Know Your Bowls: College Football Playoff, Bowl Game Quick Previews

Know Your Bowls: College Football Playoff, Bowl Game Quick Previews

Bowls College Football Playoff

Know Your Bowls: College Football Playoff, Bowl Game Quick Previews

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Walk-On’s Independence Bowl

Thursday, December 27
1:30, ESPN, Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA

Temple

With an offense that has balance and explosion this is a dangerously hot Group of Five team that’s won six of its last seven games. The only loss was the wild and crazy shootout against UCF, and O rolled the rest of the way. For the American Athletic Conference, this is one of those teams and one of those games it needs – go, Temple, and beat the mediocre ACC team.

Duke

Will Duke get its mojo back? Good enough to roll Northwestern and Baylor early, and flaky enough to get destroyed by Wake Forest and Pitt – at least the defense did – now the Blue Devils are on a rough two-game losing streak – Wake Forest and Clemson – by a combined score of 94 to 13. But the offense has the upside to hang 40 on just about anyone, but it has to start working again to keep up with these Owls.
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New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Thursday, December 27
5:15, ESPN, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY

Wisconsin

A total clunker with just about everyone of note back – especially on offense – from the team that came within a late drive of going to the College Football Playoff in 2017, the offense fell flat, concussion issues for QB Alex Hornibrook stalled the season, and there was no consistency, bottoming out by losing the Paul Bunyan Axe at home to Minnesota. But this might just be a team that needed some time off, and now it gets to close out against Miami for the second year in a row – beating the Canes in last year’s Orange Bowl.

Miami

Wisconsin was disappointing, but Miami’s season was worse, losing four straight games before getting its groove back late in tough wins over Virginia Tech and Pitt thanks to the defense. There’s just no offense, there’s just no passing game, and this game becomes a big moment in the Mark Richt era. Can the Miami team handle the cold of New York City? The weather might matter in this.
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Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

Thursday, December 27
9:00, ESPN, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX

Baylor

It’s still going to take a little while for the program to build back up, but in Matt Rhule’s second season at the helm, he turned Baylor into a bowl team, coming through with a sixth win over Texas Tech to close things out. The offense is hit-or-miss, the defense isn’t anything special, but the team brings a good fight and has just enough talent to hang around. However, the O that scored 17 points or fewer over a late run of four games in five has to show up.

Vanderbilt

This is no fluke. Vanderbilt might not have the brand name, but it cranked up the offense throughout the season with wins in three of the last four games to get bowling. Yeah, it lost six games, but where’t the inexcusable one? South Carolina Maybe, but losing to Notre Dame, at Georgia, at Kentucky, at Missouri and to Florida is more than fine. QB Kyle Shurmur and the passing attack can put up points in bunches, and it might have to against the Bears.
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Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Friday, December 28
1:30, ESPN, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN

Purdue

Wildly inconsistent, Purdue came up with one of the key wins of the season with a blowout over Ohio State, and then it got destroyed the week after by Minnesota. Even so, this team has shown fight all season long, and but it also suffered a slew of close-call, gut-wrenching losses before finally coming through late against Indiana to get bowling. The offense is going to be fun, the defense isn’t that bad, and best of all, head coach Jeff Brohm isn’t at Louisville.

Auburn

The running game just didn’t work. The offense as a whole was disappointing this season, but it was the lack of a consistent rushing attack that became the biggest killer. The defensive front is amazing, and Jarrett Stidham is an NFL-caliber quarterback, but will the team care about a minor bowl? Will it gear it up after having to hear about losing to UCF last year? If the Tigers play up to their talent, they shouldn’t have a problem. But other than the wins over Washington and Texas A&M, they just weren’t good enough or consistent enough.
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Camping World Bowl

Friday, December 28
5:15, ESPN, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL

Syracuse

Is this the second-best team in the ACC? It played like it for most of the season, but it did lose to Pitt and it got rocked by Notre Dame. However, with an aggressive defense that’s great at getting into the backfield, it gave Clemson everything it could handle and was solid enough when it had to be. But the Dino Babers offense is the star, especially when QB Eric Dungey is healthy. But when the veteran quarterback is hurt, you get Notre Dame 36-3.

West Virginia

It might have been a disappointing finish with losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to miss out on the Big 12 Championship appearance, but the Mountaineers were one of the most entertaining teams of the season, having up 35 points or more in every game but the clunker loss to Iowa State. This is the showcase moment to end with a bang in a huge game for the Big 12 – it can’t have one of its stars lose, even against a strong Syracuse team.
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Valero Alamo Bowl

Friday, December 28
9:00, ESPN, Alamodome, San Antonio, TX

Iowa State

Start with Iowa State being in a strong bowl, and go from there. With seven wins in the last eight – let’s just blow off the near-miss 27-24 win over Drake – the Cyclones turned it on after a 1-3 start thanks to the rise of QB Brock Purdy along with a great defense. The coaching is fantastic, the effort is always there – again, forget the Drake thing – and there’s no concern about not being up for this.

Washington State

Can Mike Leach win a decent bowl again? It was an amazing season after a rough offseason – with the tragic death of QB Tyler Hillinski a devastating blow – thanks to the rise of grad transfer Gardner Minshew, who turned in a near-Heisman caliber season throwing or close to 4,500 yards and 36 scores. However, for as much fun as this all was, after losing to Washington in the snow, and missing out on the Pac-12 Championship game and a possible Rose Bowl appearance, there can’t be a loss here.
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