The 2019 college football bowl season opens this week with eight games. However, of the sixteen teams in action, only two are ranked.
For the second season in a row, Appalachian State (12-1) will be in the New Orleans Bowl, and, for the second season in a row, the Mountaineers will have a different coach than they had during the season. The fourteenth-ranked Mounties have promoted Shawn Clark to head coach after the Eliah Drinkwitz left for Missouri—his third team in 13 months.
Our prediction algorithms don’t see a drop-off for ASU despite changes at the top. Clark has been with the program for four years and was named assistant head coach earlier this season. As a result, Appalachian State holds a 34-17 prediction advantage, the widest predicted margin of the week, over penalty prone UAB (9-4).
Sages of the bowl season decided that national interest in the Buffalo (7-5) vs Charlotte (7-5) match wasn’t already anemic enough so they shipped the teams out of the country. Now, they will meet in the Bahamas at … well … the Bahamas Bowl. In addition to predicting a win for the Buffs, our system is projecting there will be more fans at the Atlantis shark tank than at the game.
In the Boca Raton Bowl, oddsmakers generally favor SMU (10-2) over Florida Atlantic (10-3), but our Index cites FAU as a 36-30 favorite despite FAU’s coaching change. Perhaps it’s a matter of addition by subtraction since we’re talking FAU about losing controversial Lane Kiffin. It’s too bad, though, because Boca Raton translates to “mouth of the rat” and Kiffin might have fit better than most.
In other bowl games, our Index lists Arkansas State (7-5) as a one-point favorite over Florida International (6-6) in the Camellia Bowl, although I think the margin will be double digits; Georgia Southern (7-5) is a 35-28 choice over rising Liberty (7-5) in the Cure Bowl; Utah State (7-5) is four games under last year’s 11-win season while Kent State (6-6) is four games above, but USU still figures to be two points better in the Frisco Bowl; and, San Diego State (8-4) is a 26-21 favorite over Central Michigan (8-5) in the New Mexico Bowl despite CMU rising from just one win last year under new coach Jim McElwain, formerly of Florida and Colorado State.
PAC-12 contender Washington (7-5) has become an odd choice by our Index to upend #8 Boise State (12-1) in a game that will see Husky coach Chris Petersen end his stint at Washington against the team that started his FBS stint in Idaho. Our system’s 31-30 edge for Washington seems odd, but then, aren’t the oddities of bowl season what makes it so much fun?
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