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College Football Bowl Picks 2019-20: Game Predictions for Each Matchup of Season

Theo SalaunContributor IIIDecember 19, 2019

Clemson's Isaiah Simmons waits on the snap during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wofford Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Richard Shiro/Associated Press

It's that most wonderful time of the year again, when stockings get stuffed and 39 different bowls get filled with the most competitive college football games of the season. 

For some college stars, this is their last chance to impress NFL scouts on the playing field. For others, this is their first taste of bowl mania. For all, legacies are on the line. 

For every game, we've got pick predictions. We'll also give some analysis of the slate's two biggest matchups, the College Football Playoff semifinals: the Fiesta Bowl (No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson) and the Peach Bowl (No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma).

                   

2019-20 Bowl Schedule

Friday, December 20, 2019

Bahamas Bowl: Buffalo (-7.0) vs. Charlotte

Frisco Bowl: Utah State (-6.5) vs. Kent State

                  

Saturday, December 21

New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan vs. San Diego State (-4.5)

Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern (-3.5)

Boca Raton Bowl: SMU vs. Florida Atlantic (-2.0)

Camellia Bowl: Florida International vs. Arkansas State (-3.5)

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Washington (-3.0)

New Orleans Bowl: Appalachian State (-7.5) vs. UAB

                  

Monday, December 23

Gasparilla Bowl: UCF (-11.0) vs. Marshall

                  

Tuesday, December 24

Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii (-1.5) vs. BYU

                  

Thursday, December 26

Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (-3.5)

Quick Lane Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Eastern Michigan (-1.5)

                  

Friday, December 27

Military Bowl: North Carolina (-3.5) vs. Temple

Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State (-4.0) vs. Wake Forest

Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (-6.5)

Holiday Bowl: USC vs. Iowa (-3.0)

Cheez-It Bowl: Air Force vs. Washington State (-2.5)

                  

Saturday, December 28 2019

Camping World Bowl: Notre Dame (-2.0) vs. Iowa State

Cotton Bowl Classic: Penn State (-7.5) vs. Memphis

Fiesta Bowl: Playoff Semifinal: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson (-3.5)

Peach Bowl: Playoff Semifinal: No. 1 LSU (-10.5) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

                  

Monday, December 30

First Responder Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan (-1.5)

Music City Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Louisville (-2.5)

Redbox Bowl: California (-6.5) vs. Illinois

Orange Bowl: Florida (-12.0) vs. Virginia

                  

Tuesday, December 31

Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech (-4.5) vs. Kentucky

Sun Bowl: Florida State vs. Arizona State (-5.0)

Liberty Bowl: Navy vs. Kansas State (-4.0)

Arizona Bowl: Wyoming (-6.5) vs. Georgia State 

Alamo Bowl: Utah (-10.5) vs. Texas

                  

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Citrus Bowl: Michigan vs. Alabama (-4.5)

Outback Bowl: Minnesota (-1.0) vs. Auburn

Rose Bowl: Oregon (-6.5) vs. Wisconsin

Sugar Bowl: Georgia (-4.0) vs. Baylor

                  

Thursday, January 2

Birmingham Bowl: Boston College vs. Cincinnati (-6.0)

Gator Bowl: Indiana vs. Tennessee (-3.0)

                  

Friday, January 3

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio (-5.0) vs. Nevada

                  

Saturday, January 4

Armed Forces Bowl: Southern Mississippi vs. Tulane (-7.0)

                  

Monday, January 6

LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana (-12.0) vs. Miami (Ohio)

All odds via Caesars correct at time of writing.

                  

Peach Bowl: LSU 45, Oklahoma 34

Both of these offenses have been on an absolute tear in 2019. Led by Heisman-nominated quarterbacks, LSU and Oklahoma have each racked up over 554 yards per game over the year while their defenses have done enough to maintain their programs' dominance. 

But Joe Burrow won the Heisman for a reason and Vegas is fully on board. While Caesars is currently giving his LSU Tigers a 14-point edge over Jalen Hurts' Oklahoma Sooners, the final score should be a little closer. 

It is true the Tigers have been filthy in 2019. Burrow has accounted for 4,800-plus yards and 51 touchdowns and his top receiver, Ja'Marr Chase has delivered 1,498 yards and 18 touchdowns. LSU's secondary has been stifling as well, giving the Tigers some of the balance Oklahoma lacks.

Balance may not be enough for a 14-point edge, though. Hurts has been involved in three bowl games and two college football championships since he was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2016. Boasting a game-breaking combination of arm and leg talent, Hurts is a matchup nightmare who can get hot at any given moment. 

His top option isn't so shabby, either. CeeDee Lamb is a top NFL prospect whose size (standing at 6'2½") and speed have burnt defenses to the tune of 1,228 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019. Coupled with a strong linebacker corps, the Sooners should have the offensive star power to stay competitive in the Peach Bowl.

Still, Lamb and Hurts are the only Sooners with double-digit touchdowns in 2019. Conversely, LSU has five: Burrow, Lamb, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall Jr.

The Tigers are versatile on offense, stout against the pass and should be able to book a trip to the championship in a high-scoring, albeit surprisingly close affair. 

                  

Fiesta Bowl: Clemson 42, OSU 38

Probably the most exciting bowl matchup. Fittingly named, the 2019 Fiesta Bowl should be an absolute party for fans and NFL scouts alike. 

Each program has superstars on both sides of the ball, and that has helped them outscore opponents by whopping amounts. Ohio State has averaged 36.2 more points than their foes while Clemson has won by 35.9. 

The game is likely to be decided by each team's offensive and defensive signal-callers. For Ohio State, that is Heisman finalists, quarterback Justin Fields and pass-rusher Chase Young. For Clemson, it is quarterback Trevor Lawrence and adaptable, dominant linebacker Isaiah Simmons

Fields has put up 2,953 passing yards and 40 passing touchdowns (with just one interception) with another 471 yards and 10 touchdowns contributed by his legs. That has helped give receivers K.J. Hill and Chris Olave over 40 catches and double-digit touchdowns in 2019. 

When Ohio State's offense is on the sideline, Young has racked up 16.5 sacks, 44 tackles (21 for a loss), three deflected passes and seven forced fumbles.

Lawrence, meanwhile, has put up 3,172 passing yards and 34 touchdowns through the air with an additional 407 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. His eight interceptions may feel troubling, but his heroics remain renowned. That air game has meant 50-plus catches for two of his receivers: Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins.

When "Sunshine" hits the sideline, Simmons has taken over—eroding statisticians' pencils by devastating the box score all year. This season he has had 93 tackles (14.5 for a loss), seven sacks, two interceptions, six deflected passes, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

The trench game should be monumental, as Ohio State's running back, J.K. Dobbins, has put up over 2,000 scrimmage yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Similarly, Clemson's Travis Etienne has 1,700-plus scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns. 

The teams are evenly matched and have X-factors across the board. If Ohio State can get Dobbins going, then maybe they'll have a chance at the narrow upset. But, they're likely going to have to throw the ball to outscore Clemson and it seems improbable that anyone will be able to hold Clemson's offense down while outscoring a defense led by as versatile and adaptable a defender as Simmons.