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I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

College Football Picks - 2015 Bowl Edition

It's bowl season, time to recoup losses
After a less-than-successful regular season, things can only go up from here.  With 40 games on tap (a few have already passed), we look ahead to the best bets of the Bowl Season.  Instead of just sticking to ATS bets, we'll expand a little bit to straight up and Over/Under.  And in the spirit of the holidays, give you ten picks instead of just five.  $110 on ATS and O/U, $100 on S/U.  But first, a quick recap.

Winnings 12/5: +80 (3-2)
Winnings to date: -$820 (27-32-1, 12% loss)

So with a big run here (including some underdogs S/U), a profit could happen.  Note that to me, games in which coaches have changed positions are too high risk.  You may get an inspired team, or a flat team.  But the unpredictability factor clouds the certainty.  Here are ten sure things to happen, and why:

Quick Lane Bowl (12/28 6:00 pm CST - Detroit, MI)
Central Michigan (+200) vs. Minnesota
Central Michigan is the hotter team having won 5 of 6 with just a single loss to a solid Toledo team.  Minnesota meanwhile has lost 5 of 6, and was weakened by the necessary retirement of head coach Jerry Kill (seizures).  I know on paper the Big 10 should be better, but with the game in Minnesota, this is a juicy money line.

Russell Athletic Bowl (12/29 4:30 pm CST - Orlando, FL)
North Carolina (+112) vs. Baylor
Baylor was a shell of their powerhouse team by the end of the year.  Coming off a home loss to non-bowling Texas, the Bears will also be without their NFL bound All-American WR Corey Coleman and top RB Shock Linwood.  Down to their third string QB they are still somehow favored against the North Carolina Tarheels which put a scare into Clemson in the ACC Championship Game with a late rally and miscalled onside kick.  That's number one Clemson.  Additionally, Baylor only notched one win since November 5 once their main players were decimated.


Russell Athletic Bowl (12/29 4:30 pm CST - Orlando, FL)
North Carolina vs. Baylor, Under 68.5 points
For the above reasons, Baylor won't be able to put up a lot of points.  Against Texas, they resorted to a grinding wildcat ground game that took the air out of their usual "score in 100 seconds" offense.  Their defense is more healthy and not bad. Carolina can score against inferior teams but not necessarily strong ones.  A 30-28 final is a high result to me, well under.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (12/30 6:00 pm CST - Nashville, TN)
Texas A&M vs. Louisville, Under 47 points
In case you've been under a rock, Texas A&M has had 2 of their 3 scholarship quarterbacks declare their intent to transfer.  And Texas A&M struggled on offense with them.  But their defense is good, really good.  This seems like an easy 24-17 type game, not seeing either team score more than 28.


National Funding Holiday Bowl (12/30 9:30 pm CST - San Diego, CA)
Southern California (-3) vs. Wisconsin
At first I was surprised that the Trojans were favored.  I looked at Wisconsin and they have three losses to Top 5 playoff teams (Alabama, Iowa) plus a good Northwestern team.  But then you look at their wins, and playing in the Big 10 West, it's a pillow fight (best win is 2 points over Nebraska, look it up).  Then you look at Southern California that beat six bowl teams (while losing to five, including Stanford twice).  The game is in southern California, they'll cover.

Chick Fil-a Peach Bowl (12/31 11:00 am CST - Atlanta, GA)
Florida State (-7) vs. Houston
With all due respect to Houston, this is a significant step up in competition.  The main hope here is that Florida State thinks they have the easy road and the Cougars come out with their hair on fire.  Of all the scenarios I see, it's mostly Florida State blowout, or comfortable win.  Both scenarios more than 7 points.

Capital One Orange Bowl (12/31 3:00 pm CST - Miami, FL)
Clemson (+160) vs. Oklahoma
This is the number 1 vs. number 4 matchup (by committee) so you would think Clemson would be favored.  And this is more of a home area for Clemson which plays in Florida much more than Oklahoma.  Another secret, when Oklahoma made their run for the Big 12, it was against depleted teams like Baylor (see above) and TCU (barely won at home).  Oklahoma lost to Texas, Clemson hasn't lost.  Like the money line here.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (1/1 12:00 pm CST - Orlando, FL)
Michigan vs. Florida, Under 39.5 points
It's defense against more defense.  Remember when Michigan had three straight shutouts and five straight games with only 14 total points allowed (including games against BYU and Northwestern)?  Eight times, Florida won games allowing 14 or fewer points, including shutting down Ole Miss and Georgia.  This just seems like a 21-14 game.


Valero Alamo Bowl (1/2 5:45 pm CST - San Antonio, TX)
Texas Christian vs. Oregon, Under 78.5 points
Both the offenses are explosive, but I'm a firm believer that with time to prepare, defenses gain advantage on offenses.  Only 3 times did TCU play a game that exceeded this total.  Six times did Oregon but it was mostly against vastly inferior teams.  I mean, 38-35 would be a shootout and fall short by a TD.

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (1/2 9:15 pm CST - Tempe, AZ) - Pick of the Week
Arizona State (+1) vs. West Virginia
This is where the middle of the Pac 12 is just better than the middle of the (shallower by count) Big 12.  West Virginia has all of one win against a Bowl team (Texas Tech) whereas Arizona State beat four bowl teams.  Did you also see this game is in the Sun Devils' home stadium?  Why this is a virtual pick'em is baffling (trust me, West Virginia fans aren't excited about this team and aren't going to show up in droves).  State wins by 2 TDs.

And I sign off for another year.  I appreciate all the views as it's fun to line up and show how I roll.  It didn't work out that much this year, but next year I got it!

-JR

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