G.W. Gras

Senior Writer for The Bears Brawl and Lead Host of The Bears Brawl Podcast.

Once again, “Beating Vegas” has provided the public with the best free advice against the the spread that you can ever find. A lot of work is put into each and every college season, and the appreciation for those that have spread the word comes from the heart.

So now, in our grand finale, we tackle every bowl game.

Bowl season is tricky. Some teams are not happy with the bowl they were chosen to play in. Other universities see it as a big deal to get invited to ANY bowl game. Then there are teams who have no head coach, star players are sitting out the game in leu of the NFL draft and since these games really mean very little – fans won’t travel.

These predictions are all “leans” more than “locks,” and we hope we help you along the way.

 

Camping World Bowl
Matchup: No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State
Game info: Sat., Dec. 28 | Noon ET | ABC
Location: Camping World Stadium | Orlando, Fla.
Opening line: Notre Dame -3.5

Iowa State looks great on paper, has an exciting sophomore quarterback in Brock Purdy but are 0-5 against ranked opponents this season.  The Fighting Irish are 10-2 on the season and are looking to make short work out of the Cyclones. Notre Dame’s pass defense will be able to strong arm the Iowa State air attack and on the flip side of things, Ian Book should have his way with the pass defense of Iowa State.

The Pick: Notre Dame -3.5

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Matchup: Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan
Game info: Mon., Dec. 30 | 12:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium | Dallas, Texas
Opening line: Western Kentucky -1

When comparing a Conference USA team to a MAC team, there isn’t really a clear cut “this conference is better” statement one can make.  In this case, Western Kentucky should have the advantage in this game because they have a pretty legit defense, where as Western Michigan plays, what I like to call “negative defense.”

The Pick: Western Kentucky -1

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Matchup: Louisville vs. Mississippi State
Game info: Mon., Dec. 30 | 4 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Nissan Stadium | Nashville, Tenn.
Opening line: Mississippi State -4

This is an odd game, Mississippi State really beat nobody worth talking about (no disrespect to Kentucky) and Louisville had a surprising season under head coach Scott Satterfield.  This is a big game for Louisville to square up against a lower level SEC opponent and come out with a win.  They both have terrible rushing defenses but the fact that the Bulldogs can’t beat a good team and this team will be looking to make a statement, means something with that line.

The Pick: Louisville +4

Redbox Bowl
Matchup: California vs. Illinois
Game info: Mon., Dec. 30 | 4 p.m. ET | FOX
Location: Levi’s Stadium | Santa Clara, Calif.
Opening line: California -6

Do you guys even know what Redbox is?  This is a DVD rental service station that you can find outside of 7-11’s.  I see them all the time, as someone who frequents at 7-11 and I always wonder – how does this system work?  Like what happens if you don’t return it?  Who still has a DVD player?

Anyhow, these are two teams that stink, give me the points in this low scoring game.

the Pick: Illinois +6

Belk Bowl
Matchup: Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech
Game info: Tues., Dec. 31 | Noon ET | ESPN
Location: Bank of America Stadium | Charlotte, N.C.
Opening line: Va Tech -2.5

Virginia Tech was one of the better teams in the ACC conference this season.  After this game they will prove to people that the ACC was a weak conference this season.

Kentucky +2.5

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
Matchup: Arizona State vs. Florida State
Game info: Tues., Dec. 31 | 2 p.m. ET | CBS
Location: Sun Bowl | El Paso, Texas
Opening line: Arizona State -5

Herm Edwards was laughed at when he took the job to coach Arizona State.  Now he has them looking like a team primed to take a step next season. The fact that FSU is even in a bowl game is questionable.  For some reason this game scares me though.  Even then, I’ll line up with ol’ Herm.

The Pick: Arizona State -5

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Matchup: No. 23 Navy vs. Kansas State
Game info: Tues., Dec. 31 | 3:45 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium | Memphis, Tenn.
Opening line: Kansas State -1

I love Navy in this game for one reason, Kansas State allows 4.9 yards a carry.  Goodnight Jayhawks. Stick to basketball.

The Pick: Navy +1

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Matchup: Georgia State vs. Wyoming
Game info: Tues, Dec. 31 | 4:30 p.m. ET | CBSSN
Location: Arizona Stadium | Tucson, Ariz.
Opening line: Wyoming -7

Wyoming is pretty one dimensional on offense and solid on defense.  The issue is for Georgia State is that Wyoming’s one-dimension is to run the ball and Georgia State can’t stop an opposition’s ground game at all.

The Pick: Wyoming -7

Valero Alamo Bowl
Matchup: No. 11 Utah vs. Texas
Game info: Tues., Dec. 31 | 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Alamodome | San Antonio, Texas
Opening line: Utah -6.5

This is a home game for Texas and head coach Tom Herman who absolutely thrives as the underdog.  For that reason and the fact that Utah might be coming into this game a little deflated after having a chance for the College Football playoff and blowing it against Oregon is why I like Herman in this game – but I don’t love him. . .

The Pick: Texas +6.5

Citrus Bowl
Matchup: No. 13 Alabama vs. No. 14 Michigan
Game info: Wed., Jan. 1 | 1 p.m. ET | ABC
Location: Camping World Stadium | Orlando, Fla.
Opening line: Alabama -7

Forget about a let-down.  Alabama is going out there to prove a point.  No way is Saban going to let Harbaugh make a statement against him.  Alabama – big.

The Pick: Alabama -7

Outback Bowl
Matchup: No. 12 Auburn vs. No. 18 Minnesota
Game info: Wed., Jan. 1 | 1 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Raymond James Stadium | Tampa, Fla.
Opening line: Auburn -7.5

Minnesota Gophers had a great season, one of their best actually but nobody was terribly surprised by how it ended.  Minnesota will be outmatched – athletically by the Auburn Tigers – and maybe next season PJ Fleck can muster up a similar season.

The Pick: Auburn -7.5

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
No. 21 Cincinnati vs. Boston College
Game info: Thurs., Jan. 2 | 3 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Legion Field | Birmingham, Ala.
Opening line: Cincinnati -6.5

Boston College stinks.  Cincy is not one of my favorite teams to watch, but they are going to run over the Eagles in this one.

First half and game.

The Pick: Cincinnati -6.5

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Matchup: Indiana vs. Tennessee
Game info: Thurs., Jan. 2 | 7 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: TIAA Bank Field | Jacksonville, Fla.
Opening line: Tennessee -1.5

Pretty even match-up here, Tennessee started coming on late in the season and Indiana had one of their better seasons we’ve seen on the football field.  The main thing for the Volunteers is that they should be able to contain Hoosiers running back Stevie Scott from running all over them – also, the Volunteers will have fans travel down to Jacksonville.  Can’t say the same for Indiana.

The Pick: Tennessee -1.5

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Matchup: Nevada vs. Ohio
Game info: Fri., Jan. 3 | 3:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Albertsons Stadium | Boise, Idaho
Opening line: Ohio -6.5

Nevada is a team I loved going against all year, and I’m a do it again here.

The Pick: Ohio -6.5

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Matchup: Southern Miss vs. Tulane
Game info: Sat., Jan. 4 | 11:30 a.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium | Fort Worth, Texas
Opening line: Tulane -6

Tulane was actually a pretty good team this year, for those that don’t enjoy obscure college football.  Southern Miss is one of those teams that aren’t very good and the reason why people say there are too many bowl games.

The Pick: Tulane -6

LendingTree Bowl
Matchup: Louisiana vs. Miami (Ohio)
Game info: Mon., Jan. 6 | 7 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Ladd-Peebles Stadium | Mobile, Ala.
Opening line: Louisiana -14

For some reason, I followed the Ragin’ Cajuns a lot in 2019 and now I get to see them in one of those weird bowl games that come after the semi-important ones and before the really important ones.  This game SHOULD be a blow-out but the long time off kind of scares me off.  There still isn’t any way I can take a Miami-Ohio team against a team the caliber of Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Pick: Louisiana Lafayette -14

College Football Playoff

Source: Getty Images North America)

CFP Semifinal: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Matchup: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Game info: Sat., Dec. 28 | 4 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Atlanta, Ga.
Opening line: LSU -12.5

Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow will lead the LSU Tigers as the number one seed in the playoff and they’ll square off against a Sooners team that cashed in their ticket to the playoff after winning the Big 12 Conference.  I actually see this game being closer than the experts think.  LSU can win in a shootout 38-31 or something like that.

The Pick: Oklahoma +12.5

Matchup: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson (-2)
Game info: Sat., Dec. 28 | 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: State Farm Stadium | Glendale, Fla.
Opening line: Clemson -2

Some games you bet. Some games you just sit back and watch.  I have no idea which way to go in this one.  Clemson has been ridiculed for not having a tough schedule but are you really going to go against a team that is so stacked with “next level” talent?  Ohio State might be the best team in the nation – even I’ve been saying that.  For that reason and that reason only, I say Ohio State – but my confidence in that is ZERO – so play at your own risk here.