New Year’s Six bowl picks

Movie quote of the day:

“Sorry I’m not better looking”

– Henry Roth, “50 First Dates” (2004)

CFB Playoff

Week 14 record: 8-2 (80 percent)
2016 record: 117-49 (70.4 percent)
All-time record: 228-113 (66.8 percent)

Tonight

orange-bowl

Capital One Orange Bowl
No. 6 Michigan (10-2) vs. No. 11 Florida State (9-3)
Hard Rock Stadium
Miami
Line: MICH -6.5

At first glance, I thought this game was going to be a blowout in favor of Michigan. However, after closer examination, I expect this game to be a great one. Florida State got hot at the end of the year and outscored its opponents 145-54 in the Seminoles’ last four games – however, the competition FSU played was very subpar during that stretch – whereas Michigan kind of sputtered at the end. The reason I’m a little hesitant to pick the Wolverines is because I worry about the health of Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight. Since he’s had over a month to get healthy, I think he’ll be good to go but if he’s not the same quarterback he was the first 10 games, it could mean trouble for Michigan. I think Dalvin Cook is a great running back and he’s going to have a great career in the NFL, but at the end of the day, I think Michigan’s defense is just too good – every starter on Michigan’s defense was named All-Big Ten – and I think the Wolverines are going to stack the box to stop Cook and make quarterback Deondre Francois throw the ball. I like Michigan in a low-scoring game.

Prediction: Michigan 16, Florida State 13

Dec. 31

peach-bowl

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – College Football Semifinal No. 1
No. 4 Washington (12-1) vs. No. 1 Alabama (13-0)
Georgia Dome
Atlanta
Line: ALA -13.5

There are five things that a team must have in order to beat Alabama: 1. A great coach, 2. An offense that can spread it out and score a lot of points, 3. A competent quarterback that can air it out, 4. Excellent weapons on the perimeter, 5. Play good defense – Washington has all of those things. Chris Petersen is a terrific coach that doesn’t get enough respect, Jake Browning is a very good quarterback (63.2 percent, 3,280 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, and just seven picks), Washington has excellent weapons on the perimeter on both sides of the ball, and Washington’s defense has been great all year in a conference that has competent quarterback play and high-scoring offenses. Also, Washington has a very good rushing attack that can keep defenses honest with Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman (2,175 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 6.5 yards per attempt between the two backs). I have said it all year – watch out for Washington. I have watched the Huskies play and they are legit contender to knock off Alabama. However, I’m not foolish enough to pick Washington to beat the Crimson Tide. They have more talent than Washington and Jalen Hurts has limited mistakes all year. I think Alabama is just too good in the trenches and Washington is going to find it difficult to run the ball and get after the quarterback. Plus, Alabama has a tremendous pass rush and Browning has been known to panic when under duress. I expect Alabama to win, but Washington will make the Crimson Tide sweat for most of the game.

Prediction: Alabama 30, Washington 24

fiesta-bowl

Playstation Fiesta Bowl – College Football Semifinal No. 2
No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 2 Clemson (12-1)
University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, Ariz.
Line: OSU -3

Both of these teams have been hot and cold all season – but Clemson was arguably playing better than Ohio State toward the end of the year. Deshaun Watson was phenomenal during his last three games – 14 total touchdowns and just two interceptions. In fact, the closer we get to this game the more I’m starting to like Clemson’s chances of winning. However, Deshaun Watson has been a turnover machine at times this year (15 interceptions) and Ohio State has a very good defense – particularly in the secondary. The Buckeyes have three players in their secondary who are first-round talents – Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley, and Marston Lattimore. Watson has to take of the ball or else Clemson is going to get run out of the building because Ohio State’s defense is really good and is great at forcing turnovers. I think the Buckeyes’ defense is going to be the difference in the game, and they will force Watson to make mistakes and give J. T. Barrett and their offense a short field. I also have to give the coaching edge to Urban Meyer. He’ll have his guys ready to play and I expect the Buckeyes to move on to the national championship.

Prediction: Ohio State 27, Clemson 20

Jan. 2

cotton-bowl

Goodyear Cotton Bowl
No. 15 Western Michigan (13-0) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3)
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, Texas
Line: WIS -8.5

I so want to take Western Michigan, but I can’t bring myself to pull the trigger and pick the upset. Don’t be fooled, the Broncos have the talent to win this game, they have an offense that can spread it out and score a bunch of points, and they are very well coached under P. J. Fleck. However, Western Michigan hasn’t faced a defense as tough as Wisconsin – which ranks in the top five in scoring – and I think the Broncos will struggle to find the end zone. Also, even though Wisconsin has a very one-dimensional offense, I don’t think Western Michigan’s defense is good enough to slow down the Badgers’ rushing attack. I think it’s going to be very difficult for the Broncos’ defense to get off the field, and I expect Wisconsin to run the ball a lot, drain the clock, and keep Western Michigan’s offense off the field. I think the Broncos keep it close, but Wisconsin pulls away in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Western Michigan 17

rose-bowl

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual
No. 9 USC (9-3) at No. 5 Penn State (11-2)
Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.
Line: USC -7

This game fascinates me because – outside of Alabama – these were arguably the hottest teams in the country at the end of the year. I’m not crazy about Penn State winning though. Ever since the committee announced the final four, I think Penn State has been too preoccupied with making its case to be in the College Football Playoff and complaining about being left out instead of focusing on USC. I just don’t think the Nittany Lions have the right state of mind for this game. On the other side, I’ve been very impressed with USC. The Trojans have dominated their competition since making the quarterback change to Sam Darnold in week four. Since then, USC has won eight games in a row and has outscored its opponents 307-149 during that stretch. I know Penn State has been just as hot, but I think the Trojans are the better team. They have the better quarterback, better playmakers on the perimeter, and I think Clay Helton has done a fantastic job of keeping his team focused all season and I think he’ll have his guys prepared for this matchup. The Trojans have home-field advantage and always seem to be money in the Rose Bowl. I think USC rolls to a win.

Prediction: USC 34, Penn State 21

Sugar Bowl

Allstate Sugar Bowl
No. 14 Auburn (8-4) at No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans
Line: OKLA -3

I think Auburn has the talent to win this game – especially on defense. However, I don’t trust Sean White and Auburn’s offense to outscore Baker Mayfield and the Sooners. Oklahoma can just about do it all offensively. Mayfield can sling it, Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine are one of the best running back duos in the country, and Dede Westbrook is a great receiver than has lightning-fast speed. Auburn’s defense has been excellent this season, but Oklahoma’s offense is too explosive and will make plays. Also, I think Oklahoma’s defense is better than people think – especially in its last five games, giving up just 99 points. Auburn will get Kamryn Pettway back healthy and the Tigers should be able to run the ball effectively on the Sooners. However, Auburn’s passing attack is awful (No. 112 in the country) and I don’t think White is good enough to outscore Oklahoma. I think Auburn will make it a game at first, but I think the Tigers will eventually run out of gas and Oklahoma will pull away in the second half.

Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Auburn 20

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53

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