Bowl Season — Quarter #3
12/28 — Liberty Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State
This is your life, Mike Leach. Leach has represented the participant schools in 12 of the past 22 seasons (Tech, 2000-’09, MSU, ’20-’21). The Bulldogs bear the current Leach fingerprints, ranked third nationally in passing offense (nearly 386 yards per game).
Opus the Penguin’s pick: Mississippi State
12/28 — Holiday Bowl: North Carolina State vs. UCLA
The offensive units of these two squads are the beneficiaries of significant assistance from their special teams. NC State leads the country in kickoff returns, with more than 30 yards per attempt. UCLA places second in punt returns with an even 20 yards per try.
Bill the Cat’s pick: North Carolina State, THBBFT!
12/28 — Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Minnesota vs. West Virginia
The Gophers present a problematic combination of lock-down defense and ball-control offense, rating fourth nationally in both total defense and time of possession. WVU will seek to extend its two-game winning streak that earned the school bowl eligibility.
Milo Bloom’s pick: Minnesota
12/29 — Pinstripe Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Maryland
Tech can now add virus-protocol superiority to its season-ending win over its cancelled UVA brethren. Terp DB Jakorian Bennett, the country’s third-best pass defender, will keep the Hokies honest. Tech’s Tayvion Robinson is FBS’ fifth-rated punt returner.
Cutter John’s pick: Maryland
12/29 — Cheez-It Bowl: Clemson vs. Iowa State
Clemson’s first non-CFP season since 2014 will conclude in the same Orlando bowl. The Tigers’ scoring defense is second only to top-rated Georgia. Any ISU red zone visit will pit its second-ranked conversion rate against CU’s second-best denial average.
Steve Dallas’ pick: Iowa State
12/29 — Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs. Oklahoma
Not all interim coaches are created equal. The Ducks’ Bryan McClendon will face off against Sooners’ Hall of Famer Bob Stoops. Stoops will inherit the country’s top-rated red zone offense, while McClendon adopts FBS’ fourth-best third-down conversion unit.
Portnoy’s pick: Oklahoma
12/30 — Duke’s Mayo Bowl: North Carolina vs. South Carolina
A good ol’ Carolina border war between teams on two distinct trajectories. Preseason #14 UNC turned a 2–1 start into a 6–6 finish. SC’s 6–6 campaign was a four-win improvement over 2020. Tar Heel WR Josh Downs is the nation’s fourth-ranked pass-catcher.
Hodge-Podge’s pick: North Carolina
12/30 — Music City Bowl: Tennessee vs. Purdue
The home-state favorite Vols sport the country’s third-most efficient passer in QB Hendon Hooker; rated ahead of Georgia’s Stetson Bennett. Boiler WR David Bell places second nationally in catches — tallying a season-high 12 in Wrigley’s friendly confines.
Michael Binkley’s pick: Tennessee
12/30 — Peach Bowl: Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh
This year’s notable NFL Draft deferments: Pitt QB Kenny Pickett (nation’s fifth-leading passer, 4,319 yards), Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III (country’s second-best rusher, 1,636 yards). Enjoy the Peach Fuzz JV Holiday Classic, folks!
Quiche Lorraine’s pick: Michigan State
12/30 — Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State
Either the Badger defense is that good, or Big Ten offenses are very dupable. UW leads FBS in total defense, rushing defense and first downs defense, and places in the top five on passing yards/efficiency and third down conversion lists. Your move, Coach Herm.
Lola Granola’s pick: Arizona State