There will be seven bowl games Friday and Saturday before we can turn our attention to Saturday’s juicy playoff semifinals, The first one bowl game is Temple going up against North Carolina down in Maryland.
Penn State will plays Memphis at noon Saturday in the Cotton Bowl, which will lead college football fans directly into the opening semifinal when Oklahoma plays LSU at 4 p.m., followed by Clemson-Ohio State at 8.
Here are our staff picks for the remainder of the bowl games. We’ll pick the championship on the day of the game, Monday, Jan. 13.
Last week’s and year-to-date standings are at the bottom.
North Carolina (-5) Temple (53.5), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
Carolina quarterback Sam Howell threw 35 touchdown passes. He’s had at least three in six of the last seven games.
Records against the spread: North Carolina 6-5-1, Temple 8-4.
» READ MORE: Temple will have its hands full with Tar Heels
Michigan St. (-4.5) Wake Forest (48.5), 3:20 p.m. (ESPN)
Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes was named the winner of the 2019 Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation’s top player who started his career as a walk-on. Willekes, who is an NFL prospect, broke his leg in Sparty’s bowl game last year and considered sitting out the Pinstripe.
“A lot of people actually told me I shouldn’t play in it, but I want to play in it," the senior said. "I want to play one last game with my teammates.”
Records ATS: Michigan St. 3-9, Wake Forest 5-6-1.
» READ MORE: Penn State, Temple bowl coverage
Texas A&M (-7) Oklahoma St. (53.5), 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Texas A&M is 7-5. All five losses are to teams currently ranked in the CFP top 15: LSU (1st), Clemson (3rd), Georgia (5th), Auburn (12th) and Alabama (13th).
Records ATS: Texas A&M 6-5-1, Oklahoma St. 6-3-3.
Iowa (-1.5) USC (51.5), 8 p.m. (FS1)
USC’s terrific freshman quarterback, Kedon Slovis, faces an Iowa defense ranked fifth in the country in points allowed.
Records ATS: Iowa 5-7, USC 6-5-1.
Air Force (-2.5) Washington St. (67.5), 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Two vastly different offenses here. Air Force is third in the nation in rushing. Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon has thrown 45 touchdown passes. Only Heisman winner Joe Burrow (48) has had more.
Records ATS: Air Force 7-5, Washington St. 4-8.
LSU (-13) Oklahoma (76.5), 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Some trivia. The last three Heisman winners to go on and win the national championship that year: Derrick Henry (2015 Heisman winner), Jameis Winston (2013), Cam Newton (2010).
Records ATS: LSU 8-4-1, Oklahoma 5-8.
Clemson (-2) Ohio St. (63.5), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Clemson has won 26 in a row, but really didn’t play anybody this year. Certainly no one of this caliber. The fewest points the Tigers were favored by this season was 16 against Texas A&M. They won by 14.
Records ATS: Clemson 10-3, Ohio St. 9-4.
Notre Dame (-3.5) Iowa St. (55), 12 p.m. (ABC)
Hard to believe, considering the geography, that these teams have never played before. Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (27) is ninth in the country in TD passes. Notre Dame’s Ian Book (33) is sixth.
Records ATS: Notre Dame 8-4, Iowa St. 6-6.
Penn St. (-6.5) Memphis (60.5), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
Looking forward to Penn State’s defense against Memphis’ running game. Tigers running back Kenny Gainwell is ninth in the country with 1,425 rushing yards.
Records ATS: Penn St. 6-6, Memphis 8-5.
» READ MORE: Nits LB Micah Parsons keeps wracking up the hardware
W. Kentucky (-3.5) W. Michigan (51.5), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Biggest win of Western Kentucky’s season was at Arkansas on Nov. 9. Quarterback Ty Storey passed for one touchdown and ran for two others to become just the third known grad-transfer player to beat his original school, according to WKU’s communications department. Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. in 2015 (former school Eastern Washington) and Oklahoma State cornerback Tyler Patmon in 2011 (previously with Kansas) were the first two. Hard to believe that’s the extent of this list.
Records ATS: W. Kentucky 8-4, W. Michigan 5-6-1.
Mississippi St. (-4) Louisville (63.5), 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Mississippi State had to win three of its last four to get to 6-6 and become eligible. The sixth victory came over rival Mississippi in a game in which receiver Elijah Moore drew a 15-yard penalty for impersonating a dog urinating.
Records ATS: Mississippi St. 5-7, Louisville 7-5.
California (-7) Illinois (42.5), 4 p.m. (Fox)
First time in his four years that Lovie Smith has the Illini bowl eligible.
Records ATS: California 6-6, lllinois 8-4.
Florida (-14) Virginia (54.5), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
The Gators’ only losses were to LSU and Georgia. They’re laying 14 and should expect the crowd to be mostly on their side. Virginia is 1-8 at Hard Rock Stadium, including 0-3 in bowl games.
Records ATS: Florida 6-3-2, Virginia 6-6-1.
Virginia Tech (-3) Kentucky (47), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
Virginia Tech is on a run of 27 consecutive seasons with a bowl berth, longest streak in the nation.
Records ATS: Virginia Tech 6-5, Kentucky 9-3.
Arizona St. (-4.5) Florida St. (55.5), 2 p.m. (CBS)
Herm Edwards’ crew went 7-5 with three wins over AP Top 25 teams. FSU’s run of 36 years with a bowl ended last year and opened the door for VTech to take that baton.
Records ATS: Arizona St. 4-7-1, Florida St. 4-7-1.
Navy (-2.5) Kansas St. (52.5), 3:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman, who was Carson Wentz’s coach at North Dakota State, improved the Wildcats from 5-7 to 8-4 in his first season in Manhattan, Kan.
Records ATS: Navy 9-3, Kansas St. 9-3.
Wyoming (-7) Georgia St. (48.5), 4:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Georgia State was 2-10 last year. A win here would make the team 8-5 and set a school record for victories since it moved to FBS in 2013.
Records ATS: Wyoming 7-5, Georgia St. 6-4-2.
Utah (-7) Texas (54.5), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The Utes were exposed in the Pac-12 title game when they were hammered by Oregon, 37-15.
Records ATS: Utah 9-4, Texas 6-6.
Alabama (-7) Michigan (58.5), 1 p.m. (ABC)
Michigan has lost three bowl games in a row.
Records ATS: Alabama 6-6, Michigan 7-5.
Auburn (-7.5) Minnesota (52.5), 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Would have been neat to see Minnesota in a better bowl after starting the season 9-0, but it stumbled with November losses to Iowa and Wisconsin.
Records ATS: Auburn 9-3, Minnesota 6-4-2.
Wisconsin (-2.5) Oregon (51.5), 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Wisconsin junior Jonathan Taylor (Salem High School) needs 166 rushing yards to pass Charles White for fifth all-time. He trails leader and former Badger Ron Dayne by 1,045. He’ll get that record next season unless he goes to the NFL, which is a possible since he is projected to be selected in the first round.
Records ATS: Wisconsin 8-5, Oregon 7-6.
Georgia (-7) Baylor (41.5), 8:45 p.m. (ESPN)
D’Andre Swift (St. Joseph’s Prep) has 33 yards on 16 carries in three career bowl games, including the championship-game loss to Alabama after the 2017 season.
Records ATS: Georgia 7-6, Baylor 9-4.
Cincinnati (-7) Boston College (55.5), 3 p.m. (ESPN)
BC whacked coach Steve Addazio after the regular season and hired Ohio State secondary coach Jeff Hafley.
Records ATS: Cincinnati 8-5, Boston College 7-5.
Tennessee (-1.5) Indiana (50.5), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Indiana (8-4) is looking for its first 9-win season in 52 years. Hoosiers wide receiver Whop Philyor had double-digit catches three times this season, a school record. He got his unique nickname as a kid because of his affinity for Burger King’s signature sandwich.
Records ATS: Tennessee 7-5, Indiana 7-5.
Ohio U. (-7) Nevada (58.5), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
If it comes down to a field goal, please note that Nevada freshman Brandon Talton beat Purdue with a 56-yard field goal at the buzzer in his first college game.
Record ATS: Ohio 4-8, Nevada 5-6-1.
Tulane (-7) Southern Miss. (56.5), 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
These schools are less than two hours apart but haven’t played in nine years. Tulane comes in having lost three in a row, USM has dropped its last two.
Records ATS: Tulane 8-4, Southern Miss. 6-6.
UL-Lafayette (-14) Miami-Ohio (56.5), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Guard Kevin Dotson, a redshirt senior, is the first player in Lafayette history to be named first-team All America by the Associated Press.
Records ATS: UL-Lafayette 9-4, Miami-Ohio 7-6.