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Bowl predictions an exercise in futility

By: Wally Hall Wally Hall's Twitter account
Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Even though it is all speculation, the predictions for the bowls has been looked at.

It would make sense that ESPN.com, which has the broadcast rights to the majority of the bowls, would have a clue a week before the bowls were announced.

All that could be found was the predictions for the College Football Playoffs and if more was wanted it cost money and since it was just speculation, no money was going to be spent unless it included the winner of the first daily double this Friday at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

It didn’t.

ESPN’s two experts didn’t even agree on the playoffs: One had Georgia, Cincinnati, Michigan and Alabama, the other Georgia, Cincinnati, Michigan and Oklahoma State.

It would seem someone thinks Alabama is going to beat Georgia because if it doesn’t, the Crimson Tide will be the first two-loss team to make it.

Granted, there are 11 conference championship games this weekend and after those everything will become official. But for fun, the prediction here is the Final Four of football will be Georgia, Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame’s one loss was to undefeated Cincinnati, who everyone has penciled in for the playoffs. So far the Cowboys’ only loss was to 7-5 Iowa State, who will be in a second-tier bowl.

Most of the predictions didn’t have the Tide in the playoffs, but in the Sugar Bowl and Ole Miss playing in the Peach Bowl. Those are bowls in which the playoff selection committee names the matchups — in other words the teams are the top 10 after the Final Four.

Interestingly, Oklahoma got hit twice this past week. The loss to Oklahoma State slid them to something on the level of the Alamo Bowl and their coach, Lincoln Riley, jumped ship for Southern Cal, which has had a tumultuous football ride since Pete Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks.

Incidentally, Riley has never lived further west than Lubbock, Texas, where he was born and attended college at Texas Tech.

OK, but where will the 8-4 Arkansas Razorbacks play?

The Razorbacks will definitely play in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., or the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., or the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn. Or some other nice bowl.

Arkansas has not played in the Outback.

The best bowl for the fans is obviously Nashville, which is drivable in half a day. Jacksonville and Tampa are more than 13 hours from Little Rock.

For recruiting purposes, the Outback would be the best among the three mentioned unless the Hogs can get in the Texas Bowl in Houston, where everyone wants a recruiting foothold.

By the time frustration set in trying to figure out where people were getting there predictions, as many as five different sites had been looked at.

Some of the predictions were fun, like the SEC-Big 10 matchup in the Gator. Arkansas is predicted to be playing Wake Forest of the ACC.

While the Outback Bowl may be more interesting with Ybor City and all the beaches, it pays $6.4 million, the same as the Texas Bowl — which is the only college game on Jan. 4, meaning great exposure on TV in one of the most fertile recruiting areas in Texas.

A couple of predictors put Texas A&M there, others had it in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, which might happen because Florida fell apart. But the Aggies are 8-4, same as Arkansas, which beat them.

The SEC, which plays a major role in bowl assignments, owes the Razorbacks one after last year’s covid-19 conference schedule. But no matter where the Razorbacks go, it is postseason play a year earlier than hoped.


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