The Columbus Dispatch

Bowl picks: OSU wins, Alabama takes it all

- Rob Oller Columnist Columbus Dispatch USA TODAY NETWORK

At long last, the annual “Incredibly Clever Except When It’s Not” bowl prediction­s have arrived. Later than usual, yes, but that’s only because it was necessary to take precaution­ary measures when another December got dropkicked by COVID-19.

Prediction­s were socially distanced from the earlier bowls to reduce risk of spreading excessive snark to the rest of the lineup. It is possible some of the

remaining bowls will join the three already canceled, but for now the main events — the playoff semifinals and New Year’s Day games — are full go.

BIRMINGHAM: Houston vs. Auburn. Is it possible for an entire team to enter the transfer portal? Because after four consecutiv­e losses to end the regular season Auburn fans are looking to trade up. Houston, 36-28.

FIRST RESPONDER: Air Force vs. Louisville. The Falcons’ triple-option offense confuses the Cardinals, who thought the only two options were to defend the run and pass. Air Force, 28-24.

LIBERTY: Mississipp­i State vs. Texas Tech. Otherwise known as Shootout at the Mike Leach Corral. The Bulldogs rank third in FBS in passing yardage (386 per game). MSU, 56-52.

HOLIDAY: UCLA vs. N.C. State. Does Chip Kelly still want to be with the Bruins? Do the Bruins still want him? Kelly has not forgotten how to coach, but his memory is a bit foggy about how to win. N.C. State, 38-35.

GUARANTEED RATE: West Virginia vs. Minnesota. Mountainee­rs fans are not impressed by any opponent from “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” They point out, “That’s nothing, we have that many bathtubs in Morgantown alone.” Minnesota, 27-26.

PINSTRIPE: Maryland vs. Virginia Tech. The Hokies recently fired coach Justin Fuente. A rudderless ship drifts. Maryland, 34-28.

CHEEZ-IT: Clemson vs. Iowa State. Bad things happen in threes. 1. Dabo Swinney lost his defensive coordinato­r to Oklahoma; 2. Lost his offensive coordinato­r to Virginia; 3. Loses the square cracker bowl to the Cyclones. Iowa State, 24-20.

ALAMO: Oregon vs. Oklahoma. It’s one thing to “Remember the Alamo,” quite another to remember who is coaching the Ducks and Sooners. Oregon, 3731.

DUKE’S MAYO: North Carolina vs. South Carolina. The football is average, both teams are 6-6, but lots of great golf courses in both states. North Carolina, 28-21.

MUSIC CITY: Tennessee vs. Purdue. The Boilermake­rs going without their two best players, wide receiver David Bell and edge rusher George Karlaftis opted out, is like Monty Python’s Black Knight claiming it’s only a scratch. Tennessee, 41-30.

PEACH: Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh. Tailback Kenneth Walker III is not playing for the Spartans. Quarterbac­k Kenny Pickett is not playing for the Panthers. In other words, no need to watch. MSU, 28-24.

LAS VEGAS: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State. With thousands of Cheesehead­s descending on Vegas casinos, there will be more action at the slot machines than on the field. Wisconsin, 24-17.

GATOR: Wake Forest vs. Rutgers. The 5-7 Scarlet Knights have already won, backhanded as it may be, by getting into the game when Texas A&M’S roster was hit hard by COVID-19. Wake Forest, 4224.

SUN: Washington State vs. TBD. Unless TBD stands for Terribly Bad Defense, we like TBD to win. TBD, 38-34.

ARIZONA: Central Michigan vs. Boise State. Modern-day analytics: We’ve been to Boise. Loved it. Never been to Mount Pleasant. Thus, Boise, 43-34.

COTTON (playoff semifinal): Cincinnati vs. Alabama. We really want to pick the Bearcats. But we really can’t. Alabama, 35-17.

ORANGE (playoff semifinal): Georgia vs. Michigan. Was UM a one-hit wonder against Ohio State? Maybe. But we’re still not sure who Georgia beat to deserve a playoff spot. Michigan, 27-24.

OUTBACK: Penn State vs. Arkansas. The Nittany Lions have three losses against teams that made the New Year’s

Day Six, which in Happy Valley gets you a contract extension. Arkansas, 28-27.

CITRUS: Iowa vs. Kentucky. On a Big Ten video marketing its coaches, Kirk Ferentz could not name his favorite Christmas movie. We can’t pick Mr. Potter to win. Kentucky, 21-17.

FIESTA: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy bugs us. There, we said it. Notre Dame, 42-38.

ROSE: Ohio State vs. Utah. The Buckeyes will have had five weeks of sparring to learn how to bring more force to their finesse. How do they respond when the Utes come out punching? Ohio State, 36-27.

SUGAR: Mississipp­i vs. Baylor. Lane Kiffin has failed up so many times it’s hard to credit him for the Runnin’ Rebels’ success. But he did lead Ole Miss to 10 regular-season wins for the first time in school history. Ole Miss, 48-38.

TEXAS: LSU vs. Kansas State. Here’s hoping this is the last bowl the Tigers win for a while. #Notabriank­ellyfan LSU, 36-21.

CFP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSH­IP: Alabama vs. Michigan. Back-to-back Big Ten black eyes. The Crimson Tide dusted off Ohio State in last year’s title game. Now it’s the Wolverines’ turn to get pummeled. Alabama, 42-17. @rollercd

 ?? USA TODAY NETWORK ?? Alabama, under coach Nick Saban, will face Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, with the winner reaching the national title game.
USA TODAY NETWORK Alabama, under coach Nick Saban, will face Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, with the winner reaching the national title game.
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