Philadelphia, PA – The New Year's Eve celebration usually ends at midnight but it begins 12 hours earlier in Nashville where Vanderbilt hosts North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl.
Vanderbilt is going bowling for the second straight season, a first for the university. In addition, the Commodores have been one of the hottest teams in the country with six consecutive victories, including a 55-21 dismantling of Wake Forest in the season finale. They hope to knock off another Atlantic Coast Conference foe in North Carolina State.
The Wolfpack won four of their first six games, including a one-point thriller over Florida State, but were up-and-down the second half of the season. Still, many of their games were extremely predictable.
A letdown was expected after the win over the Seminoles and it showed as North Carolina State barely got past a stubborn Maryland squad by two points. Overtime loomed against North Carolina but the Wolfpack allowed a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown inside the final minute in their next game.
Their minds were elsewhere versus Virginia the following week due to the tough last minute loss to their arch-rivals. The Cavaliers pounded North Carolina State, 33-6. The 'Pack regrouped to crush Wake Forest, 37-6 before finishing up with an expected loss at Clemson and a home win over Boston College.
Even though Vanderbilt has won six games in a row, only one of those victories came against a team that made the postseason. In fact, the Commodores failed to beat any squad that finished above .500 the entire year!
North Carolina State has been extremely solid in bowl games of late at 6-2 straight-up and 7-1 against-the-spread. Expect each of those impressive records to increase by one with an upset victory over Vanderbilt.
Take the Wolfpack plus seven points.
TWO MORE THRE-STAR SELECTIONS
The final New Year's Eve contest pits LSU and Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl - a rematch of the 1996 Peach Bowl, where LSU won, 10-7.
These two teams have played a pair of common opponents in Auburn and South Carolina. Both clubs knocked off the former with LSU winning by two in Auburn, and Clemson getting the job done in the Georgia Dome by a touchdown. LSU also defeated the latter by a deuce while the Gamecocks got the best of Clemson, 27-17.
If the Tigers scored just 17 points against South Carolina and 26 versus a bad Auburn team, imagine how few points they'll put up against LSU. In addition, LSU averaged just 22.5 ppg on offense in its last eight FBS games.
Look for Clemson to score around three touchdowns, so for this contest to go over the total, LSU will have to put up over 38 points, and the Tigers have done that just one time against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since the third week of the season.
Take under 59 points.
The other three-star play comes two days prior on Dec. 29 in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Navy comes into this one with just three weeks of preparation due to the Dec. 8 game against Army. On the other hand, Arizona State has not played since upsetting Arizona all the way back on Nov. 23.
The Midshipmen have won all but one game since freshman Keenan Reynolds took over at quarterback for Trey Miller. However, it is not as if they blew out the competition. In fact, they are 0-4 ATS in their last four contests.
The Sun Devils were rolling along at 5-1 until they were blitzed by Oregon, 43-21. It seems as if it took them a few weeks to recover as they wound up losing their next three games.
Look for a ton of points to be scored in this one as both clubs are equally capable of scoring in the 30s.
Take over 56 points.
Go with Clemson +4.5 (LSU).
There are no one-star plays.
FINAL REGULAR SEASON RECORD
My overall regular season record ended at 93-85-5 after a 2-2 week. The five- star plays went 10-8-2, the three-star selections were 21-24-1, the two-star picks stood at 34-32-1 and the one-star plays ended at 28-21-1.
As a reminder, five-star plays are when my personal plays coincide with my power rating plays (games with at least a five-point differential between my line and the actual line). The three-star choices are my personal picks, the two-star plays are the games the power rating system picks and the one-star plays are my personal secondary selections.
THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"
1) Oregon, 109; 2) Alabama, 108; 3) Georgia, 104.5; 4) Texas A&M, 104; 5) Florida State, 99.5; 6-T) Notre Dame, Kansas State and South Carolina, 99; 9) Stanford, 98.5; 10-T) Clemson and Oklahoma, 98; 12) Oklahoma State, 97.5
(The Top 12 is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all 124 FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)