Thursday, December 27, 2018

College Football: How I Quit Worrying and Learned to Love the Bowls. (Part, The Sixth)

Your look back:

Part, The First
Part, The Second
Part, The Third

Part, The Fourth

Part, The Fifth

As I write this I'm not sure of my results on Wednesday's games, sometimes work and real-life preclude you from knowing.  Because of that I'm still saying I'm 9-9 at the current time as we start to roll into the "bigger" bowl games.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Purdue vs. Auburn (-3.5) [55.5] ML: Pur +145 Aub -170

Bowl season is a horrible determinant of conference power, yet people look at the results as definitive nonetheless. Because of that this match between two middling conference teams, both coming off somewhat disappointing regular seasons, is HUGE for the B1G as it will further bolster their case that Ohio State was wrongly excluded from the increasingly discredited College Football Playoff Invitational.

Purdue started the season horribly, losing their first three before winning five in the middle and finishing the season off with a bowl-qualifying victory over rival Indiana.  In the middle of that mess they put a whupping on Ohio State, at the Horseshoe, beating the Buckeyes 49-21, a loss that's rightly pointed to when the argument against OSU is made for the CFPI.  Then head coach Jeff Brohm decided to stay, instead of going to try and fix the mess that is Louisville, and things seemingly got a little better.  Watch WR Rondale Moore, if Purdue is going to have a chance then he is gong to need to shine.

Auburn is starting to wonder whether head coach Gus Malzahn is the right guy to lead a program who wants to compete with Alabama on a regular basis, but always seems to be a step below. Offensively the Tigers have been a complete disaster, and it's hard to determine exactly why. Most embarrassing was a loss to Tennessee, a total head-scratcher from a team full of them this year.

This is a classic good offense vs. good defense match-up, the difference here being that I think Purdue has good talent and play on the defensive side as well. Certainly enough to contain Stidham and the War Eagle offense.

Pick: Purdue to win on the ML

Prediction: Purdue 27 Auburn 20

(Note: The lines here are eerily similar, not a lot of advantage to be found either way.  Caesars has a better over line (54.5) and stay away from Westgate if you're an Auburn ML player.  Otherwise, hit up your favorite book)

Camping World Bowl

West Virginia vs. Syracuce (-1) [67.5] ML: WV -105 SU -115

This line opened at -7, for West Virginia, then Mountaineer QB Will Grier announced he was sitting out to prepare for the NFL draft and the slide began to a point where Syracuse is now the favorite.  Full Disclosure: I fired on this game when the lines were released but I'll handicap it here as if I didn't.

Grier's decision is a net positive for West Virginia long term. Instead of having the redshirt Senior play his last game, WV gets to look at two quarterbacks who should compete for the position in Spring Training next year. Both RS Soph Jack Allison and true Freshman Trey Lowe have talent. The question is which one of them can win the job.  They'll have talented receivers to target, and a running game that's competent. One big problem, one of the 'Neers best offensive linemen, LT Yodney Cajuste will be missing as well WR Gary Jennings Jr.

Syracuse, on the other hand, is saying goodbye to QB Eric Dungey, a standout player for them who is the heart and soul of their team. They will be missing two key defensive linemen, DE Alton Robinson and DT McKinley Williams, so that's a concern. But Dungey is looking to have a big game to close out his Syracuse career and that should not be overlooked. 

Despite all of the key players missing, I'm expecting points galore in this game.  Under Dana Holgerson WV offense should be OK, even with the missing players, and I think Syracuse is going to have difficulty getting the Allison and Lowe without a full complement of defensive linemen. That said, I don't see anything to prove against Syracuse on offense being able to do whatever they want against the WVU defense.

Pick: Syracuse to COVER -1 and the OVER.

Prediction: West Virginia 35 Syracuse 45

(Note:If you like WVU you should go ML, which means Will Hill at +105 currently. Also, grab the over at Caesars, where 67 is better than 67.5 for more than a few reasons.)

Valero Alamo Bowl

Iowa State vs. Washington State (-3) [56.5] ML: ISU +135 Wazzu -155

The Alamo Bowl is one that people look at as always being a dog of a bowl game, but usually turns out pretty interesting. The bowl is usually drunk, played with errors, silly stuff but rarely a ton of points.  When it DOES turn out however it's a classic.  Since this game regularly features the teams from the PAC-12 and Big XII who just missed a NY 6 game, it usually has two fairly competitive teams playing in it.

Iowa State wanted to be better than they actually were this season. After starting 1-3 they benched their starting QB and turned to Freshman Brock Purdy, who led them to five straight wins (including a win over West Virginia) and they were starting to dream about playing in the Big XII title game when Texas sent all of that tumbling down.  They still rallied to win eight games (including a hurricane make-up game with FCS Drake) and are a well-balanced team with some athletic talent on both sides of the ball.

Washington State started off Pac-12 play with a loss to USC, then they ran the table before ultimately losing to Washington in a snow-filled Apple Cup which knocked them out of Pac-12 Championship participation.  They have a gun-slinger in QB Gardner Minshew, who is running Mike Leach's offense to perfection when all is right.  Still, losing to Washington and ending up here, getting shafted for a NY 6 bowl in the process, means that motivation is a huge concern for the Cougars.

Washington State should pass the ball, a lot, and Iowa State should run the ball provided RB David Montgomery is healthy.  Iowa State has a good defense, but they are susceptible to the pass. Washington State's defense struggles against the run.  Hold on folks.

Pick: Washington State to COVER -3 and OVER

Prediction: Iowa State 38 Washington State 48

(Note: Grab the over at Will Hill or Wynn for a half point, you don't have to buy the hook.)

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl

Florida vs. Michigan (-6) [51] ML: FL +200 M -250

If you've followed this blog all season, then you know I don't bet on Michigan. I'm a fan.

This is a game that no one really wants to see. And, to be honest, even though I'm a Michigan fan and will watch, I really don't care much about the result. Michigan's defense should run roughshod over Florida's offense and the Michigan O should do enough to win.  A better matchup here would have been Florida/UCF and Michigan/LSU in the Sugar.

Prediction: Florida 10 Michigan 38

Belk Bowl

South Carolina (-5.5) vs. Virginia [53.5] ML SC -240  UVA +190

The most overhyped bowl every.single.year. I'm not a fan of the Belk Bowl, but I'll watch the damn thing because it's on Saturday.

South Carolina finished 7-5, and failed to beat a ranked team long the way. They are among the most overrated teams in college football because, and only because, they play in the SEC. They have some talent on offense, QB Jake Bentley is serviceable and WR Bryan Edwards is a force, but they sport dodgy O-line play which is a killer against good teams.

Virginia was projected to finish last in the ACC this year, not just in their division, but they were pegged to be the worst team in the ACC, yet they played hard and found a gift for running the ball and coupling that with a pass game that featured QB Bryce Perkins throwing to all-name candidate WR Olamide Zaccheus.  Coach Bronco Mendenhall is building something here, and back-to-back bowl seasons should mean that no one will underrate this team going forward.

Go back to the first thing I said about SC. They cannot beat good teams.  And I think Virginia is a pretty good team, their finish to the season notwithstanding. I think Mendenhall is going to look at SC and realize that the Hoos can run the ball down their throats with regularity. I don't think that this will be a high-scoring game, but I don't think Cocky has the ability to stop what UVA is going to want to do on offense.

Pick: Virginia to WIN on the ML

Prediction: South Carolina 13 Virginia 24

(Note: Westgate or Wynn for this bet, where you can grab +190)

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Arkansas State (-1.5) vs. Nevada-Reno [57.5] ML: AState -120 UN-R +100

When I look at this bowl initially what I see is fun. Pure, unadulterated, late Saturday night, Mountain West  After Dark fun.  Fitting for the last true late night game of the season we're going to see.

Arkansas State has done it with defense, finishing with 4-straight wins after a rocky season start. Watch for DE Ronheen Bingham who is a disruptive force and on offense NFL pro-prospect Justice Hansen can throw the ball to a variety of targets.  This is one of the best Sun Belt programs in the current environment and they can light it up with the best of them.

Nevada-Reno should be pissed.  After having a decent season they were all but convinced they were going to go 8-5 after winning against UNLV and taking the Fremont Cannon back home.  Whoops. UNLV won 34-29 in a late-night Mountain West After Dark Spectacular and now the Cannon is painted red, and the Wolfpack are an angry lot. QB Ty Gangi played horribly in that game, but he's been solid all season, they run the Air Raid offense with Hal Mumme at the controls so it doesn't get much better than that.

All that said, I'm not a fan of the Air Raid. I think it's ran it's course and teams, for the most part, have scouted it out. Bingham is going to be the best player on the field when UN-R has the ball and I'm not sure the Wolfpack's WR's are going to be able to get much separation from the Red Wolves defenders. I do however think that points are going to be plenty.  Which is fitting for what is essentially a post-season extension of Mountain West After Dark craziness.

Pick:  OVER 57.5

Prediction: ASU 42 Nevada 38

(Note: Very even lines in this game, but if you like UN-R to pull the upset head to either Caesars or Will Hill for 5 points better payouts.)

Next up are the two CFPI games, and then we get into the final two bowl days, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  And then that's it.  Football season over. 

On this blog we have decided to not recognize, watch or give any publicity to the CFPI championship.  We will not be watching either.  College football doesn't need a National Champion nor does it need 10 people being exclusionary to obtain it.

Enjoy the games.

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