When it comes to bowl season, expect the unexpected
The 2018 college football regular season is in the books. It was another terrific year and it all comes down to bowl season for a number of teams.
Throughout the year, we saw some conferences, teams and individual players step up and surprise us, while others let us down. It all culminates with our favorite time of the year — bowl season — which is the ultimate goal for many programs.
This seems like a good time to make some OUTRAGEOUS* predictions. These picks are only for the game leading up to the New Year's Six bowls. I'll have another set of predictions for those games later on.
Outrageous Predictions for the 2018 College Football Bowl Season
The Mountain West runs the table
The boys out West had a solid year. The conference got six teams into bowls and finished with two teams in the Top 25. All six teams drew decent matchups, and only Nevada and San Diego State are playing teams that won more games. Between the tough competition these teams played during the year and the high-powered offenses most of them bring to the table, none of the Mountain West teams should have trouble scoring points while playing in optimal weather conditions. They'll be tough to beat.
The ACC gets shut out
It was the Pac-12 that took a ton of flack this season in terms of being what many perceived to be the weakest conference in the Power 5. The ACC seemed to get a pass thanks to Clemson, but truth be told, the conference is not very good. They were able to hide behind the Pac-12's struggles and some geographical bias to avoid the negative attention they should have gotten all season. The end result, however, will be apparent in the bowl games. Every one of the 10 ACC teams not named Clemson that are in the postseason drew opponents that are serious matchup problems both personnel-wise and in terms of playing styles. This will not end well.
The Big Ten redeems itself
After back-to-back years of being left out of the College Football Playoff, some people are questioning the selection process, while others are simply questioning how good the Big Ten actually is.
Truth be told, it's not that the Big Ten is bad, the teams just cannibalized themselves thanks to how deep the conference is. Teams like Northwestern and Purdue are capable of stepping up and playing with — as well as beating — anyone.
This adds another degree of difficulty for some of the Big Ten's blue blood programs. The end results are close games and losses that don't look great in the College Football Playoff selection process — thanks largely to historical perception.
None of that will matter in bowl season, as the nation's oldest conference enters the postseason with some of the nation's best coaches and most explosive players ready to makes statements. Look for the Big Ten to shine this bowl season.
*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.
Gardner Minshew sets NCAA single-game passing record
Washington State's mustachioed signal-caller has lit up the box score this season. He is about to enter an NFL draft where a lot is up in the air in terms of the quarterback position. What better way to get a jump on the draft season than by tossing up some video-game numbers against a decent Iowa State team? Look for Minshew to air it out all day and take down the record of 734 yards currently held by former Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday and some guy named Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.