Outback Bowl Preview

Auburn and Wisconsin play in the first New Year’s Day game. Auburn didn’t meet their season expectations and finished their brutal schedule with a 8-4 record. Wisconsin won the weak Big Ten West, and were embarrassed by Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Auburn may have not met their season goals but I still think there will be motivation and effort from the Tigers. Winning this game would get the program back on the right path after losing three games in November. Former Florida head coach Will Muschamp has already been named the defensive coordinator for 2015. There will be a lot of preseason hype about Auburn and I think they will use this bowl as a way to get momentum before the spring. Auburn still has a quick strike offense and they probably enjoyed watching Wisconsin’s defense on film against Ohio State.

Since the nightmare against Ohio State, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen shockingly left for Oregon State. Former coach and current Athletic Director Barry Alvarez will be on the sideline just like he was for the 2013 Rose Bowl. The focus might not be there for the Badgers after Andersen departed out of nowhere. Auburn has a very weak passing defense but Wisconsin’s pass offense might be even worse. If the Badgers can’t get running back Melvin Gordon going, then Auburn should contain the Wisconsin offense and score plenty of points of their own.

Pick: Auburn (-6.5) over Wisconsin

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Fiesta Bowl Preview

Boise State gets the opportunity to play in a big name bowl game after being the highest ranked team from outside the power five conferences.  The Broncos play the Arizona Wildcats who won the Pac-12 South.

The handicap for this game is similar to the Utah-Colorado State bowl game. Arizona is the Pac-12 team who played very tough schedule and have impressive wins at Oregon, at Utah and against Arizona State. Boise State played in the Mountain West, a conference struggling this bowl season. The Broncos opened the season with a loss to Ole Miss and also lost at Air Force in conference play before ending the season on a eight-game win streak.

This line has dropped since it opened, which makes me like Arizona even more. Some would argue that they ended their season in disappointment by losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. However, there was no shame in losing that game and Arizona will still be motivated to finish the season strong close to home.

Pick: Arizona (-3) over Boise State

Belk Bowl Preview

The storyline of the Belk Bowl between Georgia and Louisville is Cardinal Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham, who held the same role at Georgia from 2010-13. Grantham joined Bobby Petrino’s staff at Louisville and he has improved the Cardinal defense.

The Grantham factor might be the only motivation that Georgia has in this game. The Bulldogs had a golden chance to win the SEC East this season but lost to South Carolina and Florida. They had aspirations of playing in the SEC Championship Game, and that goal wasn’t met.

Louisville finished 9-3 in Petrino’s first season. They aren’t as talented as Georgia but there is motivation here to beat a SEC team. Petrino is familiar with the SEC from his days in Arkansas so he will make sure his team is ready to play in Charlotte.

Pick: Louisville (+7) over Georgia