2023 College Football Bowl Previews (Wed 12/27)


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2023 College Football Bowl Previews (Wed 12/27)

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Military Bowl

Virginia Tech Hokies @ Tulane Green Wave (+9.5)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023 - 2:00 PM ET

Annapolis, Maryland


The Tulane Green Wave face-off against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Military Bowl. This will be the first bowl game for the Hokies under HC Brent Pry after going 6-6 in 2023. Offensively, Kyron Drones is the straw that stirs the drink for the Hokies. Drones threw for just under 2,000 yards and ran for an additional 642. He was quite matchup dependent this year, which could spell trouble versus a Tulane defense that has made life tough on opposing QBs this year. The Green Wave defense will be without their two of their better pass rushers in this game, DEs Devean Deal and Keith Cooper. Defensively, the Hokies made life extremely difficult for opposing QBs with 3.2 sacks per game and only allowing 172.9 PASS YPG. They are more susceptible versus the run, allowing 151.2 YPG and 4.3 YPC.

On the other side, the Tulane Green Wave will be missing a bunch of key pieces on offense, primarily in the passing game. As of today, Tulane is likely to be without QBs Michael Pratt and Kai Horton, WR Chris Brazell, and TE Alex Bauman. The one player who will still be around is RB Makhi Hughes. Over the last 8 games of the season, Hughes averaged 125 .1 YPG on the ground as he took over as the RB1 for Tyjae Spears. Whether the Green Wave are able to pull off the upset or not will ultimately be determined by Hughes' ability to put this team on his back and break the will of the Hokies defense. Defensively, the name of the game will be making Drones beat them with his arm instead of his legs. If they do that, then this game will be close.

TL;DR: The spread in this game has shot up to 9.5 points in favor of Virginia Tech with news that Pratt will sit out the bowl game. I have faith Makhi Hughes will be effective enough on the ground to cover the spread, but the Hokies will ultimately win a close one in the Military Bowl.


  • RB Bryce Duke

  • WR Da’Wain Lofton

  • WR Christian Moss

  • TE Daequan Wright

  • OL Johnny Dickson

  • CB Derrick Canteen


  • QB Michael Pratt
  • QB Carson Haggard
  • QB Kai Horton
  • WR Chris Brazzell
  • TE Alex Bauman
  • CB DJ Douglas
  • EDGE Keith Cooper Jr.
  • EDGE Devean Deal


Josh ChevalierZach HallMatt WispeRick KamlaMike Bainbridge

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

North Carolina Tar Heels @ West Virginia Mountaineers (-6.5)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023 - 5:30 PM ET

Charlotte, North Carolina


After a 6-0 start, things were looking special for Mack Brown’s team. But the wheels fell off following a loss to Virginia. The Tar Heels finished with a 2-4 record to close out their season. North Carolina averaged 36.6 points per game while allowing 27.1. Their offense will have a new look in this game as star QB, Drake Maye has opted out along with two other offensive starters, Tez Walker and Corey Gaynor. True freshman Connor Harrell will get the nod at QB after attempting 6 passes during the season. With the uncertainty at QB, the game script will likely lean on Omarion Hamption who leads the team in rushing and averages 120.2YPG. The defense will remain mostly intact, with the exception of leading tackler Cedric Gray. With a 42% success rate allowed (69th nationally), 3.46 points per opportunity allowed (points allowed when opponent crosses 40, 39th nationally), and 16% havoc rate (79th nationally); the defense is generally average but will need to step up in this game.

After entering the season on the hot seat, coach Neal Brown put together a respectable campaign that included a 6-3 conference record with notable wins over TCU, UCF, and Texas Tech as an underdog. The Mountaineers averaged 31.6 points per game and allowed 27.5. While they’ll be missing many players in the portal, their starting lineup will largely be unimpacted. The offense strongly leans on the running game with the fifth-highest rush rate. At the center of this offense is QB Garrett Greene and a pair of RBs, CJ Donaldson and Jaheim White, who have all eclipsed 700 yards. The defense has struggled with opponents finishing drives, but has created havoc at a high rate. As relevant to this matchup, opponents have averaged 239.9 passing yards and 144.3 rushing yards per game.

TL;DR: North Carolina will be without the two big stars on offense, while West Virginia enters this game nearly at full strength. West Virginia likely moves the ball against a mid-range defense consistently enough to pick up a win. All five of our staff writers expect West Virginia to not only win, but also cover the spread.


  • QB Drake Maye

  • LB Cedric Gray

  • C Corey Gaynor

  • WR Tez Walker

  • TE Kamari Morales

  • WR Tychaun Chapman

  • WR Andre Greene

  • CB Tayon Holloway

  • DT Kedrick Bingley-Jones

  • LB Sebastian Cheeks


  • WR Cortez Brahm
  • WR Jeremiah Aaron
  • WR Ja’Shaun Poke
  • RB Justin Johnson Jr.
  • S Hershey McLaurin
  • DL Mike Lockhart
  • S Lance Dixon
  • S Christion Stokes
  • CB Andrew Wilson-Lamp


Josh ChevalierZach HallMatt WispeRick KamlaMike Bainbridge

Holiday Bowl

Louisville Cardinals @ USC Trojans (+7.5)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023 - 8:00 PM ET

San Diego, California


The Louisville Cardinals will take on the USC Trojans in a bowl game that will feature key opt-outs on both sides. The Cardinals will come into the game without their two best offensive weapons, Jawhar Jordan and Jamari Thrash. Both will be missed, but their production tailed off near the end of the year due to injuries. RB Isaac Guerendo stepped up significantly over the last four games of the season with 45 carries for 387 yards and 5 TDs. Playing against a terrible USC run defense, I expect Guerendo to be leaned on heavily in this game. Wide Receivers Chris Bell and Kevin Coleman are capable enough to give the USC secondary fits. Louisville HC Jeff Brohm is an elite playcaller who is 5-1 in bowl games. Give him time to prepare, and he will find ways to exploit your weaknesses.

The USC Trojans are trending in the wrong direction right now, desperately in need of turning around the negative perception of their program. As much as the opt-outs of future NFL players like Caleb Williams, Marshawn Lloyd, and Brenden Rice would devastate most teams, USC has the pieces to competently replace players at the skill positions. However, Williams is a loss that will be tough to overcome. While QB Miller Moss is a good passer, he is not nearly as mobile as Williams. The Louisville defense is top 15 in havoc rate, making it tough to sustain drives and will make life tough on Moss in the pocket. For USC to have a shot, they will need some explosives plays in this passing game and a consistent run game. Unfortunately, Louisville has a top 20 run defense.

TL;DR: HC Jeff Brohm is 5-1 in bowl games for a reason. While both teams are dealing with significant opt-outs, I expect the Louisville Cardinals to have a better shot at adequately replacing their players who are not participating in the game. Our staff is unanimously choosing the Cardinals to win and cover the spread.


  • RB Jawhar Jordan

  • WR Jamari Thrash

  • EDGE Kamerson Wilson

  • S John Minkins


  • QB Caleb Williams
  • QB Malachi Nelson
  • RB Marshawn Lloyd
  • RB Darwin Barlow
  • WR Brenden Rice
  • WR Michael Jackson
  • WR Raleek Brown
  • WR Mario Williams
  • DL De’jon Benton
  • EDGE Korey Foreman
  • LB Tackett Curtis
  • CB Domani Jackson


Josh ChevalierZach HallMatt WispeRick KamlaMike Bainbridge

Texas Bowl

Texas A&M Aggies @ Oklahoma State Cowboys (+2.0)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023 - 9:00 PM ET

Houston, Texas


Texas A&M fired Jimbo Fisher and recently hired Mike Elko from Duke, but it will be Elijah Robinson coaching this team in the bowl game. They will also be without both Max Johnson (transferring) and Conner Weigman (injured) for the bowl game. Jaylen Henderson should step into the starting role. In the last three weeks of the season he threw for 70 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions. This Aggie team will also be without top wideout Evan Stewart, top tight end Jake Johnson, and top DL Walter Nolen. It’s hard to know what to expect with this team, but they will have three running backs who all had 90+ rushing attempts. Amari Daniels was the leader with 514 yards on 97 attempts. Three running backs recorded at least three touchdowns.

Oklahoma State is fresh off an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game. What a wild season for the Cowboys, though. After two straight losses to South Alabama and Iowa St they beat Kansas State and a ranked Kansas team at the time. A few weeks later they beat Oklahoma only to lose 45-3 to UCF the following week. The one thing you can count on with this team though is Ollie Gordon getting a lot of yards. He finished the regular season with 1,613 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. He also had 326 receiving yards on 37 receptions. He really didn’t turn it on until week 4 either. Look for him to be the focal point of this offense.

TL;DR: Texas A&M will be without a few of their top playmakers and an interim coach. Oklahoma State will lean on RB Ollie Gordon. I’m leaning towards Oklahoma State in this one, with A&M missing some of their top playmakers.


  • QB Max Johnson

  • WR Evan Stewart

  • WR Raymond Cottrell

  • DL Walter Nolen

  • CB Deuce Harmon

  • CB Tyreek Chappell

  • OT Chase Bisontis

  • TE Jake Johnson

  • DL Dicaiah Overton

  • LB Jalen Waddy

  • CB Kent Robinson


  • WR Jaden Bray
  • WR Blaine Green
  • QB Gunnar Gundy
  • RB Jaden Nixon
  • DL Ricky Lolohea
  • OT Tyrone Webber
  • DB Lardarius Webb


Josh ChevalierZach HallMatt WispeRick KamlaMike Bainbridge