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College Football’s bowl season gets underway on Saturday

MC&J hopes some early Christmas treats are under the tree, as we pick the first seven games of the bowl season

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Last week ATS: 5-4 (5-3 National, 0-1 B1G)

Season ATS: 93-93-4 (45-40-2 National, 48-53-2 B1G)

I really wish MC&J would have had a better record heading into bowl season, but if we can’t have a huge winning percentage to start the postseason, what better way to go in than even? After all, teams only have to be .500 to make a bowl. So, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. This truly means that bowl season is going to decide it all.

Bowl games:

New Orleans Bowl: Troy (-7) v. North Texas - 1:00 PM EST - ESPN

Troy pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the college football season when they went into Baton Rouge in late September and beat LSU 24-21. The Trojans have quietly put together one of the better seasons among Group of Five teams, and a win on Saturday would give them 11 wins for the first time since they joined the FBS in 2001.

After failing to reach .500 for the last three seasons, North Texas has got to nine wins this season for the first time since 2013. The combination of quarterback Mason Fine and running back Jeffrey Wilson has provided the Mean Green with a potent offensive attack that many of their opponents have had a hard time slowing down.

It isn’t exactly ideal to be laying a touchdown to begin bowl season against a North Texas team that can put some points up on the board, but Troy has one of the better defenses that North Texas has squared off against. We get an entertaining bowl game to start the year, with Troy eventually winning by double-digits.

Troy 38, North Texas 28

Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky (-6.5) v. Georgia State - 2:30 PM EST - CBS Sports Network

The Hilltoppers are still able to move the football through the air with quarterback Mike White, but there has been a noticeable regression of their passing attack this year without head coach Jeff Brohm, who moved on to Purdue. Western Kentucky has had trouble running the football this year, with D’Andre Ferby leading the way with just 362 yards rushing.

Georgia State has played considerably better away from home, and while I think the Hilltoppers are going to take the win, the Panthers will at least keep things close. In a game that is pretty much a toss-up, take the points.

Western Kentucky 23, Georgia State 20

Las Vegas Bowl: No. 25 Boise State v. Oregon (-7) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC

I had a write-up about how Oregon was going to build some momentum for next year now that Mario Cristobal has taken over as head coach, and quarterback Justin Herbert is healthy again. I threw it in the trash when it was announced that senior running back Royce Freeman would skip this game to concentrate on the NFL Draft.

While Freeman isn’t going to show up for the postseason, Boise State usually does, winning six of their last eight bowl games. Slowing down the Oregon offense won’t be easy, even without Freeman, the Broncos have one of the better defenses in the country. Even if Boise State doesn’t win, I feel like they keep things close against the Ducks.

Oregon 35, Boise State 31

New Mexico Bowl: Marshall v. Colorado State (-6) - 4:30 PM EST - ESPN

I always like calling this the Breaking Bad Bowl because I honestly can’t associate much else with New Mexico. Maybe they should try to get sponsors like Los Pollos Hermanos or The Offices of Saul Goodman & Associates as sponsors.

Oh yeah, there is a football game going on. Sorry, I got carried away for a second. I can’t say that I’ve watched a whole bunch of either team this year, but Colorado State does jump off the page with some of the stats they’ve racked up. Not only has Nick Stevens thrown for 3,479 yards and 27 touchdowns, with his favorite target being Michael Gallup, who hauled in 94 catches and 1,345 yards, but Dalyn Dawkins also rolled up 1,349 yards on the ground.

I just think Colorado State is going to have too much offense for Marshall to keep pace with in this one. By the end of the game Mike Bobo will be telling Doc Holliday to “say my name.”

Colorado State 31, Marshall 20

Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee State v. Arkansas State (-3.5) - 8:00 PM EST - ESPN

Who knows where Middle Tennessee State might be bowling this year had quarterback Brent Stockstill not gotten injured earlier in the season. After leading the Blue Raiders to an upset win over Syracuse early on, Stockstill was sidelined for the next six games, which Middle Tennessee State lost four of. Since returning, the Blue Raiders have won three out of four.

Arkansas State started the season with a near-upset of Nebraska in Lincoln, and continued to impress the rest of the way, and quarterback Justice Hansen threw for 34 touchdowns this year. However, I’m nervous about the 15 interceptions that he threw, but I think the Arkansas State quarterback will come out on top of the battle with Stockstill.

Arkansas State 41, Middle Tennessee State 34

Boca Raton Bowl: Akron v. Florida Atlantic (-23) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN

What a first season Lane Kiffin put together in Boca Raton, and to cap it off the Owls get a home game to close it out. After losing three of their first four this year, Florida Atlantic rattled off nine-straight wins and took home the Conference USA crown.

Akron certainly has been put through the wringer this year. After starting the season with non-conference games against Penn State, Iowa State, and Troy, the Zips also had to face Toledo twice, with the most recent game against the Rockets being a loss in the MAC Championship Game.

Even though the Zips were able to cover a big spread last time out against Toledo, I don’t think the same fate will be in store for Terry Bowden’s team on Tuesday night. Even though this spread is huge for a bowl game, its hard to see Florida Atlantic getting tested at home, especially since the Owls have scored at least 30 points in 10 straight games.

Florida Atlantic 55, Akron 21

Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech v. SMU (-5) - 8:00 PM EST

Since there wasn’t a whole bunch of intrigue along with this game heading in, SMU spiced things up a bit when they announced that former Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes would be coaching the Mustangs in the bowl game. SMU was forced to name a new coach after Chad Morris left to take the Arkansas gig.

When you think of bleh bowl teams, Louisiana Tech is one of them. Not that the Bulldogs can’t play some entertaining football, but they are just one of those 6-6 teams that does some things well, but nothing all that great. I keep trying to find a reason to pick Louisiana Tech here, especially with SMU’s terrible defense, but I’m just not finding any reason to not take Dykes and the Mustangs.

SMU 44, Lousiana Tech 31