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MC&J: Picks for Missouri-Ohio State and the rest of the New Year’s Six bowls

The heavy hitters of bowl season kick off tonight in Dallas and run through Monday.

Minnesota v Ohio State Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images

Bowls ATS: 13-12-1 (12-10-1 National, 1-2 B1G - with a number of other games pending)

Season ATS: 126-113-2 (66-70-2 National, 60-43 B1G)

Peach Bowl: No. 11 Ole Miss v. No. 10 Penn State (-4.5)

Saturday 12/30 12:00 p.m. ET - ESPN

This game is really interesting since all four of the losses these two teams combined for came against Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio State. After Ole Miss lost to the Bulldogs and Penn State fell to Michigan on Nov. 11, the two teams combined to allow just 16 points over the last two weeks of the regular season. Granted the competition they played wasn’t great, they still rebounded from tough losses.

Both teams weren’t hit hard with losses in the transfer portal, but Penn State did lose defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who took the head coaching job at Duke. If the Nittany Lions want to win this game they’ll have to do so with their defense since they can’t match the offensive firepower Ole Miss will throw at them with quarterback Jaxson Dart and running back Quinshon Judkins.

Ole Miss v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Penn State quarterback Drew Allar only threw one pick this year. The problem with Allar is the Nittany Lion offense turtled in the biggest games of the season. Penn State doesn’t have some of the dynamic wide receivers they had in the past, which could cause a problem against an explosive Rebel offense. Ole Miss is able to find some cracks in the Penn State defense and takes home the win in Atlanta.

Ole Miss 30, Penn State 23

Music City Bowl: Auburn (-6.5) v. Maryland

Saturday 12/30 2:00 p.m. ET - ABC

The intrigue for this game took a bit of a hit when Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa announced he was opting out to enter the transfer portal. Starting for the Terrapins will be Billy Edwards Jr., who has seen some time over the last couple years when Tagovailoa has been injured. Edwards has something to prove in this game, as he’ll be stating his case to be the starter next year for Maryland.

Hugh Freeze’s first year at Auburn wasn’t pretty. Not only did the Tigers lose to New Mexico State at home, Auburn allowed Alabama to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat late in the Iron Bowl. I know the Terrapins won’t have Tagovailoa, but it’s not like Edwards is totally green. I feel a lot better getting nearly a touchdown with Maryland than laying it with Auburn’s terrible quarterback Payton Thorne.

Maryland 27, Auburn 21

Orange Bowl: No. 6 Georgia (-19.5) v. No. 5 Florida State

Saturday 12/30 4:00 p.m. ET - ESPN

After both these teams failed to make the College Football Playoff, you would figure it would be Georgia that would care less about this bowl. Florida State has had backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker enter the transfer portal, leaving third-string QB Brock Glenn to take the snaps against the Bulldogs. Along with Rodemaker leaving, the top four receivers and top three rushers won’t play in this game. The defense of the Seminoles has also been rocked by defections.

Even though the spread feels high at first glance, it’s hard to imagine the backups of the backups for Florida State staying anywhere close to Georgia’s starters. After the Bulldogs saw their lengthy winning streak snapped by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia will look to finish their season on a high note as they take their frustrations out on Florida State.

Georgia 38, Florida State 10

Arizona Bowl: Toledo (-3.5) v. Wyoming

Saturday 12/30 4:30 p.m. ET - CW

Since I want to give Barstool as little attention as possible, I’m going to keep this very brief. I’ll ride with Wyoming since they’ll be playing for head coach Craig Bohl, who is retiring after this game. Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn has already transferred to Baylor, so the Rockets could have trouble moving the ball against a very tough Wyoming defense.

Wyoming 24, Toledo 17

ReliaQuest Bowl: Wisconsin v. No. 13 LSU (-9.5)

Monday 1/1 12:00 p.m. ET - ESPN2

The biggest win for Luke Fickell and Wisconsin this year might be not having to face LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels in this game. Daniels won the Heisman Trophy and has announced he will forego this game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Monday is still going to be tough for the Badgers, since it sounds like the other key players for the Tigers will be playing.

Wisconsin will be without running back Braelon Allen, which is a big problem for the Badgers. Tanner Mordecai has been bad and injured after transferring from SMU. Running back Chez Mellusi was injured earlier in the season. The Wisconsin defense hasn’t been as dominant as we have become used to in past year. All this sounds like a recipe for a double-digit loss to LSU.

LSU 35, Wisconsin 20

Fiesta Bowl: No. 23 Liberty v. No. 8 Oregon (-16.5)

Monday 1/1 1:00 p.m. ET - ESPN

After 12 years playing college football, this will be Oregon quarterback Bo Nix’s final collegiate game. Despite the Ducks failing to make the College Football Playoff, Nix won’t opt out of this game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Nix tossed 40 touchdowns and threw for over 4,000 yards this year. Nix isn’t the only weapon for the Ducks. Bucky Irving ran for over 1,000 yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns, while Troy Franklin was one of the best receivers in the country.

2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington Photo by Ric Tapia/Getty Images

Liberty had a dream season in head coach Jamey Chadwell’s first season at the school, going undefeated and winning Conference USA by beating New Mexico State in the title game. The issue for Liberty here is they didn’t play anyone nearly as fast and physical as Oregon. Quinton Cooley is going to have trouble finding running room and quarterback Kaidon Salter is going to be under constant pressure.

As fun as it is to imagine David beating Goliath, the Ducks are pissed off after seeing their CFP hopes dashed by two losses by three points to Washington. Dan Lanning will have his team ready to go as they send Nix off with a comfortable win.

Oregon 45, Liberty 21

Citrus Bowl: No. 17 Iowa v. No. 21 Tennessee (-6.5)

Monday 1/1 1:00 p.m. ET - ABC

Earlier this week Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton announced he wouldn’t play in this game, deciding to prepare for the NFL Draft. You can tell Milton is familiar with Big Ten teams after his time with Michigan since he wants no part of the nasty Iowa defense. Instead, Nico Iamaleava will start for the Vols. After a few series the backup quarterback might really want to leave the game.

Saying Iowa’s offense isn’t fun to watch is an understatement. The Hawkeyes somehow still won 10 games, which should tell you how good the rest of the team is. I’ll gladly take nearly a touchdown in a game that should be a tight, low-scoring affair.

Iowa 17, Tennessee 13

Rose Bowl: No. 4 Alabama v. No. 1 Michigan (-1.5)

Monday 1/1 5:00 p.m. ET - ESPN

Michigan must be working with voodoo magic. The Wolverines saw head coach Jim Harbaugh suspended twice this year and still went undefeated. Michigan played a cake non-conference schedule, barely had to throw it against Penn State, and benefitted by Ryan Day pooping his pants in The Game for the third straight year. Harbaugh will be looking for his first CFP win in his third straight appearance in the playoff. Win or lose, Harbaugh could be headed to the NFL after the season is over.

Alabama looked dead early in the season after losing at home to Texas. With a win the Crimson Tide could have a chance to avenge the loss if the Longhorns get by Washington. Quarterback Jalen Milroe was one of the most improved players in the country from the start of the season. From being benched for the South Florida game to being two wins away from a title is a wild story.

2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Everybody aside from Michigan fans think Alabama is going to win this game. I’m obviously not a Michigan fan, so you can tell who I’ll be taking in this one. I think the Crimson Tide defense is going to make life miserable for J.J. McCarthy and Blake Corum on Monday in Pasadena. Harbaugh makes it a three-peat of CFP semifinal losses as Nick Saban again proves why he is the GOAT.

Alabama 34, Michigan 24

Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Texas (-4.5) v. No. 2 Washington

Monday 1/1 8:45 p.m. ET - ESPN

Washington essentially played Pacific Northwest Tresselball this season, winning a ton of close games. The Huskies have a tremendous quarterback in Michael Penix Jr. and a group of extremely talented wide receivers, headlined by Rome Odunze. As the year went on, Washington showed they could also run the football with Dillon Johnson, who has rushed for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns.

It would have been so fun to see Texas play this game with Jonathon Brooks on the field, but Brooks was injured late in the season. The Longhorns still have quarterback Quinn Ewers, who slowed the roll of the Arch Manning train a bit this year with some great play. Just look at the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma State where Ewers had like a billion yards passing at halftime.

This is a rematch of last year’s Alamo Bowl that Washington won 27-20. I think the Huskies nip the Longhorns again. If anything, this game comes down to the wire, so I’ll happily take a few points. Penix and the Washington receivers will cause trouble for the Texas defense. Don’t get me wrong, Ewers will make some plays, Washington is just a little better on both sides of the football.

Washington 38, Texas 34

Cotton Bowl: No. 9 Missouri v. No. 7 Ohio State (-3.5)

Friday 12/29 8:00 p.m. ET - ESPN

In the couple weeks after Ohio State’s 30-24 loss to Michigan, things weren’t looking go ahead of this game. Quarterback Kyle McCord transferred to Syracuse and it felt like anyone important for the Buckeyes had no reason to play here. While Marvin Harrison Jr. shouldn’t suit up, at least TreVeyon Henderson, Emeka Egbuka, Jack Sawyer, and a number of other defensive players will be on the field. Plus, I’m excited to see what Devin Brown brings to the table at quarterback.

Ohio State is going to need as many defensive starters on the field as possible since Missouri’s offense is no joke. Running back Cody Schrader was a Doak Walker finalist, Luther Burden should contend for the Biletnikoff Award next year, and quarterback Brady Cook totaled 28 touchdowns this year. The Tigers finished the regular season at 10-2 only losing to LSU and Georgia this year.

Maybe Ryan Day treats this game like the Georgia game last year, going all out. What is there to lose? Have some fun with Brown and the playbook, using all the weapons that will be at his disposal to build some hype for next year. Maybe Carnell Tate breaks out like Marvin Harrison Jr. did a couple years ago in the Rose Bowl.

Even though Missouri’s offensive weapons do worry me, Jim Knowles with almost a month to prep for this game should help slow down Schrader, Burden, and Cook. The Buckeyes did a great job at not giving up the big play this year, especially in the passing game. Take away Burden and focus on not letting Schrader get his. The Buckeyes are used to the spotlight, while it might be just a bit too bright for the Tigers.

Ohio State 31, Missouri 24