Coaches switch jobs. Players can opt out or enter the transfer portal. The unpredictability factor of which team is motivated. There are 41 bowl games in 2022-23, starting with the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 16. The national championship will be decided on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles.
This year’s CFP semifinals are on Dec. 31. No. 2 Michigan takes on No. 3 TCU in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, and No. 1 Georgia faces No. 4 Ohio State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. In between, there are more than enough games to fill the holidays all the way into the New Year’s Day Six.THE CASE FOR: Georgia | Michigan | Ohio State | TCU
We picked all the matchups involving teams ranked in the Top 25 during the regular season. Our track record was better in 2022 – with a 186-60 S/U record and a 126-118-2 ATS record. How unpredictable will this Bowl Season be?It’s never easy, but it’s time to pick those 42 bowls against the spread. We will update these lines to reflect opt-outs as the postseason progresses.
College football bowl picks, predictions
- Bahamas Bowl: UAB (-11.5) vs. Miami, Ohio
Friday, Dec. 16, 11:30 a.m., ESPN in Nassau, Bahamas
UAB has the nation’s leading rusher in DeWayne McBride. That’s going to be a problem for a Miami run defense that allowed 219.7 rushing yards in its last three games. Still, the RedHawks were 4-2 ATS as an underdog this year.
Pick: UAB wins 34-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Cure Bowl: No. 24 Troy (-2.5) vs. No. 25 UTSA
Friday, Dec. 16, 3 p.m., ESPN in Orlando
This will be one of the best bowl games of the year. It’s a battle of 11-2 teams and up-and-coming coaches in Jeff Traylor and Jon Sumrall. The Trojans won 10 straight games, but they are going to have trouble containing Frank Harris, who ranked fourth in the FBS with 342.5 total yards per game.
Pick: UTSA wins 33-30 in an UPSET.
- Wasabi Fenway Bowl: Cincinnati (-1.5) vs. Louisville
Saturday, Dec. 17, 11 a.m., ESPN in Boston
The Keg of Nails trophy is back, and the heat is on after Louisville coach Scott Satterfield took the Cincinnati job. The Bearcats and Cardinals haven’t met since 2013, and this might be a pick ‘em by kickoff. The Cardinals were 0-3 ATS as an underdog this season. We’ll take Cincinnati in a close one.
Pick: Cincinnati wins 24-20 and COVERS the spread.
- Las Vegas Bowl: Florida vs. No. 14 Oregon State (-7.5)
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2:30 p.m., ABC in Las Vegas
Oregon State was 1-2 S/U against ranked teams this year. UCF beat the Gators 29-17 in their bowl game last season. Chances are first-year coach Billy Napier will use that as motivation, but it’s going to be tough without starting quarterback Anthony Richardson, who declared for the NFL Draft, and backup quarterback Jalen Kitna, who was dismissed from school after being arrested.
Pick: Oregon State wins 31-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl: Washington State (-4) vs. Fresno State
Saturday, Dec. 17, 3:30 p.m., ABC in Los Angeles
Will Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener play? That’s something that could impact this line. He led the Bulldogs to a Mountain West Conference championship and an eight-game winning streak. Washington State, meanwhile, was 4-0 ATS as a single-digit favorite this season. Cam Ward leads Washington State to the Pac-12’s first victory of the postseason.
Pick: Washington State wins 29-22 and COVERS the spread.
- LendingTree Bowl: Southern Miss (-5.5) vs. Rice
Saturday, Dec. 17, 5:45 p.m., ESPN in Mobile, Ala.
Rice made the postseason despite a 5-7 record and ended the season on a three-game losing streak. Frank Gore Jr. carried the Golden Eagles to a bowl-clinching victory with 199 yards in the regular-season finale against Louisiana-Monroe. Southern Miss covered in five of its last six games.
Pick: Southern Miss wins 27-20 and COVERS the spread.
- New Mexico Bowl: SMU (-2.5) vs. BYU
Saturday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m., ESPN in Albuquerque
This is the first matchup between the schools since the legendary 1980 Holiday Bowl – which the Cougars won 46-45 in thrilling comeback fashion. The Mustangs won four of their last five games under Rhett Lashlee and can score. But can they contain BYU quarterback Jaren Hall, who has 31 TDs and six interceptions? This one will be fun, too.
Pick: BYU wins 41-38 in an UPSET.
- Frisco Bowl: Boise State (-7.5) vs. North Texas
Saturday, Dec. 17, 9:15 p.m., ESPN in Frisco, Tex.
North Texas fired coach Seth Littrell after the C-USA championship game, so motivation will be a factor for the Mean Green. The Broncos lost the Mountain West Conference championship game. North Texas was 4-4 ATS as an underdog this season, but the Broncos will tack on a late score for the cover here.
Pick: Boise State wins 31-20 and COVERS the spread.
- Myrtle Beach Bowl: Marshall (-9.5) vs. UConn
Monday, Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m., ESPN, in Conway, S.C.
Here’s a chance to watch Khalan Laborn, the Marshall standout running back who rushed for 1,423 yards and 16 TDs this season. The Huskies finished 6-6 in Jim Mora Jr.’s first season, a remarkable accomplishment considering where the program was. Marshall breaks a three-game losing streak in a close one.
Pick: Marshall wins 33-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Jose State (-4.5) vs. Eastern Michigan
Tuesday, Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m., ESPN, in Boise, Idaho
There is some serious edge-rushing talent in this game. Junior Villami Fehoko and Cade Hall combined for 16.5 sacks for the Spartans. Jose Ramirez had 12 sacks for the Eagles. These teams met in the 1987 California Bowl, which is the Eagles’ only bowl win. Do any Spartans have the receipt?
Pick: San Jose State wins 28-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo (-1.5) vs. Liberty
Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, in Boca Raton, Fla.
A healthy Dequan Finn is a difference-maker for the Rockets against Liberty, which will begin a new era without Hugh Freeze. Will the Flames bounce back after losing their last three games? Toledo is 4-3 ATS when favored by seven points or less.
Pick: Toledo wins 30-26 and COVERS the spread.
- R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: South Alabama (-2.5) vs. Western Kentucky
Wednesday, Dec. 21, 9 p.m., ESPN, in New Orleans
Kane Wommack led a quick turnaround for the Jaguars, who won 10 games in his second season. Western Kentucky quarterback Austen Reed had 44 total TDs this season, but he entered the transfer portal. This is one of those moves that tilts the line toward the Jaguars.
Pick: South Alabama wins 38-34 and COVERS the spread.
- Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor (-6.5) vs. Air Force
Thursday, Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m., ESPN in Fort Worth, Tex.
The Falcons led the FBS with 330.9 rushing yards per game this season. Baylor ranked 34th at 194.1 yards per game. The Bears, however, were 0-3 ATs when favored by a touchdown or less this season. Air Force has won its last three bowl games under Troy Calhoun, so the Bears better be ready.
Pick: Baylor wins 24-23 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl: Houston (-3.5) vs. Louisiana
Friday, Dec. 23, 3 p.m., ESPN, in Shreveport, La.
It was an up-and-down season for the Cougars, who ranked 15th in scoring offense (37.2) but 118th in scoring defense (33.5). Louisiana also had a roller-coaster season under first-year coach Michael Desormeaux. How much can the Ragin’ Cajuns slow down the Cougars’ offense?
Pick: Houston wins 35-28 and COVERS the spread.
- Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: Wake Forest (-1.5) vs. Missouri
Friday, Dec. 23, 6:30 p.m., ESPN in Tampa
The Demon Deacons lost four of their last five games, a stretch in which quarterback Sam Hartman took 17 sacks. Missouri squeaked into a bowl game but had four one-score losses in SEC play. Isaiah McGuire and the Tigers can get after it on defense, but Hartman closes his career with a victory.
Pick: Wake Forest wins 28-24 and COVERS the spread.
- Easypost Hawaii Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs. San Diego State (-1.5)
Saturday, Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN in Honolulu
The Aztecs took a step back this season, but they still had seven wins under Brady Hoke. The Blue Raiders are 3-5 in bowl games under coach Rick Stockstill. Chase Cunningham turned it on late in the season at quarterback for the Blue Raiders, and that makes the difference on Christmas Eve.
Pick: Middle Tennessee State wins 29-27 in an UPSET.
- Detroit Bowl: New Mexico State (-1.5) vs. Bowling Green
Monday, Dec. 26, 2:30 p.m., ESPN in Detroit
The Aggies flipped their season under Jerry Kill to win five of their last six games. It’s a long flight to Detroit against the Falcons, who will be close to home. Bowling Green, however, gave up 35 points or more seven times this season. New Mexico State was 2-0 when favored this season.
Pick: New Mexico State wins 32-25 and COVERS the spread.
- Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern (-4.5) vs. Buffalo
Tuesday, Dec. 27, noon, ESPN in Montgomery, Ala.
The fun wrinkle here: Georgia Southern quarterback Kyle Vantrease, who passed for 3,895 yards and 25 TDs this season, played at Buffalo for five seasons. Both teams struggled in November, but we’ll take Vantrease to lead Clay Helton to a bowl victory in Year 1.
Pick: Georgia Southern wins 35-28 and COVERS the spread.
- First Responder Bowl: Memphis (-10.5) vs. Utah State
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 3:15 p.m., ESPN in Dallas
This is one of the larger lines among the bowls, and it’s a curious line considering the Tigers were 1-3 ATS when favored by double digits. Utah State won three of its last four just to get to the postseason. Memphis wins, but Utah State sneaks in a back-door cover.
Pick: Memphis wins 31-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina (-7.5) vs. Coastal Carolina
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 6:45 p.m., ESPN in Birmingham, Ala.
In-state schools playing in bowl games always raises the temperature. The Pirates were 1-3 ATS when favored by single digits this season, but they are catching a Coastal Carolina team that will be making the transition from Jamey Chadwell. That said, quarterback Grayson McCall has a chance to go out a winner. This will be tight.
Pick: East Carolina wins 34-31 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Wisconsin (-2.5) vs. Oklahoma State
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 10:15 p.m., ESPN in Phoenix
The Badgers are favored despite the fact quarterback Graham Mertz is in the transfer portal and there is a coaching transition underway with the hire of Luke Fickell. The Badgers were 6-1 S/U in bowl games under Paul Chryst, and the Cowboys lost four of their last five games. Will Spencer Sanders play in this game?
Pick: Wisconsin wins 33-26 and COVERS the spread.
- Military Bowl presented by Peraton: UCF (-3.5) vs. Duke
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2 p.m., ESPN in Annapolis, Md.
Duke averaged 33.3 points per game under first-year coach Mike Elko, and Riley Leonard totaled 31 TDs. It’s an encouraging sign of things to come. UCF will put up points too, but the Blue Devils are 5-1 ATS as an underdog this season. We like that trend.
Pick: Duke wins 37-34 in an UPSET.
- AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Arkansas (-4.5) vs. Kansas
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m., ESPN in Memphis
The Jayhawks are back in a bowl game for the first time since 2008, and that’s a nod to the job Lance Leipold has done as Kansas. Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson announced he is returning to school next season, and that should be an emotional lift for the Razorbacks. The Jayhawks allow 193.7 rushing yards per game. Arkansas can work with that.
Pick: Arkansas wins 35-30 and COVERS the spread.
- SDCCU Holiday Bowl: No. 15 Oregon (-9.5) vs. North Carolina
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 8 p.m., FOX in San Diego
This is a fun quarterback matchup should Bo Nix follow through and play in the game rather than opt-out ahead of the NFL Draft. Nix and Drake Maye each had 42 total TDs this season. Both teams had disappointing finishes, too, but the winner will get to 10 wins. This has shoot-out written all over it. The Tar Heels will hang around, but Ducks first-year coach Dan Lanning picks up his first bowl victory with Oregon.
Pick: Oregon wins 41-33 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- TaxAct Texas Bowl: Ole Miss (-3) vs. Texas Tech
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 9 p.m., ESPN in Houston
Lane Kiffin is staying at Ole Miss, and now the question is whether they can build on that after a November slide. The Red Raiders were 4-1 ATS with three outright victories as an underdog this season. The Rebels have something to prove here, and Kiffin gets back on track heading into 2023.
Pick: Ole Miss wins 34-24 and COVERS the spread.
- Pinstripe Bowl: Minnesota (-6.5) vs. Syracuse
Thursday, Dec. 29, 2 p.m., ESPN in New York
Syracuse broke a five-game losing streak with a victory in the regular-season finale, and they are close to home for the bowl game. Will Tanner Morgan be back at quarterback for Minnesota? P.J. Fleck is 3-0 in bowl games since taking over for the Gophers, but they are 1-4 ATS this season when favored by 10 points or less.
Pick: Minnesota wins 24-20 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Cheez-It Bowl: No. 13 Florida State (-7.5) vs. Oklahoma
Thursday, Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m., ESPN in Orlando
The Sooners made a bowl game, but they have a hard team to read. Oklahoma lost three games by three points in November, and Florida State will challenge that defense with quarterback Jordan Travis, who had at least three TDs in each of the Seminoles’ last five games. Oklahoma plays up, but they fall short in the fourth quarter.
Pick: Florida State wins 34-31 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 20 Texas (-3.5) vs. No. 12 Washington
Thursday, Dec. 29, 9 p.m., ESPN in San Antonio
Michael Penix Jr. is returning next season for Washington, and he has a chance to lead the Huskies to a 11-win season under first-year coach Kalen DeBoer. It’s a virtual home game for the Longhorns, who are 4-1 all time in the Alamo Bowl. Texas is 5-3 ATS when favored by 10 points or less.
Pick: Texas wins 38-31 and COVERS the spread.
- Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Maryland (-2.5) vs. No. 23 NC State
Friday, Dec. 30, 12 p.m., ESPN in Charlotte
NC State is in a bowl game after last season’s Holiday Bowl was canceled, and Dave Doeren has done a remarkable coaching job since the Devin Leary injury. The Wolfpack beat Wake Forest and North Carolina as underdogs, and the Terps run a similar wide-open offense. Maryland also lost three of its last four games.
Pick: NC State wins 28-24 in an UPSET.
- Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: No. 18 UCLA (-3.5) vs. Pitt
Friday, Dec. 30, 2 p.m., CBS, in El Paso, Tex.
Keep an eye on the opt-out list, because this could be one of the best running back matchups of bowl season with Zach Charbonnet (1,359 yards, 14 TDs) and Israel Abanikanda (1,431 yards, 20 TDs). Pitt has lost its last two Sun Bowl appearances. Dorian Thompson-Robinson gets his first bowl victory with the Bruins.
Pick: UCLA wins 35-27 and COVERS the spread.
- TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: No. 21 Notre Dame (-4.5) vs. No. 19 South Carolina
Friday, Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m., ESPN, in Jacksonville
Drew Pyne is out, and Tyler Buchner is back at quarterback for the Irish. Notre Dame is catching a South Carolina team that caught fire at the end of the season. Quarterback Spencer Rattler plans on playing in the bowl game, and that security at the most-important position gives the Gamecocks an edge. South Carolina has covered in four of their last five games as an underdog.
Pick: South Carolina wins 34-31 in an UPSET.
- Barstool Arizona Bowl: Ohio (-2.5) vs. Wyoming
Friday, Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m., Barstool in Tucson
The Bobcats missed a chance to win the MAC championship, and the offense struggled with C.J. Harris, the backup quarterback filling in for Kurtis Rourke. Wyoming averaged just 10.3 points per game in its last three games. Ohio coach Tim Albin caps a 10-win season with a bowl victory.
Pick: Ohio wins 28-24 and COVERS the spread.
- TransPerfect Music City Bowl: Kentucky (-3.5) vs. Iowa
Saturday, Dec. 31, 12 p.m., ABC in Nashville
This is a rematch of last year’s Citrus Bowl, which the Wildcats won 20-17. Will Levis has not announced whether he will play, but it would be fun to see how he fares against a tough Iowa defense led by Jack Campbell. This feels like an almost identical game to last season, but maybe with one more field goal on each side.
Pick: Kentucky wins 23-20 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Reliaquest Bowl: No. 22 Mississippi State (-1.5) vs. Illinois
Monday, Jan. 2, 12 p.m., ESPN2 in Tampa
The Bulldogs are a tight favorite against the Illini, who are back in a bowl game under Bret Bielema. Mike Leach is 3-5 in bowl games between stints at Washington State and Mississippi State, and the Illini will be physical on both sides. Chase Brown, who had 1,643 rushing yards, caps off an impressive season in style.
Pick: Illinois wins 28-26 in an UPSET.
- Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: No. 17 LSU (-5.5) vs. Purdue
Monday, Jan. 2, 1 p.m., ABC in Orlando
The losers in the SEC and Big Ten championship games meet. Jeff Brohm is 2-1 in bowl games at Purdue, but will Aidan O’Connell have enough time to throw against a LSU pass rush that includes BJ Ojulari and Harold Perkins? Look for Jayden Daniels to close out an impressive season by leading the Tigers to a bowl win. Brian Kelly has a 10-win season in Year 1 at LSU.
Pick: LSU wins 38-29 and COVERS the spread.
New Year’s 6 predictions
- Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Clemson (-4.5)
Thursday, Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m., ESPN in Miami
The Tigers are a favorite, and this a statement game for next season considering Cade Klubnik will be making his first start. Tennessee is making its first New Year’s 6 appearance, and Joe Milton will make a handful of splash plays. This will be the closest game among the New Year’s 6, but we’re sticking with the Tigers.
Pick: Clemson wins 30-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Alabama (-5.5) vs. No. 9 Kansas State
Friday, Dec. 31, 12 p.m., ESPN in New Orleans
Nick Saban appealed to the CFP committee to no avail, and now the Crimson Tide face the Big 12 champions in the Sugar Bowl. Saban is 1-3 in the Sugar Bowl with the Crimson Tide, with notable losses to Utah and Oklahoma. Will Bryce Young, Will Anderson and other stars opt out? Even if they do, look for Alabama to close out the Wildcats in the second half.
Pick: Alabama wins 33-21 and COVERS the spread.
- Goodyear Cotton Bowl: No. 10 USC (-1) vs. No. 16 Tulane
Monday, Jan. 2, 1 p.m., ESPN in Arlington, Tex.
That’s a lot of respect for the Green Wave, which will be motivated in their first New Year’s 6 victory. This pick hinges on whether Caleb Williams (hamstring) is good to go. Assuming the Heisman Trophy front-runner plays, we think the Trojans bounce back with that high-powered offense. Lincoln Riley gets his first bowl victory with USC.
Pick: USC wins 38-28 and COVERS the spread.
- Rose Bowl Game: No. 11 Penn State (-1.5) vs. No. 8 Utah
Monday, Jan. 2, 5 p.m., ESPN in Pasadena, Calif.
This could be a pick ‘em by kickoff. The Nittany Lions are 2-1 in New Year’s 6 games under James Franklin and cap an 11–win season. Running back Tavion Thomas is a key bowl opt out for the Utes. Utah, however, uses the experience from last year’s Rose Bowl loss to pull out a victory in the fourth quarter with quarterback Cam Rising.
Pick: Utah wins 31-28 in an UPSET.
College Football Playoff predictions
- Vrbo Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Michigan (-8.5) vs. No. 3 TCU
Saturday, Dec. 31, 4 p.m., ESPN in Glendale, Ariz.
This is a huge line, and the Horned Frogs won outright as underdogs against Oklahoma and Texas this season. TCU allowed an average of 218.5 yards rushing to Baylor and then against Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. Michigan has a better rushing attack then both. Max Duggan will keep the Horned Frogs in this game, but J.J. McCarthy will also have success in the air. We’re betting that the Wolverines – who have a +206 point differential after halftime. Jim Harbaugh gets his national championship shot with the Wolverines.
Pick: Michigan wins 34-23 and COVERS the spread.
- Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 1 Georgia (-6.5) vs. No. 4 Ohio State
Saturday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m., ESPN in Atlanta
The Buckeyes are in a rare underdog role, and that makes them a dangerous team against the Bulldogs. Georgia is 4-0 ATS when favored by 20 points or less, and they are going to hit the Buckeyes with a rushing attack that averaged 207 yards per game. Quarterback Stetson Bennett also hasn’t been sacked in his last six games. C.J. Stroud, however, will have success on the perimeter with Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. The Buckeyes will push the Bulldogs to the limit, but Georgia comes with the stop in crunch time.
Pick: Georgia wins 33-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.