College Football Bowl Picks 2019: Predictions on Most Overlooked Games Remaining

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 29, 2019

Navy's Malcolm Perry celebrates after a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Army, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Even though the number of FBS bowl games left to be played is dwindling, there are still a few matchups flying under the radar.

The most overlooked remaining bowls feature a program that was cast aside after a brutal start, an up-and-coming Big Ten side, a team thriving under a first-year coach and a consistent Group of Five squad.

While the hype may avoid the Liberty Bowl and Gator Bowl, they are expected to be two of the closest contests left on the docket.


Bowl Schedule and Picks

New Year's Six Games

Orange Bowl (Dec. 30): Florida (-14.5) vs. Virginia (8 p.m., ESPN)

Rose Bowl (Jan. 1): Wisconsin (-3) vs. Oregon (5 p.m., ESPN) 

Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1): Georgia (-5) vs. Baylor (8:45 p.m., ESPN)


Other Bowls

First Responder Bowl (Dec. 30): Western Kentucky (-3.5) vs. Western Michigan (12:30 p.m., ESPN)

Music City Bowl (Dec. 30): Mississippi State (-4) vs. Louisville (4 p.m., ESPN)

Redbox Bowl (Dec. 30): California (-6.5) vs. Illinois (4 p.m., Fox)

Belk Bowl (Dec. 31): Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech (-2.5) (noon, ESPN)

Sun Bowl (Dec. 31): Florida State vs. Arizona State (-4) (2 p.m., CBS)

Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31): Navy (-2.5) vs. Kansas State (3:45 p.m.. ESPN)

Arizona Bowl (Dec. 31): Wyoming (-7) vs. Georgia State (4:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)

Alamo Bowl (Dec. 31): Utah (-7) vs. Texas (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1): Alabama (-7) vs. Michigan (1 p.m., ABC)

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1): Auburn (-7) vs. Minnesota (1 p.m., ESPN)

Birmingham Bowl (Jan. 2): Boston College vs. Cincinnati (-7) (3 p.m., ESPN)

Gator Bowl (Jan. 2): Tennessee (-2) vs. Indiana (7 p.m., ESPN)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Jan. 3): Ohio (-8) vs. Nevada (3:30 p.m., ESPN)

Armed Forces Bowl (Jan. 4): Tulane (-7) vs. Southern Miss (11:30 a.m., ESPN)

LendingTree Bowl (Jan. 6): Louisiana (-14) vs. Miami (Ohio) (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

All times ET. Odds via Caesars; predictions against the spread in bold.


Most Overlooked Games Remaining

Navy (-2.5) vs. Kansas State

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The Navy Midshipmen rarely have an opportunity to test a Power Five foe with their option offense. The American Athletic Conference side typically faces the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the regular season, but that is about it when it comes to facing the best programs.

Chris Klieman's Kansas State Wildcats are not in the FBS elite, but they should provide a good challenge in the Liberty Bowl.

Navy produced at least 30 points in each of its 10 victories, and it is coming off a 31-7 drubbing of the Army Black Knights December 14. Malcolm Perry is one of the most effective rushing quarterbacks in the sport, as evidenced by his 1,804 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.

The senior quarterback put up 304 rushing yards and a pair of end zone trips versus Army and he has run for triple digits in the past nine contests.

Kansas State allows 152.3 rushing yards per game and it owns a pair of Top 25 victories from Big 12 play. The Wildcats' experience against the toughest foes on their schedule should prepare them for a tight affair with the Midshipmen.

Quarterback Skylar Thompson has 2,593 total yards, 12 passing scores and 10 rushing touchdowns. He may not be as effective as Perry, but he will force the Navy defense to remain honest when he drops back.

The Big 12 side is 3-5 in postseason games this decade, but it owns a two-game bowl winning streak and can win nine games for the first time since 2016. While Kansas State should be competitive, Navy has been more efficient on the ground and is 4-1 in its past five bowl games.

Add on the motivation to win 11 games for the first since 2015 and the Midshipmen should come away with the win.


Tennessee (-2) vs. Indiana

COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 23: Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers passes against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Most people cast off the Tennessee Volunteers after their 1-4 disastrous start, which included three losses at home. Jeremy Pruitt's side rallied to go 7-5 and earn a meeting with the Indiana Hoosiers, who turned heads with their 8-4 campaign.

It is not the most appealing matchup on paper, but the two-point spread reflects how tight the Gator Bowl should be. 

The Vols have received consistent quarterback play out of Jarrett Guarantano, who has eight touchdown passes and two interceptions in the previous five games. They also boast a freshman running back in Eric Gray, who is looking to build off a 246-yard, three-score performance versus the Vanderbilt Commodores.

While Tennessee averages 24.3 points per game, Indiana owns a total that is eight points better, but it struggled to keep up with the ranked sides in the Big Ten.

The seven-win Vols are the perfect level of competition for Tom Allen's side since it is not quite ready to challenge the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey has 925 passing yards in his past three outings, and wide receiver Whop Philyor might be the most dynamic player on the field in Jacksonville, Florida.

Philyor, who has 1,001 receiving yards, put up four 100-yard games and has a pair of multi-score performances.

With Tennessee looking to finish strong to build on the second half of 2019 and Indiana hunting for its first bowl win since 1991, both sides should have plenty of motivation, and their respective offensive weapons should make this a back-and-forth affair.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.