Six bowl games remain upon the conclusion of New Year’s Day, and only one game features ranked opponents. With four NFL playoff games taking place this weekend – and the FA Cup, obviously – four of the remaining six will take place Friday. I’m going to try and breeze through these a bit because this train is coming into the station with decidedly less fanfare, outside of the College Football Playoff of course. Oh, and I’ll be out of town over the next (almost) two days. Oh, and it has been darn difficult to look away from these fantastic bowl games today.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Houston Cougars (7-5, 5-3 in AAC) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6, 4-4 in ACC)
Friday, January 2 at Noon ET/9 AM PT
Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, TX).
TV: ESPN (Tom Hart, Matt Stinchcomb, and Heather Mitts)
Radio: RedVoice LLC (Brian Estridge, John Denton, Rob Best, and Landry Burdine).
Current odds: Pittsburgh by three with an over/under of 53.5.
Series History: This will be the third matchup all-time between the two schools, with each team sitting at 1-1.
Also of note: Both Houston and Pittsburgh will be without the head coach they had all season long. The Cougars fired Tom Levine on Dec. 8 after he went 21-17 in more than three seasons, and will be replaced by Tom Herman, the Ohio State offensive coordinator. Pittsburgh’s head coach Paul Chryst is returning to his alma mater to take over at Wisconsin, and will be replaced by Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Houston was one of the best defensive teams in their conference this year, allowing 334.6 yards per game (2nd in AAC). Pittsburgh is a run-first team led by ACC Offensive Player of the Year James Conner, a 6’2″ 250 lbs sophomore RB who ran for 1,675 yards (7th in FBS) and 24 touchdowns (3rd in FBS).
Dylan’s pick: Houston comes from a dumb conference (the AAC) and Pittsburgh has won their last two games. A+ reasoning, I know. Pittsburgh, 35-14.
Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4 in Big Ten) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (6-6, 3-5 in SEC)
Friday, January 2 at 3:20 PM ET/12:20 PM PT
EverBank Field (Jacksonville, FL).
TV: ESPN (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, and Jessica Mendoza).
Radio: ESPN Radio (Adam Amin, John Congemi, and Dawn Davenport).
Current odds: Tennessee by three with an over/under of 51.5.
Series History: Iowa and Tennessee enter their third all-time meeting with one win apiece, including the Hawkeyes’ 28-22 victory in the 1982 Peach Bowl.
Also of Note: These are two big-name programs who were really average this season. Iowa faced only one ranked team all season and yet lost five games. Tennessee certainly had a very difficult schedule, but the SEC consumed them something fierce. Iowa has some NFL-quality talent in fullback Mark Weisman, offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, and defensive tackle Carl Davis. The Hawkeyes rank 7th in FBS in passing yards allowed per game at 175.8. Remember when Lane Kiffin was the head coach at Tennessee? Man that’s not a very likeable fellow. Oh, the Volunteers offense isn’t very good.
Dylan’s Pick: Where is this game again, Jacksonville? There’s a pool at EverBank Field. So you can be in the pool and watch the Hawkeyes win. Iowa, 42-10.
Valero Alamo Bowl
No. 11 Kansas State Wildcats (9-3, 7-2 in Big 12) vs. No. 14 UCLA Bruins (9-3, 6-3 in Pac-12).
Friday, January 2 at 6:45 PM ET/3:45 PM PT
Alamodome (San Antonio, TX).
TV: ESPN (Joe Tessitore, Brock Huard, and Shannon Spake).
Radio: ESPN Radio (Bob Wischusen, Matt Millen, and Quint Kessenich).
Current odds: UCLA by 1.5 with an over/under of 59.
Series History: Just like the two games mentioned above, this will be third contest all-time between K-State and UCLA and both teams have won once and lost once.
Also of Note: Okay this is one where it’s too bad I don’t have more time to do this. These are two good teams — “great” may be an overstatement, as well as “very good,” but they’re definitely at least good. Hopes have been high for Brett Hundley for a long time and he again had a 3,000+ passing yards, 20+ passing TDs season to go with 548 yards and eight TDs on the ground. He got sacked a ton again though and UCLA’s three losses meant they didn’t live up to the preseason hype. Kansas State is always pesky and tough to beat — their 11 turnovers this season ranks as the second fewest in FBS. Keep an eye on AP All-American second team selection Tyler Lockett who finished with 1,351 receiving yards, 6th in FBS.
Dylan’s pick: I’ll take Brett Hundley and a Bruins squad looking to show that people’s faith in them wasn’t a mistake. UCLA, 42-21.
TicketCity Cactus Bowl
Washington Huskies (8-5, 4-5 in Pac-12) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-6, 4-5 in Big 12).
Friday, January 2 at 10:15 PM ET/7:15 PM PT
Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, AZ).
TV: ESPN (Dave Flemming, Danny Kanell, and Allison Williams).
Radio: ESPN Radio (Mark Neely, David Diaz-Infante, and Dave Shore).
Current odds: Washington by six, with an over/under of 56.5
Series History: Are you beginning to sense a theme here? Both teams enter this third contest all-time with a record of 1-1, the last matchup coming in 1985.
Also of Note: For the two of you out there who are unaware, I’m a bit biased here — I’m a University of Washington fan. What I can tell you is Chris Petersen’s first season was a solid one – certainly not a failure – but they lost too many games in conference. The Huskies may have
three four 1st round draft picks however in RB/LB Shaq Thompson, DT Danny Shelton (who was kicked off the team), CB Marcus Peters, and LB Hau’oli Kikaha. Oklahoma State won five in a row, then lost five in a row, then beat Oklahoma to become bowl eligible — but the player who got them there has been kicked off the squad. Mason Rudolph will be the QB for Oklahoma State after Daxx Garman had as many interceptions as touchdowns (12 each).
Dylan’s pick: You guys didn’t actually think I’d go against the Huskies, did you? Washington, 38-28.
East Carolina Pirates (8-4, 5-3 in AAC) vs. Florida Gators (6-5, 4-4 in SEC).
Saturday, January 3 at Noon ET/9 AM PT
Legion Field (Birmingham, AL).
TV: ESPN (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, and Laura Rutledge).
Radio: ESPN Radio (Clay Matvick, Greg McElroy, and Ian Fitzsimmons).
Current odds: Florida by seven, with an over/under of 56.
Series History: Florida won the only prior game between the two schools with a 24-17 win in 1983.
Also of Note: You remember when Florida had Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez and Urban Meyer and they were really good? They weren’t that this year. Florida was bad. They do have a decent running back in Matt Jones, who may end up playing in the NFL. East Carolina has found their way into the American and they did beat Virginia Tech this year. They also lost to Temple. Their quarterback Shane Carden put up some massive numbers (4,309 yards and 28 touchdowns).
Dylan’s Pick: Jim McElwain isn’t there yet, and I’m sure Shane Carden knows that anything great he does can help him maybe play on Sundays. East Carolina, 35-28.
Toledo Rockets (8-4, 7-1 in MAC) vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-5, 5-3 in Sun Belt).
Sunday, January 4 at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT
Ladd-Peebles Stadium (Mobile, AL).
TV: ESPN (Allen Bestwick, Ray Bentley, and Quint Kessenich).
Radio: Nevada Sports Network (Mike Grace, Jay Roberson, and Randy Burgan).
Current odds: Toledo by four, with an over/under of 67.5.
Series History: Toledo has won both of the two meetings between the two schools all-time, the last being a 49-0 shutout on Sep. 5, 1992.
Also of Note: Last but…well, very close to least — it’s Toledo and Arkansas State. It’s on a Sunday. You will likely have already watched two NFL games. My sources tell me this thing is gonna be a shootout so if you like offense and want to watch one more college football game before the national championship game, this is your kind of party. Oh, you should also watch because I think it’s cool that Allen Bestwick is doing play by play.
Dylan’s Pick: I got nothing for you people. Toledo, 56-44.
That’s it. It’s been real, it’s been nice, in other words it’s been real nice. I’ll have everything you need to know about the national championship game prior to the matchup in Arlington on January 12.