2018 Independence, Pinstripe and Texas Bowl Preview

December 26, 2018

In a literal first in the FBS division, we were robbed of a bowl game on Wednesday.

Thanks to lightning concerns, the First Responder Bowl between Boise State and Boston College was canceled without the opportunity to reschedule. Not only was I disappointed to not be able to watch Brett Rypien in what would have been his final game in a Boise State uniform, but the disappointment was extended for all of the seniors on both teams that were looking forward to the game.

Unfortunately, the cancelation is a testament to how most of these postseason contests are viewed by the networks that broadcast them.

As we move along in the week, we’ll hope that there are no more weather related cancelations for the rest of the bowl season.

Let’s take a look at Thursday’s slate of games.

Walk On’s Independence Bowl

Duke vs. Temple (Thursday, 1:30 PM ET – ESPN)

While Duke stumbled down the stretch, getting blown out in its final two regular season games, Temple’s 6-1 tear in the second half of the year was under former head coach George Collins, who announced he will head to Georgia Tech next season and will not be coaching in this game. Instead, tight ends coach Ed Foley will serve as the interim replacement for the Owls and look to keep the resurgence going. To do so, Temple’s pass defense, which is No. 7 in the country against the pass, will need to contain Duke’s Daniel Jones, who has not decided whether he will forgo his senior season in favor of the NFL but will absolutely get the chance someday to play on Sundays.

Jones will be the focal point of the Duke offense, but Temple’s defense has been able to get a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks during its second half run. If Duke’s offensive line is unable to handle this pressure, Jones could be made to look pedestrian and Temple’s offense can take advantage. The loss of Collins may be a bit overstated in the media – the Owls will be ready for this game and although I have Duke for 22 points in Bowl Mania, it’ll be a hard fought victory for David Cutcliffe’s team.

My Pick: 31-27 Duke

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Miami (FL) vs. Wisconsin (Thursday, 5:15 PM ET – ESPN)

A rematch of last year’s Orange Bowl will be significantly colder in the Bronx, but the storylines surrounding each team aren’t outrageously different. Wisconsin’s rushing attack, tops in the Big Ten and led by Doak Walker award winner Jonathan Taylor, will match up against the ACC’s top rated defense in terms of overall yards given up per game. Although Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has accepted the Temple head coaching position, he will be coaching the Hurricanes in this game, which should serve as a big boost both strategically and mentally for his unit. Taylor is poised to eclipse the 2,000 yard rushing mark in this game and if he’s able to do that easily and extend his total for the year a whole lot further, it could be tough sledding for the ‘Canes.

Inconsistency has plagued Malik Rosier during his career at Miami, but the redshirt senior will be starting in his final collegiate game after serving as the backup in the previous three games for the Hurricanes. While Rosier’s accuracy has been a problem, freshman N’Kosi Perry hasn’t been much more accurate and the veteran presence could be a good thing for the Hurricanes offensively. At the same time, it may suggest Perry’s bowl practices haven’t gone as planned. Either way, Miami’s maligned offense and 2-4 stretch to end the regular season are enough for me to stick with the Badgers for 30 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 27-23 Wisconsin

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

Baylor vs. Vanderbilt (Thursday, 9 PM ET – ESPN)

This game has “offensive shootout” written all over it, which could come as a welcomed change following the first two bowl games of the day. Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur has already asserted himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the program and would like to finish his career out with a victory over a Baylor team playing less than 200 miles from campus. Shurmur will face the Big 12’s third best pass defense, but that’s a slow race to begin with and the Bears have had a tendency to give up the big play, allowing the most passing plays of 50+ yards in the conference this season.

Baylor should have success offensively as well, though, as Vanderbilt’s defense does not do the SEC’s reputation for good defensive play any favors. Expect Charlie Brewer to slice and dice the Commodores as much as Shurmur will, resulting in a lot of points from both sides. In the end, a few key stops will decide this one, and in a surprise pick I think those stops will come from the Bears. I don’t have a ton of confidence in this pick, but I’ve got Baylor for 19 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 45-37 Baylor

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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