College football bowl games today: Picks and predictions for Military Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Texas Bowl


We’re getting to the time during college football bowl season when the names of the teams are starting to become more familiar.

We have some Power 5 schools hitting the field now. They’re just playing in bowls you hadn’t heard of, or, well, haven’t heard of this year’s sponsor.

No matter! It’s big teams playing big teams. Now, we’re getting somewhere.

Hopefully we continue to trend better on our college football bowl picks.

We went 2-1 on our Dec. 26 picks to bring our college football bowl total to 9-11-1.

Military Bowl Presented by

Virginia Tech 6-6 vs. Tulane 11-2

  • Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
  • Line: Virginia Tech -9.5; Over/Under 44.5

Well, things have been going well for Tulane over the past couple of seasons. The Green Wave put together the best run since the 1998 team went undefeated. Then, in the past month, it turned back into Tulane.

After going on a 10-game winning streak that put the Green Wave in the American Conference title game, changes have come, and they have come hard.

First, they lost to SMU in the AAC championship game and then Coach Willie Fritz, the architect of this turnaround, took the head coaching job at Houston. He took some assistants with him and others left. Then, they lost their quarterback and top receiver, three defensive stars and other players to the transfer portal, 13 in total.

Virginia Tech comes in with no such issues. The Hokies are losing some players, but not as many with such importance. Quarterback Kyron Drones will play and he had 1,993 passing yards and 642 rushing and was responsible for 19 touchdowns.

With so much chaos surrounding Tulane, we’ll take Virginia Tech to cover.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

North Carolina 8-4 vs. West Virginia 8-4

  • Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Line: West Virginia -6.5; Over/Under 54.5

One of the biggest disappointments of this round of bowls is that North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye opted out to get ready for the NFL Draft. Hard to blame him, since he is the second QB on most draft boards.

But that changes everything for the Tar Heels, who relied heavily on Maye. They will also be without top receiver Tez Walker.

North Carolina lost four of its final six games. West Virginia comes in after winning five of its final six.

The Mountaineers quarterback Garrett Greene passed for 2,178 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for 708 yards and 13 TDs. They have two running backs that gained more than 700 yards.

We think West Virginia will dominate on the ground and win this game handily. Take the Mountaineers to cover.

Related: College Football defense rankings 2023: Best defenses in the College Football Playoffs

DirecTV Holiday Bowl

Louisville 10-3 vs. USC 7-5

  • Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox
  • SDCCU Stadium, San Diego
  • Line: Louisville -7.5; Over/Under 57.5

Another game, another quarterback opt out. USC quarterback Caleb Williams has opted out of the Holiday Bowl to get ready for the NFL Draft.

No, there’s no truth to the rumor that Williams opted out of the Trojans’ last five games of the regular season. It was a stretch that saw them go 1-4 and lose all hope of winning the Pac-12 title on their way out the door to the Big Ten.

USC started the season ranked sixth in the preseason polls and got off to a 6-0 start. The Trojans ended the season with a loss to Utah, a one-point win against Cal, then losses to Washington, Oregon and UCLA. Not only is Williams out, but so is running back MarShawn Lloyd and wide receiver Brenden Rice. Miller Moss takes over at QB and he completed 23-of-32 passes for 309 yards and a touchdown in limited action.

Louisville counters with Jack Plummer, who passed for 3,063 yards and 21 touchdowns. Plummer had his worst game against Florida State in the ACC championship game, throwing for 111 yards.

We think USC will put up numbers, even without Williams, as Moss is auditioning for the full-time job. Louisville has a prolific offense and the Trojans defense was leaky at best. We’re taking the Over here.

TaxAct Texas Bowl

Texas A&M 7-5 vs. Oklahoma State 9-4

  • Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • NRG Stadium, Houston
  • Line: Texas A&M -1.5; Over/Under 52.5

Trivia question. Who is the second-longest tenured coach in college football? Yep, The Coach with the Mullet is the answer. Mike Gundy has been at Oklahoma State for 19 seasons and he has taken the Cowboys to a bowl game for all but one of those seasons. (In case you forgot, it’s very important to go to bowl games as a coach, just check it out).

Texas A&M, on the other hand, will be run by the second of three coaches any player who comes back next season will play under. Elijah Robinson who was the run game coordinator will handle this game after the firing of Jimbo Fisher and before new coach Mike Elko takes over.

Jaylen Henderson will start his fourth game at quarterback for the Aggies, and he has thrown for 704 yards and six touchdowns. A&M’s offense struggled with consistency, hence Fisher’s firing.

The Cowboys were a solid running team behind running back Ollie Gordon II, who had five rushing touchdowns in a game this season, a feat only Barry Sanders has had at OK State.

Anytime somebody matches something Sanders did, we should all take notice. So, we’ll take Oklahoma State in this game.

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