Predicting the Bowl Games Part I: The December 16th Games
Like the late Andy Williams once sang, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Bowl season has arrived and many people are either filling out their pools as we speak, running scouting reports on players for the upcoming NFL Draft, or booking those last minute plane tickets to go see their favorite team play. For those who have been involved with A2DRadio, I have been covering college sports since this site began. This season, I will be covering the daunting task of covering all 41 bowl games for the 2017-18 season. Enough with me rambling, let’s break down every bowl game.
Grambling State vs North Carolina A&T
To kick off the bowl season is the match-up that has been unofficially called the “national championship of black college football.” SWAC Champion #13 (FCS) Grambling State looks to repeat as champions after a 10-9 thriller from last season. Standing in the Tigers’ way is the undefeated #7 (FCS) North Carolina A&T Aggies of the MEAC. The Aggies highlight of the year was winning against FBS opponent Charlotte in a 35-31 victory back in September. These teams previously appeared in the bowl game with Grambling last year, and A&T in the bowl’s inaugural game 2015.Statistically, North Carolina holds the advantage offensively and defensively against Grambling. Expect the two highly ranked programs in the FCS to have another thrilling showdown in the bowl’s short history.
— MercedesBenzStadium (@MBStadium) December 5, 2017
Pick: North Carolina A&T
New Orleans Bowl
Troy vs North Texas
The first of the Sun Belt’s co-champions will appear in their second bowl game in the Neal Brown-era of Trojan Football. However, despite being in the Sun Belt, the Trojans have a talented quarterback in Brandon Silvers who became the 109th quarterback to throw 10,000 yards in a career AND have the 11th best defense in the country. North Texas, the Conference USA runner-up, will try not to put off the Trojans due to the Sun Belt’s reputation. North Texas, does have a history with the New Orleans bowl, appearing in the game for the fifth time. Unfortunately, the Mean Green’s stat lines have not been wow-worthy all year.
Georgia State vs Western Kentucky
My alma mater Western Kentucky made their fourth consecutive bowl appearance by once again returning to Florida by taking on Georgia State of the Sun Belt. Both programs had to deal with new head coaches in Mike Sanford and Shawn Elliott respectably. However, looking at the performance of both first year programs, Sanford appears to be fighting for his job after WKU failed to clinch their third consecutive Conference USA title by posting a 6-6 record and Shawn Elliot doubled Georgia State’s win record from last year. WKU has the upper hand as their offense led by NFL prospect quarterback Mike White always post video game numbers.
Pick: Western Kentucky (Go Tops!)
Las Vegas Bowl
#25 Boise State vs Oregon
What if I told you that the 7-5 Oregon Ducks are favored against a ranked Boise State? With the recent news of head coach Willie Taggart departing to Florida State, the Ducks, who were going to have a top recruiting class, might have hindered their chances in becoming a top program once again. Boise State, while managing to win conference titles, have not been the same team since Bryan Harsin took over in 2013. The game overall is a coin toss due to a lot of similarities between the team’s statistics. However, with the news of Taggart, it could become a distraction for the Ducks, who will have their third head coach in three seasons.
Pick: Boise State
— GoDucks (@GoDucks) December 3, 2017
New Mexico Bowl
Marshall vs Colorado State
Colorado State has a great history with the bowl game, being 2-0 in Albuquerque. Marshall will be making their debut. Both programs in 2017 experienced a mid to late season slump that saw their records slip to 7-5 to conclude the year. Another similarly matched game, another entertaining matchup. Scouting wise, keep an eye out for Michael Gallup of Colorado State, who was nominated as one of the top receivers in the country.
Pick: Colorado State
Middle Tennessee vs Arkansas State
Middle Tennessee looked like their season was over when the bowl games were announced earlier this month. Thanks to a phone call, the Blue Raiders have one more game to play against Arkansas State. Ark. State for the second year in a row will be going to a bowl game that is not named New Orleans or GoDaddy.com. The Red Wolves posted a 7-4 record (one game was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma). Both teams had some recent history as MTSU previously competed in the Sun Belt. The Blue Raiders have the upper hand in the series. Arkansas State, currently holds a three game win streak against the Raiders. Make it four.
Pick: Arkansas State
If you looked at this opening slate of bowls, I would imagine 99.9% percent of you would not watch these games. While most of my attention will be focused on WKU vs Georgia State, the most watchable game, in my honest opinion is going to be the Celebration Bowl. That game has their fair share of thrillers and the spectacle of HBCU Football is always something to enjoy. If you are involved in the pools, happy picking, hope my picks help you out.