NCAA Bowl Week 3 Picks - Late Games

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NCAA Bowl Week 3 Late Games

All times Eastern

Click here for early games.

Friday, December 31

Gator Bowl
11:00 am #17 Wake Forest (-17, 61 1/2) vs. Rutgers - This game was originally looking like a wild West shootout possibility, until Texas A&M pulled out over Covid issues and was replaced by 5-7 Rutgers.

The Demon Deacons have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. They were 5th in total points scored, at 41.2 per game and will have their full compliment of players available. Wake Forest went 10-3, losing the ACC title game to Pittsburgh, 45-21.

The best thing that can be said about Rutgers is that they were almost bowl eligible. They started out the season 3-0, with wins over Temple, Syracuse, and Delaware, but won just two more through the Big Ten season, topping Illinois and Indiana. Most of their losses were blowouts, especially to Ohio State, 52-13, and Wisconsin, 52-3. They had two shots at winning a sixth game, but lost, 28-0, at Penn State and finished up with a 40-16 defeat to Maryland. Ouch.

Wake Forest may cover the O/U all by themselves.

Coin Flip: Wake Forest

Prediction: Demon Deacons 48 Scarlet Knights 20


Sun Bowl
12:00 pm Washington State (-5 1/2, 57 1/2) vs. Central Michigan - This was originally going to be Washington St. vs. Miami, but the Hurricanes pulled out and when Boise State opted out of the Arizona Bowl, Central Michigan agreed to play the Wazzu.

The Chippewas of Central Michigan are by no means a pushover. They went 6-2 through their Mid-American conference schedule, the only losses to Miami (OH) and Northern Illinois. They were not embarrassed in either game, losing to the Huskies, 39-38. QB Daniel Richardson is an accurate passer and is 7-2 as a starter for the 8-4 Chippewas.

Washington State was largely ignored after their 1-3 start to the season, but the Cougars won six of their next eight to finish 7-5 with a 6-3 mark in the PAC-12. Their five losses were to pretty good teams: Utah State, Utah, USC, Oregon, and BYU. All but USC are playing in bowl games. With an underrated defense, the Cougars should manage to put in a solid effort against the Cheppewas.

Coin Flip: Central Michigan

Prediction: Cougars 35 Chippewas 23


Arizona Bowl
CANCELED
2:00 pm Central Michigan vs. Boise State (-8, 55 1/2) - While this may look like a mismatch, the Chippewas of Central Michigan are by no means a pushover. They went 6-2 through their Mid-American conference schedule, the only losses to Miami (OH) and Northern Illinois. They were not embarrassed in either game, losing to the Huskies, 39-38. QB Daniel Richardson is an accurate passer and is 7-2 as a starter for the 8-4 Chippewas.

Boise State was less-than-impressive, compiling a record of 7-5 while going 5-3 in the Mountain West. They were very much up-and-down, losing to teams as diverse as UCF, Oklahoma State and Air Force, while defeating the likes of BYU, Fresno State, and Utah State. While it's questionable which team will show up for the Broncos, it's a safe bet that Central Michigan will come in fully loaded and ready to prove themselves.

Coin Flip: Boise State

Prediction: Chippewas 29 Broncos 24n
CANCELED


Saturday, January 1

Outback Bowl
12:00 pm Penn State (-2, 47 1/2) vs. #21 Arkansas - A 4-5 record in Big Ten games overshadowed early wins over Wisconsin (16-10) and Auburn (28-20) for the Nittany Lions. Penn State's defense was excellent, allowing 16.8 points per game (7th), but the inability by the offense to run the football squelched many promising drives. They may find some success against the Arkansas defense (24 ppg). Penn State was 7-5 overall.

The 8-4 Razorbacks made significant strides in 2021, winning four of their last five, the only loss a 42-35 defeat at Alabama. Otherwise, they were blown out only twice - 37-0 by Georgia and 38-23 against Auburn. QB KJ Jefferson is a dual threat and he's been a real force all season. Looks like the Razorbacks will manage to figure out Penn State's defensive scheme and chalk up another SEC bowl victory.

Coin Flip: Penn State

Prediction: Razorbacks 31 Nittany Lions 21


Fiesta Bowl
1:00 pm #9 Oklahoma State vs. #5 Notre Dame (-2, 45 1/2) - As the spread suggests, this could be one of the closest games of the weekend. The Cowboys finished up with a 21-16 loss to Baylor in the Big 12 championship game; their only other loss was a 24-21 defeat at Iowa State.

Notre Dame comes in with an 11-1 mark and a chip on its shoulder for being left out of the championship playoff. Their only loss was to Cincinnati, the only remaining undefeated team in college football, so, their gripe has some legitimacy. How it translates into this particular game depends on how motivated the Fighting Irish are to be playing on New Year's Day.

The Irish will want to run the ball, but that plays right into Oklahoma State's strength. They ranked fifth nationally, allowing just 89.2 yards per game. The Cowboy offense relies on the arm of QB Spencer Sanders, who is smart and talented. Running back Jaylen Warren has been a difference-maker and may prove to be the key in this clash.

Coin Flip: Oklahoma State

Prediction: Cowboys 27 Fighting Irish 20



Citrus Bowl
1:00 pm #15 Iowa vs. #22 Kentucky (-2 1/2, 44) - Another in a series of solid January 1 match-ups pits the 10-3 Hawkeyes from the Big Ten against the 9-3 Wildcats out of the SEC. There's plenty to like from both defense-oriented teams, though both are more balanced than the )/U line is suggesting.

The offense of both teams have evolved over the course of the year, but Iowa had fits trying to move the ball against Michigan in the Big Ten title game in a 42-3 loss. The Hawkeyes were 7-2 in conference games, with a win over Penn State their only notable triumph. They lost to Purdue and Wisconsin in successive games in October, 24-7, and 27-7, proving the offense to be less effective than needed.

The Wildcats may prove to be significantly better on both sides of the ball. Of their three losses, only the Georgia (30-13) and Mississippi State (31-17) were blowouts. Kentucky's schedule was on the light side, as they closed out with blowout wins over Vanderbilt, New Mexico State, and Louisville. They went through the SEC with a 5-3 schedule.

Coin Flip: Kentucky

Prediction: Wildcats 34 Hawkeyes 23


Rose Bowl
5:00 pm #11 Utah vs. #6 Ohio State (-6 1/2, 65 1/2) - Ohio State lost big games when presented with opportunity and it cost them not only a shot at the national championship, but kept them out of the Big Ten title game as well after losing to Michigan, 42-27, in one of the bigger upsets of the season.

The other blemish on Ohio State's 10-2 record is a 35-28 September loss to Oregon, a team the Utes destroyed not just once, but twice, 38-7, in the regular season, but also, 38-10, in the PAC-12 championship, two weeks later.

Utah's success where the Buckeyes failed offers some insight into how this meeting may unfold. The Utes haven't seen anything like Ohio State's offense, while, other than Michigan, the Buckeyes haven't faced a defense as rock solid at Utah's.

Motivation will be key, and that falls to the Utes, the PAC-12 champion that was disregarded after back-to-back losses to BYU (26-17) and San Diego State (33-31, 3 OT) in September. Since that time, the Utes lost just once, a 42-34 setback at Oregon State. They aren't going to go down quietly, if at all.

Coin Flip: Utah

Prediction: Utes 37 Buckeyes 34


Sugar Bowl
8:45 pm #7 Baylor vs. #8 Ole Miss (-1, 55) - This is likely the toughest call of the day. Baylor enters as the Big 12 champion with an 11-2 mark. A 30-28 loss at TCU on November 6 likely kept them out of the national championship playoffs after they avenged a 24-14 loss to Oklahoma State with a 21-16 triumph over the Cowboys in the conference title game. QB Gerry Bohannon is expected to start after missing Baylor's final regular season game and the championship win over Oklahoma State. Blake Shapen was a solid replacement and will be well-prepared if needed.

The Ole Miss Rebels went 10-2 with a 6-2 mark in the SEC. A 42-21 loss at Alabama and a 31-20 setback at Auburn were their only defeats. QB Matt Corral is one of the most highly-regarded throwers in the country. He's already announced for the NFL draft, but he's a threat by land or air against the Bears.

Defense will likely decide the winner here, but it's a close call. Baylor should manage to keep Corral and the Ole Miss offense in check, but they won't score many points themselves.

Coin Flip: Baylor

Prediction: Bears 26 Rebels 24


Tuesday, January 4

Texas Bowl
9:00 pm LSU vs. Kansas State (-2 1/2, 47) - Something of a weird set-up here as LSU's head coach, Ed Orgeron, has already been let go, though he will coach his final game here. Notre Dame head coach, Brian Kelly, has been named the Tigers' new head coach for 2022. He'll be in the stands or on the sideline, but won't be doing any coaching, per se.

LSU stumbled through their season to a 6-6 mark, Their losses were all to ranked opponents, other than a season-opening, 38-27, defeat at UCLA. The Tigers were never really blown out, but were unable to come up with enough big plays to win against the likes of Auburn, Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. They're probably the better team, but overall commitment to this game is uncertain.

Kansas State went 7-5 overall and racked up just four wins in nine tries in Big 12 play. They lost every game against the top teams, losing to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Baylor, and Texas. Their defense improved through the season, but the offense was the second-lowest scoring among Big 12 teams (there are only 10 teams in the conference). The Wildcats are likely to be more motivated even though the Tigers are probably the better team.

Coin Flip: Kansas State

Prediction: Wildcats 27 Tigers 22


Click here for early games.


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