For years, nay decades, former ITG sports editor turned news editor now Eric Taylor and I made bowl picks on these very pages.
Eric left our newsroom a few months back, but that shouldn’t preclude me from offering my picks for this year’s crop of collegiate bowl matchups.
A bit of advice about these picks:
Father Norman Parr, who passed away more than a decade ago, would come by just about every Friday night to help clean up at our Sts. Peter & Paul bingo. One Friday as Fr. Parr and I were working together clearing tables, he says to me, “You owe me $5.”
I laughed it off, but Father repeated himself, “I’m serious. You owe me $5.” Father, I asked, why would I owe you $5? Father said the Parr family does a bowl pool every year, his picks were my picks in the paper and he was in last place and he wanted his entry fee back.
I don’t remember if Father Parr took my $5, but I’m pretty sure he never used my picks again. A wise man that Fr. Parr.
So here are my predictions for the upcoming games with the annual reminder these selections are for entertainment purposes only.
That said . . .
Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech-Miami. Do ya think the Hurricanes are thrilled about playing in Shreveport, La.? Not hardly. La. Tech 31, Miami 20.
Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State-Wake Forest. Disappointing is the best word to use for the Michigan State season, and the frustration continues in the confines of Yankee Stadium. Wake Forest 21, Michigan State 17.
Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State-Texas A&M. A reunion of former Big 12 rivals should keep the squads interested, which is good for the TV viewers. A tossup, but OSU comes out on top – barely. OSU 31, A&M 27.
Holiday Bowl: USC-Iowa. Iowa coaching icon Hayden Fry passed away last week, and there’s no way Hawkeyes aren’t going to leave San Diego without a win. Iowa 30, USC 20.
Cheeze-It Bowl: Air Force-Washington State. Never know what to make of the Mike Leach-coached Huskies, but more often than not his squad seems to come up short. It’ll be the same here. Air Force 41, Washington State 30.
Camping World Bowl: Notre Dame-Iowa State. The Fighting Irish got to 10 wins this season — mostly under the radar — and Iowa State had a so-so season, at least by recent standards. Make it 11 wins for the Irish. Notre Dame 35, ISU 20.
Cotton Bowl: Penn State-Memphis. Lions and tigers, oh my! Memphis is without its head coach, who has moved on to a new gig at Florida State, but the Tigers have a lot to prove. Memphis 40, Penn State 37.
CFP Semifinal: Ohio State-Clemson. Clemson has the longest winning streak in the nation, and, frankly, it’s time for somebody else to step into the spotlight. Besides, who doesn’t want to see LSU quarterback Joe Burrow meet up with his former Buckeye teammates in the title game? Ohio State 35, Clemson 31.
CFP Semifinal: LSU-Oklahoma. Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks (Joe Burrow) traditionally fall flat in their bowl games, but maybe this year will be different. As previously mentioned, I’m rooting for an LSU-Ohio State title game. LSU 45, Oklahoma 28.
Redbox Bowl: California-Illinois. Two teams normally not associated with bowl games go head to head, and it’s one of them that is going to end the season on a high note. Illinois will prove its 6-6 record was no fluke. Illinois 27, Cal 17.
Orange Bowl: Florida-Virginia. Perhaps the biggest mismatch of the bowl season as Florida has more talent and the bowl game is a great jumping off point for the 2020 season. Florida 37, Virginia 20.
Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech-Kentucky. Start your New Year’s Eve Day off watching the Hokies take down the Wildcats. Va. Tech 24, Kentucky 14.
Sun Bowl: Florida State-Arizona State. A couple of big name programs that just didn’t do much the last four months meet in El Paso. ASU is a step ahead of the Seminoles in the rebuilding process, and that’ll be enough for a win. ASU 30, FSU 20.
Liberty Bowl: Navy-Kansas State. College football fans have to be impressed with the job Navy does year in and year out, but the Midshipmen fall a bit short against the resurgent Wildcats. K-State 24, Navy 20.
Alamo Bowl: Utah-Texas. Utah was in the mix for a playoff spot until losing to Oregon in the PAC-12 title game, so what’s the motivation playing in the Longhorns’ back yard? Texas’s woeful secondary keeps the Utes interested. Utah 35, Texas 24.
Citrus Bowl: Michigan-Alabama. Alabama not in the playoffs – who’d a thunk? Michigan continues to disappoint its faithful and the Crimson Tide only adds to the woes of Coach Jim Harbaugh. Alabama 45, Michigan 24.
Outback Bowl: Minnesota-Auburn. The Gophers have rowed their boat to a New Year’s Day bowl, and if anyone can get a team fired up to play it’s P.J. Fleck. Minnesota makes a statement its 10-win season was no fluke. Minnesota 20, Auburn 17.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin-Oregon. Must-see TV for the Granddaddy of Them All as Wisconsin’s junior running back Jonathan Taylor declares for the NFL draft immediately following a 190-yard performance. Wisconsin 31, Oregon 27.
Sugar Bowl: Georgia-Baylor. Call this the Disappointing Bowl as both squads were oh-so-close to being in the four-team playoff. Which team finds the muster to win determines the outcome. Georgia 27, Baylor 20.
Birmingham Bowl: Boston College-Cincinnati. Cincinnati is on the Huskers’ schedule next year and it’ll be worth your time to see just how good the Bearcats’ defense is heading into 2020. Cincinnati 24, Boston College 14.
Gator Bowl: Tennessee-Indiana. A couple of teams looking to launch even better 2020 campaigns go at it, but it’s the Volunteers who have the talent advantage at this point in time. Tennessee 30, Indiana 17.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio-Nevada. Frank Solich is in his mid-70s, and there’s always speculation at bowl time he’s ready to call it a coaching career. Don’t know about that, but I’ll always root for the Fightin’ Soliches. Ohio 28, Nevada 17.
National Championship Game: LSU-Ohio State. An intriguing way to end the season as LSU quarterback Joe Burrow leads the Tigers against his former Ohio State teammates. This has must-see TV written all over it. Ohio State 35, LSU 33.