Nov 26, 2013; DeKalb, IL, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) practices before the game against the Western Michigan Broncos at Huskie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl Predictions Against The Spread December 26-28


This is the second installment of my bowl prediciton series.  This covers the games between December 26th and 28th.  The first installment can be found here:

I will do my first recap sometime in the coming days if time allows.  If not, I will do the whole thing in one installment at the end of the season.  Here we go with this round.



Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green(-4.5):


Pittsburgh(6-6, 3-5)

Wins:  New Mexico(49-27), at Duke(58-55), Virginia(14-3), Old Dominion(35-24), Notre Dame(28-21), at Syracuse(17-16)

Losses: Florida State(13-41), at Virginia Tech(9-19), at Navy(21-24), at Georgia Tech(10-21), North Carolina(27-34), Miami(FL)(31-41)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-6

Record vs. The Spread:  5-7

A closer look at Pitt’s schedule reveals that they may not be as bad as their record indicates.  They were one of only three teams to beat Duke this year, and they did it in Durham.  They beat a then-ranked Notre Dame team as well.  They lost big to Florida State, but then again, who hasn’t?  The only ugly loss they have is the one to Georgia Tech, and that was on the road.


Bowling Green(10-3, 8-1)

Wins:  Tulsa(34-7), at Kent State(41-22), Murray State(48-7), Akron(31-14), Massachusetts(28-7), Miami(OH)(45-3), Ohio(49-0), at Eastern Michigan(58-7), at Buffalo(24-7), vs Northern Illinois at Detroit(47-27)

Losses:  at Indiana(10-42), at Mississippi State(20-21), Toledo(25-28)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-1

Record vs. The Spread:  10-3

Bowling Green has won four straight, including two against bowl teams, since losing back to back games to Toledo and Mississippi State.  They have won those four by an average margin of 34 points.  It is no stretch to say that the Falcons are peaking at the right time.  The MAC can’t be too happy with them, however.  Whatever money the conference made off of the conference championship game, they lost tenfold when Bowling Green romped over undefeated Northern Illinois, knocking them out of a BCS bowl.


PREDICTION:  This line actually opened at -7, and is falling a bit.  It really shouldn’t be.  BGSU is playing very well right now.  I don’t think there are that many teams that could beat Northern Illinois by 20 right now.  I doubt Pitt could.  I’m taking the Falcons to continue soaring and cover this.





Utah State vs. (23)Northern Illinois(-1.5):


Utah State(8-5, 7-2)

Wins:  at Air Force(52-20), Weber State(70-6), at San Jose State(40-12), at New Mexico(45-10), Hawaii(47-10), at UNLV(28-24), Colorado State(13-0), Wyoming(35-7)

Losses:  at Utah(26-30), at USC(14-17), BYU(14-31), Boise State(23-34), at Fresno State(17-24)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-4

Record vs. The Spread:  8-5

The Aggies’ season was derailed when star QB Chuckie Keeton was injured in the first half against BYU.  The offense had a hard time adjusting against BYU and Boise State, but righted the ship before falling in the Mountain West Championship game to Fresno.  I have a hunch that if Chuckie were healthy the whole season that the Aggies might have been the talk of the MWC, not Fresno.  Unlike the Bulldogs, Utah State actually has a solid defense to go with the offense.   The good news for the Aggies is that Chuckie Keeton should play in the bowl game.  They nearly beat USC with him, remember?


Northern Illinois(12-1, 8-1)

Wins:  at Iowa(30-27), at Idaho(45-35), Eastern Illinois(43-39), at Purdue(55-24), at Kent State(38-24), Akron(27-20), at Central Michigan(38-17), Eastern Michigan(59-20), at Massachusetts(63-19), Ball State(48-27), at Toledo(35-17), Western Michigan(33-14)

Losses:  vs Bowling Green at Detroit(27-47)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-1

Record vs. The Spread:  8-5

How weak was the Huskies’ schedule?  They only played four teams with winning records.  It’s easy to rack up wins – and stats – against those teams.  Nothing against what Jordan Lynch and UNI accomplished this year, but quite frankly, they didn’t belong in a BCS game.  Am I glad that Oklahoma got in to play Bama instead?  Absolutely not!



PREDICTION:  Bowling Green showed what happens when Northern Illinois runs into a good team.  They allow a ton of points, including 39 to 1-AA Eastern Illinois.  I have a feeling that a tough defense like Utah State will be able to contain Jordan Lynch much the way they locked down star Colorado State RB Kapri Bibbs in a 13-0 win over the Rams.  I like Utah State here, especially with Chuckie back, and the Aggies might even run off with this one.  Give me Utah State.




MILITARY BOWL at Annapolis, MD

Marshall(-2.5) vs Maryland:


Marshall(9-4, 7-2)

Wins:  Miami(OH)(52-14), Gardner-Webb(55-0), UTSA(34-10), at Florida Atlantic(24-23), Southern Mississippi(61-13), UAB(56-14), at Tulsa(45-34), at Florida International(48-10), East Carolina(59-28)

Losses:  at Ohio(31-34), at Virginia Tech(21-29 3OT), at Middle Tennessee State(49-51), at Rice(24-41)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-4

Record vs. The Spread:  8-5

The Herd only has the convincing win over ECU carrying them into bowl season.  All four of their losses were on the road to bowl teams, so I guess that can count for something.  Still, I don’t know if it’s enough for me to take them to beat an ACC team that was ranked at one point this season…..


Maryland(7-5, 3-5)

Wins:  Florida International(43-10), Old Dominion(47-10), at Connecticut(32-21), West Virginia(37-0), Virginia(27-26), at Virginia Tech(27-24 OT), at North Carolina State(41-21)

Losses:  at Florida State(0-63), at Wake Forest(10-34), Clemson(27-40), Syracuse(3-20), Boston College(26-29)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-4

Record vs. The Spread:  7-5

The Terrapins were cruising until they ran headlong into the Florida State freight train.  They haven’t been the same since.  They do have an impressive win over a Virginia Tech team that beat Marshall though.


PREDICTION:  Before you say that this is a home game for Maryland, it really isn’t.  Maryland has less distance to travel than Marshall, but only by about 2 hours.  Herd fans will be out in force at this one.  Enough to take away any home field advantage that Maryland may have.  That said, the Terps played a better schedule, and beat a team that Marshall lost to.  I know Marshall is the trendy pick, but I’m going to buck that trend and go with a Maryland team that quietly had a solid year after the mess that was last season.





Syracuse vs Minnesota(-3.5)


Syracuse(6-6, 4-4)

Wins:  Wagner(54-0), Tulane(52-17), at North Carolina State(24-10), Wake Forest(13-0), at Maryland(20-3), Boston College(34-31)

Losses:  vs Penn State at East Rutherford, NJ(17-23), at Northwestern(27-48), Clemson(14-49), at Georgia Tech(0-56), at Florida State(3-59), Pittsburgh(16-17)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-4

Record vs. The Spread:  7-5

The Orange’s record against Bowl teams would be worse if Penn State weren’t on probation.  They also lost to a Northwestern team that was ranked at the time, but collapsed en route to a 1-7 conference record.  They got blown out by all of the top ACC teams, but if the ACC was as strong top to bottom as it seems, that isn’t much of a knock on the Orange.


Minnesota(8-4, 4-4)

Wins:  UNLV(51-23), at New Mexico State(44-21), Western Illinois(29-12), San Jose State(43-24), at Northwestern (20-17), Nebraska(34-23), at Indiana(42-39), Penn State(24-10)

Losses:  Iowa(7-23), at Michigan(13-42), Wisconsin(7-20), at Michigan State(3-14)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-4

Record vs. The Spread:  9-3

The Gophers recovered nicely after being manhandled by Iowa and Michigan.  Their win over Nebraska is better than anything Syracuse has.  They also beat two teams (Northwestern, Penn State) that the Orange lost to.


PREDICTION:  The ACC might be a better conference than the Big Ten(12) overall, but I tend to think that the middle tier teams in the Big Ten(12) are slightly better.  I’m taking Minnesota.  It’s also hard to ignore the fact that they beat two teams that Syracuse lost to, and in conference play, no less. 





BYU vs Washington(-3.5):



Wins:  Texas(40-21), Middle Tennessee State(37-10), at Utah State(31-14), Georgia Tech(38-20), at Houston(47-46), Boise State(37-20), Idaho State(59-13), at Nevada(28-23)

Losses:  at Virginia(16-19), Utah(13-20), at Wisconsin(17-27), at Notre Dame(13-23)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  6-2

Record vs. The Spread:  5-7

The spread record suggests that BYU went through most of the season a bit overrated.  That said, six wins over bowl teams is not easy to do, mostly because of conference affiliation.  At the very least you can say that BYU didn’t pad their record by playing poor teams.  That said, they also lost to two non-bowl teams. 


Washington(8-4, 5-4)

Wins:  Boise State(38-6), at Illinois(34-24), Idaho State(56-0), Arizona(31-13), California(41-17), Colorado(59-7), at Oregon State(69-27), Washington State(27-17)

Losses:  at Stanford(28-31), Oregon(24-45), at Arizona State(24-53), at UCLA(31-41)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  4-4

Record vs The Spread:  6-6

Washington was cruising along until getting manhandled by Oregon at home.  They played well in losses to Stanford and to some extent, UCLA.  They played poorly on the road at Arizona State.  Other than that, this was a pretty successful season for a team that had high hopes.  The defense was much better than last year, but still had some lapses.  The emergence of Bishop Sankey made this season a really good one.


PREDICTION:  Washington dominated a similar team in Boise State.  The same thing could be done here.  This line is a -3 across the board, and hasn’t moved at all since the opener.  The consensus is that there isn’t one.  I will make it easier for you.  I took the extra half on Washington because I am pretty certain they are going to cover this.  Washington played well against a physical Stanford team, which is what BYU tries to be.  The Huskies will come out on top here where they failed in Palo Alto.  Give me the Huskies.





Rutgers vs. Notre Dame(-13.5)


Rutgers(6-6, 3-5)

Wins:  Norfolk State(38-0), Eastern Michigan(28-10), Arkansas(28-24), at SMU(55-52 OT), Temple(23-20), South Florida(31-6)

Losses:  at Fresno State(51-52 OT), at Louisville(10-24), Houston(14-49), Cincinnati(17-52), at Central Florida(17-41), at Connecticut(17-28)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  0-5

Record vs. The Spread:  4-8

Rutgers got dominated by every team with a winning record that they faced with the exception of Fresno.  The Knights have arguably the worst bowl resume of any team that made it, and I think the bowls would have been better served taking a team like Toledo or San Jose State instead.  At least those two beat a couple of decent teams….


Notre Dame(8-4)

Wins:  Temple(28-6), at Purdue(31-24), Michigan State(17-13), vs. Arizona State at Arlington, TX(37-34), USC(14-10), at Air Force(45-10), Navy(38-34), BYU(23-13)

Losses:  at Michigan(30-41), Oklahoma(21-35), at Pittsburgh(21-28), at Stanford(20-27)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-4

Record vs. The Spread:  5-7

Notre Dame beat some very good teams (Arizona State, USC), but they also lost to some who may not be so good.  That said, all of the teams that they lost to are in bowl games. 


PREDICTION:  This is a quasi home game for Rutgers, but does it matter?  They have been destroyed by almost anyone with a pulse.  The only question I have is if the Notre Dame offense can muster enough points to cover this.  A lot of it will depend on the weather I suppose, but since I have no way of knowing how that is going to be, I have to bite the bullet and take the Irish.  All the bettors pushing this line higher can’t be that wrong, can they?





Cincinnati vs. North Carolina(-2.5):


Cincinnati(9-3, 6-2)

Wins:  Purdue(42-7), Northwestern State(66-9), at Miami(OH)(14-0), Temple(38-20), Connecticut(41-16), at Memphis(34-21), SMU(28-25), at Rutgers(52-17), at Houston(24-17)

Losses:  at Illinois(17-45), at South Florida(20-26), Louisville(24-31 OT)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-1

Record vs. The Spread:  6-6

The Bearcats had their season torpedoed in the second game of the season when QB Munchie Legaux went down.  They struggled to find their identity for most of the next month after that, but rebounded to finish strong.  That said, the loss to South Florida might be the ugliest loss of anyone in a bowl game.  Their signature wins are a blowout of a below average Rutgers team, and a win over a decent Houston squad.  Those don’t offset the embarrassing blowout loss to Illinois or the loss to South Florida. 


North Carolina(6-6, 4-4)

Wins:  Middle Tennessee State(40-20), Boston College(34-10), North Carolina State(27-19), Virginia(45-14), at Pittsburgh(34-27), Old Dominion(80-20)

Losses:  at South Carolina(10-27), at Georgia Tech(20-28), East Carolina(31-55), at Virginia Tech(17-27), Miami(FL)(23-27), Duke(25-27)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-6

Record vs. The Spread:  7-5

UNC had a rough early season, starting 1-5.  They rebounded nicely to win five straight before falling to arch rival Duke in the final game. 


PREDICTION:  This is practically a home game for a battle tested North Carolina team.  All six losses were to bowl bound teams.  That is twice the number of bowl teams that Cincy even played!  I think North Carolina wins this one in convincing fashion amid a horde of sky blue in Charlotte.





Miami(FL) vs (18)Louisville(-3.5):


Miami(FL)(9-3, 5-3)

Wins:  Florida Atlantic(34-6), Florida(21-16), Savannah State(77-7), at South Florida(49-21), Georgia Tech(45-30), at North Carolina(27-23), Wake Forest(24-21), Virginia(45-26), at Pittsburgh(41-31)

Losses:  at Florida State(14-41), Virginia Tech(24-42), at Duke(30-48)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-3

Record vs. The Spread:  5-7

The win over Florida isn’t nearly as impressive as it was at the time.  The Hurricanes hit a rough patch in early November when they lost three in a row, but bounced back win two wins to close out the season.  I think it’s a blessing for them that they didn’t have to get bludgeoned by Florida State again in the ACC Championship….


Louisville(11-1, 7-1)

Wins:  Ohio(49-7), Eastern Kentucky(44-7), at Kentucky(27-13), Florida International(72-0), at Temple(30-7), Rutgers(24-10), at South Florida(34-3), at Connecticut(31-10), Houston(20-13), Memphis(24-17), at Cincinnati(31-24 OT)

Losses:  Central Florida(35-38)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-1

Record vs. The Spread:  5-7

The spread record emphasises just how uninspiring Louisville looked after the loss to UCF.  They let below average teams like Memphis and Rutgers hang with them.  This was a team that had MUCH higher hopes than the Russell Athletic Bowl.  They wanted the Sugar Bowl.  Will it show?


PREDICTION:  Louisville is not where they want to be, but is Miami?  This game should be entertaining simply because there is still some bad blood between these two from their Big East days.  Remember a jubilant Miami squad stomping on the Cardinal at midfield before the game a few years back?  You can bet Louisville does.  Will that be enough to finally light the fire back under them that went out after the UCF loss?  Maybe, but I still don’t know if they can win.  I’m taking the team that actually wants to be here.  Give me Miami.





Michigan vs. Kansas State(-4.5):


Michigan(7-5, 3-5)

Wins:  Central Michigan(59-9), Notre Dame(41-30), Akron(28-24), at Connecticut(24-21), Minnesota(42-13), Indiana(63-47), at Northwestern(27-19 3OT)

Losses:  at Penn State(40-43 4OT), at Michigan State(6-29), Nebraska(13-17), at Iowa(21-24), Ohio State(41-42)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-4

Record vs. The Spread:  7-5

The Wolverines played with fire against Akron and UConn in September.  Those games turned into losses once they got to conference play.  That said, the only team that beat them soundly was rival Michigan State, who might just have the best defense in college.  Overall, this was a disappointing season for the Wolverines, who had Big Ten(12) title hopes.


Kansas State(7-5, 5-4)

Wins:  Louisiana-Lafayette(48-27), Massachusetts(37-7), West Virginia(35-12), Iowa State(41-7), at Texas Tech(49-26), TCU(33-31), at Kansas(31-10)

Losses:  North Dakota State(21-24), at Texas(21-31), at Oklahoma State(29-33), Baylor(25-35), Oklahoma(31-41)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-4

Record vs. The Spread:  7-5

While some of you may think that the loss to NDSU is a bad one. It isn’t.  The Bison are on the cusp of their third straight National Title at the 1-AA level.  I would bet that they would be in a bowl game if they were in division 1.  In fact, Ken Pomeroy has them ranked in the top 50.  That puts them above roughly 75 teams at the divison 1 level.  I think the most telling thing for the Wildcats this year is that they didn’t let any game get away from them.  They didn’t lose a game by more than ten points.  That is a very difficult thing to accomplish.


PREDICTION:  I know Michigan finally played inspired against Ohio State, but they were trying to knock their arch rival out of the national title game.  That would get anyone amped up for a game.  What motivation do they have here?  I know they haven’t played out west in a while, but that means more to the fans than the team itself.  I just think that Kansas State is a much more disciplined team, and, well, they beat teams that they should.  And no, I don’t think NDSU was a team they should have beaten.  I would put the Bison as fourth in the Big 12(10) and fourth in the Big Ten(12).  Yes, they are that good, but I digress.  Give me Kansas State.



I will have my predictions for the last of the December bowls up on Thursday or Friday, and the predictions for the January 1st bowls up either next Monday or Tuesday.  I won’t leave you hanging!



Tags: Bowl Predictions Against The Spread College Football Picks Against The Spread

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