Tusk to Tail: Bowl predictions from those who thought the Hogs would win more than two games
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THE BOWL GAMES
• Texas Bowl – Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State (Dec. 27)
Todd Rudisill: A&M hasn’t beaten a good team all year, losing all their games to the big boys of college football. They only beat one team this season that is going bowling. Oklahoma State has won three bowl games in a row, and with a win would get to 9 wins on the year. Expect Aggies QB Kellen Mond to do good things, and for A&M to run for over 200 against the Cowboys and Mullet Man. The Aggies take it in Houston 37-27 to get their 8th win of the year. $75 million for 8 wins. Is that what they really paid Jimbo Fisher for?
• Cotton Bowl – Penn State vs. Memphis (Dec. 28)
David Rice: Penn State is favored by 6, but I question the Nittany Lions’ motivation playing against a team from the American Athletic Conference in a mid-tier bowl far from home at 11 a.m. Memphis promoted offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield to the head position, which is the surest path to victory. Take the Tigers and the points, and thank me later.
• Music City Bowl – Louisville vs. Mississippi State (Dec. 30)
Sam Atkinson: With Mississippi State a 4-point favorite and the momentum they got from the Egg Bowl, I think State wins 27-21.
• Orange Bowl – Virginia vs. Florida (Dec. 30)
Greg Houser: I’ve always been a big fan of Bronco Mendenhall, especially when he was at BYU. He’s a tough straight-forward football coach. I can’t, however, see the Cavaliers being bigger, stronger, or faster than the Gators. Dan Mullen is too good of a coach to not prepare his team. Gators by 14.
• Belk Bowl – Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech (Dec. 31)
Jeb Joyce: I see the Kentucky Wildcats roaring out to a 24-0 halftime lead, but Kentucky will suffer a monumental collapse and Virginia Tech will answer 35 unanswered points to win the Belk Bowl. This will be a crushing blow to Kentucky that will cause them to win a mere eight games over the next three years. At least that’s how it seems it should go.
• Alamo Bowl – Texas vs. Utah (Dec. 31)
Brad Davis: Apparently Texas is not back as QB Sam Ehlinger proclaimed after the Sugar Bowl Win over Georgia last year. Coach Herman claims 7-5 is not a bad rebuilding year in the toughest conference in college football, but fired his OC and DC. Fast talk and sleight of hand must be a Texas football coaching thing. What I love the most is how the Longhorn faithful portray the game as Utah coming to Texas to try to knock off and upset the Longhorns. The 11th Ranked team upsetting an unranked team? Ty Willingham will bring a balanced attack and an all-time bowl game head coaching record of 11-2. I think it will be a good game, but Texas is driving uphill not having an OC or DC against a well-coached Utah team. Although this is practically a home game for Texas, I’ve got Utah winning 28-21.
• Outback Bowl – Minnesota vs. Auburn (Jan. 1)
Sean Casey: Expect the Gus Bus to roll Minnesota, leaving Golden Gopher roadkill. Minnesota ends up dropping 3 of their last 4 games. Aubbie wins 34-17.
• Citrus Bowl – Michigan vs. Alabama (Jan. 1)
Craig May: This is probably the most interesting of the non-playoff games on the bowl schedule. This will be the first year Alabama will miss the playoffs, while Michigan just missed out on the playoffs themselves. Mac Jones will return as quarterback for the Tide. As long as he’s able to be a good game manager and lean on his talented teammates, he should get the biggest win of his college career. Michigan’s defense has been more susceptible to the run than the pass. Look for RB Najee Harris to put Alabama on has back like he did against Auburn, but with a better result. Alabama 35, Michigan 17.
• Rose Bowl – Wisconsin vs. Oregon (Jan. 1)
Mark Wagner: I started to go with Wisconsin, but after watching how Oregon crushed Utah to earn this year’s berth in the Rose Bowl, my thoughts about Oregon have changed. After a first game loss to Auburn, the Ducks won nine in a row. Oregon QB Justin Herbert is playing his last game for the Ducks. Oregon is 26-8 in his 34 starts. So while Oregon opened as a 2.5 point underdog and the computer models are giving Wisconsin a 66% chance of winning, I think the Ducks will win their third straight Rose Bowl. Oregon 45, Wisconsin 35.
• Sugar Bowl – Baylor vs. Georgia (Jan. 1)
Mac Garland: Georgia is exactly where they were last year: on the outside looking in at the playoff games, and facing another excited Big XII team in the Sugar Bowl. Baylor last played in this bowl in 1957 ,and they last faced the Bulldogs 30 years ago. We all look at the job Matt Rhule has done in Waco in amazement. That program was in shambles, and should not have been able to bounce back so quickly. Yet they were in contention for a playoff spot and are ranked #7. The Bulldogs are favored by a touchdown. Sam Pittman is no longer with them, so that will hurt to some extent, and we really don’t know if they want to be there. The Dawgs have a good defense, and apparently Vegas has a lot of faith in it as the Over/Under is only 41. Somehow, the Bears score more than expected. Baylor 27, Georgia 17.
• Gator Bowl – Tennessee vs. Indiana (Jan. 2)
Dale Cullins: In the Gator Bowl you have Indiana, which has been making steady progress and improvement over the past couple of seasons against a Tennessee team which got off to an awful start, but steadily improved throughout the year. I feel like the speed of Tennessee will be too much for Indiana. Vols 40, Hoosiers 27.
• Peach Bowl – LSU vs. Oklahoma (Dec. 28)
Willard Grandview: If you need tickets to this game, I know a guy. It should be a fun one to watch. The over/under is 76! Considering how powerful LSU’s offensive attack has become, and how Oklahoma’s defense is – as always – a sieve, it could be 76-0 Tigers. But I doubt it. Even though LSU is a 14-point favorite, I expect the Sooners to compete. The news that they’ve suspended three players for the game (including star defensive end Ronnie Perkins and a guy named Rhamondre) is not a good sign. But that misfortune is countered by the fact that Tigers’ running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (where do they find these guys?) has a bad hammy. We all remember how the Razorbacks responded in ’77 when Lou Holtz suspended Ben Cowins, Donny Bobo, and Michael Forrest just before the Orange Bowl with Oklahoma. Can OU be the team to turn adversity to its advantage this time? I say no. LSU 45, OU 30. GEAUX TIGERS!
• Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State vs. Clemson (Dec. 28)
Forrest Acuff: Very excited about this high octane showdown in the desert. Clemson has been running through their schedule as of late, but the level of competition hasn’t been very high. Ohio State has managed to get through a tougher schedule these past few weeks behind a stifling defense. Gimme “Sunshine,” Dabo, and the playoff experience that Clemson has to overtake the first year head coach at Ohio State in a close one.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP (Jan. 13)
Who do you think will win the National Championship?
Dale, Jeb, Sean, Brad, Mark, and Craig: LSU over Ohio State. “LSU has been battle tested all year, and I’m not sure anyone has put up much of a fight against Ohio State. In the end I think the LSU defense can get a few more stops in a tight one.” – Dale Cullins
Greg, Todd, Sam, Forrest, and Mac: LSU beats Clemson. “It’s the battle of Tigers and Death Valleys for #1. There are many Bayou Bengal fans saving their money and skipping the Peach Bowl in anticipation of making the championship in the Big Easy. The SuperDome will be full of purple and gold, and the SEC finally has another national champion besides Alabama for the first time since 2010.” – Mac Garland
David and Willard: Ohio State upsets LSU. “I have been incorrectly predicting that LSU will stumble all season, so I can’t stop now. I think whoever wins the Fiesta Bowl wins the title. Ohio State looks like a more complete team on both sides of the ball, and I’m not just saying that because I’m spending the holidays with my in-laws, who are all Ohio State fans.” – David Rice
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