Say goodbye to the regular season. While this wasn’t the most overly exciting college football season in recent years, there are definitely some bowl games worth looking forward too. Three of the four playoff teams were an absolute shoo-in, with only the fourth and final spot (OU’s bid) having any drama about who would receive the vote. Alabama remained number 1 overall in the polls the entire season, and Clemson trailed them at #2 for the length of the season as well. Notre Dame began the season ranked in the teens, but held down the #3 position in the polls for the final half of the season. All three teams are undefeated going into the Playoffs, with Oklahoma being the sole Playoff bound program to have suffered a loss this season. While a lot of bowl games have already been played and concluded, the big matchups still lie in front of us. Is your team still alive? Stay tuned below as we break down everything you need to know about the biggest bowl mania matchups. Bet wisely, ladies and gentlemen.
#10 Florida Gators vs #7 Michigan Wolverines – 12/29 12:00pm ET
Line: Michigan -5.5
The Florida Gators and Michigan Wolverines have suited up to play against one another a total of only four times in the history of the historic programs. The Wolverines have won all four matchups. For the Wolverines this season it’s been much of the same since Jim Harbaugh has taken over as coach. They’ve been right there in contention for the Playoffs but can’t seem to find a way over the hump to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Florida Gators have had a refreshing season and taken a much-needed step in the right direction. Head coach Dan Mullen is in his first season with the program and is on the verge of his first 10-win season with the program. Michigan is favored in this matchup but will be without three huge pieces to their team’s success. All-American linebacker Devin Bush, defensive lineman Rashan Gary, and running back Karan Higdon will all miss the game as they prepare for the NFL Draft. Luckily for the maize and blue star quarterback, Shea Patterson will be suiting up to help finish the teams season on the right note. Patterson has already let the team and fans know that he will be back for his senior year in the big house. Great news for the Wolverines! This should be a relatively low scoring game as both teams possess one of the best defenses in the country. Florida Gators sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks has made major strides in his first season playing in Dan Mullen’s system. Franks has 29 touchdowns to only six interceptions on the season. The Gators are healthy, and all of their draft-eligible players have already stated their dedication to the program, and are expected to play. If Michigan had their two best defensive players and best running back suiting up, we’d say advantage Blue. But, with those three sitting this out we’re expecting the Gators to have the edge and not only cover the spread, but also win the game. Take the Gators with your head held high.
Prediction – Florida 26-23 Michigan
#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs #2 Clemson Tigers – 12/29 4:00pm ET
Line: Clemson -13
The Fighting Irish have defied the odds all season long, week after week. The doubts have continued to rise, but Brian Kelly and the train has kept on rolling. The train hasn’t stopped yet and is still undefeated. Next up, Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers also find themselves sitting undefeated, but this Saturday one of the undefeated will have to go down. This matchup is extremely intriguing.
You have the Fighting Irish who don’t do anything one thing exceptionally well but have an incredibly balanced football team. They defend the run and pass well, they tackle in the open field, they control the clock on the ground, and they complete big-time throws when necessary.
On the other hand, you have the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers struggle a little with their secondary coverage, but their pass rush has overwhelmed most offensive lines the entire season which in return has benefited the Tigers defensive backs. The Tigers will be without superstar defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence due to a failed drug test. The absence of Lawrence will be something to keep a close eye on. Clemson possesses the nations best defensive front, but without Lawrence, they’re going to have an uphill climb to produce pressure against this Notre Dame O-line. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers will be starting a freshman quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. While his arm talent is something you cannot argue, his age and readiness is something you can. Lawrence has shown zero signs of nerves this season. He’s continuously stepped up and handled the pressure of the moment time and time again. However, with that being said, this is by far the biggest moment of his football career, and it will be worth keeping an eye on him throughout the game. The ACC, this season, was arguably the weakest it’s been this Century. Therefore this is by far the Tigers biggest test. We’re rolling with Ian Book and the Fighting Irish. 13 points is just far too much to bet against in a Playoff matchup, especially against a well-rounded defense that the Irish possess. The Irish will cover the spread, and have a great shot at pulling off the upset outright.
Prediction: Notre Dame 23-26 Clemson
#4 Oklahoma Sooners vs #1 Alabama Crimson Tide – 12/29 – 8:00pm ET
Line: Alabama -14
This matchup is one of those fairytale hopefuls. Not often do you get the top-2 Heisman finalists to matchup in each of their first games after the ceremony. The Oklahoma defense has been under heavy scrutiny all season long. One of the worst defenses in all of the Power-5 conferences. However, on the offensive side of the ball, they’ve been one of the most explosive offenses in college football history. Kyler Murray has been electrifying scoring over 50 touchdowns on the season, and he just collected his Heisman hardware. Murray and Tua Tagovailoa for the Crimson Tide have been regarded as the best quarterbacks in college football this season and Saturday you’re going to see them go head-to-head. This is a matchup between the nation’s #1 and #2 scoring teams, and also #1 vs #2 in total yards game — a matchup of absolute offensive juggernauts. All of the pressure will be on the defense of the Sooners. We know what Alabama’s defense brings to the table, and how elite they can be. If the Sooners defend how they have all season long, this could get ugly quick. As great as Kyler Murray and this Sooner offense are, they can’t score on Alabama every time they have the ball. Their defense will have to step up and make some timely stops to give the Sooners a chance at moving on to the National Championship. We’re rolling with the Tide to cover the spread and win this game. However, our confidence in them covering a 14-point spread is only about 60%.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38-49 Alabama
#11 LSU Tigers vs #8 UCF Golden Knights – 1/1 1:00pm ET
Line: LSU -7.5
Here we are again, the almighty SEC against UCF Round 2. Last season the Knights capped off a stellar undefeated season by knocking off the favorite and SEC power, Auburn Tigers. UCF came into last year’s Peach Bowl as 10.5 point underdogs, but that didn’t matter one bit. Fast forward one year, and here we go again. The undefeated Knights against another SEC power, the LSU Tigers in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl. While the Knights are receiving fewer points and are now viewed as less of an underdog after a second consecutive undefeated season, the Knights will face much of the same questions. Can they hold up in the trenches? Can they stop the rushing attack of an SEC offense? Can they throw against one of the nation’s best secondaries? Can they relish the moment for the rest of the mid-majors? Well, we’re about to get some answers. We’d be a lot higher on UCF if they had superstar quarterback McKenzie Milton. Milton went down with a season-ending knee injury during their final game of the regular season against the USF Bulls. With freshman Darriel Mack Jr. under center, we’re not so sure the Knights can hold up yet again. This LSU defense is better overall than the Auburn Tigers were last season. Even with star corner Greedy Williams sitting out, this Tigers secondary is exceptionally talented. Mack Jr. will have to lead his team and program into battle against the best defense the Knights have arguably ever faced in their program’s existence. That’s a lot of weight for a freshman making just his 2nd start to carry on his shoulders. However, the LSU Tigers aren’t necessarily offensive juggernauts. Quarterback Joe Burrow is extremely average. If you can limit running back Nick Brossette and the Tigers rushing attack, then LSU should struggle to score points. After two consecutive seasons of going undefeated, it’s hard to bet against UCF. But, every streak has to come to an end at some point. Could this be the end of the Knights run? Tuesday will tell, don’t miss it. We sure as heck won’t.
Prediction: LSU 27-13 UCF
#9 Washington Huskies vs #6 OSU Buckeyes – 1/1 5:00 pm ET
Line: Ohio State -6.5
The winners of both the Pac-12 and Big-10 are left out of the CFP this season. So what does that mean? Oh, just that they are set to match up in the Rose Bowl. The Huskies are playing their best football of the season, allowing a combined 18 points in their last two games. They’re the only team this season to hold Washington State’s star quarterback Gardner Minshew without a touchdown. Many expected the Huskies to compete for a playoff spot at the start of this season. They returned senior star quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin. They can right the ship of an otherwise disappointing season with an upset over the #6 OSU Buckeyes. However, that’s no easy task to fulfill. The Buckeyes possess the nation’s number two passing offense, and one the country’s best players in the quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Haskins just recently finished 3rd the Heisman ceremony in New York. Also, you have to take into account that this is the Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer’s last game with the team as he’s set for retirement after the conclusion of this matchup. We expect both teams to compete and bring their A game. The Huskies will be playing for their seniors. The Buckeyes will be playing for their coach. The Huskies offense has struggled for much of the year, and that’s been the biggest reason they are 10-3 and left out of the playoffs. There is concern that if they were struggling to score on Pac-12 defenses that they are going to seriously struggle against a Big-10 powerhouse. Time will tell. We expect the Buckeyes to light up the scoreboard behind Haskins and running back J.K. Dobbins and if the Huskies can’t follow suit, this game will be over in the first half.
Prediction: Washington 23-38 Ohio State
#15 Texas Longhorns vs #5 Georgia Bulldogs – 1/1 8:45pm ET
Line: Georgia -13
Motivation could play a big factor in this matchup. On one side you have the Texas Longhorns who haven’t made a major bowl game in nearly a decade. Tom Herman should have no problem rallying the troops and mentally preparing them to faceoff against the Bulldogs. On the other hand, you have the Georgia Bulldogs who are fresh off a national championship appearance, and just came up one quarter shy of taking down the Crimson Tide and claiming the crown of the SEC. There is potential that the Bulldogs could come out slightly flat and unmotivated. Anytime you are as close as they were to the CFP, it can be devastating to a teams morale not to make it in. The Longhorns will go as quarterback Sam Ehlinger does. If Ehlinger can have one of his better games of the season and find his open receivers, he’ll give the Longhorns a chance to win this game. UT has huge receivers who will need to make tough catches in man coverage. The Bulldogs have the better overall football team. If the Dawgs can come out and play their usual game, they should be able to run the ball down the throat of the Longhorns. If Texas can’t contain the UGA backfield, then they’re in for a long afternoon. However, the Longhorns have risen to the occasion in both of their biggest games this season against Oklahoma. Once even better the Sooners. Herman has a gritty group that seems to find focus when they’re put in the spotlight. We expect the Bulldogs to win the game behind steady QB play from Jake Fromm, solid defense, and a running game that can control the clock. However, Texas is much tougher than 13 points, and the Longhorns should come in with tons of motivation to prove that they are back to being the elite program college football fans have become accustomed to. Don’t sleep on the Horns!
Prediction: Texas 27-34 Georgia