Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The first batch of many, (too)many College Football Bowl Games.

Once again we find ourselves on the cusp of a mess of a college football bowl season. If you're a dedicated college football fan (me) then this is the best time of the year. If you're a casual football fan this can be some hilariously bad football. If you're a fan of the NFL?  Just go away, this blog post has nothing for you.

There are, once again, over 40(!) bowl games being played from the major (the College Football Playoff) to the so-called "minor" (many of the games in this post).  Of course, to the teams playing, and their fans, these games are critical, they provide one last chance to see their teams play, they allow for a (sometimes) nice vacation during the Holiday season, and they offer the teams playing a group of extra practices that teams not qualified for a bowl do not receive.

The first games start this weekend, and they have a couple of very interesting match-ups right off the bat.

Let's dig in shall we?

Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Saturday, December 17th 1:00 PM CST.

New Mexico [7-4] (-7) vs. Texas San Antonio[6-6] O/U 62.5. Under head coach Brad Davies the Wolfpack of New Mexico had a good season and actually, for a few weeks, seemed as if they might make some noise in the Mountain West. Instead, they get a bowl matchup against a UT-SA team that showed some improvement as well.  Both teams settled around 50% when it came to covering the spread (NM 5-6, UTSA 6-5-1). My numbers show this game to be about a touchdown difference, so I'm not doing a thing here.  New Mexico 42 UT-SA 35.  Pick: OVER

Las Vegas Bowl Presented by GEICO, Saturday, December 17th 2:30 PM CST.

Houston [9-3] (-3.5) @SDSU [10-3] O/U 54.5. This is a classic "motivation" game. Houston was hoping for much better than this when the season started, has lost their coach to UT-Austin, and is desperately trying to hold things together from a recruiting perspective under new HC Major Applewhite. SDSU won the Mountain West and, while still disappointed, is in the best bowl game for them. On paper this is the most exciting bowl matchup of the day, but these games aren't played on paper.  This is the game that I will be watching because Brent Musberger and Jesse Palmer will be in the booth.  Houston 33 SDSU 39 Pick: SDSU on the moneyline and OVER.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. Saturday, December 17th 4:30 PM CST.

Toledo [9-3] (-1) @ Appalachian State [9-3]. O/U 57. This little ball game is possibly my favorite line of the day. Coming from the SunBelt Conference App State does not get much in the way of love from bettors, and to be honest, they're not that great against the spread this year (6-6). But I've no faith in the Toledo Rockets and I think App State gets the upset here. Toledo 27 App State 33. Pick: Appalachian State on the moneyline.

AutoNation Cure Bowl, Saturday, December 17th, 4:30 PM CST.

UCF [6-6] (-6) @ Arkansas State [7-5]. O/U 49.5. Another "upset special" where I think a SunBelt conference team is getting short shrift because they're a SunBelt conference team. In addition, I see some over potential here. Arkansas State has a dynamic offense that can put a bunch of points on the board, but they struggle defensively which should allow a revitalized UCF team score as well.  The deciding factor, to me, is team speed. Arkansas State has a ton more of it than the Knights. UCF 27 Arkansas State 38. Pick: Arkansas State on the moneyline and the OVER.

R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Saturday, December 17th, 8:00 PM CST.

Southern Mississippi [6-6] (-4) @ University of Louisiana Lafayette. [6-6]. O/U 58. Two teams with similar records that don't reveal how their seasons really went. USM was 3-9 against the spread while ULaLa was 8-4.  The Cajuns are yet ANOTHER good SunBelt team that usually gets some funny odds due to their conference affiliation. It seems the public just hasn't caught on in regards to these teams.  Southern Miss had a great year given the depths to which their program had fallen, and ULaLa took a step back during an injury plagued year. I expect this one to be close. USM 27 ULaLa 28. Pick: ULaLa to Cover +4.

Miami Beach Bowl. Monday, December 19th, 1:30 PM CST.

Central Michigan [6-6] @ Tulsa [9-3] (-11.5) O/U 68.5. To my mind, this is the biggest mismatch of the first batch of games. Central Michigan got a lot of press for beating Oklahoma State on a play that never should have happened. Tulsa has been one of the top offensive teams in the country all season long. Tulsa is also, perhaps surprisingly, going to keep head coach Philip Montgomery for at least another season.  In terms of motivation that's huge.  The MAC conference was among the weakest in college football this year, I'd have a problem picking them against almost anyone. CMU 14 Tulsa 56. Pick: Tulsa to cover -11.5.


And that's all I've got for the early slate.  Fade, follow, or ignore. Whatever, just enjoy the games.  I know that I will.

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