ACC bowl picks: Clemson over Bama and more ...

Bowl season is upon us in the ACC. Will the conference finish strong the way it did a year ago? Andrea Adelson and David M. Hale say yes.

Tuesday, Dec. 26

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke (6-6) vs. Northern Illinois (8-4), 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Hale: Maybe a month to regroup and reset is what the Duke offense needed. The Blue Devils finished the season strong, and though they lacked a breakaway receiver in ACC play, there are plenty of matchups to be won against NIU. Duke 28, Northern Illinois 21

Adelson: The Blue Devils pulled two upsets to make it into the bowl game and played much better offensively than they had during the six-game losing streak that nearly derailed their season. Daniel Jones will have a big game, and Duke will win a close one. Duke 28, Northern Illinois 24

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Walk-On's Independence Bowl: Southern Miss (8-4) vs. Florida State (6-6), 1:30 p.m., ESPN

Hale: It would be hard to fault Florida State for cashing in its chips and looking toward 2018. Derwin James and Josh Sweat aren't playing. Jimbo Fisher is gone. And Southern Miss can put up some points. Southern Miss 24, Florida State 21

Adelson: How motivated will Florida State be in this game? Considering how well the Seminoles played under interim coach Odell Haggins to get to bowl eligibility, I think every player on the team will want to send him out with a win. Florida State 30, Southern Miss 24

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa (7-5) at Boston College (7-5), 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Hale: Iowa's defense is solid against the run, allowing just nine touchdowns on the ground all season. But good backs have actually had quite a bit of success. Saquon Barkley had 211 yards rushing against the Hawkeyes. Jonathan Taylor ran for 157. David Montgomery had 112. J.K. Dobbins had just six carries but averaged 8.5 yards per rush. Boston College's AJ Dillon is in that class and should have a big day. BC 24, Iowa 21

Adelson: As Steve Addazio would say, there are going to be a bunch of dudes on this field grinding out what should be a physical game. Dillon makes the difference for Boston College. BC 33, Iowa 30

Thursday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman: Virginia (6-6) vs. Navy (6-6), 1:30 p.m., ESPN

Hale: Navy has lost six of its past seven and its defense is a mess, coughing up at least 30 points six times this season. Finishing with a winning record means something for Virginia, and Kurt Benkert & Co. should put up some points. Virginia 42, Navy 31

Adelson: Navy did limp to the finish while Virginia showed improvement across the board. The matchups favor the Hoos, and they have some experience against Navy's style of offense after playing Georgia Tech last month. Virginia 31, Navy 21

Camping World Bowl: No. 22 Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State (9-3), 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Hale: Oklahoma State is the type of offense that can frustrate a Bud Foster defense. The Cowboys thrive against man coverage, love to stretch the field and have just enough balance from the run game to keep the pass rush honest. Add in Josh Jackson's late-season struggles and Mike Gundy's mullet, and I'm forced to pick against the Hokies. Oklahoma State 35, Virginia Tech 34

Adelson: This is among the more intriguing matchups of bowl season, and I'd like the Hokies' chances better with a completely healthy team. But Virginia Tech is without its leading receiver, leading rusher and top playmaker on defense, making it even more difficult to win. Oklahoma State 35, Virginia Tech 27

Friday, Dec. 29

Belk Bowl: Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5), 1 p.m., ESPN

Hale: I've been on the John Wolford bandwagon all season. I'm aboard for one last ride. Wake Forest 30, Texas A&M 21

Adelson: Wake Forest had its best season on offense under coach Dave Clawson, and John Wolford will be playing in his final game as a starter. How much motivation will Texas A&M have under an interim coach? I'm going with the Deacs in what is essentially a home game. Wake Forest 30, Texas A&M 27

Hyundai Sun Bowl: No. 24 NC State (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5), 3 p.m., CBS

Hale: One team is still hoping to finish 2017 strong. The other is clearly looking ahead to 2018. The Herm Edwards era at Arizona State figures to be good, but it doesn't start until this game is over. Even if NC State's seniors take the game off, there's enough talent to win this one handily. NC State 24, Arizona State 17

Adelson: Agree with David. The Wolfpack has an opportunity to win nine games for the first time under Dave Doeren. NC State 33, Arizona State 21

Saturday, Dec. 30

TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville (8-4) vs. No. 23 Mississippi State (8-4), noon, ESPN

Hale: If this is the last we see of Lamar Jackson, I think he'll be leaving us on a high note. Add in the departure of Dan Mullen and (former Louisville defensive coordinator) Todd Grantham and everything sets up nicely for the Cardinals. Louisville 45, Mississippi State 24

Adelson: One more point to remember: Though playing without Jaire Alexander will hurt the Louisville defense, the Bulldogs are without starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Louisville 34, Mississippi State 31

Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 6 Wisconsin (12-1) vs. No. 10 Miami (10-2), 8 p.m., ESPN

Hale: It was a great season for Miami, but, as Clemson showed, the offense just doesn't have the weapons at this point to compete against a top defense. And to be sure, Wisconsin's defense is legit. Wisconsin 28, Miami 10

Adelson: This might as well be a home game for the Hurricanes, who went undefeated in South Florida this season. They didn't play well in their final two games, but expect an inspired performance. Miami's defense should be able to force Wisconsin to rely on the pass. Miami 24, Wisconsin 23

Monday, Jan. 1

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 1 Clemson (12-1)

Hale: Clemson's defensive line will be the difference in this game, corralling Jalen Hurts and controlling the line of scrimmage. More importantly, though: What's your favorite Part III? They generally aren't great. I'd lean Jedi. "Return of the King" is in the mix. "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," too. Regardless, there definitely haven't been enough Tokyo Drift references when discussing this game. Clemson 23, Alabama 21

Adelson: The hype surrounding Part III in this matchup will only grow as the week progresses. Here is where Clemson will win the game: in the trenches, where the Tigers have the advantage on both sides of the ball. Clemson 28, Alabama 21


Adelson: 85-25

Hale: 79-31