Friday, December 28 presents another three-pack of college football bowl games as ESPN broadcasts back-to-back-to back coverage of the Music City, Camping World and Alamo Bowls.
The Music City Bowl (1:30 p.m. ET) is the first-ever meeting of No. 54 Purdue (6-6) and No. 36 Auburn (7-5) in a Big Ten-SEC tussle. Nashville, the site of the Music City Bowl, is virtually equidistant to the two schools (350 miles to Purdue, 300 to Auburn). The Tigers vastly underachieved in 2018 as they had the talent and the schedule to be projected by the Congrove Computer Rankings at collegefootballpoll.com to go 10-2. Purdue, despite an upset win over Ohio State, was a mild underachiever as the Boilermakers were projected to go 7-5. In fact, Purdue wound up needing that upset of the Buckeyes to make bowl eligibility. Auburn is going bowling for the sixth straight season, but has lost 4 of its last 5. Purdue is in its second straight bowl game under Jeff Brohm after missing the bowl season for four consecutive years before his arrival. The Boilermakers have won 3 of their last 4 bowl games but the beginning of those 4 appearances date back to 2007. Auburn ranks 13th on the list of schools with the most bowl wins as the Tigers are 23-17 -2. Purdue is 10-8. The computer favors the Tigers by 2.68 by the computer which gave that pick only confidence points.
Next up is the Camping World Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET) in Orlando between No. 22 Syracuse (9-3) and No. 15 West Virginia (8-3). The former Big East rivals have met 60 times with Syracuse holding a 33-27 advantage and a 3-game winning streak in the series. They played annually in the regular season without fail from 1955-2011 and wound up as opposing forces in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2012. This year's meeting, unfortunately, will not be the Greer vs. Dungey quarterback duel we were hoping for as West Virginia QB Will Grier will sit out to protect his health for the 2019 NFL draft. OT Yodny Cajuste will also sit out. Redshirt sophomore Jack Allison gets the start and the drop-off in experience is dramatic. Greer has thrown 946 collegiate passes for 8,558 yards and 81 touchdowns. Allison's career stats are 6-of-10 for 75 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Thus, common sense might say you go with Syracuse which will have four-year starter Eric Dungey behind center. Dungey has thrown for 9,037 yards and 57 TD's and has also rushed for 1,971 yards and 35 scores. When the game 'opened' on the major sportsbooks, West Virginia was favored by 7, but that line had steadily dropped after the news of Greer's absence and was siting between 1 and 2 points on December 16. The computer, which doesn't take individual injuries or player absences into account, favors the Mountaineers by 5.61 points.
Camping World Bowl facts: This game has operated under a host of different names since its beginnings in as the Blockbuster Bowl (1990-1993) when it was played in Miami. It stayed in Miami as the CarQuest Bowl (1994-1997), the MicronPC Bowl (1998), and the MicronPC.com Bowl (1999-2000). In 2001, it relocated to Orlando as the Tangerine Bowl until 2003 when it became the Champs Sports Bowl (2004-2011) and then the Russell Athletic Bowl (2012-2016). It's lasted 28 consecutive seasons despite the multitude of names and two different locations. The original Tangerine Bowl is now the Citrus Bowl and continues to be played in Orlando.
The Alamo Bowl (9 p.m. ET) serves as the nightcap on the 28th. Routinely one of the best-attended bowl games, this year's edition of this San Antonio classic pits No. 32 Iowa State (8-4) against No. 9 Washington State (10-2) in the Alamodome. It's the first-ever meeting between these two programs. Washington State QB Gardner Minshew II leads the nation in passing yards per game with a 373.1-yard average. Neither team runs well as Iowa State had 1,491 yards on the ground, but the Cougars enter this contest with less than 1,000 yards rushing (895) as a team. Iowa State is only 104th nationally in total offense with fewer total yards (4,308) than Washington State has passing yards (4,557). Defensively, Washington ranks 30th and Iowa State ranks 34th. This is the fourth straight bowl game for Wazzu which is 7-7 in its bowl history. Cougar head coach Mike Leach is 6-7 overall in bowl games, including a 5-4 mark with Texas Tech. The Cyclones have now made the postseason in Matt Campbell's last two seasons as head coach after going 3-9 in his inaugural campaign. Last year, Iowa State earned just its fourth bowl victory in history (4-9) with a 21-20 win over Memphis on the Tigers' home turf in the Liberty Bowl. The Cougars are a 4.74-point computer favorite.