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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Belk Bowl

Saturday, December 29
12:00, ABC, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

South Carolina

Will the Gamecocks play up to their potential? They got rolled by Clemson, but the passing game blew up. They had Florida dead, right up until they collapsed in the loss. There wasn’t a win over a bowl team after beating Missouri in the first weekend of October, and there isn’t a truly strong win on the slate. Will Muschamp isn’t going to get fired with a loss, but lose, and he’ll be at the top of every offseason Hot Seat list.

Virginia

The Cavaliers will always bring the fight and the effort, but are they going to be good enough if South Carolina plays at its best? The Cavaliers had some fun moments with wins over Miami and North Carolina, but it was always a fight to generate points. Losing three of the last four games – all in crushing fashion, including the overtime rivalry loss to Virginia Tech – the Cavs need this win. QB Bryce Perkins is fun, and the team plays close games.
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NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Friday, December 29
1:15, CBS Sports Network, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ

Arkansas State

Just when it seemed like the Arkansas State season was a big clunker – starting 3-3 with the offense having a problem getting going – it ripped off a run of five wins in the last six games to get here. Yeah, QB Justice Hansen and the O got to roll through a slew of bad teams, but they’re hot, entertaining, and they’re going to put up yards.

Nevada

Under the Mountain West radar with Boise State, Fresno State and Utah State coming up with great years, the Wolf Pack came up with a strong second season under head coach Jay Norvell, winning four straight games late in the year before dropping the rivalry game against UNLV. The team is supposed to be about the offense with the Air Raid attack, but the defense has been the pleasant surprise.
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Military Bowl Presented By Northrup Grumman

Monday, December 31st
12:00, ESPN, Navy-Marine Corps. Stadium, Annapolis, MD

Virginia Tech

It took way, way, way too much work to get here. The offense lost star QB Josh Jackson early on, the defense forgot how to tackle, and a 3-1 start turned into a 4-6 disaster after getting ripped up by everyone in the ACC with an offense. But with a gut-check win over Virginia and a contrived extra game against Marshall to get to six wins and this spot. It might not have been the season the team wanted, but get through this, and it’ll be a nice finish.

Cincinnati

This is what we call a moment. Cincinnati rose up in head coach Luke Fickell’s second season, beating UCLA in Pasadena and rolling through everyone by Temple and UCF for a great ten-win campaign. The offense perked up this year, and the defense was good enough, even if it was inconsistent. Beat the brand name ACC team, and get to 11 wins, and the Bearcats – and Fickell – will be red-hot this offseason.
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Hyundai Sun Bowl

Monday, December 31
2:00, CBS, Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX

Pitt

Can we get Fun Pitt back? Fun Pitt ripped through Virginia Tech and Virginia like it was 2013 Auburn as part of a run of five straight ACC wins to get to the conference championship. So it lost to Clemson … the Panthers got there. However, they lost to the Tigers and Miami by a combined score of 66-13 to close things out. This was all fun, but if Fun Pitt doesn’t show up against Stanford, then it might just be an indictment of just how bad the ACC was.

Stanford

This was just a weird season. The running game never showed up, Bryce Love was a non-factor from the start, and the Cardinal won by bombing away with the downfield passing attack, But they won their last three games, they beat Cal in the rivalry game that matters, and they pulled off one of the most fun comeback wins of the season to beat Oregon. This is a flawed team, but a win will make the campaign and team look a lot better than they were.
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Redbox Bowl

Monday, December 31
3:00, FOX, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Michigan State

It was a disappointing and weird year with absolutely no offense over the second half of the season and an amazing defense that was incredible all year against the run. The Spartans always bring it in bowl games under Mark Dantonio – one CFP game against Alabama aside – but get ready for a low-scoring slugfest with this team. There won’t be anything aesthetically pleasing about anything MSU does.

Oregon

Will Oregon show up? It didn’t in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl clunker against Boise State, and there were times this year – the second half against Stanford and on the road against Arizona – when it turtled, but it has an NFL quarterback in Justin Herbert, and the offense showed the pop against the mediocre teams to be interesting. Now it has to get ready for a Michigan State defense that’s a brick wall.
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AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Monday, December 31
3:45, ESPN, Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN

Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State, we need to have a talk. You’re 6-6, and you have a strange way of not showing up at times in weird losses to Kansas State and Texas Tech, but when you’re on, and this offense works, that’s a whole lot a fun. Our bowl season need that. It needs the team that hung up 42 points or more seven times including the win over West Virginia and the near-miss against Oklahoma. Expect that to happen – expect the O to make it to Memphis.

Missouri

Missouri needs to prove that it really is the real deal. Very, very quietly according to the rankings, the 8-4 team went through a bad stretch in the midseason, but there was a reason – Georgia, at South Carolina (in a tight game with weather issues), at Alabama, and in a miraculous loss to Kentucky. But it was strong against everyone else, the offense rolled over the final four games – including a blowout at Florida – and now it’s time to show just how good this team and the season really were.
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