It’s time for another bowl season – and that means filling out picks sheets to show off your college football knowledge. To give you an edge, we’ve assembled our college-expert picks for each of the games from Dec. 30 into the New Year’s weekend.
In this installment, Donald Norton ranks his picks from most to least confident:
#1 – Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
The College Football Playoff committee did the right thing by including Cincinnati in the party. But Alabama is a prohibitive favorite in a national semifinal disguised as the Cotton Bowl for a reason, and should flaunt its stuff with Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young calling the signals.
#2 – North Carolina Tar Heels vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
Bragging rights in the Carolinas are at stake when North meets South in the Mayo Bowl from Charlotte. The Tar Heels are a strong favorite in the college football odds and should have little trouble with the Gamecocks behind NFL-bound quarterback Sam Howell.
Winner: North Carolina
#3 – Wisconsin Badgers vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
Wisconsin is a solid favorite in the Las vegas odds to defeat Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Badgers of the Big Ten played a difficult schedule while the Pac-12’s Sun Devils did not. The Wisconsin defense should make the difference in this one.
#4 – Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Boise State Broncos
Central Michigan rolls into its Arizona Bowl meeting with Boise State on a four-game win streak and can pull the upset. The Chippewas try for their ninth victory, which would be their most since winning 12 games in 2009. The Broncos’ seven wins are their fewest in a full season since 1998
Winner: Central Michigan
#5 – Michigan Wolverines vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Michigan is a strong upset possibility in the college football picks to knock off Georgia in the CFP semifinals. The Wolverines roll into the playoffs after winning the Big Ten title while the Bulldogs lick their wounds after a blowout loss to Alabama for the SEC championship.
#6 – Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State entertained CFP thoughts before those dreams were shattered. The Spartans will instead play Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl. Michigan State is favored when betting online, but the Panthers’ potent offense, led by Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett, could be hard to handle.
#7 – Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Marcus Freeman makes his head coaching debut when Notre Dame meets Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Fighting Irish finished fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings and saw coach Brian Kelly leave for LSU. The Cowboys come off a close loss to Baylor in the Big 12 title game.
Winner: Oklahoma State
#8 – Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Iowa takes on Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl after absorbing a huge beating against CFP semifinalist Michigan in the Big Ten title game. The Hawkeyes, who are a slight underdog, started 6-0 and went 4-3 down the stretch while playing a tougher schedule than the Wildcats.
#9 – Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Utah Utes
Utah makes its first Rose Bowl appearance as it takes on Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been here before and should be too much for the Utes to handle. Utah, though, owns all the momentum after winning its first Pac-12 title by routing former CFP contender Oregon.
Winner: Ohio State
#10 – Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
The Big Ten meets the SEC again as Penn State takes on Arkansas in the Outback Bowl. Penn State did not beat a top-tier team, but played them all close. Arkansas hung with Alabama, but was blown out by Georgia. When in doubt, go with the best defense.
Winner: Penn State
#11 – Miami Hurricanes vs. Washington State Cougars
Miami is a small favorite to beat Washington State in the Sun Bowl. Both teams finished strong with the Hurricanes claiming five of their last six after a 2-4 start while the Cougars are riding a two-game win streak. A high-scoring game could be in order, so whoever has the ball last wins.
#12 – Purdue Boilermakers vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee’s home-field advantage is negligible when it meets Purdue in the Music City Bowl from Memphis. The Volunteers’ campus is some 400 miles away while Boilermakers’ backers will travel about 500 miles. Purdue played a tougher schedule and can spring a mild upset.
#13 – Ole Miss Rebels vs. Baylor Bears
Ole Miss meets Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Each team has won four in a row with the Bears coming off a triumph over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game. The Rebels played a slightly tougher schedule, so they are the choice to win their second Sugar Bowl in seven years.