Bradley Davis, 23 Sports

It is almost time to say goodbye to 2018, and no better way to celebrate than with fireworks, optimistic resolutions, and a full slate of college football. With 12 of the top dogs going at it in the New Year’s Six Bowl Games, it can be overwhelming. However, MUTV is here to help, breaking down each of the six games so you have a better idea of what to look for heading into the New Year.


Photo Credit: Chance Sticklen

Matchup: No. 10 Florida (9-3) vs. No. 7 Michigan (10-2)
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Date: Dec. 29 Time: 11:00 AM CT TV: ESPN
Line: MICH -7.5
My Prediction: Florida
Preview: After dropping their first game to current No. 3 ranked Notre Dame by a touchdown, the Wolverines rattled off 10 straight wins and were in prime position to take the last playoff spot with a final matchup against arch rivals Ohio State. Unfortunately for them, Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes blasted the Wolverines defense for over 570 total yards in a 62-39 rout. Florida on the other hand has recovered mightily from their 4-7 2017 campaign, but have yet to play their season defining game. If Florida can get solid production from Quarterback Feleipe Franks, they have a great chance of stealing this one from a demoralized Michigan squad that is likely still hurting from getting bounced from the playoffs.

Matchup: No. 2 Clemson (13-0) vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0)
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Date: Dec. 29 Time: 3 PM CT TV: ESPN
Line: CLEM -13
My Prediction: Clemson
One side effect of the College Football Playoff is fans now get games with championship selection implications to enjoy. This game is interesting as it features two undefeated teams who face weaker competition than those from the top power five conferences. For these sort of teams, it is hard to judge just how good they really are, however what sets Clemson apart is their offensive standouts quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne, both top five players at their position in the NCAA. On the other hand, Notre Dame’s offense has been exposed for their inconsistencies, as seen in their narrow victory over a 5-7 USC team in the Irish’s final game of the regular season. Look for Clemson’s superior offense to be the difference maker in this one.

Orange Bowl
Matchup: No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1)
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens
Date: Dec. 29 Time: 7:00 PM CT TV: ESPN
Line: ALA -14
My Prediction: Alabama
Most could have guessed Oklahoma to be in a tight conference championship game with Texas, but Alabama being forced to come back from 14 down to Georgia to seal the SEC was much more of a surprise. However, do not be fooled into believing Alabama vs. Oklahoma will go the same way, as if we learned anything from the SEC championship is that Alabama still has two elite college quarterbacks in their possession. No matter which one suits up as the starter on December 29th, they will have their way with the Sooners’ atrocious defense. Kyler Murray may be heisman, but Alabama will likely be the team moving on in the CFP.

Matchup: No. 8 UCF (12-0) vs. No. 11 LSU (9-3)
Location: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Jan. 1 Time: 1 p.m. TV: ESPN
Line: LSU -7.5
My Prediction: LSU
Fresh off of beating Memphis for their 25th straight win behind back up quarterback Darriel Mack Jr.’s stellar performance, UCF are hungry to claim their second victory over a top SEC team in as many years so they, hoping to become “back to back college football national champions.” Unfortunately for them, an incredibly strong LSU team stands in their way. Despite their improbable 74-72 seven overtime loss to Texas A&M, the second most points their defense has given up is 29 to Alabama. UCF also has had trouble keeping teams under 30 points in games against their toughest competition, all of which do not hold a candle to what LSU is capable of. Look for star LSU linebacker Devin White and Safety Grant Delpit to harass have their way against UCF.

Matchup: No. 6 Ohio State (12-1) vs. No. 9 Washington (10-3)
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 1 Time: 4:00 PM CT TV: ESPN
Line: OSU -7
My Prediction: OSU
Coming off a string of impressive offensive seasons, the Huskies had a surprising dip in production in 2018. Running back Myles Gaskin showed glimpses of hope late in the season including his 170 yard three touchdown game against Washington State, however Jake Browning’s mediocre quarterback play has hurt them. Now onto Ohio State. Say what you want about Urban Meyer, he always seems to have his players firing on all cylinders in big games (just look at what happened to Michigan). This combined with their current momentum and a Dwayne Haskins led offense is why I am going with the Buckeyes in this one.

Matchup: No. 5 Georgia (11-2) vs. No. 15 Texas (9-4)
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Date: Jan. 1 Time: 7:45 PM CT TV: ESPN
Line: UGA -13
My Prediction: Georgia
This pick is not so much of a ding at Texas is as a tribute to what this Georgia team was able to do against Alabama. For the second meeting in a row, they looked like the better team until the backup ran onto the field. Texas will be a decent test as three of their four losses were by less than a touchdown against very formidable opponents. When it comes down to it though, it seems unlikely the Longhorns’ Big Ten style of running and gunning with little defense will not prove effective against a defensive powerhouse like Georgia.