Bowl Predictions Against The Spread January 2nd-6th

 

Jan 1, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles mascot Chief Osceola and his horse Renegade pose for a photo in the second quarter of the game against the Northern Illinois Huskies at the 2013 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 1, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles mascot Chief Osceola and his horse Renegade pose for a photo in the second quarter of the game against the Northern Illinois Huskies at the 2013 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

 

 

Here we go with the last installment of my bowl predictions.  I will post my results against the spread and my final season total on Tuesday or Wednesday.  I still have a couple of games left to watch, so I am not fully caught up from yesterday’s games yet, but I think my picks from the New Year will help me get my head above water.

 

ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL at NEW ORLEANS, LA

(11)Oklahoma vs. (3)Alabama(-17.5):

 

Oklahoma(10-2, 7-2)

Wins:  Louisiana-Monroe(34-0), West Virginia(16-7), Tulsa(51-20), at Notre Dame(35-21), TCU(20-17), at Kansas(34-19), Texas Tech(38-30), Iowa State(48-10), at Kansas State(41-31), at Oklahoma State(33-24)

Losses:  vs Texas at Dallas(20-36), at Baylor(12-41)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  4-2

Record vs. The Spread:  7-5

The Sooners finished strong with quality road wins over tough opponents, and perhaps best of all, knocked Oklahoma State out of a BCS bowl.  The bad news?  Baylor still won the conference, and we got the BCS berth and get to play Alabama, a team that would still be favored over everyone else.  Still, this season has to be considered a success.  I didn’t think we would win ten games.  I thought eight would be the ceiling, so no matter what happens, the season was a minor success.  It would have been a major success if we had beaten Texas.  Yes, the rivalry is that important.  Mack Brown, despite all of his success up to that point, was nearly fired in 2004 because he couldn’t beat the Sooners. 

 

Alabama(11-1, 7-1)

Wins:  vs Virginia Tech at Atlanta(35-10), at Texas A&M(49-42), Colorado State(31-6), Mississippi(25-0), Georgia State(45-3), at Kentucky(48-7), Arkansas(52-0), Tennessee(45-10), LSU(38-17), at Mississippi State(20-7), Chattanooga(49-0)

Losses:  at Auburn(28-34)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-1

Record vs. The Spread:  6-6

Alabama was cruising right along, having exacted revenge on Texas A&M, and embarrassing LSU in the fourth quarter, then came the Iron Bowl.  You can argue that they lost on a fluke play, and to some extent it was, but I don’t buy it.  You have a kicker that had missed four field goals from much closer earlier in the game, and whose career long was more than ten yards shorter than the kick he was attempting.  Play for overtime is the smart play there, especially for a team like Alabama.  Their depth is their strength.  They had a greater chance to win the longer that the game went on.  Kicking the field goal in that situation was not only foolish, but quite arrogant.  If they take a shot at the end zone, fine.  If you miss, I think they win it in overtime.  Why give the other team a chance to win when you know that the likelihood of the kick being short is great?  Yes, Nick Saban, I am calling you out on this one.

 

PREDICTION:  This line is up a full two points in two days, and I get it.  I see why.  Oklahoma is a bumbling mess on offense more often than not.  That said, I am still taking Oklahoma.  Call it being a homer.  I’m fine with that.  But I have solid reasons for my decision.  One, I don’t think Alabama’s defense is quite as dominant as it has been.  Oklahoma is going to try to run the ball, and try to keep the ball out of the best decision maker in the college game right not in AJ McCarron, and from the ridiculous weapons Alabama has on offense.  Our defense is much better this year than it has been in several years, and while it isn’t near the level of the ones that Mike Stoops used to put together, we are on the way back.  We play the run well, and have a decent secondary.  We are still light years ahead of where we were when Venables was there.  I think the defense will put together a few stops, and the offense will be able to get some yards.  The question I have is if we can limit mistakes.  Alabama is still one of the best at making you make mistakes.  If we can control the ball fairly well, and play solid defense, which I think there is a good chance of, we will keep this game under 17 points.  Will we win?  Absolutely not, but there is a reason Alabama is 6-6 against the spread this year.  They are being handicapped at the 2011 level instead of 2013.  While they are still a great team, they aren’t quite as dominant.  I’m glad the line keeps rising.  I would have had a hard time picking against a 15 point spread.  And while I will still be cheering my team on, I am a realist.  There is a reason I put 35 confidence points on Alabama.  I am not jaded enough that I think we will win.  I just think we wont get covered…..

 

 

 

 

AT&T COTTON BOWL at DALLAS, TX

(13)Oklahoma State(-2.5) vs (8)Missouri:

 

Oklahoma State(10-2, 7-2)

Wins:  vs Mississippi State at Houston(21-3), at UTSA(56-35), Lamar(59-3), Kansas State(33-29), TCU(24-10), at Iowa State(58-27), at Texas Tech(52-34), Kansas(42-6), at Texas(38-13), Baylor(49-17)

 Losses:  at West Virginia(21-30), Oklahoma(24-33)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-1

Record vs. The Spread:  8-4

Okie State was rolling right along until the inexplicable loss to West Virginia.  In fact, that one looked worse after the fact than it did at the time, as the Mounties won just three games this year, and lost to periennial Big 12(10) doormat Kansas.  That aside, The Cowboys dominated Texas in Austin, and thumped Baylor in Stillwater, only to lose control of their BCS destiny by losing to arch rival Oklahoma at home.  At the very least, the Cowboys have been inconsistent, but they still won ten games.  The defense will be the key to whether they can hang with Missouri or not.

 

Missouri(11-2, 7-2)

Wins:  Murray State(58-14), Toledo(38-23), at Indiana(45-28), Arkansas State(41-19), at Vanderbilt(51-28), at Georgia(41-26), Florida(36-17), Tennessee(31-3), at Kentucky(48-17), at Mississippi(24-10), Texas A&M(28-21)

Losses:  South Carolina(24-27 2OT), vs Auburn at Atlanta(42-59)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-2

Record vs. The Spread:  11-2

Missouri’s exceptional against the spread record is a byproduct of low expectations for the team in the SEC, but the stars aligned for Missouri this year.  They dodged Alabama and LSU, got a banged up Georgia squad, and the worst Florida team in 35 years.  Not to take anything away from what the Tigers accomplished this year though.  They beat Texas A&M handily to earn a berth in the conference title game.  Henry Josey came back as good, if not better, than before he blew out his knee.  The defense was much better than advertised, and help propel Missouri to the top of the SEC East.  The defense did fail them at times though.  They blew a 17-0 lead to South Carolina in the fourth quarter, and got rocked by Auburn in the SEC title game.  Their offense can keep up with just about anyone though.

 

PREDICTION:  I am more than a little surprised that Oklahoma State is favored.  It seems to me like Missouri as been a more consistent team, but when Oklahoma State is on, they are on.  These old Big 12 foes face off in a bowl which could be more entertaining than all but one BCS one.  I think I am going to go with Missouri here simply because they did not lose to a team that they shouldn’t.  They are the more reliable team, so I like Mizzou behind the leadership of Franklin and Josey.

 

 

 

 

DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL at MIAMI GARDENS, FL

(12)Clemson vs (7)Ohio State(-3.5):

 

Clemson(10-2, 7-1)

Wins:  Georgia(38-35), South Carolina State(52-13), at North Carolina State(26-14), Wake Forest(56-7), at Syracuse(49-14), Boston College(24-14), at Maryland(40-27), at Virginia(59-10), Georgia Tech(55-31), The Citadel(52-6)

Losses:  Florida State(14-51), at South Carolina(17-31)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-2

Record vs. The Spread:  6-6

Clemson started off the season with a huge win over a (somewhat) healthy Georgia team.  Clemson looked elite at times this season, but that all came to a crashing halt when they were crushed by Florida State at home.  Their defense gave up several big plays over the course of the year, but the offense is good enough to get the points back with an elite combo in QB Taj Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins.  This offense was hard for everyone but the upper tier defenses of Florida State and South Carolina to stop.

 

Ohio State(12-1, 8-1)

Wins:  Buffalo(40-20), San Diego State(42-7), California(52-34), Florida A&M(76-0), Wisconsin(31-24), at Northwestern(40-30), Iowa(34-24), Penn State(63-14), at Purdue(56-0), at Illinois(60-35), Indiana(42-14), at Michigan(42-41)

Losses:  vs Michigan State at Indianapolis(24-34)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  5-1

Record vs. The Spread:  6-7

Ohio State’s offense was once again a force to be reckoned with, especially when RB Carlos Hyde got back on the field.  The Buckeyes only scored under 30 points once, and that was in their loss to Michigan State.  However, as good as their offense was, their defense gave up yards by the bushel and points by the handful.  The usually stout Buckeye defense had huge holes in the secondary that were exploited by three receivers to the tune of 150+ yards.  Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis went over 200 against them!

 

PREDICTION:  I think this will be a high scoring game.  Clemson has given up a lot of points this year as well, but I think Clemson has the advantage with WR Sammy Watkins.  He is probably better than anyone the Buckeyes have had to try to cover this year, and Taj Boyd is plenty good enough to get him the ball consistently.  I think the game stays close with over 80 combined points, but I like Clemson to win. 

 

 

 

 

BBVA COMPASS BOWL at BIRMINGHAM, AL

Vanderbilt(-2.5) vs. Houston:

 

Vanderbilt(8-4, 4-4)

Wins:  Austin Peay(38-3), at Massachusetts(24-7), UAB(52-24), Georgia(31-27), at Florida(34-17), Kentucky(22-6), at Tennessee(14-10), Wake Forest(23-21)

Losses:  Mississippi(35-39), at South Carolina(25-35), Missouri(28-51), at Texas A&M(24-56)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  1-4

Record vs. The Spread:  6-6

Despite playing in the SEC, Vanderbilt only played five games against bowl eligible teams, winning just one of them against a dilapidated Georgia team.  The Commodores’ defense was solid for much of the season except against the high powered Missouri and Texas A&M offenses.   The offense will need to put some points on the board to keep up with Houston….

 

Houston(8-4, 5-3)

Wins:  Southern(62-13), at Temple(22-13), Rice(31-26), at UTSA(59-28), Memphis(25-15), at Rutgers(49-14), South Florida(35-23), SMU(34-0)

Losses:  BYU(46-47), at Central Florida(14-19), at Louisville(13-20), Cincinnati(17-24)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  2-4

Record vs. The Spread:  10-2

The Cougars were underestimated this year, as evident by their record against the spread.  They lost all four of their games against bowl teams by a combined 20 points.  However, none of those were to a power conference opponent.  This makes it difficult to pick against a middle tier power conference opponent such as Vanderbilt. 

 

PREDICTION:  This is a tough one because neither team has a real measuring stick.  Vanderbilt definitely has the better win in defeating Georgia, but Houston beat two bowl teams to Vandy’s one, and wasn’t blown out in any game.  That said, they didn’t face an opponent the caliber of Texas A&M or Missouri.  I think I have to take Vandy here just because of the whole SEC thing, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Houston won.

 

 

 

 

GODADDY BOWL at MOBILE, AL

Arkansas State vs. Ball State(-7.5)

 

Arkansas State(7-5, 5-2)

 Wins:  Arkansas-Pine Bluff(62-11), Troy(41-34), Idaho(48-24), at South Alabama(17-16), at Louisiana-Monroe(42-14), Texas State(38-21), Georgia State(35-33)

Losses:  at Auburn(9-38), at Memphis(7-31), at Missouri(19-41), Louisiana-Lafayette(7-23), at Western Kentucky(31-34)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  0-3

Record vs. The Spread:  6-6

The Red Wolves didn’t hang with any of the good teams that they played, and they lost to two teams that are not bowl bound.  Their signature win is probably a win in the same stadium that the bowl is in when they beat South Alabama in Mobile.  Their record against the spread indicates that they perhaps underachieved a bit this year. 

 

Ball State(10-2, 7-1)

Wins:  Illinois State(51-28), Army(40-14), at Eastern Michigan(51-20), Toledo(31-24), at Virginia(48-27), Kent State(27-24), at Western Michigan(38-17), at Akron(42-24), Central Michigan(44-24), Miami(OH)(55-14)

Losses:  at North Texas(27-34), at Northern Illinois(27-48)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  0-2

Record vs. The Spread:  8-4

The Fighting Lettermans had a solid season, beating a Toledo team that probably should be in a bowl, and defeating Virginia in Charlottesville, something even BYU could not do.  Both of their losses were on the road to bowl bound teams.

 

PREDICTION:  Ball State definitely has the better body of work over the season, and probably is the more talented team.  The only thing that Arkie State has going for them is that they already won in Mobile this year.  That isn’t enough.  I’m taking the Lettermans!

 

 

 

 

VIZIO BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP at PASADENA, CA

(1)Florida State(-8.5) vs. (2)Auburn

 

Florida State(13-0, 9-0)

Wins:  at Pittsburgh(41-13), Nevada(62-7), Bethune-Cookman(54-6), at Boston College(48-34), Maryland(63-0), at Clemson(51-14), North Carolina State(49-17), Miami(FL)(41-14), at Wake Forest(59-3), Syracuse(59-3), Idaho(80-14), at Florida(37-7), vs Duke at Charlotte(45-7)

Losses:  NONE

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  7-0

Record vs. The Spread:  11-2

The Seminoles didn’t lose anything by losing E.J. Manuel.  Instead, redshirt freshman Jameis Winston took over and did something even Manuel could not do: win the Heisman Trophy.  Largely overshadowed by the very potent offense is the stifling defense.  The Seminoles only gave up more than 17 points ONCE all season!  They punished all opponents, including both top ten foes that they faced this season, and the only time they were really tested was at Boston College in September. 

 

Auburn(12-1. 8-1)

Wins:  Washington State(31-24), Arkansas State(38-9), Mississippi State(24-20), Mississippi(30-22), Western Carolina(62-3), at Texas A&M(45-41), Florida International(45-10), at Arkansas(35-17), at Tennessee(55-23), Georgia(43-38), Alabama(34-28), vs Missouri at Atlanta(59-42)

Losses:  at LSU(21-35)

Record vs. Bowl Teams:  8-1

Record vs. The Spread:  11-2

Auburn had a season where everything just seemed to go right.  The miracle wins against Georgia and Alabama only add to the legend that is the 2013 Auburn Tigers.  They started off the season with their first five games against opponents that would go to bowl games.  Auburn could be in trouble if they need to pass to win, like they did in Baton Rouge.  This is a run first and run often team, but they can also burn you with a pass play out of their usual option plays. 

 

PREDICTION:  Auburn hasn’t faced a defense as good as Florida State’s this year.  That could pose a problem for the Tigers who need their offense to keep up with the points that their defense gives up.  Call Auburn what you will.  Lucky, gifted, running around with a horseshoe up their ass, whatever the case may be.  Luck can only take you so far.  You still have to have the skills to take advantage of the breaks you are given.  The only thing that I question about Florida State is how they would handle a close game.  They pulled away from BC in the second half, but can they do it again?  Does the Heisman curse still exist?  If so, will Winston suffer?   Can the defense win the game even if Winston does not play well?  I think the answer is yes.  You don’t bury quality opponents the way that Florida State did all season without outstanding players all over the field.  I’m taking Florida State to cover this, and it is my lock of the bowls!  I just think that Auburn’s luck has run out, and Florida State will really pull away when Auburn has to pass to win.  Give me the Noles!

 

 

I will have my results post up a day or two after the Championship.  Did I reach my goal for the season?  Stay tuned to find out!

 

Topics: Bowl Picks Against The Spread, Bowl Predictions, Picks Against The Spread

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