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College Football Bowl Picks Part Six: Belk, Music City, Holiday, Peach, Orange, Cotton

Time to hit the afterburners. It's playoff time.

Doesn't this mean Houston is the champions of American football, though?
Doesn't this mean Houston is the champions of American football, though?
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

We've finally reached the point in our journey where we talk about Vitally Important Matters. To make it extra spicy, because Luke disagrees with me about both playoff semifinals, we're probably both going to be bitter, angry, and hostile when the ball drops in Times Square tomorrow night.

Luke's much happier than I am this morning, however. Yesterday was a near-complete disaster for your benevolent despot, who went 1-3 on the day. Luke went 2-2, correctly predicting Baylor's win over the Tar Heels. It's okay, he had no idea who the hell Johnny Jefferson was before last night either.

Our fifth pick from yesterday's installment is this morning's Birmingham Bowl, which we're still waiting on, obviously. But as of this writing, Luke has closed the gap to six games behind once again. Including the picks in today's installment, about which Luke agrees with me on two of the six, Luke has no more than 14 chances to make up that six-game deficit.

Good thing this is For Entertainment Purposes Only.

2:30 PM, Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015
BELK BOWL
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC
(rv) Mississippi State
8-4, 4-4 SEC
-5.5 NC State
7-5, 3-5 ACC

JM: This line, frankly, makes no sense to me. Mississippi State is not great, but they're a good football team. North Carolina State did what they always do: beat up a bunch of stiffs in the non-conference, make their annual appearance at the bottom of the "also receiving votes" list, and then start losing. CLANGA covers.

LT: In the last game of his career, Dak Prescott, the best player in Mississippi State history (not a high bar to clear, but still) is facing the No. 49 defense in America in terms of pass efficiency. That's really all you need to know. Sure, the Bulldogs might not be great at defense, but NC State's offense isn't anything special. Mississippi State covers.

6:00 PM, Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015
FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL
LP Field, Nashville TN
Louisville
7-5, 5-3 ACC
-4.5 Texas A&M
8-4, 4-4 SEC

JM: This game opened with A&M as a 2.5 point favorite, but then all their quarterbacks decided to quit. Somehow, that's only worth six points. Louisville has been sketchy this season, but I just can't see the Aggies doing a lot with a third-string quarterback whose season highlight so far has involved a clipboard. Cardinals cover.

LT: Sigh. I've got to make up ground somewhere, so here goes. Yes, Jon is correct, but are you aware third-string quarterback Jake Hubenak led the NJCAA with more than 4,000 yards passing last year at Blinn College, the same juco where Michael Bishop and Cam Newton went to school? Plus, Louisville will have no film of him in the Aggies offense, and let's be honest, the Cardinals are pretty bad. They lost to Auburn. A&M covers.

9:30 PM, Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015
HOLIDAY BOWL
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego CA
(23) Wisconsin
9-3, 6-2 B10
+3 (rv) USC
8-5, 6-3 P12

JM: I still don't trust USC, especially not against a clock-control team with beef and a decent defense. Badgers cover.

LT: Why is Wisconsin ranked? This has been baffling me most of the season. Until their season finale at Minnesota, the Badgers didn't even have a single win against a team over .500. USC could lose, because they're USC and Pac-12 teams are crazy, but it's clear to me who the better team is here. Trojans cover.

11:00 AM, Thursday, Dec 31, 2015
CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL
Georgia Dome, Atlanta GA
(14) Houston
12-1, 7-1 AAC
+7 (9) Florida State
10-2, 6-2 ACC

JM: Houston has been a great story. And they're a good team. A really good team. But not good enough to handle Florida State, I fear. This goes against every sparkling little bit of energy in my soul, but Seminoles cover.

LT: Remember that time Florida State lost to Georgia Tech? That was so much fun. Unfortunately, Houston is nothing like Georgia Tech. I truly wish the Cougars hadn't inexplicably lost to UConn and had made it to a New Year's Day bowl, where they could at least get beat by a really elite team. Sadly, they're here, and I agree with Jon. Seminoles cover.

3:00 PM, Thursday, Dec 31, 2015
CAPITAL ONE ORANGE BOWL
Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens FL
(4) Oklahoma
11-1, 8-1 B12
-3.5 (1) Clemson
13-0, 8-0 ACC

JM: And here we go. Oklahoma is actually favored against the #1 team in the nation. A team which smoked them last holiday season in a game the Sooners just didn't care about. Ultimately, this is a test of Big 12 vs ACC. Ignore the loss to Texas -- which is actually a philosophy to which I subscribe wholeheartedly, as the results of one game mean less than the results of 12 or 13 -- and Oklahoma has been a vastly better team than the Tigers. It's not even a contest. Sooners cover.

LT: That may be true, but on the other hand, this is just one game, and it comes more than a full month after Oklahoma last played a football game. I'm not sure Baker Mayfield has seen as good of a defense as the one he'll see from Clemson, and they'll be hungry. If this game had been played in November, I'm taking the Sooners. But on New Year's Eve when I need to disagree with Jon and get lucky to catch him. Tigers cover.

7:00 PM, Thursday, Dec 31, 2015
GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC
AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX
(3) Michigan State
12-1, 7-1 B10
+9.5 (2) Alabama
12-1, 7-1 SEC

JM: Roll Tide. That is all.

LT: Just for fun, let's take a look back at what we said a year ago when Alabama was the overwhelming favorite against a B1G team. I said "...I sure hope things are more interesting than that. Sadly, I'm afraid they won't be." Jon kept it short and sweet than as well, writing "Ohio State will show some life, but it won't be enough. Roll Tide." As a bonus, two years ago Jon said, "Let's not get confused here. Alabama is going to win this game." We both picked OU to cover a crazy 15.5 point spread, and of course the Sooners went on to rout the Tide.

I guess what I'm saying is things aren't always what they seem with Alabama in bowl games. Michigan State was perhaps the luckiest team in America this season (yes, I realize some bad luck cost them against Nebraska) and who's to say they can't get lucky again? Plus, Connor Cook is actually a pretty good quarterback, and that's the one thing that troubled this Bama defense. MSU covers.

Next: Jon will be too drunk to drive, so Luke's behind the wheel for the New Year's Day fiesta. (And Sugar, and Rose.)