College Football Bowl Picks: TaxSlayer Bowl, Penn State vs Georgia, Liberty Bowl, Kansas State vs Arkansas, Alamo Bowl, Oregon vs TCU, Cactus Bowl, West Virginia vs Arizona State

December 31, 2015

By Brad Carroll

 

We've reached the final Saturday of the college football season, and the last time where more than one game will be played, as we close out the bowl campaign with four games, the TaxSlayer Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Alamo Bowl and Cactus Bowl. There is one more game to go after this round, of course, the College Football Playoff national championship game on Jan. 11.

 

For now, though, we preview, analyze and our four college football experts pick Saturday's games against the spread. Make sure to check out our past, present and future college football bowl picks here. And follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with all of our picks and analysis.

 

TaxSlayer Bowl

Penn State vs. Georgia, Jacksonville, 12 p.m., ESPN

The Spread: Penn State +6.5; Georgia -6.5

 

Analysis: Georgia was on top of the college football world after starting the season with four straight victories and was favored to beat then-No. 13 Alabama, which had already lost to Ole Miss. But Georgia, ranked eighth, was walloped, losing 38-10, which started a stretch where it lost three of four in the middle of the season. Even though the Bulldogs won their final four games, they never even sniffed the Top 25 again. The sub-par season cost coach Mark Richt his job, as he was fired. Georgia averages 26.5 points per game on offense and allows 16.9 points per game on defense. That defense could have a field day against Penn State, which struggles on offense despite having star quarterback Christian Hackenberg, although he might be more made for success in the NFL rather than college. The Nittany Lions average 23.7 points per game. They allow 21.7 points per game on defense. Penn State has lost three straight, to Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State, all ranked teams. The one thing Penn State has that Georgia doesn't is continuity, as the Bulldogs have little idea where they stand heading into next season. The Bulldogs should have just enough to win, but it will be a low-scoring, close game.

Brad's Score: Georgia 23, Penn State 20

Craig's Score: Georgia 24, Penn State 20

Glenn's Score: Georgia 24, Penn State 17

Matt's Score: Georgia 28, Penn State 21

 

Liberty Bowl

Kansas State vs. Arkansas, Memphis, 3:20 p.m., ESPN

The Spread: Kansas State +13; Arkansas -13

 

Analysis: Arkansas was terrible in the beginning of the season and pretty darn good in the second half of the year, and could win the most games in four years at the school. Arkansas was 2-4 at one point, with one of the victories coming against North Texas. But the Razorbacks won five of their last six games, with the lone defeat a wild, 51-50, decision against Mississippi State. Arkansas beat then-No. 18 Ole Miss and then-No. 9 LSU during that stretch, so it wasn't a fluke. Arkansas averages 35.2 points per game on offense and allows 27.8 points on defense. Running back Alex Collins is closing in on a 1,400-yard season and has 17 touchdowns. Kansas State finished the regular season with a 6-6 record, starting the season with three victories, then losing six in a row, then closing with three wins. All four games against ranked teams ended in defeat for the Wildcats. Kansas State scores 30.5 points per game, but lets up nearly as much, averaging 30.3 points allowed per game on defense. The spread is gigantic, but Arkansas should roll to a huge win.

Brad's Score: Arkansas 50, Kansas State 20

Craig's Score: Arkansas 34, Kansas State 24

Glenn's Score: Arkansas 35, Kansas State 21

Matt's Score: Kansas State 42, Arkansas 21 (upset pick)

 

Alamo Bowl

No. 15 Oregon vs. No. 11 TCU, San Antonio, 6:45 p.m., ESPN

The Spread: Pick 'em

 

Analysis: The big news in this game is the arrest of TCU quarterback Trevonne Boykin, who was charged with a felony after allegedly striking a police officer after a bar fight. He was released from custody Thursday morning after posting bond. Boykin and wide receiver Preston Miller were both suspended from Saturday's Alamo Bowl. That makes the pick of Oregon even easier than it would have been, as I was going Ducks even with Boykin in the lineup. In better times, TCU was 8-0 and in the driver's seat for a College Football Playoff spot, but losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma ruined those dreams. The Horned Frogs did beat then-No. 7 Baylor 28-21 in the regular season finale. TCU averages 41.7 points per game on offense, although that is more so when Boykin and receiver Josh Doctson, who is out with injury, were in the lineup. The Frogs allow 26.1 points per game on defense. Oregon was never a factor in the College Football Playoff race after losing to Michigan State early in the season. The Ducks would struggle to a 3-3 record, before winning six straight to finish the regular season. Oregon got victories over Stanford and USC, both ranked teams, during that stretch. The Ducks average 43.2 points per game on offense and allow 36.8 points on defense. Oregon should get a nice victory against a reeling TCU.

Brad's Score: Oregon 45, TCU 35

Craig's Score: Oregon 38, TCU 35

Glenn's Score: Oregon 53, TCU 35

Matt's Score: Oregon 38, TCU 20

 

Cactus Bowl

West Virginia vs. Arizona State, Phoenix, 10:15 p.m., ESPN

The Spread: West Virginia -1; Arizona State +1

 

Analysis: This late-night bowl game has the potential to combine for 100 points, if both offenses show up to the party. West Virginia went 7-5 this season and averaged 33.3 points per game during the regular season. Arizona State finished at 6-6 and averaged 33.8 points per game during the regular season. Both teams have playmakers on offense, with West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard throwing for 21 touchdowns and Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici tossing 26 touchdowns. The Mountaineers lost four straight games in the middle of the season before winning four straight. But West Virginia did lose to Kansas State in the regular season finale. Arizona State was 4-2 before losing three straight and four of its last six to close the regular season. The Sun Devils did beat then-No. 7 UCLA on the road as a marquee win. I've been burned by West Virginia is seemingly every bowl game for the past several seasons, so I'm going to switch it up and go with Arizona State. Either way, it's going to be close.

Brad's Score: Arizona State 45, West Virginia 42 (upset pick)

Craig's Score: Arizona State 27, West Virginia 21 (upset pick)

Glenn's Score: West Virginia 45, Arizona State 28

Matt's Score: Arizona State 35, West Virginia 17 (upset pick)

 

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