2017 Independence Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl, Foster Farms Bowl and Texas Bowl Preview

December 26, 2017

Wednesday will mark the busiest day for college football since College Football Hanukkah kicked off on December 16.

With games in the Bronx and Santa Clara, CA on the slate, bowl games truly will be on the mind of the entire country. It is a visual representation of why this is the greatest time of year.

After these set of games, the Bowl Mania standings should look a lot different. A more in-depth update will be provided on that front tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at the December 27 bowl games.

Walk On’s Independence Bowl

Florida State vs. Southern Mississippi (Wednesday, 1:30 PM ET – ESPN)

The Seminoles may have been thinking about playing in Louisiana when this season began, but it certainly was not in this bowl game (one of the two College Football Playoff games will be played in New Orleans). It has been a dreadful season by typical Florida State standards – struggling to finish .500, losing a head coach and injuries on both sides of the football. Interim head coach Odell Haggins, the only member of Jimbo Fisher’s regime to be retained by new head coach Willie Taggart, will call the shots for the Seminoles in this one. While there is pride on the line for a program that has been to a bowl game in an NCAA record 36 consecutive seasons, Haggins will have his work cut out for him motivating a squad that began the season ranked No. 3 in the country.

On the other side are the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, winners of eight games this season, none against Power 5 schools. Many of the Golden Eagles players were passed over by bigger schools, so the chance at beating any Power 5 team is reason enough to get excited. But this isn’t just any Power 5 program that Southern Miss is playing. This is Florida State – a team that won the Orange Bowl just a season ago. The Seminoles have been woeful offensively after losing Deondre Francois in the season opener and are going up against a Southern Miss squad that is No. 17 in the country in defensive yards allowed per game. The combination of solid defensive play along with a motivated offense full of overlooked players is enough to make this one a close game. Given Florida State’s struggles this season against less than stellar ACC competition, I like the Golden Eagles to pull off a major upset in Shreveport. I have 2 points on Southern Miss in this game.

My Pick: 26-23 Southern Mississippi

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Boston College vs. Iowa (Wednesday, 5:15 PM ET – ESPN)

Talk about a destination bowl game – the Eagles and Hawkeyes will face off in a game where temperatures aren’t expected to crack 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, neither school is situated in an area where this forecast strays too far from the norm for the players. No precipitation of any kind is expected, but it’s still a safe bet that the majority of yards gained in this game will be on the ground. The Eagles were third in the ACC this season averaging 224 yards rushing per game and have a future star in freshman running back AJ Dillon. The 6’0″ 240 pound workhorse is a tank that has rushed for at least 190 yards four times this year, including a 272 yard breakout game against Louisville. Expect him to get plenty of carries in this one.

The Hawkeyes have been pretty stout against the run as of late, allowing fewer than 70 yards on the ground in their final two games of the season. But the teams that have wanted to establish the run game against Iowa typically have been able to do so. Penn State, Minnesota and Wisconsin all gashed the Hawkeyes for well over 200 yards on the ground. Iowa did beat the Golden Gophers and was one play away from knocking off Penn State, though. While Boston College may have their way on the offensive end, Iowa should keep things close since Boston College won’t engage in a track meet. I have the Eagles for 19 points in what will be a very physical football game.

My Pick: 17-14 Boston College

Foster Farms Bowl

Arizona vs. Purdue (Wednesday, 8:30 PM ET – FOX)

Head coach Jeff Brohm has led his teams to a bowl game in each of his four seasons at the reigns of an FBS program, first at Western Kentucky from 2014-2016 and now this year at Purdue. Brohm also has not lost a bowl game in his collegiate head coaching career, either, but will face a stiff test against Rich Rod’s Arizona Wildcats on Wednesday evening. The Wildcats have an electric talent at quarterback and someone whose name the country will know by the beginning of next season in sophomore Khalil Tate. The 6’2″ 214 pound Tate hasn’t yet come into his own as a passer (nine to eight TD-to-INT ratio this season) but astoundingly has more rushing yards (1,353) than he does passing (1,289). Purdue’s defensive secondary will have its hands full deciding what Tate is going to do with the ball.

The Boilermakers don’t have anyone as electric as Tate but can put themselves in good position by taking care of the football and managing the clock well. In wins this season, Purdue has had the ball for over five minutes longer than it did in losses. Given Tate’s sometimes erratic nature, it is likely that the Boilermakers will have some opportunities to take the ball away from Arizona. If Brohm’s defense can take advantage and make use of the extra opportunities, the Boilermakers have a good chance to win. Arizona would love to open this game up and make it a track meet, while Purdue will look to keep the pace much slower. I like how Purdue has played in games it wasn’t supposed to win this season, so I’m taking the Boilermakers for 16 points.

My Pick: 27-24 Purdue

Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl

Missouri vs. Texas (Wednesday, 9 PM ET – ESPN)

A former Big 12 conference matchup is renewed in Houston when the Longhorns take on the Tigers. The first season of the Tom Herman era was characterized by inconsistency on both sides of the football for Texas, but the Longhorns were young and showed promise in several high profile games. One of Texas’s most glaring issues this season was an inability to pin down a true starter at quarterback, and heading into this one it’s unclear whether freshman Sam Ehlinger or sophomore Shane Buechele will play the majority of the snaps. Ehlinger didn’t start the season at quarterback for the Longhorns but played in almost all of those high profile games, and it makes sense that Herman would want to move forward with him. He has dual threat capabilities but was clearly up to the challenge of throwing 40+ passes per game. Missouri’s pass defense was bad this season (261 yards allowed per game), so it wouldn’t be surprising to see either Ehlinger or Buechele have a good game through the air in this one.

Missouri led the SEC in offense this season, average 511 yards per contest. Much of this success is due to quarterback Drew Lock, who led the nation with 43 touchdown passes this season. Lock’s two favorite targets, J’Mon Moore and Emanuel Hall, are both 6’3″ and can go up and get the ball in the end zone. As good as the Tigers are on offense, though, they are equally bad defensively. The Longhorns were banged up for much of the season and as previously mentioned, are young, so there is a chance that the right motivation tactics by the coaching staff will pay dividends. Unfortunately, although there was time for some players nursing injuries to recover before this game, Texas will be missing several key pieces due to either suspension or players skipping to prepare for the NFL Draft. Considering this could be a shell of the Texas team that nearly beat Southern Cal and Oklahoma, I think the Tigers will put too much pressure on the young Longhorns to score quickly. I have Missouri for 23 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 40-31 Missouri

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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