Which teams are the best bets to cover the spread in the New Year Day’s bowl matchups? I’m choking on chalk today.
Michigan vs. South Carolina, 12:00 p.m. ET, Outback Bowl
Offensive play-caller Kurt Roper was let go by South Carolina on December 6, just over a week after the Gamecocks were held to 207 yards in a 34-10 loss to top-ranked Clemson. Bryan McClendon, who doubles as the team’s receivers coach, will call the plays today. I don’t like this spot for South Carolina, which struggled offensively before making a change. We’ve seen new OCs struggle in bowl games this season and I don’t think today will be any different. Michigan ranks third nationally in yards allowed and 12th nationally in points allowed. I don’t love laying 8.5 points in this matchup but I see this as a 20-10 game.
College Football Bowl Predictions: Michigan Wolverines -8.5
Central Florida vs. Auburn, 12:30 p.m. Et, Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl
Motivation could be an issue for the Tigers but this is a mismatch on paper. Central Florida has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation but the Knights didn’t face any defense as stout as Auburn’s this season. If the Tigers aren’t deflated from missing out on the playoffs, I like them to control the line of scrimmage and roll to a double-digit victory.
College Football Bowl Predictions: Auburn Tigers -11.5
Notre Dame vs. LSU, 1:00 p.m. ET, Citrus Bowl
The Fighting Irish thrive on turnovers but they haven’t been causing them of late. They had 17 takeaways through their first seven games but only three in their last five. While Josh Adams and Brandon Wimbush will be a handful for a LSU defense that will be without Adren Key. That said, the Tigers have a better defense than Miami, which shut down Adams and Wimbush back in November.
College Football Bowl Predictions: LSU Tigers -3
Georgia vs. Oklahoma, 5:00 p.m. ET, Rose Bowl
It’s hard to bet against Baker Mayfield but I don’t like the matchup for OU. Georgia wins by running the ball and protecting its defense. I could see Mayfield and that OU offense getting frustrated standing on the sidelines for long stretches. Mayfield will make plays because that’s what he does. But the Dawgs are too good defensively to allow him to throw the ball all over the yard. Oklahoma also isn’t good enough defensively to keep the Dawgs from rolling once they establish their running game. Freshman Jake Fromm is also coming off an impressive performance against Auburn in the SEC title game and I don’t think he’ll be rattled by the environment tonight.
College Football Bowl Predictions: Georgia Bulldogs -2.5
Alabama vs. Clemson, Allstate Sugar Bowl, 8:45 p.m. ET
This is the toughest game on the slate to handicap but there are three reasons I like Alabama. For starters, the Tide is as healthy as its been in a month. Nick Saban also had multiple weeks to prepare for this Clemson team, as opposed to having to concentrate first on first-round opponents Michigan State and Washington, respectively, the past two years. Finally, for as good as Kelly Bryant has been this season, he’s not Deshaun Watson, who burned Alabama last year with an incredible fourth-quarter drive to lift Clemson. In a game that should live up to the hype, I’m siding with Saban.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide -3