Last week, I shared my predictions for the first week of college bowl games. I’ve done worse with predictions, ending the week slightly higher than .500.
The nation is ready for another week of unruly and almost unpredictable college football games, with the competition and odds stacked high. Will it be another week of high-scoring knockouts? Or will this week bring tightly ran escapes and too close for comfort close-calls?
Let’s breakdown the week’s upcoming matches, and who is likely to come out the victors.
Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs. Ohio
12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas
This season proved to be an incredible one for the Blazers and their coach, Bill Clark. Blazers have eight wins, and the 25th ranked defense nationally. They have proven to hold their own against Ohio’s ground game (5.6 yards per carry and 40 TDs), but they’ll still need to tread carefully against Frank Solich.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming vs. Central Michigan
4 p.m. ET on ESPN at Lyle Smith Field at Albertsons Stadium in Boise
Besides sounding like a tasty side dish, this bowl has gotten a lot of attention. Josh Allen’s status coming into this game will play a huge factor, and Wyoming definitely needs him front and center for a win. Quarterback Shane Morris, however, has been a workhorse for Central Michigan, leading them to a win in each of their last five games. With Allen already focusing is eyesight on the future, there’s worry he won’t stay focused on the game.
Winner: Central Michigan
Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs. USF
Noon ET on ESPN at Legion Field in Birmingham
Even with a vastly improved Texas Tech defense, this still looks to be a high-scoring affair. USF QB Quinton Flowers could prove to be a challenge during his final game, as he looks to lead his talented Bulls to their 10th win. Flowers will be the winning ticket for this matchup.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Army
3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth
Army currently leads the nation in rushing with 355.8 yards per game, with a big thanks to Jeff Monken for the boost they needed. San Diego has had a tougher season, however, and boasts an incredible defense. They also have Rashaad Penny. Penny will air out his nationally top-ranked rushing record of 2027 yards and prove why he’s seen as one of the best players on the field.
Winner: San Diego State
Dollar General Bowl: Toledo vs. Appalachian State
7 p.m. ET on ESPN at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama
Both teams in this contest have up and coming coaches; Toledo has Jason Candle, and Appalachian State has Scott Satterfield. Viewers can expect this to be one of the better Group of Five bowl matchups with mostly even talent. Mountaineer’s defense is better down the stretch, but Toledo QB Logan Woodside will prove to be a deeper threat.
Hawai’i Bowl: Fresno State vs. Houston
8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu
This will be one of the toughest calls in this year’s bowl season. Both teams boast solid defenses, with Fresno only allowing 21 points or fewer in all but one league game, and Houston holding USF to 24 points in a win. Houston will have the sharper edge, though, with talent DT Ed Oliver pulling out another game-changing play.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: West Virginia vs. Utah
1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN at Cotton Bowl in Dallas
Though Utah is not a strong team all around, coach Kyle Whittingham’s bowl games record is 10-1, and the defense has learned to hold their own. West Virginia will be missing their star quarterback Will Grier, which will essentially be the final straw for West Virginia’s bowl hope.
Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois
5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN at Ford Field in Detroit
The Blue Devils finished their season on a high note, thanks mostly to speed on their defense. The run-heavy offense and stingy defense for Northern Illinois will fall prey to Duke’s better matched counterparts. Daniel Jones, Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown will ensure a Duke win.
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA
9 p.m. ET on ESPN at Chase Field in Phoenix
Simply put, this is a matchup where I toss a quarter, so to speak. Analysts claim UCLA is bound to pull a stunner like Baylor did last year with their coaching staff leaving in a similar fashion. Kansas is a more complete team, however, and have QB Skylar Thompson to counter Josh Rosen. I think it’s safe to say Bill Snyder is looking to avenge is 2014 Alamo Bowl loss, and I think he’ll pull it off.
Winner: Kansas State
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Florida State
1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana
Whichever team has the highest motivation level will grab this game. Seminoles had plenty of motivation for interim coach Odell Haggins when it counted, and they’re expected to want another win for the soon-to-depart coaching staff. Cam Akers is expected to end his freshman season with a big performance, especially with his named being dropped for Heisman contention. Florida State will just have more to say, especially in response to the news that they may not actually even be bowl eligible.
Winner: Florida State
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs. Boston College
5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN at Yankee Stadium in New York
It’s been predicted around the board that this matchup will be a low-scoring snoozer. With recent Iowa no-shows, it’s no surprise to hear those sentiments. Iowa can get back on track with running back Akrum Wadley, though.
Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona vs. Purdue
8:30 p.m. ET on Fox at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California
First-year Purdue coach Jeff Brohm will take the Boilers to their first bowl since the 2012 season, which will give the team a hype level Arizona might not match. Both teams have solid offenses, with Arizona QB Khalil Tate most likely to offer strong highlights throughout the game. This is sure to be a fun game to watch any way you cut it, but Purdue gets my vote for a win with a markedly better defense.
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: Texas vs. Missouri
9 p.m. ET on ESPN at NRG Stadium in Houston
If there ever was such a thing as a “springboard game”, this would be it. A talented Texas defense led by Poona Ford will face a strong Missouri offense led by QB Drew Lock, proving to be a point-for-point promise. I’m deciding this by location; Texas will be home.
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman: Virginia vs. Navy
1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland
Both teams in this contest have had lackluster finishes, to say the least; both have lost five of their last six games. Their isn’t much to rant and rave about in this match, only that the Midshipmen’s defense will be the difference maker with their home field advantage.
Camping World Bowl: No. 22 Virginia Tech vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State
5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN at Camping World Stadium in Orlando
We’ve finally hit the bulk of the bowls featuring ranked teams, and this is rumored to be one of the best postseason matchups. The Cowboys will bring their offense with an average of 46.3 points per game, along with Mason Rudolph and James Washington. The Hokies will bring their Bud Foster-coordinated defense with star linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. We’ll probably see a lot of points thrown on the board, but I have a hard time believing Hokies will be able to match pace.
Winner: Oklahoma State
Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 15 TCU
9 p.m. ET on ESPN at Alamodome in San Antonio
This match will no doubt be highly competitive, as it stars two solid programs and coaches; David Shaw’s Stanford and Gary Patterson’s TCU. Both schools have solid defenses against the running game, but the ticket will lie on Stanford freshman quarterback K.J. Costello.
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: No. 18 Washington State vs. No. 16 Michigan State
9 p.m. ET on Fox at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego
Both teams have had mixed results this season, with some quality home wins and some duds away from home. Washington State is looking for a comeback from last year’s bowl game upset against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and they just could pull it off with record-setting quarterback Luke Falk.
Winner: Washington State
Do you think I made better choices this week? Which ones would you call differently? Let me know below and on Twitter.
Kristen Ashly is a senior contributor and editor for Nuts and Bolts Sports. You can follow her and send her obscure movie GIFs on Twitter @KristenAshly.
Featured image photo credit: wlpearce.com/FSU Athletics