Oct 31, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars coach Mike Leach reacts during the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

December 21-25 Bowl Predictions Against The Spread


 

Here we go with Bowl Season again.  I know most of the general population thinks these are a waste of time, but if you are like me, you treasure the bowls simply because there is more college football.  And for me, that means more picks!  I hit the Navy covering Army last week, so that puts me at 395-324 heading into bowl season.  This is the time of year where anything can, and usually does, happen.  For the bowls, I will be delving a little more in-depth than I did in my weekly picks to give you a little more information.  Like they say, knowledge is power!

 

GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL at ALBUQUERQUE, NM

Washington State(-4.5) vs Colorado State:

 

Washington State(6-6, 4-5)

Wins:  at USC(10-7), Southern Utah(48-10), Idaho(42-0), at California(44-22), at Arizona(24-17), Utah(49-37)

Losses: at Auburn(24-31), Stanford (17-55), Oregon State(24-52), at Oregon(38-62), Arizona State(21-55), at Washington(17-27)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-6

Record Against The Spread:  9-3

Looking back on it now, Wazzu had a tough schedule, with losses to three top ten teams.  All six of their losses were to bowl teams, so I guess that is something.  They didn’t lose to any sub-par opponents, which is more than many teams can say.  Overall, you have to consider this season a success for the Leaches.  They are headed in the right direction.  Now if only they could get GameDay to come to town…..

 

Colorado State(7-6, 5-3)

Wins: Cal Poly(34-17), UTEP(59-42), at Wyoming(55-22), at Hawaii(35-28), Nevada(38-17), at New Mexico(66-42), Air Force(58-13)

Losses: vs Colorado at Denver(27-41), at Tulsa(27-30), at Alabama(6-31), San Jose State(27-34), Boise State(30-42), at Utah State(0-13)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  0-3

Record Against The Spread:  9-4

The Rams didn’t beat a single bowl eligible team, and have an ugly loss to Tulsa.  They are a product of a weak conference, but these are sometimes the teams that catch a major conference foe off guard…..

PREDICTION:  I see Washington State winning this in convincing fashion.  Bibbs will get his yards, but him alone isn’t enough to slow down the Air Raid.  Give me Wazzu.

 

 

ROYAL PURPLE LAS VEGAS BOWL at LAS VEGAS, NV

(20)Fresno State vs (25)USC(-6.5):

Fresno State(11-1, 7-1)

Wins: Rutgers(52-51OT), Cal Poly(41-25), Boise State(41-40), at Hawaii(42-37), at Idaho(61-14), UNLV(38-14), at San Diego State(35-28OT), Nevada(41-23), at Wyoming(48-10), New Mexico(69-28), Utah State(24-17)

Losses: at San Jose State(52-62)

Record vs Bowl Teams:  5-0

Record Against The Spread:  5-7

Fresno State fans quickly found out that they didn’t have much to cheer for on the defensive side of the ball.  They gave up as many points and Derek Carr and Davonte Adams could put up.  While they improved some over the course of the season, the defense will be what breaks the Bulldogs.

 

USC(9-4, 6-7)

Wins: at Hawaii(30-13), Boston College(35-7), Utah State(17-14), Arizona(38-31), Utah(19-3), at Oregon State(31-14), at California(62-28), Stanford(20-17), at Colorado(47-29)

Losses: Washington State(7-10), at Arizona State(41-62), at Notre Dame(10-14), UCLA(14-35)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-4

Record Against The Spread:  6-7

USC played well under Ed Orgeron, including an upset of then number 4 Stanford.  All was for naught though, as USC got hammered by UCLA.  It makes me think that the Trojans’ brass was just looking for an excuse to get rid of him and bring back some of Pete Carroll’s old guard.  Be careful, Trojan fans.  The golden boy Lane Kiffin was part of that old guard as well…..

 

PREDICTION:  We don’t have to wait long for a matchup of ranked teams this bowl season.  Less than half a day in, we get one, and it should be a good one.  USC’s defense has shown flahes of brilliance this season, the performances against Stanford and Utah come to mind, but they have also had meltdowns.  The Arizona State game is statistically the worst performance ever by a USC defense.  They didn’t look all that great against UCLA either.  What do those teams have in common?  Very good play from the QB and WR positions.  Which is how Fresno has gotten through the season.  Add to that the fact that most of the USC players had gravitated towards Orgeron, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Sarkisian, and I think he will be closer to John Robinson than Lane Kiffin, but will that happen in time for an early bowl?  I have my doubts.  I’m taking Fresno!

 

 

FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL at BOISE, ID

Buffalo vs. San Diego State(-1.5)

 

Buffalo(8-4, 6-2)

Wins: Stony Brook(26-23 5OT), Connecticut(41-12), Eastern Michigan(42-14), at Western Michigan(33-0), Massachusetts(32-3), at Kent State(41-21), Ohio(30-3), at Miami(OH)(44-7)

Losses: at Ohio State(20-40), at Baylor(13-70), at Toledo(41-51), Bowling Green(7-24)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-3

Record Against The Spread:  8-4

The Bulls got hammered by every good team that they faced this year.  The 5-OT thriller against 1-AA Stony Brook tells you all you need to know about the 2013 Buffalo Bulls….

 

San Diego State(7-5, 6-2)

Wins: at New Mexico State(26-16), Nevada(51-44 OT), at Air Force(27-20), New Mexico(35-30), at San Jose State(34-30), at Hawaii(28-21 OT), Boise State(34-31 OT)

Losses: Eastern Illinois(19-40), at Ohio State(7-42), Oregon State(30-34), Fresno State(28-35 OT), at UNLV(19-45)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-4

Record Against The Spread:  6-6

San Diego State’s body of work is not that impressive either.  This is a far cry from some of the games that Boise has hosted in recent years.  

 

PREDICTION:  This game will largely be a clunker, I think.  Neither team has had a very impressive win.  At least SDSU beat a bowl team.  The only thing I might worry about would be how the Aztecs respond to the cold in Boise.  I don’t think it will be enough for them to lose this game though.  Give me the Aztecs.

 

 

R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL at NEW ORLEANS, LA

Tulane(-1.5) vs Louisiana-Lafayette

 

Tulane(7-5, 5-3)

Wins: Jackson State(34-7), at Louisiana Tech(24-15), at Louisiana-Monroe(31-14), North Texas(24-21), East Carolina(36-33 OT), Tulsa(14-7), UTEP(45-3)

Losses: South Alabama(39-41), at Syracuse(17-52), at Florida Atlantic(17-34), at UTSA(7-10), at Rice(13-17)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-1

Record Against The Spread:  9-3

The Wave had arguably their best season since Shaun King was under center more than a decade ago.  A closer look reveals only a big OT win against East Carolina at home as the standout.  That said, it is better than anything ULL has to offer…..

 

Louisiana-Lafayette(8-4, 5-2)

Wins: Nicholls State(70-7), at Akron(35-30), Texas State(48-24), at Western Kentucky(37-20), at Arkansas State(23-7), New Mexico State(49-35), Troy(41-36), at Georgia State(35-21)

Losses: at Arkansas(14-34), at Kansas State(27-48), Louisiana-Monroe(28-31), at South Alabama(8-30)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-0

Record Against The Spread:  4-8

The Cajuns have eight wins, which is nice, but the only one of substance is Arkansas State.  It was on the road, though.

 

PREDICTION:  Finally we have two teams with the ultimate measuring stick, which is a common opponent.  Tulane lost to South Alabama at home by 2.  ULL got manhandled by South Alabama in Mobile.  What does that mean?  The safe pick is Tulane.  I was going to go with them anyway, so this is good news to me!

 

 

BEEF O’BRADY’S BOWL at ST PETERSBURG, FL

Ohio vs East Carolina(12.5)

 

Ohio(7-5, 4-4)

Wins: North Texas(27-21), Marshall(34-31), Austin Peay(38-0), at Akron(43-3), at Eastern Michigan(56-28), Miami(OH)(41-16), Massachusetts(51-23)

Losses: at Louisville(7-49), Central Michigan(23-26), at Buffalo(3-30), at Bowling Green(0-49), Kent State(13-44)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-3

Record Against The Spread:  6-6

The Bobcats had nice wins in September over North Texas and Marshall, but I think we can all agree that those two teams are playing much better now than they were then.  The thing that stands out to me here is the blowout losses to Buffalo, Kent, and Bowlng Green in November.  They certainly did not finish strong…..

 

East Carolina(9-3, 6-2):

Wins: Old Dominion(52-38), Florida Atlantic(31-13), at North Carolina(55-31), at Middle Tennessee State(24-17), Southern Mississippi(55-14), at Florida International(34-13), Tulsa(58-24), UAB(63-14), at North Carolina State(42-28)

Losses: Virginia Tech(10-15), at Tulane(33-36 OT), at Marshall(28-59)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-3

Record Against The Spread:  6-6

The Pirates’ losses all came to bowl teams, so I guess they qualify as quality losses, if there is such a thing.  I really wanted to see ECU play Duke in a bowl game so we could see who the best team in North Carolina really is since the Pirates beat the Heels in Chapel Hill and the Wolvies in Raleigh.  How did Belk not step in and make this happen?

 

PREDICTION:  This is the first line over ten points, and it probably deserves to be.  The schizophrenic Soliches have looked really good and really bad at times this year, but in the last six weeks, it has been mostly the latter.  I have to take ECU and their body of work over the full season to cover this.

 

 

SHERATON HAWAII BOWL at HONOLULU, HI

Boise State vs. Oregon State(-2.5)

 

Boise State(8-4, 6-2)

Wins: Tennessee-Martin(63-14), Air Force(42-20), Southern Mississippi(60-7), at Utah State(34-23), Nevada(34-17), at Colorado State(42-30), Wyoming(48-7), New Mexico(45-17)

Losses: at Washington(6-38), at Fresno State(40-41), at BYU(20-37), at San Diego State(31-34 OT)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-4

Record Against The Spread: 6-6

The Broncos had their share of injuries this year, but they were healthy when Washington clobbered them in Seattle in the opener.  8-4 qualifies as a bad season for Boise.  The bar has been set high because of their mediocre schedule.  Still, the Broncos’ only losses came on the road against bowl teams.   For some teams, that might serve as an explanation, but Boise has higher expectations.  At least they got a trip to Hawaii out of the deal…..

 

Oregon State(6-6, 4-5)

Wins: Hawaii(36-14), at Utah(51-48 OT), at San Diego State(34-30), Colorado(44-17), at Washington State(52-24), at California(49-17)

Losses: Eastern Washington(46-49), Stanford(12-20), USC(14-31), at Arizona State(17-30), Washington(27-69), at Oregon(35-36)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-5

Record Against The Spread:  6-6

The Beavers opened the season ranked, only to suffer a loss to 1-AA Eastern Washington(who is probably better than 50 or so division 1 teams).  They then rattled off six straight wins before losing the last five.  The Beavers are a streaky team, and they are obviously streaking the wrong way right now.

 

PREDICTION:  This line actually opened with Boise favored, but quickly turned the other way.  Yes, the Beavers have lost five straight, but all of them were to ranked teams, except Washington, who was ranked much of the season.  It’s not like they lost a whole slew of games they should have won.  These two have a common opponent in Washington.  The Huskies locked down Boise in the opener in Seattle, and they destroyed the Beavers at Reser.  Boise actually looked better against the Huskies than Oregon State did.  Does that mean I’m taking Boise to win?  Nope.  I still like Oregon State here.  When you play good teams week in and week out, they make you better.  Boise hasn’t really had that opportunity for other teams to make them better.   Give me OSU.

 

I will have my predictions for the next round of bowls up about a week from today.  Stay tuned, and Merry Christmas to all of you!  May the food be great, and the in-laws be tolerable!

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