Over the weekend, Baylor head coach Matt Rhule was linked to multiple NFL teams as a potential head coaching candidate and plans to interview with at least a couple teams.
I bring this up because Baylor will be playing in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day against Georgia. In times like these as a handicapper, I try to find good quotes from people close to the situation about how the players in particular feel about all the noise surrounding their coach prior to the game because feelings of disappointment often arise and can negatively impact a team’s performance on the field.
This could also cause a distraction for Rhule and take some valuable time away from preparing his team for their bowl opponent.
Be aware of this if you plan on getting involved on the Baylor side in that game and try to get a sense of whether the team sounds like they are focused on the task at hand and will be ready for their Sugar Bowl matchup against Georgia.
Here are my top picks for this week’s bowl action:
Alamo Bowl — Texas +7 vs. Utah: Both teams had bigger aspirations than being here in this bowl game but I still expect Texas to rally around playing in their home state in what could be QB Sam Ehlinger’s final game at Texas.
The Longhorns should be healthier for this bowl game than they were for much of the season.
The Utes got hammered in the Pac-12 title game by Oregon which kept them out of the playoff and the Rose Bowl. Instead, they’re playing in a less significant game. I’m more concerned about Utah’s motivation level here than Texas and the matchup is a tricky one for the Utes, who are dealing with cluster injuries in the secondary.
Texas head coach Tom Herman is 3-0 ATS in bowl games and he won all three games outright as an underdog. Expect more of the same here. TEXAS
Citrus Bowl — Michigan vs. Alabama, Total 58: Michigan’s offense came on strong late in the season with QB Shea Patterson playing his best football down the stretch. The Wolverines scored 27+ points in five straight games to end the season.
This was not the same stout Alabama defense this season and they will be without a handful of starters who have opted to sit out this game and prep for the NFL Draft and the Crimson Tide surrendered 31+ points in half of their final eight games.
On the flip side, Alabama’s offense even with Mac Jones at QB for an injured Tua Tagovailoa showed how explosive they can be and Michigan’s defense struggled against the better offenses and teams with superior speed on that side of the ball which Alabama has. I expect plenty of points here in Orlando. OVER
Rose Bowl — Wisconsin vs. Oregon +3: Given their poor recent bowl track record, I haven’t often bet on many Pac-12 teams but I am making an exception here.
I believe Oregon is the superior team here and their speed on offense and QB Justin Herbert will be a major test for a Wisconsin defense that didn’t face a ton of great offenses and when they did, as was the case in the two games against Ohio State, they struggled.
Oregon’s run defense and containing Wisconsin QB Jonathan Taylor will be the key to them winning here as the Ducks have a better interior along the defensive line than many people think, holding foes to just 107 rushing yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry this season.
I don’t trust QB Jack Coan for Wisconsin to pass his way to a win for the Badgers if the run game gets neutralized. OREGON
Gator Bowl — Tennessee vs. Indiana, Total 50.5: I expect good games from both of these offenses. Tennessee scored 24+ points in four of their last five games and QB Jarrett Guarantano played at a very high level after regaining the Vols starting QB spot in the final month of the season.
Indiana didn’t see much of a decline on offense with QB Peyton Ramsey replacing an injured Michael Penix Jr.
Tennessee allowed 34 to Florida, 43 to Georgia and 35 to Alabama when they had to play a very good offense. Indiana’s defense was bad and the Hoosiers allowed 28+ points in five of their final six games. The game should fly Over this modest total. OVER
Last week: 2-1