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College football picks, schedule: Predictions against the spread, odds for Citrus, Cotton, Rose Bowl games

It’s always a Happy New Year in the world of college football as the games normally played on New Year’s Day are a great way to end a season and kick off the first page of a new calendar. Due to Jan. 1 falling on a Sunday, those games will be played on Jan. 2 this year with the Rose Bowl holding its traditional 5 p.m. ET kickoff as the sun sets on the San Gabriel Mountains.

There will be a nice representation of the 2022 college football season on display Monday. No. 22 Mississippi State enters the ReliaQuest Bowl with heavy hearts and plenty of motivation as they face one of the year’s surprise teams in Illinois. No. 17 LSU and Purdue both exceeded expectations, though they kick off the Citrus Bowl headed in different directions with the Tigers entering Year 2 under coach Brian Kelly while the Boilermakers gear up for Year 1 under Ryan Pickett.

No. 10 USC, featuring freshly minted Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Caleb Williams, aims to end its season with a measure of momentum in the Cotton Bowl after missing out on the College Football Playoff. It battles No. 16 Tulane, which engineered arguably the greatest one-year turnaround in modern history and now prepares for next season with its coach and quarterback returning despite initial anticipation one or both would leave in the offseason.

And then there’s the Rose Bowl, perhaps the last traditional version of the event that will be played, with No. 8 Utah returning for the second straight year as No. 11 Penn State makes its first appearance since 2017. The Utes are seeking their first bowl victory since the 2017 season and first in a New Year’s Six or BCS bowl since the 2008 season. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, hope for the third such major-bowl victory since that same 2017 campaign.

Be sure to stick with CBS Sports all day Monday for continuous coverage on the final day of 2022 bowl season. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for all four games.

ReliaQuest Bowl: No. 22 Mississippi State vs. Illinois

Featured Game | Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Noon | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free) — Opt-outs always play a key role in bowls, and there are significant ones in this game. Rara Thomas led Mississippi State with 626 yards receiving this season and caught seven touchdowns, but he’s transferred to Georgia. Meanwhile, Illinois will be without leading rusher and Doak Walker Award finalist Chase Brown, as well as two pivotal members of its secondary in Devon Witherspoon and Sydney Brown. Also, Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters left to take the head coach job at Purdue. I don’t have a great read on who wins this game, but the one constant of Illinois games all season has been low scores. Let’s stick with that. Prediction: Under 46 — Tom Fornelli

Citrus Bowl: No. 17 LSU vs. Purdue

Featured Game | Purdue Boilermakers vs. LSU Tigers

1 p.m. | ABC, fuboTV (Try for free) — This is one of the biggest spreads in bowl season, and it’s just too wide. The Tigers won’t feel threatened by Purdue’s offense, and for the most part, will play ultra-conservative football knowing that they won’t have to do much in order to secure the win. LSU hasn’t covered in three of its last four games despite winning the division title, and that trend will continue even if it controls the game for a full 60 minutes. Prediction: Purdue +14.5 — Barrett Sallee

Cotton Bowl: No. 16 Tulane vs. No. 10 USC

Featured Game | USC Trojans vs. Tulane Green Wave

1 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — USC coach Lincoln Riley and Trojans defensive coordinator Alex Grinch got a good look at Michael Pratt and the Tulane offense when they were at Oklahoma. The Green Wave gave the Sooners all they could handle before falling short 40-35 in a game that saw Pratt score four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing), two of which came in the fourth quarter as Tulane came roaring back from a 23-point halftime deficit. I think Pratt and Tulane won’t come up short this time, and USC’s defense will have trouble getting stops.  Prediction: Tulane +2 — Chip Patterson

Rose Bowl No. 11 Penn State vs. No. 8 Utah

Featured Game | Utah Utes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

5 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — Despite an impressive 10-win campaign, Penn State is relatively unproven against the elite of college football with zero wins over ranked opponents. Utah hasn’t been perfect with narrow losses to UCLA and Oregon, but the Utes did not flinch when faced with superior athleticism against USC. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has never won a Rose Bowl, and this may very well be his moment. Prediction: Utah -2 — Shehan Jeyarajah

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $2,500 in profit over the past six-plus seasons — and find out.

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