Many of us at DawgSports were (and remain) skeptical about whether the new playoff will be good or bad for college football in the long run. It's still way too early to tell, but we do have to give some credit to the new system for one thing: there are some very exciting bowl games coming up, even ignoring the obviously interesting playoff games themselves. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are particularly action-packed, featuring six games between ranked teams in addition to the two semi-final match-ups.
But nothing can fix the fact that there are 38 bowl games being played between 74 different teams. Not all of them could possibly be good, but we're determined to try to watch as many of them as we can anyway. At the very least, we're going to pick them (poorly) against the spread. With a full season of college football viewing under our belts, we ought to do pretty well, but Don't Bet On It!
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 20)
Nevada vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (-1)
You might be thinking that this is basically a home game for the Ragin' Cajuns. You're more correct than you think. Louisiana Lafayette has literally never played in any other bowl game since moving up to the FBS, and they boast an impressive-looking 3-0 in post-season tilts in the Super Dome. We think they'll make it 4-0.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 20)
Utah State (-10.5) vs. UTEP
Utah State and UTEP are playing perhaps the most geographically sensible bowl by meeting each other half way, but that's the only sensible thing about this match-up. Utah State finished 9-3 in the Mountain West and is looking for their third straight bowl win. UTEP finished 7-5 in a relatively weaker Conference USA and hasn't won a bowl game since Lyndon B. Johnson was in the White House. Expect the Aggies to roll.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 20)
No. 22 Utah (-3.5) vs. Colorado State
Serious question: how is Bitcoin sponsoring the St. Petersburg Bowl instead of the Las Vegas bowl? Vegas's whole reason for existence is to provide a place for people to enjoy every vice that's illegal in their home towns. Bitcoin's whole reason for existence is to provide a secure, anonymous currency for transactions that are even illegal on the internet. The synergy is obvious, and I guarantee that the bowl gifts would have been way better. As it is, I think the Mormons from Utah will be more likely to resist the temptations of the strip, so I'm taking them over the Rams.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 20)
Western Michigan vs. Air Force (-1)
Speaking of bowl synergy, the Idaho bowl is sponsored by a mashed potato company. See, that makes sense, unlike Air Force's use of an aerially adverse triple option attack. Oh well. The Falcons will still probably prevail -- it's hard enough to defend the option without a belly full of gravy.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Dec. 20)
South Alabama (-3) vs. Bowling Green State
To be honest, I know nothing about either of these teams. I had to Google South Alabama to find out that they're the Jaguars. I felt better about this lack of knowledge when Google told me that their football program was only established in 2009. Nevertheless, they have a decided geographic advantage here. Namely, South Alabama is an actual place whereas Bowling Green ain't no State I've ever heard of. Go Jags!