Bowl Season is here — just two days after the 2020 college football regular season ended.
There are a total of 28 bowl games before the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 11. The bowls are subject to scheduling changes, of course, because of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
In the meantime, enjoy the postseason and Sporting News’ picks for each one of those games. I finished 107-101 ATS in the regular season, and was 166-51 S/U.
We will update the lines as Bowl Season continues, but here are our first best guesses:
College football bowl picks, predictions
- Myrtle Beach Bowl: North Texas vs. Appalachian State (-21)
Monday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
The Mountaineers are huge favorites – and they are a nice confidence pick knowing the program is 5-0 all time in bowl games. Appalachian State also was 2-9 ATS this season. The Mean Green will not have receiver Jaelon Darden (1,190 yards, 19 TDs, who declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Pick: Appalachian State wins 44-20 and COVERS the spread.
- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada vs. Tulane (-6)
Tuesday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Wolfpack opened with five straight before losing two of their last three games. The Green Wave covered in six of their last seven games and were 5-1 ATS as a single-digit favorite. We’re going against the trend.
Pick: Nevada wins 28-25 in an UPSET.
- Boca Raton Bowl: UCF vs. BYU (-6.5)
Tuesday, 7 p.m., ESPN
This is one of the more-exciting early Bowl Season matchups. Both teams have top-10 scoring offenses that average more than 40 points per game. The Knights are close to home, and the line bumped up three points from its open. Take the value.
Pick: BYU wins 41-38 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Georgia Southern (-6) vs. Louisiana Tech
Wednesday, 3 p.m., ESPN
Georgia Southern is looking for an eight-win season, and quarterback Shai Werts will lead a rushing attack that averaged 262.4 yards per game. Louisiana Tech still makes it seven straight bowl victories despite playing without quarterback Luke Anthony, whose season ending with a gruesome leg injury.
Pick: Louisiana Tech wins 27-24 in an UPSET.
- Montgomery Bowl: Memphis (-9.5) vs. FAU
Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN
Memphis is a heavy favorite, and the Tigers, and Brady White needs two TDs to hit 30 for the second straight season. The Tigers continue that success with a convincing victory against the Owls, who were 3-5 ATS in 2020.
Pick: Memphis wins 35-24 and COVERS the spread.
- New Mexico Bowl: Hawaii vs. Houston (-13)
Thursday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Cougars also are heavy favorites in a battle of inconsistent teams. Houston’s Clayton Tune and Hawaii’s Chevan Cordeiro are exciting dual-threat quarterbacks, but both struggled with interceptions at times. This will be closer than it looks.
Pick: Houston wins 31-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Camellia Bowl: Marshall vs. Buffalo (-3)
Friday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
This is a quick turnaround for two teams who flopped in their conference championship games, and that motivation factor makes it a tough pick. It comes down to whether Buffalo star running back Jaret Patterson can get rolling against a Marshall defense that allowed just 88.9 rushing yards per game this season.
Pick: Buffalo wins 34-28 and COVERS the spread.
- Gasparilla Bowl: UAB (-5.5) vs. South Carolina
Saturday, 12 p.m., ABC
The Gamecocks made a bowl game despite a 2-8 record, and the defense allowed more than 40 points in five of its last six games. New coach Shane Beamer will be watching closely, however, and they will make it interesting against the Blazers.
Pick: UAB wins 27-23 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina (-6)
Saturday, 12 p.m., ESPN
Who would have guessed this could be one of the most-exciting bowl games in 2020? Quarterbacks Grayson McCall and Malik Wilis combined for 43 TD passes and just six interceptions this season. The Chanticleers were 8-3 ATS this season. Liberty was 8-2 ATS. This is a tough pick either way.
Pick: Coastal Carolina wins 35-31 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: UTSA vs. Louisiana (-13)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Ragin’ Cajuns were not able to play in the Sun Belt championship game, and now they have to hold UTSA close to home. Louisiana caps a 10-win season behind a strong running game that blows the open game open in the second half.
Pick: Louisiana wins 34-20 and COVERS the spread.
- LendingTree Bowl: Georgia State (-4) vs. Western Kentucky
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Both teams won three of their last four games, and this Sun Belt-Conference-USA crossover matchup could go either way. Remember former Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome? He leads an upset here.
Pick: Western Kentucky wins 28-24 in an UPSET.
- Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma State (-3) vs. Miami
Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Miami was embarrassed in the regular-season finale against North Carolina, and Manny Diaz likely hasn’t forgotten last year’s bowl disaster against Louisian Tech. D’Eriq King helps Miami bounce back in what should be a fun shootout with Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders.
Pick: Miami wins 33-30 in an UPSET.
- Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas (-11.5) vs. Colorado
Dec. 29, 9 p.m., ESPN
Be careful here. The Longhorns were 0-3 ATS as a double-digit favorite this season, but you know the story. Texas wins convincingly in a bowl game, and it leads to increased expectations for the following season. Sam Ehlinger leads the way in his final game with the Longhorns, and Tom Herman starts the cycle again heading into 2021.
Pick: Texas wins 38-20 and COVERS the spread.
- Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Wisconsin (-7) vs. Wake Forest
Dec. 30, 12 p.m., ESPN
Both teams had stop-and-start seasons that were impacted by COVID-19. The Demon Deacons have not won since Halloween, and the Badgers had a three-game losing streak where they failed to score seven points per game. Wisconsin ended that with a 20-17 victory against Minnesota in the finale, and they build on that momentum. Is this the coolest bowl name of all?
Pick: Wisconsin wins 27-17 and COVERS the spread.
- TransPerfect Music City Bowl: Missouri vs. Iowa (-13.5)
Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Hawkeyes put together a solid season after a slow start, and they covered in five of their last six games. Missouri’s defense allowed 49.3 points in its last three games. That’s still a large spread, and the Tigers hang around long enough to test Iowa late.
Pick: Iowa wins 34-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Tulsa (-1.5) vs. Mississippi State
Dec. 31, 12 p.m., ESPN
Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins is a reason to watch, and the Golden Hurricane can close the season against a SEC team that lost its last three games. The problem with that? Mike Leach. Mississippi State is that 3-7 team that will go out and win a bowl game.
Pick: Mississippi State wins 34-28 in an UPSET.
- AutoZone Liberty Bowl: West Virginia (-4.5) vs. Tennessee
Dec. 31, 4 p.m., ESPN
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt was seemingly on the hot seat, and they run into a West Virginia team that was 4-1 ATS as a favorite this season. The Vols’ offense runs into problems against a Mountaineers’ defense that has playmakers in the back seven.
Pick: West Virginia wins 26-20 and COVERS the spread.
- Arizona Bowl: San Jose State (-7) vs. Ball State
Dec. 31, 4 p.m., CBSSN
San Jose State has a chance to complete a perfect season with Brent Brennan and two-time transfer quarterback Nick Starkel. The Spartans were 6-1 ATS this season. Ball State played spoiler in the MAC championship game, but that doesn’t happen this time around.
Pick: San Jose State wins 31-21 and COVERS the spread.
- Texas Bowl: TCU (-6) vs. Arkansas
Dec. 31, 8 p.m., ESPN
The Razorbacks closed the season on a four-game losing streak, but they also were 7-3 ATS this season. TCU won five of its last six and was 7-3 ATS. This should be a fun throw-back to the Southwest Conference days. There will be an edge to this game.
Pick: TCU wins 31-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Vrbo Citus Bowl: Northwestern (-2.5) vs. Auburn
Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC
Northwestern lost the Big Ten championship game, but they can still close the season with a bowl victory against Auburn, which is looking for a new coach. The Tigers take advantage of a few Wildcats’ turnovers to win a bowl game this time.
Pick: Auburn wins 27-23 in an UPSET.
- TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: Kentucky (-2.5) vs. N.C. State
Jan. 2, 12 p.m., ESPN
The Wildcats were 1-4 against ranked teams this season and struggled with consistency on offense. The Wolfpack closed the season on a four-game win streak. This should be another tight-knit fight, but we’ll go with the more consistent team.
Pick: N.C. State wins 28-24 in an UPSET.
- Outback Bowl: Indiana (-7.5) vs. Ole Miss
Jan. 2, 12:30 p.m., ABC
Indiana hasn’t played since Dec. 5, and the Hoosiers were robbed of a New Year’s Day Six bid. Jack Tuttle played well in the victory against Wisconsin, but their defense will be tested by Ole Miss’ offense. Lane Kiffin might just pull off a bowl season upset as a result behind a big game from Matt Corral. But we’ll stick with the Hoosiers and Tom Allen, who cap a dream season in dramatic fashion.
Pick: Indiana wins 36-33 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
New Year’s Day Six bowl picks, predictions
- Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Florida (-2.5) vs. Oklahoma
Dec. 30, 7:15 p.m., ESPN
The Cotton Bowl should be a shootout, and the 68.5-point over is a strong indicator it should be a fun game. Oklahoma’s young playmakers will make plays against Florida’s defense, but Kyle Trask leads Florida to a third consecutive New Year’s Day Six victory.
Pick: Florida wins 38-34 and COVERS the spread.
- Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Georgia (-6) vs. Cincinnati
Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m., ESPN
The Bearcats didn’t get considered for the playoff, and the consolation is a prove-it game against a solid Georgia team that hit its stride in the final month of the season with J.T. Daniels, who averaged 10.4 yards per attempt. The Bulldogs don’t do the Group of 5 any favors.
Pick: Georgia wins 31-23 and COVERS the spread.
- PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Iowa State (-4)
Jan. 2, 4 p.m., ESPN
Oregon won the Pac-12 championship, but two head-scratching losses showed a lack of consistency on offense. This is a huge spotlight game for the Cyclones and coach Matt Campbell. Brock Purdy takes advantage in a thriller, but there is a value in the Ducks if the spread continues to trend upward.
Pick: Iowa State wins 31-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Capital One Orange Bowl: Texas A&M (-5.5) vs. North Carolina
Jan. 2, 8 p.m., ESPN
The Aggies had a Playoff case, and Kellen Mond’s development was commendable under third-year coach Jimbo Fisher. The Tar Heels are ahead of schedule under Mack Brown, and this is a chance for Sam Howell to take the next step with the program. Brown was 10-4 against the Aggies while with Texas.
Pick: North Carolina wins 34-31 in an UPSET.
College Football Playoff picks, predictions
- Rose Bowl Game: Alabama (-20) vs. Notre Dame
Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN
The Irish get another big-time spot, and they are heavy underdogs after the ACC championship game flop. Alabama will have to adjust to the loss of center Landon Dickerson, but the offense simply presents too many problems on the perimeter for the Irish. The Crimson Tide advance to another CFP championship game, but Notre Dame gets a backdoor cover.
Pick: Alabama wins 42-23 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Allstate Sugar Bowl: Clemson (-7.5) vs. Ohio State
Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m., ESPN
The rematch is intriguing considering how the Tigers rallied to beat the Buckeyes last season. It’s a first-rate quarterback matchup between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Ohio State will jump out to a half-time lead (again), but Clemson wins a high-scoring thriller behind more heroics from Lawrence.
Pick: Clemson wins 34-31 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- CFP National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Clemson
Jan. 11, 8 p.m., ESPN
Alabama-Clemson V. College football fans might grow tired of the matchup, but it’s another high-scoring shootout overflowing with first-round talent on both sides. Najee Harris opens up the running game early, and that sets up Mac Jones for another big game. The Crimson Tide holds off a second-half rally by Lawrence and holds on for Nick Saban’s sixth national championship with the school.
Pick: Alabama wins 37-34.