Today (Saturday) is the last game of the 2018 college football season as Army takes on Navy at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia at 2 p.m. on CBS in the 119th meeting between the two service academies.
Army enters the game as a seven-point favorite and has been victorious the last two seasons over the Midshipmen. The Cadets are 9-2 on the season and are headed for a date with Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl. Meanwhile, Navy has stumbled to a 3-9 record and its first losing season since 2011 and will miss out on a bowl game for just the second time in 15 years.
Don’t let the 3-9 record fool you, Navy is nine points away from being 6-6, with two losses coming by a single point.
This will be a typical Army-Navy game with all of the pageantry and a lot of back-and-forth action, but don’t expect the Midshipmen to back down to a nine-win Army team. Look for the Middies to spring the upset on a late field goal.
The first bowl game of the year will be the Celebration bowl next Saturday when Alcorn State meets North Carolina A&T in Atlanta.
I don’t know much about either team, but when forced to make a prediction .. I will go with the ’Corn.
On Dec. 27, the SEC will play its first bowl game when Vanderbilt takes on Baylor in the Texas Bowl. Both squads have posted non-losing seasons when most expected both to lose more than they won. For me, I will take Derek Mason and Vandy to drop the Bears in the Lone Star State.
Up next is Auburn and Purdue in the Music City Bowl. The Boilermakers had a better season than most expected, while the Tigers from The Plains had a season that didn’t meet up to preseason expectations. After a lackluster performance in last year’s bowl game against Central Florida, I expect Auburn to be more focused and pull out the win.
On Dec. 29, there are a pair of SEC bowl games as Florida takes on Michigan in the Peach Bowl and South Carolina battles Virginia in the Belk Bowl ahead of the College Football Playoff semifinal matchups.
Michigan will topple the Gators and the Cocks will rise to the occasion to smack down Virginia.
There is another pair of SEC bowl games on Dec. 31 when Missouri and Oklahoma State hook up in what should be a shootout and N.C. State takes on Texas A&M. Take Missouri to out-battle the Cowpokes and take the Wolf Pack to knock off the Aggies.
New Year’s Day will see four SEC teams doing battle in a quartet of intriguing games.
Miss. State takes on Iowa in the Outback Bowl and I like the Dawgs to take care of business against the Hawkeyes.
Kentucky takes on Penn State in a battle of big cats. This is a bit of a toss-up game, but I like former SEC head coach James Franklin (Vanderbilt 2011-2013) to have just enough to get past the boys from the Bluegrass State.
LSU and Central Florida has been declared by some talking heads as the best non-CFP game on the slate. The Knights put their 25-game winning streak on the line against an LSU team looking for its 10th win and best finish since 2011. Don’t bet against the boys from the bayou despite the Knights’ quest to take down a second SEC team in a bowl game in consecutive seasons.
Texas hooks up with Georgia in the Sugar Bowl in what could be a whale of a game. If the Dawgs show up focused, this could be a double-digit win for Georgia. However, if there is a hangover from the SEC championship game (and missing out on the CFP) then the Dawgs could get hooked. I will take Georgia by a touchdown.
As far as the CFP is concerned, I will be a bit surprised if the national title game isn’t Alabama vs. Clemson. Which could be a whale of a game. But I think the Tide is the best team in the land and Bama should roll to its 18th national title … unless something crazy happens.
Boomer Sooner, anyone?
Guru Nichols is former sports editor of the Leader-Call.