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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
NOW WE GET REAL
As we’re entrenched in the holiday season where the date and calendar seem to become one big blur, bowl season is as intense as ever. We’re talking several days of marathon CFB action, games from noon to midnight all building up a playoff-filled New Year’s Eve, and one last epic slate of games to kick off 2023 next Monday. In other words, this is the last chance to stuff your face with college football winners before the January diet starts.
As we head into the last batch of bowl games, I followed an inferno week with a more pedestrian week 2 in bowling. Now, with the main course of bowl casserole being served let’s not mess around and wait for everyone else to hate, let’s get busy and on to the lines:
BOWL SZN is here! Check out our Bowl Pick’em Pools and let’s go bowling!
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27th
Camellia Bowl – Georgia Southern (-4.5) vs Buffalo – 12 pm ET
A couple of streaky teams that snuck out 6-6 campaigns with big losing streaks to blame. Both teams won their finale and like to air it out – a shootout is impending.
Alex’s Play: Over 67 points
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl – Memphis (-7) vs Utah State – 3:15 pm ET
Memphis is one of those teams I had fun picking this season. They’re slightly anemic on defense but will have no issue scoring on Utah State.
Alex’s Play: Memphis -7
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl – East Carolina (-7) vs Coastal Carolina – 6:45 pm ET
ECU is definitely the more motivated team here as CCU’s season ended in misery. It’s a Carolina rivalry played in Alabama and I expect Holton Ahlers to go out slinging in this one.
Alex’s Play: ECU -7
Guaranteed Rate Bowl – Wisconsin (-3) vs Oklahoma State – 9:15 pm ET
These are arguably the most fascinating bowl games – two big-time programs that had underwhelming seasons that have to drag themselves out to a bowl game. These teams head to Phoenix for one last bowl game which means very little to either side. I lean toward Wisconsin mainly because of OSU’s BQ uncertainty.
Alex’s Play: Wisconsin -3
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28st
Military Bowl Presented by Peraton – Duke (-3.5) vs UCF – 2:00 pm ET
Two non-military schools playing in the military bowl – awkward but I’m not complaining. I don’t love Duke as a favorite though who is overmatched in the trenches.
Alex’s Play: UCF +3.5
AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Arkansas (-3) vs Kansas – 5:30 pm ET
Is it Ar-Kansas or your Kansas? We settle that debate at last in Memphis for the Liberty Bowl. Kansas is bowl eligible for the first time in FOREVER so they’ll be ready to go, but the total number of points seems too high for an SEC opponent ready to fight.
Alex’s Play: Under 68.5
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl – Oregon (-14) vs North Carolina – 8 pm ET
Ok, NOW we’re cookin’ with gas here. A high octane matchup of the Ducks and the Tar Heels, who were led by dynamic QB play from Bo Nix and Drake Maye respectively. Both are currently expected to play so let’s get wild in this one!
Alex’s Play: UNC +14, OVER 75
TaxAct Texas Bowl – Ole Miss (-3.5) vs Texas Tech – 9 pm ET
A tale of two teams here: Ole Miss started 7-0 then lost 4 of their last 5 games. Texas Tech comes in on a 3-game win streak, let’s ride the wave here as I’m doubting there’s Texas Bowl buzz in Oxford.
Alex’s Play: Texas Tech +3.5
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29th
Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl – Minnesota (-10) vs Syracuse – 2 pm ET
There’s ONE question to answer in this game: if you think Mo Ibrahim can be stopped by the Cuse Defense, bet the dog. If you don’t, then the Gophers roll in this one. He’s THAT good.
Alex’s Play: Minnesota -10
Cheez-It Bowl – Florida State (-9.5) vs Oklahoma – 5:30 pm ET
Another great QB matchup featuring the elusive Jordan Travis for FSU and Dillon Gabriel for OU. The Sooners are in shambles late this season while the Seminoles are buzzing heading into this one. I don’t hate the under here either but the Noles are the play.
Alex’s Play: Florida State -9.5
Valero Alamo Bowl – Texas (-3) vs Washington – 9 pm ET
An electric matchup of offenses ready to fly, the only problem is a lot of sit outs for the Longhorns, including star back Bijan Robinson. It’s hard to not bet the over here though, as the Huskies will surely put 30 points on their own.
Alex’s Play: Over 67.5
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30th
Duke’s Mayo Bowl – NC State (-1) vs Maryland – 12 pm ET
Yes, there will be a giant jar of Mayo mascot pursuing the sidelines. Tua’s little bro at QB for the Terps against an NC State team that couldn’t turn this good season into a great one. This one really is a coin-flip game as the line suggests.
Alex’s Play: Over 46 points
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl – UCLA (-5.5) vs Pittsburgh – 2 pm ET
Strong take alert: DTR will have a highlight-filled game and roll all over this Pitt D. Every time the Panthers have faced a dual threat QB they have been carved up.
Alex’s Play: UCLA -5.5
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl – Notre Dame (-2) vs South Carolina – 3:30 pm ET
The storyline here is South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler, who is playing in this game as his final test to decide on one more year of college or the NFL draft. He’ll be looking to ball out in this one so expect a lot of downfield passes.
Alex’s Play: Over 51.5 points
Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl – Ohio (-1) vs Wyoming – 4:30 pm ET
A couple of reeling teams coming off losses but headed to Arizona from cooler climates. Pray for the over, and stay for El Pres and Big Cat on the call.
Alex’s Play: Ohio ML
Capital One Orange Bowl – Clemson (-4.5) vs Tennessee – 8 pm ET
The headliner of the day is about as good as you can get without it being a playoff game. Unfortunately, it’s no Hendon Hooker leading the Vols so I have to lean the other way as Cade Klubnik has found his way for Clemson.
Alex’s Play: Clemson -4.5
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31st
Allstate Sugar Bowl – Alabama (___) vs Kansas State – 12 pm ET
Alabama outside of the playoff is an unfamiliar sight, so how will they react? I’m impressed that future NFL draft picks Bryce Young and Will Anderson are playing. Since the line is inside a score I can’t take K State, but I like the over.
Alex’s Play: Over 56 points
TransPerfect Music City Bowl – Iowa (-2.5) vs Kentucky – 12:07 pm ET
I don’t know what is stranger about this game – the 12:07 specificity for kickoff, or the measly point total of 31 for a playoff lead-in game. It’s like they’re begging you not to watch at all costs. Just know that I’ll be watching with you, degens. I’ll take Iowa since Kentucky QB Will Levis is sitting out.
Alex’s Play: Iowa -2.5
CFP Semifinal at the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl – Michigan (-7.5) vs TCU – 4 pm ET
At long last, we made it to the final four. Michigan is absolutely the tougher team in this grit vs finesse matchup, but TCU can win in the margins in some ugly ways as they’ve proved this season. I think the Horned Frogs stay close in this one and surprise many.
Alex’s Play: TCU +7.5
CFP Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – Georgia (-6.5) vs Ohio State – 8 pm ET
In the second playoff semifinal, my heart wants to see the Ohio State/Michigan matchup come to fruition, but my brain tells me that UGA chokes out the Buckeyes and runs it down their throats.
Alex’s Play: Georgia -6.5
MONDAY, JANUARY 2nd
ReliaQuest Bowl – Illinois (PICKEM) vs Mississippi State – 12 pm ET
There’s a lot more than football at play in this game. Though I’ve been impressed with Illinois’ step up this season, they’ve limped to the finish. Also, Mississippi State playing in honor of their late coach Mike Leach should make for an inspired performance.
Alex’s Play: Mississippi State ML
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic – USC (-2) vs Tulane – 1 pm ET
Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams IS slated to play in this one, and he’ll be hard to tame for sure. Tulane has a motor on offense of their own so this should diminish into a “trading touchdowns” game.
Alex’s Play: Over 62 points
Cheez-It Citrus Bowl – LSU (14.5) vs Purdue – 1 pm ET
The big number reminds me of the Big Ten championship where Purdue covered against Michigan for 57 minutes until they didn’t. Is LSU as impressive on offense? I’m not sure they are, so the dog or the under is the angle here.
Alex’s Play: Under 56.5 Points
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Prudential – Utah (-2.5) vs Penn State
Penn State is that stereotypical team this year that beats up on crappy opponents and can’t play with the big boy. The Utes are big enough boys to handle the Nittany Lions, and the win against USC was impressive to vault them into this game.
Alex’s Play: Utah -2.5
BOWL SEASON WEEK 2 RECAP
Off of the blazing start in week one we leveled off but maintained the positive sign next to our names – always a nice feeling. Now it’s main course time and we saved room for winners to go down smoothly.
Bowl Season: 11-6 ATS, Season Overall: 46-46 ATS
Each week you can look forward to “This Week in Bowling” pieces where I’ll have plays and a breakdown for EVERY. SINGLE. BOWL. GAME. No exceptions! Plus here’s your reminder that our Bowl Pickem Pools are still LIVE, so Get on it!
Tune-In Game of the Week: Semifinal #1 with TCU and Michigan is going to be electric, and a great way to start off your NYE festivities.
Funniest Bowl Game Sponsor: the Cheez-It monopoly continues as they now host not one but TWO bowl games this season. I woke up feeling the cheesiest!
Weirdest Line: LSU +14.5 – did not expect that as the biggest spread of the week.