it sound this easy, or diminish Army’s chances, but just in the trenches alone the recruitment to the Mountaineers is producing professional caliber linemen. That is simply not the case with Army, and they will be overmatched. I would anticipate a big game on the ground for West Virginia junior RB Leddie Brown, and a big Mountaineer win.
Pick: West Virginia -6.5 L
Recap: Can we imagine for a second if QB Austin Kendall had played the entire game for the Mountaineers? Starter Jarret Doege just couldn’t get the offense rolling, and the switch came a little too late for our needs in this game. West Virginia did outscore Army by 7 in the second half, won the game by 3, and basically controlled the lines as we had planned. None of that meant a thing to what we are here for, as they lost the early line predicted ahead, and fell even shorter of the 10 point spread it eventually moved to. If you picked Army, good for you. I am happy these are the future leaders of our military, as their resilience was definitely present. Leddie Brown certainly got the volume with 20 carries, but only turned them into 65 yards. Game award has to go to Black Knights running QB Tyhier Tyler who scampered 24 times for 76 yards and found the end zone for all 3 Army scores. Back to .500 with the record we go, and only 9 games left in Bowl Season.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Friday January 1, 2021 – 12pm on ESPN
Georgia -9.5 (52.5)
Final score: Georgia 24-21
#9 Georgia (7-2) vs #8 Cincinnati (9-0)
This is ‘Big Boy’ day, as we’ve reached the portion of the schedule featuring all of the heavyweight bouts. It also, sadly, means we have back to back four game slates, and then only the National Championship remaining. This Cincinnati team has not reached the levels of support that UCF did a few years back, but that is only because of the weird year it has been. The Bearcats are the cinderella the nation is pulling for, with many wanting to see them in the playoff. Georgia has been there, and was close to going back again this year. If they could have started the way they finished, it would have been quite possible. The line doesn’t seem too farfetched, but do you really feel comfortable going against two scores with a Cincy team you want to believe will hang around? They aren’t a gimmick, having gone 31-5 over the past 3 seasons, including back to back bowl wins. QB Desmond Ridder is working himself into the Top 5 QB conversation for the NFL Draft, and this is a huge stage for him. I’m not comfortable with the spread here, but once again the total doesn’t seem to be set right. Is it a trap, or freebie? The model projects this to be a 36-25 Georgia win. Considering these teams have combined to go 12 of 18 above today’s total, including 7 of their last 8, and with the way these bowls have been playing out and offenses having the upper hand over defenses, the Total is where we will play today.
Pick: Over 52.5 L
Recap: This game was filled with ups and downs, and felt like the most watched game of the day. Bearcat QB Desmond Ridder started brilliantly, and had twitter on fire as a sleeper moving up on NFL Draft boards. However, when the Georgia defense clamped down in the second half, led by EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Ridder seemingly clammed up. Play calling from the Bearcats was a concern, and will be what many remember from this ending. There was also a George Pickens sighting, as the Bulldog WR tallied 7 catches for 135 yards and 1 TD. It is only his second 100-yard game this season, but they came in back to back games, and he has a flair for the big stage. He will need a consistent 2021 campaign to secure his ceiling of WR1 in the 2022 NFL Draft. Pay attention to Ojulari as the secret may be out with the national audience seeing his upside. He has first rounder written all over him.
Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Friday January 1, 2021 – 1pm on ABC
Northwestern -4.5 (43.5)
Final score: Northwestern 35-19
#14 Northwestern (6-2) vs Auburn (6-4)
The best part of this game is the start time coming an hour after Georgia and Cincinnati. It means you should be able to have some live halftime entertainment for both games, plus you will get to see the ending of this one. The second best part of this is Auburn playing with nothing to lose, having a placeholder head coach and a changing of the guard coming. The bad news here is that Vegas has it spot on at 43, because that is what the model projects as a total of Northwestern winning 27-16. I really don’t have a good feel for the direction this one is going, because both defenses can be terrific, and neither team has a ton of offense. I get the sense the Tigers are going to show us some things we haven’t seen, and if they work, will have them in the drivers seat. At the same time it could all blow up in their face. I’ll run the risk here and say neither of these teams is better than the other to truly pull away, and it will be within a score. Now, that score could be a touchdown, and it could be a field goal. I’ll take my chances with the free points for Auburn.
Pick: Auburn +3.5 L
Recap: Admittedly did not watch a single down of this game. Saw Auburn did start to get involved, pulling to within a point at 14-13, but Northwestern pulled away and never looked back.
Rose Bowl – National Semifinal
Friday January 1, 2021 – 4pm on ESPN
Alabama -21 (67)
Final score: Alabama 31-14
#4 Notre Dame (10-1) vs #1 Alabama (11-0)
Whoa Nellie, you don’t expect to see lines like this between two opponents of this caliber. An old handicapper once told me to look at the difference in rankings for the spread, meaning this should be as close as a FG deciding it – not three TDs. Notre Dame has done everything it needed to get here, and yet there was a collective complaint when they were awarded this position. The have all the talent required to match up, they have been in these big games before, they have held their own, and they have a QB who will not be rattled. Alabama has basically wiped the floor with every opponent this year, the exceptions being Georgia (ranked #3 at time), and Florida (#7). They still won handily, but only by 23 points combined. As for the Fighting Irish, their ACC schedule wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, and also featured two battles with Clemson. The Tide should roll, but you cannot take a team that feels as disrespected as the Irish, who has that much talent, and expect them to not put up a fight. Heck, Fight, is even in their team name! The model picks this to be a 43-19 Crimson Tide victory, but I’m going to deviate here, and trust Ian Book to match Mac Jones in what will be much more of a decision, than a knock out.
Pick: Notre Dame +21.5 W
Recap: Things played out exactly as expected, with Najee Harris rushing for 125, DeVonta Smith grabbing 3 TDs on 130 yards, and Mac Jones turning in a clean sheet of 4 TDs/0 INTs and 297 yards. It wasn’t Ian Book matching Jones that kept the Irish in it, it was their defense. No, the game never felt like it was within reach, but they did do enough to cover and keep it under a 21 point margin.
Sugar Bowl – National Semifinal
Friday January 1, 2021 – 8pm on ESPN
Clemson -7 (68.5)
Final score: Ohio State 49-28
#3 Ohio State (6-0) vs #2 Clemson (10-1)
There is a lot riding on this game, obviously, but perhaps nothing more than Justin Fields’ draft position. Trevor Lawrence has had the #1 pick locked up for practically two years, and Fields had been widely considered the presumptive runner up. However, some struggles have opened the door for that to change in the draft. The record wouldn’t indicate any hiccups for the Buckeyes, but this needs to be a signature performance for Fields. It doesn’t need to be a statistical win, but the team needs to show it was led to a great performance. The model has this as a 41-23 Clemson rout. Even being generous, it feels like too many points, despite these being two explosive teams. I could see an upset, so I want to avoid the spread. I could see a little tightness on offense, as two very good defenses start to dig their heels. I just envision an all around great game that we will all be talking about for a while. Enjoy.
Pick: Under 68.5 L
Recap: Goodness gracious, this Buckeyes team surprised a lot of people with this effort. Everyone will point to QB Justin Fields and his 385 yards and 6 TD passes, essentially answering all doubts and locking up QB2 status in the 2021 NFL Draft. But, has anyone improved their stock more than Ohio State RB Trey Sermon, who followed up a Big 10 Championship game of 331 rushing yards with another 193 in this one. Trevor Lawrence was still able to muster 400 yards through the air, only adding to his legacy, but RB Travis Etienne was held in check carrying 10 times for 32 yards, and the Tigers went quietly into the night. OSU’s performance was enough to convince Vegas that they are for real, and the opening line for the CFB Playoff on January 11th is just a 7 point edge towards Alabama. The total is projected at 76, and even with stout defenses, that number is very possible and likely.
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Saturday January 2, 2021 – 12pm on ESPN
Kentucky -3 (50)
Final score: Kentucky 23-21
#23 NC State (8-3) vs Kentucky (4-6)
Simply put, the Wolfpack have better and more efficient offensive attack, particularly in the passing game. These two teams aren’t entirely different, but NC State has slightly more firepower. They also come into this game on a 4-game winning streak, while Kentucky is limping having lost 2 of its last 3. In those contests, the Wildcats were rolled on the ground, giving up an average of 209 rushing yards. They also slowed down considerably in their passing game, only averaging 127.7 yards per game. Everything favors the ranked underdog today, and at this point of Bowl Season, there is nothing left to lose. We need a hot day to get the record over the water line, so lets go all out with the Wolfpack.
Pick: NC State ML +130
Recap: Got greedy and went for the flat out win for NC State, when we should have just settled for the 3 points on the table. Two missed FGs from Wolfpack Kicker Christopher Dunn is what ultimately did us in. Dunn just so happens to be the most accomplished kicker in program history, so this win was certainly within reach. It was an ugly contest that saw drives stall multiple times, but ultimately the edge Kentucky had in the trenches won out. Asim Rose Jr and Chris Rodriguez Jr were just too much rushing the ball for the Wildcats, combining for 232 yards and 2 TDs. NC State QB Bailey Hockman was staring down his receivers entirely too much, which led to 3 INTs.
Saturday January 2, 2021 – 12:30pm on ABC
Indiana -9 (68)
Final score: Ole Miss 26-20
#11 Indiana (6-1) vs Ole Miss (4-5)
The Lane Kiffin Show is starting to take flight, and this Rebels offense is churning out production. The defense, however, is lagging behind. Michael Penix was becoming the face of this new Hoosiers era, led by head coach Tom Allen, and we’d love to see him out there, but his replacement Jack Tuttle was a highly regarded 4-Star prospect who originally committed to Utah. The Ole Miss defense has been giving up 368 passing yards per game over their last three, and expect Tuttle to make a name for himself in this one. It has been the Indiana defense that has led the charge, and what should be the difference today. Can Matt Corral adapt to the pressure? More stops for Indiana, but not enough. I’ll push this line up just to ensure it.
Pick: Ole Miss +10.5
Recap: Jack Tuttle attempted an insane 45 passes, so the script was certainly there for him to emerge. But he connected on just 26 of those attempts, and failed to find the end zone. He just couldn’t do enough to move the Hoosier offense, and Ole Miss was able to roll. Sophomore QB Matt Corral threw for 342 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs, finding Dontario Drummond 6 times for 110 yards and 1 TD. The Rebels had more than enough juice to cover the spread in this one.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Saturday January 2, 2021 – 4pm on ESPN
Iowa State -6 (57.5)
Final score: Iowa State 34-17
#10 Iowa State (8-3) vs #25 Oregon (4-2)
Which Oregon team gets off the bus for this one? The team that handled an undefeated USC team in the Pac-12 Championship, or the one that never seemed to get out of its own way all season? Iowa State has quietly been building a machine of a program, headed by head coach Matt Campbell. This squad is for real, and is not afraid of the big moment. In fact, you wouldn’t be wrong to think they are still bothered by the officiating versus Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game that would have had the Cyclones in the Playoff picture. I think the Ducks are too sporadic to trust in this contest, and don’t feel they will put two clean games together in a row. Iowa State will be the more disciplined and dominant team, and will roll to cover these two field goals of a margin.
Pick: Iowa State -5.5
Recap: A pretty competitive game throughout, but the Cyclones were never in any real danger, and managed to hold a two score advantage for virtually the entire contest. The proved to be too much on both sides of the ball, and sophomore RB Breece Hall stole the show, rumbling 34 times for 136 yards and 2 TDs. He is on the short list for top returning rushers in college next season. Junior TE Charlie Kolar, who is a Top 5 Tight End in this year’s draft class, chimed in with 5 receptions for 53 yards and 1 TD. Head coach Matt Campbell should continue to keep Iowa State among the nations best.
Capital One Orange Bowl
Saturday January 2, 2021 – 8pm on ESPN
Texas A&M -9 (65)
Final score: Texas A&M 41-27
#5 Texas A&M (8-1) vs #13 North Carolina (8-3)
At this point, we’re all aware most of the Tar Heels star power has opted out of the game, correct? This has the possibility of looking like Florida vs Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, except for a few key factors. If you looked at the three games leading up to this point, TAMU had only been giving up 85 yards on the ground. Even with studs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, North Carolina was going to have to figure out other ways to move the ball. Sophomore QB Sam Howell is still under center, and has been electric all year. He does lose his main target in Dyami Brown, but the remainder of his compliments are still in tow. What is going to hurt North Carolina most, in my opinion, is the loss of LB Chazz Surratt. He anchors the defense and will be a big loss in spying QB Kellen Mond, and assisting in stopping Aggie RB Isaiah Spiller. Texas A&M finishing 5th in the rankings felt slighted not making the CFB Playoff, their defense is dominant, and North Carolina will not be able to score at the rate it is accustomed to. I think Mack Brown can keep this program in the game, but the total feels like it was made for these teams at full strength. It’s too rich for my taste.
Pick: Under 65.5
Recap: Welp! We needed this one to pull the record back to .500, and although it went as planned, a late 76 yard TD run by freshman RB Devon Achane proved to be the dagger. He would follow that up with another score, after the Aggies forced a quick three and out, and the under was history. Achane rumbled for 140 yards with those 2 TDs, and was the highest performer in this game. It would seem the loss of Chazz Surratt may have played a part in the last game drop from the Tar Heels. Even without his top receiver and dynamic duo in the backfield, QB Sam Howell was magnificent all game, and almost single handedly kept North Carolina in it. Multiple beautiful deep balls, tough scrambling when needed, the sophomore finished 18-31 for 234 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT. Although, I would argue his performance was much better than even that line would attest to. He is certainly going to continue to make noise next year as one of the top arms in all of college football.
Full Bowl Season Schedule:
|12/21||Beach||Appalachian State||North Texas||21||66.5||L|
|12/22||Boca Raton||BYU||Central Florida||6.5||76||W - W|
|12/23||New Orleans||Georgia Southern||Louisiana Tech||6.5||48||W - L|
|12/26||First Responder||#19 Louisiana||Texas-San Antonio||14||54.5||W|
|12/26||Lending Tree||Georgia State||Western Kentucky||3.5||49.5||L|
|12/26||Cure||#12 Coastal Carolina||Liberty||7.5||59||L|
|12/29||Cheez-It||#21 Oklahoma State||Miami||2.5||58.5||W|
|12/29||Alamo||#20 Texas||Colorado||9.5||63.5||W - L|
|12/30||Duke's Mayo||Wisconsin||Wake Forest||-9.5||51.5||L|
|12/30||Cotton||#7 Florida||#6 Oklahoma||3||71.5||L|
|12/31||Armed Forces||#24 Tulsa||Mississippi State||2.5||49||W|
|12/31||Arizona||#22 San Jose State||Ball State||9.5||63||W|
|1/1||Peach||#9 Georgia||#8 Cincinnati||7||50||L|
|1/1||Rose (Semi-Final)||#1 Alabama||#4 Notre Dame||19.5||65.5||W|
|1/1||Sugar (Semi-Final)||#2 Clemson||#3 Ohio State||7.5||66.5||L|
|1/2||Gator||Kentucky||#23 NC State||2.5||51.5||L|
|1/2||Outback||#11 Indiana||Ole Miss||6.5||66.5||W|
|1/2||Fiesta||#10 Iowa State||#25 Oregon||4.5||57.5||W|
|1/2||Orange||#5 Texas A&M||#13 North Carolina||7||67.5|
|1/11||National Championship||#1 Alabama||#3 Ohio State||8||75.5|
|Overall Bowl Record|
Andy is a jack of all trades in the Fantasy Sports industry, covering football, baseball, and the NFL Draft. He has written, edited, podcasted, and produced over 1,000 videos for his various series, in addition to dozens of guest appearances and collaborative pieces.
A top ranker on Fantasy Pros for both Football (23rd in 2018) & Baseball (7th in 2018), avid fan of mining for MLB prospects, and former D1 College hoops player, Andy is a native New Yorker, who has served as a firefighter in the FDNY for the past 18 years and counting.