College Football Playoff & Bowl Game First Predictions, Lines

College Football Playoff & Bowl Game First Predictions, Lines

Bowls College Football Playoff

College Football Playoff & Bowl Game First Predictions, Lines


While the bowl and College Football Playoff matchups are still being digested, here’s the first look, quick predictions, and knee-jerk thoughts on each game.

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Welcome again to the annual exercise in instant reaction.

Every year, I try to predict the lines and don’t look at or know any of them, just to see just how far I’m off with the general public and the prevailing investment wisdom. I write this, and then look at the lines after.

After the bowl pairings and all the craziness still swirling, here are the first knee-jerk reactions and predictions. However, the actual picks can and will change by the time all the bowl previews are done, depending on who sits out, further deep-dive analysis, etc.

Like they tell you in third grade, though, always go with your first answer.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Saturday, December 15
2:00, ESPN, Branch Field at Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM 
North Texas vs. Utah State   

Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: Utah State head coach Matt Wells is off to Texas Tech and Frank Maile is in, and will North Texas head man Seth Littrell still be at North Texas by the time this gets rolling? No matter what, this should be what you want in an early bowl game with lots of offense, lots of tempo and lots of points

First Thought Prediction: Utah State 45, North Texas 38
First Thought Line Guess: Utah State -8
Actual Initial Line: Utah State -11
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AutoNation Cure Bowl

Saturday, December 15
2:30, CBS Sports Network, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL 
Tulane vs. Louisiana 

Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: Louisiana is an interesting team that has just enough of an offense to give Tulane a problem. But the Green Wave rushing attack should be an issue for the Ragin’ Cajuns run defense that has major issues.

First Thought Prediction: Tulane 30, Louisiana 20
First Thought Line Guess: Tulane -4.5
Actual Initial Line: Tulane. -3.5
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Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

Saturday, December 15
3:30, ABC, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV 
Fresno State vs. Arizona State

Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: It’s a really, really fun matchup. There but for a Memphis win over UCF, Fresno State is playing LSU in the Fiesta, and it’ll come out strong with its nasty defense keeping ASU in check. This is a pride game for the Mountain West – San Diego State already got the Sun Devils, and now it’s Fresno State’s turn.

First Thought Prediction: Fresno State 26, Arizona State 23
First Thought Line Guess: Fresno State -1
Actual Initial Line: Fresno State -4.5
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Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Saturday, December 15
5:30, ESPN, Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL 
Eastern Michigan vs. Georgia Southern 

Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: Eastern Michigan will be jacked up to get into a bowl game, but is the run defense good enough to stop the Georgia Southern triple-option attack? Not really. It’ll have time to prepare, but the Eagle offense will work.

First Thought Prediction: Georgia Southern 28, Eastern Michigan 23
First Thought Line Guess: Georgia Southern -1
Actual Initial Line: Eastern Michigan -3.5
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R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Saturday, December 15
9:00, ESPN, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 
Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State 

Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: Two terrifically-coached teams should put on a spirited show in the Superdome. The atmosphere will be great, the fans will be into it, and there should be a good energy for Appalachian State’s strong bowl performance. The Mountaineers are for real, and they’re about to show it.

First Thought Prediction: Appalachian State 27, Middle Tennessee 17
First Thought Line Guess: Appalachian State -7.5
Actual Initial Line: Appalachian State -9
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Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl

Tuesday, December 18
7:00, ESPN, Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL 
Northern Illinois vs. UAB

Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: UAB didn’t show up in its bowl game last year, and Northern Illinois is one of college football’s biggest annual bowl season disasters. Something has to give. Forget what happened with NIU’s comeback over Buffalo in the MAC Championship – first one to 15 probably wins.

First Thought Prediction: UAB 23, Northern Illinois 16
First Thought Line Guess: Northern Illinois -2.5
Actual Initial Line: Northern Illinois -1
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NEXT: December Bowls, Part 2

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