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College Football Bowl Picks 2017-18: Odds and Predictions for Every Game

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02:  Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to pass against the TCU Horned Frogs in the second quarter during Big 12 Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The college football bowl season is underway, and although it will take some time for the bigger programs to get started, there are plenty of exciting matchups ready to hold you over.

Before the playoff semifinals and even the New Year's Six bowls, there are a few under-the-radar battles featuring elite players that are certainly worth the watch. If you are just tuning in on Jan. 1, you will miss a whole lot of fun.

Here are predictions for every remaining game with a breakdown of those you really don't want to miss.

                

2017-18 Bowl Schedule and Predictions

Dec. 19 Boca Raton Bowl: Florida Atlantic (-22.5) over Akron; 45-17 FAU

Dec. 20 Frisco Bowl: SMU (-5) over Louisiana Tech; 41-28 SMU

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Dec. 21 Gasparilla Bowl: Florida International (+7) over Temple; 31-27 FIU

Dec. 22 Bahamas Bowl: UAB (+7.5) over Ohio; 28-27 UAB

Dec. 22 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan (EV) over Wyoming; 24-21

Dec. 23 Birmingham Bowl: USF (-2.5) over Texas Tech; 38-20

Dec. 23 Armed Forces Bowl: Army (+6.5) over San Diego State; 21-17 SDSU

Dec. 23 Dollar General Bowl: Toledo (-7.5) over Appalachian State; 35-24 TOL

Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State (+2.5) over Houston; 20-17 FS

Dec. 26 Heart of Dallas Bowl: West Virginia (+7) over Utah; 30-23 WVU

Dec. 26 Quick Lane Bowl: Duke (-5) over NIU; 24-17 DUKE

Dec. 26 Cactus Bowl: UCLA (+2.5) over Kansas State; 35-31 UCLA

Dec. 27 Independence Bowl: Southern Miss (+16) over Florida State; 28-20 FSU

Dec. 27 New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa (-2.5) over Boston College; 21-16 IOWA

Dec. 27 Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona (-4) over Purdue; 31-17 ZONA

Dec. 27 Texas Bowl: Texas (+2.5) over Missouri; 27-20 TEX

Dec. 28 Military Bowl: Navy (-1) over Virginia: 28-24 NAVY

Dec. 28 Camping World Bowl: Oklahoma State (-4) over Virginia Tech; 34-21 OSU

Dec. 28 Alamo Bowl: Stanford (+2.5) over TCU; 21-20 STAN

Dec. 28 Holiday Bowl: Michigan State (+2.5) over Washington State; 28-27 MSU

Dec. 29 Belk Bowl: Wake Forest (-3) over Texas A&M; 35-21 WAKE

Dec. 29 Sun Bowl: North Carolina State (-6.5) over Arizona State; 34-24 NCSU

Dec. 29 Music City Bowl: Kentucky (+7.5) over Northwestern; 27-21 NW

Dec. 29 Arizona Bowl: Utah State (-4) over New Mexico State; 30-20 USU

Dec. 29 Cotton Bowl Classic: USC (+7.5) over Ohio State; 28-21 OSU

Dec. 30 TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville (-6.5) over Mississippi State; 38-28 LOU

Dec. 30 Liberty Bowl: Memphis (-3.5) over Iowa State; 31-27 MEM

Dec. 30 Fiesta Bowl: Penn State (-2) over Washington; 30-21 PSU

Dec. 30 Orange Bowl: Miami (+6.5) over Wisconsin; 20-10 MIA

Jan. 1 Outback Bowl: South Carolina (+7.5) over Michigan; 16-13 MICH

Jan. 1 Peach Bowl: Auburn (-9.5) over UCF; 35-14 AUB

Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl: Notre Dame (+3) over LSU; 27-17 ND

Jan. 1 Rose Bowl: Oklahoma (+2) over Georgia; 38-28 OKLA

Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl: Alabama (-2.5) over Clemson; 24-21 BAMA

All spread info courtesy of OddsShark.

                    

Underrated Matchups to Watch

     

Holiday Bowl: Michigan State vs. Washington State

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Luke Falk #4 of the Washington State Cougars looks to pass the ball during their game against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty
Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Bowl games aren't always decided by talent but often mentality. If a team loses a coach, either to a firing or a better job, the focus isn't always there. There are also sometimes questions about a perceived slight.

Michigan State players were apparently disappointed in their selection to the Holiday Bowl while Michigan, with a worse record, got a trip to the Outback Bowl. However, the head coach has done his best to keep the spirits up.

"Hey, life's about how you handle disappointments," Mark Dantonio said, per Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press. "And I would not say going to the Holiday Bowl is a big disappointment."

Facing a Washington State team that beat Stanford and USC should be enough to wake up the Spartans.

The Cougars have one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Luke Falk, although the problem for him and the rest of the team is consistency. He has often struggled to hold on to the football, throwing 13 interceptions this year with eight coming in the team's three losses.

Michigan State safety David Dowell already has five interceptions this season and could add to his total if Falk isn't careful.

The Spartans should come into the game prepared to win with enough talent on both sides of the ball to earn the victory.

          

Alamo Bowl: Stanford vs. TCU

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Bryce Love #20 of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the California Golden Bears at Stanford Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Christian McCaffrey skipped his bowl game last year, but Bryce Love appears ready to participate in his for Stanford.

This could be the difference in the Alamo Bowl because when healthy, Love is arguably the top running back in college football. The junior entered the bowl season ranked second in FBS with 1,973 rushing yards, averaging an incredible 8.3 yards per carry while scoring 17 touchdowns.

He did this despite being limited at times due to an ankle injury. With an extra few weeks of recovery, he could be deadly in the bowl game. Considering he averaged 198 yards in seven games before picking up his injury, TCU is in trouble.

The Horned Frogs do have a quality defense, but Oklahoma showed what could happen when this team goes up against a physical offensive line like Stanford has this season.

Quarterback Kenny Hill is a dynamic player who can cause problems for the Cardinal defense and keep the game close. However, Stanford should be able to pull out the win, even in Texas.

              

TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs. Mississippi State

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 25:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the game at Commonwealth Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There was a lot of discussion about Alabama's schedule this season and the lack of quality wins. This should be considered a slight against Mississippi State, which had the Crimson Tide on the ropes before narrowly losing.

The Bulldogs have a lot of talent on defense and can slow down high-powered offenses, while Nick Fitzgerald and the offense should be able to move the football with ease against a porous defense like Louisville's.

Unfortunately, it won't be easy for the team to reach its potential with head coach Dan Mullen gone to Florida.

Of course, the biggest challenge will be slowing down Lamar Jackson. Although the Louisville quarterback couldn't repeat as Heisman Trophy winner, his numbers were just as good as last year and, in some ways, better.

Danny Kanell of SiriusXM provided an impressive statistic:

Danny Kanell @dannykanell

Favorite Heisman week stat...Lamar Jackson RUSHED for more yards per game than Saquon Barkley. Wow!!

Adding in his improved passing from a year ago, Jackson is nearly impossible to stop.

The quarterback can rack up yards and points, and without Mullen, Mississippi State will struggle to keep up.

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