Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Duke Blue Devils (7-5) vs. Temple Owls (8-4)
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA., 65,000
12:30 PM CT
Mike Couzens, Kirk Morrison, Lauren Sisler
Refs, Big 10, Mark Kluczynski
Temple by 3 1/2
The Owls had a very solid season finishing 8-4 overall and 7-1 in the American Conference, while the Blue Devils limped home losing to Clemson, 35-6, and then getting blasted by Wake Forest, 59-7. Clemson’s an excellent team and Wake Forest is very solid, but 59-7 was a disaster. The Owls did lose their coach, Geoff Collins, who took the job at Georgia Tech and interim Ed Foley will coach the team while Manny Diaz, the defensive coordinator for Miami, will be taking over in 2019. You wonder if a team loses motivation when their coach leaves, but Utah State and App State showed with convincing victories over North Texas and Middle Tennessee in their respective bowl games, that maybe that is a little overrated. Temple won their last 3 games, 59-49 over Houston on the road, 29-17 over South Florida at home, and 57-7 over UConn on the road. That’s pretty convincing to me. Temple has a 1,000 yard rusher, Ryquell Armstead (1,098 yards, 13 TDs). Armstead and a defense that has 15 ints on the season are the difference for the Owls.
Temple 31, Duke 27
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Wisconsin Badgers (7-5) vs Miami Hurricanes (7-5)
Yankee Stadium, New York, 54,251
4:15 PM CT
Bob Wischusen, Mike Golic Jr. Dan Orlovsky, Paul Carcaterra
Whistles, SEC, Ken Williamson
Miami by 2 1/2
It’s going to be 42 at kickoff and getting colder, Wisconsin weather, not South Beach weather. Even though Badgers starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook is out with a concussion and Jack Coan is taking his place (50 of 82, 61%, 488 yards, 4 TDs, 2 ints), I like Johathan Taylor, who rushed for 1,989 yards and 15 TDs, and the Badgers to outlast the Canes in the Bronx.
Wisconsin 20, Miami 17
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Baylor Bears (6-6) vs Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6)
NRG Stadium, Houston, 72,220
8 PM CT
Tom Hart, JRodg, Cole
Whistles, ACC, Gary Patterson
Vandy by 4 1/2
The Vanderbilt Commodores were 4-6 heading into their last 2 games of the season after a gut wrenching loss at Missouri, 33-28 in Columbia and several tough losses throughout the season. But the Commodores answered the bell defeating Ole Miss, 36-29, in overtime, and then following that up with a dominating victory over the Tennessee Vols, 38-13. They have a loaded offense with quarterback Kyle Shurmur, a potential quarterback on Sundays, completing 236 of 369 passes, 64%, for 2,844 yards, 23 TDs against only 6 ints. And there are some more future NFLers. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who is a junior and will hopefully stay, rushed for 1,001 yards, averaging 7 yards per carry and 10 TDs. He also caught 13 passes for 170 yards and 2 more scores. Wide out Kalija Lipscomb caught 81 passes for 886 yards and 9 TDs, while tight end Jared Pinkney, along with the other 3, an NFL looking player, caught 45 passes for 698 yards and 7 TDs. On defense, middle linebacker Jordan Griffin rolled up 110 tackles. Cornerback Joejuan Williams, another NFL prospect as a junior but Vanderbilt fans are hoping he comes back, intercepted 4 passes on the season and had 10 pass breakups. Williams is lockdown.
For Baylor, they finished the season losing 2 out of their last 3, to Iowa State, 28-14, TCU, 16-9, before winning their final game in Arlington, Texas defeating Texas Tech, 35-24, a solid victory. Quarterback Charlie Brewer completed 219 of 356 passes, 62%, for 2,635 yards, 17 TDs against 8 ints. His leading receiver, Jalen Hurd, the former Tennessee standout, is hurt, so Baylor loses his 69 receptions for 946 yards and 4 TDs. But wide receiver Denzel Mims is explosive as he has caught 49 passes for 699 yards and 8 TDs. John Lovett is their leading rusher with 546 yards and 5 TDs. On defense, James Lynch leads the Bears with 8 1/2 tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks. The Bears have 6 ints on the season.
I see the 4 man offensive juggernaut of Shurmur, Vaughn, Lipscomb and Pinkney, along with stellar play by Williams, who I expect to pick off a pass, leading the Dores to victory and setting them up for a bright future in 2019.