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Bowl Picks 2020-21: Famous Idaho Potato-New Mexico Bowl (Dec.22-Dec.24)

Carson Strong, Nevada

 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 22nd)

Tulane Green Wave (6-5) vs. Nevada Wolfpack (6-2)

Two of the most underrated Group of Five teams in the country square off in the iconic Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. After a slow start to the 2020 campaign, Tulane has won four of their last five, including a recent two-touchdown victory over Memphis. Much of that success can be attributed to an offense that is playing well down the stretch, leaning on a ground game that was among the best in the American Athletic. The trio of running backs which includes Stephon Huderson, Cameron Carroll and Amare Jones should apply plenty of pressure on a decent Nevada defense. Quarterback Michael Pratt also had some dual threat potential, but he's been streaky as a passer. He was strong a few weeks ago against Memphis, but was held to just 76 yards on 8-17 passing the week prior against Tulsa. What edition of Pratt arrives in Boise will be crucial to deciding this one. Nevada enters this game on a little bit of a cold stretch, losing two of their final three after a 5-0 start. Offensively, they are the polar opposite of Tulane, instead leaning on an explosive passing attack and a workhorse tailback in Toa Taua. The Green Wave have done a decent job defending the pass in 2020, but they haven't seen a lot of quarterbacks with the deep arm of Carson Strong. I'm not sure whether this one is going to turn into a shootout, but neither defense is considered shutdown. Nevada is able to score in a hurry, but I like Tulane's ability to control the ball and manage the clock. They also enter the game with a little bit more momentum, giving them an upper hand it what should be a fairly evenly matched game.

The Pick: Tulane, 31 Nevada, 27

Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 22nd)

UCF Knights (6-3) vs. BYU Cougars (10-1)

Although BYU would've loved to get an opportunity to play for a New Year's Six Bowl prior to the loss to Coastal Carolina, a matchup against a quality UCF team in the Boca Raton Bowl is not a terrible consolation. The quarterback battle in this game should be extra exciting, with Dillon Gabriel on the Knights side and Zach Wilson for BYU. While they're both supremely talented, they operate in a bit of a different way. Gabriel is a fearless competitor with a huge arm that loves to throw the deep ball, while Wilson is more of an accurate and efficient signal-caller. Of course, both offenses also have plenty of other weapons. Wide out Marlon Williams is the big name on the perimeter for UCF, but they can also hit you with dynamic running backs Greg McCrae and Otis Anderson. BYU has an advantage in the trenches and also has playmakers on the outside in Dax Milne and Gunner Romney, who is expected to play in this game after missing the San Diego State game. While both offenses should be highly effective, the big concern for these teams is how their defenses perform. UCF has struggled to stop the run all season long, and faces a Cougar team with a size advantage up front. BYU, meanwhile, has put up strong numbers all 2020, but this is the best quarterback they've seen all season long and a very vertical offense. I like BYU's chances to put up a superior defensive showing, and I think Wilson outplays Gabriel, helping secure the Cougars 11th win on the season.

The Pick: BYU, 38 UCF, 28

New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 23rd)

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (5-4) vs. Georgia Southern Eagles (7-5)

In a season where postponements and cancellations became an unfortunate commonality, Georgia Southern deserves a lot of credit for still getting a 12-game regular season in and finishing off a respectable 7-5. This particular Eagles team looks very similar to past editions, with a creative triple-option that has allowed them to once again finish Top 10 nationally in rushing. Leading the offense is talented quarterback Shai Werts, who led Southern in both passing and rushing. He's an expert on running the offense and making the pitch, but did miss the final two regular-season games so his status is unclear for this game. He's joined by a host of various Eagle rushers that includes J.D. King and Logan Wright, who both went 560 yards of rushing. In total, Georgia Southern had seven separate players record at least 190 yards on the ground. That's a lot for any type of defense to prepare for, but especially difficult for a Louisiana Tech team that already hasn't have much time to prepare for the triple-option. Louisiana Tech will have to put together their best defensive showing of the season, which may be a tough ask for a rush defense that ranks right in the middle-of-the-pack nationally (184.6 YPG allowed). On offense, the Bulldogs have been decent for most the season, but they will be without starting QB Luke Anthony after he suffered a season-ending injury in the loss to TCU. It's now sophomore Aaron Allen's time, who is talented but has to take care of the football, with a 4-5 TD-INT ratio on the season. The offense also has to find some balance in this one, as the rush offense has really struggled down the stretch. The Bulldogs do have the advantage of recent bowl success, winning every bowl they've been in since 2014. Unfortunately, I think that the streak comes to an end against a tough Georgia Southern team.

The Pick: Georgia Southern, 24 Louisiana Tech, 14

Montgomery Bowl (Dec. 23rd)

Memphis Tigers (7-3) vs. Florida Atlantic Owls (5-3)

One year removed from a New Year's Six Bowl, Memphis would've loved to play in another major bowl game, but the Montgomery Bowl will do just fine for the 7-3 Tigers. They square off against a Florida Atlantic team that put together a rock-solid 5-3 mark in Willie Taggart's first season at the helm. Memphis is once again led by one of the nation's most underrated quarterbacks in Brady White, who threw for 3,096 yards and 28 touchdowns in his final season with the Tigers. He's done so even without the help of two his top playmakers in Kenneth Gainwell and Damonte Coxie, who both opted out of the season. Instead, wide out Calvin Austin III has been the breakout target on the outside for White, while Rodrigues Clarke leads a backfield that uses a committee approach instead of leaning on Gainwell. The offensive numbers are still incredibly good, speaking to White's ability to still keep the offense humming. The defense is a different story, really struggling in all three of their losses. The good news is that Florida Atlantic is not exactly a team that is going to light up the scoreboard, putting up just 20 points per game. Taggart-led teams always run the ball well and this team is no different, led by running QB Javion Posey and the two-headed monster of James Charles and Malcolm Davidson. The Owls would love nothing more than to slow this one down and play ball control, while Memphis should look to speed it up. Memphis should have the advantage thanks in large part to their edge in experience offensively, as well as their recent hot streak. 

The Pick: Memphis, 30 Florida Atlantic, 21

New Mexico Bowl

Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (4-4) vs. Houston Cougars (3-4)

A pair of coaches known for their offensive prowess, Todd Graham & Dana Holgorsen, collide in the New Mexico Bowl. It's been an interesting season for both teams; Hawai'i started their season in late October with the rest of the Mountain West and flipped between win and loss nearly every single week. Houston was supposed to begin in early September but had three straight games postponed, before finally getting their season off the ground in early October. They then had three separate games postponed later on the in the season before finishing off with a loss to Memphis, leaving them 3-4. The Cougars can still put points with the offensive weapons they possess, spearheaded by running back Kyle Porter and receiver Keith Corbin. They also have one of the best special team units in the entire country, with a pair of explosive kick returners in Marcus Jones and Marques Stevenson. Defensively they're not as great but can still get after the opposing quarterback, and they also have one of the most versatile defenders in the nation in Grant Stuard. Hawai'i has long been a program that loves to move the ball aggressively down the field, and that hasn't changed under Graham. QB Chevan Cordeiro currently leads the Rainbow Warriors in passing and rushing, and he has had some huge moments in 2020. The Cougar secondary could definitely be susceptible to the big play, and Cordeiro has four explosive receivers to choose from in Calvin Turner, Jared Smart, Rico Bussey and Melquise Stovall. Bussey is particularly interesting, as he was a 1,000 yard receiver in 2018 for North Texas before missing basically of 2019. 

The Pick: Hawai'i, 35 Houston, 24

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