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Indiana closes out the Big Ten’s bowl involvement, Clemson-LSU battle for the title

The Hoosiers look to finish a strong bowl season for the Big Ten, Joe Burrow & LSU look to topple Clemson.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - LSU v Oklahoma Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Bowls ATS: 18-16 (12-14 National, 6-2 B1G)

Season ATS: 120-105-4 (63-53-3 National, 57-52-1 B1G)

Another season is about to draw to a close and MC&J isn’t ready for it to end. While picks in the bowl games have been up and down, overall it has been a great season. Hopefully there are a few winners still left in the tank to end the season on a strong note. Hope it was as fun a ride for everyone as it was for me. I truly appreciate those that followed along!

1/2 - 1/13 bowl games:

Birmingham Bowl: Boston College v. No. 21 Cincinnati (-7.5) - 1/2 3:00 PM EST - ESPN

Cincinnati may have missed out on the Group of 5 spot in the New Year’s Six, but the Bearcats still have a lot to play for. With a win over Boston College, Cincinnati will reach 11 wins for just the fourth time in school history, and the second season in a row. The Bearcats three losses this year came to Ohio State early in the year, and to Memphis to close out the regular season and again in the AAC Championship Game.

Boston College is a mess heading into this game. The Eagles needed a win over Pitt in their final regular season game just to earn bowl eligibility, and since then have fired head coach Steve Addazio. In addition, running back AJ Dillon has decided to skip this game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Boston College hired Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley to take over for Addazio, but he won’t coach in Thursday’s game.

I just don’t see how Boston College is going to score enough to keep up with Cincinnati in this game. Running back David Bailey has had a solid season backing up Dillon for BC, but there will be a noticeable drop-off in the success of the running game of the Eagles. It won’t be pretty in the beginning, but Cincinnati eventually pulls away from Boston College.

Cincinnati 37, Boston College 17

Gator Bowl: Indiana v. Tennessee (-2.5) - 1/2 7:00 PM EST - ESPN

Do you want to know the last time Indiana won nine games in a season? 1967. The Hoosiers went to the Rose Bowl that season, falling to USC 14-3. A win over Tennessee will not only give Indiana a rare nine-win season, but it will also be the first bowl win for the Hoosiers since the 1991 Copper Bowl.

Who would’ve thought Tennessee would be bowling after opening up the season by losing four of its first five games, including a hilarious loss to Georgia State in the season opener. The Volunteers were able to feast on some of the bottom feeders of the SEC late in the year to finish out the regular season 7-5. Tennessee will be shorthanded early in the Gator Bowl, as wide receiver Jauan Jennings is suspended for the first half.

It’s not hard at all to root against Tennessee, especially after their fans threw some epic hissy fits when it sounded like Greg Schiano was going to be named the head coach a few years ago. It would be fun to see Indiana cap off this year with a bowl win. The Hoosiers are an all-around better team so I’ll take the points here.

Indiana 31, Tennessee 27

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio (-8.5) v. Nevada - 1/3 3:30 PM EST - ESPN

Nevada does have a little bit of “big game” experience after beating Purdue in Reno to open up the season. Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, they’ll be missing four players in this game after a postgame fight following the loss to UNLV to close out the regular season — with all of the suspensions being on the defensive side of the football.

Ohio undoubtedly has the offensive advantage with experienced quarterback Nathan Rourke taking the snaps. The job for the Bobcats got a little easier with the suspensions Nevada is dealing with. Ohio also has had some recent success in bowl games, winning its last two bowl games by a combined score of 68-6. The Bobcats win their bowl game by double-digits for the third year in a row.

Ohio 33, Nevada 20

Armed Forces Bowl: Southern Mississippi v. Tulane (-7) - 1/4 11:30 AM EST - ESPN

With the New Year’s Six having wrapped up, as well as the NFL Playoffs on the schedule for later in the day on Saturday, this game could be overlooked. The Armed Forces Bowl has the potential to be one of those sneaky good bowl games. Tulane and Southern Miss are separated by a little over 100 miles, and have met 30 previous times. The Battle for the Bell has gone stagnant of late, with the last meeting coming in 2010.

The Green Wave and the Eagles feel like pretty similar teams. Tulane is a little more balanced on offense, with LSU transfer Justin McMillan doing some heavy lifting at quarterback both through the air and on the ground. Southern Miss prefers to throw the football a little more, as Jack Abraham has passed for over 3,300 yards this year.

Both quarterbacks have been prone to turnovers this year, which should add some shenanigans to this game. Even though these schools haven’t played in a while, plenty of pride will be on the line, as well as the rivalry trophy. This has the feeling of coming down to the wire, so the best move is to take the points.

Tulane 34, Southern Miss 30

LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana (-14) v. Miami (OH) - 1/6 7:30 PM EST - ESPN

When it comes to the RedHawks, I feel pretty much the same about them going into the MAC Championship Game as I do about them here. I didn’t think Miami could keep up with Central Michigan in the conference title game, and we saw how that worked out for me. This feels like an even taller task, though.

Louisiana quarterback Levi Lewis has been outstanding this year, throwing 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The Ragin’ Cajuns have been vulnerable against the run this season, but I don’t think that’s an area Miami will be able to take advantage of. Lewis and running back Elijah Mitchell wear out the defense of the RedHawks.

Louisiana 41, Miami (OH) 21

CFP National Championship Game: No. 3 Clemson v. No. 1 LSU (-6.5) - 8:00 PM EST - ESPN

Clemson comes into the title game riding a 29-game winning streak after being pushed to the limit by Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Tigers have to feel lucky this game isn’t until the 13th of January, giving them a little over two weeks to recover from what the Buckeyes put them through. Wide receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross were both banged up against Ohio State, but were able to return to action.

LSU has been unstoppable all year, and they put together their best performance in the first half of the Peach Bowl against Oklahoma, with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow throwing for over 400 yards and seven touchdowns. The Tigers were able to cruise in the second half, and didn’t need Clyde Edwards-Helaire, giving the running back more time to get healthy ahead of the title game.

LSU has seen some tough opposition this year, but they haven’t faced a duo quite like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. After winning the title last year, and beating Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, it’s easy to want Clemson to lose — which I think they’ll do here. But, Clemson is so mentally tough and well-coached that I think they’ll match LSU throughout the game. The difference is Clemson won’t have that late score like they did against Ohio State to take the lead.

This game will definitely be an entertaining capper on another fun college football season.

LSU 31, Clemson 28