Photo via Associated Press
Tomorrow will be the most exciting day in the bowl season thus far. There are five games throughout the day starting at noon (EST) and ending with the start of the Orange Bowl at 8. In this article I’ll focus on the Sun Bowl and the Orange Bowl, but I’ll also include some quick notes on the remaining three games.
Sun Bowl — UNC vs Stanford
El Paso, Texas
This is going to be a tight one. The Cardinal haven’t had the best season, especially at the beginning, and losing Christian McCaffrey to the NFL draft will only cause more harm. Check out our article
Should Future NFL Prospects Skip Their Bowl Game? for more on this subject. Regardless on whether it was the right decision, it might prove to be detrimental to Stanford’s offense.
UNC is starting Mitch Trubisky (projected top 10 pick), and he will be the key to a Tarheel’s victory. He has only thrown an interception in two games, and has reliably led this explosive offense. If Trubisky plays as he has all year, the Cardinal will be hard-pressed to shut down the Heels.
If UNC can get over the apathy they seemed to possess during the NC State and Duke losses and the Cardinal can’t get over the loss of McCaffrey, the Heels should be a lock to win.
Orange Bowl — FSU vs Michigan
Miami Gardens, Florida
#5 Jabril Peppers
Image by Tony Ding/AP Images
The Orange bowl is always a big game, and this year should be no different. It has huge implications for next season and promises to be a close one.
The Seminoles have had a hard time this season playing balanced teams like Michigan, and I think the Wolverines will take advantage of their weakness.
FSU’s impact player is Dalvin Cook; whenever he lights up in a game and delivers on his full potential, FSU wins. Cook is one of the nation’s best RBs and he’ll definitely get his yards—the question is whether it’ll be enough to win the game. I think Michigan’s defensive line will tear FSU’s sub-par O-line apart and render Cook ineffective. This will also serve to frustrate most of Francois’s attempts to move the ball. The Wolverines only allow 3.1 yards per carry and have 44 sacks on the year (2nd in FBS).
If FSU’s O-line can come out aggressive, Francois has the chance to be a mobile and effective QB. He has 3,128 yards this season and may be up to the Wolverines’ challenge.
FSU’s defensive line shouldn’t be overlooked. They lead the nation with 47 sacks, and have had 15 of them come from DeMarcus Walker.
Jimbo Fisher’s team is always impressive, but this year has been barred with disappointment because of a bitter loss in the bowl game last year vs Houston and several losses this season. Michigan is bitter after losing their chance at the college football playoffs, and will want to use this game as a catapult towards a national championship next season. It’ll be a close one, but the Wolverines will come out on top.
Liberty Bowl — Georgia vs TCU
#27 Nick Chubb
Contributed Photo /Times Free Press
It is hard to believe that the Horned Frogs and the Bulldogs are meeting in the Liberty Bow. It wasn’t too long ago these programs were churning out wins and were top ranked opponents. This definitely isn’t what either team wanted, but as with any bowl game, winning is important to give them confidence going into next season. TCU simply won’t be able to stop anything that Georgia throws at them, and Kenny Hill won’t be able to jump-start his own pass offense after throwing just 3 touchdowns in his last 6 games. Jacob Eason isn’t golden either, but he’ll get the job done despite his 55% completion rate.
Music City Bowl — Nebraska vs Tennessee
Obviously you can’t overlook the home field advantage, but it’ll be hard for Tennessee to pick up enough slack to win the game. The Vols had a tough loss against Vanderbilt to end the regular season and they need to shake it off and come into this game fresh and ready. Nebraska is dealing with some pretty big injuries, and although the Cornhuskers have a pretty good team coming in, the Volunteers will take the W.
Arizona Bowl — Air Force vs South Alabama
America Sports Network
Winner: Air Force
South Alabama won’t be able to shut down an impressive Falcons run game. Although South Alabama will be able to throw a few touchdowns, Air Force has the more impressive offense and should win by more than a few scores. South Alabama’s 6-6 record doesn’t give me confidence that they’ll win in just their second bowl game ever against a 9 win Air Force team.