Texas Longhorns VS Alabama Crimson Tide: BCS National Championship Pick

As I said in my newsletter, Alabama is the best college football team in the Nation. Defensively they look superior to every other team, and offensively they often manhandle opposing defenses, control the clock, and have shown the ability to beat the snot out of opponents as well as win ugly. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will win this game.

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A month of no games can play tricks on a team, and that’s one of the reasons why this ridiculous bowl stuff makes everything a little more interesting. For an entire month, the Texas Longhorns have been hearing people talk about how they don’t have a chance against the best team in the SEC. They’ve heard about Heisman winner Mark Ingram and the powerful running game. They’ve heard about the defense with a handful of future NFL players. Yes, for one month, they’ve got to hear all the reasons they should lose. And it’s amazing how motivational that can be for a team that didn’t lose a single game all season long.

But despite that motivational push, it’s tough for me to go against Alabama here. Bowl games are special, and you never know, but the Tide look too tough in areas I think are most important. They are as tough as nails up front of offense and all over the field defensively. They allowed just 11 points per game, allowed 7 or less in 6 contests, and held normally powerful offenses like Arkansas, Florida, and Ole Miss to fewer than two touchdowns. The Crimson Tide are certainly battle tested. They easily ran throw what many people thought was the very best team in the Nation when they blistered Florida 32-13 in the SEC Championship game.

Texas struggled down the stretch, barely beating Texas A&M in a game where the Longhorns allowed 39 points (nearly twice as much as the Crimson Tide ever allowed in a single game this season) and needed a long last second field goal to beat Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship. Anything can happen in Bowl games, but if both these teams play to their potential, I think the Tide win easily. So I’ll take Alabama to cover the spread.

Texas Longhorns VS Alabama Crimson Tide (-3.5)

Central Michigan Chippewas VS Troy Tojans: GMAC Bowl Pick

The lesser known of the final two college football games of the season, but this one might very well be the more exciting game of the two. Both of these teams have shown the ability to fill it up on the scoreboard. And a great deal of that offensive success comes from their two quarterbacks.

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Dan LeFevour, the more know of the two, has college football’s all time passing/rushing/receiving touchdown mark, totaling 147 scores in his 4 years starting at Central Michigan. The dual threat has been one of the best college football players in the game during his 4 seasons under center, and capped off his career with a 71.2% completion percentage, 27 passing touchdowns and 14 rushing scores this season while leading the Chippewas in rushing as well; another great year for the 11-2 Chipps.

But many say Troy’s Levi Brown has the bigger upside of the two, at least as far as the NFL is concerned. He passed for 3,868 yards this season (800+ more than LeFevour) with 22 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. Brown has a very strong arm, and the Trojans averaged just .1 points per game less than the Chipps’ high powered offense. Both these teams can score the football.

As far as the gambling world is concerned, both these teams were book beaters, going 17-7 combined against the spread. The Trojans were 8-4 ATS while the Chippewas were 9-3. Troy averaged 33.1 points and 478.5 yards per game, 16th and 3rd in the Nation. Central Michigan finished 33rd with 416.9 yards per game, and one slot ahead of Troy in scoring with 33.2 points per contest.

Troy is just 1-3 all time in bowl games, beating Rice in the 2006 New Orleans Bowl. The Chipps are just 1-4 in post-season bowl play, also winning in 2006, against Middle Tennessee State in the Motor City Bowl. This is the first time these two teams have played.

And now for the reason why I’m taking Troy. I know I should have learned by now that betting against Superman Dan LeFevour isn’t the best bet around, but I like the Trojans in this one. They have really played good football over the last 8 games, losing only to Arkansas and beating up on just about every team in their path. Central Michigan will be their best win of the season, if they can pull the upset, and I think they will. LeFevour hasn’t performed his best in Bowl games, and it’s possible that might follow him into his final one. The Trojans boast a better passing attack than CMU has seen all season long, and I think that air attack will get the best of their secondary.

Central Michigan Chippewas VS Troy Trojans (+3)

FedEx Orange Bowl: Iowa Hawkeyes VS Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick

FedEx Orange Bowl: Iowa Hawkeyes VS Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick: The Hawkeyes had one hell of a run, and were quite possibly one starting quarterback injury away from a perfect season, which is something the Oklahoma Sooners might also say, but the Hawkeyes made it to 9 wins before running into that unfortunate event. For a team that wasn’t even thought of in the Pre-Season Top 25, the Hawkeyes beat up on a few of the best teams in the Big 10, winning by double digits in both Penn State and Wisconsin. They lost just two games, but it ended up being 2 of their last 3. They lost by 7 at home against Northwestern, a game in which Stanzi (their QB) got hurt. They lost their next game by 3, in overtime, @ Ohio State. And defensively, the Hawkeyes are easily one of the Top 10 units in the nation. They fly to the ball and keep everything in front of them. Very underrated.

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But I don’t think you can completely stop the Yellow Jackets, as Georgia Tech has put up plenty of points against good defenses, and put up plenty of rushing yards against solid defensive fronts. If I believed the Hawkeyes could score with the Yellow Jackets, I think they’d be an easy pick here, but with Richard Stanzi playing a football game for the first time in two months, I just can’t see him being accurate enough to march the Jackets down the field.

He wasn’t a super-accurate passer to start with, as his 56% completion percentage and his 15-14 touchdown to interception ratio insists, but after two months off, most of that time getting healthy, it’s tough for me to see him torturing the Yellow Jackets’ secondary enough to keep this game close. Tech doesn’t play great defense, so anything is possible, but the Yellow Jackets are my pick to win and cover.

Iowa Hawkeyes VS Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-5)

Boise State Broncos vs TCU Horned Frogs: Fiesta Bowl Pick

As I wrote in my stream of conscious article right after the BCS games were announced, this is the best worst game of the bowl season. These are two of the best teams in college football, despite their conferences, and their “small college” “mid-major” status. TCU has one of the better defenses a college team has put together since Miami was paying kids to play back in the day, and Boise State just comes out and beats just about every damn team they play – aside from TCU, last season, when the Broncos lost 17-16.

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This season, the two “big-time-small-schools” get to play each other, again, with absolutely no way to prove anything at all except that one of these teams is better than the other on Monday, the 4th of January, after a month between games. And it has no chance of proving to anyone that the Horned Frogs or Broncos should be in the hunt for a national championship, because they can’t pull a big upset over a top ranked BCS school. Oh no they can’t.

But these are two great teams, and while it will certainly be a solid match-up, I think the Horned Frogs will get the best of the Broncos once again. Boise State has a very solid offense and an underrated defense, but TCU’s better in both aspects. They might not throw it better, but they are more efficient and they will control the clock in this one. Eventually, they’ll pull away, and win this one by double digits.

Boise State Broncos VS Texas Christian Horned Frogs (-7)

College Bowl Games Picks, Predictions & Previews 02/01/2010

I didn’t ace Friday’s New Years’ games, going 2-3 with a couple losses in games I took the favorite (West Virginia and Oregon) but I look to fight back in Saturday’s lesser known bowl games. No highly ranked Top 10 match-ups here, oh no, the BCS takes a break from “blessing us” with their handy work, and we get to see unranked foes go at it, lower ranked teams try to beat up on unranked opponents, and probably some really good football. Don’t get it twisted, highly touted games rarely live up to the billing while these small bowl games often go big. Here’s some small write-ups for Saturday’s games.

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Northern Illinois Huskies (+7) @ South Florida Bulls (International Bowl): The Huskies won 4 of their last 6 to become bowl eligible, at one point winning 4 in a row before losing their final two games to end the season (both against bowling teams, Central Michigan and Ohio). South Florida lost 5 of their last 7 after a 5 game winning streak to open the season. They didn’t lose to bad teams by any means, but that doesn’t mean they played like a dream either. Rutgers spanked them 31-0, but they did beat West Virginia. This is a tougher game than people are giving credit, and the 7 points are something I expect to come in handy.

Connecticut Huskies @ South Carolina Gamecocks (-4.5) (AT&T Cotton Bowl): I really like the Huskies, have been pulling hard for them all season long, and will be rooting for them to win again here – but that doesn’t keep me from using my brain and seeing a very small chance of that happening. The Gamecocks are too tough defensively, and with all that time leading up to this game, I think the Ol’ Ball Coach will have a nice plan of attack on tap.

Mississippi Rebels (-3) @ Oklahoma State Cowboys (PAPAJOHNS.com Bowl): I haven’t been a big fan of Mississippi, and watching them play at times this season has been painful – but they turned the season around a bit and have looked semi-successful toward the end of the season. They have some great players, and a RB that can dominate a game. I think they take care of the Cowboys.

Arkansas Razorbacks @ East Carolina Pirates (+8) (AutoZone Liberty Bowl): East Carolina had a great season, and while they can lay eggs, so can the Razorbacks. Arkansas can play great and play like pee, and something tells me a 4 week wait to play the East Carolina Pirates won’t have them rolling with excitement. East Carolina won 6 of their last 7 including 4 in a row to end the season. I think they keep on that hot streak and stick with the Razorbacks.

Michigan State Spartans @ Texas Tech Red Raiders (-7) (Valero Alamo Bowl): I know there’s been some crazy ish going down amongst these two teams, and a lot of players are probably really grateful a game is just around the corner so they can play football and quit talking about off-the-field problems. But I actually think Michigan State’s problems greatly out-weigh Texas Tech’s dilemma, especially for just one game. Mike Leach’s firing will certainly effect the Red Raider team, but probably next season more than this one day. His staff knows what he wants to do, and they’ll do it. As for the Spartans, loosing a gaggle of important pieces for a suspension because of a fight probably puts them in an impossible spot. The Raiders have almost every single one of their players for this game- that’s important.

Sugar Bowl Predictions: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Florida Gators

One of these teams was supposed to go undefeated. One of these teams had a quarterback that was supposed to find himself at the top of the Heisman list, and one of these two programs were heavy favorites to win a National Championship – but the other team actually went undefeated, and the other team should have had a quarterback on the Heisman list (and would have had he not been out for a handful of games), and the other team got robbed a chance at the National Championship despite being undefeated, because they don’t play in a conference with “big” money. There it is. So Cincinnati comes to the Sugar Bowl trying to prove themselves a legit title contender, and Florida, well, they come to show that their game against Alabama was a fluke, and to send one of the best college players of all time out on a win.

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Both of these teams will be without the head coach that got them to where they are. Cincinnati’s head man Brian Kelly bolted for a chance to rebuild and their interim coach, Jeff Quinn headed out promptly, taking the Buffalo head job. Then you have Florida, and Urban Meyer’s health problems have him out of this game, and almost retiring from the position altogether, but that’s all up in the air, or changed, or – well, we’ll see how that goes in due time.

The bottom line is Florida is an elite team in the country. Their defense has heaps of NFL talent and their offense has one of the greatest leaders of college football history – not to mention speed that Cincinnati hasn’t seen. And I think Cincinnati’s luck has run it’s course – this is a team that had their fair share of close games, and should have lost their last one. Having something to prove is a little overrated, especially when you’re going up against one of the best teams in college football after they got kicked around and embarrassed in front of the sporting world. Something tells me they’ll be plenty motivated.

Cincinnati Bearcats @ Florida Gators (-10.5)

Rose Bowl Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes vs Oregon Ducks

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It’s tough for me because this game is often a bit of a let down. Usually, the Pac-10 school is a heavy home team favorite, as the game is always played in Pac-10 country, and these are often two conferences that aren’t nearly as strong as their “big conference” hype insists. I mean, when Boise State beats the crap out of the top team in the Pac 10 and yet still can’t get close to a title shot, that should give you an idea of the conference strength. And then you have the Big 10, and while Ohio State is definitely the class of that conference, the 4th place team in the Pac 10 beat the Buckeyes in Ohio. And while the Buckeyes made easy work of just about everyone outside of their loss (Purdue) and their overtime win against Iowa – but the Big 10 isn’t as good as the WAC this year, in fact I don’t know if it’s close. I can think of 10 small college teams that would have finished Top 3 in the Big 10. The Big 10 is three more bowl losses away from being relegated a Division 1-AA program, or sub-division, or whatever…

When it comes down to it, I don’t think the Buckeyes can score with Oregon. The Ducks are going to out-rush the Buckeyes, and that’s not good for Ohio State – they have only one win when that happens.

Oregon played awesome offensively this season, scoring more than 40 points in 6 of their last 8 games – Ohio State scored 40+ one time, against New Mexico State. Yep.

Ohio State Buckeyes @ Oregon Ducks (-3.5)

New Years Day Football Bowl Games Picks & Previews

Friday’s Bowl games boast some pretty intriguing match-ups for die-hard football fans – you have Bobby Bowden rocking his last game at the head of the Florida State empire that he built. You have two college powerhouses, old – Penn State against new – LSU – and both did work in their respective conferences this season. And then you have the two BCS games, but I’ll talk about them separately. Here are the three games for New Years Day.

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Northwestern Wildcats @ Auburn Tigers (-7): Well, Northwestern beat Iowa and Wisconsin, and I guess both of them had solid seasons in the all powerful Big 10 – but besides that, there’s hardly another noteworthy victory on their schedule, and their only good loss came against Penn State – good as in good team, not as in good game, they got beat 34-13. Other losses include Michigan State, Minnesota, and Syracuse – yikes. Auburn has had their fair share of piddlers, I mean they ended the season 2-5, but their 5 losses came to Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama – and Kentucky, all pretty good teams in a pretty good conference. That’s enough for me, I think they win by double digits.

Florida State Seminoles @ West Virginia Mountaineers (-2.5): The ACC hasn’t wowed me this season, and West Virginia has speed to burn. This Mountaineer team is built for Bowl Games, because the longer they prepare, the more their speed can be put to use. Florida State is playing without their big guy, as Christian Ponder is down and out with injury – and I don’t think they have the firepower to put up enough points to beat FSU. There it is.

LSU Tigers (+3) @ Penn State Nittany Lions: This is the first really big Top 15 match-up of the Bowl Season, as the Tigers and Nittany Lions go at it. Not only are they highly ranked, and with just two losses between them, but both have the talent to play with anyone – but as is, I think the tigers are the better team. They don’t have the greatest rushing attack, and through the air they leave a little to be desired, but Penn State hasn’t had one impressive win all season long. Honestly, Michigan State, Northwestern? That’s about it. And while they killed both of those teams, those teams aren’t LSU. I think the Tigers win.

New Year's Eve Bowl Games: Free College Football Picks

The amount of college games on the docket right now is a little overbearing, so I’m going to go ahead and write a little less about each game, include them into one article, and cut down on the amount of computer hours I’m putting in these last few weeks. Don’t worry, I’ll still have some of the bigger games of the College Bowl season with bigger write ups, so keep checking in. And don’t feel like I’m ripping you off, the same amount of research goes into these picks as any write up I do for any other pick I do all year. Here goes Thursday’s Bowl Games…

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Air Force Falcons @ Houston Cougars (-4.5): The quick little bit of information I gave on this game in my weekly newsletter still has me liking the Cougars to pull it out over the Falcons. I said the Falcons have been blistered by elite passing attacks, and in their last 3 losses they were out-gained through the air by 550+ yards. I think the Cougars have a chance to do that again.

Stanford Cardinal (+10) @ Oklahoma Sooners: I know the Pac 10 has been brutal, and I know the Cardinal are without their freshman sensation at running back, but something in me just trusts Jim Harbaugh to get his team prepared for this big game. Since he got on campus as the head man at Stanford, he’s had his kids ready to play better than expected, especially against elite opponents. They have a stellar rushing attack, and not just at running back, their offensive line is one of the best in the country. That should be worth a 10 point cover.

Navy Midshipmen (+7) @ Missouri Tigers: Navy has out-rushed their opponent in 8 of their last 10 games, winning 7 of those match-ups. Missouri was out-gained on the ground in 4 of their last 8 games, and in all four they recorded the loss. It’s not as good as gold, but with a touchdown to play with, I  sure like the consistent and disciplined Navy Midshipmen.

Iowa State Cyclones (+3) @ Minnesota Golden Gophers: Neither of these teams really impress me, but I know what I think about the Big 10, and while the Big 12 is a little overrated, they are much better than the Big 10. Both teams were terribly inconsistent, playing with Top 25 talent one week while getting beaten up other weeks – the one thing keeping me with Iowa is that Minnesota gives up lots of rushing yards, and Iowa State has shown the ability to win when they can run.

Tennessee Volunteers @ Virginia Tech Hokies (-4.5): The SEC really embarrassed the ACC toward the end of the year in some inter-conference match-ups, but I don’t see that happening here. Tennessee has gone through to stuff with some trouble within the program towards the end of the season, and while they played well in some games down the stretch, I think all that attention hurts them a bit against the Hokies. Va Tech won 4 straight to end the season, never giving up more than 13 points and out-scoring their opponents 132-35 in those games. Your can run on Tennessee, and the Vols don’t throw the ball real well – both those statistical advantages look to really favor the Hokies in this one.

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Arizona Wildcats: Pacific Life Holiday Bowl

I got the Cornhuskers early, and I’m grateful for it as the spread has jumped to -3 for Nebraska, but I still think they are a solid bet as field goal favorites. It hasn’t been all bad for the Pac-10 – what started out looking like a conference ready for a tough run in the bowls has turned around after those two early losses. USC fought back and got the Pac-10 their first win, and UCLA came back from a 4th quarter deficit to beat the Temple Owls. Now the Pac-10 is 2-2 and looking decent, at the very least. But will that change?

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I believe the Pac-10 takes a hit on Wednesday. While the game is once again being played in Pac-1o county (doesn’t it seem like all the Pac-10 involved Bowl Games end up being close to home games?) I still think the Cornhuskers end up too tough a match-up for Arizona. And nearly 62% of the public bet agrees with me – ugh – one of the times I’m not too fond of strength in numbers.

What I see from Nebraska is a run-first team that played their best football down the stretch, came a second away from beating the #2 ranked Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship, and out-rushed 8 of the last 10 teams they went up against, winning 5 of their last 6. Defensively, they are just a heck of a lot better than people think. The Cornhuskers do their best work against teams with winning records, something I think continues during the Bowl season.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (pk) vs Arizona Wildcats