Miami Hurricanes vs Wisconsin Badgers: Champs Sports Bowl

Right off the bat the Hurricanes come in with a big home-field advantage, as this game is being played in their home state, Orlando, against a Big 10 school from the Midwest. The Hurricanes have a heap of top-flight speedy athletes, consistently prepare well with long breaks, and have played well at home all season long. Wisconsin probably doesn’t have the speed they’ll need to compete with Miami, plus they’ve covered on the road only twice all season long, at Minnesota and against at Hawaii. That doesn’t really win me over on the Badgers.

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One thing Wisconsin has done is out-rush every single one of their last 10 opponents, but that hasn’t really meant victory for them. They’ve lost 3 of their last 7 games, and haven’t beat a “good” team yet this year. Every time they had a chance to prove their worth, they’ve fallen to the Big 10’s top teams, losing to Iowa and Ohio State – they didn’t play Penn State, and they also lost to Northwestern.

Miami has also struggled against top-tier teams, losing to Clemson, North Carolina, and virginia Tech. They did beat Oklahoma and Georgia Tech earlier in the season, also smacking around a decent South Florida team to end the year.

Both teams are 9-3 SU this season, and both have been much better at home than on the road. That should be key in this one as I’ll take Miami playing in Orlando.

Miami Hurricanes (-3) @ Wisconsin Badgers:

UCLA Bruins vs Temple Owls: EagleBank Bowl Prediction

UCLA Bruins vs Temple Owls: EagleBank Bowl Prediction: Right off the bat, more of the public bet is going to be on the Bruins because they are UCLA, a big college name from a big college conference. But if you start to look at the reality of bowl games, the struggles the Pac 10 have had thus far, and how small college schools come out trying to prove their worth in the face of those big schools, the 57% public bet on UCLA is probably unfounded.

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First of all, the 6-6 Bruins won three games to start their season, a win over Tennessee and Kansas State both look solid now, but what have they done in the last 9 games? They’ve beaten Washington, Washington State, and Arizona State – they lost to everyone else. Basically, they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Week 3 of the season. Those three wins to get them bowl eligible came against the very bottom of the Pac-10, well, the bottom not counting themselves.

Temple comes in with their most successful regular season in 30 years, going 9-3 and 8-3 ATS. This is their first bowl game in three decades. They were 4-2 SU on the road, 5-1 ATS. The Owls are committed to a run-heavy scheme, as they’ve out-rushed 9 of their last 10 opponents, and really lean on that run-game. In thier last 10 games, the UCLA Bruins have been out-rushed 6 times. In those 6 games, they’ve lost 5 – their only win was a 24-23 win over Washington in a game the Huskies gave away.

Names and mascots aside, you have to like Temple in this one.

UCLA Bruins @ Temple Owls (+5)

Texas A&M vs Georgia Bulldogs: Independence Bowl Pick

The public percentage on this is pretty much even, but I like the Bulldogs to win by double digits. I know Georgia’s defense hasn’t been what it was in the past, but A&M gives up massive amounts of points like it’s their job. In recent losses to Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas, the Aggies have given up 35 points, 65 points, and 49 points (dis)respectively.

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The Aggies are 6-6 SU this season, 6-5-1 ATS, and 8-4 O/U. They average 33.9 points per game while giving up 32.7. They have lost 3 of their last 4 games, and 6 of their last 9 to just barely squeak into the Bowl season. Quarterback Jerod Johnson has 28 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions, as his stellar offensive leadership has led the Aggies to the post season despite their porous defense.

The Bulldogs are 7-5 SU this season, but just 4-8 ATS, having a tough times with the teams they were supposed to beat easily. They were 5-6-1 O/U this season. But the Bulldogs have won 3 of their last 4, and seem to be playing their best football of the season. In all four of their final games, Georgia out-gained their opponent on the ground, setting up a nice offensive game plan. They beat both Auburn and Georgia Tech down the stretch, and their single loss in those last 4 games was against Florida.

Recently, Georgia has shown me the offensive firepower that suggests they won’t be out-scored by A&M which means the Aggies will have to stop the Bulldogs a few times if they want to take home the prize. I’m not sure they can do that, so I’m going the other way.

Texas A&M Aggies @ Georgia Bulldogs (-6.5)

Kentucky Wildcats vs Clemson Tigers: Music City Bowl

60% of the betting public likes Clemson, and that makes sense. It’s the Tigers that have finished the season with the type of flourish most expected from them all season long. It’s the Tigers that possess one of the most dynamic players in all of college football, running back, kick/punt return, receiving option, super player C.J. Spiller. There’s lots of flash on Clemson’s side, but one might say that Kentucky finished the season just as strong.

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Both teams lost their last game, but Kentucky, like Clemson, won 5 of their last 7 games. Two of those were as double digit underdogs, beating Georgia and Auburn. Kentucky barely lost to Tennessee (overtime), Mississippi State (a touchdown), and South Carolina (2 points). Their other two losses? Alabama and Florida. Kentucky is 6-6 ATS on the season, and 3-1 overall on the road – a nice stat for bowl teams. They score 27.2 per game while giving up 22.8. They are 5-3 ATS and SU in their last 8 games.

Clemson has won 6 of their last 8, but come into the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl losing two in a row. An embarrassing loss to South Carolina on the road, and a close loss (5 points) to Virginia Tech for the ACC crown. Clemson is 8-5 SU this season, and 8-5 ATS, and 5-3 ATS over their last 8 games.

And taking a decent ACC team over an SEC opponent hasn’t made much sense, but that’s the direction I’m going. Clemson has a solid rushing attack, and when they out-rush opponents, they usually win. Kentucky has been out-rushed 5 times in the last 10 games, they’ve lost 4 of those contests. I think Clemson’s D-line can stifle Kentucky’s rush attack, and that will allow the Tigers to run the show.

Kentucky Wildcats VS Clemson Tigers (-7)

Boston College Eagles vs USC Trojans: Emerald Bowl Picks

Boston College Eagles vs USC Trojans: Emerald Bowl Picks: I just don’t think the all mighty super-team, best program over the last decade USC Trojans will be excited to play in a day-after-Christmas day game against a team like Boston College. Listen, I think BC is better than people give them credit for, heck, they might be better than USC this season, but the Trojans are used to Rose Bowls, Championship Games, and Top 10 opponents come Bowl time – unranked BC could very well be someone USC looks right past.

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And with the chances USC loses one of their most explosive players (McKnight) in an offense that, quite frankly, hasn’t produced like Trojan offenses of the past, seems like the start of something interesting. USC certainly has the talent to match-up with any team in college football, but McKnight is only one key player missing this game, and all signs point to the Trojans not taking this game too seriously.

This game is being played in San Francisco, which just happens to be the same state USC calls home, and this will probably be more of a home game type feel for the Trojans, but I have a feeling BC will come with some fight. This IS a big game for them, and a chance to prove they belong with the big boys. One thing USC has learned, every time they suit up, they get their opponent’s best – and I like the Eagles to give the Trojans exactly that.

Boston College Eagles (+9) VS USC Trojans

Pittsburgh Panthers vs North Carolina Tar Heels: Meineke Car Care Bowl Pick

Pittsburgh Panthers vs North Carolina Tar Heels: As I said in my Just Picks Newsletter, the Tar Heels actually look like the better team to me. I know the Panthers have a pretty damn good record, and they’ve played tight against some very good teams, but I’m afraid they might have out-produced themselves this season. It’s not like the ACC has shown it’s speed, toughness, and grit against other conferences this year – but this Tar Heel team can shut down most any rushing attack, and they put a lot of pressure on opposing offenses. The Pitt Panthers have one real strength, their rushing attack, and I forsee the Tar Heels doing a very good job of slowing that portion of the Panthers’ offense down.

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69% of the public is against me in this one, and I understand why. The Panthers are 9-3 SU this season, 7-4 ATS – but they haven’t been awesome on the road, just 3-2 this season, and never really looking that good (besides @ Louisville, and lets be honest, that shouldn’t count). But Pitt has been tough, no doubt, they have yet to get beaten by more than 7 points, and lost their last two games by a total of 4 points, losing 44-45 against Cincinnati in the final game of their regular season.

But it’s that fall that has me worried. The Panthers went from a possible BCS bowl to a Meineke Car Care Bowl against an un-ranked ACC opponent – there may very well be a lull in their preparation for this game based on that alone. The Tar Heels have also played thier best football of the season in their last 5 games, beating Va Tech, Duke, Miami, and Boston College – before getting upset by a point against their in-state rival, NC State. I like them to win their 5th in 6 chances this Saturday.

Pittsburgh Panthers VS North Carolina Tar Heels (+3):

Marshall Thundering Herd vs Ohio Bobcats: Little Caesars Bowl Pick

Marshall Thundering Herd vs Ohio Bobcats: Despite nearly 68% of the public betting on Ohio in this one, the line has actually moved in the Bobcats’ favor. Starting at 3.5 this game has actually come down to a more user-friendly 3 point spread for the favorites. Interesting, always.

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But Ohio has been solid this season. They are 9-4 straight up and against the spread, playing good football at home (4-2) but even better football on the road (5-1) which I think is always a nice thing to have on your side come the Bowl Season – because, in a way, these are all road games. Ohio came in winning 4 of their last 5 games, including a tough loss to end their non-bowl season (10-20 @ Central Michigan – a game they covered). In fact, the Bobcats have covered 4 straight and 8 of their last 10 contests. They’ve played well against solid competition, losing by just 10 to a very good Central Michigan team, and lost by only 11 to Tennessee. They might not score much, but they can play.

Marshall comes in losers in 5 of their last 8, and more recently 3 of their last 4 games. They’ve played their best football against bad teams, and it’s tough to see them coming out and being tough against the Bobcats. Marshall is 6-6 straight up, 6-5 ATS, but just 2-4 on the road this season. They give up 3 more points per game than they score, which is never something I like to have on the team I’m picking. These teams are fairly equal, but I have to take the one winning the intangibles – and that’s Ohio.

Marshall Thundering Herd vs Ohio Bobcats (-3)

Poinsettia Bowl Pick: Utah Utes vs California Golden Bears

Poinsettia Bowl Pick Utah Utes vs California Golden Bears: I know this game is in California, which basically will turn this into a Cal home game, but I think the Utes have a real chance to make the Pac-10 look even worse than they already do after BYU came out and destroyed one of the better Pac-10 players, the Oregon State Beavers. The Utes have a very good team, and are obviously well coached. But it will be their toughness up front that ultimately gives them a chance to upset the Bears of Cal.

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Utah was 9-3 this season, but just 5-7 ATS. They were 3-8-1 O/U, riding their strong defense to low scoring games and 9 wins. They were 6-0 at home, just 3-3 on the road (as you probably figured). They allow 19 points per game and score just over 29. The Utes lost 2 of their last 3 games, but won 6 straight prior to a tough stretch against top competition. Some of their most impressive outings came in losses as the Utes lost by a field goal to BYU in overtime to finish the season, and earlier lost by a touchdown at Oregon.

California has definitely been up and down, and spent most of the season ranked despite their relatively disappointing play against top competition. After starting the season 3-0 and ranked in the Top 10, the Bears got crushed in back to back games against Oregon and USC, losing by a combined score of 72-6. Gross. But they won 5 of their next 6, including back to back wins over Arizona and Stanford, no easy feat by any means. However, they finished their season rocking a 10-42 loss to Washington, and I just can’t trust that kind of garbage.

I like to take small colleges against big-name schools, especially when they are the better football team. I believe that is the case here.

Utah Utes (+3.5) @ California Golden Bears

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Oregon State Beavers vs BYU Cougars

BYU started with one hell of a bang, beating Top 5 Oklahoma when Sam Bradford went down. After that, they were everybody’s small college darling that could get a chance at the National Title – but then the rest of the season came, and despite going for 10 wins and just 2 losses, the now 14th ranked Cougars got smacked around a couple times when they could have proven themselves. Florida State, of all teams, smacked the Cougars for their first loss, 54-28. And after three straight wins to bounce back from that, the TCU Horned Frogs (one of the best teams in the Nation, mind you) embarrassed the Cougars at home, 38-7.

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It’s very possible that the best win BYU put on the board was a week 1 win over a team that lost thier Heisman quarterback, were playing with a brand new offensive line, and were definitely a bit overrated going into the season. After that, their best win likely came at home against Utah, or at home against Air Force. In both games, the Cougars were favored by more than a touchdown.

Oregon State, on the other hand, is one of the Top 10 teams in the Nation – or so I think. Luckily, I could give a piss about rankings, the same rankings that have BYU ranked above Oregon State because they have 10 wins to OSU’s 8. Well, I’ll take OSU’s losses over most of BYU’s wins, and I know a certain couple of Rodgers brothers will be ready to show their twin magic this Tuesday on ESPN. I’ll be watching.

The Beavers should win by a couple scores.

Oregon State Beavers (-2) vs. BYU Cougars:

St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida Vs. Rutgers, Preview, Picks

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I made some good points in my “Just Picks” newsletter about the St. Petersburg Bowl, presented by Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, and while I could easily find another way to say the same stuff, I think it would just be simpler for everyone if I just gave you the clip, I wanted to go with Rutgers and Tom Savage here, but I see a little problem with that pick and thus I’m going against a pretty good Rutgers team. Central Florida’s rushing attack is better, and they’ve out-rushed many opponents this year, and will probably out-rush the Scarlet Knights. In all four of Rutgers’ losses this year, they’ve been out-gained on the ground. That’s enough for me in what should be a very tight contest. Oh, and the game is being played in St. Petersburg, Florida. That’s just some of it. Here’s more.

I said that Rutgers has struggled when getting out-rushed, this is what I meant: They were out-rushed 5 times in the last 10 games – 3 of those games were straight up losses, and losses ATS as well. They were out-gained on the ground by Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia, and all three of those teams got the win. Connecticut and Army also out-gained Rutgers, and while they beat Army fairly easily, UConn probably should have won that game.

I’ve liked Tom Savage all year, he’s done good things with his chances, and his fight has certainly impressed me – but match-ups are important, and I think the Florida Knights have a good chance to upset the Knights of Scarlet color.

Central Florida Knights (+3) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights