By Brad Carroll and Matt Straub
Whether you’re ready for college football bowl season or not, here it comes, as the first wave of the 40 matchups begin this Saturday. But don’t fret with the huge number, as our four college football experts will do the previewing and picking against the point spread for you, starting with the five games this weekend.
So, sit back and enjoy what is sure to be a crazy bowl season, all leading into the College Football Playoff. Make sure to follow all of our bowl previews and picks here and give us a follow on Twitter so you’re always in the loop on our posts.
New Orleans Bowl
Troy (10-2) vs. North Texas (9-4), 1, ESPN
Spread: Troy -7
Matt’s Breakdown: For the early bowls involving teams you’ve never seen, it’s best to keep things simple. Troy beat LSU this year. Now that doesn’t mean as much as it once did, but the Tigers in a down year are better than anyone North Texas took down. The Mean Green have one of the best nicknames in all of college sports, but they will likely be without their best player. Put everything together, and Troy, playing close to home, is the pick here.
Brad’s Final: Troy 42, North Texas 28 (Troy)
Craig’s Final: Troy 28, North Texas 16 (Troy)
Glenn’s Final: Troy 35, North Texas 24 (Troy)
Matt’s Final: Troy 38, North Texas 20 (Troy)
Western Kentucky (6-6) vs. Georgia State (6-5), 2:30, CBSSN
Spread: Western Kentucky -6
Matt’s Breakdown: The “lesser” bowl games also tend to give us some of the wildest finishes, so let’s find an underdog to take on day one of the bowl season. Georgia State has a nice story going, making just its second bowl game. Western Kentucky hasn’t been able to reproduce past success and probably considers this game a demotion from last year, while Georgia State is thrilled to be playing anyone this week. Motivation is huge in bowl games, and Georgia State has it.
Brad’s Final: Western Kentucky 31, Georgia State 21 (Western Kentucky)
Craig’s Final: Western Kentucky 31, Georgia State 21 (Western Kentucky)
Glenn’s Final: Western Kentucky 38, Georgia State 20 (Western Kentucky)
Matt’s Final: Georgia State 31, Western Kentucky 24 (Georgia State)
Las Vegas Bowl
No. 25 Boise State (10-3) vs. Oregon (7-5), 3:30, ABC
Spread: Oregon -7.5
Matt’s Breakdown: While motivation is a big factor in bowl picks, so is continuity. Boise State has it, while the Ducks have been thrown into the chaos which comes with a coaching change. This breakup was especially messy as well, with Willie Taggert bolting after just one season, leaving Oregon in the lurch and wondering if it’s still a big program. Everything here says stay far away from the Ducks, except for an even bigger factor. Boise was so unimpressive in the games I saw this year, I just can’t take the Broncos, as much as I’d love to, against a Power 5 team.
Brad’s Final: Boise State 27, Oregon 24 (Boise State)
Craig’s Final: Oregon 28, Boise State 24 (Boise State)
Glenn’s Final: Boise State 42, Oregon 35 (Boise State)
Matt’s Final: Oregon 42, Boise State 28 (Oregon)
New Mexico Bowl
Marshall (7-5) vs. Colorado State (7-5), 4:30, ESPN
Spread: Colorado State -5.5
Matt’s Breakdown: When in doubt, go with the better team and the best player on the field. Mike Gallup is one of the best receivers in the country, and teams like Marshall usually aren’t equipped to deal with talent like that. Marshall isn’t terrible, but isn’t what it once was and will be without Pennington, Leftwich and Moss for this game. Ten years ago I’d have loved to take an upset here. Not in 2017.
Brad’s Final: Colorado State 28, Marshall 21 (Colorado State)
Craig’s Final: Colorado State 27, Marshall 21 (Colorado State)
Glenn’s Final: Marshall 24, Colorado State 23 (Marshall)
Matt’s Final: Colorado State 34, Marshall 20 (Colorado State)
Middle Tennessee (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-4), 8, ESPN
Spread: Arkansas State -3.5
Matt’s Breakdown: Ja'Von Rolland-Jones is one sack away the national record for most in a career. Can Middle Tennessee, which has reached bowls in recent seasons but isn’t knocking on the door of the big time like UCF, handle a player like that? Probably not. This doesn’t seem like a thriller, so we’ll take the best player and team.
Brad’s Final: Arkansas State 42, Middle Tennessee 35 (Arkansas State)
Craig’s Final: Arkansas State 34, Middle Tennessee 27 (Arkansas State)
Glenn’s Final: Arkansas State 31, Middle Tennessee 14 (Arkansas State)
Matt’s Final: Arkansas State 20, Middle Tennessee 13 (Arkansas State)