Here they are, the first installment of the no doubt, 100% accurate 2016-2017 Bowl Predictions!
AFR Celebration Bowl: NC Central (9-2) vs Grambling State (11-1)
The annual FCS bowl game between the MEAC and the SWAC sets up to be an absolute barnburner of a game this year. Central and Grambling combine for only 3 losses, all of them to FBS teams. The difference will be Grambling QB DeVante Kincade. Kincade, a transfer from Ole Miss, has 28 TD’s and only 3 INTs on the year. His playmaking ability and avoidance of turnovers will allow for Grambling to put the cherry on top of a great year with a win.
Prediction: Grambling State 45 NC Central 34
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico (8-4) vs UTSA (6-6)
Both teams have a chance to turn great seasons into historic ones for their programs. New Mexico can get to 9 wins and win only their 2nd Bowl since 1961. UTSA is bowl eligible for the 1st time ever and could finish off a winning season. The Lobos field the #1 rushing attack in the country and should be able to assert themselves on the ground against UTSA’s 52nd ranked rush D. Both Tyrone Owens and Teriyon Gipson are over 1000 yards on the year and Lamar Jordan is approaching 700. The Roadrunners are no slouches on the ground either but the force of New Mexico should be to much in their home stadium.
Prediction: New Mexico 39 UTSA 24
Las Vegas Bowl: Houston (9-3) vs San Diego State (10-3)
Two teams that have spent times in the polls this year and feature two of the most exciting Group of 5 players in the country in Houston’s QB Greg Ward and San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey recently passed 2000 yards for the year and is the #2 career rusher in FBS history. Ward on the other hand threw for over 3000 yards and ran for 500+. The Aztecs come in rolling having defeated Wyoming on the road for the MWC title while Houston was throttled by Memphis to end the year and missed out on the AAC title game. On top of that they lost HC Tom Herman to Texas. SDSU comes into this game focused while the Cougars are dealing with disappointment and distraction.
Prediction: San Diego State 34 Houston 29
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State (9-3) vs Toledo (9-3)
Two 9-3 G5 teams collide in a very under the radar bowl game. Both teams have high powered offenses that are sure to put on a show. Marcus Cox and Jalin Moore along with QB Taylor Lamb have combined for 26 TD’s on the ground alone while Toledo counters with QB Logan Woodside who has 43 Touchdowns and almost 4000 yards. Lamb will have to be able throw the ball against a mediocre Toledo secondary. In the end the more balanced team in Toledo will be able to pass with Woodside and run with Kareem Hunt and earn 1st year coach Justin Candle a 10th win.
Prediction: Toledo 42 Appalachian State 38
AutoNation Cure Bowl: Central Florida (6-6) vs Arkansas State (7-5)
Two teams coming off turnarounds of differing proportions. UCF went 0-12 last year but brought in new HC Scott Frost and scrapped their way to 6-6 and a bowl games this year. Arkansas State on the other hand started off the year 0-4 including a loss to FCS Central before rolling through the Sun Belt, only losing to Louisiana Lafayette. The SBC Co-Champs have been helped a lot by the development and maturation of Oklahoma transfer QB Justice Hansen who took over for former Pitt starter Chad Voytik amid the rough start. The Red Wolves have found their groove with Hansen playing well and they should be able to get to 8 wins against UCF.
Prediction: Arkansas State 36 UCF 22
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6) vs Southern Mississippi (6-6)
The ULL Ragin’ Cajuns are back where they belong. From 2011-2014 ULL appeared in and won 4 straight New Orleans Bowls. This will be the 51st all time meeting between the two schools who both won in the last week of the year to gain bowl eligibility. USM has the edge on offense with QB Nick Mullens quietly becoming a very reliable player while former LSU QB Anthony Jennings is still extremely inconsistent at the helm of the Cajuns. ULL loses their 1st New Orleans Bowl in 5 tries.
Prediction: Southern Mississippi 27 ULL 21
Miami Beach Bowl: Central Michigan (6-6) vs Tulsa (9-3)
Tulsa had a very good season under Philip Montgomery. Dane Evans turned in a great year at QB and the Golden Hurricane strolled unnoticed to a 9-3 year. Central Michigan on the other hand was 6-6 with a some ups(the win vs Oklahoma State) and some downs(loss to Kent State) on the resume. Tulsa has been to consistent to lose this game though and even though Cooper Rush and the Chippewa offense are good enough to keep up the Golden Canes superior talent will shine through, even though it might not be by a lot.
Prediction: Tulsa 38 Central Michigan 28
Boca Raton Bowl: Memphis (9-3) vs Western Kentucky (10-3)
Points! Lots of Points! Two of the most productive offenses in college football collide in Boca. Both teams love to throw the ball and use reformed transfer quarterbacks to do it. Memphis’s Riley Ferguson, a Tennessee transfer is 18th in the country with with 3326 yards but is topped by WKU’s Mike White who despite being barely mediocre for 2 years at USF before throwing for 4000+ yards for the Hilltoppers, good enough for 5th in the country. White’s biggest weapon is Taywan Taylor who had 1586 yards, 2nd in the country, and 16 Touchdowns, which is 4th. Taylor and RB Anthony Wales make the difference for the Hilltoppers and they win without former coach Jeff Brohm to cap off an 11 win year
Prediction: Western Kentucky 52 Memphis 42
San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl: BYU (8-4) vs Wyoming (8-5)
Wyoming is back in a bowl game for the first time since 2011 and they’ll go up against a team with plenty of postseason experience in the Cougars. Wyoming rebounded from a 10 loss season behind the ever improving play of QB Josh Allen and their superstar runner Brian Hill. BYU QB and leader Taysom Hill went down with an injury in their last game but there won’t be much of a drop off with last years starter Tanner Magnum under center. Jamaal Williams will have to pick up the slack though. A tough BYU defense, led by ballhawk Kai Nacua and stud linebacker Francis Bernard should do just enough to hold off the Cowboys.
Prediction: BYU 23 Wyoming 21
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Idaho (8-4) vs Colorado State (7-5)
That the Idaho Vandals, the FCS-bound in 2 years Idaho Vandal somehow managed to win 8 games this year is one of the best stories in College Football this year. Those 8 wins though came against the 119th rated schedule in the country. Matt Linehan did just enough to get them over the line in most of those wins and while 8 wins is a awesome accomplishment Colorado State is a big step up in competition. The Rams have scored a minimum of 37 points in their last 5 games and just hung 63 on MWC Champs San Diego State
Prediction: Colorado State 34 Idaho 17
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl: Eastern Michigan (7-5) vs Old Dominion (9-3)
In a game between a team making its first bowl appearance since 1987(EMU) and one making its first ever(ODU) the intensity and focus level should be extremely high. Both teams are led by dynamic QB’s in Eastern’s Brogan Roback and the Monarch’s David Washington. EMU has had a great season considering their abysmal last few years but they have struggled to run the ball well this year which will spell doom against the balance of ODU’s attack with Washington and 1000 yard rusher Ray Lawry. ODU improves to 100% in bowl games.
Prediction: Old Dominion 40 Eastern Michigan 26
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Louisiana Tech (8-5) vs #25 Navy (9-3)
In the bowl season’s biggest clash of styles Louisiana Tech takes its 3rd ranked passing offense against Navy and the #3 rushing offense in the country. Tech’s Ryan Higgins and Trent Taylor form what is statistically the nation’s best QB-WR duo while the Mids have an extremely balanced ground attack led by QB Will Worth. There are questions however about Worth’s health coming into the game and losing him would be a big game changer. Passing defeats rushing this time as the Bulldogs overpower the Navy secondary and get the win
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 38 Navy 31
Dollar General Bowl: Ohio (8-5) vs Troy (9-3)
It was an historic year for the Troy program, breaking into the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history. Even though their stay only lasted one week it was a huge step for Brandon Silvers and company. Ohio meanwhile had another solid season under Frank Solich, going 8-4 and making the MAC title game. Troy will have to rely on Silvers and the passing game as Ohio boasts MAC DPOY Tarell Basham on its D-line. In the end the Trojans will have just enough firepower to earn themselves a 10-win season.
Prediction: Troy 22 Ohio 16
Hawai’i Bowl: Hawaii (6-7) vs Middle Tennessee (8-4)
You have to wonder about Hawaii’s motivational level coming in with a losing record after a grueling season. The Rainbow Warriors have a uncharacteristically stout defense led by the NCAA’s 7th leading tackler in Sophomore LB Jahlani Tavai. MTSU meanwhile counters with pure offense. Whether they with or without QB Brent Stockstill the Blue Raiders offense is more than capable. I’Tavius Mathers is top 10 in rushing yards on the year and led by backup QB John Uruza the still put up 77 points on FAU in their last week. Stockstill or no, the MTSU offense will be a tad too much for Hawaii to handle.
Prediction: Middle Tennessee 44 Hawaii 23
St. Petersburg Bowl: Mississippi State (5-7) vs Miami(OH) (6-6)
Both teams here started out poorly before finishing out strong. MSU opened by losing to South Alabama at home before slopping their way through the SEC before running over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to get to 5 wins and earn a bowl bid via APR. Miami started out 0-6 before getting QB Gus Ragland back from injury and winning out to reach 6-6. Both teams are playing well but the Bulldogs athleticism should be too much for the RedHawks, as long as QB Nick Fitzgerald can take care of the ball.
Prediction: Mississippi State 24 Miami(OH) 13
Quick Lane Bowl: Boston College (6-6) vs Maryland (6-6)
Don’t expect many points in this game. BC ranks in the bottom 6 teams in the country in scoring output per game and when you couple Maryland’s below average offense with the Eagles stifling defense the Terps don’t seem likely to score much themselves. In a low scoring battle a defensive play can make all the difference and BC’s defense is much more likely to come up with that play. Plus, the Eagles are playing better over the last few weeks.
Prediction: Boston College 16 Maryland 10
Camping World Independence Bowl: Vanderbilt (6-6) vs North Carolina State (6-6)
The similarities between these two teams are numerous. Both teams defeated their arch rivals in their final games to reach bowl eligibility, NC State taking down UNC while Vandy dominated the “Champions of Life” Tennessee. Both rely on inconsistent QB play in Ryan Finley for NCST and Kyle Shurmur for Vandy. In such an even matchup look for the Wolfpack’s D-line to make a difference. Brandon Chubb has 20+ TFL and is an absolute stud and the rest of the line is no slouch either. Look for them to create enough pressure to allow the Pack to get the W.
Prediction: North Carolina State 25 Vanderbilt 21
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: North Texas (5-7) vs Army (6-5)*
Two of the last teams to gain bowl eligibility, North Texas sneaking in via APR while Army sits at 6 wins but with 2 wins against FCS squads, albeit with their game vs Navy still to play. This is actually a rematch from earlier in the year, a game the Mean Green won 35-18 in West Point. Army fell behind and had to pass more often than they’d like, which didn’t end well. The Black Knights are much improved and will be able to get ahead and stay there to split the season series
Prediction: Army 28 North Texas 17
Military Bowl: Wake Forest (6-6) vs #24 Temple (10-3)
The Owls have won 7 in a row and are the AAC Champions after whooping Navy 34-10 in the AAC Title Game. The Demon Deacons have had a good year but the firepower of Philip Walker, Jahad Thomas and the rest of the Temple offense should be too much for Wake to handle. Temple is playing some of the best football in the country and it will show against Wake Forest. Walker and Thomas cap off amazing careers with an emphatic win
Prediction: Temple 38 Wake Forest 16
National Funding Holiday Bowl: Washington State (8-4) vs Minnesota (8-4)
Two 8-4 teams that had very different seasons. Wazzu hung around the polls all year and went into the Apple Cup with a chance at the Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl berth still in play while nobody talked about Minnesota all year. The Gophers beat everyone they should’ve beat and didn’t pull a single upset. They won’t pull one here either as Washington State will be eager to make up for the Apple Cup disaster. Luke Falk and Gabe Marks will be the two to watch as per usual and while Rodney Smith should be able to run well against the WSU defense it won’t be enough to keep Minnesota on pace with the Cougars.
Prediction: Washington State 40 Minnesota 28
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl: Boise State (10-2) vs Baylor (6-6)
Baylor started out so strong at 6-0 and were looking like potential playoff contenders until injury and off field troubles derailed their season and they slid to underwhelming 6-6. Boise State suffered disappointment of a different kind when they fell on a late safety at Wyoming to lose control of the Mountain West and subsequently the G5 spot in the New Years Six bowls. That being said, the Broncos are still playing well, and Jeremy McNichols is a certified weapon. As long as Brett Rypien doesn’t implode the Broncos should claim another Power 5 scalp.
Prediction: Boise State 33 Baylor 20