Northwestern fans, students and gambling degenerates alike, welcome back to a series that is fast becoming a staple of the holiday season here at Inside NU. Over the past two years, Matt and Avery have picked nearly every bowl game that has occurred. From glorious playoff semifinals to the most random of games, we have seen it all, and we’re excited to meet the site’s gambling quota for the year once again.
No fluff needed here. We want to wish everyone a football-filled 2021, and the first day of the new year will bring plenty of fun in that department. Let’s get into it.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Georgia (-7.5) vs. Cincinnati
Avery: I am a major group of five non-believer and I was punished for not sticking to that in the last edition of our picks. No matter how many wins Cincy has over mediocre teams, it doesn’t come close to deserving a shot at the playoff and it won’t beat an undoubtedly overrated Georgia team. This spread looks on point to me, but the Bulldogs cover.
Matt: I think I’m on Georgia here. And I don’t mean any disrespect to Cincinnati; the Bearcats are absolutely a very good team. But I struggle to see a way that they can keep Pace with this Georgia team for four quarters, leading to an easy GA win.
Vrbo Citrus Bowl: Northwestern (-3.5) vs. Auburn
Avery: I’m not as confident in this contest as Matt is, but I think the Wildcats are simply a better team and despite transfer portal rumblings, this team will be fine. Auburn has the same exact things going on, and the Tigers don’t have the discipline to get the job done. Hank gets his 400th win and NU covers.
Matt: Do I even need to do this? Wildcats win by over a touchdown.
Rose(?) Bowl: Alabama (-21) vs. Notre Dame
Avery: There are three elite football teams in the country, and this game contains only one of them. A tight SEC championship was all Saban needed to ensure his team will be focused and ready to embarrass Brian Kelly’s squad. Tide earn another blowout in this matchup.
Matt: Bama is the clear best team in the country right now and they will blow out the Irish. Granted, as someone who hates Notre Dame, it will be very fun to watch Alabama cover this spread, but it won’t be close at all this game. The Crimson Tide dominate.
Avery: This is a hot take, but I feel as though these teams are very close in terms of talent and coaching. Clemson has owned this matchup in recent history, winning three bowl games, including two CFP semifinals in the past decade, but the Buckeyes finally get their revenge in upset fashion, stymieing the best player in the country and eking out a win.
Matt: Two playoff games and two routs. No discredit to Ohio State but Clemson is a level above them and is a much better team. Justin Fields won’t show up, and the ‘Bucks won’t be bailed out by Trey Sermon again. Clemson runs away with a cover.
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: Kentucky (-2.5) vs. NC State
Avery: Trap. Line. This is the second time I’ve said this and I’m prepared to lose again, but this line makes no sense. NC State has played better football than the blue Wildcats all year. Kentucky is reliant on a solid defense but maintains an anemic offense, and it won’t be able to get the job done against this ACC foe. The Wolfpack win.
Matt: Be wary of my advice on this one, as I’ll admit that I haven’t seen much of these teams this year. Regardless, I’m on NC State here. Trust the team who has proven its worth this season, and Kentucky has certainly failed to do that.
Outback Bowl: Indiana (-8.5) vs. Ole Miss
Avery: Poor Hoosiers. Having to play this bowl against Ole Miss was almost a fate given to Northwestern, but somehow the ‘Cats avoided it and got a much more enticing battle. Nonetheless, Indiana comes out firing and intent on making one final statement this year. Hoosiers roll.
Matt: Indiana’s defense locks in and takes out a mediocre SEC team. Take the Hoosiers.
Avery: Mick McCall devises the finest run scheme in the nation to take out the Ducks. In a stunning turn of events, he grabs the mic in the postgame celebrations and proclaims he’ll see Wildcat nation in the playoff next year, eager for revenge. Everyone is confused. Instead, Mick opts for the newly available Bears job.
Matt: Having seen Oregon play most of their games this year, they are nowhere near as good as people think they are. The Pac-12 as a conference is mediocre and being the best team in it doesn’t make up for the fact that everyone in it is average at best. Go with the Cyclones.
Avery: I think the Aggies will end up victorious, but UNC has the capability of keeping this a game. In the end, Jimbo’s team pulls away after establishing some success against a flawed Tar Heel defense. A&M comes away with a narrow cover.
Matt: I think I have to take Texas A&M here. They have something to prove and a fire that UNC will struggle to keep pace with.