NCAA Bowl Week 2 Picks - Late Games

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NCAA Bowl Week 2 Late Games

All times Eastern

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Monday, December 27

Quick Lane Bowl
11:00 am Western Michigan (-7, 56) vs. Nevada - Tough to figure out the Broncos from Western Michigan. They defeated both of the teams that played in the MAC championship - Kent State and Northern Illinois - but lost badly to teams such as Ball State, Toledo, and Central Michigan. Early in the year, they managed a 44-41 win at Pitt. They were 4-4 in the MAC and 7-5 overall.

The Broncos will have plenty to contend with, if Carson Strong is on target. The Wolf Pack QB threw for more than 260 yards in all 12 games (9 times over 300 yards), leading Nevada to an 8-4 record (5-3, MWC), and nearly to the conference championship. A 23-21 loss to San Diego State and a 41-39 3OT loss to Air Force late in the season left them as spectators. Strong may have a field day against an average Bronco secondary.

Coin Flip: Western Michigan

Prediction: Wolf Pack 42 Broncos 22


Military Bowl
2:30 pm Boston College (-3, 51 1/2) vs. East Carolina - Going 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the American Athletic conference, the Pirates losses were all to bowl teams - Appalachian State, South Carolina, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston. They're a good, though not great, college team with plenty of upside.

Boston College got to 6-4 on November 13, but failed in their final two home games, losing to Florida State, 26-23, and Wake Forest 41-10. They were also badly beaten by NC State, Louisville, and Syracuse, leading one to wonder how much commitment is there. East Carolina looks like the hungrier squad.

Coin Flip: East Carolina

Prediction: Pirates 28 Eagles 25


Tuesday, December 28

Birmingham Bowl
12:00 pm #20 Houston vs. Auburn (-2 1/2, 51 1/2) - The Cougars lost their first and last games of the season, a 38-21 defeat to Texas Tech to open the season and a 35-20 loss in the American Athletic title game to Cincinnati.

Houston ran off 11 straight wins in between and went 8-0 in conference games. They should be up to prove themselves agains the Auburn Tigers and their SEC credibility. The Tigers finished the season at 6-6, losing their last four, but the finale, a 24-22, four overtime loss to Alabama was a hum-dinger. With Bo Nix injured and now transferring to Oregon, TJ Finley has been starting at QB the last two games. He's not won as a starter yet, and the Cougars aren't going down easily.

Coin Flip: Houston

Prediction: Cougars 27 Tigers 17


First Responder Bowl
3:15 pm Air Force vs. Louisville (-1 1/2, 55 1/2) - Is this a misprint or is Louisville favored because they're from the ACC? They were 4-4 in conference play and they had a 42-35 win over UCF, but the losses to Wake Forest, Virginia, NC State and Clemson were mostly close games, but still losses. Their rivalry game with Kentucky to end the season didn't turn out well. It was a 52-21 loss, their worst defeat of the season.

Air Force played in a pretty good Mountain West conference, racking up a 6-2 record and losing out to Utah State in a tie-breaker for the conference title game. The Falcons were grounded by the Aggies, 49-45, back in September. Their other two losses were a 20-14 loss to San Diego State, and 21-14 overtime loss to Army. The Falcons led the nation in rushing by a wide margin, averaging 341.4 yards per game and they can throw the ball as well.

Coin Flip: Louisville

Prediction: Falcons 35 Cardinals 26



Liberty Bowl
6:45 pm Mississippi State (-9, 59 1/2) vs. Texas Tech - Is this a looming blowout for the Bulldogs or can Texas Tech hang in against a solid SEC team?

Well, that depends on how much faith one has in freshman QB Donovan Smith the third starter at that position this season for the Red Raiders. Smith started the last four games for Tech, and he's 1-3, but, those losses were to the best teams in the Big 12, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor, so he may not have gotten a fair trial. More practice and some time off may be just what Texas Tech needed heading into this game.

Mississippi State had a mostly positive season, going 4-4 in the SEC and 7-5 overall, with conference wins over Texas A&M, Kentucky, and Auburn, with a 31-21 loss to Ole Miss to finish the regular season. QB Will Rogers threw for 300 yards or more in every game, topping 400 four times. The Texas Tech defense is unlikely to hold up, no matter how well their freshman QB plays.

Coin Flip: Mississippi State

Prediction: Bulldogs 38 Red Raiders 24


Holiday Bowl
8:00 pm UCLA vs. #18 NC State (-1, 60) - The Wolfpack of NC State was pretty close to a perfect season, though one wouldn't have guessed they'd do so well after a 24-10 loss at Mississippi State the second week of the season.

The Wolfpack won 8 of their next 10 games to finish 9-3 (6-2, ACC), only losing, 31-30 at Miami, and, 45-42, at Wake Forest. On their way, they took down Clemson, 27-21, in double overtime, Louisville, BC, and North Carolina, among others. QB Devin Leary started every game.

The Bruins were among the better teams in the PAC-12, but they managed to lose the big games, to Arizona State, Oregon, and Utah, to finish 6-3 in conference play and 8-4 overall. They closed out the season winning three straight, topping Colorado, 44-20, USC, 62-33, and Cal, 42-14. They should give the Wolf Pack all they've got in what figures to be the best - and maybe highest-scoring - game of the day.

Coin Flip: NC State

Prediction: Bruins 37 Wolfpack 35


Guaranteed Rate Bowl
10:15 pm West Virginia vs. Minnesota (-4 1/2, 45) - Minnesota had a productive season, going 8-4 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten West, finishing with a 23-13 victory at Wisconsin, depriving the Badgers of a trip to the conference championship. Other than a 45-31 loss to Ohio State to open the season, the Golden Gophers other three losses were by eight to Illinois, five to Iowa and four to Bowling Green. QB Tanner Morgan leads an experienced offense and the defense usually can hold its own.

Outside of a 38-31 win over Iowa State, the Mountaineers weren't very good. Wins over TCU, Kansas, and a depleted Texas team were all they could muster in the Big 12, going 4-5 to complete a 6-6 season. The potential for Minnesota to run up the score here is high.

Coin Flip: Minnesota

Prediction: Golden Gophers 38 Mountaineers 17


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