Predictions for 30 bowl games, from week two to the national championship

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Depending upon who you listen to, either this year’s Fiesta Bowl match between Ohio State (13-0) and Clemson (13-0) is the true national championship or the championship will be decided on January 13, 2020 at the Superdome between two teams to be named later.

For the Savvy Index, it is the Fiesta Bowl since Ohio State and Clemson finished 1-2 in our final season rankings.

CBS Sports agrees.

Sports Illustrated does not.

That leads us to the inert compulsion to tell S.I. and others to go CFP-committee themselves.  Instead, we’ll wait three weeks for results to expose the 40-watt analysts in 100-watt circuits.

Before this modern world—you know, the one of fake meat, cannabis for your pets, and facial distortion for your Snap-Chat—we had the BCS. Yes, it was disturbing enough to be called the “Big Confusion System” but at least the folks of Ohio State might have been voted into the final game and not have to putter with this ill-seeded semi-final thing.

Anyway, the Buckeyes are Savvy-picked to win, 31-30. That is not a slam on Clemson because the Tigers were picked by our system to beat Alabama in last January’s final.

LSU (13-0) will sweep into the championship game with a double-digit win over Oklahoma (12-1).  Savvy is predicting a 41-27 margin.

In other bowl games involving ranked teams, #9 Alabama (10-2) should win the Citrus Bowl over #16 Michigan (9-3) by five points; #15 Auburn (9-3) is a 28-24 choice over #17 Minnesota (10-2) in the Outback Bowl; #5 Georgia (11-2) has an identical advantage over #20 Baylor (11-2) in the Sugar Bowl; and, #12 Penn State (10-2) is a precarious 33-28 choice over #13 Memphis (12-1) in the Cotton Bowl.

In the only predicted upset, Savvy Index sees North Carolina (6-6) as a 31-24 choice to take down Temple (8-4) in the Quick Lane Bowl.

If you’re looking to bet against the Vegas odds, look no farther than the Potato Bowl where Ohio (6-6) will beat the -7.5 spread against Nevada (7-5).

Keep an eye on the First Responder Bowl, not because Western Kentucky or Western Michigan are anything important, but to see if the game is even played.  Last year’s FR Bowl was canceled because of lightning.  Apparently, not even God wanted to see Boston College in a bowl game.

For PAC-12 bowl teams . . .

Arizona State (7-5) is a narrow choice over Florida State (6-6) with the caution that Florida State has been rising steadily since Willie Taggart was fired.

Illinois (6-6) has its first bowl game of the last half-decade and is expected to make the most of it in a 27-24 win over California (7-5) in the Redbox Bowl.  The ball-hawking Fighting Illini will be more than gracious in accepting the ball from turnover-prone Cal.  Oddsmakers prefer Cal by seven points.

The Holiday Bowl might be much the same as #18 Iowa (9-3) benefits from #23 USC (8-4) and it’s 114th ranking for lost turnovers.  The Hawkeyes are projected to win 27-21.

No amount of new defensive coordinators will save Texas (7-5) from a 33-24 loss at the hands of #10 Utah (11-2) in the Alamo Bowl.

In the Cheez-it Bowl, #25 Air Force (10-2) will literally run Washington State’s (6-6) anemic defense ragged in a 31-28 win.

Oddsmakers favor #19 Wisconsin (10-3) by three over #6 Oregon (11-2) in the Rose Bowl but the Savvy Index sees Oregon with greater momentum in a 35-27 Oregon win.

The rest of our 30 bowl predictions are shown below.  (We published eight previous bowl  predictions last week.)

Our bowl predictions last year were excellent, at least if compared to thumbless dart throwers in 40-watt arcades.  Like the bowl-predicting marketplace in general, Savvy’s accuracy dropped from the regular season.  But, our off-season was filled with tests and recalibrations and we blissfully imagine we’ll nail all of this season’s bowl predictions.

If you’re looking for more PAC-12 or sports in the Northwest, please visit our friends at Oregon Sports News.


  Savvy Index   2019    
  bowl predictions 12/23/19 thru 01/06/20  
  Season record: 649-198 77%        
rank teams wins losses prediction notes
16 Michigan 9 3 28 Citrus Bowl
9 Alabama 10 2 33 Ala #2 in turnover margin. Michitan is 52nd.
           
  Florida St. 6 6 24 Sun Bowl
  Arizona St. 7 5 28 Rejuvenated FSU is hard to predict.
           
17 Minnesota 10 2 24 Outback Bowl
15 Auburn 9 3 32 Minn’s late dive is what we predicted.
           
5 Georgia 11 2 28 Sugar Bowl
20 Baylor 11 2 24 Baylor not yet ready to beat elites.
           
  Boston Col 6 6 28 Birmingham Bowl
22 Cincinnati 10 3 32 I think the margin will be four times as much.
           
  Pittsburgh 7 5 29 Quick Lane Bowl.
  E Michigan 6 6 21 EMU yields over 425 yards per game.
           
  Wyoming 7 5 34 Arizona Bowl
  Georgia St. 7 5 21 GSU bottom 20 in total defense.
           
  BYU 8 4 31 Hawai’i Bowl
  Hawai’i 9 5 30 Hawai’i can’t hold onto the ball.
           
  California 7 5 24 Redbox Bowl
  Illinois 6 6 27 Illinois will ball-hawk to get win.
           
23 USC 8 4 21 Holiday Bowl
18 Iowa 9 3 27 USC 114th for lost turnovers.
           
7 Notre Dame 10 2 32 Camping World Bowl
  Iowa St. 7 5 21 Bet over the Vegas 3.5 spread.
           
  Navy 10 2 29 Liberty Bowl
  Kansas St. 8 4 28 Navy’s Malcolm Perry is electrifying.
           
24 Va Tech 8 4 24 Belk Bowl
  Kentucky 7 5 23 This is a virtual toss up.
           
  Mississippi St. 6 6 32 Music City Bowl
  Louisville 7 5 27 Louisville 107th in total defense.
           
4 Oklahoma 12 1 27 Peach Bowl
3 LSU 13 0 41 Only 16% chance of upset.
           
  LA Tech 9 3 27 Independence Bowl
  Miami Fl 6 6 28 These teams combined for 11 negative trends to end November.
           
  LA Lafayette 10 3 38 Lendingtree Bowl
  Miami Oh 8 5 21 Still, nice season for Miami O.
           
  Ohio 6 6 35 Potato Bowl
  Nevada 7 5 21 Nevada, worst turnover margin in FBS.
           
2 Clemson 13 0 30 Fiesta Bowl
1 Ohio St. 13 0 31 The winner here wins the ‘natty.
           
13 Memphis 12 1 28 Cotton Bowl
12 Penn St. 10 2 33 You’ve gotta see Memphis’ fr Kenny Gainwell.
         
  N Carolina 6 6 31 Quick Lane Bowl
  Temple 8 4 24 Upset
           
  Indiana 8 4 24 Gator Bowl
  Tennessee 7 5 30 Tenn: no negative metrics for seven straight games.
           
  Oklahoma St. 7 5 30 Texas Bowl
  Texas A&M 7 5 29 Both teams ranked about the same as our preseason.
           
10 Utah 11 2 33 Alamo Bowl
  Texas 7 5 24 Texas: long on horns; short on wins.
           
  S Miss 7 5 27 Armed Forces Bowl
  Tulane 6 6 30 Tulane…tougher opponents & played them better.
           
  Marshall 8 4 21 Gasparilla Bowl
21 UCF 9 3 35  
           
11 Florida 10 2 31 Orange Bowl
  Virginia 9 4 17 Virginia’s Joe Reed averages 35 yards per kick off return.
           
  Michigan St. 6 6 28 Pinstripe Bowl
  Wake Forest 8 4 24 Wake’s Nick Sciba is 96% kicking field goals.
           
25 Air Force 10 2 31 Cheez-It Bowl
  Washington St. 6 6 28 Air Force #2 in least penalty yards.
           
6 Oregon 11 2 35 Rose Bowl
19 Wisconsin 10 3 27 Wisconsin 127th for fumbling.
           
  W Kentucky 8 4 31 First Responder Bowl
  W Michigan 7 5 24 I think WKU wins by twice as much.