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Ohio State and USC square off in the Cotton Bowl, plus picks for 8 other College Football bowl games

The Buckeyes and Trojans meet for the first time since 2009 on Friday night in Dallas.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl games ATS: 10-11 (8-11 National, 2-0 B1G)

Season ATS: 103-104-4 (53-51-2 National, 50-53-2 B1G)

Military Bowl: Virginia v. Navy (-1) - 12/28 1:30 PM EST - ESPN

Virginia and Navy both had tremendous starts to the season, but saw their hot start fizzle out in the second half of the year. Navy won their first five games of the year, while Virginia started the season winning five of their first six games. Now both teams will be trying to stay above .500 with a win in their final game of the year.

While finishing below .500 might be something Virginia is used to, Navy has only finished with a record below .500 in two seasons since 2002. The Midshipmen will look to Malcolm Perry to help Ken Niumatalolo to his ninth season with seven or more wins in the 10 seasons he has coached at Navy.

Had it not been for Kurt Benkert, who knows how bad Virginia might have been this season. The senior quarterback has thrown 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions for the Cavaliers this year. Virginia has needed all of Benkert’s arm this year since they have had very little success running the football this season.

It may seem pretty idiotic to go against Navy in the Military Bowl, but this Navy team doesn’t instill as much confidence as some of the others in recent memory. Add in the fact that Virginia got some experience going against an option attack last month in a 40-36 win over Georgia Tech. It won’t be pretty, but the Cavaliers find a win on Thursday.

Virginia 27, Navy 20

Camping World Bowl: No. 22 Virginia Tech v. No. 19 Oklahoma State (-5) - 12/28 5:15 PM EST - ESPN

These two teams have to be wondering what could have been. Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State had their eyes on bigger prizes but both teams suffered two losses in November to destroy any of their dreams of heading to bigger bowl games. Instead the Hokies and Cowboys will square off for the third time ever, and the first time since 1972.

After starting off the season strong, November wasn’t very kind to freshman quarterback Josh Jackson, who threw just two touchdowns and four interceptions in the four games he started during the month. Oklahoma State’s defense is suspect, but Jackson will be at a disadvantage as wide receiver Cam Phillips won’t be available for this contest.

Unlike Jackson, Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph will have all his weapons in this game. Not only did running back Justice Hill rush for 1,347 yards and 14 touchdowns this year, but wide receivers James Washington and Marcell Ateman combined for 123 catches, 2,472 yards, and 20 touchdowns.

I’m not thrilled about picking against Virginia Tech’s defense, especially when Bud Foster has extra time to prepare, but I think Oklahoma State has just too much on offense to keep in check. The Hokies will get some points, but without Phillips they just don’t have the horses to keep up with the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State 41, Virginia Tech 28

Alamo Bowl: No. 13 Stanford v. No. 15 TCU (-3) - 12/28 9:00 M EST - ESPN

Stanford and TCU will both be trying shake off losses in their conference championship games and end the year on a high note. Bryce Love will also be trying to finish out the year with a bang, as he is just 27 yards away from 2,000 rushing yards for the season. Pretty impressive considering Love was hampered by an ankle injury the last half of the year.

After a difficult season last year, TCU quarterback Kenny Hill bounced back this year with 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. While the Horned Frogs may get running back Darius Anderson back from injury, I’m not all that impressed with what TCU has on offense besides Hill.

This will be a hard fought game against two solid teams, but I just like what Love and Stanford have a little more than what Hill and TCU bring to the table. In a game that I feel will be pretty tight throughout, I’ll gladly take the points.

Stanford 28, TCU 24

Holiday Bowl: No. 18 Washington State v. No. 16 Michigan State (-1.5) - 12/28 9:00 PM EST - FS1

Mike Leach against Mark Dantonio. I’m not sure there are many coaches out there that are as opposite as these two. This matchup almost didn’t happen, as Leach was flirting with Tennessee before the Volunteers decided to hire Jeremy Pruitt. As if the last month wasn’t strange enough for Leach and the Cougars, leading receiver Tavares Martin Jr. was dismissed from the team, and second-leading receiver Isaiah Johnson-Mack was granted his release from the team.

After a terrible 2016, Dantonio and the Spartans rebounded with a strong 2017. The Michigan State defense did most of the work, but quarterback Brian Lewerke had his moments as well, throwing for 400 yards in back-to-back games against Northwestern and Penn State.

Even though Leach just signed an extension with the school, I’m wondering if his flirtation with Tennessee hindered bowl preparation at all. It also can’t help that two of the team’s leading receivers aren’t going to play against Michigan State. The Spartans will have a plan ready to slow the Cougars down, and give Dantonio his fourth year in East Lansing with at least 10 wins.

Michigan State 34, Washington State 27

Belk Bowl: Wake Forest (-3) v. Texas A&M - 12/29 1:00 PM EST - ESPN

Can’t say I really like either team all that much overall, but I’ll give the edge to Wake Forest because they have a little more stability at quarterback with John Wolford. It also doesn’t hurt that the Demon Deacons will be playing just an hour and a half from home.

The future should be bright for Texas A&M with Jimbo Fisher taking over as head coach. The hiring of Fisher isn’t going to help the Aggies here though, as Wake Forest wins their second straight bowl game.

Wake Forest 38, Texas A&M 30

Sun Bowl: No. 24 North Carolina State (-6.5) v. Arizona State - 12/29 3:00 PM EST - CBS

I have no idea at all what Arizona State is doing. They fired Todd Graham so they could hire Herm Edwards, yet Graham is still coaching the bowl game. It isn’t often that a fired coach gets to coach in a bowl game, but it doesn’t seem like Arizona State cares about doing anything conventionally anymore.

North Carolina State had a chance for a big year, but losses in the last half of the season to Notre Dame, Clemson, and Wake Forest hurt the Wolfpack’s bowl standing. Dave Doeren’s team still has plenty of talent, especially at defensive end with Bradley Chubb, who won the Nagurski and Hendricks Awards.

I know there is a possibility Arizona State could rally around Graham in his final game, but I just feel more confident in siding with the Wolfpack here. Chubb should make Manny Wilkins’ life miserable, while the North Carolina State offense has some exciting pieces that will find holes against a Sun Devil defense that has had issues most of the year.

North Carolina State 34, Arizona State 20

Music City Bowl: Kentucky v. No. 21 Northwestern (-7.5) - 12/29 4:30 PM EST - ESPN

Kentucky fans certainly should be familiar with the Music City Bowl now. This marks the sixth appearance by the Wildcats in Nashville since 1999, with Kentucky posting a 3-2 record in their previous Music City Bowl appearances.

Mark Stoops’ squad might have a tough time snapping a three-game bowl losing streak, as they’ll be taking on one of the hottest teams in the country. Northwestern has won seven straight games, and they’ve done it with a pretty balanced attack. Running back Justin Jackson will get one more game in his college career, and is just the second running back in Big Ten history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his four years on campus.

Kentucky does have a solid running back of their own in Benny Snell Jr., but I’m just not sure how the Wildcats will move the football if Northwestern can put the clamps on him. Northwestern earns their fifth 10-win season in school history.

Northwestern 30, Kentucky 17

Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State v. Utah State (-4) - 12/29 5:30 PM EST - CBS Sports Network

Just call this the Aggie Bowl and be done with it. This game may have a little more meaning for New Mexico State, since they haven’t played in a bowl game since 1960. Don’t sleep on Tyler Rogers, who threw for 3,825 yards and 26 touchdowns for New Mexico State this year.

Chuckie Keeton has exhausted all his college eligibility, so there really isn’t any point in rooting for Utah State here. I don’t have much more analysis on this game, so just take the points in a game we probably aren’t going to watch any of.

New Mexico State 31, Utah State 21

Cotton Bowl: No. 8 USC v. No. 5 Ohio State (-7.5) - 12/29 8:30 PM EST - ESPN

Ohio State playing a bowl game before New Year’s Eve? What world is this? The last time Ohio State played in a bowl game before New Year’s Eve was back in 2004 when the Buckeyes took on Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl. Things worked out pretty well for Ohio State, who beat up on the Cowboys 33-7.

The Buckeyes will have a lot tougher test on Friday night when the take on Sam Darnold and USC. The highly-touted USC quarterback was inconsistent early in the year, but he has found a rhythm in the last eight games, throwing 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Luckily, the Buckeyes have an outstanding defensive line to try and slow down Darnold. Sam Hubbard could be playing his last game as a Buckeye, and a big performance would boost his NFL stock, while Nick Bosa will look to close out his sophomore season on a high note.

J.T. Barrett will be making his final start at Ohio State on Friday night, but hopefully we aren’t in for a game where we see Barrett carry the ball 15-20 times. Let Barrett try and find his young wide receivers against a USC secondary that can be beaten, while mixing in some carries for J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. Hopefully Urban and company don’t try and overthink this.

This should be one of the most exciting bowl games of the year. Plenty of future NFL stars will be on display at Dallas, and while I think USC will test Ohio State, the Buckeyes will wear down the Trojans and build a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. Barrett and the other Buckeyes donning the Scarlet and Gray for the last time go out with a win.

Ohio State 38, USC 27