Bowl season preview and predictions

Sam Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief

It’s officially bowl season! From the Bahamas Bowl to the College Football Playoff, here’s your preview of every game.


College Football Playoff (CFP) Bowl Games:


CFP Peach Bowl, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. (1. Georgia vs 4. Ohio State): 

This year the Peach Bowl will be a showdown between two electric offenses. The winner will head to the CFP National Championship Game. The key factor to this game will be the battle between the Ohio State offense and the UGA defensive unit. The winner will give their team a huge advantage.

My Prediction: Georgia 42-21


CFP Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 31, 4 p.m. (2. Michigan vs 3. TCU)

The Fiesta Bowl will likely be the more interesting of the two playoff games this year. With two teams trying to prove their right to fight for the championship, this game is sure to not disappoint. The battle at quarterback will be a huge factor in this game. TCU QB Max Duggan is on a tear right now, while Michigan QB JJ McCarthy has been slowly heating up as the season has progressed. 

My Prediction: TCU 34-31


Non-CFP Bowls:


Orange Bowl, Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m. (Clemson vs Tennessee)

Two teams that had playoff hopes throughout the season will be battling it out in this year’s rendition of the Orange Bowl. The thing to watch in this game will be how Clemson’s newly named starting quarterback Cade Klubnik handles the pressure of a New Year’s Six Bowl atmosphere. Based on his performance in the ACC Championship game, we should be getting a masterclass performance in the Orange Bowl. It will also be interesting to see how Tennessee continues to play without their starting quarterback Hendon Hooker.

My Prediction: Clemson 49-31


Sugar Bowl, Dec. 31, 12 p.m. (Alabama vs Kansas State)

Playing in this game means two completely different things to these two teams. For Kansas State, it means they had one of the best seasons in program history, winning the Big-12 Championship, which is something that head coach Chris Klieman can be really proud of. On the flip side, this is a throwaway game for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The expectation year after year for this team is nothing less than a National Championship. Two road SEC losses in tragic fashion are what keep the Tide from competing for this year’s title. Expect Alabama to struggle early against an eager Kansas State team, however, the Tide are likely to find their footing against an inferior opponent and pull away in the second half.

My Prediction: Alabama 38-17


Cotton Bowl, Jan. 2, 1 p.m. (USC vs Tulane)

Tulane is at an all-time high right now, having one of the best seasons in program history. They are certainly looking to keep that up against a USC team that was just booted from the CFP conversation. If USC has a chance to win this game, it rests on the shoulders of their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams. Look for this to be a tight game from the start.

My Prediction: USC 30-24


Rose Bowl, Jan. 2, 5 p.m. (Penn State vs Utah)

Many people look at this game and think that the Rose Bowl should be a pretty good game this year. However, Utah is coming into this game fresh off of a Pac-12 Championship win where they took down the fourth-ranked USC Trojans. If I were a betting man, I would bet that Utah continues to roll to a Rose Bowl win.

My Prediction: Utah 24-10


Citrus Bowl, Jan. 2, 1 p.m. (Purdue vs LSU)

Purdue capped off their season by putting up a decent fight against a far superior Michigan team in the Big-10 Championship. LSU is coming off of back-to-back brutal losses, including a loss to the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship. Under normal circumstances, LSU would be the clear favorite to win this game, but with their play of late, this is a toss-up. The result of this game is likely to be determined by the play of whoever ends up starting a quarterback for the Tigers.

My Prediction: LSU 26-20


ReliaQuest Bowl, Jan. 2, 12 p.m. (Illinois vs Mississippi State)

First and foremost, we send thoughts and prayers to the family of head coach Mike Leach and the entire MSU community after his passing on Monday night. Mike’s humor and impact on the football community will never be forgotten. Mississippi State elected to still play this game in their fallen coach’s honor. Expect MSU to come out of the gates swinging. We’re all Bulldogs fans on Jan. 2.

My Prediction: Mississippi State 35-16


Music City Bowl, Dec. 31, 12 p.m. (Iowa vs Kentucky)

Kentucky will be suiting up without their star quarterback Will Levis in this game because he has already declared for the NFL Draft. This is something that will likely hurt the Wildcats. This opens the door for Iowa to win its first bowl game since the 2019 Holiday Bowl.

My Prediction: Iowa 27-14


Arizona Bowl, Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m. (Wyoming vs Ohio)

This Mountain West vs MAC dual is sure to be a good one. The battle between two programs on the rise is sure to be a show.

My Prediction: Ohio 17-3


Gator Bowl, Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m. (Notre Dame vs South Carolina)

This year’s Gator Bowl has the potential to be one of the best bowl games of the season. A battle between a rising South Carolina team, fresh off of a rivalry win against the Clemson Tigers, and the also rising Notre Dame Fighting Irish is sure to not disappoint. Like many other bowl games, this one will come down to quarterback play. Spencer Rattler will need to play lights out to give the Gamecocks a chance. Something else to note is the South Carolina defense, which has been tearing it up as of late. The team that rises to the occasion will win this game.

My Prediction: South Carolina 35-24 


Sun Bowl, Dec. 30, 2 p.m. (Pittsburgh vs UCLA)

This Power 5 showdown should be a pretty entertaining affair between two teams that have solid futures. With the expansion of the CFP in the coming years, don’t be surprised if these two teams are featured in a potential elimination game down the road. The key to this game will be whether or not Pittsburgh can rise to the occasion versus a very good UCLA team. 

Prediction: UCLA 42-27


Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Dec. 30, 12 p.m. (NC State vs Maryland)

NC State fans are on cloud nine after a win over the rival North Carolina Tar Heels. They are one of many teams that are looking to carry momentum into their bowl game. This is certainly possible against a pretty inconsistent Maryland team. The only advantage that Maryland has over NCSU is the fact that they know what they have in their quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. NC State has dealt with QB issues all season, and it will continue in Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

My Prediction: Maryland 38-31


Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29, 9 p.m. (Texas vs Washington)

This is a compelling matchup between two programs that are starting to heat up. Texas QB Quinn Ewers has taken this Texas program to new heights and Washington signal caller Michael Penix Jr played like a Heisman candidate this year. This should be a fun matchup to watch between a pair of high-flying offenses.

My Prediction: Texas 27-21


Cheez-It Bowl, Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. (Oklahoma vs Florida State)

Two teams that went through their ups and downs this season meet in this year’s Cheez-It Bowl. Oklahoma was a team with an outside chance at a championship this year and Florida looked like an ACC contender early. This game should be a good preview of what is yet to come in the future for these two programs.

My Prediction: Florida State 44-16


Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 29, 2 p.m. (Syracuse vs Minnesota)

Two teams that have had pretty similar seasons meet up in this year’s Pinstripe Bowl. Syracuse went on a pretty amazing run in October but fizzled out after a loss to Clemson. This year was definitely a step in the right direction for Orange. Minnesota continues its streak of mediocrity with another decent season. This game is definitely a toss-up.

My Prediction: Syracuse 28-20


Texas Bowl, Dec. 28, 9 p.m. (Texas Tech vs Ole Miss)

A matchup between two dynamic offenses will commence in the Texas Bowl. Like many other bowl games this season, this will be a test to see where these two teams will be headed into next season. I really like what Ole Miss has done this year despite losing a lot of their roster to the NFL last year. Texas Tech is a team that is taking steps in the right direction this season, but Ole Miss is still clearly the better team here.

My Prediction: Ole Miss 27-13


Holiday Bowl, Dec. 28, 9 p.m. (North Carolina vs Oregon)

UNC has had a tough end to what was a once great season. After three consecutive losses, the Tar Heels find themselves in a tough bowl game against a formidable Oregon Ducks team. In a battle between teams that have no defense, the team with the least amount of mistakes is likely to come out on top.

My Prediction: North Carolina 34-31


Liberty Bowl, Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m. (Kansas vs Arkansas)

Kansas heads into its first bowl game since 2008. This year was a massive step forward for this once laughing stock of a program. Arkansas is another team that is also starting to slowly show improvement in their hunt for SEC superiority. This game will come down to experience, which favors the Razorbacks.

My Prediction: Arkansas 23-16


Military Bowl, Dec. 28, 2 p.m. (Duke vs UCF)

The Elko Era is off to an incredible start in Durham. After winning three total games in 2021, the Blue Devils under new head coach Mike Elko, have turned it around by winning eight games in 2022. Their opponent, the UCF Knights, has had another solid season. It will be interesting to see what they can do when they join the Power 5 ranks. Duke will go as far as QB Riley Leonard can take them in this game.

My Prediction: Duke 24-21


Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Dec. 27, 10:15 p.m. (Oklahoma State vs Wisconsin)

The Cowboys will look to play to their strengths by running the ball down the throats of the Badgers in this game. The battle in the trenches will certainly be the deciding factor between two Power 5 squads. 

My Prediction: Oklahoma State 25-18


Birmingham Bowl, Dec. 27, 6:45 p.m. (East Carolina vs Coastal Carolina)

The shocking news out of Coastal Carolina this week was the report that future NFL Draft pick Grayson McCall would enter the transfer portal. This means that he won’t be playing in the Birmingham Bowl, which means that the Chanteclairs will be without their stud quarterback. This opens the door for an eager ECU team to win their first bowl game since 2013. 

My Prediction: East Carolina 31-28


First Responder Bowl, Dec. 27, 3:15 p.m. (Utah State vs Memphis)

Two teams eager to make a name for themselves will battle it out at this year’s First Responder Bowl. Memphis has looked good all year and will try to carry momentum into their date with a Utah State team that is on the rise.

My Prediction: Memphis 21-9


Camellia Bowl, Dec. 27, 12 p.m. (Buffalo vs Georgia Southern)

Georgia Southern has begun to start a habit of making bowl games, qualifying three of the last four years. They will look to win consecutive bowl games for the second time in school history. Buffalo will look to spoil the party with their elite run game and shut-down defense. This will be a sneaky fun game to watch. 

My Prediction: Buffalo 38-30


Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26, 2:30 p.m. (New Mexico State vs Bowling Green)

Two teams that don’t typically qualify for bowl games will look to end their respective seasons in winning fashion. Two Groups of 5 teams should provide some great football.

My Prediction: Bowling Green 21-13


Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24, 8 p.m. (Middle Tennessee vs San Diego State)

Middle Tennessee will look to secure consecutive bowl wins by taking down a red-hot San Diego State team that has won three consecutive games.

My Prediction: San Diego State 34-14


Gasparilla Bowl, Dec. 23, Time TBD (Wake Forest vs Missouri)

Wake had a great start to the season, but fell off after a loss to North Carolina. Missouri is starting to establish itself as a great program. The Demon Deacons are looking to light up an inexperienced Missouri team in this game.

My Prediction: Wake Forest 42-13


Independence Bowl, Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m. (Houston vs Louisiana)

Two Groups of 5 teams that don’t often meet are looking to put on a show. Louisiana will try to stop a hot Houston team and their prolific offense. 

My Prediction: Houston 38-20


Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m. (Air Force vs Baylor)

After not meeting expectations this year, the Baylor Bears look to beat up on Air Force in this game.

My Prediction: Baylor 52-12


New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 21, 9 p.m. (Western Kentucky vs South Alabama)

Western Kentucky has been a QB factory as of late and will look to capture another bowl victory against a South Alabama team that is 0-9 in bowl games all time.

My Prediction: Western Kentucky 27-17


Boca Raton Bowl, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. (Liberty vs Toledo)

This is a compelling matchup between two non-Power 5 teams. With both teams without a viable option at QB, this should be a fun defensive matchup to watch.

My Prediction: Toledo 20-12


Idaho Potato Bowl, Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m. (Eastern Michigan vs San Jose State)

An Eastern Michigan team that hasn’t had much success as of late is headed to the Idaho Potato Bowl against a pretty mid-San Jose State team. Expect this one to be a snooze fest.

My Prediction: Eastern Michigan 24-13


Myrtle Beach Bowl, Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m. (Connecticut vs Marshall)

UCONN is making strides towards being relevant and making a bowl game certainly helps their case. They’ll have a tough test ahead as they take on the sneaky-good Marshall Thundering Herd.  

My Prediction: Marshall 27-14


Frisco Bowl, Dec. 17, 9:15 p.m. (Boise State vs North Texas)

Boise State lost a hard-fought battle in the Mountain West Championship Game earlier this year and will look to avenge that loss against a North Texas team that isn’t experienced in bowl games.

My Prediction: Boise State 38-10


Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m. (Florida vs Oregon State)

This is a bout between two teams that got off to a hot start this season and fizzled out. This game will be a look into how each of these teams will play next year more than anything else.

My Prediction: Oregon State 32-28


LendingTree Bowl, Dec. 17, 5:45 p.m. (Rice vs Southern Miss)

Rice continues to be close to returning to its 20th century glory. They’ll look to stay on schedule with a win against a slowly improving Southern Miss team.

My Prediction: Rice 49-24


Los Angeles Bowl, Dec. 17, 3:30 p.m. (Fresno State vs Washington State)

The Mountain West Champion Fresno State will look to take down a Washington State team that is recovering from losing Gardner Minshew to the NFL Draft all those years ago.

My Prediction: Fresno State 21-14


New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 17, 2:15 p.m. (SMU vs BYU)

These two teams have begun to play pretty badly as the season progressed. Easy schedules propelled these two squads to a bowl game. Expect some pretty poorly played football in this game.

My Prediction: BYU 17-13


Fenway Bowl, Dec. 17, 11 a.m. (Louisville vs Cincinnati)

A rivalry that isn’t often played is resumed in this year’s Fenway Bowl. Louisville has started to play great down the stretch and Cincinnati has started to heat up as well. This should be a great game to get bowl season kicked off.

My Prediction: Louisville 33-27


Cure Bowl, Dec. 16, 3 p.m. (Troy vs UTSA)

Two of the best non-Power 5 teams in the country will square off in this year’s Cure Bowl. This should be an amazing battle to end up ranked at the end of the season. UTSA was expected to be pretty good this year, but nobody expected what we’ve seen out of Troy. This should be a fun one to watch on Friday.

My Prediction: Troy 24-14


Bahamas Bowl, Dec. 16, 11:30 p.m. (UAB vs Miami of Ohio)

This should be a pretty close game to end the first day of bowl games. UAB comes into this game playing pretty well defensively. It will be interesting to see how they handle Miami.  

My Prediction: UAB 45-10


This year’s slate of bowl games features some exciting matchups for fans. With the expanded playoff coming in 2024, this is one of the last seasons of bowl mania. In a season that has been a rollercoaster ride, expect the ending to be just as thrilling.