It is just about that time. The most wonderful time of the year.
College Football Bowl Season.
Given that I ran out of time during the season to continue my more than pathetic Five this year I thought I'd give you some further insight into the mind of a square by handicapping and picking (or trying to) all 40(!!!) Bowl Games. (OK, 41 but who's counting)...
We're going to break this up into pieces, and the first piece, for me, will be the games occurring before Christmas which start tomorrow in the afternoon.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (December 19th 1:00 PM CST):
Arizona (-7.5) @ New Mexico [O/U 65] - Arizona under performed this season and New Mexico is showing signs of continual improvement. Early games like this can, and often are, settled on motivation. I expect New Mexico to have a lot of it and Arizona to have little. I like New Mexico to cover here, and maybe even pull off a (mild) upset. I also like the under due to the return of Scooby Wright who makes the Wildcats defense much more dangerous. Arizona 23 New Mexico 20
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (December 19th 2:30 PM CST):
BYU @ Utah (-2.5) [O/U 51.5] - The return of the Holy War is the early season bowl match-up for which I am most excited. Unlike most early games, this game is a rivalry that should not suffer from one team going through the motions. The Utes have no running game right now and were sputtering down the stretch. BYU has lost Bronco Mendenhall so who knows what their game plan will be? I think it will be a higher scoring affair and BYU will pull off the upset. BYU 36 Utah 31.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (December 19th 4:30 PM CST):
Ohio @ Appalachian State (-7.5) [O/U 55] - As a Michigan fan, I'm morally opposed to anything Appalachian State. Plus, I really think that Ohio coach Frank Solich is good at these types of games. Saying all of that, I think App State is much, much the better team. Ohio 14 App State 42.
AutoNation Cure Bowl (December 19th 6:00 PM CST)
San Jose State (-2) @ Georgia State [O/U 68] - If you're planning on watching this game (I am) then you are either an alum of the two universities, are hopelessly addicted to college football (guilty) or have money riding on the game. Either way I think the Spartans are going to get up early, and score often on a Georgia State team that I think is overmatched despite having the marginally better record. San Jose State 49 Georgia State 10
R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (December 19th 8:00 PM CST)
Arkansas State @ Louisiana Tech (-2) [O/U 68] - The Bulldogs get a lot of run despite being a team that can't win the Conference USA title. Compare that to Arkansas State which did win the Sunbelt Conference title, a conference that does well here. I like the Red Wolves to pull off the upset in a high scoring game that might be the most exciting game of the day. Arkansas State 47 Louisiana Tech 45.
Miami Beach Bowl (December 21 1:30 PM CST)
Western Kentucky (-2.5) @ South Florida [O/U 66] - The Hilltoppers have been one of my favorite teams all year. They have a good offense and an underrated defense. While the Bulls are better than last year, I don't think they have enough firepower to outscore Western Kentucky. This game has the misfortune of being played when most people are at work so few will have the chance to see it. Western Kentucky 38 South Florida 24.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (December 22nd 2:30 PM CST)
Akron @ Utah State (-6.5) [O/U 47.5] - This is a matchup between two teams that I picked, in pre-season, to win their respective conferences. Both underperformed. Utah State gets back QB Chuckie Keeton who many believe will go out a winner. I think so too, but I think that the Zips are going to be good enough to keep the game close. The line I like best here is the total. I think 47.5 is way too low. Akron 35 Utah State 38.
Marmot Boca Raton Bowl (December 22nd 6:00 PM CST)
Temple (-2) @ Toledo [O/U 51] - Call this the Group of 5 disappointment bowl, as both teams thought that they might be playing on New Year's Day in a major bowl. I expect this to be a sloppy, poorly played game that swings to victory based on fundamentals. With that being the case, I give the edge to the Owls. Temple 21 Toledo 10.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (December 23rd 3:30 PM CST)
Boise State (-8) @ Northern Illinois [O/U 56] - At the beginning of the season the Broncos were considered to be a shoo-in to be the Group of 5 representative in one of the Big Six New Year's Day Bowls. Then they went and lost badly to Utah State (without Chuckie Keeton). Northern Illinois is a perennial top team in the MAC, and they would have won the championship were it not for Dino Babers and Bowling Green. I think Boise State is overrated. So I think the line is skewed their way. I also think both teams are going to score in bunches. Boise State 42 Northern Illinois 38.
GoDaddy Bowl (December 23rd 7:00 PM CST)
Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green (-8) [O/U 66] - First, both teams are replacing their coaches from 2015. Willie Fritz is heading to Tulane and Dino Babers will be manning the Syracuse sideline next season. So that's a wash. What's not a wash is the Georgia Southern rushing offense. They rolled up 4267 yards this year, averaging 355.5 yards per game. Bowling Green gave up an average of 408.8 yards per game this year, almost half of them on the ground. On the other side of the ball Bowling Green has Matt Johnson, one of the better non-Power 5 quarterbacks and someone who's expected to be drafted into the NFL. Georgia Southern was ranked #21 in total defense this year. I think this game is a blowout however, because Southern has nowhere near the speed and athleticism of the Eagles. Georgia Southern 13 Bowling Green 38.
Popeye's Bahamas Bowl (December 24th 11:00 AM CST)
Middle Tennessee State @ Western Michigan (-4) [O/U 63.5] - Middle Tennessee State has a problem, they have a one-dimensional offense that can throw the ball around, but cannot run. Western Michigan is more balanced, but neither team has a thousand yard rusher on the roster. Both teams gave up between 4500 and 5000 yards all season on defense. I think we have a high, high scoring game here and I think both of these teams are close enough that the last one to possess the ball could win. MTSU 42 Western Michigan 45.
Hawai'i Bowl (December 24th 7:00 PM CST)
San Diego State @ Cincinnati (-1.5) [O/U 56.5] - I'm excited for this game, because I think the Aztecs are one of the better Non-Power five conference teams that nobody knows about. They have the 5th best defense in terms of total defense in all of Division 1 and they have an offense that moves the ball both running and passing. They finished 10-3 for the year, and beat a pretty good Air Force team to win the Mountain West. Cincinnati finished 7-5, 3rd in their division in the American Conference and barely beat a collapsing ECU team to make this bowl. San Diego State 41 Cincinnati 13.
The biggest problem with selecting bowl games is that you never know how teams are going to view them. For some, it's just a chance to have additional practices after a season and they don't actually do much in preparation for the game itself. For others, it's a chance to shine on the National stage where, sometimes, they'll be the only game on TV.
There are good, and bad, bowl games on the schedule prior to Christmas. Some I think will be close, and some I think will be laughers. Either way good luck in your plays and remember, these picks are for informational purposes ONLY. No offers are made or given for solicitation of bets.