Dec 7, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; The Baylor Bears celebrate the win over the Texas Longhorns after the lights are turned out at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Baylor Bears defeated the Texas Longhorns 30-10 to win the Big 12 championship. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl Predictions Against The Spread January 1st

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Here is the second to last installment of my bowl prediction series.  My post for the games today and tomorrow are located here:

http://fantasycpr.com/2013/12/27/december-30th-31st-bowl-predictions-spread/

 

 

TAXSLAYER.COM GATOR BOWL at JACKSONVILLE, FL

Nebraska vs. (22)Georgia(-9.5)

 

Nebraska(8-4, 5-3)

Wins:  Wyoming(37-34), Southern Mississippi(56-13), South Dakota State(59-20), Illinois(39-19), at Purdue(44-7), Northwestern(27-24), at Michigan(17-13), at Penn State(23-20 OT)

Losses:  UCLA(21-41), at Minnesota(23-34), Michigan State(28-41), Iowa(17-38)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-4

Record vs. The Spread:  6-6

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Nebraska’s season was the fact that three of their four losses were at home.  Around here, that just DOES NOT happen.  Especially disasters like the Iowa game.   The Huskers certainly didn’t end the season on a high note.  Yes, there were a lot of injuries, and the defense is young, but there is a strong feeling around here that this team should have been better.  The injury to Taylor Martinez was a blessing, mostly because it showcased RB Ameer Abdullah, and the QB of the future in Tommie Armstrong.  I doubt Armstrong starts the bowl game, but he should play enough to get some valuable experience. 

 

Georgia(8-4, 5-3)

Wins:  South Carolina(41-30), North Texas(45-21), LSU(44-41), at Tennessee(34-31 OT), vs Florida at Jacksonville(23-20), Appalachian State(45-6), Kentucky(59-17), at Georgia Tech(41-34 2OT)

Losses:  at Clemson(35-38), Missouri(26-41), at Vanderbilt(27-31), at Auburn(38-43)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  4-4

Record vs. The Spread:  3-9

The terrible ATS record is more indicative of not knowing how to handicap a team that was without both starting WRs for most of the season, and one or two of their top three RBs for another chunk of the season, and, oh, don’t forget the defensive injuries either.  Injuries destroyed what was supposed to be a magical season for the Bulldogs, and now they will have to head to Jacksonville without their starting QB.  Another claim to fame for the Bulldogs this year was  a hand in not just one, but two of the most bizarre finishes of the season.  Tennessee appeared to have scored the game winning TD in overtime, only to have review show that the ball was fumbled out of bounds just shy of the goal line to give Georgia the win.  The other was the game in Auburn where Georgia took the lead inside of a minute remaining, only to have Auburn score the game winning touchdown on a tipped pass.  Yes, heartbreak was all around for the Bulldogs this year, be it because of injuries or just plain bad luck.

 

PREDICTION:  Hmmm…….I know Nebraska looked like cow dung against Iowa, but did you see how the Bulldogs looked against Georgia Tech after Murray went down?  I know it’s a rivalry game and all, but wow!  No matter who starts at QB for Nebraska (or Georgia for that matter), this line is too high.  The beleaguered Nebraska offensive line will be more healthy that it has been since September, and this team has some serious talent on offense.   I just don’t think Georgia puts together enough offense to cover this line.  I expect a close game, no matter how many times Nebraska fumbles.  Give me Nebraska.

 

 

 

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL at DALLAS, TX

UNLV vs. North Texas(-6.5)

 

UNLV(7-5, 5-3)

Wins:  Central Michigan(31-21), Western Illinois(38-7), at New Mexico(56-42), Hawaii(39-37), at Nevada(27-22), at Air Force(41-21), San Diego State(45-19)

Losses:  at Minnesota(23-51), Arizona(13-58), at Fresno State(14-38), San Jose State(24-34), Utah State(24-28)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-4

Record vs. The Spread:  8-4

UNLV was light years better this year than last year, but they didn’t start out that way, getting blown out by Minnesota and Arizona, both of which were better than expected.  Still, their only signature win was a drubbing of San Diego State.  Beating arch-rival Nevada didn’t hurt their confidence level any either.  No matter of the outcome, the Rebels have to be happy about their season, and there is always something special about a New Years Day bowl.  That and they haven’t been to a bowl game since 2000……

 

North Texas(8-4, 6-2)

Wins:  Idaho(40-6), Ball State(34-27), Middle Tennessee State(34-7), at Louisiana Tech(28-13), at Southern Mississippi(55-14), Rice(28-16), UTEP(41-7), at Tulsa(42-10)

Losses:  at Ohio(21-27), at Georgia(21-45), at Tulane(21-24), UTSA(13-21)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-3

Record vs. The Spread:  9-3

Their great record against the spread is indicative of the kind of season that the Mean Green had.  Their only real clunker was a loss to UTSA at home, and it’s not like UTSA is a bad team.  They beat CUSA champion Rice, and manhandled MTSU, who is also bowl bound.  They had close road losses to Ohio and Tulane that really could have gone either way.  This is another team that had a season that was better than expected, and they get rewarded with what is pretty much a home game.  Denton is about 40 minutes north of the stadium, depending on traffic.  Expect a lot of green, some mean, some not, at the stadium on Wednesday….

 

PREDICTION:  We have a nice meeting of overachievers anonymous here in Dallas for this game.  Still, this is practically a home game for North Texas, and their body of work is a little more impressive anyway.  I think this will be fairly close, but I still see UNT winning by about 7 or so.  Give me North Texas.

 

 

 

 

OUTBACK BOWL at TAMPA, FL

Iowa vs. (16)LSU(-7.5):

 

Iowa(8-4, 5-3)

Wins:  Missouri State(28-14), at Iowa State(27-21), Western Michigan(59-3), at Minnesota(23-7), Northwestern(17-10 OT), at Purdue(38-14), Michigan(24-21), at Nebraska(38-17)

Losses:  Northern Illinois(27-30), Michigan State(14-26), at Ohio State(24-34), Wisconsin(9-28)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-4

Record vs. The Spread:  7-5

Iowa has been a train wreck on offense for much of the year, but you wouldn’t be able to tell if you only watched the Nebraska game.  I guess you can say Iowa is peaking at the right time.  They did manage to hang with a good Ohio State team for much of the game, and nearly beat the MAC darlings Northern Illinois in the opener.  Will all of the questions that Iowa had coming into the season, you can probably say that they had a pretty good year.  That said, with a talent like Kevonte Martin-Manley at wideout, they should have been way above average on offense, which leads me to believe that they need much better QB play to have any chance against LSU.

 

LSU(9-3, 5-3)

Wins:  vs TCU at Arlington, TX(37-27), UAB(56-17), Kent State(45-13), Auburn(35-21), at Mississippi State(59-26), Florida(17-6), Furman(48-16), Texas A&M(34-10), Arkansas(31-27)

Losses:  at Georgia(41-44), at Mississippi(24-27), at Alabama(17-38)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-3

Record vs. The Spread:  5-7

LSU was cruising along until the hiccup at Georgia.  They hung with Alabama for 3+ quarters before losing all control in the fourth.  This is the team that made Johnny Manziel have his worst game ever in the rout of Texas A&M.  Which was somewhat surprising considering the defense’s struggle against Georgia.  LSU looked terrible against Arkansas at the end of the year.  Can we just chalk that up to a rivalry game?  Possibly, but it will be in the back of bettors’ minds as they approach the window for this game.  I think it has already been reflected in the spread being as small as it is.

 

PREDICTION:  I think the number is way too low.   Iowa has had all sorts of trouble on offense with the exception of RB/wrecking ball Mark Weisman, but if Rudock can’t throw, this game will be a blowout.  After seeing what the Tigers were able to do against Manziel, I have to think they can rattle Rudock.  That said, the Hawkeyes have a punishing runner in the backfield that could loosen up the defense some.  For some reason though, he disappeared in some games when Iowa struggled (Michigan State, Wisconsin).  If the Hawkeyes fall behind early, the rout will be on.  That is how I think this one will go.  LSU wins BIG!

 

 

 

 

CAPITAL ONE BOWL at ORLANDO, FL

(19)Wisconsin(-1.5) vs. (9)South Carolina:

 

Wisconsin(9-3, 6-2)

Wins:  Massachusetts(45-0), Tennessee Tech(48-0), Purdue(41-10), Northwestern(35-6), at Illinois(56-32), at Iowa(28-9), BYU(27-17), Indiana(51-3), at Minnesota(20-7)

Losses:  at Arizona State(30-32), at Ohio State(24-31), Penn State(24-31)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-2

Record vs. The Spread:  9-3

Brett Bielema leaving for browner pastures at Arkansas kind of shocked the program a bit, and Joel Stave didn’t progress like the Badger faithful hoped he would.  Still, the Badgers have a great two-headed monster at RB with James White and Melvin Gordon.  For that reason, the Badgers didn’t miss a beat with Montee Ball graduating.  Still, if this team gets into a situation where they have to pass, they could be in trouble.  They would have been against the Buckeyes, expect Ohio State couldn’t find WR Jared Abbrederis with a GPS.  The loss at home to Penn State left a black mark on an otherwise great season, which not many expected after Bielema left. 

 

 South Carolina(10-2, 6-2)

Wins:  North Carolina(27-10), Vanderbilt(35-25), at Central Florida(28-25), Kentucky(35-28), at Arkansas(52-7), at Missouri(27-24 2OT), Mississippi State(34-16), Florida(19-14), Coastal Carolina(70-10), Clemson(31-17)

Losses:  at Georgia(30-41), at Tennessee(21-23)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  6-1

Record vs. The Spread:  6-6

The Gamecocks were favorites to win the SEC East with JaDaveon Clowney, and a slew of returning starters on offense.  Mike James was more than a suitable replacement for Marcus Lattimore.  Still, the Cocks had all sorts of trouble keeping the opposition off of the scoreboard for most of the year.  A very frustrated Clowney got double or triple teamed on every play.  Still, the fortunes for this team turned when they stormed back after trailing Missouri 17-0 after three quarters.  The bad news for them was that the loss in Knoxville would keep them out of the SEC championship game, and a possible BCS bowl.

 

PREDICTION:  Honestly, I am quite surprised that the Badgers are favored here, especially after the Penn State disaster to end the regular season.  This line has been all over the place since opening at Wisconsin -2.5.  It has ranged from Wisconsin being favored by 3, to SC being a 2 point favorite.  Me?  I don’t expect that close of a game.  I see SC being able to confuse Stave the way Penn State did, and they are good enough to keep Gordon and White from taking the game over.  Give me the Gamecocks.

 

 

 

 

ROSE BOWL at PASADENA, CA

(5)Stanford(-6.5) vs. (4)Michigan State:

 

Stanford(11-2, 8-2)

Wins:  San Jose State(34-13), at Army(34-20), Arizona State(42-28), at Washington State(55-17), Washington(31-28), UCLA(24-10), at Oregon State(20-12), Oregon(26-20), California(63-13), Notre Dame(27-20), at Arizona State(38-14)

Losses:  at Utah(21-27), at USC(17-20)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  8-1

Record vs. The Spread:  7-6

Stanford lost two games on the road by a total of 9 points.  So in theory they are eleven points away from a shot at the title.  Once again, they used their stifling defense and grind it out offense to shut down opponents.  They only gave up more than 20 points three times, and didn’t give up 30.  That is a very good body of work.  Stanford was outstanding at home, but did have a few issues on the road.  They lost to a Utah team that only won one other conference game.

 

Michigan State(12-1, 9-0)

Wins:  Western Michigan(26-13), South Florida(21-6), Youngstown State(55-17), at Iowa(26-14), Indiana(42-28), Purdue(14-0), at Illinois(42-3), Michigan(29-6), at Nebraska(41-28), at Northwestern(30-6), Minnesota(14-3), vs Ohio State at Indianapolis(34-24)

Losses:  at Notre Dame(13-17)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-1

Record vs. The Spread:  9-4

If anyone should be playing the what-if game this year, it’s the Spartans.  They lost to Notre Dame because their sputtering offense sputtered even more than usual in that game, and they couldn’t seem to settle on a QB.  That has been the knock on Sparty all year, that the offense isn’t very good.  Well, they aren’t terrible either.   They don’t need to be great when the defense gives up only 12.7 points a game.  Like Stanford, they only allowed three opponents to score more than 20 points, and none scored 30.  The Spartans gave up just 16 touchdowns in 13 games.  That’s a pretty impressive number.

 

PREDICTION:  This one will be a battle.  The first BCS Bowl of the last BCS season will undoubtedly be the best.  All of the other ones have the potential for blowouts.  This one does not.  I think it will be much like Wisconsin-TCU a few years ago in the Rose Bowl, except maybe lower scoring than that one even.  Both teams have elite defenses, and offenses that don’t usually make mistakes.  For those of you that love defensive struggles and punts, this is a must-watch.  For those of you too young to appreciate a defensive battle, watch this one an appreciate “the good old days”.  As for my prediction, I’m taking Michigan State, and the reason is simple.  I don’t see either team winning by more than three or four points. 

 

 

 

 

TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL at GLENDALE, AZ

(15)Central Florida vs. (6)Baylor(-16.5)

 

Central Florida(11-1, 8-0)

Wins:  Akron(38-7), at Florida International(38-0), at Penn State(34-31), at Memphis(24-17), at Louisville(38-35), Connecticut(62-17), Houston(19-14), at Temple(39-36), Rutgers(41-17), South Florida(23-20), at SMU(17-13)

Losses:  South Carolina(25-28)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  3-1

Record vs. The Spread:  7-5

Before you say UCF’s schedule was unusually soft, take a look at the road wins.  They won at Penn State and at Louisville.  Not an easy task for any team.  Their only loss was to SEC heavyweight South Carolina in which they had chances to win the game.  Granted, the Knights looked bored at times down the stretch, narrowly escaping Temple and South Florida, two teams that they should have beaten handily, but it is hard to argue that they don’t deserve their shot at the national stage.

 

Baylor(11-1, 8-1)

Wins:  Wofford(69-3), Buffalo(70-13), Louisiana-Monroe(70-7), West Virginia(73-42), at Kansas State(35-25), Iowa State(71-7), at Kansas(59-14), Oklahoma(41-12), vs Texas Tech at Arlington, TX(63-34), at TCU(41-38), Texas(30-10)

Losses:  at Oklahoma State(17-49)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-1

Record vs. The Spread:  9-3

Baylor’s offense is right up there with Oregon.  In fact, they averaged more points per game than the Ducks did, albeit against some inferior competition.  The Bears averaged over 53 points a game, quite an astonishing number.  The only time they were held under 30 is when they ran into a buzzsaw in Stillwater.  Perhaps the thing that went mostly unnoticed in Waco this year was the improvement of the defense.  They gave up more than 40 only twice this year.  Last year they did it a whopping six times.

 

PREDICTION:  This line is the largest of the bowls, but should it be?  Both of these teams are BCS newcomers, so it’s not like either has the advantage of experience.  After that though, the field is not so level.  Baylor wins the position by position matchup almost everywhere.  Overwhelmingly in some places, so yes, I see Baylor blowing out UCF.  I just don’t see how the Knight’s defense can slow down the Baylor offense.  Give me the Bears.

 

 

 

I will have the predictions up for the last bowls on Thursday BEFORE that game starts, I promise!

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