Funvee Tailgate: 2016 Bowl Madness (Part 4): Playoff Preview

Welcome to the Funvee Tailgate! It’s time for the holiday season rush. Frantic shoppers flood retailers, food lovers eat their body weight in cookies, and college football teams move to exotic locales for their final showdown of the season. That’s right, it’s time to go bowling! Once again, we here at the THUNDERBLOG will be hosting our bowl mania group on ESPN and it shouldn’t be a surprise who is in first place amongst the Thundercrew:
G-Man: 17-11
J-Rod: 16-12

Matty D: 14-14
The last four days were rough for all us in the group. Matty D sitting at .500 now. Yikes. Let’s continue on…

Bowl Season Continues! –

FRIDAY–Liberty Bowl: Georgia (7-5, 3.5 underdogs) vs. TCU (6-6)–Noon on ESPN from the Liberty Bowl in Memphis
The records of these two teams want to trick you, this is going to be a great game! What it comes down to is the Kenny Hill and Taj Williams connection for TCU comparatively to UGA’s Nick Chubb. Chubb has been great and should be a good NFL prospect but I don’t think he’ll be enough to carry UGA. TCU wins but doesn’t cover.

Sun Bowl: #18 Stanford (9-3, 2.5 favorites) vs. North Carolina (8-4)–2:00 pm on CBS from the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX
Stanford is still the favorite coming into this game despite no Christian McCaffrey and they have reason, their defense is solid for the most part. What UNC will need is a great performance from QB Mitch Trubisky. You’re going to want to remember that name, he’s one of the top NFL QB prospects and he will be spectacular. UNC wins.

Music City Bowl: Nebraska (9-3, 7.0 underdogs) vs. #21 Tennessee (8-4)–3:30 pm on ESPN from Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN
I mentioned numerous times in the last post about the Big Ten West teams’ records being misleading and Nebraska may be the biggest red herring of all. Granted, I was wrong about those bowl games but Tennessee is a solid team when they get it going offensively. Josh Dobbs has been trending upward and he’ll carry the Vols to victory. Tennessee wins.

Arizona Bowl: South Alabama (6-6, 14.0 underdogs) vs. Air Force (9-3)–5:30pm on ASN from the Arizona Stadium
There’s a reason this game is on the American Sports Network. Air Force runs away with this one.

Orange Bowl: #6 Michigan (10-2, 7.0 favorites) vs. #11 Florida State (9-3)–8:00 pm on ESPN from Hard Rock Stadium
Oh boy! The first “New Years Six Bowl” shouldn’t disappoint. Michigan has one of the better defenses in the land that should have a fun time trying to contain both Dalvin Cook and Deondre Francois. On the other side, the Michigan offense should have a field day with a shaky FSU defense. Jake Butt makes a huge difference for the Wolverines and they’ll pull away in the second half. Michigan wins and covers.

SATURDAY–Citrus Bowl: #20 LSU (7-4, 3.5 underdogs) vs. #13 Louisville (9-3)–11:00 am on ABC from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL
No Leonard Fournette for LSU. Heisman Trophy winner on Louisville. 3.5 seems no narrow. Louisville wins and covers.

Taxslayer Bowl: Georgia Tech (8-4, 3.5 favorites) vs. Kentucky (7-5)–11:00am on ESPN from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL
A lot of you probably didn’t realize Kentucky made a bowl game. The Wildcats have a dual-threat QB of their own in Stanley Johnson and he had a MONSTER game in Kentucky’s win over in-state rival Louisville. That’s really Kentucky’s only good win though and Georgia Tech had a number of wins over bowl-eligible schools. Georgia Tech wins and covers.

Going to preview the two playoff games below so we’re skipping to Monday’s games and the Playoffs will come after.

MONDAY–Outback Bowl: #17 Florida (8-4, 3.0 favorites) vs. Iowa (8-4)–1:00pm on ABC from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL
Iowa had a solid season to follow up on last year’s epic run to the Rose Bowl. Similarly to last year’s squad, Iowa is built well for the Big Ten, but not another conference opponent. Florida wins and covers.

Cotton Bowl Classic: #15 Western Michigan (13-0, 8.5 underdogs) vs. #8 Wisconsin (10-3)–1:00 pm on ESPN from AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX
If you’ve read the Funvee Tailgate all season you’ll probably have realized two things: I’ve loved the Western Michigan story all season and that I think Wisconsin got gipped against OSU and is a great team. I’m sad to see the Western Michigan story end with a loss, but Wisconsin is probably the best non-playoff team. Wisconsin wins and covers.

Rose Bowl Game: #9 USC (9-3, 7.0 favorites) vs. #5 Penn State (11-2)–5:00 pm on ESPN from Pasadena, CA
Penn State has had a fantastic story this season that has led them allllll the way to the Rose Bowl but like WMU, their story ends with a loss. USC has been great this year, better than some two-loss teams; including Penn State. USC wins covers.

Sugar Bowl: #14 Auburn (8-4, 3.0 underdogs) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)–8:30 pm on ESPN from the New Orleans Superdome
Might be the best of the non-playoff “New Years Six Bowls.” Auburn has the skillsets to shutdown Oklahoma and I was this close to taking them. Something tells me Baker Mayfield, Joe Mixon, and Dede Westbrook want to prove to us that the 1-2 start was a fluke. Oklahoma wins and covers.

College Football Playoff Semifinals (both games on Saturday)

Peach Bowl: #4 Washington (12-1, 13.5 underdogs) vs. #1 Alabama (13-0)–3:00pm on ESPN from the Georgia Dome
Statistically, Washington looks like they have a great chance. However, none of the defenses in the Pac 12 are Alabama’s. The Bama front seven will cause a lot of havoc amongst the Washington front line so much that RB Myles Gaskin shouldn’t be a factor. Washington’s only real shot at opening this game up is Jake Browning connecting with John Ross quickly. If not, Bama will eat the Huskie offense alive. Bama wins and covers.

Fiesta Bowl: #3 Ohio State (11-1, 3.0 favorite) vs. #2 Clemson (11-1)–7:00pm on ESPN from University of Phoenix Stadium
The second semi-final game should be much more exciting between two very similarly built schools. Both have dynamic QBs and good running backs and stellar defenses. Clemson has the better front seven which I think will be the difference. JT Barrett seems to struggle against good defensive fronts. He did against Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan. On the flip side, Deshaun Watson has been great with some glaring mistakes but he always seems to find a way. Clemson wins.

Look out for the Twitter polls so you can vote along with us and of course, if you disagree with my picks, let me know in the comments. Happy New Year!

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