2019 Texas, Holiday and Cheez-It Bowl Preview

December 27, 2019
By K. Becks

On the eve of the College Football Playoff semifinals, the football gods blessed us with some heavy-hitting matchups in other bowl games. Think of it as a bit of an appetizer to the main course on Saturday.

Let’s dive into those heavy-hitting matchups, the late games being played on Friday.

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

#25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (Friday, 6:45 PM ET – game on ESPN)

The Skinny: A matchup that used to be a common occurrence in the Big 12 will play out in Houston on Friday evening. With the controlled environment of the dome, there is a good chance this one will feature a lot of scoring.

Why to Watch: The nation’s top rusher Chuba Hubbard, only a sophomore, will be looking to eclipse the 2,000 yard mark for the season (he only needs 64 more do to so). Only two other running backs in the country have gotten more carries than Hubbard, so the Cowboys will likely give him plenty of opportunities to reach the milestone.

What Will Happen: The Aggies have been somewhat of a forgotten team in the loaded SEC West, but Jimbo Fisher’s squad is still a pretty good team. Texas A&M can sustain long drives thanks to Kellen Mond’s good decision making in the pocket, and in this game will be going up against an Oklahoma State defense that rated in the bottom half of the Big 12 in total yards per game allowed. Points will be scored on both sides, but overall the Aggies are more complete and will likely want to show the country that in the final game of the season.

My Pick: 37-33 Texas A&M for 23 points in Bowl Mania

San Diego Country Credit Union Holiday Bowl

#16 Iowa vs. #22 Southern Cal (Friday, 8 PM ET – game on FS1)

The Skinny: This is the first matchup of the bowl season that features two ranked teams. The Hawkeyes will travel a much further distance to play in this game, but Kirk Ferentz is normally very competitive in postseason competition.

Why to Watch: The talent for the Trojans is evident all over the field. The coaching? That much is still a mystery. It will be interesting to find out whether Southern Cal has taken the last couple of weeks to really prepare for this game or if the staff already has its sights set on 2020. The uncertainty surrounding Clay Helton’s job dominated headlines throughout the regular season, but with his job safe for at least another year, it remains to be seen whether the sense of urgency is still there for the current campaign.

What Will Happen: The Hawkeyes have allowed 300 yards through the air just three times this season, but oddly enough, all of those games still ended up being victories for Kirk Ferentz’s team. Iowa will cede some yardage to Southern Cal’s potent offense, a lot of them through the air, but will remain in this game thanks to superior clock management and ball security. Expect this one to be decided in the fourth quarter with a long offensive drive.

My Pick: 30-24 Southern Cal for 12 points in Bowl Mania

Cheez-It Bowl

Air Force vs. Washington State (Friday, 10:15 PM ET – game on ESPN)

The Skinny: The country’s top passing offense (Washington State) takes on the third ranked rushing offense in the nation (Air Force) in a battle to determine which one-dimensional approach is better suited to win a postseason competition.

Why to Watch: Cougars quarterback Anthony Gordon is in a tight race with Joe Burrow and Justin Fields to see who will end the season with the most touchdown passes in the country. Gordon is at a one game disadvantage already and may end up with a two game disadvantage depending on how the Playoff games go, but the senior did throw for nine touchdowns in a single game earlier this season.

What Will Happen: The Cougars have had an ample amount of time to prepare for the Air Force triple option attack, which combines principles of a traditional option attack with more rollout passing plays than would be seen from an Army or Navy offense. However, Washington State’s run defense has been ugly this season, and Mike Leach’s has a history of finding head-scratching ways to lose bowl games. You’ll get what you expect from Air Force in a postseason contest; Washington State is a wild card.

My Pick: 35-28 Air Force for 5 points in Bowl Mania

If you have interest in offering your insight for any of the bowl games this season, shoot me an email at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or reach out on one of ATC’s social media sites (Facebook, Twitter). I’d be happy to accommodate.

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