Rock Solid Bowl Picks: Part 3
Bowl Season is in full swing and we at BragHouse have you covered for all of it! Haven’t downloaded the app yet? What are you waiting for! With 41 games on the docket, you have so many chances to win! Our in-house expert Shea Freeman is breaking down each game and highlighting one Brag for each game that you can use for yourself! Check out the third part of the Rock Solid Bowl Picks and download the app today!
Belk Bowl: While it might not look like it on paper, this game is all about defense. On the Virginia Tech side, the Hokies will be saying goodbye to longtime time defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who has held the position since 1996. His defenses have collected the most sacks and interceptions since that time. On the other side, Kentucky has a top 15 scoring defense and are allowing under 18 a game to opposing squads. Both teams run the ball quite well, but the Wildcats are one of the best in the country in that department (274 yards per game). This game will be won or lost in the trenches, something Foster should be well prepared for.
Pick: Virginia Tech
Something To Brag About: Lynn Bowden Jr will have 150 yards rushing.
Bowden is not a running back. He’s listed at receiver, but he’s not a receiver anymore. Since Week 5 he’s been the team’s quarterback and the reason for their 274 rushing yards per game. During that span, he’s had six straight 100 yard games including an insane 284 yard game against Louisville to close the year. He’s versatile as hell and will carry the ball a good amount, considering he isn’t much of a passer.
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Florida State has had a tough go of it this season, starting off with some promise before ultimately falling apart and firing their head coach. Arizona State had a good run in the beginning of the year — and was a team I was high on at one point — before their youth and inexperience caught up with them. Both teams could have a bright future ahead of them but will be without key players: running backs Cam Akers (FSU) and Eno Benjamin (ASU) will be skipping the game to prepare for the draft. It’ll be up to one of the young QB’s to make plays and fortunately both defenses are pretty generous against the pass, giving up at least 270 a game each.
Pick: Arizona State
Something to Brag About: Jayden Daniels will throw for 300 yards.
Daniels, a true freshman, has shown flashes of potential all year and none more than what he did against Oregon. Against a very good Ducks D, he threw for 400 yards and three scores. FSU is giving up 284 yards to opposing QBs, so I like the chances of him getting to 300.
Autozone Liberty Bowl:
Navy has the best running game in all of college football thanks to the way they’ve perfected the triple option offense, and even though you know it’s coming there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Kansas State, meanwhile, has a much more balanced attack even if it doesn’t look all that sexy on paper. They have a quarterback who can run just as well as he throws, but Navy has Malcolm Perry, a senior who in his last game against Army ran the ball for 304 yards. Good luck trying to slow him down.
Something to Brag About: Malcolm Perry will rush for 175 yards
This is Perry’s last game as the quarterback for Navy and he’s set so many school records along the way, including single season rushing and all purpose yards. The craziest thing about his 300 yard performance vs Army was that he didn’t throw a single pass in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if he eclipsed 150 by halftime.
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl:
These two teams might look similar, but they aren’t. On a day where a few teams will be running all over the field, this game pits two teams averaging over 200 rush yards a game against each other. Georgia State averages 245 yards on the ground while Wyoming puts in 208. Wyoming doesn’t have much of a passing game, and their 24 points per game is a direct result of that. However, that average is probably going to go up considering Georgia State gives up a whopping 36 points per game, including 211 rushing yards. Wyoming, on the other hand, gives up 17 points and 99 rushing yards per game. I’m no mathematician, but that seems like a pretty big difference.
Something to Brag About: Xazavian Valladay will rush for 125 yards
Valladay had a rough outing in his last game, totaling 38 yards on just 14 carries, but the sophomore back had been a workhorse for the Cowboys leading up to that game. He had five straight 100 yard games before that dud, and very favorable matchup in this game suggests that he’ll bounce back to end the season on a high note.
Valero Alamo Bowl:
How mad do you think this Utah team is? They have one of the more balanced attacks in all of college football and they’re about to play in a bowl game that is basically a home game for Texas, a team that underperformed down the stretch of the season despite getting off to a hot start. They also have the best run defense in the country (70 yards per game) and a competent leader under center in senior Tyler Huntley, who will be facing a very generous Longhorn’s defense (304 pass yards allowed). Texas has the talent at QB too, but might not have enough to on defense to stop a pissed off Utes team.
Something to Brag About: Zack Moss will rush for 125 yards or more
In addition to being able to stop the run, Utah runs the ball just as effectively averaging over 200 yards per game. Moss is the key to this, rushing for at least 100 yards in six of Utah’s last seven games. Unless this game turns into a shootout, Moss should have plenty of chances to carry the ball and notch another 100 yard game.
While their dream season didn’t end the way they planned, the fact that Minnesota is a ten win team playing on New Year’s Day should be a win in itself. Coming off the best season in school history, the Golden Gophers face off against an Auburn team that has played arguably one of the toughest schedules in all of football. One of those games was against their hated rivals in Tuscaloosa, so the Tigers are more than ready to face a pretty good Minnesota offense. Both teams match up really well with each other, posting near identical numbers in total yards, yards allowed and points per game. The difference will come down to the defense, where Auburn is slightly better in terms of points but not yards allowed. It’s gonna be a fun game.
Something to Brag About: Rashod Bateman will catch a touchdown pass
Bateman has been QB Tanner Morgan’s favorite target on the season and has hauled in 11 touchdowns on the year. Seven of those scores came over the last six games, so I like him to keep that trend up against the Tigers on Wednesday.
VRBO Citrus Bowl:
For the first time in a long time, Nick Saban and Alabama are not in the playoffs. After watching the beating Oklahoma took on Saturday against LSU, the Tide probably feel like they could’ve done a better job. They’ll get a chance to prove that against a Michigan team that is looking for a huge marquee win for coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh might be on the hot seat but if the Wolverines can pull off the upset he might be safe for another year. However, Alabama is still one of the best teams in the country, even with a backup quarterback at the helm. They averaged over 48 per game in a tough SEC and sport a 30 point differential on the season.
Something to Brag About: Najee Harris will score two or more touchdowns.
Harris’ junior season has been a success. He’s a 1,000 yard rusher on the season and found the endzone eleven times, including ten times over the last seven games. He scored at least one in each of those games and carried the ball 27 times in his last game against Auburn, largely due to the absence of QB Tua Tagovailoa. He’ll get a score, but I think he gets it twice. .
Arguably the most prestigious bowl of the group, the Rose Bowl used to be the widely considered to be the most important one as well. Ducks QB Justin Herbert is a likely top ten pick in this year’s draft, throwing for 3,333 yards and 32 TDs to 5 INTs. On the opposite end, Wisconsin has one of the best running backs in college football history in Jonathon Taylor. Taylor is one of four players to rush for 5,000 yards in his career before his senior season. That being said, both teams roll out a top 10 defense. The Badgers are slightly better in that department, but the Oregon shut down a similar team in Utah 35-17 in the Pac-12 title game.
Something to Brag About: Jonathon Taylor will rush for 125 yards or more.
Taylor currently has 1,909 yards on the season and needs less than 91 yards to have back to back 2,000 yard seasons, the first time that feat has been reached since 95-96. It could’ve been three years in a row, as he had 1,977 in his freshman year. I don’t think that’s going to be the case this time around. He’s getting to 2,000 and maybe more on Wednesday.
Georgia, one of three two-loss SEC schools playing in a New Year’s Six game, had the biggest OL in the country this season but will be without two of those starters as they prepare for the draft and RB D’Andre Swift is questionable with a shoulder injury. Baylor has played in close games all year and are a lot healthier than the Bulldogs, but they have been inconsistent at times this year. Still, they are playing in their first Sugar Bowl since 1957 and are looking to cap a fantastic season that saw them improve drastically from a 1-11 record just two years ago. For the record, Georgia was in the Sugar Bowl last year against a Texas school — Texas, actually — and lost 28-21 in a game they were heavily favored. Still, they have one of the best defenses in the country, one that only allowed a single rushing touchdown all season.
Something to Brag About: Jake Fromm will throw two touchdowns.
I’ve been pretty down on Fromm all year and it’s not because I don’t like him — I don’t know the guy, personally — but because he has potential and didn’t live up to it. He struggled at times this season to get anything going on offense, but with his running game depleted a bit he’s going to have to step up. Two touchdowns feels pretty fair, if you ask me.
Ticketsmarter Birmingham Bowl:
This feels like a lopsided game. On one side is a .500 ACC team that has one of the best rushing attacks in the country but gives up 480 yards of offense. On the other is a pretty good Cincinnati team that lost back-to-back games to Memphis and can be a little streaky at times. Luckily for the Bearcats, they don’t have to play Memphis again but they do have to try and stop Eagles workhorse RB A.J. Dillon, an area where they give up 143 yards on the ground. However, Boston College is susceptible to giving up points and big plays and Cincinnati is capable of pulling off a big run or two when needed.
Something to Brag About: A.J. Dillon will rush for 150 yards.
Dillon has carried the ball 318 times this season, 2nd most for running backs. He’s rushed for 1,685 yards, including 178 in his last game against Pittsburgh. I think he’s a sleeper in this year’s draft if he chooses to come out, and a nice outing in this game could push him in that direction.
Taxslayer Gator Bowl:
This might sound crazy, but Indiana is actually pretty good. Yes, they’re 8-4 but those four losses came from top 25 opponents including Penn State, Michigan and a 51-10 beat down from Ohio State. Other than that, the Hoosiers have been pretty impressive this year averaging 32 points per game on 443 yards of total offense. Tennessee, for their part, have won five straight and it’s been thanks to their defense, which has allowed 14 points per game during that stretch (albeit against mostly sub .500 squads). There’s something to be said about a game like this, one that can inspire confidence for next year with a win.
Something to Brag About: Whop Philyor will have six receptions.
What a great name this kid has. He’s also had a pretty good season, catching 69 passes for 1,001 yards for the Hoosiers. He’s also from Tampa, and that will always be something I brag about. His last game against Purdue saw him haul in 8 catches and earlier this year against Nebraska he caught 14 for 178 yards. I like this Plant High School product to make an impact in this game.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:
Potatoes are pretty boring when you think about it, much like this game. There’s nothing sexy about a potato by itself, but you can do a lot of things with them and that’s how I’m viewing this game. Sure, both teams have had bland, mediocre seasons but that could make for an interesting side dish for a bigger meal. Believe it or not, Ohio has a potent offense averaging 34 points per game on 443 yards of total offense and they’re playing a Nevada team that gives up nearly as many points. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be watching this game, but if there’s nothing else on I’d give it a watch. Sometimes I even order fries by myself, because I’m like that. I’ll still be hungry, but I’ll be somewhat satisfied by the end.
Something to Brag About: Nathan Rourke will throw for 275 yards.
The senior QB has had a pretty solid year to end his college career, throwing for 2,676 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’s going up against a Nevada defense that gives up 260 yards to opposing quarterbacks and it doesn’t look like he will have any trouble getting the ball down field. In fact, in what could turn into a shootout, I think Rourke has a chance to get 300.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl:
This might be an ugly game. Both of these teams are looking to finish their season off on a high note, having lost their last two games of the season. Tulane has lost four of their last five, although three of those losses came by a field goal or less. Southern Miss has struggled offensively in their last two outings, despite averaging 411 yards on the year. Both teams can get it done on offense, however in different areas. Southern Miss gets it done through the air (288 pass yards per game) while Tulane does it on the ground (250 yards per game). Neither team plays a lick of defense, though, however the areas on defense that they do well in are the areas that the opposing team thrives in. Something’s gotta give in this one. I’d say go with the hot hand, but neither team is that hot at the moment so go with whoever has the ball at the very end. That’s my guess.
Something to Brag About: Justin McMillan will rush for a TD
McMillan isn’t much of a passing threat, something that would really benefit the Green Wave in this game but he is pretty productive with his legs. The senior play caller has 12 rushing touchdowns on the season and while he’s only found the endzone once in his last three games (all losses), I think that’s going to change in his final game of his collegiate career.
This might turnout to be a very one sided contest. The Ragin Cajuns are averaging 36.8 points per game on 500 yards of total offense, including 265 rushing yards per game. Miami Ohio averages 200 yards less per game on offense and is giving up nearly 9 more points per game on defense. They did finish their season off strong, winning six of their last seven, so maybe there is something to be said about the momentum this team has coming into this game. Still, they inspire very little confidence on paper and their defense is going to have a hard time trying to slow down Louisiana’s fast pace offense.
Something to Brag About: Levi Lewis will throw for 275 yards or more
Lewis had a solid year for the Cajuns, and his last game in the Sun Belt Championship was his best of the season. Despite the loss, the junior threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns against Appalachian State. It’ll be over a month since that game occurred, but if he’s energized and ready to go then he should be able to get close enough to match that total.
Make sure to check back in later this week for my final prediction of the year: LSU vs Clemson for the National Championship!