After previewing ten bowls that were more interesting for their location than the teams involved, we're finally getting to the meat of bowl season. None of these games are skip-a-family-gathering-to-watch-it good, but they'll at least provide some interesting background noise if you, like me, plan on skipping the post-Christmas sales in favor of spending some quality time on the couch with some leftovers.
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26)
Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech (-6)
OK, we didn't say that these were all good games. We're just going to play it safe and bet against the Big Ten team.
Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26)
Rutgers vs. North Carolina (-3)
This bowl is brand new this year. While we'll give them some points for having a location-appropriate sponsor -- motor oil in the Motor City -- making college athletes travel to Detroit in December seems like cruel and unusual punishment. The only thing these kids did wrong was pick programs that are regressing to the mean hard after some ahistorical success. Normally we'd take the team that is used to the kind of conditions that they'll see in American Siberia, but Ford Field is indoors so I guess we'll take the Tar Heels to cover.
Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (Dec. 26)
North Carolina State vs. UCF (-2)
Do you think that George O'Leary knows enough about Bitcoin to claim that he wrote his Master's thesis on it? Imaginary money is kind of the perfect topic for an imaginary thesis. We'll take Dave Doeren's Wolf Pack in this one just because his more modest accomplishments are at least real.
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman (Dec. 26)
Cincinnati (-3) vs. Virginia Tech
The Hokies' claim to fame this season is an inexplicable early-season win over Ohio State. That victory came two weeks before the Buckeyes drilled the Bearcats 50-28. So Virginia Tech's got this one in the bag, right? Not so fast, my friend. Frank Beamer is just 9-12 in bowl games at the program he built, and, frankly, they looked lost after that Ohio State game. (Don't forget that they participated in the gruesome 3-6 game against Wake Forest that was tied at 0 going into overtime. And they lost.) Cincinnati shouldn't have any problems.
Hyundai Sun Bowl (Dec. 26)
No. 15 Arizona State (-8) vs. Duke
The Sun Devils playing in the Sun Bowl seems like a safe bet, but Arizona State has been tough to predict this season. They got crushed by UCLA but then beat USC on the road a week later. They destroyed Notre Dame but then somehow lost to Oregon State. On the bright side, their last game was a loss to a solid Arizona team that won their division, so maybe they'll show up focused. I'm taking Arizona State to cover, but I'm not comfortable with it.