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Saturday Bowl Picks - A New Season Begins

I’ve returned from a Clemson-induced hibernation. It’s bowl season. Time to win.

Conference USA Championship - North Texas v Florida Atlantic Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Watching Miami’s loss to Clemson was a strange experience. Leading up to the game, I had an incredible time wandering around Charlotte, seeing the buzz and excitement of thousands of Canes fans, thrilled to finally be attending an ACC Championship game. Pretty early on in the first half, it became obvious that Miami wouldn’t be able to keep the game competitive. Injuries to key players on offense, a lack of confidence and rhythm in the passing game, and for the first time all season, none of the bounces went Miami’s way. When I left the stadium after the game’s final play, a weird sense of calm came over me. Of course I was disappointed by the performance, but the reality was that Clemson was simply a much better team. The Tigers have set the standard for Miami to emulate in the years to come. This season was an incredible leap forward and an Orange Bowl matchup against Wisconsin is another big opportunity. Miami’s 2018 recruiting class is one of the best in the nation and getting so many guys signed next week will keep the momentum going. I look forward to continuing to chase Clemson. When Miami is truly ready, we’ll look back at that 38-3 loss as a sign of how far we’ve come.

NORTH TEXAS +7 vs Troy - 1pm - New Orleans Bowl

Don’t let two lopsided losses to FAU fool you - North Texas had an incredible season (FAU is just very good). I love North Texas QB Mason Fine and think he’ll do enough to keep the Mean Green competitive. Both of the coaches in this game will probably be top candidates for better jobs next December - Seth Littrell and Neal Brown will be hot commodities, assuming AD’s use a hiring process that isn’t crowd-sourced on Twitter (Tennessee) or want a coach that has actually been around college football at some point in the last 30 years. (I look forward to Herm Edwards being fired in 2020).

WESTERN KENTUCKY -6.5 vs Georgia State - 230pm - Cure Bowl

Georgia State is the worst of the 80 bowl teams in my opinion. The Panthers finished 6-5, beating teams that were 1-11, 2-10, 2-10, 3-9, 4-8, and 4-8. All of Georgia State’s FBS losses were by 14 points or more. Western Kentucky finished the year with a disappointing 6-6 record, but the Hilltoppers were competitive in games against FAU, Vanderbilt, Marshall, and LA Tech. WKU QB Mike White will be the best player on the field tomorrow afternoon. Look for the Hilltoppers to pull away in the second half.

OREGON -7 vs Boise State - 330pm - Las Vegas Bowl

Oregon’s star RB Royce Freeman won’t be playing, but the Ducks will still win by double digits. Boise State has been inconsistent all season and Oregon QB Justin Herbert will use a big performance Saturday to launch some 2018 Heisman hype. I’m thrilled that Mario Cristobal was given another chance as a head coach.

COLORADO STATE -5 vs Marshall - 430pm - New Mexico Bowl

Maybe some people will try to endure Bears at Lions, but I’d rather enjoy watching Colorado State’s offense Saturday afternoon. WR Michael Gallup will be making plays in the NFL next season. Colorado State QB Nick Stevens had a very impressive season. Marshall struggled down the stretch and might not adjust well to playing in the altitude in Albuquerque.

ARKANSAS STATE -3.5 vs Middle Tennessee State - 8pm - Camellia Bowl

Miami fans probably will be rooting for Arkansas State to lose, given how poorly the Red Wolves handled the cancellation around Hurricane Irma. I wish I could pick MTSU, but I’m actually very confident in an Arkansas State win. QB Justice Hansen will throw it all over the field and the Red Wolves are the healthier team. The state of Alabama has owned the news this week and Montgomery has the honor of hosting the final game of the weekend. Like Doug Jones, I expect to win, rallying my coalition of fans and readers to build momentum throughout bowl season.

Enjoy your weekend.