FAM & FURIOUS: DECEMBER 29 BOWLS

BELK BOWL

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-5) vs Texas A&M Aggies (7-5) — WF -4, O/U 64 — 1 PM EST

Wake Forest beat a team in transition in last season’s bowl, and again they take on a squad with a coach out the door. Unfortunately for the Aggies, their coach was fired and not hired away, and thus you have a young team left without the guy that recruited them. Christian Kirk will make some noise, but we like the Deacs so close to home, with an improved line to handle the A&M rush, and a veteran quarterback who has come a long way in terms of decision making. 42-26, Wake is woke for 2018.

HYUNDAI SUN BOWL

North Carolina State Wolfpack (8-4) vs Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5) — NCSU -6.5, O/U 60.5 — 1 PM MST

Another game with a team in transition after a coach was axed at 7-5. Also, Todd Graham was much beloved by his players, while the transition to the new “organizational” approach has been, well, a devil to digest. The Wolfpack have the better defense, the better offense, the better coach, and overall, well, the better program. 37-17 Wolfpack roll the Sun Devils, Bradley Chubb has a field day against the ASU tackles.

That look when you get fired and have to coach the bowl game

FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL

Northwestern Wildcats (9-3) vs Kentucky Wildcats (7-5) — NU -7.5, O/U 50.5 — 3:30 PM CST

Finally a bowl game with some stability in both coaching staffs, notably Northwestern, where Pat Fitz has become an “old ball coach” before our eyes and isn’t headed anywhere. This is also perhaps his best team, if not because of some flaws on the offensive line and in the receiving corps, but one loaded with terrific talent in the other skill groups. UK also has improved talent, notably in running back Benny Snell, a booming runner that could give defensive backs fits if he gets beyond the trenches. We think the Northwestern run defense handles their business behind a stout d-line and ever-improving linebacking corps (AKA, Paddy Fisher is only getting better). Justin Jackson breaks a few late in terrific capper to a terrific career, 27-19 Northwestern.

NOVA HOME LOANS ARIZONA BOWL

New Mexico State Aggies (6-6) vs Utah State Aggies (6-6) — NMSU -4, O/U 61.5 — 3:30 PM MST

This is a battle of a running offense and a passing offense, but they key’s are how the defenses match-up against those respective styles. In the case of the Aggies of Utah, they are fairly effective versus the pass, having the Mountain West’s second best pass efficiency defense. The Aggies of New Mexico meanwhile love to cough up the ball on offense, notably throwing 20 interceptions as a team. That, along with Utah State quarterback Jordan Love continuing to be careful with the football, are the keys to victory. NMSU will throw picks, he cannot… He does a solid job, scoring on the ground as well, and Utah State wins 33-29.

 

GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC

USC Trojans (11-2) vs Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2) — OSU -7.5, O/U 65 — 7:30 PM CST

Two teams with play-making quarterbacks and electric running backs on offense, the difference being the way in which the quarterbacks do their damage. Sam Darnold is a throw-first NFL proto-type, but possesses enough mobility to cause problems for defenses in coverage. JT Barrett meanwhile prefers to use his feet, with play-action passes set-up by the OSU ground game. We also really like the feature backs for each team, the Trojans’ Ronald Jones and JK Dobbins for the Buckeyes. The question is which of the two DEFENSES, especially in the front sevens (both are loaded), can assert themselves. We think USC’s offensive line matches up poorly versus the OSU ends, and pressure on the quarterback late might stymie USC. That said, still expect another epic bowl game for Darnold, but this time falling 30-27. Could go either way though.