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Tailgate Pick ‘Em New Year’s Six Bowl Predictions Including LSU vs Oklahoma

The New Year’s Six Bowls are one of the highlights of the college football season. This year the playoff bowls feature LSU vs Oklahoma and Ohio State vs Clemson, while group of 5 team Memphis looks to upset Penn State among other action. Our panel of Steen Kirby, Yesh Ginsburg, and John Bava offer their predictions.

Cotton Bowl: #10 Penn State vs #17 Memphis
Line: Penn State by 7

John: Memphis officially took the title of top Group of Five program from UCF this year. They did it in part on the strength of a potent offense that comes into bowl season ranked 10th nationally in yards per game. That should give them a fighting chance against Penn State whose been a bit shaky defending the pass this year. Ultimately, I think the Nittany Lions prevail but in a close contest. Penn State 34, Memphis 31

Yesh: Penn State has more talent across the board but has a tendency to play down to their opponents. Also, James Franklin gets too conservative after building a lead. It’s hard to cover the spread when that happens. Penn State 34, Memphis 28

Steen: A disappointing loss to Temple kept Memphis from making their case for the playoff, but this is still a good team that is significantly underrated. Penn State had a solid season but sputtered a bit down the stretch going 2-2 after a strong start. The Memphis coaching change is a hindrance, but I’ll still go with the Tigers in an upset,, they will be motivated and Penn State tends to play to the level of the opposition, a dangerous dynamic. Memphis 31, Penn State 28

Peach Bowl: #1 LSU vs #4 Oklahoma
Line: LSU by 13.5

John: One of the most interesting fun facts from this year’s bowls is that this game will be the first in Oklahoma program history, dating back to 1985, that takes place in the state of Georgia. And it will be no easy feat against an LSU team that’s looked downright unstoppable for most of the year. Ed Orgeron’s bunch has been completely dominant on both sides of the ball and, honestly, it’s hard not to expect more of the same in Atlanta. Led by current Heisman Trophy winner and likely 2020 NFL Draft first overall pick, Joe Burrow, the Tigers prevail in emphatic fashion. LSU 45, Oklahoma 20

Yesh: Two touchdowns is a big line against a talented team with a great offense. LSU could really be at risk if Clyde Edwards-Helaire isn’t healthy. LSU 41, Oklahoma 38

Steen: Undefeated LSU is dreaming of a national championship thanks to Heisman winner Joe Burrow, but Oklahoma led by Jalen Hurts would love to play spoiler and reach the title game. Jalen Hurts is no stranger to facing LSU, he’ll need to play a relatively mistake free game to outduel Burrow in this one though. The Sooners can score but turnovers and an inconsistent defense are a worry. LSU puts up a lot of points and the defense is good enough to get the job done. LSU 42, Oklahoma 30

Fiesta Bowl: #3 Clemson vs #2 Ohio State
Line: Clemson by 2

John: This game pits the defending national champs against an Ohio State team flying high under Ryan Day in his first full season as head coach. It’s a mouthwatering quarterback matchup between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. And plenty of other playmakers on both sides of the ball will figure prominently in Glendale. Look for standout edge rusher Chase Young to have multiple sacks and tackles for loss for the Buckeyes. Their vaunted defense should help the Scarlet and Gray make their second championship game of the CFP era. Ohio State 31, Clemson 27

Yesh: These are likely the two best football teams in the country. Who will win? I have no idea, but I’ll go with the team that had the harder path to get here. (Full disclaimer: I am a lifelong Buckeye fan.) Ohio State 38, Clemson 21

Steen: The battle of undefeateds. Ohio State dominated everyone this season and beat three ranked teams in the final three games to reach this stage. Clemson is in a weak conference, but they dominated all but one of their games this season and the Tigers continue to be one of the most talented teams in college football. This game is hard to predict, but Ohio State has been slightly more impressive this season so I’ll back the Buckeyes to get it done on both sides of the ball. Ohio State 35, Clemson 28

Orange Bowl: #9 Florida vs #24 Virginia
Line: Florida by 14.5

John: This is the most lopsided of the betting lines among the New Year’s Six bowls. It’s definitely a function of Florida looking pretty respectable in their two losses to LSU and Georgia. Plus, Virginia lost four games, including the ACC title game where the Cavaliers were absolutely annihilated by Clemson. Winning a division indicates the program is on the right path under Bronco Mendenhall. But the Gators defense which is ranked eighth nationally in points given up per game proves too difficult a challenge. Florida 37, Virginia 22

Yesh: Poor Virginia. Bronco Mendenhall is doing great things and the Hoos have had their best season in decades. Their reward for that is a beatdown at the hands of a better Florida team. Florida 45, Virginia 21

Steen: Virginia are heavy underdogs as they vultured a weak ACC to get this Orange bowl bid while Florida only lost to top 10 teams this season. Dan Mullen has done a great job to put together a competitive UF team and despite playing with a lot of heart, I don’t see how Virginia overcomes the UF defense. Florida 31, Virginia 14

Rose Bowl: #6 Wisconsin vs #8 Oregon
Line: Wisconsin by 3

John: Pretty much every college football aficionado always looks forward to late afternoon on New Year’s Day and that lush field in Pasadena under the backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains. This year, it features a Wisconsin team whose consolation for losing the Big Ten title game is a trip out west facing an Oregon side that took home the Pac-12 crown with an upset of Utah. The pro scouts will certainly have their eyes on Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert who should go in the first round of the 2020 draft. And his defense is actually pretty stout against the run, having surrendered only four rushing touchdowns. They just might be able to hold Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor in check. Oregon 33, Wisconsin 31

Yesh: People don’t appreciate just how good Wisconsin is. They will after the Badgers put a beating on Oregon. Wisconsin 34, Oregon 14

Steen: Two heartbreaking losses kept Oregon from perfection this season, and under the radar they reached 11 wins. The PAC-12 wasn’t great this year though and Wisconsin is arguably better based on strength of schedule. Wisconsin’s power with the run and strength on defense should be the difference here. This game will be close but Bucky Badger is the appropriate favorite. Wisconsin 24, Oregon 20

Sugar Bowl: #5 Georgia vs #7 Baylor
Line: Georgia by 6

John: Both these teams missed out on chances to make the CFP with losses in their respective conference title games. Although had both won, Baylor would’ve probably been left out since both Georgia and LSU would’ve gotten in. You have to give Matt Rhule a ton of credit for turning around the Baylor program given how toxic it was under the previous coaching staff. But the Bears are going to have their hands full in the Big Easy. They rank 50th nationally defending the run which hints that D’Andre Swift should have a field day. Plus, quarterback Jake Fromm doesn’t make very many mistakes. The Bulldogs atone for their loss to one Texas school in the Sugar Bowl last year with a resounding win against another one on day one of 2020. Georgia 44, Baylor 17

Yesh: Nope, not buying the Bulldogs here. Georgia will be unmotivated, will rest players, and doesn’t have the offense anyway to really do much against Baylor’s defense. Baylor 28, Georgia 17

Steen: Georgia’s pedestrian offense let them down this season and kept them out of the playoff. Baylor rode a stout defense to surprise playoff contention, and only lost to playoff semfinalists Oklahoma (twice). Baylor will be highly motivated for this game and I don’t see how Georgia is going to move the ball. This will be a defensive battle with Baylor looking more impressive in the end. Baylor 17, Georgia 10


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