Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 26 bowl menu, which today features two ACC teams, the first two Power Five vs. Power Five matchups and the MWC runner-up.
WHO: Boston College (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-3)
WHAT: The 1st SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
THE LINE: Boston College, +2½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.
WHO: Minnesota (6-6) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
WHAT: The 5th Quick Lane Bowl
WHEN: 5:15 ET on ESPN
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
THE SKINNY: Thanks to the time of day it’ll be played, this will mark the first Power Five vs Power Five matchup of the 2018-19 bowl season. … This will also (presumably) mark the last game of the storied coaching career of Paul Johnson, who announced in late November that he would be stepping down as Georgia Tech’s head coach as it’s “time to take a break” from the coaching profession. … If you’re talking Tech you’re talking running-game prowess and the Yellow Jackets didn’t disappoint in 2018, with their triple-option attack finishing the regular season tops in the nation in rushing yards per game (334.9) and second in rushing yards (4,019). Their 45 rushing touchdowns are fourth nationally behind Memphis (48), Army (47) and Clemson (46). … Those numbers don’t bode well for a Minnesota defense that is 76th in the country in run defense at 170.7 yards per game. More to the point, Minnesota gave up huge rushing yardage to a pair of teams, Illinois (430) and Nebraska (383), that leaned heavily on the run this season and are currently inside the Top 30 at the FBS level. … Then again, in its last two games of the regular season, Minnesota gave up just 95 yards on the ground to Northwestern and 170 to a Wisconsin team that averages nearly 270 a game. … The win over the Badgers, incidentally, was the Gophers’ first in the rivalry game since 2003. That win also pushed the Gophers to bowl eligibility for the first time in the second season under P.J. Fleck and helped pave the way for a contract extension for the head coach. … Both teams will enter today’s matchup riding two-game bowl winning streaks. … Both teams will also enter today’s matchup never having faced the other in football. … With Johnson’s retirement after this game, it means that, with Geoff Collins taking over the Yellow Jackets, the triple-option offense will leave the Power Five altogether and be limited to the three service academies (Air Force, Army, Navy) moving forward. In other words, tune in and enjoy its brutal brilliance one last time.
THE LINE: Minnesota, +5½
THE PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 44, Minnesota 24
WHO: Cal (7-5) vs. TCU (8-5)
WHAT: The 30th Cheez-It Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
THE SKINNY: In the past, this bowl game has been known as the Copper Bowl (1989-96), the Insight.com Bowl (1997-2001), the Insight Bowl (2002-11), the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (2012-13), and the Cactus Bowl again from 2014-17 before it took on the Cheez-It brand name for this season. … TCU is playing in its fifth straight bowl game under Gary Patterson, having won three of the last four of those matchups. All told, the Horned Frogs are 10-5 in bowl games under Patterson; that number improves to 9-3 if you take into account those played since 2005. … Cal, meanwhile, is playing in its first bowl game since the 2015 season and just its second since 2011. … If you’re a fan of the defensive side of the football, this is the postseason game for you. Cal is 24th nationally in points per game allowed (21.3) and 16th in total defense (319 yards per game). TCU, meanwhile, is 44th in the former category (24.4 ppg) and 27th in the latter category (344 ypg). … Neither defense will, at least statistically and on paper, be going up against an offense that will offer much of a challenge. TCU is 92nd in yards per game (375), Cal is 111th (350); TCU is 98th in scoring offense (24.7ppg), Cal is 109th (22.8). … The Horned Frogs ended the regular season winning three of its last four, while the Golden Bears won two of three. … As is the case in the game that precedes it, this will mark the first-ever meeting between the football programs. … TCU’s starting quarterback is senior Grayson Muehlstein making just his second career start, and you should watch the game based solely on that name alone.
THE LINE: TCU, +1
THE PREDICTION: TCU 17, Cal 16