By Brad Carroll
We've officially turned the corner to where the bowl games have become bigger and bigger with the top programs in the land starting to take center stage in college football. There are three of those games Monday, including the Liberty Bowl, featuring Texas A&M and West Virginia, the Russell Athletic Bowl, with Oklahoma playing Clemson, and the Texas Bowl, as Arkansas takes on Texas.
We preview and our college football experts pick all of those games against the spread here. Follow all of our picks and more on Twitter here.
[New Orleans Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Idaho Potato Bowl, Camellia Bowl picks against the spread here]
[Miami Beach Bowl picks against the spread here]
[Poinsettia Bowl and Boca Raton Bowl picks against the spread here]
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[St. Petersburg Bowl, Heart of Dallas Bowl, Quick Lane Bowl picks against the spread here]
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Memphis, 2 p.m., ESPN
Texas A&M (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
The Spread: Texas A&M +3.5; West Virginia -3.5
Brad's Breakdown: West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett won't play in this game, as he announced his retirement from football Friday after suffering five concussions over the last 14 months. That will hurt the Mountaineers in this game against Texas A&M. Skyler Howard gets the start at quarterback for West Virginia and he could have the opportunity to shine as the Aggies have struggled all season long on defense. Howard did play well in place of Trickett in the regular season finale, throwing three touchdown passes in a 37-24 win over Iowa State. West Virginia also has Kevin White, one of the best wide receivers in the country. Texas A&M allows 449 yards per game on defense and let up 553.3 yards on average over its last three games. It's been so bad on defense for the Aggies, they fired defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. Texas A&M's offense has slowly found its footing after freshman Kyle Allen took over at quarterback the last four games. The Aggies, however, have lost five of their last seven games. They beat then-No. 3 Auburn in early November but followed that up with losses to Missouri and LSU. West Virginia's biggest win came against Baylor, which ruined the Bears' chances of playing in the College Football Playoff. In what should be a shootout, Texas A&M will have just enough to pull the upset.
Brad's Score: Texas A&M 40, West Virginia 35 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Texas A&M 44, West Virginia 38 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: West Virginia 45, Texas A&M 35
Matt's Score: Texas A&M 63, West Virginia 56 (upset pick)
Russell Athletic Bowl
Orlando, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Oklahoma (8-4) vs. No. 17 Clemson (9-3)
The Spread: Oklahoma -3; Clemson +3
Brad's Breakdown: Both teams had bigger expectations before the season. Clemson was hoping to take another step toward championship contention, while Oklahoma was a legitimate contender for being chosen for the College Football Playoff. In fact, prior to the season, I had Oklahoma in the final four, along with Alabama, Oregon and Florida State. Three out of four isn't bad for my preseason picks, but the Sooners certainly aren't happy with a four-loss season. Oklahoma went 0-3 against ranked teams and was eliminated from contention early on. Clemson lost two of its first three games, to Georgia and Florida State in overtime, to drop out of contention. They followed that by winning six games in a row before losing to Georgia Tech and then finishing with two straight wins. Clemson has the best defense in the country, allowing just one opponent all year to eclipse 20 points. The Tigers will have their hands full with an Oklahoma offense that has scored under 30 points just one time this season, however. Oklahoma could have quarterback Trevor Knight back for this game. Record-setting running back Samaje Perine will also test Clemson, as he set the all-time single-game record with 427 rushing yards against Kansas. Clemson is a different team when quarterback DeShaun Watson is healthy, but that's always a question mark. Plus, the Tigers won't have offensive coordinator Chad Morris running the show, as he left to become head coach at SMU. It adds up to an Oklahoma victory.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma 38, Clemson 31
Craig's Score: Clemson 37, Oklahoma 31 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Oklahoma 35, Clemson 34
Matt's Score: Clemson 34, Oklahoma 24 (upset pick)
Houston, 9 p.m., ESPN
Arkansas (8-6) vs. Texas (6-6)
The Spread: Arkansas -6.5; Texas +6.5
Brad's Breakdown: This will actually be the 77th meeting between the old Southwest Conference rivals and both teams mirror each other. Both Arkansas and Texas are built on defense and the ground game. Texas started slow, winning just two of its first six games, but became bowl eligible after winning three straight games late in the season, including a win over then-No. 23 West Virginia. The Longhorns ended the regular season with a 48-10 loss to then-No. 5 TCU. Texas has a problem scoring points on offense, averaging just 22.6 per game, 104th in the nation. Arkansas started slow as well, going 4-6 before putting together two huge victories, 17-0 over then-No. 17 LSU and 30-0 over then-No. 8 Ole Miss. The Hogs did end the regular season with a 21-14 loss to Missouri. Texas is still fighting in Chuck Strong's first year to get back into the national spotlight. Arkansas has finally turned the corner under coach Bret Bielema and is ready to make a run at bigger and better things next season. The Razorbacks continue that trend with a victory over the Longhorns on Monday Night Football.
Brad's Score: Arkansas 24, Texas 17
Craig's Score: Arkansas 27, Texas 17
Glenn's Score: Arkansas 38, Texas 28
Matt's Score: Texas 24, Arkansas 13 (upset pick)