Let’s get to know what team Michigan will play in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 29 in Atlanta.
Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press
Alabama will win it all. Let’s start there. Or maybe it’s Clemson’s turn. I don’t know.
Or maybe Oklahoma takes advantage of Alabama’s (relatively) pedestrian defense and upends everyone’s expectation, proving, once and for all, that defense doesn’t matter.
More likely, the Crimson Tide rolls. It’s what it does.
Ask the Michigan Wolverines, who lost the best safety prospect they’ve had in years because Nick Saban wanted him, and Alabama’s famously stern-faced coach gets what he wants. A reminder that college football remains the least democratic sport we have, where the winners are determined by geography and the stock portfolios of a few dozen alumni.
But enough about Saban and what his success represents. I’m here to pick the winners of all 39 bowl games. Or most of them … we’ll see how I feel in a few paragraphs.
So, yes, pencil Alabama in as the champ (over Clemson). Want a less obvious bet?
Take Eastern Michigan over Georgia Southern in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. Because head coach Chris Creighton may have the toughest coaching job in college football, and his Eagles play in the Mid-American Conference at a school whose students live nowhere near campus.
Karma counts for something, right?
Creighton has led EMU to two bowl games in three years after taking over a historically bad program. Which means that this Saturday in Montgomery, Ala., one of the two Division I football programs in Washtenaw County — hi, there, Michigan — will actually exceed expectation.
Meanwhile, the school that sits 10 minutes from EMU will play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta against Florida. Florida is a fine school with a lot of football success in its past.
OK, sorry for the cheap shot. Besides, U-M is trending up. Take the Wolverines.
As for the other two Michigan schools in bowl games — MSU and Western Michigan — take the split. The Spartans beat Oregon in the Redbox Bowl; improved health and a month of practice should be enough to figure out how to score a couple of touchdowns. The Broncos lose to BYU in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Michigan State football will face the Oregon Ducks in the Redbox Bowl on Dec. 31 in Santa Clara, California.
Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press
Now it’s time for the bowl games you’ve never heard about. Along with EMU and Georgia Southern, 10 other schools take the field Saturday to begin the bowl season.
My rundown: Alcorn State over North Carolina A&T in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl; Utah State over North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl (Utah State ripped off 10 wins after losing to MSU in its opener); Tulane over Louisiana in the AutoNation Cure Bowl; Fresno State over Arizona State in Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl (ASU’s best player, N’Keal Harry, is skipping the game to prepare for the NFL draft); and Appalachian State over Middle Tennessee in the R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl because, well, it’s Appalachian State.
Three days later, UAB takes on Northern Illinois in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl. After breaking down weeks of tape, I’ll go with Northern. OK, so that’s a stretch. I did, however, look up Cheribundi. It’s a juice. Apparently it’s tart.
The day after the cherry juice bowl — Dec. 19 — San Diego State plays Ohio, officially known as the DXL Frisco Bowl, unofficially known as the Brady Hoke bowl. Hoke, the former U-M head coach, used to coach at San Diego State, and used to refer to Ohio State as Ohio. It’s supposed to be a diss.
In any case, go with San Diego State.
If cherries aren’t your thing, watch the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, but don’t root for anyone. No bowl should have that many names. And if you must pick, take South Florida over Marshall.
Staying in Florida, though not for the bowl game, Florida International University plays Toledo in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. Everyone wins in this one, but FIU wins the game.
Everyone doesn’t win in the Jared Birmingham Bowl, where Memphis plays Wake Forest, which would’ve been a good basketball game in the 1990s. Pick: Memphis.
On the same day — Dec. 22 — as the Birmingham Bowl, Houston and Army battle in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Ft. Worth, Texas. It’s surprising that a defense contractor is sponsoring the Armed Forces Bowl. Pick: Houston.
Now for some speed bowling: Buffalo over Troy in the Dollar General Bowl; Louisiana Tech over Hawaii in the SoFi Hawai’i Bowl; Boise State over Boston College in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl in Dallas; Georgia Tech over Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl.
That’s in Detroit. At Ford Field. And Minnesota is coached by P.J. Fleck. Maybe you’ve heard. If you haven’t, ask him.
After the Detroit bowl, California plays TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix, because the bowls aren’t cheesy enough. Pick: California.
OK, here are some more post-Christmas Day games: Temple versus Duke (Walk-On’s Independence Bowl); Miami versus Wisconsin (New Era Pinstripe Bowl); Baylor versus Vanderbilt (Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl); Purdue versus Auburn (Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl); West Virginia versus Syracuse (Camping World Bowl); Iowa State versus Washington State (Valero Alamo Bowl).
Finally, a bowl game with a name that sounds slightly familiar. As for the picks? Take Duke, Miami, Vanderbilt, Purdue, West Virginia and Washington State.
Let’s keep moving … to the Belk Bowl — South Carolina versus Virginia; to the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl — Arkansas State versus Nevada; to the Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman — Virginia Tech versus Cincinnati.
By the way, that’s a nice touch by Grumman to “present” this bowl. Adds class. And keeps the integrity of the Military Bowl intact.
South Carolina, Nevada, Virginia Tech.
So, we’re on the homestretch. On New Year’s Eve, Stanford plays Pittsburgh in the Hyundai Sun Bowl, Missouri plays Oklahoma State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Northwestern plays Utah in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, N.C. State plays Texas A&M in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
Take Stanford, Missouri, Northwestern and Texas A&M.
And, finally, the real homestretch. You can tell by the shorter bowl names … I hope.
Let’s dig in:
Mississippi State takes on Iowa in the Outback Bowl — take the SEC. Kentucky takes on Penn State in the VRBO Citrus Bowl — take the Big Ten. LSU takes on UCF in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl — take the teenager, or 30-year-old — who won the college football PlayStation tournament.
If not, take LSU.
OK, we’re here. The last two bowl games: the (Allstate) Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl Game (presented by Northwestern Mutual). Yes, they have sponsors. No, I’m not including them here. If you read them, it’s because my ultra-capitalist editor inserted them.
Georgia beats Texas in the Sugar. Ohio State beats Washington in the Rose.
Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.