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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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Saturday, December 23, 2017

College Football Picks - 2017 Bowl Picks Special

Cowboy hat tip to BDB
And that's a wrap.  An amazing college football season is winding down as we enter the lesser bowls before Christmas before the main course starts shortly thereafter.  We've been on break for a few weeks, so we'll catch up with some final thoughts on the playoff selection, overview of the final week of predictions (and season wrap up), and then delve into our picks for the big Bowl games leading to the New Years Day playoffs at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

So now our weekly take on last week and this week, in five bullets:

1) Alabama or Ohio State.  Ohio State or Alabama.  That was the 12 hour debate leading up to the college football playoff selection show.  There was no right or wrong answer, but someone was going to be left out.  After the last two years, it turns out conference championships aren't as important as people think.
2) I still won't hear arguments that there are too many bowls.  If you don't like them, don't watch.  Meanwhile Group of Five programs get more exposure, more practice, and a chance for a national audience.  All good things.  Access to bowls is one of the elements of the NCAA that doesn't bias toward the Power Five conferences.
3) I'm still not in favor of expanding the playoffs to eight teams.  Unless you get rid of conference title games and have the first round that weekend (since outright conference titles are apparently devalued by the committee).  It's actually easier to choose between the 4th through 6th or 7th team than the 8th through 16th team.  Much more gray area.
4) Annual warning not to look at bowl records and surmise conference strength.  It's a short set of data, you have all kinds of factors (coaches leaving and the latest being underclassmen skipping the bowl game to prep for the draft).
5) One of the best things about the College Football Playoff matchups is that both games are within a field goal point spread.  Hoping for good semifinal games (which has not happened much lately).  And thank goodness they moved off of New Years Eve.

BDB basking in the Championship glory!
This blog will typically pick five games, including the Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs by default (unless bad matchups).  We try and go for one game in each of the Power 5 conferences, sometimes skipping one that might not have a marquee.  This week we'll of course take the playoff games, Texas, then two of the other Big Six bowls.  A nice spread of all the Power Five conferences for sure.

Our two analysts are J.R. Ewing, Texas Longhorns fan and general loud mouth.  And we feature big time Georgia Bulldog fan "Bulldog Babe" (BDB) (@bulldogbabexo).  She's been amazing this year and a great blog partner!

Last week
JR: 3-2 S/U, 3-1-1 ATS
BDB: 3-2 S/U, 1-3-1 ATS

Season to date:
JR: 43-26 S/U, 38-28-1 ATS
BDB: 51-19 S/U, 44-24-1 ATS

Recapping the Conference Championship weekend, considering BDB and JR disagreed on every winner besides Georgia (which both got right), not too bad.  BDB unfortunately had a couple of straight up winners not cover to dent her ATS number, but no threat to her insurmountable lead.  I hereby declare BDB the winner of the 2017 Longhorndave College Football Pick Blog!  She is the Picks Queen of 2017 (get it, it rhymes)!

Spreads are from a great pick site, Capped Sports

Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl
Wednesday December 27, 9:00 p.m. EST, Houston, Texas
Texas (6-6) (+2.5) vs. Missouri (7-5)

JR Ewing:
Intriguing matchup of second tier SEC and Big 12 teams.  Texas defense was able to shut down good offenses like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.  But their offense was a work in progress that never finished.  Missouri finished the season with 6 straight wins, but has no wins over a team with a winning record.  Beating 6-6 Texas won't help that stat.  Texas played even with big teams like USC and OU and has the better team here.  Wins in a low scoring affair.
Texas 21, Missouri 17

Bulldog Babe: 
Both of these teams have been down in the dumps this year, in my opinion. It’s a surprise to me that they were able to sneak into bowl season. With that being said, this will be an interesting matchup. I think both teams have a chance at winning either a blowout or a close one, bowl season is always unpredictable. I have a feeling Missouri will win this one.
Missouri 34, Texas 20

Goodyear Cotton Bowl
Friday December 29, 8:30 p.m. EST, Arlington, Texas
Southern California (11-2) (+7.5) vs. Ohio State (11-2)

JR Ewing:
It's too bad the Rose Bowl could not have hosted this matchup, since it is rare in today's climate to get the true Big 10 and Pac 12 conference champion in a bowl game.  The Cotton Bowl is certainly a stalwart traditional game, so it will have to do.  Both teams won their Conference Title game over strong opponents.  Ohio State was the first team out of the playoff so this is about how they respond.  Last time they did well in defeating Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.  USC doesn't seem to have the horses to keep up.  I am really looking forward to the QB matchup in this one.  But Ohio State wins it relatively easily.
Ohio State 31, Southern California 21

Bulldog Babe:
This is probably gonna be one of my favorite matchups of the bowl season. Two strong teams who have had their fair share of high and low points. I think this will be a close matchup with both teams bringing their A game. I’ve been riding the USC train almost all season, but Ohio State to me just seems like the better team. OSU wins it.
Ohio State 24, Southern California 17.

Capitol One Orange Bowl
Saturday December 30, 8:00 p.m. EST, Miami Gardens, Florida
Miami (10-2) (+6.5) vs. Wisconsin (12-1)

JR Ewing:
A battle of two teams that were undefeated when we carved the turkey on Thanksgiving weekend but came up short in their conference title games.  Both against better teams. This is a very intriguing matchup as Miami has lost two straight and looked awful in both.  But when they play in south Florida, they were unbeatable.  Wisconsin always plays well in bowl games, but I think the "U" magic is back and Miami pulls off an upset.
Miami 31, Wisconsin 26

Bulldog Babe:
Probably two of my favorite teams besides Georgia to watch this season. I had so much confidence in Miami to get in the playoffs, but they came up just a bit short. There couldn’t be a better bowl matchup for them than Wisconsin though, I feel like this game will be interesting and entertaining to watch. I feel like Wisconsin may be the stronger team, but I can’t get off the Miami train just yet. I think the Hurricanes will win a close one.
Miami 30, Wisconsin 24

Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual
Monday January 1, 2018, 5:10 p.m. EST, Pasadena, California
Oklahoma (12-1) (+2) vs. Georgia (12-1)

JR Ewing:
A game with teams fitting of the "Granddaddy of them All."  Oklahoma and Georgia had just one hiccup throughout the season.  Going back to last year, Oklahoma is actually 22-1 in their last 23 games.  Both teams have impressive out of conference wins at Ohio State and at Notre Dame  Both were dominant in their conference title game.  If I'm looking for an edge here, I like the more experienced quarterback in Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.  While freshman Jake Frohmm has been impressive, this is a whole new stage. He'll get his title in a year or two, but this year belongs to Oklahoma.
Oklahoma 35, Georgia 27

Bulldog Babe:
The first of the two CFB Playoff games. I am so excited for this game because Georgia and Oklahoma are both really strong and both teams deserve to be in Pasadena playing in this game. While everyone is riding the Oklahoma train, I feel like Georgia has enough mojo to win this game and get to the national championship game for the first time in over 30 years. Georgia wins a close one.
Georgia 34, Oklahoma 24

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Monday January 1, 2018, 8:45 p.m. EST, New Orleans, Louisiana
Clemson (12-1) (+3) vs. Alabama (11-1)

JR Ewing:
Perhaps I have not flip-flopped any more than this game.  Both teams are so good and of course they have met in the last two playoffs (in the Championship Game).  It's hard to see how either team loses.  But I do like Clemson.  They're not intimidated by Alabama, and last we saw the Tide, they looked pretty helpless on offense.  I think they miss Lane Kiffin more than they know.  Clemson's defense is stronger than they get credit for, allowing only 30 points in their last 4 games combined (all wins of 17 points or more).  I think Clemson wins the rubber match of this three game series and takes away the dynasty moniker from the Tide as the flagship team in college football.
Clemson 24, Alabama 14

Bulldog Babe:
Part 3. Another matchup between the Tide and the Tigers, so crazy to think how these teams somehow keep getting matched up to play each other. Alabama’s defensive line keeps getting mauled with injuries and I think Clemson is strong enough to keep up with them once again. They will be able to take advantage of that injury plagued defensive line. Clemson wins.
Clemson 34, Alabama 20

Enjoy the Bowl Season everyone!  We may or may not do a Championship Game Blog (it might depend on whether Georgia makes it)!

- JR and BDB

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