Jeff Dantzler’s 2019 Bowl Bonanza Bonus Blitz

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Jeff Dantzler’s 2019 Bowl Bonanza Bonus Blitz

Jeff Dantzler
Jeff Dantzler

Las Vegas Bowl (Vegas)

December 21, 7:30 P.M. ABC

Boise State vs. Washington

One of the most entertaining non-major bowls – and not just because of the location of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada – because these are two excellent programs who play an exciting brand of football. The big story here, Chris Petersen stepped down as the Huskies coach. The gut here is he’ll recharge the batteries and then get back in the business. The other big story is that Bryan Harsin is still in Boise. There will be some interest for Georgia fans here with Jacob Eason at quarterback. Petersen and the Husky faithful were disappointed with the 7-5 finish, but a win over the Broncos would be a nice cherry on top of the season. As for Boise State, a win in Vegas over one of the PAC-12 Blue, err Purple, Bloods, would mean a 13-1 record on top of yet another Mountain West championship.

Texas Bowl (Houston)

December 27, 6:45 P.M. ESPN

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State

It would be hard to argue that any team in the country played a tougher schedule than Texas A&M. The Aggies’ second game was at Clemson. Their last two games were at Georgia and LSU. In between were College Station dates with Alabama and Auburn. Texas A&M went 0-5 in those games, but won all the rest, including a sweep of the Mississippi schools, which is a huge step forward for A&M. This one means something for Jimbo Fisher and the Aggie faithful. Plus it’s an old Big XII foe and the game is in Houston. There will be a lot of local interest in this one. As for the Cowboys, they check-in at 8-4. Mike Gundy’s ‘Pokes had a four-game winning streak in between convincing 18-point losses to Baylor and Oklahoma, the two combatants in the Big XII Championship Game.

Cotton Bowl (Arlington)

December 28, NOON ESPN

Penn State vs. Memphis

The Nittany Lions wanted more but check into Dallas with a 10-2 record. Minnesota got them in Minneapolis, and like the rest of the Big Ten, the chase of Ohio State is formidable. Though most of the decisions have been close, the Buckeyes flat out have Penn State’s number. James Franklin has returned Penn State, forever tarnished by the most horrid and heinous of crimes and scandals, to one of the country’s better programs. Memphis meanwhile prevailed and won the American championship. This league is really good at the top this season, and it’s the Tigers who get the “Group of Six” berth in a major bowl. Appalachian State, with its wins over North and South Carolina, wanted the slot. Memphis has lost its coach Mike Norvell to Florida State.





Playoff Semi-Final

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl (Atlanta)

December 28, 4 P.M. ESPN

LSU vs. Oklahoma

It has been a dream season for LSU. The Tigers are a perfect 13-0 with some kind of impressive hit list, including Texas, Auburn, Florida, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Georgia. With Joe Burrow at quarterback, the Bayou Bengals have shattered the record book. In a year where transfer quarterbacks have flourished, this former Buckeye, in his second season in Baton Rouge, has become a full-on Fightin’ Tiger legend. Jeaux Burreaux. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has had his moments in this Mercedes Benz Stadium. Following a loss at Kansas State, the Sooners survived a series of upset scares and survived. Oklahoma came back from a 28-3 deficit to win at Baylor and then edged the Bears 30-23 in overtime in the Big XII Championship Game. The winner plays for the big enchilada.

Playoff Semi-Final

Fiesta Bowl (Glendale)

December 28, 8 P.M. ESPN

Ohio State vs. Clemson

There are three teams that clearly separated themselves this season. LSU and these two. The Buckeyes avoided an annual upset in the Big Ten and thrashed through the conference, highlighted by impressive wins over Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan, and the Badgers again in the Big Ten Championship Game. As explosive as the Ohio State offense is, this is one of the Big Ten’s best defenses in a long time. Chase Young is an exceptional defensive end and a sure-fire top-five pick in this coming spring’s NFL Draft. As for the Tigers, the defending champions are the complete package. Following the near-miss 21-20 win at North Carolina, Clemson has destroyed the opposition – blasting their last eight opponents by 31, 35, 52, 45, 45, 49, 35 and 45. The last of those was a 62-17 pounding of Virginia in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson has had the Buckeyes number in the playoffs.

Music City Bowl (Nashville)

December 30, 4 P.M. ESPN

Mississippi State vs. Louisville

A memorable and thrilling 21-20 win over Ole Miss got Mississippi State to 6-6 and bowl eligible. The expectations were higher, but with three first-round picks in the NFL Draft and the most difficult division in college football, getting to 6-6 and going 3-5 in the SEC is not all bad. Joe Moorehead certainly started feeling some of the heat and pressure that hits every coach in the league. Louisville meanwhile had a nice bounce-back season following last year’s 2-10 disaster in Bobby Petrino’s swan song. Scott Satterfield not only got the Cardinals back to respectability this year but to this bowl, a winning 7-5 record and 5-3 ACC mark, good for second behind Clemson in the league’s Atlantic Division. This is one of those bowls where both should have interest – especially the Cardinals.





Orange Bowl (Miami)

December 30, 8 P.M. ESPN

Florida vs. Virginia

In his second season at the helm in Gainesville, Dan Mullen guided the Gators to a 10-2 regular season on the heels of last year’s 10-3 record. Florida’s only losses were to LSU and Georgia, and the Gators went undefeated at home, including their first win over Florida State at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since 2009. Virginia is the seventh different winner of the ACC Coastal Division in the last seven seasons. That’s a record that will not be broken. Cavaliers quarterback Bryce Perkins – he’s a senior Bulldog fan – is an outstanding dual-threat. Florida had its season turned when Kyle Trask took over behind center for an injured Felipe Franks. The Gators will be juiced for this one. Florida’s defensive line, especially at end, is one of the best in college football. This is a shot for Florida to go 11-2 and get up to maybe No. 5 or No. 6.

Belk Bowl (Charlotte)

December 31, NOON, ESPN

Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech

Well, the Wildcats have a dynamo at quarterback in Lynn Bowden, Jr. He got the “battlefield promotion” and was exceptional. Kentucky wound up with a 7-5 regular-season record, not bad considering the personnel losses off last year’s outstanding 10-3 team. Bowdon is a dynamo. His performance in the regular-season finale was epic – 284 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in a 45-13 crushing of in-state foe Louisville. Virginia Tech heads in at 8-4. Following a couple of early-season losses to Boston College and Duke, the Hokies snuck back into contention in the ACC Coastal. A 21-20 near-miss at Notre Dame was a stinger, and then the long winning streak against Virginia came to an end, as the Cavaliers defeated Virginia Tech for the first time since 2003 to earn a berth in the ACC Championship Game.

Citrus Bowl (Orlando)

January 1, 1 P.M. ABC

Alabama vs. Michigan

For the first time since 2010 when Alabama beat Michigan State in Orlando, the Crimson Tide aren’t in a major bowl. This also ended an eight-year run of going either 11-1 or 12-0 in the regular season. Before too many people start pouring dirt on the Crimson Tide, it should be remembered that their two losses were by five points to LSU and by three points at Auburn in a game in which they threw two pick-6s. Motivation will be the question. But this is a blue blood matchup. Michigan had the momentum going but just hasn’t been able to get past Ohio State. Against a tough schedule, there’s certainly no shame in 9-3, with the highlight a blowout of Notre Dame. Jim Harbaugh has guided his alma mater back amongst the very best teams in the Big Ten, and an upset of Alabama would be a huge boost to the program.

Outback Bowl (Tampa)

January 1, 1 P.M. ESPN

Auburn vs. Minnesota

Outside of Texas A&M, the case could be made that Auburn played the second-toughest schedule of the season. The Tigers opened with a neutral site thrilling win over Oregon and closed with an incredible 48-45 Iron Bowl triumph against Alabama. That win, by the way, gave Auburn a 4-6 record against Bama in the decade and made head coach Gus Malzahn 3-4 against the Crimson Tide. That’s way better than any other regular opponent in the decade. Minnesota had a dream season, its best since 1960. P.J. Fleck has revitalized this once-proud program. The highlight of the year was a huge win at home over Penn State. A loss to Wisconsin in the regular-season finale kept the Golden Gophers out of the Big Ten Championship Game, but going to a really good bowl against an SEC heavyweight means a lot to Minnesota.

Rose Bowl (Pasadena)

January 1, 5 P.M. ESPN

Oregon vs. Wisconsin

Well, the Ducks spoiled Utah’s playoff chances with an impressive win in the PAC-12 Championship Game. Oregon has flown back up to the top of the conference and there will be a lot of green and yellow in Pasadena. This Ducks team under Mario Christobal’s watch is much more physical on the line of scrimmage than some of their past great teams over the past two decades. At 11-2, a Rose Bowl win and PAC-12 Championship would slide the Ducks way up in the polls. Wisconsin lost twice to the Buckeyes. There’s no shame in that. But an upset loss to Illinois, one that got away, stains the season a bit. Johnathan Taylor is an excellent running back, and the team that controls the ground should prevail in the Granddaddy Of Them All. When the Badgers are in Pasadena, the fabled Rose Bowl tends to run out of beer by halftime.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (Jacksonville)

January 2, 7 P.M. ESPN

Tennessee vs. Indiana

It was the worst decade in the proud history of Tennessee football. This season started with a loss to Georgia State. Not the Bulldogs, not the Jackets, but Georgia State. The next week, the Vols blew a late lead to Brigham Young and lost in overtime. They were 0-2 staring at games against Florida, Georgia and Alabama. But Tennessee had an outstanding run and won six of its last seven games to get to 7-5 and back in a bowl for the first time since 2016. As important as the winning record and postseason trip, the Vols went 5-3 and finished third in the SEC East. This should be one of the best bowls of the season. Both teams are certainly excited to be in Jacksonville. The Hoosiers were arguably the biggest surprise in the Big Ten, posting an 8-4 record and 5-4 conference mark. Hey, they finished ahead of Michigan State in the East Division standings.





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