Texas Bowl, Kansas State 33, A&M 28
A&M had the edge in playmakers and talent, supposedly, but Kansas State looked like they wanted it more. It was a struggle towards the middle of the season on for the Aggies. They have a good recruiting class coming in if they all sign and Sumlin adds a few more, but their quarterback situation next year will be unknown. They have 2 coming in; a pretty high 4-star dual threat, Kellen Mond, a 6'2.5", 201 pounder from Florida powerhouse IMG Academy, and a three star dropback passer in Connor Blumrick, from Texas, and they've got Jake Hubenak back next year for his senior season, and he's pretty serviceable. Also, they have a freshman on the team this season, Nick Starkel, who was a solid three-star out of Texas, a dropback passer, so they'll have some pretty good talent. Kevin Sumlin has got to show improvement next season. He has a pretty good defense returning, but they feel apart under John Chavis the latter part of this season. I'm sure injuries played a part. Noel Mazzone, to me, is not the answer as offensive coordinator for Sumlin. His offenses are inconsistent. So Sumlin has his work cut out for him or his seat could become extremely hot next season. Another stellar season for K State under the venerable Bill Snyder as they finished 9-4. A&M finished 8-5. That's not going to cut it next year.
Pinstripe Bowl, Northwestern 31, Pitt 24
I'm really becoming bullish on the Big Ten after the Wildcats upset the Panthers yesterday. Super performance by Northwestern running back Justin Jackson, who galloped for 224 yards and 3 TDs. Northwestern was just the more physical team. It didn't help Pitt that their starting running back, James Connor, and their starting quarterback, Nathan Peterson, got hurt. But they were standing on the sideline during the second half and I'm not sure why they didn't tough it out and play. But that's no excuse; Northwestern was the better team yesterday and they wanted it more than Pitt, a softer team from the ACC. I really like Northwestern's coach, Pat Fitzgerald. Pat was a linebacker there and is a terrific motivator. Classy guy. It was the Wildcats' first victory in a bowl game in a while and it was well deserved. This should boost their recruiting,. Fitzgerald is excellent. Northwestern finished the season at 7-6.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami 31, West Virginia 14
Really happy for Mark Richt. He's going to do a stellar job in Miami. Quarterback Brad Kaaya was awesome, going 24-for-34 for 282 and 4 sevens. He's a super kid too. He's going to decide in the next week whether to go out for the draft or not. I'd love to see him come back, but his draft stock certainly improved with his performance last night. Always believe in the degree and with another year he could really enhance his stock for 2018. West Virginia Coach Dana Holgerson is a volcano that erupts at every call that doesn't go his way. Borderline psychotic. Richt with a solid first season @ South Beach at 9-4.
Foster Farms Bowl, Utah 26, Indiana 24
Didn't watch as much of this game because I was homed in on Miami's game and then A&M-K State. This game was on FOX. But Utah got it done once again. Kyle Whittingham is now 10-1 in bowl games since 2004, when he took over from Urban Meyer, who left to take the Florida job. That's spectacular. He's 7-0 against power conference teams in that time span. He's superb. And Utah will always be good under Whittingham. He could be a hot commodity soon, that is if he even wants to leave Utah. Coaches all want a chance to win a national championship, so we'll see what develops with Whttingham in the next year or so. Whittingham is 57, so if he's going to make a move, it probably needs to be soon. But 57 is not old. Bill Snyder is going strong at 77, and Kyle loves it in Salt Lake. He's got a fantastic thing going and may feel like he can win it all at Utah. That would be pretty cool. He's recruiting well, and his physical, power style football always works. His stud senior running back, Joe Williams, ran for 222 yards and a seven. Williams really has catapulted up the draft board with his performance this season. He had actually quit the team before the season started but came in for the fourth game as Whittingham was low on tailbacks and asked him to come back. What a move for both Williams and the Utes. Utah finished another exceptional season at 9-4.
South Carolina (6-6) vs. South Florida (10-2)
Legion Field (71,504)
1 PM CT/2 PM ET
Eamon McAnaney, John Congemi, Kevin Weidl
Launderers: Mountain West, David Alvarez
Willie Taggert did an excellent job in Tampa and earned a job at a Power 5 program as Oregon hired him. Charlie Strong is taking over, but they'll have an interim coach today. I thought Will Muschamp did a very good job in his first year in Columbia.. He had South Carolina, which Steve Spurrier left in a pretty bad state, very competitive with 3 wins in the SEC over Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Missouri. The Gamecocks got blasted by Clemson at the end of the season, 56-7, but Will faced pretty much a total rebuilding job this season.
South Carolina freshman quarterback Jake Bentley, from Opelika, AL. was solid in his first season. The conference is going to be pretty special at quarterback in the next couple of years with Jalen Hurts, Jacob Eason, Shea Patterson and Bentley, all of whom are freshmen. Deebo Samuel is a special playmaker for the Gamecocks and should play a big role in the outcome of this game.
So even though they're 1-2 so far in the bowl games, I'm going to take a chance on the conference and go with the 10 point underdog to play solid defense and get enough done on offense to capture the B'ham Bowl at the Football Capital of the South.
South Carolina 24, USF 21
Arkansas (7-5) vs Virginia Tech (9-4)
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. (75,412)
4:30 PM CT/5:30 PM ET
Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr. Jerry Punch
Whistles: Big 12, Brandon Cruse
It's going to be windy in Charlotte with winds 15-20 MPH, so passing the ball will be challenging. I like Brett Bielema, his quarterback, Austin Allen, who will be outstanding next year if he gets protection and was good this season, the dual running threat of Rawleigh Williams (1,326 yards, 12 TDs) and Deywah Whaley (601 yards, 3 TDs) to get it done for the Hogs over a very good Va. Tech team. Arkansas has been erratic this season, but still believe in them.
Hogs 28, Va. Tech 24
Colorado (10-3) vs. Oklahoma State (9-3)
Alamodome, San Antonio (72,000)
8 PM CT/9 PM ET
Adam Amin, Mack, Molly McGrath
Aladdin: ACC, Jeff Heaser
This should be an excellent nightcap, but you may want to make it a double because it'll be late night in San Antone. I'll probably stick with Royal Cup myself. Colorado is a team, like Utah, Washington, Clemson and Florida State, along with Michigan, Ohio State and some of the Big Ten teams, that play SEC-like football. They play hard-nosed defense, run the ball well and get excellent work from their signal caller. Mike McIntyre has done an outstanding job in Boulder in his third year. I'm going with the physicality, the running game and defense over the high octane, run and shoot offense.
Colorado 35, OK State 31