Monday, December 28, 2015

College Football: Bowl Predictions Part III: Bring on the Big Games

So far, there have been a lot of good games, and a lot of scoring......

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Tue, Dec 29, 1:30 PM CST)
  California (-7) @ Air Force [O/U 67.5] - California comes into this game off of a disappointing season where they thought they might have a legitimate shot at the CFP early on.  Air Force finished the season with two losses to New Mexico and San Diego State. This could be the last game for the Bears QB Jared Goff who's looked both great, and average this year. Because of this I think he comes out and tries hard to help his draft stock. Since Cal's receivers are much more athletic than anyone on Air Force's roster I'm pulling for the service academy but picking a team I really don't like. Cal 34 Air Force 20.

Russell Athletic Bowl (Tue, Dec 29, 4:30 PM CST)

North Carolina (-3) @ Baylor [O/U 69.5] - There are two big questions surrounding this game: 1. Will either team be motivated to play in it considering they each thought they had CFP chances? 2. Who in the heck is Baylor going to have healthy?  Under normal circumstances I would like Baylor here, but they are down to their 3rd or 4th string QB and will be missing their #1 wide receiver in Coleman.  Add to that the fact that the Bear's defense is one step above air. North Carolina 42 Baylor 10.

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. (Tue, Dec 29, 6:30 PM CST)

Nevada @ Colorado State (-3) [O/U 56.5] - Also known as the "You're not going to be able to watch this Bowl" due to it having no television contract which means that it will only be available via online streaming.  This is good however, because this game is nothing more than a Mountain West conference game pitting two teams that, thankfully, didn't play during the regular season but who didn't seriously contend in their divisions. Nevada 17 Colorado State 20.

Advocare V100 Texas Bowl (Tue, Dec 29, 8:00 PM CST)

LSU (-7) @ Texas Tech [O/U 73.5] - A surprisingly decent match-up on paper that I think is going to be lopsided when actually played. Say what you want about him, Les Miles is a much better coach than Kingsbury and has a lot more talent to work with. LSU 63 Texas Tech 20.

Birmingham Bowl (Wed, Dec 30, 11:00 AM CST)

Auburn (-3) @ Memphis [O/U 62.5] - Memphis started the year strong with solid wins over Bowling Green, South Florida and (most notably) an Ole Miss team that looked pretty good. They then lost three straight to Navy, Houston and Temple which landed them here. Auburn, on the other hand, struggled against middling opposition and proved themselves to be what I called them at the beginning of the season: the most overrated team in college football.  Still, Memphis lost their coach which is going to have an effect. Auburn 27 Memphis 20.

Belk Bowl (Wed, Dec 30, 2:30 PM CST)

North Carolina State @ Mississippi State (-6) [O/U 60.5] - Yes, Boston College finished the season 7-5 and earned a bowl bid but, they did not beat a single team that also made it to a bowl. In short, this is NOT a good team. I don't think this one will be all that close as Dak Prescott says goodbye in style. NC State 3 Miss State 47

 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Wed, Dec 30, 6:00 PM CST)

Texas aTm @ Louisville (-4) [O/U 47.5] - Due to aTm's well documented issues at quarterback, the line on this game has moved wildly toward Louisville since opening with the Aggies as a slight favorite. The total has dipped as well as people wonder what aTm has at QB now that Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen have both jumped ship.  Normally this would cause me to pick against the Aggies but there's one thing giving me pause: Louisville coach Bobby Petrino.  aTm still has a good defense tho. Texas aTm 17 Louisville 13.

National Funding Holiday Bowl (Wed, Dec 30, 9:00 PM CST)

USC (-3.5) @ Wisconsin [O/U 50.5] - Wisconsin gets more love than they should ever year, and USC has been playing much better football of late. I think the difference here lies in speed and athleticism, which USC has by the boatloads. USC 35 Wisc 28.

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl (Thur, Dec 31, 11:00 AM CST)

Houston @ Florida State (-7) [O/U 50.5] - Amazingly, it appears that Everett Golson's missing this bowl has not moved the line at all. That said, after watching both teams several times this year I think this line is way, way off.  Houston is going to be better coached, and better prepared than a Florida State team who's been public about their displeasure in having to play the Group of 5 school. Still, Dalvin Cook is still playing so the 'Noles are in with a chance. Houston 41 Florida State 38.

College Football Playoff

Capitol One Orange Bowl [College Football Playoff Semi-Final #1] (Thur, Dec 31, 3:00 PM CST)

Oklahoma (-3.5) @ Clemson [O/U 64] - Due to greed, and an unwillingness to tell the Rose Bowl what to do with itself, this game is going to be played when a significant portion of college football fans are still at work. Imagine the NFL holding playoff games on a Thursday afternoon. It would never happen.  That said, Oklahoma is the sexy pick here and I really believe this game is too close to provide a definitive call on.  If anything, I'm leaning toward the Tigers to cover in a high scoring game that's one of the best of the bowl season. Oklahoma 38 Clemson 37.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl [College Football Playoff Semi-Final #2] (Thur, Dec 31, 7:00 PM)

Michigan State @ Alabama (-10) [O/U 46.5] - Due to greed, and an unwillingness to tell the Rose Bowl what to do with itself, this game is going to be played when a significant portion of college football fans are at New Year's Eve parties. Imagine the NFL holding playoff games on Christmas night. It would never happen. The problem that I see, for the Spartans, is that they're the type of team that Alabama typically dominates, slow, B1G, not a very inventive offense.  Think Wisconsin, but better. 'Bama started this season beating the Badgers 35-17 I think they win here, but I also think 10 points is a LOT to give.  Michigan State 17 Alabama 21.

New Year's Day

Outback Bowl (Fri, Jan 1, 11:00 AM CST)

Northwestern @ Tennessee (-8) [O/U 47] - Both of these teams finished the year strong, on long winning streaks, against good to OK competition. That said, I can't figure out why the line is leaning so far towards the Vols here. This is a classic example of the public's SEC bias IMO.  I think this will be a competitive game against two teams who had ups and downs over the past year. I also think Northwestern will struggle a little with Tennessee's athleticism. Northwestern 23 Tennessee 27.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (Fri, Jan 1, Noon CST)

Michigan (-4) @ Florida [O/U 39] - Back during the dark days when Appalachian State was blocking field goals to make Michigan the laughing stock of the nation, people forget that year's Wolverine team finished the regular season 8-3 and then beat the Tim Tebow-led Gators in a bowl game.  Fast forward to this year, and Michigan is no longer a national laughing stock (but Florida almost was) and we're in the same situation.  I have not made official picks on Michigan games all year, but I will in the bowl game because I've said that I'll pick them all.  100% a homer pick. Michigan 23 Florida 10.  Go Blue!!!

BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl (Fri, Jan 1, Noon CST)

Notre Dame @ Ohio State (-6) [O/U 56] - Call this the "We really don't want to be here either" Bowl as both teams had designs on playing the day before this, and then on the 11th. Ohio State has been a mess all year and Notre Dame is banged up. That said, I think Meyer is a much better coach than Kelley and he'll have the Buckeyes ready to play.  Notre Dame 17 Ohio State 38.

Rose Bowl Game Presented by NorthWestern Mutual (Fri, Jan 1, 4:00 PM CST)

Stanford (-6) @ Iowa [O/U 53] - This game then, is the reason the two CFP games are played when few will be watching.  The Rose Bowl, and the people who run it, are one of the greatest obstacles to reform in college football.  Well, that and the lack of courage the rest of the Country has in standing up to them.  Honestly, nothing about this game, and this match-up excites me. But, it's "tradition" and the parade in the morning is typically well-liked so there's that.  Stanford 17 Iowa 16.

Allstate Sugar Bowl (Fri, Jan 1, 7:30 PM CST)

Oklahoma State @ Ole Miss (-7) [O/U 67.5] - I would have rather seen Ole Miss and Ohio State play as I think that would have been quite the matchup. Instead we get an overrated OSU team that I think is going to get housed. This will set up many annoying "S-E-C" chants by people who didn't attend an actual SEC school.  And Paul Finebaum.  OSU 27  Ole Miss 45.

The minor bowls after New Year's Day (for some odd reason)

TaxSlayer Bowl (Sat, Jan 2, 11:00 AM CST)

Penn State @ Georgia (-6.5) [O/U 42.5] - Most of these games have all of the excitement of taupe paint. This game is no exception. I probably will go to the grocery store or something while this game is being played.  Ironically, I probably would have watched it earlier in the bowl season but I'm tired of games like this being played after New Year's Day.  Penn State 10 Georgia 42.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Sat, Jan 2, 2:20 PM CST)

Kansas State @ Arkansas (-12.5) [O/U 54.5] - Possibly the biggest mismatch of any bowl matchup on the schedule. K-State is not a good team this year, Arkansas is. Kansas State 7 Arkansas 38.

Valero Alamo Bowl (Sat, Jan 2, 3:45 PM CST)

Oregon @ TCU (-1) [O/U 78.5] - Maybe the best bowl matchup of the entire bowl season, and I'm including the playoff games.  Both teams score, neither team seems likely to stop the other.  They would have to put the number on this game close to 90 for me to consider the under.  A must watch. Oregon 47 TCU 45.

And finally (mercifully).....

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (Sat, Jan 2, 9:15 PM CST)

West Virginia (-1) @ Arizona State [O/U 64] - At the end of the (non CFP) bowl season we're treated to a game to determine who is the most average team in America.  Either the middle of the (Big XII) pack West Virginia or middle of the (Pac 12) pack Arizona State. I think the Pac 12 is the much better conference.  Hooray for mediocrity.  West Virginia 35 Arizona State 37.

And with that we await the College Football Playoff final game.

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