After a few grueling months of conference play, a select number of teams will seek to win their final game of the year.
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No. 11 Washington vs. No. 9 Penn State
When Washington loses, it loses close. When it wins, it smokes foes – the Huskies just beat Washington State by 27 and pasted Oregon State, California and Oregon by 30-plus points. Penn State is better than those teams — but it feels like the Huskies are better than their record indicates. And at 10-2, their record is pretty darn good.
Prediction: Washington 40, Penn State 31
No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami
These teams followed similar trajectories this season, but it’s hard to look much worse than Miami did in its final two games against Pittsburgh and Clemson. The Hurricanes got manhandled by the Tigers in the ACC title game, and the Badgers are similarly stout up the middle.
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Prediction: Wisconsin 30, Miami 17
Michigan vs. South Carolina
Michigan’s quarterback situation is in flux, but the defense is so strong. The Wolverines allow just 18.2 points per game. South Carolina had a nice bounce back year, but Michigan will have the best unit on the field.
Prediction: Michigan 24, South Carolina 16
No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF
One of the most intriguing matchups on the bowl schedule — but it’s tough to pick against Auburn, whose peak level is as high as anyone in the country. The Tigers proved it against Georgia (in the first matchup) and Alabama. With UCF going through a coaching change, the stable Tigers should have an edge.
Prediction: Auburn 28, UCF 27
No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU
Notre Dame just lost its touch near the end of the season. A great rushing attack turned into a solid rushing attack, and a solid passing game turned into a below-average passing game. The LSU defense is legitimate and the 9-3 Tigers won their last three games. None were competitive.
Prediction: LSU 26, Notre Dame 22
Rose Bowl Game
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia
Mayfield hasn’t faced a defense as good as Georgia’s — including Ohio State. Georgia hasn’t faced a quarterback as good as Mayfield. This is a true toss-up, but if you believe great offense beats great defense, you have to roll with the Sooners.
Prediction: Oklahoma 39, Georgia 30
No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama
We think Alabama is great. We know Clemson is great. Why is that the case? Strength of schedule. The Tigers have just been roasting teams lately, as Miami and South Carolina know – while the Crimson Tide barely survived Mississippi State and got outplayed by Auburn. This Alabama defense looks to be a notch below previous Nick Saban-led units.
Prediction: Clemson 27, Alabama 20