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Welcome folks. We here at Message Board Geniuses hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or any other holiday you may celebrate. It’s almost the New Year and that means we have some outstanding Bowls on deck. No offense to Lending Tree Bowl or Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl, but these are the games and matchups that should provide for some top notch viewing.

To everyone reading this, let me be the first to wish you a happy and prosperous 2023. And with that, let’s preview the New Years Six!

ORANGE BOWL – Tennessee v Clemson (Fri 12/30, 7pm EST, ESPN)

First on the docket we have the most appropriately named matchup of the Bowl season. In a fun coincidence (or completely intentional matchmaking) we get the “Tennessee Orange” wearing Volunteers going up against the “Tiger Orange” wearing Clemson squad in the Orange Bowl. That’s Pantone PMS 151 versus Pantone PMS 3564 C for all eight of you that were curious.

Tennessee arrives in Miami at 10-2, just missing out on an SEC Championship berth. The number six team in the nation had losses to Georgia and South Carolina this year. The biggest loss though was Hendon Hooker suffering an ACL tear against the Gamecocks. 

Joe Milton, former UCF quarterback will take the reins for the bowl game.

The vibes from Knoxville aren’t filled with a ton of optimism.

Don’t let pessimism fool you, however. Most of the predictions still swing towards a win.

Clemson also comes into this one with two losses, but the ACC Champions won 11 games this year and have a lot of confidence now that Cade Klubnik has taken over.

If only Dabo had made the switch earlier, the Tigers might be in playoff contention.

Still, the Clemson fans feel confident about pulling off the win against Tennessee.

The line for this game is Clemson -6.5.

SUGAR BOWL – Alabama v Kansas State (Sat 12/31, 11AM EST, ESPN)

Much like the city of New Orleans itself, this bowl game is getting overlooked. And much like the Big Easy, this matchup between Kansas State and Alabama should provide plenty of excitement in a wonderfully relaxed environment.

Kansas State enters the contest as Big 12 Champions after a brilliant win over TCU. Deuce Vaughn and Will Howard lead a potent Wildcats offense.

There is some reservation from the Manhattan crowd that Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will be too much to handle.

On the other hand, perhaps Bama is overlooking the scrappy Kansas State team.

Final predictions seem split down the middle.

Alabama arrives in NOLA at 10-2 and just one spot out of the playoffs. Bryce Young was a Heisman candidate for most of the year and will look to attack a Kansas State defense that allowed 350 yards a game. The initial reaction from the Bama crowd for this game was decidedly unimpressed.

Luckily for Alabama fans, star player and future top five draft pick Will Anderson will be playing in the bowl game along with Bryce Young. 

Anderson will be needed to contain Deuce Vaughn

There’s some hesitancy from the Tide crowd in this one but mostly those down in Tuscaloosa think they’ll pull out the win.

Alabama is the favorite here with Kansas State getting 6.5 points.

FIESTA BOWL – Michigan v TCU (Sat 12/31, 3PM EST, ESPN)

The first of our Playoff matchups sees the undefeated Wolverines take on the 12-1 Horned Frogs. 

Some fun animal facts for y’all:

The Horned Frog is not actually a frog but rather a lizard, and the Texas Horned Lizard is one of a dozen or so horned lizard species native to America. It’s a docile creature but can move quickly when being attacked and is unique for its ability to squirt blood out of its eyes as a defense mechanism. Wolverines on the other hand are the largest land-dwelling member of the Mustiladae family which includes ferrets, badgers, otters, and weasels. Wolverines are known for their ferocious temper and disproportional strength.

While this would naturally lead into a segue about how TCU is a scrappy yet resilient underdog against a physical and intimidating Michigan team, mostly I just like watching nature documentaries.

TCU had dreams of an undefeated season and a Big 12 Championship but they’ll have to settle for the playoffs and dreams of a national title. Max Duggan is the heart and soul of this squad and will be ready to lead his team on Saturday. On the other side, TCU fans are showing some respect to JJ McCarthy.

Still, the Horned Frogs have pulled out all sorts of weird wins this year.

TCU fans are leaning big into the scrappy underdog narrative and they’re confident Michigan doesn’t know what’s coming.

Michigan won the Big 10 Championship for the second year in a row leaning heavily on the running back duo of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. Corum is unfortunately out for this and any future game, but Edwards is back and ready to go.

TCU has stated they want to sell out and stop the run, forcing JJ McCarthy to beat them. That’s just fine with these Wolverine fans.

Predictions from up in Ann Arbor are about what you’d expect.

Michigan is a 7.5 point favorite here.

PEACH BOWL – Ohio State v Georgia (Sat 12/31, 7PM EST, ESPN)

The other Playoff matchup also sees a one loss team against an undefeated conference championship, this time Ohio State and Georgia. No animal or nut facts here unfortunately, but what I can tell you is for two historical programs, Georgia and Ohio State have only played once before. The 1993 Citrus Bowl saw Will Muschamp and the Bulldogs get the better of Kirk Herbstreit’s Buckeyes squad.

Ohio State has a record of 11-1, losing big at home to the Wolverines earlier in the year. CJ Stroud had a big year and he’ll look to lean on Miyan Williams and Marvin Harrison Jr. in the game against the Bulldogs.

And while we had our fun with the Fire Ryan Day crowd, this game does seem to be worrying some of the Buckeye faithful.

Predictions are mostly doom and gloom on the boards.

Meanwhile, Georgia won the National Championship last year, and has looked every bit the part of a number one overall seed most of 2022. They’ve dominated their way to a 13-0 season this time winning the SEC Championship. Dawg fans are looking to repeat on the National stage this year.

They’ll first have to deal with Ohio State but as long as Kirby Smart is leading the squad, there’s no fear on the Georgia sideline.

Ohio State is almost a touchdown underdog in this contest at +6.5.

COTTON BOWL – Tulane v USC (Mon 1/2, 12PM EST, ESPN)

Football in January in Dallas is usually filled with heartbreak and disappointment, just ask any Cowboys fan (sorry, Dad). USC might have a little bit of disappointment after coming so close to a playoff berth in Lincoln Riley’s first year, but Tulane certainly has none. 

The Cotton Bowl should be a great matchup but I’ll gently remind you here that G5 teams are 3-5 in New Years Six games having lost the last four tries.

Tulane enters the Cotton Bowl at 11-2 and winners of the American League. They’re led by running back Tyjae Spears who had seven straight 100-yard rushing games to end the season, including 199 against UCF in the conference championship. 

Michael Pratt and the passing game should also play well, but the biggest question will be what Tulane’s secondary can do to keep Caleb Williams in check.

Tulane fans like their role as the underdog, but fan predictions are divided on pulling off the upset.

USC just missed out on a playoff chance with a second loss to Utah, this one in the Pac-12 Championship Game. A lot of the blame there is going on DC Alex Grinch.

With Jordan Addison among several Trojans out, this one is all on Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams. That suits the Trojan fans just fine.

USC boards are mostly overlooking the Green Wave, let’s hope the USC players aren’t.

Besides, even if they lose, there’s always next year.

USC is just a slight favorite in this one, -2.

ROSE BOWL – Penn State v Utah (Mon 1/2, 4PM EST, ESPN)

The Grandaddy of Them All. The Rose Bowl is always a fun time and Pasadena in the New Year is about as iconic as it gets in college football. The Rose Bowl powers finally acquiesced to the playoff committee so with expansion on the horizon, this will be one of, if not the last “traditional” Rose Bowl matchup we’ll see.

Penn State had the quietest 10-2 season I think I’ve ever seen. They lost to Michigan and Ohio State, understandably, and with those two teams taking playoff spots the Nittany Lions find themselves in Pasadena.

Penn State has a reasonably strong offense under OC Mike Yurcich and QB Sean Clifford, but it’s Joey Porter Jr. and the defense line that really shines.

The State College crowd like their chances against the Utes.

Simple math.

Utah won the Pac-12 Championship over the Trojans a few weeks ago and they’ll look to end a 10-3 season with a Rose Bowl trophy. Utes are happy to let people overlook their squad.

They’re led by Cam Rising and Ja’Quinden Jackson on offense, two dynamic players capable of putting up big numbers.

The Beehive State is buzzing for this one and fans are feeling good about pulling out the win.

Utah is 2.5 point favorite.

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