Month: December 2017

CFB Bowl Spread Picks and Confidence Points on Every Game

Spread Picks

4 Units

Navy (+2.5) over Virginia

I made the pick before Army-Navy, which was obviously a bit of a gamble in terms of injuries. Luckily nothing major came in that department.

Despite losing that game, this one’s now a pick ’em. Maybe people realized Navy’s actually better than Virginia AND it’s a home game for the Midshipmen.

Both teams stumbled a bit to the finish with UVA going 1-5 and Navy going 1-6. However, Navy only had two of those games at home: their one win in that stretch over a solid SMU and a 10-point loss to undefeated UCF. All of their other five losses were to bowl teams, on a road or neutral site, and they were all one-score games, except for a 10-point loss at Houston.

UVA also played some good competition over the second half, but the margin of their losses doesn’t inspire confidence. Here’s their last six games:

  • 31-point home loss to BC
  • 17-point road loss to Pitt
  • 4-point win over GT at home
  • 17-point loss at Louisville
  • 16-point loss at Miami after leading by 14 in the 3Q
  • shutout loss at home to VT

The Cavs just don’t do much well offensively. They’re among the 10 worst teams in the country in yards per carry. This is probably why only five teams throw at a higher rate than them, but it’s a lot of dink-and-dunk. The biggest cause for concern as a Navy backer is limiting big plays from UVA’s one real homerun hitter, Andre Levrone.

UVA held up fairly well against GT when they faced their option (Yellow Jackets did score 36), but they’re not the best against the run. The pass defense is by far the best part of the Cav team, but they won’t have much opportunity to showcase it.

All-in-all, if you just look at the performances of each team over the year, Navy’s been a much more consistent team and you can find quite a few games where they played well for 60 minutes. I think you can only say that about three of UVA’s games and two of them were in the first third of the season.

3 Units

Purdue (+3.5) over Arizona

This makes me very uncomfortable, so I’m going to try and keep it brief. The obvious key for slowing down Arizona is slowing down Khalil Tate. The only teams that limited Lamar Jackson’s rushing attack this year (in non-Louisville blowouts) better than Purdue: Clemson and NC State. Tate’s ability to run is very comparable to Jackson, except he’s not nearly as good of a passer.

I’m not saying Purdue is going to shut him down, but they’ve been very good on that side of the ball, they’ve dealt with a better version of Tate before, and their strength is their front seven.

On the other side, I’d be lying if I said Purdue was a well-oiled machine. However, you’re giving Jeff Brohm a month to gameplan and draw up as many trick plays as his heart desires against a weak defense.

Michigan State (+3) over Washington State

Wazzu might have negative rushing yards in this game. As always, they’re going to rely heavily on Luke Falk and their short passing plays to generate offense against a very stingy Spartan defense. I just don’t see how that works at all. It’s going to be a low scoring game no matter how you slice it, but at least you can go in knowing that MSU will be able to move the ball on the ground.

Ohio State (-6.5) over USC

Two blue bloods of college football. Both were thought to be in contention for the fourth playoff spot. A lot of NFL talent on both sides.

With that said, OSU is in a different league from the Trojans. The Buckeyes don’t really have a weakness. They’re one of the best teams in the country by almost every statistical measure. USC is not. They’re “pretty good” offensively and decidedly “average” on defense.

Giving less than a touchdown is a gift.

Penn State (-2.5) over Washington

UW played one Top 25 team (analytically, that is) all year. They lost. They’re a very good team and they’ve got some really talented players, but as good as they’ve been the last couple years they haven’t once delivered in the primetime moments.

2 Units

Notre Dame (+3) over LSU

Some have suggested that some of the upperclassmen for LSU won’t be motivated because they’ve already mentally moved on to the NFL.

That’s not why I like Notre Dame. I have no idea what LSU’s motivation is and I think it’s a pretty naive/dumb idea to assume the mental state of a group of 18-22 year olds. That can get you in a lot of trouble.

The Irish have been a much more dependable team all year outside of one debacle in Miami. Bowl games tend to favor the more schematic coaches and that’s not exactly Ed Orgeron’s forte.

Oklahoma (+105 ML) over Georgia

It’s a clash of styles and I’m not totally sure that the Dawgs aren’t going to have a field day against the Sooner front seven, but it’s in essence a toss-up and at that point it often comes down to the most important position on the field.

I have no idea what the history of Heisman winners are in bowl games and I don’t care. Baker has been on a mission from the jump.

UCLA (+2.5) over Kansas State

Usually a coaching change is reason for a little doubt with a team, but Jim Mora is a perennial underachiever and UCLA will be fine.

Iowa State (+3) over Memphis

Sure it’s a road game for the Cyclones, but they’re 10-2 ATS and they won at Oklahoma, so I’m not concerned.

New Mexico State (+3.5) over Utah State

It’s what my numbers tell me.

Fresno State (+2.5) over Houston

Back to that whole “coaching is important in bowl games” point, both these teams have new coaches this year.

One team is DOWN roughly thirty (30) spots from a year ago, nationally.

The other is UP about sixty (60) S-I-X-T-Y spots.

One is 5-3 in bowl games, the other has a 7-5 career head coaching record.

Northwestern (-7) over Kentucky

Kentucky is below average offensively, defensively, overall from a national perspective. They went 4-4 in the mighty SEC. Northwestern is kind of shitty in both the run and pass game offensively and UK still doesn’t have an edge in this game.

At the end of the day, it’s still only a two unit bet because it’s tough to trust Northwestern too much. Pat Fitzgerald’s 2-5 bowl record doesn’t help.

Wisconsin (-6.5) over Miami (FL)

I like to be honest with everybody, so here’s some real honesty. I went through all the games looking for teams that were playing at home so that I could make the proper spread adjustments. I acknowledged Navy, Memphis, and FAU. I 100% missed Miami before I made this bet.

The Badgers are still better and more consistent on both sides of the ball, but………………….I really wish they weren’t playing at Miami.

San Diego State (-4.5) over Army

Two teams I’ve loved this year and really for a few years now. It kills me to bet against Army, especially in the Armed Forces Bowl, but they are not at all prepared to stop Rashaad Penny.

Leans On Every Other Game

I’m tired so this is all gut reaction, zero research or facts involved.

Troy (-7) over North Texas

I like what Littrell has done at NT, but Troy seems to have turned a corner lately.

Georgia State (+6.5) over Western Kentucky

I said I wasn’t gonna go do research, but just look up power rankings for WKU last year and this year and then look up rankings for Purdue last year and this year and then it’s very easy for me to tell you why I worship at the Church of Jeff Brohm. And why Mike Sanford stinks.

Oregon (-7) over Boise State

It SUCKS that Rolls Royce isn’t playing, but Herbert is the engine to the ship and always has been.

Marshall (+5.5) over Colorado State

Take the overachieving dog over the underachieving favorite every day of the week.

Arkansas State (-3.5) over MTSU

It’s hard to believe in a Richie James-less Blue Raider team.

Akron (+22.5) over FAU

Wouldn’t think about betting it for a second, but if you force me to make a pick on a game like this, I’m taking the 3+ touchdowns 100% of the time.

SMU (-5) over Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech stinks. To be honest, C-USA stinks.

Temple (-7) over FIU

Temple’s been a different team since the QB change.

Ohio (-7.5) over UAB

UAB is a nice story, but they really aren’t very good.

Central Michigan (pick) over Wyoming

Josh Allen probably won’t play which means the Cowboy offense is downgraded from “bad” to “diarrhea”

Texas Tech (+2.5) over South Florida

The ultimate toss-up game. If you bet it, you’re a psycho, no offense.

Toledo (-7) over App State

Take Woodside.

Utah (-6.5) over West Virginia

Kyle Whittingham is a bowl game winning machine and he deserves your respect. It also helps that WVU’s entire offense (Will Grier) is out.

Northern Illinois (+5.5) over Duke

Always take the MACtion team in Detroit. It’s a rule.

Southern Miss (+15.5) over Florida State

Grab the points. Don’t necessarily hate the money line.

Iowa (-3) over BC


Texas (+3) over Missouri

It’s in Texas?

Virginia Tech (+4.5) over Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State is just good enough at times to make you think they’re really good, but they’re not.

TCU (-2.5) over Stanford

One last chance to take the Frogs.

Wake Forest (-3) over Texas A&M

John. Wolford.

NC State (-6.5) over Arizona State

I wanted to like the Herm Edwards hire, but so far it’s looking terrible and I’ve got no choice but to believe this is going to quickly wreck the whole program.

Mississippi State (+6.5) over Louisville

Louisville is basically Lamar and sometimes that’s just not enough.

UCF (+9.5) over Auburn

I love the Knights, but don’t love the matchup.

Clemson (+2.5) over Alabama

Clemson being an underdog as the #1 team against a team they beat in the championship a year ago is basically giving Dabo a stacked deck. Also, 2017 Alabama hasn’t proven much of anything against top competition.

Confidence Rankings

41. Florida Atlantic (over Akron)

40. Ohio State (over USC)

39. Northwestern (over Kentucky)

38. Michigan (over South Carolina)

37. Florida State (over Southern Miss)

36. Ohio (over UAB)

35. Toledo (over Appalachian State)

34. San Diego State (over Army)

33. Temple (over FIU)

32. Penn State (over Washington)

31. Navy (over Virginia)

30. Wisconsin (over Miami FL)

29. NC State (over Arizona State)

28. Wake Forest (over Texas A&M)

27. SMU (over Louisiana Tech)

26. Auburn (over UCF)

25. Oklahoma State (over Virginia Tech)

24. TCU (over Stanford)

23. Arkansas State (over Middle Tennessee)

22. Central Michigan (over Wyoming)

21. Duke (over Northern Illinois)

20. Texas (over Missouri)

19. Western Kentucky (over Georgia State)

18. Oregon (over Boise State)

17. Colorado State (over Marshall)

16. Notre Dame (over LSU)

15. Troy (over North Texas)

14. Clemson (over Alabama)

13. Iowa (over Boston College)

12. Louisville (over Mississippi State)

11. Oklahoma (over Georgia)

10. Purdue (over Arizona)

9. UCLA (over Kansas State)

8. Utah (over West Virginia)

7. Iowa State (over Memphis)

6. New Mexico State (over Utah State)

5. Michigan State (over Washington State)

4. Fresno State (over Houston)

3. South Florida (over Texas Tech)

2. North Carolina A&T (over Grambling State)

1. Clemson/Alabama Winner (over Oklahoma/Georgia Winner)

2017-18 Bowl Rankings: Watchability

39. Western Kentucky – Georgia State
AutoNation Cure Bowl
Dec. 16, 2:30 p.m. | CBSSN
Camping World Stadium | Orlando, Florida

Here’s the rank of teams beaten by WKU and GSU this season, according to TeamRankings. Keep in mind that there are 130 FBS teams.

127 x2
FCS team

There would be “FCS team x2” except GSU lost to Tennessee State 17-10 at home.

In case you were wondering, WKU is rated 102nd and Georgia State is rated 116th.

38. Central Michigan – Wyoming
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Dec. 22, 4 p.m. | ESPN
Lyle Smith Field at Albertsons Stadium | Boise, Idaho

This game might end up seeming more fun than it really is because it’s on an early Friday evening heading into a three or four day, holiday weekend.

My favorite thing about this game will be Shane Morris outplaying Top 5 NFL Draft prospect Josh Allen, who has completed 56% of his passes en route to 13 passing touchdowns this season. I’m not sure that would’ve made you a Top 5 pick in 1974, BUT LOOK HOW FAR HE CAN THROW IT!!!

37. Duke – Northern Illinois
Quick Lane Bowl
Dec. 26, 5:15 p.m. | ESPN
Ford Field | Detroit

I feel for the Quick Lane Bowl marketing staff. Tough sell.

36. SMU – Louisiana Tech
DXL Frisco Bowl
Dec. 20, 8 p.m. | ESPN
Toyota Stadium | Frisco, Texas

There might be some points, but it’s another duo that just beat the worst teams on their schedule. It’s a glorified home game for SMU.

35. Utah State – NMSU
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. | CBSSN
Arizona Stadium | Tucson, Arizona

There’s really not a lot to get the juices flowing for this one, but it’ll be fun to watch NMSU play in their first bowl game in like a million years, I guess.

34. Temple – FIU
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Dec. 21, 8 p.m. | ESPN
Tropicana Field | St. Petersburg, Florida

First year for the Gasparilla Bowl, formerly the St. Petersburg Bowl, which featured that Mississippi State 17, Miami (OH) 16 barn-burner last year.

Bad Boy Mowers getting deep into the sponsor game. They just did the Battle 4 Atlantis, where things got wild, so that’s something. Also, they make a sturdy mower. Little slow though.

33. Ohio – UAB
Bahamas Bowl
Dec. 22 12:30 p.m. | ESPN
Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium | Nassau, Bahamas

Much like the Hawaii Bowl, the Bahamas Bowl is better when there’s a ton of points. I don’t know why, maybe it just reminds me of the Colt Brennan/Timmy Chang/June Jones days of the Rainbow Warriors. Save the 24-20 battles for all those shitty bowls in Alabama.

The over/under here is 57, but Ohio is 15th in the country in scoring so we’ve got hope.

32. Utah – West Virginia
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
Dec. 26, 1:30 p.m. | ESPN
Cotton Bowl | Dallas

This would be a lot higher, but Will Grier most likely isn’t going to play and Tyler Huntley is questionable. Nothing like a duel between a pair of QB2’s on a Tuesday afternoon to get the juices flowing.

31. Iowa – BC
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Dec. 27, 5:15 p.m. | ESPN
Yankee Stadium | New York

I’m not totally against the idea of Iowa and BC grinding out a “3 yards and a cloud of snow” game in Yankee Stadium, but just knowing how much better it would be with Anthony Brown at QB for BC will be in the back of my mind the whole time.

30. Kansas State – UCLA
Cactus Bowl
Dec. 26, 9 p.m. | ESPN
Chase Field | Phoenix

All due respect to Bill Snyder, but the Cats just don’t put asses in the seats.

Look for a lot of people confirming their opinion on Josh Rosen’s NFL potential based on how well he plays in this very important Cactus Bowl.

29. Colorado State – Marshall
GILDAN New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 16, 4:30 p.m. | ESPN
Branch Field at Dreamstyle Stadium | Albuquerque, New Mexico

It’s a fairly even game? I don’t know. CSU’s pretty fun when their offense is rolling.

28. Northwestern – Kentucky
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m. | ESPN
Nissan Stadium | Nashville, Tennessee

Another one that’s helped out by the fact you’ll be coming home for another three-day weekend happy as can be, probably crack a cold one or your favorite holiday mixer, sit down on the couch, and turn this otherwise blah game on. That’s a special feeling.

27. Florida State – Southern Miss
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Dec. 27, 1:30 p.m. | ESPN
Independence Stadium | Shreveport, Louisiana

This excites me only because I know how embarrassed FSU fans have to be playing Southern Miss in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl in Shreveport on a Wednesday afternoon.

26. Arkansas State – MTSU
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Dec. 16, 8 p.m. | ESPN
Cramton Bowl | Montgomery, Alabama

It would be a lot more fun if Richie James was playing, but it should be another doozy of a Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. I’m not joking about that, either. This is the fourth edition. The first three have been amazingly consistent good games:

2014: Bowling Green 33, South Alabama 28
2015: App State 31, Ohio 29
2016: App State 31, Toledo 28

Those totals: 61, 60, 59.

If you put any action on the over/under of 62 this year, you’re a legitimate psycho.

25. Navy – Virginia
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Dec. 28, 1:30 p.m. | ESPN
Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium | Annapolis, Maryland

I don’t really know if this should be this high, but my biggest bet of the bowl season is Navy and I’m very self-involved.

24. FAU – Akron
Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl
Dec. 19, 7 p.m. | ESPN
Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium | Boca Raton, Florida

It’d be more fun if FAU got a crack at a Power 5 school, but nobody moves the needle like Joey Fresh. At this point, it seems like the Lane Train is staying in Boca for another year. Might go undefeated next year after cleaning up on the transfer market.

23. Troy – North Texas
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 16, 1 p.m. | ESPN
Mercedes-Benz Superdome | New Orleans

First bowl game of the season and it’s a pretty good one. Quality quarterback play and two coaches who will probably be in bigger jobs in the next few years.

22. Houston – Fresno State
Hawaii Bowl
Dec. 24, 8:30 p.m. | ESPN
Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union Field at Aloha Stadium | Honolulu

Houston kind of sucks now and their offense was a shell of itself without Greg Ward, but Ed Oliver is as fun as defensive tackles can get. Fresno is a fun story and QB Marcus McMaryion is like a poor man’s Lamar Jackson.

At the end of the day, it’s the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. If you have a bad time, you’re dead inside.

21. SDSU – Army
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m. | ESPN
Amon G. Carter Stadium | Fort Worth, Texas

Two of my favorite teams. Rashaad Penny vs. the troops. Every possible running play you could create. Should be fun.

20. Wake Forest – Texas A&M
Belk Bowl
Dec. 29, 1 p.m. | ESPN
Bank of America Stadium | Charlotte, North Carolina

Probably a little high, but if you haven’t watched much of John Wolford, it’s your last chance. It’s also your last chance to watch Texas A&M before Jimbo Fisher…keeps them exactly where they’re at.

19. Michigan – South Carolina
Outback Bowl
Jan. 1, Noon | ESPN2
Raymond James Stadium | Tampa, Florida

Not a great ranking for a New Year’s Day bowl, but you can watch Brandon Peters vs. Jake Bentley. Two young QBs who will never look as good as they actually are in their dated offensive systems. Catch the Outback Bowl fever!

18. Toledo – App State
Dollar General Bowl
Dec. 23, 7 p.m. | ESPN
Ladd-Peebles Stadium | Mobile, Alabama

Remember that 2016 Camellia Bowl score? Of course you do, how could you forget?

Well, it’s a rematch. Lotta people gonna “discover” Logan Woodside.

17. Arizona – Purdue
Foster Farms Bowl
Dec. 27, 8:30 p.m. | FOX
Levi’s Stadium | Santa Clara, California

This could be a biased take, but I think this is a fun game. Khalil Tate is appointment TV always. On the other side, although Purdue’s offense has been spotty, you’re giving Jeff Brohm a month to come up with as many variations of the flea-flicker as humanly possible. And he will exhaust those possibilities.

16. Louisville – Mississippi State
TaxSlayer Bowl
Dec. 30, Noon | ESPN
EverBank Field | Jacksonville, Florida

Potential through the roof if Nick Fitzgerald was playing, but still…it’s Lamar Jackson.

15. TCU – Stanford
Valero Alamo Bowl
Dec. 28, 9 p.m. | ESPN
Alamodome | San Antonio, Texas

Bryce Love. All of the TCU jitterbugs. The potential of Kenny Hill doing something colossally stupid. Gary Patterson wearing many outfits. Top 5 bowl venue, in my opinion. There are worse ways to spend a Thursday night.

14. Wisconsin – Miami
Capital One Orange Bowl
Dec. 30, 8 p.m. | ESPN
Hard Rock Stadium | Miami Gardens, Florida

A whole lot of defense and running the football. Some white linebackers. Your dad will love this game. And he’ll be cheering for Wisconsin.

13. NC State – Arizona State
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Dec. 29, 3 p.m. | CBS
Sun Bowl | El Paso, Texas

A bowl game that has stood the test of time. It’s also the biggest bowl game CBS has to offer, which seems like a poor job by them.

12. Washington State – Michigan State
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Dec. 28, 9 p.m. | FOX
SDCCU Stadium | San Diego

It’s going to feature A TON of 4-7 yard plays, but I’m excited. For as big of a dump as Qualcomm SDCCU Stadium is, I’ve always enjoyed watching games there. I like the color clash here. I like the coaches. I like that I’ll be flipping back and forth between this and the Alamo Bowl, knowing I’m about to mail in a day of work the next day. Both games are likely to be close. Just good, clean, bowl season fun.

11. Memphis – Iowa State
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Dec. 30, 12:30 p.m. | ABC
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium | Memphis, Tennessee

It’s a home game for Memphis, but it just feels like Iowa State is up for the challenge. I mean, they’ve been terrible in recent years, so getting to the Liberty Bowl is a big deal. I don’t have a clue who’s playing QB for them, but they’re basically the same whether it’s QB1 or QB5.

10. Texas – Missouri
Academy Sports + Outdoors Bowl
Dec. 27, 9 p.m. | ESPN
NRG Stadium | Houston

I told myself to never bet a total again, but I feel like I need to come out of retirement to bet the over on 60.5 for this game.

9. Oregon – Boise
Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 16, 3:30 p.m. | ABC
Sam Boyd Stadium | Las Vegas


also, boise and oregon in vegas on opening day is fun.

8. Oklahoma State – Virginia Tech
Camping World Bowl
Dec. 28, 5:15 p.m. | ESPN
Camping World Stadium | Orlando, Florida

The Camping World Bowl aka the Russell Athletic Bowl aka the Champs Sports Bowl feels like it’s always two teams that had the potential for greatness, but ended up being just “good”. It’s been dominated by the ACC over the years.

That sounds a bit negative, but this should be a great game. It stinks that it’s an early Thursday evening, but there’s two really good quarterbacks, two good head coaches, James Washington, and the Virginia Tech defense.

7. South Florida – Texas Tech
Birmingham Bowl
Dec. 23, Noon | ESPN
Legion Field | Birmingham, Alabama

Maybe won’t be as many points as one would think, but it’s got the potential. I don’t know anything about Nic Shimonek outside of football, but I know he has the ultimate villain hairdo and I find it very easy and enjoyable to root against him.

6. LSU – Notre Dame
Citrus Bowl Presented by Overton’s
Jan. 1, 1 p.m. | ABC
Camping World Stadium | Orlando, Florida

Two brand names playing on New Year’s Day. Hard not to like. Also, you’ve got one of the most lovable coaches (Coach O) against one of the biggest assholes (Brian Kelly).

5. Penn State – Washington
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Dec. 30, 4 p.m. | ESPN
University of Phoenix Stadium | Glendale, Arizona

This game needs Dante Pettis to play to reach its full potential, but it’s still got a lot of firepower.

4. Auburn – UCF
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m. | ESPN
Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Atlanta

Aside from Purdue, I will not be rooting harder for anyone than UCF. No offense to Auburn, you can just play the “we didn’t want to be there” card.

3. Ohio State – USC
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Dec. 29, 8:30 p.m. | ESPN
AT&T Stadium | Arlington, Texas

Just a ridiculous amount of talent on the field. It’s a Friday night. Ohio State and USC both playing for “we should’ve been in the playoff” position. Microscope on Sam Darnold. A bowl game’s bowl game.

2. Georgia – Oklahoma
College Football Playoff
Jan. 1, 5 p.m. | ESPN
Rose Bowl | Pasadena, California

Obviously high stakes on the line, but more than that it’s going to be a really interesting contrast in styles.

1. Clemson – Alabama
College Football Playoff
Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m. | ESPN
Mercedes-Benz Superdome | New Orleans