Point spreads are taken from the consensus lines as of Dec. 12, 2019. All times Eastern.
Bahamas Bowl: Buffalo (-5½) vs. Charlotte
2 p.m., ESPN
Buffalo sophomore running backs Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks combined for 2,634 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns and should see the ball frequently against a 49ers defense that gives up nearly 200 rushing yards per game. Charlotte’s Alex Highsmith had 14 sacks (tied for second nationally) and Markees Watts added 9.5 (19th), but the Bulls gave up a sack on only 3.1 percent of their passing plays (eighth nationally).
Winner: Buffalo, 72 percent
Neil’s Pick: Buffalo -5½
Matt’s pick: Buffalo -5½
Frisco Bowl: Utah State (-8½) vs. Kent State
7:30 p.m., ESPN2
All but a small handful of bowl teams have a positive net yards per play value, meaning they gain more yards per play than they surrender. Not Kent State, whose opponents gained 0.6 yards more per play. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is. This will be the final college game for Aggies quarterback Jordan Love, who announced his intention to enter the NFL draft even though he threw 16 interceptions this year (up from six as a sophomore).
Winner: Utah State, 79 percent
Neil’s pick: Utah State -8½
Matt’s pick: Utah State -8½
Celebration Bowl: Alcorn State vs. North Carolina A&T (Pick 'em)
The two teams are meeting in this game for the second straight year and for the third time in its five-year existence. The Aggies of North Carolina A&T won the previous two meetings and enter with the top defense in FCS (270.4 yards allowed per game).
Winner: Alcorn State, 53 percent
Neil’s pick: Alcorn State
Matt’s pick: North Carolina A&T
New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan vs. San Diego State (-4)
2 p.m., ESPN
The Aztecs have a great defense and a terrible offense, while Central Michigan is middling-to-good in both and improved from one win in 2018 to eight wins in its first season under former Florida coach Jim McElwain. But in two games against teams with statistically comparable defenses this season — Wisconsin and Miami (Fla.) — Central Michigan managed just one touchdown and 306 total yards, including a ghastly 58-yard output against the Badgers.
Winner: San Diego State, 80 percent
Neil’s pick: San Diego State -4
Matt’s pick: San Diego State -4
Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern (-5½)
2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
The Eagles are one of the few bowl teams with a negative net yards per play value, as opponents gained 0.4 of a yard more per play this season. That doesn’t seem like much but it is, and a Liberty offense that had 38 scrimmage plays gain at least 30 yards this season (tied for 13th nationally) should be able to take advantage.
Winner: Georgia Southern, 90 percent
Neil’s Pick: Georgia Southern -5½
Matt’s pick: Liberty +5.5
Boca Raton Bowl: SMU (-3½) vs. Florida Atlantic
3:30 p.m., ABC
Glenn Spencer, the Owls’ defensive coordinator, will serve as interim coach after Lane Kiffin bolted for Mississippi, and Florida Atlantic’s players lobbied for him to get the job on a permanent basis, but the school hired Willie Taggart instead. Only Central Florida had more passing plays of at least 30 yards than the Mustangs, and the Owls gave up 23 such plays, which ranked close to the FBS bottom.
Winner: SMU, 62 percent
Neil’s Pick: Florida Atlantic +3½
Matt’s pick: SMU -3½
Camellia Bowl: Florida International vs. Arkansas State (-3)
5:30 p.m., ESPN
The Panthers beat Miami this season, which is a nice enough accomplishment, but it wasn’t exactly a road game at Marlins Park, which is only about a 15-minute drive from the FIU campus. In games away from Miami, the Panthers went 0-5 and were outscored by an average of three touchdowns per game. Red Wolves wide receiver Omar Bayless had 1,473 receiving yards this season to rank second nationally.
Winner: Arkansas State, 82 percent
Neil’s Pick: Arkansas State -3
Matt’s pick: Arkansas State -3
Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Washington (-3½)
7:30 p.m., ABC
It’s the Chris Petersen Bowl, with the Huskies’ outgoing coach going up against the program he led for eight seasons before departing for Seattle. Washington is probably a little better than its 7-5 record would indicate: Four of the Huskies’ losses were by six points or less and the other was by just 10. If it comes down to special teams, Washington has the edge: Place kicker Peyton Henry missed two kicks all year and the Huskies rank 24th and 28th nationally in punt and kickoff return average, respectively.
Winner: Boise State, 57 percent
Neil’s Pick: Boise State +3½
Matt’s pick: Washington -3½
New Orleans Bowl: Appalachian State (-17) vs. UAB
9 p.m., ESPN
Eli Drinkwitz parlayed the Mountaineers’ 12-1 record this season into the head coaching job at Missouri, meaning assistant Shawn Clark will coach Appalachian State in the bowl game. The Mountaineers had visions of a better landing spot than this, so motivation may be a factor here. Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas, who accounted for 33 touchdowns, will be challenged by the nation’s ninth-ranked defense in terms of yards per game.
Winner: Appalachian State, 98 percent
Neil’s Pick: Appalachian State -17
Matt’s pick: UAB +17
Gasparilla Bowl: UCF (-18) vs. Marshall
2:30 p.m., ESPN
There will be no national championship claims from the UCF Knights this season, but there’s also this: They finished ranked 14th in SP+, which is higher than both last year’s 12-1 team (18th) and the 13-0 undefeated “national champion” team in 2017 (22nd). (That’s a measure of overall efficiency developed by ESPN’s Bill Connelly.) UCF’s losses this season were by one, three and three points. As leader of the Thundering Herd, Coach Doc Holliday is 6-0 both straight up and against the spread in bowl games.
Winner: UCF, 92 percent
Neil’s pick: UCF -18
Matt’s pick: UCF -18
Hawai’i Bowl: Hawaii vs. BYU (-2)
8 p.m., ESPN
Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald threw 23 touchdown passes over the season’s first seven games. He had only six over the final six, with three of them coming in one game against Army, and added five interceptions over that span. Only eight FBS defenses had more interceptions than the Cougars’ 15 this season.
Winner: Hawaii 51 percent
Neil’s pick: Hawaii +2
Matt’s pick: BYU -2
Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (-7)
4 p.m., ESPN
The Hurricanes have not been a strong bowl team of late, losing eight of their past nine under five different coaches (permanent or interim), and now they’ll play a Bulldogs team that has to travel only about an hour from campus. Miami closed the regular season with dismal losses to Florida International and Duke, masking the fact that five of their six wins this season came against bowl-bound teams.
Winner: Miami, 74 percent
Neil’s pick: Miami -7
Matt’s pick: Miami -7
Quick Lane Bowl: Pittsburgh (-10½) vs. Eastern Michigan
8 p.m., ESPN
Only Ohio State and SMU had more sacks and only 10 teams had more tackles for a loss than the Panthers this season, helping them overcome an offense that averaged only 5.07 yards per play (111th nationally). But Pittsburgh is winless in three bowl game appearances under Coach Pat Narduzzi, and the Eagles are playing in Detroit, only about 45 minutes from home.
Winner: Pittsburgh, 88 percent
Neil’s pick: Pittsburgh -10½
Matt’s pick: Pittsburgh -10½
Military Bowl: North Carolina (-5) vs. Temple
First-year Owls coach Rod Carey is 0-6 all-time in bowl games, all six losses coming at Northern Illinois. His Temple team will be tasked with stopping Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell, who had 35 touchdown passes as a freshman this season. The Owls were eighth nationally in sack differential (39 sacks, 18 sacks allowed), while the Tar Heels ranked 100th (28 sacks, 37 sacks allowed).
Winner: North Carolina, 54 percent
Neil’s pick: Temple +5
Matt’s pick: Temple +5
Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State (-3) vs. Wake Forest
3:20 p.m., ESPN
The Spartans stop the run well but that’s about the end of their overachievement this season. Opposing quarterbacks completed 61.2 percent of their passes against Michigan State, its offense labored to move the ball and place kicker Matt Coghlin missed nine field goal attempts. Keep tabs on the status of Demon Deacons quarterback Jamie Newman, who was injured in Wake’s season finale.
Winner: Michigan State, 65 percent
Neil’s pick: Michigan State -3
Matt’s pick: Wake Forest +3
Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (-6)
6:45 p.m., ESPN
These former Big 12 rivals have met 27 times previously, though not since 2011. Oklahoma State running back Chuba Howard led the nation in rushing, but he may skip the game to prepare for the NFL draft. The Aggies’ 7-5 record is something of an accomplishment, considering they had to play Clemson, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and LSU and were at least competitive in all but the game against the Tigers.
Winner: Texas A&M, 52 percent
Neil’s pick: Oklahoma State +6
Matt’s pick: Oklahoma State +6
Holiday Bowl: USC vs. Iowa (-1½)
8 p.m., Fox Sports 1
It’s bowl season and Trojans Coach Clay Helton still has his job, which is a bit of a surprise until one considers the $20 million it would have cost to make him and his staff go away. USC actually wasn’t the dumpster fire many have made it out to be this season, with third-string quarterback Kedon Slovis throwing 28 touchdown passes. But the Hawkeyes, while vanilla on offense as usual, are strong against the pass.
Winner: Iowa, 54 percent
Neil’s Pick: Iowa -1½
Matt’s pick: Iowa -1½
Cheez-It Bowl: Air Force (-2½) vs. Washington State
10:15 p.m., ESPN
Air Force won 10 regular season games for the first time in 21 years and hasn’t lost since the first weekend in October. It’s the classic opposites-attract bowl matchup, with Air Force’s triple-option look and the Cougars’ Air Raid tendencies. That could be more of a problem for Washington State, which gave up 4.87 yards per carry (104th nationally).
Winner: Air Force, 65 percent
Neil’s pick: Air Force -2½
Matt’s pick: Air Force -2½
Camping World Bowl: Notre Dame (-3½) vs. Iowa State
Ten-win Notre Dame teams don’t usually get relegated to pre-New Year’s bowl games against unranked five-loss Big 12 teams in Orlando, but here we are. After a loss at Michigan and a close-shave win over Virginia Tech knocked some of the shine off the Fighting Irish, they won their final four games by an average of 29.5 points. The Cyclones lean on the pass, but Notre Dame owns the nation’s fifth-ranked defense in terms of opponent passer rating.
Winner: Notre Dame, 71 percent
Neil’s pick: Notre Dame -3½
Matt’s pick: Notre Dame -3½
Cotton Bowl: Penn State (-7) vs. Memphis
With Mike Norvell off to Florida State, offensive line coach and deputy head coach Ryan Silverfield will lead Memphis. Silverfield had made it well known that he wanted to succeed Norvell permanently and the school answered his wish, so the Tigers might not be as deflated as some teams might be. Memphis averaged a gaudy 9.5 yards per pass attempt, and the Nittany Lions can be beaten through the air.
Winner: Penn State, 72 percent
Neil’s pick: Penn State -7
Matt’s pick: Memphis +7
Peach Bowl: No. 1 LSU (-13) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
4 p.m., ESPN
There’s a way to keep up with Joe Burrow and the suddenly high-flying Tigers, and that’s to attack LSU’s defense through the air. LSU allowed 120 pass plays of at least 10 yards this season (tied for 101st nationally) and 42 pass plays of at least 20 yards (tied for 81st). Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, the Alabama transfer who’s in the playoff for the fourth straight year, and his Sooners had 34 pass plays of at least 30 yards this season. Only three teams had more. One of them was LSU.
Winner: LSU, 65 percent
Neil’s pick: LSU -13
Matt’s pick: Oklahoma +13
Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson (-2)
8 p.m., ESPN
In a game worthy of the national championship and not merely the semifinal, we have two teams that simply don’t do much wrong. Barring the Michigan game, when the Buckeyes gave up 305 passing yards on just 18 completions as the Wolverines struggled to catch up, Ohio State has shut down every passing attack it’s faced this year. But it hasn’t faced a team with the likes of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross.
Winner: Ohio State, 57 percent
Neil’s pick: Ohio State +2
Matt’s pick: Clemson -2
First Responder Bowl: Western Kentucky (-2½) vs. Western Michigan
12:30 p.m., ESPN
The Broncos are a team that can beat MAC champion Miami and runner-up Central Michigan. They’re also a team that lost to Toledo and Northern Illinois, two of the conference’s worst teams. Western Kentucky has one of the best defenses in the Group of 5, but Western Michigan has running back LeVante Bellamy, who ran for a national best 23 touchdowns.
Winner: Western Kentucky, 66 percent
Neil’s pick: Western Kentucky -2½
Matt’s pick: Western Michigan +2½
Music City Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Louisville (-3½)
4 p.m., ESPN
Louisville’s improvement from 2-10 in 2018 to 7-5 in 2019 was fairly remarkable, though the defense still struggled and was last seen giving up 517 rushing yards and six touchdowns to Kentucky in the season finale. Neither defense is all that stout, really: The Bulldogs give up 6.2 yards per play (101st nationally) and Louisville gives up 6.37 (111th). Mississippi State’s fans won’t be allowed to bring their cowbells into the stadium.
Winner: Mississippi State, 70 percent
Neil’s pick: Mississippi State +3½
Matt’s pick: Mississippi State +3½
Redbox Bowl: California (-6½) vs. Illinois
4 p.m., Fox
Get excited for the year’s lone bowl matchup featuring two teams with a negative yards per play differential. The Illini, who beat Wisconsin but lost to terrible Northwestern, rank 119th nationally in total offense. The Golden Bears, who lost four of five games at one point, rank 117th. Illinois got a lot of lucky turnover help and Cal’s defense isn’t awful, which sounds like two teams born to meet in a bowl named for a DVD vending machine.
Winner: California, 68 percent
Neil’s pick: California -6½
Matt’s pick: Illinois +6.5
Orange Bowl: Florida (-13½) vs. Virginia
8 p.m., ESPN
Double-digit favorites in bowl games have gone just 50-63-1 against the spread over the years, but there isn’t much reason to think the Cavaliers can keep up here. Virginia really only played one team of Florida’s caliber this season, and it was a 62-17 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game. Kyle Trask came off the bench this season to post one of the best seasons for a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow.
Winner: Florida, 88 percent
Neil’s pick: Florida -13½
Matt’s pick: Florida -13½
Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech (-3) vs. Kentucky
Bud Foster has quite a chore in his final game as the Hokies’ defensive coordinator, namely stopping Lynn Bowden Jr., who led Kentucky in both rushing and receiving while also returning kicks. Oh yeah, he’s also been the Wildcats’ quarterback for the past seven games, leading them to a 5-2 record and rushing for 284 yards against Louisville to close the season.
Winner: Kentucky, 53 percent
Neil’s pick: Kentucky +3
Matt’s pick: Kentucky +3
Sun Bowl: Florida State vs. Arizona State (-5½)
2 p.m., CBS
Mike Norvell is the Seminoles’ new coach, but popular interim coach Odell Haggins will lead the team in its bowl prep. Haggins was in the same position ahead of the 2017 Independence Bowl, and Florida State blew out Southern Mississippi. A repeat performance could be tough if some of the Seminoles’ top players — running back Cam Akers, defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, wide receiver Tamorrion Terry — skip the game to prepare for the NFL draft.
Winner: Arizona State, 68 percent
Neil’s pick: Arizona State -5½
Matt’s pick: Arizona State -5½
Liberty Bowl: Navy vs. Kansas State (Pick 'em)
3:45 p.m., ESPN
The Midshipmen were there usual selves and led the nation in rushing. This could be a big issue for the Wildcats, who give up 4.9 yards per carry (106th nationally). Navy ranked 17th in the same category, holding Air Force to nearly 200 yards below its per-game average and Army to 174 below its average. Kansas State also is a run-heavy team.
Winner: Kansas State, 52 percent
Neil’s pick: Kansas State
Matt’s pick: Navy
Arizona Bowl: Wyoming (-7) vs. Georgia State
4:30, CBS Sports Network
The Panthers of Georgia State have perhaps the worst defense of any bowl-qualifying team, allowing 6.64 yards per play (among bowl teams, only Washington State was worse in that department) while playing a schedule that wasn’t exactly littered with heavyweights. Luckily, the Cowboys scored more than 30 points just once over their final seven games and haven’t scored more than 21 since October.
Winner: Wyoming, 72 percent
Neil’s pick: Wyoming -7
Matt’s pick: Georgia State +7
Alamo Bowl: Utah (-7) vs. Texas
7:30 p.m., ESPN
Longhorns Coach Tom Herman is 15-5-1 against the spread as an underdog over his career (3-0 ATS in bowl games, winning all three outright as an underdog), and now he’s coaching against a Utes team that had its College Football Playoff hopes dashed with a loss in the Pac-12 title game. But Herman fired both his coordinators after the regular season, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Longhorns attack this game.
Winner: Utah, 71 percent
Neil’s pick: Utah -7
Matt’s pick: Utah -7
Jan. 1, 2020
Citrus Bowl: Michigan vs. Alabama (-7)
1 p.m., ABC
This is the first time the Crimson Tide isn’t competing for the national championship in some form since 2013, when Auburn Kick Six’d them out of BCS title contention in the Iron Bowl. Alabama followed that gutting loss by losing to Oklahoma by two touchdowns as a 17-point favorite in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama’s defense, which already is banged up, will be further limited by the absences of senior cornerback Trevon Diggs and junior outside linebacker Terrell Lewis, who both will sit things out to prepare for the NFL draft. Most of Alabama’s other pro prospects are expected to play, however.
Winner: Alabama, 76 percent
Neil’s pick: Alabama -7
Matt’s pick: Michigan +7
Outback Bowl: Minnesota vs. Auburn (-7½)
1 p.m., ESPN
The Tigers’ defense will take a big hit if SEC defensive player of the year Derrick Brown decides to skip the game for draft purposes, though the Gophers’ RPO attack tends to neutralize strong defensive fronts (Minnesota quarterbacks were sacked just 30 times this season, tied for 98th nationally). Minnesota wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson both averaged nearly 100 receiving yards per game and both had 11 touchdown catches.
Winner: Auburn, 77 percent
Neil’s pick: Auburn -7½
Matt’s pick: Minnesota +7½
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Wisconsin (-2½)
5 p.m., ESPN
The Badgers’ defense was stout as usual, though it did allow 20 running plays of at least 20 yards (tied for 90th nationally), and the Ducks’ offense had 11 such plays (26th nationally). Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, the seventh player in FBS history to reach 6,000 rushing yards and a possible first-round draft pick, said he plans to play in the game.
Winner: Oregon, 52 percent
Neil’s pick: Oregon +2½
Matt’s pick: Wisconsin -2½
Sugar Bowl: Georgia (-7½) vs. Baylor
8:45 p.m., ESPN
Last year, the Bulldogs lost in the SEC championship game, earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl and lost outright to Texas as a 12.5-point favorite. This year, Georgia lost in the SEC championship game, earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl and once again is a favorite over a team from Texas. Will the Bulldogs discover a sense of motivation?
Winner: Georgia, 59 percent
Neil’s pick: Georgia -7½
Matt’s pick: Georgia -7½
Birmingham Bowl: Boston College vs. Cincinnati (-7)
3 p.m., ESPN
The Eagles will be without all-time leading rusher A.J. Dillon, who is skipping the game to prepare for the NFL draft, and Steve Addazio, who was fired by Boston College after seven years as head coach (wide receivers coach Rich Gunnell will serve as interim coach). Dillon accounted for 35 percent of Boston College’s total yardage this season. The Bearcats aren’t going to wow anyone with their passing attack, but only four teams gave up more passing yards per game than the Eagles this season.
Winner: Cincinnati, 70 percent
Neil’s pick: Cincinnati -7
Matt’s pick: Cincinnati -7
Gator Bowl: Indiana vs. Tennessee (-1½)
7 p.m., ESPN
The Hoosiers are playing in a bowl game on or after Jan. 1 for the first time since after the 1986 season, a sign of the program’s upward trajectory under Coach Tom Allen (though all eight of their wins this season came against teams that finished with losing records). Jauan Jennings, the Vols’ top wide receiver, is suspended for the first half after he stepped on the face of a Vanderbilt punt returner in the season finale.
Winner: Indiana, 51 percent
Neil’s pick: Indiana +1½
Matt’s pick: Indiana +1½
Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio (-7) vs. Nevada
3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Wolf Pack ranks 112th out of 130 FBS teams in terms of SP+, a measure of overall efficiency developed by ESPN’s Bill Connelly. It’s the lowest ranking of any bowl team and 58 spots lower than the Bobcats. Nevada went 1-4 against the bowl teams on its schedule, with the four losses coming by an average score of 50-6 (defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and two defensive assistants were fired after the season).
Winner: Ohio, 55 percent
Neil’s pick: Nevada +7
Matt’s pick: Ohio -7
Armed Forces Bowl: Southern Mississippi vs. Tulane (-7)
11:30 a.m., ESPN
Tulane lost five of its final six games — three of those losses were by eight points or less — but backed its way into consecutive bowls for the first time since 1979-80. This is actually the renewal of a dormant rivalry game, with Tulane and Southern Miss meeting in the Battle of the Bell from 1979 to 2009. It’s a battle of strength vs. strength, with the Green Wave’s rushing attack (13th nationally) against the Golden Eagles’ rushing defense (18th).
Winner: Tulane, 73 percent
Neil’s pick: Tulane -7
Matt’s pick: Tulane -7
LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana (-14) vs. Miami (Ohio)
7:30 p.m., ESPN
There’s a wide chasm between these two offenses, with the Cajuns ranking sixth nationally in yards per play (7.03) and the RedHawks ranking 116th (4.96). Plus, only Appalachian State allowed fewer yards per play than Louisiana in the Sun Belt. Miami’s offense might have to display a gear it hasn’t yet shown to keep up.
Winner: Louisiana, 86 percent
Neil’s pick: Louisiana -14
Matt’s pick: Louisiana -14
Jan. 13, 2020
College Football Playoff National Championship: TBD
8 p.m., ESPN