By Matt Straub and Brad Carroll
College football’s traditional home of Saturday will this time around boast four big bowl games, including a pair of matchups to close the night that feature big-time programs on the rise. The Taxslayer Bowl between Louisville and Mississippi State starts things off, followed quickly by Iowa State and Memphis in the Liberty Bowl, both in the early afternoon, and then the two big ones come next, the Fiesta Bowl featuring Penn State and Washington and the Orange Bowl with Wisconsin and Miami.
Our college football experts preview and pick against the point spread those five games below. Make sure to check out all of our past, present and future college football bowl previews and picks here. Follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with all of our content.
Louisville (8-4) vs. No. 23 Mississippi State (8-4), 12, ESPN
Spread: Louisville -7
Matt's Breakdown: Quarterbacks will be the difference in this one. Louisville has Lamar Jackson, who was underrated this year because we hate the very idea of giving the Heisman to the same person two years in a row. Jackson threw for over 3,000 yards this year and ran for nearly 1,500 more, but didn't have the help he did a year ago, so you didn't hear as much about him. He could be this year's Deshaun Watson, who was overlooked at draft time before eventually playing well once given the chance. The Bulldogs have a solid quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald, but he's not playing in this one and probably couldn't keep up if he was.
Brad’s Final: Louisville 42, Mississippi State 31 (Louisville)
Craig’s Final: Louisville 28, Mississippi State 24 (Mississippi State)
Glenn’s Final: Louisville 48, Mississippi State 20 (Louisville)
Matt's Final: Louisville 35, Mississippi State 20 (Louisville)
Iowa State (7-5) vs. No. 20 Memphis (10-2), 12:30, ABC
Spread: Memphis -4
Matt's Breakdown: Iowa State has next year's hot coach in Matt Campbell, who will get even more buzz for big jobs than he gets now, assuming there are intriguing openings, which isn't a given considering the number of high-profile openings which came about this year. We'll see how good a coach he is in what is basically a road game against Memphis in Memphis. The Tigers, if you have forgotten, gave UCF all it wanted this season, and would be a tougher beat than people think even if the game wasn't minutes from campus. Memphis might have the best player on the field, and will have a large home field advantage. Campbell is good, but he's not this good. Not with the roster he currently possesses, anyway.
Brad’s Final: Memphis 45, Iowa State 35 (Memphis)
Craig’s Final: Memphis 30, Iowa State 21 (Memphis)
Glenn’s Final: Iowa State 24, Memphis 23 (Iowa State)
Matt's Final: Memphis 38, Iowa State 30 (Memphis)
No. 11 Washington (10-2) vs. No. 9 Penn State (10-2), 4, ESPN
Spread: Penn State -2
Matt's Breakdown: While the quarterbacks are getting all the attention this year, and will go at or near the top of the draft because of the position scarcity in the NFL, the best actual football player in the country might be Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. He was badly misused, or at least underutilized, late in the year, which hurt the Nittany Lions late in the season. Penn State didn't have much luck in big or close games, but they won't need luck here. They never lose in the desert, and Barkley is unlike anything Washington has seen outside of Bryce Love this year. By the way, Love had three scores and averaged more than five yards a carry against Washington. Barkley will do just as well.
Brad’s Final: Penn State 38, Washington 24 (Penn State)
Craig’s Final: Washington 34, Penn State 30 (Washington)
Glenn’s Final: Penn State 38, Washington 35 (Penn State)
Matt's Final: Penn State 31, Washington 17 (Penn State)
No. 6 Wisconsin (12-1) vs. No. 10 Miami (10-2), 8, ESPN
Spread: Wisconsin -6
Matt's Breakdown: The key to picking this game is figuring out which of these teams will give a darn about being in Miami for New Year's. The Hurricanes could really use this game to go into the offseason feeling like they're back, a sentiment which was growing around the country before the Canes lost a bad one to Pitt and then got obliterated by Clemson. The Badgers lost a chance to be in the playoffs late in the year as well, but will they consider this game a consolation prize or a burden? It might not matter. The Canes won too many tight games to be as good as their record shows (they were more lucky than good) and Wisconsin just has to avoid turnovers (and the chain) to make Miami's offense beat the Badgers. It can't.
Brad’s Final: Wisconsin 27, Miami 24 (Miami)
Craig’s Final: Miami 24, Wisconsin 17 (Miami)
Glenn’s Final: Miami 27, Wisconsin 26 (Miami)
Matt's Final: Wisconsin 28, Miami 13 (Wisconsin)