After what was arguably the wildest and most unpredictable college football season we've seen since the inception of the College Football Playoff selection process, it's time to settle in for another exciting bowl season. This year's slate of games was forged from the fires of a season full of upsets, disappointments and a bit of controversy along the way.
Now we can sit back in "the good chair" and enjoy a fantastic bowl season full of OUTRAGEOUS* possibilities.
Outrageous Predictions for College Football Bowl Season
The Pac-12 gets shut out
After a season where the Pac-12 didn't have a realistic College Football Playoff contender by season's end, this shouldn't surprise many people — but it will. Washington, USC and Stanford — the conference's best teams — all have major flaws. They all also drew some tough matchups. As for the rest of the teams in the conference that will be bowling, they too drew tough matchups with a bunch of teams that have cultures that teach winning these games matters. The Pac-12 will finish the bowl season winless, and the conference will be judged.
The Big Ten runs the table
On the other end of the spectrum, the Big Ten had three teams that were realistic College Football Playoff contenders for the majority of the season. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State all finished in the top 10 of the three major polls and drew matchups where they will each likely be favored. As for the rest of the conference, this seems like the first time in years where its bowl qualifiers were not matched up against some of the best teams from the ACC and SEC across the board to play games essentially in the backyards of their opponents. Looking at the Big Ten bowl slate, you can make an argument that the old conference has the better team on paper in every matchup.
Jonathan Taylor sets the Orange Bowl rushing record
Taylor (above, right) averages more than142 yards per game on the ground and has eclipsed the 200-yard mark three times during the 2017 season. Wisconsin's opponent in the Orange Bowl — the Miami Hurricanes — are not exactly stout against the run. They give up 146.1 rushing yards per game — 41st in the country. Not only will Taylor be motivated to break Adrian Peterson's all-time freshman rushing record (he needs 79 yards), but the Badger game plan will likely center around pounding the ball all day with Taylor, just as it has all season. He needs to eclipse 206 to break Ahman Green's Orange Bowl rushing record. I'm betting he gets around 25 carries and rips off at least one run of 40 yards or more. That should be enough to get Taylor's name in the record books.
UCF defeats Auburn by double digits
The Knights have the nation's top-scoring offense and storm into the Peach Bowl with not much to lose. Auburn is coming off of a letdown of an SEC title game that cost the Tigers not only a conference championship, but also a spot in the College Football Playoff. Motivation and future NFL careers will be a factor in this one. Auburn will have trouble getting motivated, and a number of their players will have NFL dollars on the brain. On the flip side, UCF is motivated to finish the year as a top-10 team and the only unbeaten one in the FBS. As of right now, it's also looking like the Knights will have the bulk of the coaching staff that led them to this point for this game.
Alabama beats Clemson by 20
The Crimson Tide will have had a full five weeks to get healthy and prepare for this game. When healthy, I don't know that any team in the country can hang with Alabama. The Tide will be the more physical team in the matchup with Clemson from start to finish. Look for Nick Saban to go back to what has made Alabama a dynasty in his tenure: pounding the ball on offense and swarming to it on defense. Clemson is good and so is quarterback Kelly Bryant, but the 2017 Tigers are nowhere near as talented as the 2016 Deshaun Watson-led Clemson squad that took down Alabama a year ago. I predict a sound, wire-to-wire win for the Crimson Tide.
*Remember, "outrageous" can be defined as “wildly exaggerated or improbable,” and “very bold, unusual, and startling.” These are "outrageous" predictions and should be treated as such.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also covers the Big Ten for Black Heart Gold Pants, Iowa's SB Nation blog. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
(Top photo courtesy of @UCF_Football)