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FTRS Picks Bowl Week 1: Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I see them bowling... I’m not hatin’ though.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade - Season 94 Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

I won’t be summing up last week since it was a single game and we already summarized the regular season in a previous article. For those who missed it (great game, maybe lookup a replay or highlights) Navy beat the spread and won the game so if you picked Navy congrats, if you picked Army then hopefully you have better luck this week.

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Here we go everyone. This is either the best time of the year or the worst time of the year depending on your outlook. The next few weeks will have college football games being played every day of the week. This could be more frustrating for GT fans to see teams like Georgia State or Old Dominion in a bowl game while we sit it out, but for fans of the game this is the time to see teams you normally wouldn’t and see kids and fans having a great time.

Poinsettia Bowl - BYU v Wyoming Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

I’m stuck on both sides of the coin. I get plenty of college football to watch each night, but now I have to try and sum up each game for this article. At least, as people have pointed out, I don’t have to be too much of a Tech homer since we aren’t playing in any of these games (too soon?).

For the next few weeks I’m going to cover every bowl game, which may be a challenge since I’ve only seen a few of these teams play. I will try my best to give the stats that I can put together. I guess what I’m saying is, see if you can find the point in this article where I decided to stop looking up stats and just be lazy. Let’s get into it:

Noon, Friday 12/17 on ESPN (all times eastern standard time)

Bahamas Bowl: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium Nassau, NP.

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders v Toledo Rockets (-10)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Middle Tennessee at FAU Photo by Aaron Gilbert/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Logan: Middle Tennessee has had a rough go of things at QB lately. Last year, starter Asher O’Hara decided to transfer out of the program. Ok, not a problem lets get Bailey Hockman in... aaaand Bailey decided after starting 3 games that he doesn’t want to play football any more so he could focus on being a father. Alright, let’s try Chase Cunningham. Chase is doing pretty good... until he gets injured and is knocked out for the season. So now the ball is in the hands of Nick Vattiato.

I know Nick probably wasn’t expecting to be in this position, but he has struggled to put it politely. despite the 67% completion rate, he currently sits at 5 TD and 6 INTs on the season. Thankfully the Raider defense was able to step up in the games they needed to. with a +11 turnover ratio and averaging 15.5 points given up in the games they win. I will note, the defense doesn’t look as good in the games against teams like Western Kentucky, VPISU, UTSA, Charlotte, and Liberty; but those are also pretty talented teams on offense.

Well guess who else is pretty good on offense. It’s Toledo coming in to the bowl game averaging 434.5 yds per game. Toledo has a great QB in Dequan Finn who currently has 16 TDs to 1 INT on the season, but he may not even be the strongest part of this offense. Bryant Koback at RB is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and is 1 touchdown short of Finn with 15 on the ground.

Unless we trust Vattiato to step up and have the game of his career, I just don’t see this one being close.

Logan’s Pick: Toledo

6 PM, Friday 12/17 on ESPN2

Tailgreeter Cure Bowl: Exploria Stadium Orlando, Florida

Northern Illinois Huskies v Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (-10)

Side note, I’m kind of impressed with myself that I could spell Chanticleers correctly without looking it up.

2021 MAC Championship - Kent State v Northern Illinois Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

I’ve said it before, but I do feel slightly better knowing the NIU actually won the MAC this year. At least it isn’t as embarrassing as it could have been. NIU is a scrappy team which has found ways to win games that they really shouldn’t. The powerhouse offense of Toledo (see above) was held to 20 points against NIU. 4 of their 9 wins had a margin of 2 points or less. NIU will generally find a way to stick in games against opponents on an even playing field.

Coastal Carolina on the other hand found ways to dominate opponents early in the season. They struggled a bit more as the season wrapped up, but you’re still looking at a team which averages 493.1 yds on offense and holds opponents to 325 yds per game on defense. For all purposes this game should be Coastal Carolina’s to lose.

I could see this being a close game or a blowout for the Chanticleers. Given what I have seen NIU do this year, I lean towards it being close. I don’t know if the Huskies can win, but I just can’t write NIU off easily given what I’ve seen from them this season. NIU covers in a game that is closer than the experts think.

Logan’s Pick: Huskies cover

11 AM, Saturday 12/18 on ESPN Boca Raton Bowl : FAU Stadium Boca Raton, Florida

Western Kentucky Hill Toppers v Appalachian State Mountaineers (-3)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Duke’s Mayo Classic - East Carolina v Appalachian State Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

App State has made a habit of pulling off big wins. I don’t just mean this year, they tend to do it all the time. While they fell a Field Goal shy of beating Miami this year, the Mountaineers did pull off some nice wins against Marshall and Coastal Carolina. Other than Louisiana, who seemed to consistently have the Mountaineers number, App. state continued to chew away at their football opponents. Honestly, given the performance of UNC this year, you could argue that App is one of the 3 best CFB teams in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Western Kentucky has been an offensive juggernaut. Even against teams like Michigan State, WKU never scored less than 31 points a game this season. Their QB Bailey Zappe has thrown for 5,545 yds and 56 touchdowns on the season. These guys know how to air raid.

The other thing about WKU is that, other than the one game against Michigan State, they have kept teams within a touchdown. It’s interesting that both teams had a loss to a previous opponent in their championship games. Maybe that will light a fire under both teams to perform out on the field. If the spread was a touchdown I might pick WKU to cover, I will take App State though. App State is more well rounded and has shown me that they can compete against higher level teams, so I see them having an edge. Don’t be surprised if WKU proves me wrong though.

Logan’s Pick: Mountaineers

Noon, Saturday 12/18 on ABC

Cricket Celebration Bowl : Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta, Georgia

South Carolina State Bulldogs v Jackson State Tigers (-10)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 SC State at Clemson Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For those unfamiliar the celebration bowl is a competition between the winner of the MEAC and the SWAC, which are the conferences which prominently feature HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). The bowl began play in 2015, and since it’s founding the MEAC has taken 4 of the 5 games played.

The records of these teams can be misleading. Even though SCSU is 6-5, the bulldogs did win all their in conference matchups and had some close losses against FBS level opponents. On the other side of the coin, Jackson State’s schedule did not have as many FBS opponents to contend with, so even though they are 11-1 the Tiger’s opponents may not have been on the same level as the ones faced by the bulldogs.

Stats wise Jackson State has a heavier focus on the pass while the bulldogs are more balanced. Both teams have strong defenses with turnover ratios in the +20 margin (which may be a stat inaccuracy by ESPN, because that seems really high, but it’s what I have to go on). This game should be closer than 10 points barring one team accumulating all the turnovers. I’ll say SCSU covers.

Logan’s Pick: South Carolina State

2:15 PM, Saturday 12/18 on ESPN

PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl : University Stadium Albuquerque, New Mexico

University of Texas El Paso Miners v Fresno State Bulldogs (-11.5)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Fresno State at San Jose State Photo by Larry Placido/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yes, PUBG actually sponsored a bowl game... this is the dystopia we live in. Here we have the first game I would consider to be a stinker on the surface. I want to believe that UTEP can stand up to Fresno State, but everything on paper tells me otherwise. UTEP’s schedule was not that strong, and while the 7-5 record means they won the games they were supposed to UTEP also had games against stronger opponents where they simply did not show up. Boise State, UTSA, and UAB were all losses I could excuse if the margin weren’t so huge.

Meanwhile you have a Fresno state team that beat San Diego State, beat UCLA, and managed to keep things close against Oregon. Other than 1 bad loss against Boise State, the Bulldogs put up big numbers in every game they played.

I could list players and stats... but it will all point to the same conclusion. Fresno State is just the better team. I see this game being first guaranteed blowout of the bowl season.

Logan’s Pick: Fresno State

3:30 PM, Saturday 12/18 on ABC

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl : Independence Stadium Shreveport, Louisiana

University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers v #13 Brigham Young University Cougars (-7)

Poinsettia Bowl - BYU v Wyoming Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

This one is for all the people who ever thought to themselves “you know what would make a good vacation destination? Shreveport, Louisiana”. This is another game that I struggle to see being close. While I don’t think BYU is as good as the #13 next to their name would indicate, the Cougars have still played better teams than the Blazers. Despite both teams showing similar stats on the field with BYU being slightly better on offense and UAB being better on defense,

The problem for the Blazers is, unfortunately, they don’t have the same depth of talent that BYU does. While the game might be close early, eventually BYU should pull away unless the Cougars turn the ball over on the regular. I don’t see the Blazers keeping the game within a touchdown. Cougars take it all the way.

Logan’s Pick: BYU

5:45 PM, Saturday 12/18 on ESPN

LendingTree Bowl : Hancock Whitley Stadium Mobile, Alabama

Eastern Michigan Eagles v Liberty Flames (-9)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I’m not gonna hate on Mobile; it’s not that I don’t want to hate on Mobile, I’ve just never been there so it doesn’t feel right. Liberty is coming into this game with a 3 game losing streak. The Flames lost to Ole Miss, Louisiana, and Army in a row; but given the talent those teams possess this is not a knock against Liberty. The Flames have relied on their defense to keep them in games against opponents, and I do expect them to match up well against Eastern Michigan.

Eastern Michigan will need Ben Bryant to keep them in the game as he has all year. Ben may not have amazing stats, but he has been a good leader on the field. Eastern Michigan will not be likely to win this game is the Flames can put pressure on Bryant, but I do expect the Eagles to keep it closer than 9 points. EMU covers.

Logan’s Pick: Eastern Michigan covers

7:30 PM, Saturday 12/18 on ABC

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Sponsored by Stifel : SoFi Stadium Inglewood, California

Utah State Aggies v Oregon State Beavers (-7)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Oregon State at Oregon Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What a mouth full. Still, I guess it’s cool that Jimmy Kimmel is sponsoring a bowl. Does this mean Kimmel is going to cast the bowl? It would be worth staying at home to watch on TV if he did.

That said I would totally go to this game if I was nearby. Both teams have had a surprisingly fun season. Oregon State is not known for their success in football. This will be their first bowl game since 2013 and only their 17th bowl game in the history of the school. Utah State has better history with football, but I don’t think many were expecting them to win the Mountain West this season.

Both teams have almost identical stats on both offense and defense, the only real difference being that Oregon State runs a more balanced offense whereas Utah State focuses mainly on throwing the ball. On paper this should be a close game, but Oregon State is gonna want this one bad. I’ll admit my emotions get the better of me when the Beavers get involved. I want them to win, so that’s who I’m picking. Again this could go either way, wouldn’t be shocked at all if Utah State wins this game, but my gut says go with Oregon State.

Logan’s Pick: Beavers

9:15 PM, Saturday 12/18 on ESPN

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl : Caesars Superdome New Orleans, Louisiana

#23 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (-5) v Marshall Thundering Herd

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Sun Belt Championship Game - Appalachian State at Louisiana Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Louisiana, essentially, gets this one at home. The Cajuns’ proved me wrong against App State and they haven’t lost a game since their season opener against Texas. I’m not getting overly complicated here. If Marshall wins it’s because they get a big lead early and ride things out, but I don’t think that will happen. I think Louisiana will wear out Marshall and win this one pretty easily.

Logan’s Pick: Ragin’ Cajuns

2:30 PM, Monday 12/20 on ESPN

Myrtle Beach Bowl Presented by Tax Act : Brooks Stadium Conway, South Carolina

Old Dominion Monarchs v Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (-9.5)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Old Dominion at Liberty Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

... You know, this one is tough. Both teams have found wins where they shouldn’t and kept games closer where you wouldn’t expect them to.

Old Dominion really struggled early in the season, but following the installation of QB Hayden Wolff and RB Blake Watson as regular starters and offensive leaders things have turned around. The Monarchs ended the season with a 5 game winning streak, and most of those games weren’t close either.

Tulsa had to really fight for their wins. The Golden Hurricanes only had 1 win with larger than a 7 point margin. Tulsa has played hard and definitely deserves the spot they have received.

I want to cheer for both of these teams. I don’t really know who will win, but in my opinion there is no way this game ends with a difference of 10 points. With that in mind I am taking Old Dominion to cover.

Logan’s Pick: Monarchs cover

3:30 PM, Tuesday 12/21 on ESPN

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl : Albertsons Stadium (the blue one) Boise, Idaho

Kent State Golden Flashes v Wyoming Cowboys (-3)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Wyoming at Boise State Photo by Tyler Ingham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is on is a power on power matchup. Toledo had one of the most underrated offenses this year and Wyoming had a good defense that helped against Mountain West opponents. So do we think the intense offense of Kent State will lead to a victory, or will the stifling defense of Wyoming be able to hold off the opponent? What happens when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object? Is cereal a soup? These are the questions that keep us up at night. Tough pick... I’m going to go with the Cowboys.

Logan’s Pick: Cowboys

7:30 PM, Tuesday 12/21 on ESPN

Tropica Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl : Toyota Stadium Frisco, Texas

University of Texas San Antonio Road Runners (-2.5) v #24 San Diego State University Aztecs

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 03 C-USA Championship Game - Western Kentucky at UTSA Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This should be a fun one. Researching this game, my one takeaway was that the Aztecs are not as good on offense as I thought they were. 26.6 points per game and 331.5 yds per game. UTSA on the other hand has 37.8 points per game and 442.9 yards per game. Aztecs have faced tougher opponents in theory but I don’t want to take away how will UTSA has performed this year.

UTSA is another team that is not known for their football history. While they did well last year, I don’t think most fans were expecting a 12 win season and a conference championship. It’s with that in mind that I will pick UTSA in this game. If you’re an SDSU fan don’t feel too bad, I don’t think the Aztecs will be going anywhere. SDSU will probably have another 10+ win season next year. I don’t know what the future has in store for UTSA but I hope this season is a sign of things to come for them.

Logan’s Pick: Beep Beep *Vroom

8 PM, Wednesday 12/22 on ESPN

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl : Amon G. Carter Stadium Fort Worth, Texas

Mizzou Tigers v Army Black Knights (-2.5)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 11 Army v Navy Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mizzou is not as bad as their record makes them look. Army is not as good as their record makes them look.

I’ve at least watched Army games, so I can comment that they have a well run offense. Army’s struggle seems to be on defense where the lack of talent can hurt them at times in the secondary.

I know nothing about Mizzou, because I had no desire to watch them be the whipping boy of the SEC East. Yet here the Tigers are in a bowl game with upsets against UF and South Carolina. Mizzou is similar to Army, all offense with very little defense.

I’m hoping this game will be similar to the Wake Forest v Army game, a crazy shootout that is close. I will regret this, but I think Mizzou covers this one. SEC will have something to brag about in this game.

Logan’s Pick: Mizzou

I will post again on 12/21 for bowl games from 12/23 through 12/29. Please keep an eye out. I will be tallying all picks and release the full standing pending the end of all bowl games.