January 2 College Bowl Picks: Taxslayer Bowl
Iowa vs. Tennessee (-3.5) | Jacksonville, FL | 3:20pm ET (ESPN)
I don’t see my taxes getting slayed. Already this game is a disappointment.
Iowa this year as another frustrating case; a team that started the year 5-1 and got smacked around in Big Ten play to finish 7-5. This should make the two teams a decent pair, as Tennessee was inconsistent but they found a way to go 6-6 and make a bowl with Butch Jones at the helm.
Statistically, the two teams are similar. The defenses performed adequately against comparably difficult schedules but the offenses were more mediocre.
This is a Tennessee team that was competitive in a number of games against top opposition (though not all). In a battle of inconsistent teams, go with Rocky Top.
January 2 College Bowl Picks: Alamo Bowl
Kansas State vs. UCLA (-1.5) | San Antonio, TX | 6:45pm ET (ESPN)
This one is the crown jewel of the January 2 bowls, actually featuring two good teams.
K-State and UCLA were two of the most consistently good teams all season long, and that should make this an entertaining game. In maybe all but two games, the Wildcats flashed some defense, yet they still got a solid senior year out of quarterback Jake Waters. As for UCLA, they also played a tough schedule but it was their defense that failed them in those losses.
What cannot be taken away from the Bruins is that they won three games over ranked teams this season; K-State earned one, barely beating Oklahoma.
UCLA’s Brett Hundley might be the better quarterback in the game, especially as the K-State secondary will see some backups play, but I have rolled with the ‘Cats all season long and will do so again here.
Pick: Kansas State
January 2 College Bowl Picks: Cactus Bowl
Washington (-6) vs. Oklahoma State | Tempe, AZ | 10:15pm ET (ESPN)
Boston College Eagles
On paper, this looks like a bit of a mismatch. Both are power-conference teams that played tough schedules, but the Cowboys got railroaded by theirs. After opening the year with a tough fight against Florida State, the Pokes started to slip and eventually got throttled in five straight games.
It was only in beating Oklahoma in “Bedlam” that they qualified for a bowl at the last possible moment.
Washington is not a great team, but they are an okay team and a well-coached one with Chris Petersen running the show. The Huskies were a more consistently competitive team, though they ultimately lost all five games in which they played against ranked teams.
What’s not to like about the Pokes is their defense, which is average at best against the run (U-Dub is decent at it on offense) and below average overall. That’s enough to sway me.