2018 Bowl Game Picks

After letting the first weekend set of bowl games go by, I have decided on my picks for this year’s College Football bowl games.

After last year, my all-time record is 23-18 after receiving that record of .561 last season via http://theunderdogsports.com/leskos-bowl-picks/ .  I look to improve that record this season with the following bowl games.  Each pick features my pick for winner as well as a score, while all top 25 and CFP games also feature a preview.

College Football Playoff

January 1 – Sugar Bowl (#1 Clemson v. #4 Alabama)

The Tigers look to win their second straight championship in the long-awaited tie-breaker with a strong Roll Tide squad.  Alabama has had a weak schedule thus far, and questionably moved into the playoff over Ohio State.  They haven’t seen a squad as good as one loss Clemson yet this season.

Clemson wins 31 – 28

Jan. 1 – Rose Bowl (#2 Oklahoma v. #3 Georgia)

Oklahoma has ridden the Baker Mayfield train all season, and the train has yet to stop.  Georgia looked strong through the first half of the season, but needed Wisconsin to falter to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Oklahoma is the most complete team in the country, hands down.

Oklahoma wins 35 – 21

Jan. 8 – CFP National Championship (TBD v. TBD.)

With the previous two picks playing each other (Oklahoma v. Clemson), it serves to be a close game.  Lincoln Riley and Baker Mayfield have simply been on the same page all year, and fans seem to forget that they have beaten a #2, #6 and two different #11 AP ranked teams.  Both have a bad loss (Oklahoma lost by 7 to Iowa State, Clemson lost by 3 to Syracuse), and possess deep squads.  Ultimately the best team in the country must prevail.

Oklahoma wins CFP National Championship 28 – 24

Ranked Top 25 Bowl Games

#5 Ohio State vs. #8 USC (Cotton Bowl), Dec. 29

#8 USC has been underrated all season long due to coast bias.  The Top 25 team with arguably the toughest schedule all season long, they lost handily to a tough #14 Notre Dame team and by 3 to then #21 Washington state.  All that is moot however, as after getting left out of the CFP despite having a strong case, Ohio State will be angry and looking for revenge at the Trojans expense.

Ohio State wins 35 – 27

#6 Wisconsin vs. #11 Miami (Orange Bowl), Dec. 30

They could have called this game the “battle of the weak schedules” going into next weekend.  Both teams looked like fierce competitors most of the year, but when faced against real playoff contenders, crumbled under the pressure.  If either won their conference championship they would have made the playoff, but neither did.  Miami may have the ‘turnover chain’ as an incentive, but Wisconsin’s patented strong defense will prevail.

Wisconsin wins 21 – 18

#7 Auburn vs. #10 UCF (Peach Bowl), Jan. 1

UCF has had a stellar year, finishing the season as the lone undefeated squad.  Unfortunately, they had no team worth a matchup all season long as the toughest teams they faced were Memphis and South Florida.  Auburn on the other hand, went 1-1 against a playoff Georgia team, and surprised the Roll Tide by handing them a 26-14 win.  Auburn will take this game, but it will be close.

Auburn wins 42 – 35

#9 Penn State vs. #12 Washington (Fiesta Bowl), Dec. 30

Washington finished two years in a row with a high ranking, yet will lose their bowl game once again.  Penn State is a well-coached squad, losing its two games by a total of 4 points (#5 Ohio State, #18 Michigan State).  However, Washington was shockingly defeated by Arizona State in October, ultimately hurting their ranking months later.  Losing to them and the Stanford Cardinals certainly doesn’t bode well when you don’t have any marquee wins to your name.

Penn State wins 38 – 35

#13 TCU vs. #15 Stanford (Alamo Bowl), Dec. 28

Stanford beat Notre Dame and Washington, but ultimately fell due to losses to USC and Washington State.  TCU held onto playoff hopes until being stomped by Oklahoma for the second time, 41 – 17.  TCU has been a strong (enough) team all year to get behind, despite Stanford having arguably most underrated coaching staff.

TCU wins 30 – 27

#14 Notre Dame vs. #16 LSU (Citrus Bowl), Jan. 1

LSU has been propped up by the playoff committee all year long to hold Alabama’s high position, and they will be exposed on New Year’s Day.  Notre Dame has had a very up-and-down season all year, but meeting with LSU for the second time in three years is a favourable matchup.  They have a number of seniors graduating to the draft this season (mostly along the line) and look to finish their careers off strong.

Notre Dame wins 30 – 21

#17 Oklahoma State vs. #22 Virginia Tech (Camping World Bowl), Dec. 28

For the first half of the season, the world loved the Mason Rudolph-led Cowboys, but after a few losses and the offense coming back to earth, they lost playoff support quickly.  On the other hand, Virginia Tech isn’t the strongest #22 we’ve seen in years past either after losses to Clemson, and then Miami and Georgia Tech (!) back-to-back.  This game will be a shootout, but the Cowboys are certainly the better team.

                Oklahoma State wins 38 – 27

#18 Michigan State vs. #21 Washington State (Holiday Bowl), Dec. 28

Michigan State has been a season-long anomaly.  Coming into the season, they were not expected to even be a top 25 team after a horrible season last year, and constant off-field issues, and yet here they are.  They toyed with the playoff committee for weeks after looking like a top 10 team, and then not – one week on, one week off.  Washington State took a similar role, but faltered more along the second half of the season.  This game will be close.

Michigan State wins 24 – 21

#19 Memphis vs. Iowa State (Liberty Bowl), Dec. 30

A surprising Memphis squad pairs with the only team to beat Oklahoma all year.  Don’t think for a second that Iowa State beating Oklahoma was a show of strength, but more a show of luck, and Oklahoma’s unwillingness to prepare beforehand.  Though Memphis has been a surprise, they are a fairly strong team.  Expect them to cruise by a weak Iowa State team.

Memphis wins 38 – 18

#20 Northwestern vs. Kentucky (Music City Bowl), Dec. 29

This game isn’t even close.  Kentucky receiving a bowl game was simply a formality, and are no match for the #20 Northwestern team that beat both Iowa and Michigan State.  Kentucky has proven over the years to be a basketball school and should stay that way after being demolished by Louisville, MS State, and Georgia, while only having one notable win – a three-point defeat of the incredibly weak, yet popular Tennessee Volunteers.

Northwestern wins 40 – 13

#23 South Florida vs. Texas Tech (Birmingham Bowl), Dec. 23

Texas Tech has played a sub-par season, after high expectations were tampered only a few weeks into the season.  South Florida on the other hand has thrived under former Texas coach Charlie Strong, and lost only two games to UCF and Houston.  That being said, South Florida hasn’t seen any other decent teams all year, and may not be fit for a shootout against Texas Tech.  Expect a close game

South Florida wins 37 – 35

#24 Mississippi State vs. Louisville (TaxSlayer Bowl), Dec. 30

After a terrific year for the Cardinals last season, finished off with a returning Heisman quarterback, Louisville has been somewhat of a disappointment.  It is now clear that Lamar Jackson is a hype-worthy QB, but may not be more than simply a stellar college player.  He fills the stat sheet and makes highlight-reel plays, but cannot lead a tier-II team to the promise land of the elite.  Luckily, he doesn’t need to do so to beat this team.  Mississippi State (similarly to LSU) has been propped up by the committee to make Alabama look better, as their marquee wins include weak teams LSU and Texas A&M.

Louisville wins 40 – 30

Other Bowl Games (by Date)

Dec. 19

FAU vs. Akron (Boca Raton Bowl)

                FAU wins 48 – 10

Dec. 20

Louisiana Tech vs. SMU (Frisco Bowl)

                SMU wins 28 – 24

Dec. 21

Temple vs. FIU (Gasparilla Bowl)

FIU wins 28 – 24

Dec. 22

UAB vs. Ohio

UAB wins 33 – 28

Central Michigan vs. Wyoming

Wyoming wins 24 – 21

Dec. 23

Army vs. San Diego State

San Diego State wins 30 – 27

Toledo vs. Appalachian State

                Toledo wins 38 – 30

Dec. 24

Fresno State vs. Houston

Houston wins 30 – 28

Dec. 26

West Virginia vs. Utah

                West Virginia wins 33 – 28

Northern Illinois vs. Duke

Northern Illinois wins 24 – 20

Kansas State vs. UCLA

UCLA wins 33 – 30

Dec. 27

Florida State vs. Southern Miss

                Florida State wins 28 – 20

Iowa vs. Boston College

Iowa wins 35 – 18

Purdue vs. Arizona

Purdue wins 35 – 33

Texas vs. Missouri

Missouri wins 31 – 30

Dec. 28

Virginia vs. Navy

                Navy wins 30 – 28 (OT)

Dec. 29

Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M

Texas A&M wins 28 – 20

NC State vs. Arizona State

NC State wins 35 – 28

New Mexico State vs. Utah State

New Mexico State wins 28 – 27

Jan. 1

Michigan vs. South Carolina

                Michigan wins 35 – 18

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