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Saturday’s bowl primer: 5 games highlight 1st day of bowl season

bowl season begins saturday
MATTHEW EMMONS/USA TODAY SPORTS

Yes, it’s that time of the year – it’s bowl season!

The FBS postseason begins Saturday with five bowl games. Granted, there aren’t any must-see matchups, but the first and last games of the day should provide a lot of points.

In addition, there is one Power Five conference team (Oregon) vs. one conference champ (Boise State) and one conference co-champ (Troy) vs. one conference title-game loser (North Texas).

Hey, for the first day of bowl season, it should be entertaining. And, hey, isn’t it worth celebrating the first day of bowl season regardless?

New Orleans Bowl

Troy (10-2) vs. North Texas (9-4)
WHERE: Superdome, New Orleans.
TIME/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
BUZZ: This has the potential to be one of the better pre-New Year’s bowls. Troy won the Sun Belt, thanks to a strong offense. UNT won the Conference USA West Division, thanks to a strong offense. Troy is the only team nationally not to have allowed at least 25 points in a game this season. Both coaches – Troy’s Neal Brown, UNT’s Seth Littrell – should eventually get “better” jobs.
OFFICIATING CREW: from the Mountain West.
LINE: Troy by 6.5.
THE PICK: North Texas 30-27.

Cure Bowl

Georgia State (6-5) vs. Western Kentucky (6-6)
WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando.
TIME/TV: 2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
BUZZ: This has been an impressive first season for Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott, the former South Carolina offensive line coach (and interim coach when Steve Spurrier resigned in 2016). Western Kentucky QB Mike White has thrown for 8,189 yards and 61 TDs in the past two seasons. Georgia State struggles to run the ball.
OFFICIATING CREW: from the AAC.
LINE: Western Kentucky by 6.5.
THE PICK: Western Kentucky 31-23.

RELATED: The complete 2017 College Football Playoff and bowl schedule

Las Vegas Bowl

Boise State (10-3) vs. Oregon (7-5)
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas.
TIME/TV: 3:30 p.m., ABC
BUZZ: Oregon will be without star RB Royce Freeman (1,475 yards, 16 TDs), who has chosen to sit out this game. Ducks QB Justin Herbert is an exciting dual threat who presents problems for Boise State. Boise State’s offense isn’t as productive as usual and leading rusher Alexander Mattison (1,074 yards, 12 TDs) is banged-up and is a game-time decision. But the Broncos play solid defense. This is the first game for new Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. He was promoted from offensive co-coordinator when Willie Taggart left for Florida State.
OFFICIATING CREW: from the AAC.
LINE: Oregon by 7.
THE PICK: Oregon 27-23.

New Mexico Bowl

Colorado State (7-5) vs. Marshall (7-5)
WHERE: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque.
TIME/TV: 4:30 p.m., ESPN
BUZZ: Marshall comes in having lost four of its final five regular-season games. The Thundering Herd has been solid defensively but inconsistent offensively. QB Chase Litton needs a big game against a shaky Colorado State secondary. Colorado State QB Nick Stevens and WR Michael Gallup are an effective pass-catch combo — Gallup is third nationally with 94 receptions — and if RB Dalyn Dawkins runs effectively, the Rams will roll.
OFFICIATING CREW: from the MAC.
LINE: Colorado State by 5.5.
THE PICK: Colorado State 33-24.

Camellia Bowl

Arkansas State (7-4) vs. Middle Tennessee State (6-6)
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
TIME/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
BUZZ: Since QB Brent Stockstill returned from injury, MTSU is 3-1. But turnovers are an issue for the Blue Raiders, who have a minus-12 turnover ratio. Arkansas State QB Justice Hansen has thrown for 3,630 yards and 34 TDs, but he also has tossed 15 picks. Arkansas State has one of the best pass rushers in the nation in senior DE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, who has 13 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss this season; his 64 career tackles for loss is eighth in NCAA history. This could be (should be?) a shootout.
OFFICIATING CREW: from the Mountain West.
LINE: Arkansas State by 3.5.
THE PICK: Arkansas State 37-35.

For those of you who take an interest in the outcome beyond who simply won and lost, here are some sportsbooks to bet on the college football bowl games.

(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)

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