New Year’s Six Bowls
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Saturday, December 29th
12:00, ESPN, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
No team needs a validation win this bowl season more. Michigan was terrific all season long on its Revenge Tour, and the losses were only to Notre Dame and Ohio State on the road. But it didn’t get to the Big Ten Championship, and it didn’t beat the Buckeyes.
But there were dominant wins over Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State thanks to a killer defense that had one really, really bad day against a really, really jacked up Ohio State team full of NFL talent. But again, beating Florida and winning this bowl is a must.
The Gators could’ve done without the loss to Kentucky to break the decades-long winning streak, and they could’ve used more offense, but they beat LSU, destroyed Florida State, and they won nine games to get into a New Year’s Six game under Dan Mullen – it’s been a successful season no matter what.
This is a tough team on both sides of the ball with a great secondary and a good enough running game, but there’s not a lot of flash. Whatever – the Gators are in the Peach Bowl. Beat Michigan, and kaboom – the expectations will go through the roof for 2019.
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PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Tuesday, January 1st
1:00, ESPN, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
UCF keeps on winning. It lost Scott Frost, and it kept on winning. It lost star QB McKenzie Milton late in the season, and it kept on winning. No, this isn’t the same team talent-wise as last year’s killer, and there’s nothing on the schedule other than a win over Pitt to point to, but every game by the close call against Memphis the first time around was by double-digits.
There’s no program with a bigger chip on its shoulder right now, but the run defense is shaky – to be kind – and while Darriel Mack got the job done with Milton out, there’s still a question of what this O can do against a great D. We’re about to find out.
Oh great. The team that had to fight through low expectations this offseason and the “no one believes in us” thing for a bit too long has to play the no-win game against UCF. But the lines are there, the defense is amazing, and this is a tough enough team to care about pulling this off, especially after ending the season with the tough thriller to Texas A&M.
The Tigers have enough of an offense to get by, the offensive line was good enough to blast away on Georgia for a 20-point win, and two of the losses were to Florida on the road and Alabama. But for all of the good things it did, it can’t be Another SEC Team That Lost To UCF.
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