Here's a look at today's four games.
Bowl record: 9-11
Overall: 219-91, 71%
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Gruman
Virginia (6-6, 3-5 ACC) vs. Navy (6-6, 4-4 American)
Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, Annapolis, MD. (34,000)
12:30 PM CT
Clay Matvick, Kirk Morrison, Alex Corddry
Whistles, Big 12, Dan Romeo
Navy by 1
Navy's triple option offense was 2nd in the country in rushing offense averaging 343 yards per game, second only to Army. The Midshipmen lost a tough one to the Cadets on December 9th in Philly, 14-13, but quarterback Malcolm Perry rushed for 250 yards on the game and a TD while almost single handedly beating the Cadets from West Point. But Army prevailed and then added a huge upset victory over San Diego State, 39-38, in the Armed Forces Bowl, in which they went for 2 in the last minute and made it. Army capped off a 10-3 season, and Jeff Monken has it going at West Point. Still, Navy has been stellar over the years and has been the standard for the service academies until the last 2 years in which Army has caught up.
Malcolm Perry should start at quarterback after his performance in America's Game. He rushed for 1,068 yards and 9 TDs. Zach Abey, who started most of the season, rushed for 1,325 yards and 14 TDs, and is a better passer than Perry, having completed 31-of-71 for 805 yards and 7 TDs against 7 ints. Abey's not great throwing the ball, but both quarterbacks will play depending on the situation in the game. Perry only threw 2 passes this season, completing 1 for 5 yards and a TD, but threw an interception in his other attempt. Chris High rushed for 520 yards and 2 TDs and is a tough fullback particularly on the dive play. Good blocker, too. Tyler Carmona is the Academy's top receiver. Carmona has caught 14 passes for 381 yards and 4 TDs. On defense, linebacker Micah Thomas led the team in tackles with 81. and added a team leading 3 interceptions. Linebacker D. J. Palmore led the team in tackles for loss with 12 1/2, and in sacks with 2 1/2.
For Virginia, they reached their first bowl game since 2011 under second year coach Bronco Mendenhall who came to CVille from BYU. Quarterback Kurt Benkert has passed for 3,062 yards, 25 TDs against 8 interceptions. He's pretty good, but struggled in a 10-0 loss to Virginia Tech in the final game of the season at home. Navy gives up 221 passing yards per game, which is 61st in the country. Virginia's leading rusher is Jordan Ellis who tallied 799 yards and 6 TDs. Their leading receiver is Andre Levrone, who caught 31 passes for 662 yards and 7 TDs. Doni Dowling caught 48 passes for 632 yards and 5 TDs. On defense, inside linebacker Micah Kiser posted 132 tackles, 7th in the country, and added 9 1/2 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. Free safety Quin Blanding added 120 tackles and 4 interceptions, one of which he took back to the house. Two other Virginia defensive players had 4 ints, safety Brenton Nelson and cornerback Juan Thornhill.
This is going to be a highly competitive game, but I went against Army last Saturday. I thought I was going with them all last week, then changed my mind on Saturday and it cost me. I liked the Midshipmen from the beginning of this matchup, and I'll go with my original instinct. Like Malcolm Perry and Navy to get the job done today in a heckuva game.
Navy 30, Virginia 28
Camping World Bowl
Virginia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC) vs. Oklahoma State 9-3, 6-3 Big 12)
Camping World Stadium, Orlando FL, 65,00
4:15 PM CT
Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman
Stripes: Big Ten, John O'Neill
OK. State by 5 1/2
Virginia Tech posted another solid season under Justin Fuente finsihing 9-3 and defeating Virginia, 10-0, with a stellar performance by Bud Foster's defense. But this is a tall order defending the second ranked total offense in the country that averaged 575 yards, second only to Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma which averaged 583 yards per game. Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph completed 297-of-457 passes for 4,553 yards, 35 TDs and 9 ints. His leading receiver is the awesome James Washington who caught 69 passes for 1,423 yards and 12 TDs. Marcell Ateman added 54 receptions for 1,049 yards and 8 TDs. Running back Justice Hill rushed for 1,347 yards and 14 TDs. These guys are a juggernaut. Defensive tackle Dequinton Osborne has 11 tackles for loss and 5 1/2 sacks to lead the team. The team has 92 tackles for loss, which is top 20 nationally. Cornerback A.J. Green led the team in interceptions with 4, and linebacker Justin Phillips has 2 ints both of which he's taken back for house calls.
For VA Tech, true freshman Josh Jackson has done a solid job at quarterback. Jackson has completed 214-of-355 passes for 2,743 yards, 19 TDs against 8 ints. His leading target, Cam Phillips, is out after having sports hernia surgery recently. So Jackson will rely more on Sean Savoy, who caught 39 passes for 454 yards and 4 TDs, and Eric Kumah, who caught 23 passes for 252 yards and a TD. The Phillips loss is a blow to the passing game. VA Tech's leading rusher is Deshawn McClease, who rushed for 406 yards and 3 TDs. Jackson added 4 TDs on the ground.
Bud Foster's defense will keep the Hokies in this game. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds led the team in tackles with 101, and added 14 TFLs, and 5 1/2 sacks. Cornerback Greg Stroman posted 4 ints on the season and took 1 back to the house. Safety Reggie Floyd picked off 3 passes and took one in for a house call.
I really like Justin Fuente. He makes former Hokie iconic coach Frank Beamer always feel welcome in Blacksburg. He's an outstading person and coach. But this is a tough one for him and Bud Foster, another exceptional person and defensive coordinator. This offense they're facing is like a supesonic jet coming at you at Mach 3. It's tough to defend. I don't see the Hokies having enough offense to keep up with this dynamic Cowboys offense. Foster and the defense will keep it close for a while, but the VA Tech offense won't be able to do enough to overcome this massively explosive offense.
Oklahoma State 42, VA Tech 31
Valero Alamo Bowl
Stanford (9-4, 7-2 PAC-12) vs TCU (10-3, 7-2 Big 12)
Alamodome, San Antonio, 72,000
8 PM CT
Rece Davis, Joseph Galloway, Dave Pollack, Quint Kessenich
Refs, SEC, Ken Williamson
TCU by 3
The Cardinal put together a solid year but lost twice to USC, including the PAC-12 championship game, so they came up a little bit short of their goal of winning the conference title and the New Year's Six Bowl that goes with it. Still, running back Bryce Love played some legendary football, rushing for 1,973 yards and 17 TDs which earned him a trip to New York for the Heisman where he finished second in the voting. He's superb and has a phenomenal future ahead of him at the next level if he can stay healthy. He battled a sprained ankle for much of the latter half of the season but played through it and played well. Quarterback K.J. Costello took over midway through the season and completed 110-of-184 passes, 60%, for 1,386 yards, 11 TDs and 2 ints. HIs leading receiver is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who is big at 6'3", 232, and caught 43 passes for 720 yards and 6 TDs. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips finished the season posting 89 tackles, 14 1/2 for loss, and 7 1/2 sacks. He is a major disrupter in the middle and highly athletic. Stanford finished the season with 16 interceptions led by safety Justin Reed, who picked off 5 and also led the team in tackles with 92. This is a solid football team.
For TCU, they kind of suffered the same fate as Stanford did as they couldn't beat Oklahoma, losing to them in the regular season and in the Big 12 Championship game. Kenny Hill finished the season completing 242-of-360 passes, 67%, for 2,838 yards, 21 TDs against 6 ints. Darius Anderson rushed for 768 yards and 8 TDs, and Kyle Hicks added 597 yards and 4 TDs. Hill's leading receivers are the explosive KaVontae Turpin who caught 38 passes for 382 yards and a TD, and Desmon White who caught 38 for 390 and 4 TDs. Jalen Reagor finished with 28 receptions for 407 yards and 7 TDs. On defense, defensive end Matt Boesen posted 14 1/2 tackles for loss and 11 1/2 sacks, while the other book end, Ben Banogu, added 15 1/2 tackles for loss and 8 1/2 sacks. Linebacker Travin Howard led the team in tackles with 98 and took an int back to the house. Safety Ridwan Issahaku was second on the team in tackles with 66 and took and int in for a house call.
This should be an electric game in a lot of ways. It's hard to go against Bryce Love, but I'll take the Horned Frogs in a shootout.
TCU 41, Stanford 37
Michigan State (9-3, 7-2 Big Ten) vs. Washington State (9-3, 6-3 PAC 12)
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, 70,561
8 PM CT
Fox Sports 1
Gus, Joel, Jenny
Refs: SEC, Marc Curles
Michigan State by 2 1/2
I like the Spartans to control the Washington State passing game and for running back L.J. Scott (785 yards, 6 TDs) to have a stellar night. This should be another thriller though.
Michigan State 31, Washington State 28