The bowl season wraps up on New Year’s Day – the College Football Playoff national title matchup technically isn’t a bowl – with five games. Is it odd that the NCAA stages bowl games after its semifinals? Yes, but at least the organization didn’t mess with the New Year’s Day annual extravaganza.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The New Year begins with No. 18 Mississippi State of the SEC facing Iowa of the Big Ten in the Outback Bowl from Tampa. The Hawkeyes will be without one the nation’s best tight ends for the game in Noah Fant as he’s skipping to prepare for the NFL draft. Then again, Fant might not be the best tight end on his own team. Hawkeyes sophomore T.J. Hockenson won the Mackey Award given to the country’s best at the position, and he’s playing. MSU is -7 and covered its past four games as a favorite.
The Fiesta Bowl from Glendale, Arizona, features No. 11 LSU of the SEC and No. 8 Central Florida (AAC), which for the second year in a row couldn’t break its way into the College Football Playoff despite an unbeaten record. Just a shame that a program on a 25-game winning streak can’t compete for a title. The Knights are without star quarterback McKenzie Milton as he suffered a serious knee injury in the regular-season finale. They are 7.5-point underdogs to LSU, and UCF is 5-1 ATS in its past six as a dog.
This was one of the best seasons in the history of Kentucky football, and the No. 14 Wildcats of the SEC take on No. 12 Penn State of the Big Ten in the Citrus Bowl from Orlando. UK has one of the nation’s top defenses and PSU one of the country’s best QBs in Trace McSorley. Penn State is -7 and has lost just twice in its past 30 as a favorite.
No. 9 Washington of the Pac-12 takes on No. 6 Ohio State of the Big Ten in the “Granddaddy of them all,” the Rose Bowl. When the Rose Bowl isn’t part of the College Football Playoff, it still matches the Pac-12 and Big Ten, ideally its conference champions, which is the case here. It will be the last game for OSU coach Urban Meyer, who is retiring. His Buckeyes are -7 but 2-6 ATS in their past eight as favorites.
Finally, No. 15 Texas of the Big 12 faces No. 5 Georgia of the SEC in the Sugar Bowl from New Orleans. Both schools lost in their conference title game – UGA blew a 14-point lead to top-ranked Alabama in the SEC title game or the Dawgs would have been in the national semifinals. Georgia is -12.5, with the Horns covering a stellar nine of their past 12 as underdogs.