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The Armed Forces Bowl and the Quick Lane Bowl top the next slate of College Football best bets, odds

MC&J tackles the next eight bowl games, and hopefully the results add to the holiday cheer.

NCAA Football: C-USA Championship-Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl season hasn’t gotten off to the best start for MC&J. New Mexico was covering but let UTSA score a garbage time touchdown. Who knows what Toledo was doing against Appalachian State, and BYU was covering but Wyoming decided that wasn’t going to fly. Hopefully these eight games play out a little better.

Bowl season ATS: 3-5 (3-5 National, 0-0 B1G)

Season ATS: 87-92-4 (41-43-1 National, 46-49-3 B1G)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Idaho v. Colorado State (-15) - 12/22 7:00 PM EST - ESPN

All looked lost for the Vandals after the first five games of the season, but Idaho regrouped to win six of their last seven games to earn a trip to their third-ever bowl game. The last time Idaho played in a bowl game was in 2009, where they earned a 43-42 win over Bowling Green. After this year Idaho will have one final season as a FBS member before moving back down to the FCS starting in 2018.

Colorado State also had a rough start to the season, but was found success when they inserted Nick Stevens at quarterback. The junior threw 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions this year, with two of those picks coming in the season-opener against Colorado.

Colorado State definitely has the better offense, as evidenced by scoring at least 37 points in each of their last five games. I’m just not convinced the Rams will win this by more than two touchdowns. Idaho will give a spirited effort and while they won’t be able to earn the win, they’ll at least keep things respectable in Boise.

Colorado State 44, Idaho 31

Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl: Eastern Michigan v. Old Dominion (-4) - 12/23 1:00 PM EST - ESPN

People have been saying there are too many bowl games, but how can you be against student-athletes getting a trip to the Bahamas around Christmas for something sponsored by Popeye’s? What makes this bowl game even better is Eastern Michigan will be making just their second bowl appearance (first since 1987) and Old Dominion will be making their first-ever bowl appearance.

Last year Eastern Michigan finished the season 1-11, so to say their turnaround this year was unexpected is quite and understatement. Old Dominion comes into this game on a roll, having won their last five games, scoring at least 31 points in each of those five victories.

Old Dominion quarterback David Washington should be fun to watch in this one, as he is just one of four quarterbacks with at least 25 touchdown passes and four or less interceptions. The Eastern Michigan defense has been solid this year, but they’ll have fits trying to slow down the Monarchs offense.

Old Dominion 38, Eastern Michigan 28

Armed Forces Bowl: Louisiana Tech (-6.5) v. Navy - 12/23 4:30 PM EST - ESPN

Navy was knocking on the door of earning a New Year’s Six bowl bid as the Group of Five squad, but two losses to close out the regular season dashed those hopes. The Midshipmen are now down to their third-string quarterback after Will Worth was injured against Temple.

Navy will have their hands full trying to slow down a Louisiana Tech offense that is averaging over 500 yards per game. Quarterback Ryan Higgins has thrown for 4,208 yards and 37 touchdowns this year. The wide receivers of the Bulldogs are putting up video game numbers, with Trent Taylor having grabbed 124 passes for 1,570 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Carlos Henderson has 72 catches for 1,406 yards, and 17 touchdowns.

Navy hadn’t lost back-to-back games since 2014, and I just don’t see them ended that losing streak here. If the Midshipmen were healthier at quarterback I might be able to see them being able to give the Bulldogs some fits with the triple-option attack, but Louisiana Tech will end up scoring early and often here.

Louisiana Tech 41, Navy 24

Dollar General Bowl: Ohio v. Troy (-4) - 12/23 8:00 PM EST - ESPN

Both of these teams had their chances at big upsets during the season, but ended up falling just short. In the second week of the season, Troy put a scare into Clemson before falling to the Tigers 30-24. Ohio recently looked like they might have a shot to hand Western Michigan their first lost of the year in the MAC Championship Game, but the Broncos grabbed a late interception to thwart the upset bid of the Bobcats.

Ohio is bowl-eligible for the eighth straight year, with the only year they didn’t play in a bowl game coming in 2014. The Bobcats aren’t going to blow you away on offense, as most of the year they’ve relied on a solid defense to help them earn their eight wins. Ohio is going to need their defense to step up again, as they’ll be going up against a Troy offense that is averaging nearly 440 yards per game.

Troy is going to want to get Jordan Chunn going early in this game, as the running back rushed for 1,232 yard and 13 touchdowns this year. The Trojans will have quite an advantage in this one, as they won’t have a far trip for this bowl game in Mobile. It won’t be like 2010 when Troy beat Ohio 48-21 in the New Orleans Bowl, but the Trojans will again take down the Bobcats.

Troy 34, Ohio 23

Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii v. Middle Tennessee State (-4.5) - 12/24 8:00 PM EST - ESPN

I hope the Hawaii coach takes the benches away from his team again. There is no better way to say Merry Christmas Eve than to take away the spot where your team sits. It probably doesn’t help my opinion of Hawaii than the only reason they got into this game is because they won a game against UMass.

At least Middle Tennessee State should have quarterback Brent Stockstill back from a broken collarbone which caused him to miss the final three games. Stockstill was really good while he was healthy, throwing for 27 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Ole Miss transfer running back I’Tavius Mathers was also strong throughout the season, rushing for 1,504 yards and 16 touchdowns while also hauling in 62 passes for 589 yards.

I know it’s cute to pick Hawaii here since they are the home team, but I’m not buying it. Middle Tennessee State is just too good for Hawaii. Of course now Hawaii will probably smoke Middle Tennessee State just because it seems like I never pick the Hawaii Bowl right.

Middle Tennessee State 48, Hawaii 28

St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (OH) v. Mississippi State (-14) - 12/26 11:00 AM EST - ESPN

The Redhawks became the first FBS team to lose their first six games and then win their next six games to become bowl eligible. Mississippi State may have only gotten to this bowl because of APR but they are so much better than the Redhawks. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald did it all for the Bulldogs, passing for 21 touchdowns and adding another 14 on the ground. Mississippi State has little trouble in this one.

Mississippi State 38, Miami (OH) 21

Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland (-1) v. Boston College - 12/26 2:30 PM EST - ESPN

This game....WOOF. Scary to think this used to be a conference game when Maryland was still in the ACC. Of course we are going to watch because it’s the day after Christmas, but we should feel bad about watching such a bad game. I guess I’ll take Boston College here because they have a bit of defense, but really that’s about the only thing they have.

Boston College 13, Maryland 10

Independence Bowl: NC State (-4) v. Vanderbilt - 12/26 5:00 PM EST - ESPN2

The Wolfpack started the season strong, while the Commodores needed to win four of their last six to become bowl eligible. NC State almost upset Clemson but the Wolfpack found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Running back Matt Dayes emerged for NC State, rushing for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns this year.

Vanderbilt finally was able to gain some traction under head coach Derek Mason at the end of the year. The Commodores played a number of SEC teams tough this year, and ended the regular season with an impressive victory over Tennessee. For some reason I like what Mason is doing more with Vanderbilt right more than what Dave Doeren is doing with NC State, so I’ll take the Commodores to win in Shreveport.

Vanderbilt 23, NC State 17