It is too early to know how we went last week as these bowl games come so thick and fast that the predictions need to be written before the last set of games has been played. We would have been able to give you one score at least, but then the First Responder Bowl was declared a no contest because of weather in the Dallas area.
By Steve Wright
Last week’s record: 0-0
Overall record: 100-36
Exact scores predicted (on the season): 1
Here are some score predictions for the games on December 31 and January 1:
Monday, December 31
Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (10-2) – Cincinnati should be able to run the ball all over Virginia Tech here. This is a team that allowed 492 rushing yards to Pitt at an average of 13.7 yards per carry and that was generally abysmal at stopping the ground game all season long. Cincinnati is 18th in the nation and rushes for 238 yards per game. They might go for 350 here. Cincinnati 38, Virginia Tech 20.
Stanford (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (7-6) – Bryce Love should have left for the NFL last year as injuries to his line made Love and Stanford average just 108.3 rushing yards per game compared to 202.4 a season ago. Love will not be playing in this game, but the Stanford ground game looks healthier than it has been all season which is bad news for Pitt. Stanford 25, Pitt 21.
Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4) – There were many who expected this to be the final game at Oregon for Ducks’ quarterback Justin Herbert. Instead, the No. 1 rated draft eligible passer has decided to return to school and this game will be a preview of what to come in 2019. Michigan State has nothing to worry Oregon here. Oregon 35, Michigan State 17.
Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. (23) Missouri (8-4) – This one will be all offense, all the time. Missouri averages 36.9 point and 468.8 yards per game, while Oklahoma State goes for 38.4 and 500. Drew Lock passed for 3,125 yards and 25 touchdowns on a season where Missouri switched to a more balanced offensive approach and he will be the difference in this game. Missouri 45, Oklahoma State 42.
(22) Northwestern (8-5) vs. (17) Utah (9-4) – Utah has one of the best defenses in the country and they should have the ability to shut down the Northwestern attack. If Tyler Huntley is ready to go after a November break to his collar bone then the Utes should run away with this one as it just hard to see how Northwestern moves the ball. Utah 21, Northwestern 10.
(19) Texas A&M (8-4) vs. NC State – The Wolfpack will be without Kelvin Harmon, the ACC’s leader in receiving yards (1,186) and his seven pass catching touchdowns. The air is the way to attack Texas A&M, but without Harmon it is going to be difficult for NC State to move the ball that way. The Wolfpack will also be without 104 tackle and six sack linebacker Germaine Pratt. A&M win this as they are fully loaded in terms of talent. Texas A&M 41, NC State 21.
Tuesday, January 1
(18) Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Iowa (8-4) – Mississippi State finally found its offense in the latter part of the season, beating Arkansas and Ole Miss by a combined score of 87-9. Iowa will have to find a way to replace all-everything tight end Noah Fent who is sitting out this one to prepare for the2019 NFL Draft, leaving his Mackey Award winning position mate T.J. Hockenson isolated in the attack. Expect a monster game from Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald here. Mississippi State 35, Iowa 19.
(12) Penn State (9-3) vs. (14) Kentucky (9-3) – Two teams with excellent running games clash in Orlando. Kentucky has no passing game to speak of, while Penn State will be trotting out a health Trace McSorely for his final college game. Josh Allen plays for the Wildcats and he will have to have a monster presence at linebacker if Kentucky is to pull the upset here. Kentucky 24, Penn State 21.
(11) LSU (9-3) vs. (8) UCF (12-0) – Darriel Mack Jr. was sensational against Memphis as he filled in for star quarterback McKenzie Milton after Milton suffered a horrific leg break against USF. The Knights offense didn’t miss a beat with Mack in the role, but now they face an LSU defense that has been spectacular in 2018 to make up for a low end offensive unit. UCF will be motivated, but they will fall just short. LSU 28, UCF 24.
(9) Washington (10-3) vs. (6) Ohio State (12-1) – Washington really needs a win in a big bowl to validate everything Chris Peterson has done over the last four years with the Huskies. This is a huge contrast in styles with the Huskies fearsome defense facing up against the impressive Dwayne Haskins and the up-tempo Ohio State passing game. The Buckeyes win this as Urban Meyer moves upstairs (for Now). Ohio state 32, Washington 20.
(15) Texas (9-4) vs. (5) Georgia (11-2) – Georgia is the best team not in the College Football Playoff (the should be there) while Texas has beaten Oklahoma and lost to Maryland this season. The Longhorns offense is explosive, and the Bulldogs will have a weakness in their secondary without Deandre Baker, but it feels like this young Georgia team wants to make a statement to the committee at the expense of Texas. Georgia 41, Texas 20.