Bowl Games 2017-18: Postseason Schedule and Predictions for Biggest Matchups

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2017

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 02:  Kelly Bryant #2 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after a touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes in the third quarter during the ACC Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Bowl season is in full swing, and there is still so much to look forward to as the calendar gets set to flip over to 2018.

Fans will be treated to a slew of high-profile matchups in the coming days, including the New Year's Six bowls that will take center stage between Dec. 29 and Jan. 1.

Most notable among that group will be this year's College Football Playoff semifinals, which will pit No. 1 Clemson against No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and No. 2 Oklahoma against No. 3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

Below you will find a rundown of the remaining bowl games along with a few predictions for some of the more compelling games left on the ledger.

         

Remaining Bowl Schedule

Sunday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. Houston (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

       

Tuesday, Dec. 26

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs. West Virginia (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois (5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

           

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Independence Bowl: Southern Mississippi vs. Florida State (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs. Boston College (5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona vs. Purdue (8:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

Texas Bowl: Texas vs. Missouri (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

            

Thursday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl: Virginia vs. Navy (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Camping World Bowl: No. 22 Virginia Tech vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State (5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Alamo Bowl: No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 15 TCU (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Holiday Bowl: No. 18 Washington State vs. No. 16 Michigan State (9 p.m. ET, FS1)

         

Friday, Dec. 29

Belk Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M (1 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Sun Bowl: No. 24 NC State vs. Arizona State (3 p.m. ET, CBS)

Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs. No. 21 Northwestern (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Utah State (5:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

Cotton Bowl: No. 8 USC vs. No. 5 Ohio State (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

              

Saturday, Dec. 30

TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs. No. 23 Mississippi State (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. No. 20 Memphis (12:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Fiesta Bowl: No. 11 Washington vs. No. 9 Penn State (4 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Orange Bowl: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

          

Monday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Peach Bowl: No. 12 UCF vs. No. 7 Auburn (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU (1 p.m. ET, ABC)

Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal): No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (5 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal): No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Clemson (8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)

             

Monday, Jan. 8

CFP National Championship Game: Rose Bowl winner vs. Sugar Bowl winner 

               

Predictions

Saquon Barkley Goes Out with a Bang

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - NOVEMBER 18:  Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions carries the ball on a touchdown run during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 18, 2017 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania. P
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley has been something of an afterthought recently—and it all started with the Nittany Lions' loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Oct. 28. 

After the eventual Big Ten champions limited Barkley to 21 carries for 44 yards, the junior failed to top 100 yards in three of the Nittany Lions' final four regular-season games. The lone exception came Nov. 18, when he burned Nebraska for 158 yards and three scores on the ground.

That drop-off caused Barkley to fade out of the Heisman Trophy conversation.

It didn't help that Barkley's statistical regression coincided with the Nittany Lions' late-season slump, as they dropped back-to-back games against Ohio State and Michigan State to sink their hopes of snagging a spot in the CFP.

Headed for what figures to be his final game at the collegiate level, Barkley should be aiming to put on a show and remind detractors he was deserving of a trip to New York.

Standing in his way will be the Washington Huskies, who tout the nation's No. 1-ranked rushing defense (92.3 yards per game).

"He's a great player, and he's going to present a great challenge for us," Washington linebacker Tevis Bartlett said, according to the News Tribune's Ryan S. Clark.

Finding running lanes against the Huskies' renowned front won't be easy, but if the Nittany Lions can draw up some some screens, angle routes and wheel routes in the passing game, Barkley should have opportunities aplenty to pick up chunk gains and carry Penn State to its first bowl win since 2014.

             

Georgia Runs by Oklahoma

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 02: Nick Chubb #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs the ball during the first half against the Auburn Tigers in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The spotlight has been shining on Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield in advance of the Rose Bowl—and for good reason. 

Mayfield was the most dynamic player college football had to offer all season long, and he scorched opposing defenses to the tune of 4,340 passing yards and a career-high 41 touchdowns while tossing just five interceptions en route helping the Sooners clinch the CFP's No. 2 seed.

But when Oklahoma meets Georgia on New Year's Day under the Southern California sun, Mayfield won't be the only playmaker deserving of attention.

The Bulldogs enter the CFP semifinal with a three-headed running game that thrashed Auburn for 238 yards on 41 carries in the SEC Championship Game, and they should again focus on enlisting a ground-heavy approach if they want to keep the Sooners in check.

That will mean heavy doses of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D'Andre Swift against a vulnerable Oklahoma run defense that allowed 144.2 rushing yards per game during the regular season.

"They've got great balance and potential, and Oklahoma at times has played well, and other times they have been very vulnerable," ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said, per 247Sports' Jake Rowe. "I think Georgia’s offense has a chance to be a big factor in that game."

If Georgia can play ball-control offense, effectively kill the clock and keep the ball out of Mayfield's hands for long stretches, don't be surprised if the Sooners start to press and find themselves in a vulnerable spot against the Bulldogs' ferocious defense.

             

Jalen Hurts Stumbles on the CFP Stage Once Again

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 25:  Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide is seen on the sidelines prior to the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide have a passing problem, and it's nothing new.

Just think back to last year's College Football Playoff, when quarterback Jalen Hurts mustered 57 yards through the air in a semifinal win over Washington before he completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes for 131 yards in the Tide's heartbreaking 35-31 loss to Clemson.

Those struggles carried over to the 2017 regular season.

In 12 games as a sophomore, Hurts completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,005 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception. Alabama also managed 27 plays of 30-plus yards a year after notching 51, according to USA Today's Paul Myerberg.

On top of that, the Tide have one receiver (Calvin Ridley) who's caught more than 20 passes this year.

All of that is to say Hurts could be in big trouble once again on the CFP stage.

Not only did Alabama's 86th-ranked passing game consistently fail to strike fear into opponents this year, but Clemson also owns one of the country's stingier secondaries (165.1 passing yards allowed per game).

As a result, Clemson should be content to stack the box, slow down the Tide's multipronged rushing attack and dare Hurts to try to beat them vertically.

Alabama's signal-caller will have all the motivation he needs following last season's national title game disappointment, but the bet here is the Tigers will hunker down and take away Hurts' initial reads to stymie the Tide's middling passing attack.

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