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The New Years Day Football Smorgasbord kicked off earlier today, led by a round of Bloomin' Onions, followed by some Chick-n-Strips™ and then a full entree board of Citrus, Rose, and Sugar Bowls. You might also consider today to be the 2017 Southeastern Conference Grudge Match. The schedule looks like SEC vs. The World, with one team from the conference active in each game today. (For the curious, an all-SEC parlay bet would pay out at roughly 21:1 on the day. Just saying.)
The Outback Bowl
Michigan Wolverines (-9) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
11 a.m. ESPN2 (at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL)
We'll be keenly tracking the second half of this one as it may or may not be the back half of a two-team tease placed on Saturday . . . for entertainment purposes only. A nine-point spread seemed like a high number for two talented teams that couldn't quite crack the code on defeating superior conference opponents yet boasted records sufficient for The Outback Bowl. Much like the Aussie-Tizers® Menu, the Outback teases fans with a high-calorie match-up to form a substantial base for what will be a glut of gridiron action throughout the afternoon and evening. Much like the Kookaburra Wings®, South Carolina presents a tangy, zesty alternative to the world-renowned house favorite, the Bloomin'. An SC victory looks unlikely, much like the appearance of a sashimi-style appetizer (large size $12.99, and a mere 390 calories for the health conscious) alongside the arteries be-damned offerings such as the Aussie Cheese Fries (1,610 calories and a wee - read, 96 grams - bit of fat), but who knows? It's a New Year, Gamecocks! Let's rally!
CFR pick: We'll chase and take South Carolina +3 in the second half.
The Chicken: original prediction, Michigan by 8
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#12 Central Florida Knights vs. #10 Auburn Tigers (-12)
11:30 a.m. ESPN (at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA)
No one thinks UCF will win this game. No one. How do we know? The line jumped from -9 when the window opened, crested at -12 and settled at a point slightly lower (-11 or so, depending where you look) just before kick. Even more telling: the money line started at Auburn -350 and rocketed up to Auburn -500 by midmorning today. Not exactly tulip fever, but still.
CFR pick: We're right there with John Q. Public.
The Chicken: UCF by 11
Note: The Foremost Fowl may have overindulged on New Years Eve. Always one for a seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time last round, the bird was last seen late-night downing Don Julios with Gentamicin chasers. The "Never Leave a Man Behind Credo," as the name suggests, does not apply to chickens. We're sure he feels bad about himself this morning.
CITRUS BOWL presented by Overton's
#14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #17 Louisiana State Tigers (-3)
Noon ABC (at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL)
How did Notre Dame get here? Aren't we all tired of the Golden Domers at this stage? Must we suffer through the annual ritual of an overinflated ND team getting trounced on New Year's Day? It's like the Crab Cake appetizer - it has to be there so your grandmother feels like she can safely order something but no one really wants it.
Also, weren't we just here? This is the second bowl game the Camping World Stadium has hosted this season. Have they ran out of the free carabiner tchotchkes yet?
CFR pick: Louisiana State to put Notre Dame out of its misery. Again.
The Chicken: ND by 15
Don't say you weren't warned. We know the Fates side with the Sacred Free Range Antibiotic Free Chicken, but still, that's a lot of points.
ROSE BOWL - College Football Playoff Semifinal
#3 Georgia Bulldogs (-3) vs. Oklahoma Sooners
4 p.m. ESPN (at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, CA)
The Granddaddy of Them All, the oldest bowl game (1902 inception, annually since 1916) has summoned fans from all corners of Georgia and Oklahoma. Sooners from the likes of Bowlegs, Greasy, Zeb, and elsewhere in the Sooner State have descended on California. Sunny Pasadena will see Sooner diehards face off with fervent Bulldog faithful from genteel towns like Milledgeville and Dahlonega, the names alone filling us with visions of devastating creeping Kudzu vines and toothless yokels.
CFR pick: Can both teams lose? Is this possible? Can we just have Clemson and Alabama play for the best two out of three? We'll take Georgia, because the SEC is just flat-out too good for the Big 12 and will beat the Okies like a drum, but we don't feel good about it.
The Chicken: Dawgs by 20
Allstate SUGAR BOWL - College Football Playoff Semifinal
#4 Alabama Crimson Tide (-3) vs. #1 Clemson Tigers
7:45 p.m. ESPN (at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA)
Look, you can go read as much as you want about this game elsewhere. Dithering over this or that minutiae, what's changed since the last time the Tigers and Tide brawled, how Nick Saban keeps his immaculate hair in place, what have you. The fact is, sportsbooks posted Alabama as the 2-1 favorite to win the entire thing as the pairing were announced for the Playoffs. Bear this in mind as you sit through all the hoopla leading up to tonight's game.
We'd rather see odds on how many fans spend the night in the tank. Who had the bright idea of hosting this game on New Year's in New Orleans? We should have invested in Vitamin B-12 shots and sold them on a street corner in the French Quarter.
CFR pick: Until proven otherwise, 'Bama should be picked to win every January. Don't overthink things. Although last year bears mentioning, when the Tide lost to Clemson in the title game. That's a notable exception. Maybe there's something to the hoopla after all.
The Chicken: Roll (just barely) Tide . . . 'Bama by 1
* The World's Greatest College Football Report's Bowl Preview Part 1. Keywords: AutoNation, Dreamstyle Remodeling, Las Vegas, Mountain Dew Mouth, North Texas Mean Green, Raycom, Troy Trojans.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report's Bowl Preview Part 2. Executives at Cheribundi no doubt would have preferred a more competitive game. Having signed on as the bowl sponsor until 2019, Cheribundi needed the contest to attract at least some marginal attention to bolster the awareness of its tart cherry beverages nationwide.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report's Bowl Game Preview Part 3. In this world of uncertainty, the Potato Bowl remains our rock.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report's Bowl Game Preview Part 4. Overlapping with the NFL schedule this weekend provides a gift to bettors: putting action on pro/bowl teasers.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report Bowl Game Preview Part 5. Introducing The Fourth Down Stupidity Index, starring Northern Illinois University. Oh, Huskies!
* The World's Greatest College Football Report Bowl Game Preview Part 6. "One of the few remnants of Red Terror appears ingloriously as the name of the school's gameday bus service."
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