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Spartan Shadows staff college football pick ‘em: Bowl season, Part 1

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© Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 college football regular season has come to a close, so let’s dive into the first half of bowl season with staff predictions.

It’s hard to believe I’m writing this but dang, it’s bowl season. The end of the college football season is upon us. What a season it has been. There have been ups and downs, to say the least.

Championship Week was the culmination of that wild sport of college football we all know and love.

As the dust has settled from the season, the final four teams fighting for a championship are Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama. All four are playing great football and we should have some great matchups in the playoff.

I can’t recap Championship Week without mentioning the shocking status of Florida State winning an ACC Championship and finishing a 13-0 season to be left out of the playoff. Florida State has looked far from their usual selves of late, majorly because of the season-ending injury to their quarterback a few weeks ago. Regardless, I have to feel for those kids down there who did everything they were asked to do and still got left out.

For us MSU fans, this season has been a whole lot. From starting the season off feeling excited to potentially head back towards our winning ways to having a coach fired after Week 3. I do want to take a quick second to shout out the MSU players and coaches who remained on staff to finish the season. This season was a mess of trials and tribulations and it takes so much heart for these kids to stick with it and compete. Hats off to these kids.

Let’s check out all the results from this past week and get into the bowl season picks.

Week 14 results

  • New Mexico State vs. No. 25 Liberty — Line: Liberty -10.5; Result: Liberty cover
  • No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 4 Washington — Line: Oregon -9.5; Result: Washington cover
  • No. 20 Oklahoma State vs. No. 7 Texas — Line: Texas -14.5; Result: Texas cover
  • Miami (OH) vs. Toledo — Line: Toledo -7.5; Result: Miami (OH) cover
  • Boise State vs. UNLV —Line: Boise State -2.5; Result: Boise State cover
  • No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 8 Alabama — Line: Georgia -6.5; Result: Alabama cover
  • SMU vs. No. 23 Tulane — Line: Tulane -5.5; Result: SMU cover
  • Appalachian State vs. Troy — Line: Troy -6.5; Result: Troy cover
  • No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 17 Iowa — Line: Michigan -23.5; Result: Michigan cover
  • No. 14 Louisville vs. No. 4 Florida State — Line: Florida State -2.5; Result: Florida State cover

Final observations from Championship Week

Michigan, Texas, and Liberty came in as heavy favorites and took care of business pretty easily. Shockingly Iowa’s defense kept Michigan’s offense in check for most of the game but not shockingly their offense let them down completely again. Texas looks to be one of the most well-rounded teams in the country as it’s playing some great football.

The surprises of the weekend for me were Alabama beating Georgia and Washington looking as good as they did against Oregon. The last-ever Pac-12 Championship was very impressive. Washington struggled earlier this season in putting Oregon away at home. They also had not been playing as well of late. That didn’t matter and Washington came in and got up early and never really wavered.

As for our staff picks, it’s another average week for all of us. These types of college football games are normally so closely contested; it’s had to pick one way or another. Looking ahead to bowl season, I’d expect to see more of the same. Lots of picks are still to come but these games are often close matchups. Also with stars opting out of games to prepare for the NFL draft, who knows what will come.

Leading the pack this week was none other than yours truly. I came in with a scorching record of 6-4. Behind me at 5-5 was the large grouping of Emmett, Hop, MSU recruits, Joey, and Anthony. Finalizing the staff picks were Daily, Connor, and Max going 4-6.

Updated standings after Week 14:  

  1. Emmett 74-61-5
  2. Hop: 72-63-5
  3. Chris: 70-65-5
  4. Daily: 69-66-5
  5. Connor: 66-69-5
  6. Max and MSU recruits: 65-70-5
  7. Joey and Anthony: 63-72-5

Side competition updates:

Hop vs. Daily: Hop was able to pick up one more game on Daily before the final picks of bowl season are due. There are still plenty of picks to be made but Hop will take a three-game lead into bowl season.

Chris vs. Anthony: With my ability to turn in the group’s best performance last week, I was able to grow my lead by one more game. Anthony stayed right with me however to give himself a chance during bowl season. I will enter the final pick-off with a seven-game lead in the Battle for the Cane’s Box.

Let’s now take a look at the long-awaited college football bowl matchups.

Please note:

Because of the number of bowl games, we will be breaking bowl season into two parts. You’re reading Part 1 now and will feature bowl games from Dec. 16 through Dec. 26. Part 2 featuring the rest of the regular bowls, the New Year’s Six Bowls, and the College Football Playoff games, will post sometime around Christmas.

Once all the bowls are finalized, I will also have a results article coming out afterward.

Bowl Games

Disclaimer: All lines are as of 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 11, from FanDuel. All game times listed are Eastern Standard Time.

  • Georgia Southern vs. Ohio (Myrtle Beach Bowl) — Dec. 16 at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Georgia Southern -3.5)

Emmett: Georgia Southern
Hop: Ohio
Chris: Ohio
Daily: Ohio
Connor: Georgia Southern
Max: Ohio
MSU Recruits: Ohio
Joey: Georgia Southern
Anthony: Georgia Southern 

  • Jacksonville State vs. Louisiana (R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl) — Dec. 16 at 2:15 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: JSU -3.5)

Emmett: Jacksonville State
Hop: Jacksonville State
Chris: Jacksonville State
Daily: Jacksonville State
Connor: Jacksonville State
Max: Jacksonville State
MSU Recruits: Jacksonville State
Joey: Jacksonville State
Anthony: Jacksonville State 

  • Miami (OH) vs. App State (Avocados from New Mexico Bowl) — Dec. 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC (Line: App St -6.5)

Emmett: Miami (OH)
Hop: Miami (OH)
Chris: Miami (OH)
Daily: Appalachian State
Connor: Appalachian State
Max: Appalachian State
MSU Recruits: Miami (OH)
Joey: Miami (OH)
Anthony: Appalachian State 

  • New Mexico State vs. Fresno State (Isleta New Mexico Bowl) — Dec. 16 at 5:45 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: New Mexico St -3.5)

Emmett: New Mexico State
Hop: Fresno State
Chris: Fresno State
Daily: Fresno State
Connor: Fresno State
Max: New Mexico State
MSU Recruits: Fresno State
Joey: New Mexico State
Anthony: New Mexico State 

  • UCLA vs. Boise State (Starco Brands LA Bowl) — Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. on ABC (Line: UCLA -2.5)

Emmett: UCLA
Hop: Boise State
Chris: UCLA
Daily: UCLA
Connor: UCLA
Max: Boise State
MSU Recruits: Boise State
Joey: UCLA
Anthony: Boise State 

  • California vs. Texas Tech (Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl) — Dec. 16 at 9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Texas Tech -2.5)

Emmett: California
Hop: Texas Tech
Chris: Texas Tech
Daily: Texas Tech
Connor: Texas Tech
Max: Texas Tech
MSU Recruits: Texas Tech
Joey: Texas Tech
Anthony: Texas Tech 

  • WKU vs. Old Dominion (Famous Toastery Bowl) — Dec. 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Old Dominion -2.5)

Emmett: Western Kentucky
Hop: Western Kentucky
Chris: Western Kentucky
Daily: Old Dominion
Connor: Western Kentucky
Max: Western Kentucky
MSU Recruits: Western Kentucky
Joey: Old Dominion
Anthony: Western Kentucky 

  • UTSA vs. Marshall (Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl) — Dec. 19 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: UTSA -9.5)

Emmett: UTSA
Hop: UTSA
Chris: UTSA
Daily: UTSA
Connor: UTSA
Max: UTSA
MSU Recruits: UTSA
Joey: UTSA
Anthony: UTSA 

  • South Florida vs. Syracuse (Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl) — Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Syracuse -3.5)

Emmett: South Florida
Hop: South Florida
Chris: Syracuse
Daily: South Florida
Connor: Syracuse
Max: Syracuse
MSU Recruits: South Florida
Joey: South Florida
Anthony: Syracuse 

  • Georgia Tech vs. UCF (Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl) — Dec. 22 at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: UCF -4.5)

Emmett: UCF
Hop: UCF
Chris: UCF
Daily: UCF
Connor: Georgia Tech
Max: Georgia Tech
MSU Recruits: UCF
Joey: Georgia Tech
Anthony: Georgia Tech

  • Troy vs. Duke (76 Birmingham Bowl) — Dec. 23 at 12 p.m. ET on ABC (Line: Troy -7.5) 

Emmett: Troy
Hop: Troy
Chris: Duke
Daily: Troy
Connor: Troy
Max: Troy
MSU Recruits: Troy
Joey: Troy
Anthony: Duke 

  • Arkansas State vs. NIU (Camellia Bowl) — Dec. 23 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Arkansas State -1.5)

Emmett: Arkansas State
Hop: Northern Illinois
Chris: Northern Illinois
Daily: Northern Illinois
Connor: Northern Illinois
Max: Arkansas State
MSU Recruits: Northern Illinois
Joey: Arkansas State
Anthony: Arkansas State 

  • James Madison vs. Air Force (Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl) — Dec. 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC (Line: JMU -2.5)

Emmett: James Madison
Hop: James Madison
Chris: James Madison
Daily: James Madison
Connor: James Madison
Max: James Madison
MSU Recruits: James Madison
Joey: Air Force
Anthony: James Madison

  •  Georgia State vs. Utah State (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl) — Dec. 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Utah State -1.5)

Emmett: Utah State
Hop: Utah State
Chris: Utah State
Daily: Utah State
Connor: Utah State
Max: Utah State
MSU Recruits: Utah State
Joey: Utah State
Anthony: Utah State 

  • South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan (68 Ventures Bowl) — Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: South Alabama -15.5) 

Emmett: Eastern Michigan
Hop: Eastern Michigan
Chris: South Alabama
Daily: Eastern Michigan
Connor: Eastern Michigan
Max: South Alabama
MSU Recruits: Eastern Michigan
Joey: South Alabama
Anthony: Eastern Michigan 

  • Utah vs. Northwestern (SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl) — Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m. on ABC (Line: Utah -6.5)

Emmett: Utah
Hop: Utah
Chris: Utah
Daily: Utah
Connor: Utah
Max: Utah
MSU Recruits: Utah
Joey: Utah
Anthony: Utah 

  • Coastal Carolina vs. San Jose State (EasyPost Hawaii Bowl) — Dec. 23 at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: San Jose St -9.5)

Emmett: San Jose State
Hop: San Jose State
Chris: San Jose State
Daily: San Jose State
Connor: Coastal Carolina
Max: San Jose State
MSU Recruits: San Jose State
Joey: San Jose State
Anthony: Coastal Carolina 

  • Bowling Green vs. Minnesota (Quick Lane Bowl) — Dec. 26 at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Minnesota -4.5)

Emmett: Minnesota
Hop: Minnesota
Chris: Minnesota
Daily: Minnesota
Connor: Minnesota
Max: Minnesota
MSU Recruits: Minnesota
Joey: Minnesota
Anthony: Minnesota

  •  Texas State vs. Rice (ServPro First Responder Bowl) — Dec. 26 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Texas State -4.5)

Emmett: Texas State
Hop: Texas State
Chris: Rice
Daily: Rice
Connor: Texas State
Max: Texas State
MSU Recruits: Texas State
Joey: Texas State
Anthony: Texas State

  • Kansas vs. UNLV (Guaranteed Rate Bowl) — Dec. 26 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN (Line: Kansas -12.5)

Emmett: UNLV
Hop: UNLV
Chris: Kansas
Daily: Kansas
Connor: UNLV
Max: Kansas
MSU Recruits: UNLV
Joey: Kansas
Anthony: Kansas

There you have it for the first part of bowl season picks. Happy college football watching, everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in this year and good luck to all our pickers. Hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday season so far.

Dad, die hard MSU (and Detroit sports) fan, and writer for Spartan Shadows. Certified knower of Ball (and puck). MSU Content Creator since 2022. Central Michigan Alum!

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