We’ve reached the part of bowl season where some halfway decent teams are taking the field. It is only now that we feel comfortable throwing out some predictions, though it should be noted that these exhibition games are notoriously difficult to judge.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
UTAH (-6.5) over West Virginia: The Mountaineers offense will be without standout quarterback Will Grier and running back Justin Crawford. A stout and opportunistic Utes defense will force Chris Chugunov to beat them through the air, which could be a recipe for disaster if West Virginia is behind the sticks. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is an absurd 10-1 in bowl games. Utah 29, West Virginia 20.
Quick Lane Bowl
DUKE (-5.5) over Northern Illinois: Feel the hard-hitting excitement as two defensive-minded teams meet in Detroit. The Blue Devils and Huskies are remarkably similar on paper (allowing 20.8 points/game, within a 7-yard spread in yards/game and yards allowed/game). The difference? Duke has done it against more formidable competition. Duke 24, Northern Illinois 17.
Kansas State vs. UCLA (OVER 60): Josh Rosen’s status is unclear, making the correct side murkier. But if he plays you can pencil the Bruins in for 28 points. And the UCLA defense has been weak, so you can pencil them in for giving up another 30-some to the run-first Kansas State offense. These two teams combined for 75 points in a wild 2014 Alamo Bowl and we’re expecting a repeat. Kansas State 35, UCLA 31.
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
SOUTHERN MISS (+17) over Florida State: The Seminoles season has been a complete disaster, capped by a Reddit investigation into whether they are truly bowl eligible. But if Florida State can’t band together and house the Golden Eagles, things really are terrible in Tallahassee. *Narrator voice: Things are terrible. Florida State 21, Southern Miss 20.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
BOSTON COLLEGE (+2.5) over Iowa: BC running back A.J. Dillon quietly put together a fantastic year on the ground (1,432 yards). Iowa has been such a hot and cold team this year, crushing Ohio State one week and getting throttled at home the next. The Eagles are coming in winners of five of six with the only loss coming to N.C. State by three points. Expect that solid play to continue. Boston College 30, Iowa 17.
TEXAS (+3) over Missouri: The Longhorns are dropping like flies and the roster could look like a MASH unit by gametime. So there’s uncertainty there. On the other side, Missouri has won six straight against losing teams. Going to go against the grain and take the home team here. Texas 26, Missouri 25.
Foster Farms Bowl
ARIZONA (-3) over Purdue: Khalil Tate is going to get his 2018 Heisman campaign started early by running wild. The Wildcats average 41.8 points/game while the Boilermakers post 24.2. Purdue has shown flashes under Jeff Brohm but are in real trouble if this becomes the track meet expected. Arizona 41, Purdue 28.