Tailgate Pick ‘Em College Football Bowl Week 3 Predictions Including TCU-Oregon

The final mid-tier bowl games of the season will take place in coming days including a clash between spread teams TCU and Oregon, and Big 10 vs. SEC clashes. Our experts John Bava, Steen Kirby, Yesh Ginsburg, and Mike Loveall are on hand to preview and predict the remaining bowl games. Below is a look at the standings. If you’ve been betting based off Yesh’s picks this bowl season, thank him. His record against the spread is unreal right now. Will he come down to Earth in the final games?
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Tailgate Pick ‘Em College Football Bowl Week 3 Predictions Including TCU-Oregon

Outback Bowl: #13 Northwestern (10-2) vs. #23 Tennessee (8-4) (Friday 1/1/2016 12:00 P.M. EST in Tampa, FL) Line: Tennessee by 8.5

Despite being ten spots higher in the final regular season CFP rankings, Northwestern find themselves as pretty hefty dogs against Tennessee. It must be said, though, that the Vols could certainly make the case as being the best four loss team in the country. Their average margin of defeat in those games was 4.25 points and two came against teams who would eventually make the national semifinals.

Both these teams boast fairly potent ground games. The Vols, led by RB Jalen Hurd and buoyed by RB Alvin Kamara and dual-threat quarterback Josh Dobbs, finished top 20 nationally in rushing yards per game. Though Wildcats running back Justin Jackson had just four rushing touchdowns on the year, he ended up second in the Big Ten with 1,344 yards on the ground. Northwestern is a very tough defense to score on but is susceptible to the run. Expect Tennessee to have success on the ground en route to their second straight bowl victory.

Prediction: Tennessee 34, Northwestern 23

With six wins over bowl eligible teams, including a win over PAC-12 champion Stanford, Northwestern has had a remarkable season and earned the right to play in this quality bowl game. They don’t have a ton of talent, but the Wildcats are well coached and play hard, and they excel on defense and are good at forcing turnovers.

Tennessee disappointed when it mattered most against Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, and Alabama, and if they had won even half of those games in the fourth quarter they would likely be in the Sugar Bowl or better now. Quarterback Josh Dobbs and company are still quite talented though, and the Volunteers should continue to improve given the level of recruiting Butch Jones has been able to bring into Rocky Top. After finishing the season with five straight wins under the radar, the Vols should motivate themselves to finish strong and win this one.

Prediction: Tennessee 27, Northwestern 21

Northwestern is a classic overachiever. They make the plays they need to on defense and keep everything in front of them. That falls apart when they meet superior speed, though. They will be able to stop the Tennessee running game, but if they give the Volunteers time to throw we will see a lot of deep passes go over the secondary.

Prediction: Tennessee 31, Northwestern 24

The best of the rest for the New Year’s Day bowls? Northwestern has lost two games all season, to teams with a total four losses (Iowa and Michigan) and a season opening win against PAC-12 Champion Stanford. Tennessee has four losses, with leads in the fourth quarter of each game, to Oklahoma (OT), Florida (one point), Alabama (five points) and Arkansas (four points).

The schemes favor the Vols here, with Northwestern largely being a one-dimensional run team and the Vols having their best success against run-first teams this season. Northwestern’s defense is excellent, but Tennessee has faced three top-15 national defenses in their last six games averaging over 30 points against those three top-15 defenses. Tennessee continues to build program momentum as they look to come out of the decade of darkness for a once proud program.

Prediction: Tennessee 31, Northwestern 17

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: #14 Michigan (9-3) vs. #19 Florida (10-3) (Friday 1/1/2016 1:00 P.M. EST in Orlando, FL) Line: Michigan by 4

This matchup involves two programs who were in almost identical situations in the offseason, having fallen into mediocrity and in need of new leadership to revitalize things. Enter Jim Harbaugh and Jim McElwain. In just a single season, both have worked wonders in returning Michigan and Florida respectively, back to national relevance.

Part of these teams’ identities have been defined by a punishing, physical defenses. The Wolverines ranked fourth nationally in total defense (281.3 yards/game) and 11th in scoring defense (17.2 points/game). The Gators aren’t too shabby themselves, allowing 295.4 yards per game (sixth) while giving up just 16.5 points per game. That despite two disappointing outings to close out the season against Florida State in the regular season finale and Alabama in the SEC title game.

Michigan appears to have the edge on offense in this game, especially considering the struggles of UF quarterback Treon Harris to get any production through the air. The Gators will need running back Kelvin Taylor to have a standout performance if they want to come out on top in what should be a defensive slugfest.

Prediction: Michigan 20, Florida 13

This game is for fans of defense, as you can settle in, crank the volume, and hear the pounding hits as both the Wolverines and Gators struggle to get first downs with their offenses. Both teams have over performed record wise with new coaches, but only Michigan is truly in a form up to their record right now. The Wolverines beat five bowl eligible teams including Northwestern, and played Michigan State tough, losing on a heartbreaking play.

Florida took advantage of the SEC East being a grease fire this year and on the back of their defense made the SEC title game, beating just three bowl eligible teams along the way. Since Treon Harris took over at QB they have looked utterly lost, and without even a kicking game to scratch for points. Defensive turnovers will be key as Michigan should get by.

Prediction: Michigan 17, Florida 7

This game will be an old-school defensive struggle. Both teams have poor (at best) offenses and elite defenses. This game should be a brutal slugfest and tremendous entertainment for fans of smash-mouth football.
Prediction: Michigan 17, Florida 14

Michigan should be licking their chops at getting after a wounded Florida team. The Gators are averaging 14 points over the last five games, including a two point production against Florida State, a nine point performance agaisnt Vanderbilt, and a 20 point performance agianst Florida Atlantic. Since Will Grier’s suspension for PEDs, Florida has been squeaking by far inferior competition with Treon Harris manning a struggling offense and a top-tier defense trying to carry the team on their shoulders. Michigan has experienced a resurgence in Jim Harbaugh’s first year, and things look bright with another stellar recruiting class stacking up.

The Wolverines will be looking for a little redemption after being throttled by arch-rivals Ohio State. What better to get that taste out of your mouth and go happily into the off-season than knocking the socks of a 10-3 SEC team.

Prediction: Michigan 24, Florida 17

Valero Alamo Bowl: #15 Oregon (9-3) vs. #11 TCU (10-2) (Saturday 1/2/2016 6:45 P.M. EST in San Antonio, TX)
Line: TCU by 1

Oregon was able to overcome an early season blowout loss at home against Utah to finish the season as one of college football’s hottest teams. They won six in a row to close out the year, including a 38-36 upset win over Stanford that ultimately cost the Cardinal a spot in the CFP. Quarterback Vernon Adams, Jr. took immense strides to end the regular season with the nation’s highest passer rating. And only three running backs finished with more rushing yards than Royce Freeman on the year.

They face a TCU squad that had national title aspirations heading into this season only to have them dashed by losing two of their final four games. They also received bad news on the injury front when wide receiver Josh Doctson was ruled out of the Alamo Bowl with a wrist injury. Doctson had been quarterback Trevone Boykin’s favorite target, having led the Big 12 in receiving yards during the regular season.

Despite being a narrow underdog, the Ducks appear to be riding a bit more momentum, are healthier at key positions and might have a bit more motivation for this game. Above all else, expect the scoreboard operator to be busy.

Prediction: Oregon 48, TCU 42

Oregon started a mediocre 3-3, ruining a promising season and eventually costing them a spot in the PAC-12 title game. They have won six straight since though, with Vernon Adams Jr. coming into his own at QB and Royce Freeman running wild from the RB position. This Ducks team is top 10 caliber with wins over Stanford and USC late in the season.

TCU struggled at times this season and got banged up late in the year, but they still beat rival Baylor and aren’t about to quit on this game. QB Trevone Boykin stupidly got himself a night in jail before this game for punching a cop, and the legend of Bram Kohlhausen will look to grow instead as the talented youngster should take over, his last effort a near comeback against Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs can score, but so can Oregon, and I don’t think the TCU defense will be able to keep up with the lighting fast pace in this one. Oregon will finish the year strong and get to 10 wins.

Prediction: Oregon 63, TCU 42

TCU/Oregon looked like one of the biggest matchups before bowl season. Of course, that was before Josh Doctson wasn’t playing. This is a beat-up TCU team that will be motivated and will move the ball on a poor Oregon defense, but it won’t be enough. Oklahoma with Baker Mayfield tore TCU to shreds. Oregon is more potent. Unless they concuss Vernon Adams as well, Oregon will score all night.

Prediction: Oregon 48, TCU 31

TCU is struggling, with two losses in the last four games and the two wins being a six point win against Kansas, yes that Kansas! and an overtime win against a depleted Baylor team. Oregon found their stride mid-season and have looked like the Oregon of old – except for the win against Stanford – late in the season. Look for Oregon to roll in this game.

Prediction: Oregon 51, TCU 38

Other Bowl Games Predictions (ordered by kickoff time)

Saturday 1/2 Bowl Games

Taxslayer Bowl: Penn State (7-5) vs. Georgia (9-3)
Line: Georgia by 6.5

Georgia won their last four regular season games while Penn State dropped their final three. If the Nittany Lions can’t address their pass protection issues it’s going to be more of the same in Jacksonville.
Prediction: Georgia 34, Penn State 17

The SEC East was atrocious this year and Georgia has an inflated record as a result having lost to three good teams they played, and barely scraping by Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech late in the season. The Bulldogs don’t have a coaching staff, a good QB, or much to play for. Penn State should cut their taxes the most if they can pass protect properly, they have only beaten two bowl eligible teams this season and also were exposed against good teams but it shouldn’t matter. Prediction: Penn State 23, Georgia 13

Georgia is a mess right now. No coach, no coordinators, and no real motivation in this bowl game. James Franklin will use this as an opportunity to bridge the gap between them and the Big Ten East’s top three teams this offseason.
Prediction: Penn State 27, Georgia 21

Instability and no quarterback means Georgia isn’t playing for much. Penn State sneaks out a pretty much meaningless bowl win against a Georgia team already looking at 2016. Prediction: Penn State 17, Georgia 13

Autozone Liberty Bowl: Kansas State (6-6) vs. Arkansas (7-5)
Line: Arkansas by 13

Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen should have a field day against a Kansas State pass defense that ranked second from bottom in the Big 12. Razorback fans should also be out in droves in Memphis.
Prediction: Arkansas 45, Kansas State 14

K State beat just two bowl eligible teams this year and had to win their final three games to get into this bowl game, with a former WR at QB. Arkansas recovered from a 2-4 start to go 5-1 down the stretch, and with wins over Tennessee, LSU, and Ole Miss this year, this physical defense and balanced offense has made for a good team overall and the Razorbacks should roll.

Prediction: Arkansas 42, Kansas State 24

Arkansas will move the ball at will in this matchup nightmare for Kansas State.
Prediction: Arkansas 35, Kansas State 14

I usually wouldn’t go with a two-touchdown favorite in a bowl game, but I think Arkansas is one of the few stable teams this bowl season with some forward momentum after a disastrous beginning to the season. Prediction: Arkansas 45, Kansas State 23

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl: West Virginia (7-5) vs. Arizona State (6-6)
Line: West Virginia by 1

The final non-CFP bowl of the 2015-16 season is a de facto home game for the Sun Devils who will be looking to finish with a winning record for the fourth straight season under head coach Todd Graham.
Prediction: Arizona State 41, West Virginia 38

Have to think Motel 6 sponsored this game since it’s the “leave the light on for you” bowl, the last call for the CFB season minus the national title. ASU has had a very disappointing season as they failed to impress on both sides of the ball, especially with their offense letting them down. WVU beat just two (!) bowl eligible teams and struggled against the good teams they played. With that said, WVU can still score and they should score enough to win.
Prediction: West Virginia 38, Arizona State 35

Both teams are talented but inconsistent. This could be a great game or a really ugly one.
Prediction: West Virginia 44, Arizona State 38

Dana Holgerson is one of my favorite coaches, and the Sun Devils might be a little disappointed to play so close to home. Prediction: West Virginia 35, Arizona State 27

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