Another college football bowl season starts up on Saturday and culminates with the National Championship on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California. Here are some predictions of choice games before dozens of college matchups overload the television schedule for the coming weeks:
DXL Frisco Bowl: San Diego State vs. Ohio
The Ohio Bobcats went another season of just missing out on the Mid-American Conference Championship, but did earn a bowl berth for the 12th time in program history. The Bobcats meet the Aztecs on Dec. 19 in Frisco, Texas (near Dallas).
Ohio is favored to win by a field goal, which is a close margin for Ohio’s power running team and San Diego State’s strong running defense. In their final games as Bobcats, redshirt running backs A.J. Ouellette and Maleek Irons should be feared.
Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke should be able to get it done as well, so take the Bobcats to win their fourth bowl game in history and second in as many seasons.
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl: UAB vs. Northern Illinois
After a blowout loss to Ohio in last season’s Bahamas Bowl, the UAB Blazers will look to avoid another loss to a MAC squad in their final game of the season.
After losing its final two regular-season games of the year, NIU upset Buffalo in the MAC Championship to get back on track. Look for the Huskies to win for a small upset on Dec. 18 near the beginning of the bowl season.
Military Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Not quite the same as when these two teams met in the Orange Bowl during the 2008 season for a top 20 matchup, but the Military Bowl should still be a telling game.
Virginia Tech just snuck into a bowl game while Cincinnati impressed to crack the rankings. The reborn No. 24 Bearcats should get their first bowl win for head coach Luke Fickell.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: LSU vs. UCF
UCF went another season without a loss on its record, but still didn’t make the College Football Playoff. They face LSU and Athens High School grad Joe Burrow in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.
UCF did win its conference championship without starting quarterback McKenzie Milton who has a broken leg, but that magic more than likely won’t be sustained against Burrow and the Tigers.
Rose Bowl: Washington vs. Ohio State
Ohio State feels disrespected by missing out on the playoff again and that quarterback Dwayne Haskins finished third in the Heisman race.
With a chip on their shoulders, the Buckeyes should dominate the Rose Bowl by multiple scores. Ohio State’s offense is strong and should go off even against a talented Washington defense.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Clemson
A battle of the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) and the Clemson Tigers (13-0). Clemson is predicted to win but this is an intriguing matchup.
Notre Dame played a tougher schedule than some give credit, but Clemson is easily as good with experience in the College Football Playoff. Both offenses put points on the board and both defenses allowed fewer than 18 points per game.
Take Clemson in a close one to get to the National Championship for the third time in four seasons.
Capital One Orange Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Alabama
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the players who won and finished second in the Heisman voting, will go head to head on Dec. 29.
Murray may have won the award, but his defense sure won’t help him win very much in the Orange Bowl. Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide have too good an offense for Oklahoma’s defense that allowed over 30 points and nearly 450 yards per game.
Alabama is consistently at the top of the polls because the Crimson Tide know how to win. If Alabama makes another title game, head coach Nick Saban will be raising another trophy.