2018 First Responder, Quick Lane and Cheez-It Bowl Preview

December 25, 2018

As we regroup from Christmas Day and focus on the rest of the bowl season, it will be important to keep a close eye on the television for the majority of the next four days.

Between Wednesday and Saturday, 14 of the 41 bowl games, or roughly 34 percent of the entire bowl season, will be played, bringing us nearly three quarters of the way through the postseason by the time the last game on Saturday has concluded.

From a Bowl Mania standpoint, it is where dreams are both realized and dashed.

At the Christmas break, my dad had held onto his early Bowl Mania lead in the Von Hugendong group but the rest of the field is steadily gaining. With so many games that could go either way on the slate over the next several days, there are bound to be major changes in the standings.

Let’s take a look at the games being played on Boxing Day.

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Boston College vs. #25 Boise State (Wednesday, 1:30 PM ET – ESPN)

A rematch of the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl between these two programs kicks off the Boxing Day action in college football. Since the 13 years since the last meeting between these two, Boise State’s program has become a household name and comes into this one as the slight favorite. Senior quarterback Brett Rypien has a real argument for being called the best quarterback ever to play for the Broncos, yet the offense really gets going when running back Anthony Mattison is able to pick up big chunks of yards on the ground. The battle between Mattison and AJ Dillon for the Eagles is a matchup worth paying close attention to, as both backs will have a shot at playing on Sundays someday.

While Rypien is terrific and Boston College has limped into this game losing its final three games of the regular season, the time off likely did Steve Addazio’s team wonders. The Eagles were competitive in most games this season and have the talent offensively to go blow-for-blow with Boise State. Turnovers could dictate who wins this game as both defenses have forced 20+ on the year. I think that Eagles will translate that renewed energy into a strong performance to win a competitive battle, but in my heart I’ll be rooting for the Broncos. I have Boston College for 23 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 38-35 Boston College

Quick Lane Bowl

Georgia Tech vs. Minnesota (Wednesday, 5:15 PM ET – ESPN)

Paul Johnson’s last game as head coach at Georgia Tech will be a tough one to win, as the Yellow Jackets will be facing a Minnesota team looking to Row the Boat for the first time in the postseason with P.J. Fleck. Both Georgia Tech and Minnesota should be focused in this one, hopefully resulting in a close contest.

Georgia Tech’s top rushing attack nationally is led by a pair of quarterbacks, senior TaQuon Marshall and freshman Tobias Oliver. This combination of two signal callers that can run the triple option will make it difficult for newly promoted Minnesota defensive coordinator Joe Rossi to keep the Yellow Jackets from sustaining long, exhausting offensive drives. However, since Rossi took over the Golden Gophers have been much improved against the run and Rossi’s permanent promotion to coordinator should result in his unit being well prepared for this one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson’s team help him ride off into the sunset, but I also like the culture Fleck is creating at Minnesota and think he should be able to get a win in Detroit. I have the Golden Gophers for 26 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 30-27 Minnesota

Cheez-It Bowl

California vs. TCU (Wednesday, 9 PM ET – ESPN)

In prior seasons both of these teams have been characterized by a potent offense, but in this game the better defensive performance is likely to earn the hardware. TCU has had a season defined by injuries, especially on the offensive end, but still managed to lead the Big 12 in overall defensive yards allowed per contest. California was third in the Pac-12 in the same category and relied on a stout pass defense to keep itself in games against strong competition such as Washington State. Additionally, 26 turnovers forced by the Golden Bears and 22 by the Horned Frogs suggests that taking care of the ball will be paramount in this one.

While TCU’s struggles offensively have been primarily due to injuries, inconsistency has kept California from entering the upper echelon of its conference this season. Redshirt freshman Chase Garbers has shown flashes of brilliance this season but is still coming along as the team’s starter at quarterback. If he has used these extra practices to get a head start on next season, this could be a coming of age game against TCU’s talented defense. Garbers is the key to this one for me and I think he’ll play well, which is why I have the Golden Bears for 13 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 24-19 California

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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