Tailgate Pick ‘Em Bowl Week 2 Including Alabama vs Michigan

The final set of non elite bowl games starts on Saturday, with teams just outside of the top 10 featured including Alabama vs Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, and Minnesota vs Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Our panel of Steen Kirby, John Bava, and Yesh Ginsburg offer their predictions.

Camping World Bowl: #15 Notre Dame vs Iowa State (Saturday)
Line: Notre Dame by 4

John: This is the first meeting of all-time between the Fighting Irish and the Cyclones. Notre Dame’s playoff chances ended with a blowout loss to Michigan, but they still have a chance to have their third 11+ win season under Brian Kelly. Both teams have capable quarterbacks in the Irish’s Ian Book and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy who’ve combined for 60 touchdowns to just 15 interceptions. That should mean plenty of points. But, ultimately the Blue and Gold prevail in Orlando. Notre Dame 38, Iowa State 30

Steen: It’s been a season that could have been memorable for Iowa State, they are just 7-5 but all of those losses were close, and they came up just short against strong teams like Iowa, Oklahoma, and Baylor. The Cyclones have enough talent to upset a ranked Notre Dame team that had some solid wins but missed out on the big stage because of losses to Georgia and Michigan. Notre Dame’s motivation may be a bit lacking here and Iowa State will want to end the season on a high note, the conditions for a surprise are present. Iowa State 28, Notre Dame 21

Yesh: Notre Dame is a really good team this year, and somehow actually underrated. Iowa State is a very good team and also underrated. I expect a really good game, but I think Notre Dame’s superior strength, especially on defense, wins this. Notre Dame 28, Iowa State 21

Liberty Bowl: #23 Navy vs Kansas State (Tuesday)
Line: Navy by 2.5

John: Navy re-established itself as the top service academy program in 2019. And it’s pretty crazy to think that no head coach in Navy history won 11 games in a season prior to the arrival of Ken Niumatalolo. Yet if the Midshipmen knock off K-State, it’ll be the second time he’s accomplished the feat. Obviously, Navy’s vaunted triple-option offense is immensely tough to prepare for. And as he demonstrated in their dominant win over Army, Malcolm Perry is an immensely capable field general at the quarterback position. I think that’ll be too much for the Wildcats to handle. But they’re a program on the rise in the Big XII under first-year head coach Chris Klieman. Navy 34, Kansas State 23

Steen: Navy disappointed against ranked Memphis and Notre Dame teams, but it’s been a great season for the run heavy Midshipmen who have once again trotted out a high performing team that plays great football at the FBS level despite the significant limitations of being a service academy. Kansas State also knows a thing or two about overcoming limitations, having punched above their recruiting and prestige rankings for years and putting another winning team on the field in 2019. Both teams are riding winning streaks, but Navy’s run of form is more impressive, I’ll back the Malcolm Perry led side to secure a win. Navy 38, Kansas State 21

Yesh: This should be a really fun game between two teams that never throw the ball. Navy is really good, but bowl games can be rough for triple-option teams. Kansas State 31, Navy 21

Alamo Bowl: #11 Utah vs Texas (Tuesday)
Line: Utah by 7

John: Utah had two chances to solidify a first-ever appearance in the CFP. First, they suffered a surprise loss to USC and then completely melted down in the Pac-12 title game against Oregon. Now they find themselves in San Antonio against a Texas team that certainly didn’t live up to expectations, especially given quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s “we’re back” exclamation at the end of last year’s Sugar Bowl. Still, they closed out the season with a blowout win over Texas Tech and, much like last year, they’ll pull off another bowl upset. Texas 27, Utah 24

Steen: Texas stalled out again this year, while Utah came up just short of reaching the playoff after failing to win the PAC-12. Texas was competitive against the likes of LSU and Oklahoma this year, but their inconsistency was maddening, both in games and week to week. Utah’s defense is good and they should still be motivated to beat a marquee program in this one. Utah 24, Texas 21

Yesh: I’m just not sold on Texas this year. The Longhorns have talent, but they are missing something that makes them play better than they should. I think Utah wins big. Utah 41, Texas 17

Outback Bowl: #18 Minnesota vs #12 Auburn (Wednesday)
Line: Auburn by 7

John: Both these programs have to feel pretty good about themselves. Minnesota completed just their second 10-win season this century while Auburn closed out the season with a thrilling win over hated rival Alabama. I gotta give Gus Malzahn a ton of credit for keeping the Tigers consistently competitive against one of the greatest college coaches of all-time in Nick Saban. And led by quarterback Bo Nix on offense, they join the Gophers as a double-digit win team this year. Auburn 31, Minnesota 21

Steen: Minnesota started the season slowly barely beating the likes of South Dakota State and Georgia Southern, then got hot and was in the playoff conversation only to cool off with two losses in their last three games and miss the BIG 10 championship game. Auburn upset Oregon and Alabama this season but still wanted more, as close losses to Georgia and LSU will haunt them in terms of what could have been. Minnesota is a great story and P.J. Fleck can coach, but Auburn has more talent and reaching 10 wins is a good motivator. Auburn 27, Minnesota 17

Yesh: How can you pick against P.J. Fleck? I don’t think I can; it’s that simple. Auburn is probably more talented, but Fleck gets more out of his guys. Minnesota 31, Auburn 30

Citrus Bowl: #14 Michigan vs #13 Alabama (Wednesday)
Line: Alabama by 7

John: Not only is the juggernaut that is the Crimson Tide not in the playoff this year. They didn’t even make a New Year’s Six bowl. That hasn’t happened since 2011 when they played Michigan State here in Orlando. Now they face the other Big Ten team from that state. Obviously, Bama will be missing their star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. But Mac Jones has shown flashes since taking over starting duties. And look for Jerry Jeudy to solidify his status as the top wide receiver prospect in the 2020 draft with a standout performance. Plus, Jim Harbaugh just seems to rarely get it done in big games. Alabama 41, Michigan 23

Steen: The pressure is real for Michigan in this game, if they can’t beat an Alabama team that is clearly a step down from their normal elite status, when are they going to get at least one marquee win? The Tide crushed everyone they didn’t lose to this season, but the defense was shaky in both losses. Michigan’s offense has been up and down though, and I just don’t trust Jim Harbaugh at this point. Alabama should find a way to win and finish the year in the top 10. Alabama 34, Michigan 21

Yesh: Alabama is far more talented than Michigan and will want to prove it. The Wolverines got crushed by Ohio State; expect the same to happen against a team with a similar talent level. Alabama 48, Michigan 34