By Brad Carroll
It doesn't take the college football bowl season long to heat up, as just two weeks after conference championships were decided and one week following Army-Navy and the Heisman Trophy ceremony, won by Alabama running back Derrick Henry, we have six bowl games to feast on this Saturday.
As we will for every single bowl game during the season, we analyze, preview and our four college football experts pick each game straight-up and against the point spread. So check back early and often right here at gamedayishere.com for all of our selections.
For now, we have the Celebration Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Camellia Bowl, Cure Bowl and New Orleans Bowl below. The easiest way to follow along is to follow us on Twitter right here.
Alcorn State (9-3) vs. North Carolina A&T (9-2), Atlanta, 12 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Alcorn State +1.5; North Carolina A&T -1.5
Analysis: This is unofficially the "black college national championship" game, featuring two teams trying to reach the 10-win mark at the Georgia Dome. Alcorn State won the SWAC, avenging an earlier loss over Grambling to win the one that counted most, 49-21. This will be the second game for Alcorn in the Georgia Dome, as it lost to Georgia Tech 69-6. This game should be a lot closer. North Carolina A&T finished in a three-way tie for the MEAC crown, winning eight games in a row before losing to North Carolina Central in the season finale. North Carolina A&T also had a marquee matchup early on, losing 53-14 at North Carolina. This one could go either way, but Alcorn State does have momentum.
Brad's Score: Alcorn State 27, North Carolina A&T 24 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: North Carolina A&T 27, Alcorn State 24
Glenn's Score: North Carolina A&T 35, Alcorn State 24
Matt's Score: North Carolina A&T 27, Alcorn State 19
New Mexico Bowl
Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5), 2 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Arizona -9; New Mexico +9
Analysis: This should be a high-scoring, entertaining game for those who like to watch a whole lot of offense and not much defense. Arizona scores 36.8 points per game and allows 35.7 on defense. New Mexico averages 29.3 points on offense and allows 27 per game on defense. Both defenses allow way over 400 yards per game as well. So, points should be aplenty in this one. Arizona does come into this game limping, losing four of its last five, with the only win coming against then-No. 10 Utah in double overtime. New Mexico, meanwhile, has won three of four, including against Air Force and Boise State, two impressive victories. The Lobos lost to Colorado State. Arizona is clearly more talented, but bowl games aren't always about talent. The Wildcats win, but the Lobos make it a thriller.
Brad's Score: Arizona 45, New Mexico 42
Craig's Score: Arizona 31, New Mexico 21
Glenn's Score: Arizona 45, New Mexico 20
Matt's Score: Arizona 56, New Mexico 21
Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (9-3) vs. No. 22 Utah (9-3), 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: BYU +2.5; Utah -2.5
Analysis: This is easily the most attractive bowl matchup among the early slate of games, with a nationally-ranked team in action. It wasn't too long ago that Utah was a national championship contender, reaching No. 3 in the rankings before losing to an unranked Southern Cal team. The Utes stuck around the top 10 for most of the season before losing back-to-back games to Arizona and UCLA before finishing with a win over Colorado that kept the team ranked. This matchup with BYU is certainly not where Utah thought it would be. BYU, on the other hand, had a solid season, winning nine games in the regular season despite losing star quarterback Taysom Hill to season-ending injury early on. Both teams average over 30 points per game and allow right around 21 a game on defense, which makes this "Holy War" game one to check out. Utah, however, will have just enough to slip by with a victory.
Brad's Score: Utah 31, BYU 28
Craig's Score: Utah 27, BYU 17
Glenn's Score: BYU 42, Utah 38 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Utah 49, BYU 20
Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (10-2), Alabama, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Ohio +7.5; Appalachian State -7.5
Analysis: Both teams enter this game in Alabama riding three-game winning streaks. Ohio beat a pair of three-win teams in Kent State and Ball State before getting a marquee win over Northern Illinois to close the regular season. You might not recognize most of the opponents Appalachian State played, and mostly beat, this season, but the numbers are impressive no matter the opposition. The Mountaineers average 37.2 points per game on offense and allow just 18.3 on defense. They did play and lose to Clemson this year, 41-10. Ohio scores 27 on offense and allows 25 on defense on average. Appalachian State should be plenty motivated to win this game, and win it the Mountaineers will, by double-digits.
Brad's Score: Appalachian State 38, Ohio 23
Craig's Score: Appalachian State 34, Ohio 24
Glenn's Score: Ohio 24, Appalachian State 17 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Appalachian State 31, Ohio 10
San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6), Orlando, 7 p.m., CBSSN
The Spread: San Jose State -2.5; Georgia State +2.5
Analysis: There's not much to like about this bowl matchup, as both teams combined to go 11-13, which if you couldn't do the math, is under .500. San Jose State gets in with a 5-7 record because there's way too many bowls and not enough good teams to fill them. Georgia State finished 6-6 on the season at least, winning four straight games. San Jose State has lost three of its last four, including defeats to Boise State, Nevada and BYU. I hate to pick an under-.500 team to win a bowl game, but San Jose State has played better competition all season long than Georgia State and will have that pride meter on high to not be one of the 5-7 bowl teams to lose again on the big stage.
Brad's Score: San Jose State 27, Georgia State 24
Craig's Score: Georgia State 21, San Jose State 20 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: San Jose State 35, Georgia State 31
Matt's Score: San Jose State 42, Georgia State 35
New Orleans Bowl
Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4), New Orleans, 9 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Arkansas State +2; Louisiana Tech -2
Analysis: To close out the first day of the bowl season, there should be no shortage of offense in New Orleans, as both combine to score a tick under 78 points per game. Arkansas State comes into this game winning five straight games, all with scores of 40 points or more. In the last three wins, Arkansas State has scored 59, 52 and 55. Louisiana Tech had a four-game win streak snapped after a loss to Southern Miss in the regular season finale, 58-24. A familiar name to college football fans quarterbacks Louisiana Tech, former Florida passer Jeff Driskel. For Arkansas State, the players and coaches are probably just happy not to be playing in the GoDaddy Bowl for what would have been the fifth straight time.
Brad's Score: Louisiana Tech 38, Arkansas State 31
Craig's Score: Louisiana Tech 38, Arkansas State 28
Glenn's Score: Arkansas State 35, Louisiana Tech 17 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Arkansas State 31, Louisiana Tech 17 (upset pick)