Bowl Games Picks

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Championship weekend was a struggle.  We only went 6-4 straight up, and a horrendous 2-8 against the spread.  That brought our regular season records to 87-53 straight up (very good) and 54-80-4 ATS (not so good).  That is a 33 game difference between the two records.  Trying to figure out how much a team is going to win by is very difficult.  But like we advised you at the beginning of the season, just go against all of our ATS picks.  You would have won at a 58% clip!  That’s money in the bank.

Another regular season has come to an end, and we get to the time of the year where we enter bowl pools and try to guess who will win these games.  Most of the time teams have sat for over a month.  They have new coaches.  Players have been suspended or transferred.  You never know who will or won’t be motivated to play in their particular bowl.  You might as well flip a coin for all these games.

The coaching carousel is already done.  Why does everyone rush to hire a coach?  Do they feel they have to fill a vacancy within 2 days of the season ending?  Is there really no candidate out there better than Will Muschamp that you had to rush and hire him?  I feel like coaching searches actually took time back in the day.  How can an AD say they have completed a thorough and exhaustive search with a straight face when they announce a hiring.

So last year we went 0 for 3 picking the Playoff games.  We will see if we can keep the perfection up this year.

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Teams on bye:  All the losers, except for the three 5-7 teams that got to go to a bowl.

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#17 Baylor (+2.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

This game does not seem as awesome as originally planned.  Baylor is without their top 2 QBs, top RB, and top WR.  That is a lot of firepower lost.  We saw what happened to Baylor the last game of the year when they basically had no one on offense when they lost to Texas.  So even though they come in the game ranked #1 in the nation in offense, it’s not really the case with this personnel grouping.  North Carolina on the other hand is coming off one of their best regular seasons ever.  They went undefeated in conference play and almost knocked off #1 Clemson in the ACC championship game.  North Carolina has a potent offense averaging 487 ypg and 41 ppg.  The thing that has elevated the Tar Heels this year is their defense.  Historically bad last year, they improved to pretty good this year.  They rank 48th in yards per play at 5.3 and 33rd in points per game at 22.6.  UNC will be motivated to cap off a great season and Baylor feels like they will just be going through the motions as they had legit playoff aspirations as recently as the middle of the season.    PICK: North Carolina 35, Baylor 21

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#9 Florida St. (-7)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

Florida St. probably feels like they got the bottom of the barrel in terms of New Years Six games.  But this Houston team is better than the Northern Illinois team FSU played a few years ago in the Orange Bowl.  Houston is top 20 in the nation in offense and has dynamic QB Greg Ward Jr. leading the attack.  But Houston has to go against one of the top defenses in the land.  No matter how many players the Seminoles lose every year, they field a top defense.  This year they are allowing only 4.7 yards per play (14th nationally).  This feels like one of those games where motivation is a factor.  FSU has played either for the national championship or been in the playoff the past 2 years.  This probably feels like a big let down for them, while Houston will be fired up to show they belong.  Houston pulls the upset and has a springboard for a big 2016 season.  PICK:  Houston 28, Florida St. 24

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#1 Clemson (+3.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

The first of the semifinal games.  This one appears to be an outstanding match up.  Oklahoma comes in with one of the top offenses in the nation.  They average nearly 46 ppg and 543 ypg.  They are led by QB Baker Mayfield who has the most swagger of any current college QB (definitely a measurable stat.)  But the thing that makes Oklahoma different than the other Big 12 schools that light up the scoreboard is that Oklahoma plays defense too.  While they are 31st in the nation in total yards against (which in itself is not bad), that is mostly a product of playing in the high octane Big 12.  If you want a good barometer of the stinginess of their defense, look at yards per play.  They give up 4.68 yards per play.  That puts them in a tie for 10th nationally.  Know who that tie is with?  Clemson!  Most people consider Clemson an elite defense and they are right there with Oklahoma.  Clemson also has a game changer at QB.  Deshaun Watson was a Heisman finalist this year and is a true dual threat.  Clemson racks up over 500 ypg on offense.  Both teams have about the same run/pass ration.  This should be a good game.  Look for their offenses to be held down a little bit, but the elite defenses will be gashed some too.  Should be a great game.  Oklahoma feels like the pick.  They were steamrolling at the end of the season, but you are never sure what that month off does to a team.  PICK:  Oklahoma 32, Clemson 30

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#2 Alabama (-9.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

The second game in the Playoff should look more like a NFL game than a CFB game.  Plenty of running and controlling the clock from both of these teams, for those on the east coast this one might go until midnight, especially with the amount of commercials they’ll be pushing down our throats.  The keys to the game will be 2 players, Connor Cook and Derrick Henry.  Michigan State will need Connor Cook to throw the ball all night long and be accurate with the long ball.  We all know that the running game for Michigan State will be shut down by that Bama D-line.  Bama only allows 2.38 yp rush with only 6 rushing TDs all season.  I gotta say, after looking at the numbers it looks like Alabama is going to win this game and should win it without a problem.  The only thing that will stop a dominate performance from Bama will be Michigan St’s defense, if they don’t play lock down D and slow down Henry then this could be over in the 3rd quarter.  The X factor with MSU is that they tend to keep games close no matter who they are playing, I just think that Bama has too much talent to lose.  Looking over Bama’s schedule it seems as if they struggle against teams that are balanced on attack with above average defense, so for that reason I’m going to pick Bama to win but MSU to cover the points.  This is going to be fun!!  PICK:  Alabama 30 Michigan St 24

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 #23 Tennessee (-7.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

One of those games that fairly or unfairly will be used as a barometer to determine which conference between the Big 10 and SEC is better.  It’s so weird.  Conference supremacy used to never be a topic of conversation.  People just cared about how their individual team did.  But these are the times.  Tennessee has been on the verge of breaking through for about 3 seasons now.  This year they kept finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Northwestern has had a nice year after a couple of down seasons.  They became a sort of running joke this year with the “body clock” game against Stanford in week 1.  But that game put the nation on notice that the Wildcats were going to be a good team this year.  Northwestern beat Stanford who beat Cal who beat Texas who beat Oklahoma who beat Tennessee.  Clearly Northwestern is better.  PICK:  Northwestern 24, Tennessee 19

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#19 Florida (+4)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

This one will be ugly in the air…neither team can throw the ball down the field and both defenses are stout as hell.  The O/U for this game is at 41, and we will be lucky to see a freaking touchdown much less 40+ points between these 2 juggernauts.  Florida and Michigan certainly ended the regular season on the downward trend.  It’s clear that Florida is only a solid QB short of being very dangerous and I think I would say the same about Michigan.  Michigan is favored by 4 for right now.  I can’t say I disagree with that one….it certainly feels like a game that will come down to a late TD or FG  to win.  The only X Factor in this game is that it’s a bowl game and coaches tend to say “F*** it!” and bring out the trick plays and uncharacteristic play calling.  At this point I’m going to give the edge, even in the spread, to Michigan….I think we can all say that Harbaugh is the better coach while it feels like Florida is just looking forward to next year with a decent QB.  Let’s go ahead with the Wolverines winning by 6 in a terribly boring defensive game.  PICK: Michigan 19, Florida 13

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#5 Iowa (+6)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Raise you hand if you had Iowa in the Rose Bowl at the beginning of the season…..now put it down, cuz you’re a liar.  The Hawkeyes were so freaking close to the CFP that they could smell it.  Now they have to play in the lowly Rose Bowl.  Just in case you are wondering why we have the Playoff on News Years Eve, it’s because of the Rose Bowl and their famous parade.  Part of the deal with the CFP and the Rose Bowl was that the Rose Bowl must stay scheduled for New Years Day.  Once again we’ll have a close game here.  I’m surprised at the solid match ups this year, and usually we have a few obvious blowouts with the bowl games.  I’m very curious to see who will control the clock….both teams are very methodical on offense and solid on defense.  It’s clear that Stanford is the most talented team here and Iowa should just roll up into a ball and cry.  You have to admire the guts of the Iowa team after winning a ton of close games.  It feels like Iowa will be leading at halftime but screw it up with a couple of TOs and Stanford cruises to a 10 point win.  I bet Stanford is kicking themselves for that loss to N’western in week 1.  Stanford is just too much for Iowa.  Stanford is a top 5 team at the end of all of this.  PICK: Stanford 34, Iowa 24

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#12 Ole Miss (-7)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

OK St vs Ole Miss is the evil twin brother of the Michigan vs Florida game.  Zero defense and the ball in the air over 65% of the plays.  OK State almost pulled a fast one on the nation and got into the CFP.  Lets be honest though, they were a façade.  They feel more like a 3 loss team instead of a 1 loss team.  Ole Miss was the team to beat in the SEC West, then Memphis beat them and crushed all their hopes and dreams of the CFP.  The Rebels bounced back nicely after it looked like an imminent downward spiral into mediocrity.  If it wasn’t for that crappy OT play by Arkansas, Ole Miss would have had themselves a great year in the SEC.  Swag Kelly can certainly play the QB position and if Ole Miss had a scent of a running game this might be an eleven win team.  OK State is what they are every year, great to above average on offense and shotty, at best on defense.  Any solid passing team with an above average defense will beat OK State.  As you can see I’ll be taking Ole Miss….somehow this game opened up as OK State being a 7 point favorite, it’s now switched to Ole Miss being a 7 point favorite.  I don’t know who came up with that one in Vegas, but they missed it.  Ole Miss wins, but I don’t think they cover. PICK: Ole Miss 34, OK State 30

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#11 TCU (PK)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Another game with zero defense, I love it!  This game screams PICK EM, I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on who to pick to win the game.  These 2 QB’s are almost un-sackable, if that’s a word?  It seems like Oregon has gotten better in the last month and TCU has gone the opposite way, mostly due to injuries.  If TCU was healthy this would be a no-brainer.  It’s no secret that Oregon’s defense is an absolute disaster.  If Doctson was playing for TCU this game he would probably rack up about 300 yards of receiving.  Oregon has a ton of weapons that are still healthy on offense and a slick QB in Vernon Adams.  This should be easy for the Ducks to rack up points.  After looking at this game for some time it seems that Oregon has the momentum.  The only reason TCU would pull this one off will be the home crowd advantage seeing as they are going to play this one in Texas.  I’m just not a big believer in TCU’s offense after Doctson went down.  Oregon wins easily.  PICK: Oregon 51, TCU 38

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UPSET OF THE WEEK!

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#7 Ohio St. (-6.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

For the last upset pick of the “week” we are going to take the Fighting Irish over the Buckeyes.  It was a thoroughly disappointing year for the Buckeyes.  They were supposed to win the championship uncontested.  All of those QBs were supposed to win the Heisman and Zeke was supposed to run 200 yards every game.  Turns out Cardale isn’t that great and JT should have been the guy all year.  The defense was good but not great and the offense missed Tom Herman more than they ever thought they could imagine.  Notre Dame on the other hand lived off of a great defense with an above average offense behind back up QB Kizer.  If nothing else Kizer will forever be unwelcome in the state of Virginia.  For a while there it looked like ND had a path to the CFP laid out, but their schedule backfired on them and Stanford crushed all their dreams with a late FG win.  Brian Kelly looks to have ND back in the spotlight for good with a top 10 finish, but he needs this win to solidify this season.  Next year he’ll have his starting QB back with a ton of talent to surround him with, ND has a lot to look forward to in the game.  It seems as if Ohio St just wants to get this game over so half the team can enter the draft and put this season behind them.  That’s why I’m going with ND all the way in this one.  They take it by a FG.  PICK: Notre Dame 30, Ohio State 27

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Season Record – Straight Up: 87-53

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Season Record – Versus Spread: 54-80-4

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Upset of the Week: 4-10

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