In & around SEC football


Bowl Previews and Predictions 

Saturday, Dec. 19

Gildan New Mexico Bowl 

Arizona vs. New Mexico (+9). The Lobos are appearing in their first bowl game since 2007 and get to play this one in their own stadium. UNM head coach Bob Davie has done a tremendous job rebuilding this program, and the highlight of the Lobos’ season was an upset over Boise State in Boise as a 30-point underdog. Arizona had a bit of down year following last year’s 10-4 season, but injuries played a major role in some of the Wildcats’ losses this season. Prediction: Arizona 31, New Mexico 24. 

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

BYU vs. Utah (-2.5). The Holy War meets Sin City this postseason. The Cougars and Utes share an intense rivalry and haven’t played in two years due to scheduling conflicts. Utah has won four straight in the rivalry, and BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall left Provo to take the head coaching job at Virginia last week. Prediction: Utah 23, BYU 20. 

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Ohio vs. Appalachian State (-7.5). App State has only been a Division 1 FBS program for two years, but the Mountaineers quickly adjusted to the upgrade. This is the first season the Mountaineers have been eligible to play in bowl games, and they are currently 10-2 on the year. Ohio produced another solid season under Frank Solich, and the Bobcats are looking for their first bowl win since 2012. Prediction: Appalachian State 34, Ohio 20. 

Cure Bowl

San Jose State vs. Georgia State (+2.5). Georgia State’s adjustment to FBS football wasn’t quite as easy as Appalachian State’s. The Panthers’ first two seasons in the Sun Belt produced a combined total of one victory. The Panthers finished 6-6 this year, however, and they earned their first ever trip to a bowl game. San Jose State is one of the few 5-7 teams to reach a bowl game due to there not being enough teams with at least six wins. Prediction: Georgia State 27, San Jose State 24. 

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech (-2). The Red Wolves won their first outright Sun Belt championship since 2012 under Gus Malzahn, and they fi-nished the year undefeated in conference play this season. Louisiana Tech fell just short of reaching the Conference USA title game, but the Bulldogs still had a successful season. Prediction: Louisiana Tech 41, Arkansas State 38. 

Monday, Dec. 21 Miami Beach Bowl

Western Kentucky vs. South Florida (+2.5). South Florida head coach Willie Taggart led the Bulls on one of the most impressive turnaround seasons of any college football program this year. The Bulls finished 8-4 and ended the year with blowout victories over Cincinnati and Temple. Taggart will face his former team, Western Kentucky, in the bowl game. The Hilltoppers won the Conference USA championship under head coach Jeff Brohm. Prediction: Western Kentucky 45, South Florida 35. 

Tuesday, Dec. 22

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Akron vs. Utah State (-6.5). Utah State had high expectations entering the season, but quarterback Chuckie Keeton was injured again halfway through the year. Akron, led by former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, is making its first bowl appearance since 2005. Prediction: Utah State 30, Akron 24. 

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl

Toledo vs. Temple (-1.5). The Rockets and the Owls both had excellent seasons and will meet in one of the best matchups in the December bowl games. Toledo finished the year 9-2, with their best win of the season coming on the road at Arkansas. Head coach Matt Campbell left to take the Iowa State job after the regular season. Temple finished the year at 10-3 and came close to winning the American Conference under head coach Matt Rhule. The Owls nearly knocked off Notre Dame earlier in the year and defeated Penn State to start the season. Prediction: Temple 38, Toledo 35. 

Wednesday, Dec. 23

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Boise State vs. Northern Illinois (+8.5). Both teams were plagued by injuries at the quarterback position this season. The Broncos and the Huskies played backup quarterbacks for most of the year, and injuries for each school derailed promising seasons. Northern Illinois still had a chance at a conference title, but they fell short against Bowling Green. Prediction: Northern Illinois 28, Boise State 27. 

GoDaddy Bowl

Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green (-7.5). The Falcons, led by an explosive offense, won the MAC championship this year under head coach Dino Babers. After the season, Babers took the head coaching job at Syracuse. Georgia Southern almost knocked off Georgia in late November but the Panthers still had a productive season. Prediction: Bowling Green 44, Georgia Southern 31. 

Thursday, Dec. 24

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

Middle Tennessee vs. Western Michigan (-3). These teams might not be playing for the national title, but they are certainly making the best bowl trip of any two teams in college football. Neither the Blue Raiders nor the Broncos won conference titles, but they’ll still probably enjoy their bowl trip more than anyone else. Prediction: Western Michigan 40, Middle Tennessee 34. 

Hawaii Bowl

San Diego State vs. Cincinnati (-1). San Diego State is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won nine straight games. The Aztecs won the Mountain West championship over Air Force 27-24. Cincinnati finished the year 7-5 under head coach Tommy Tuberville, and a bowl win over the Aztecs would end the season on a positive note for the Bearcats. Prediction: Cincinnati 31, San Diego State 27. 

Saturday, Dec. 26

St. Petersburg Bowl

Connecticut vs. Marshall (-4.5). The Huskies have one of the stingiest defenses in college football and will be up against Marshall’s explosive offense in the St. Petersburg Bowl. UConn handed Houston its lone loss of the season a few weeks ago, while Marshall had yet another great season under head coach Doc Holliday. Prediction: Marshall 26, Connecticut 20. 

Hyundai Sun Bowl

Miami vs. Washington State (-2.5). After Washington State lost to Portland State early in the season, it looked like Mike Leach might be in some trouble. The Cougars bounced back with wins over Oregon and UCLA, however, and they enjoyed one of the best seasons in recent years. Miami’s season was filled with turmoil, especially after the Hurricanes fired head coach Al Golden midway through the season, but UM still win eight games on the year. Prediction: Washington State 38, Miami 31. 

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

Washington vs. Southern Miss (+8.5). Southern Miss coach Todd Monken inherited a team that went 0-12 a few years ago, and he nearly won a conference title this season. Washington’s season included several ups and downs, but the Huskies did knock off USC and rival Washington State. Prediction: Southern Miss 33, Washington 28.  

New Era Pinstripe Bowl 

Indiana vs. Duke (+2). Indiana is making its first bowl appearance since 2007, and the Hoosiers are aiming for their first bowl win since 1991. Indiana nearly knocked off both Ohio State and Michigan this year, but came up just short in both games. Duke had another successful season under David Cutcliffe and is are making its fourth straight bowl appearance. Prediction: Indiana 24, Duke 21. 

Camping World Independence Bowl

Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech (-13.5). Frank Beamer will be coaching in his last game for Virginia Tech, and the Hokies are making their 23rd straight bowl appearance under Beamer. Beamer led the Hokies to unprecedented heights, in-cluding a national championship appearance in the 1999 season. Prediction: Virginia Tech 33, Tulsa 17. 

Foster Farms Bowl

UCLA vs. Nebraska (+6.5). UCLA’s season began with conference championship and playoff aspirations, but the Bruins failed to come through in several big game opportunities. However, true freshman QB Josh Rosen was superb throughout the year, and the future looks bright for the Bruins moving forward. Nebraska is another 5-7 team making a bowl trip, and although the Huskers had a disappointing season, they can make amends against UCLA. Prediction: UCLA 38, Nebraska 27. 

Extra Points

Alabama’s Derrick Henry won the Heisman trophy, becoming the second Alabama player in history to win the prestigious award. Henry finished with 1,832 points, while Stanford running back Christian McCa-ffrey finished second with 1,539 points. 

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