Five games on tap tomorrow in this month-long bowl game extravaganza that culminates with the college football playoff on Jan. 1 pitting No.2 Oklahoma and No.3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl at 4 PM CT on ESPN, and the No.4 Crimson Tide vs. No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in the other semifinal game at 7:45 PM on ESPN. The winners will meet in Atlanta for the national championship game on January 8, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But first things first. There is a lot of super bowl action coming up this month and into January led off by the first 5 games tomorrow with some accomplished teams and what should be high quality competition. Here's a look at the games coming up tomorrow along with predictions.
Last week: Army 14, Navy 13
Awesome football game. Like a throwback with snow falling and accumulating throughout America's game, great defense and some terrific explosive plays. Army got it done with quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw taking over at the end though Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry was just as good as he rushed for 250 yards on 30 carries and a TD. Bradshaw took over late and finished with 94 yards on 21 carries. Outstanding game. Both teams are bowl bound as the Cadets, which moved to 9-3, now square off with 10-2 San Diego State and 2,000+ yard rusher Rashaad Penny next Saturday, 12-23, in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth at 2:30 PM CT on ESPN. The Naval Academy, now 6-6, faces 6-6 Virginia in the Military Bowl on Thursday, 12-28, at 12:30 PM on ESPN. Looking forward to both of those contests. The Academies are so solid and disciplined, but playing some quality competition, so those games should be action packed. Here's a look at the Saturday slate.
Overall 2017-18: 210-79, 73%
Overall: 223-112, 67%
All Times Central
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Troy (10-2) vs. North Texas (9-4)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, N'awlins (76,468)
Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, Kris Budden
Laundry: Mountain West, David Alvarez, lead ref
Troy by 7
The Trojans put together a terrific year defeating LSU on a Saturday Night, Sept. 30th, in Death Valley, 24-21, and captured the Sun Belt Conference championship with a thrilling last minute drive to defeat Arkansas State on the road, 32-25, to cap off a spectacular season. Quarterback Brandon Silvers completed 259-of-412 passes for 2,985 yards, 13 TDs, against 6 ints this season. Running back Jordan Chunn rushed for 774 yards and 10 TDs. The defense registered 31 sacks on the season led by defensive tackle Jamal Stadom (6'2", 280) who posted 5.5 sacks. Troy added 15 interceptions led by cornerback Blace Brown's 5.
On the other side, Mean Green quarterback Mason Fine completed 294-of-457 passes for 3,749 yards, 28 TDs, yet he threw 13 interceptions. Running back Jeffrey Wilson rushed for 1,215 yards on the season and 16 TDs, but was injured late in the season and is questionable for the game. Wide out Michael Lawrence led the team in receiving with 56 catches for 749 yards and 3 TDs, while receiver Rico Bussey Jr. added 43 catches for 613 yards and 6 TDs. Outside linebacker EJ Ejiya led the defense in tackles with 100, and also led the team in sacks with 7.
I believe in Neil Brown and his Trojans football team. Brown is a rising star in the coaching profession, but I'd like to see him stay at Troy for a while. He's got it going in Southeastern Alabama. Troy has a couple of injuries at wide receiver, but I still like Silvers, Chunn and the talented Troy defense to get the job done in the "Big Easy."
Troy 35, North Texas 24
AutoNation Cure Bowl
Western Kentucky (6-6) vs. Georgia State (6-5)
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL. (65,000)
CBS Sports Network
Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Jenny Dell
Yella: American Athletic Conference, Mike Roche, lead launderer
WKU by 6 1/2
Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White has completed 342-of-521 passes, 66%, for 3,826 yards 24 TDs and 7 ints. His leading target is receiver Nacarius Fant, who has caught 67 passes for 634 yards and 4 TDs. D'Andre Ferby leads the team in rushing with 362 yards and 3 TDs. They don't run it much under Coach MIke Sanford at Western KY, but pass it very effectively. Outside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe leads the defense in tackles with 105, and has 9 tackles for loss. Free safety Devon Key added 82 tackles in the regular season.
For Georgia State, quarterback Conner Manning completed 239-of-375 passes, 64%, for 2,870 yards, 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Wide receiver Penny Hart had a big year catching 73 passes for 1,094 yards and 8 TDs. On defense, inside linebacker Trey Payne led the team in tackles with 61.
I like Shawn Elliott, the coach at Georgia State. He did a nice job keeping the South Carolina program together 2 years ago when Steve Spurrier abruptly quit the team. He's done a nice job at Georgia State. But Western has better offense, and I see this as an offensive game with Western taking care of business in central Florida.
Western KY 42, Georgia State 31
Las Vegas Bowl
No. 25 Boise State (10-3) vs. Oregon (7-5)
Sam Boyd Stadium, Vegas, (40,000)
Rece, Kirk, Molly McGrath
Aladdin Cleaners: American Athletic, Adam Savoie, lead laundry
Oregon by 7
This is an excellent matchup. Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien has completed 195-of-308 passes, 63%, for 2,495 yards, 14 TDs, and 4 ints. Running back Alexander Mattison is questionable Saturday with an ankle injury, and Boise State needs him as he rushed for 1,074 yards and 12 TDs this year. Ryan Wolpin was next at 377 and 9 TDs. The Broncos leading receiver is Cedric Wilson, who has caught 73 passes for 1,290 yards and 6 TDs. Tight end Jake Roh added 39 receptions for 410 yards with 9 of them have going for TDs. On defense, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch posted 129 tackles on the season, good for 16th nationally. Frank Ginda led the nation with 173 tackles. Vander Esch also added 5 1/2 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 2 interceptions. Cornerback Tyler Horton and safety Kekoa Nawahine led the team in interceptions with 3 apiece.
For Oregon, their big gun is running back Royce Freeman, who has rushed for 1,475 yards and 16 TDs. The only problem with Freeman is that he may be sitting out Saturday to rest for the NFL Draft. Not a big fan of this practice, but it seems to be the new normal with these guys who believe they'll be high draft choices. Freeman could very well be a high draft choice, he's an excellent running back with all the tools, take it to the house speed, between the tackles power, quickness and cutting ability, but still I'm not too keen on him missing this fantastic matchup in the Vegas bowl. If he doesn't play, Tony Brooks-James and Kani Benoit will need to pick up the slack. Brooks-James has rushed for 485 yards and 2 TDs, and Benoit, who I'm high on, has rushed for 573 yards and 10 TDs. So they may not miss Freeman as much as they think, but his absence will be somewhat a blow if he chooses to opt out. Quarterback Justin Herbert missed much of the season with an injury, but is back and has completed 113-of-170 passes, 66%, for 1,750 yards, 13 TDs against 3 ints. The Ducks leading receiver is Dillon Mitchell, who has caught 33 passes for 374 yards and 4 TDs. Tight end Jacob Breeland added 17 receptions for 311 yards and 5 TDs. On defense, linebacker Troy Dye has posted 103 tackles, with 14 for loss along with 4 sacks. Safety Ugo Amadi leads the team in interceptions with 4. Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. added 3 ints. I've just gotten confirmation, Freeman will not play.
I like this to be an offensive game with fireworks on both sides. Even though Freeman has decided to sit out, and coach Willie Taggert has gone to Florida State, I still like the Ducks' firepower. Under new coach Mario Cristobal and that dynamic offense, I see them handling Boise State in the Entertainment Capital of the World. Looking forward to this matchup.
Oregon 45, Boise State 34
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Marshall (7-5) vs. Colorado State (7-5)
Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M. (39,224)
Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks, Roddy Jones
Vogue Cleaners: Mid American Conference, Luke Richmond
Colorado State by 5 1/2
Thundering Herd quarterback Chase Litton has completed 249-of-411 passes, 61%, for 2,853 yards, 23 TDs against 12 ints. Running back Tyler King leads the team in rushing with 714 yards and 6 TDs. Keion Davis added 671 yards and 5 TDs. Wide receiver Tyre Brady has posted 56 receptions for 777 yards and 7 TDs. Wide out Willie Johnson pulled in 36 passes for 443 yards and 4 TDs. On defense, linebacker Chase Hancock registered 120 tackles, 9 for loss, and 2 sacks. Cornerback Chris Jackson led the team in interceptions with 3.
On the Rams side, quarterback Nick Stevens completed 259-of-407 passes for 3,484 yards, 27 TDs against 10 ints. Running back Dalyn Dawkins rushed for 1,349 yards and 8 TDs. Running back Izzy Matthews added 588 yards and 8 more TDs. Wide receiver Michael Gallup had a huge year with 94 receptions for 1,350 yards and 7 TDs. Dalton Fackrell added 20 receptions for 275 yards and 6 TDs. Middle linebacker Josh Watson leads the defense with 103 tackles and is tied for the team lead in interception with 2. Four players are tied with 2 interceptions apiece to lead the team.
I kind of like pretty much a blowout here. Colorado State is loaded with artillery on offense.
Colorado State 45, Marshall 28
Middle Tennessee State (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-4)
Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL. (21,000)
Taylor Zarzour, Andre, Olivia Harlan
Yella: Mountain West, Kevin Boitmann
Ark State by 3 1/2
Middle Tennessee State quarterback Brent Stockstill, the coach's son, has completed 119-of-204 passes, 58%, for 1,440 yards, 14 TDs against 5 ints. Running back Tavares Thomas is the lead running back for the Blue Raiders, having rushed for 458 yards and 8 TDs. Wide receiver Richie James has 31 receptions for 290 yards and 3 TDs. On defense, safety Jovante Moffatt is the leading tackler with 95 total. Linebacker Khalil Brooks has 15 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks, both of which lead the team. Safety Reed Blankenship leads the team in interceptions with 2.
For the Red Wolves, quarterback Justice Hansen has completed 274-of-430 passes, 64%, for 3,635 yards, 34 TDs, but 15 interceptions. Running back Warren Wand leads the team in rushing with 660 yards and 6 TDs. Wide receiver Chris Murray leads the offense with 45 receptions for 645 yards and 9 TDs. Wide out Omar Bayless added 30 catches for 417 yards and 6 TDs. On defense, defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones has posted 18 1/2 tackles for loss, 7th in the country. Sutton Smith of Northern Illinois led the country with 28 1/2 TFLs. Rolland-Jones also recorded 13 sacks. His sack total is second in the country. Only Joe Ostman of Central Michigan has more. That's spec-tacular. Three players led the defense in interceptions with 2 each.
The line has dropped some on this one, so I see it as a closer game, but I do like the Red Wolves to get over the hump at the end. Expecting an offensive showcase in the state capitol. Should be an electric game.
Arkansas State 45, Middle Tennessee State 41