Here it is folks, the last installment of Beating Vegas, until next season. We had one tremendous year here at Beating Vegas, and we hope you were entertained along the way as you were pocketing money from our College Football locks, week after week. Here goes the rest of the College Bowl game picks against the spread. . .
Liberty Bowl: TCU vs Georgia
This game is set as a “pick” and for good reason. Both of these squads show little to no separation in the their points scored to points allowed ratios and both have a tendency to not show up what-so-ever at times. Both were projected to make strides and both disappointed thoroughly.
The Pick: The Under at 48.5
Sun Bowl: UNC +3 vs Stanford
Stanford’s star running back Christian McCaffrey is sitting this one out to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft, while UNC’s star QB Mitch Trubisky is playing this game to prove he can be a first round talent in the upcoming draft. And while Trubisky would have to look ridiculously bad to not get drafted at-least in the second round (due to a generally weak QB class. . .) it’s wide-out Ryan Switzer who Stanford should be concerned with. Switzer has notched over 1,000 receiving yards and is nine catches shy of 100 for the year. Stanford’s pass defense has looked okay this year, but against the two best passing offenses they faced all year (Washington and Washington State), the Cardinal lost both in blow out fashion. Stanford’s best weapon is gone, it’s been a season to forget and they are going up against a strong aerial attack in UNC, with players looking to prove they deserve high draft consideration in a few months. Take the points and the motivation.
The Pick: UNC +3
Arizona Bowl: South Alabama +13 vs Air Force
Air Force is a favorite here at “Beating Vegas.” Their running game is amazing and that’s all they usually need to keep teams in check or be great as double digit underdogs. This year they go up against South Alabama, who brings a rush defense that allows 4.9 yards a carry, and a pass defense that allows only 15 completions a game. Going against an Air Force team that rushes at 5 yards a carry and completes only 5 passes a game, this South Alabama team will be able to sell out and blitz most of the day and keep the wide outs of Air Force in single coverage. It will be an uneventful game for the most part, but South Alabama will be playing hard and will keep it close.
The Pick: South Alabama +13
Orange Bowl: Florida State +6.5 vs Michigan
In what is usually hostile territory for Florida State, playing in Miami may be a home-field advantage for the Seminoles, who’s fans will certainly find their way within the state to get tickets to the Orange Bowl. Florida State had a disappointing season and even then, they put up 35 points a game and won 9 games in the competitive ACC. The Seminoles have won six of their last seven games and were able to put up 45 and 31 points against tough defenses like Boston College and Florida, respectively. Michigan’s calling card all year has been their defense, which allowed 12.5 points per game and were well above average in rush and pass defenses. Michigan’s offense has been actually better than advertised, but it could be a product of the defense putting the offense in great position. . . Michigan doesn’t have the fire-power on offense though to get passed the athleticism of the Florida State defense, and Florida State does not have the strength up front to go four quarters against Michigan. . .
The Pick: the Under at 52.5
Citrus Bowl: LSU -3 vs Louisville
This actually might be one of the better bowl match-ups and this one is all about the key word in bowl season: “motivation.” NGSC’s own Kyle Nash will be in Orlando, Florida on New Year’s Eve covering the event (follow him on twitter @TheSOTG). It’s there where Mr. Nash, will see first hand, Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson take on an LSU defense that holds opponents to 3.4 yards a carry and less than 55% completion percentage. Louisville was able to handle Boston College and Wake Forest defenses with no problem, then lost in back to back games against Houston and rival Kentucky. Pound for pound Bobby Petrino is a better coach than Ed Ogeron, but Petrino is the type that will look passed an opponent and not care much about this bowl game, considering where his team was position earlier this year. LSU is a handful, and even with running back Leonard Fournette sitting this one out, Derrius Guice has been their guy – rushing for 8 yards a carry, rushing for over 1200 yards and totaling 14 touchdowns. LSU’s attack is pretty one dimensional, but they come to play every week, where Louisville has proven this season to not – even in games that matter like the one against Houston. . .
The Pick: LSU -3
Taxslayer Bowl: Kentucky +3 vs Georgia Tech
Can’t understand why anyone would be motivated to play in the Taxslayer Bowl, but Kentucky’s win over Louisville to end the season may have them on an incredible high coming into this one. Georgia Tech runs at 5.5 yards a carry and Kentucky’s defense allows 5.1 – this would tell the story that Georgia Tech should plod along all day against the Wildcats and they should. But the same could be said the other way around as well. . . There is just nothing for Georgia Tech in this game, they’d rather be preparing for next semester’s classes than play in this bowl game.
The Pick: Kentucky +3
Outback Bowl: Iowa +3 vs Florida
The over/under in this game is set at 40.5 which should tell you the kind of chances both of these offenses have at scoring against each other. Florida has the better athletes and the speed to tear the corners off of Iowa. All Florida needs is two big plays to win this, and Iowa won’t get any.
The Pick: Florida -3
Cotton Bowl: Western Michigan +7.5 vs Wisconsin
The thing to look for in this game is that if Wisconsin falls behind early, they DO NOT have the offense to keep up with Western Michigan. Western Michigan went undefeated this year and went completely snubbed by the poll-voters. Going undefeated and beating a team that many love for their tenacity in Wisconsin will go a long way for this program. Wisconsin showed against Penn State in the Big 10 championship game how suspect they looked against the deep pass, and Western Michigan has a quarterback in Zach Terrell who is one of the best in the nation (70.8 completion percentage, 32 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and throws for 260 yards a game).
The Pick: Western Michigan +7.5
Rose Bowl: USC -6.5 vs Penn State
Interesting match up here as Penn State stands at #5 in the rankings, literally on the outside, looking in at the College Football Playoff and USC was arguably the second best team in college football once they made a change at the quarterback position. Last time these two played each other in the Rose Bowl was in 2009 and Penn State lost 38-24. That score doesn’t even put into perspective how USC really controlled the game from start to finish. USC is a stout team from front to back, and with quarterback Sam Donald, the expectations for them next season should be the College Football Playoff. For Penn State, it’s been a fun and inspiring season of a program pulling themselves out of the darkness and back into the college football world as a legit tradition again. There is something stirring in Penn State’s future, but for now, lets not get ahead of ourselves.
The Pick: USC -6.5
Sugar Bowl: Auburn +3 vs Oklahoma
Nothing says “Sugar Bowl” like an Auburn verse Oklahoma match-up. No, that is not sarcasm, that is the truth. Because it is the “Sugar Bowl” the players from these two regions know the history and tradition behind it. Oklahoma is where most of the money will go and the over/under at 63.5 tells you that Vegas expects this one to be close and high scoring. This is the type of game to just stay away from at all costs. Sometimes the smartest play is no play at all and here I’m waving the white flag.
The Pick: stay away
Playoff Semi-Final: Ohio State -3 vs Clemson
Both of these teams have been highly disappointing this season. Which is weird to say because they are both in the college football playoff. But for Urban Meyers Buckeyes, they can say all they want about what kind of leader J.T. Barrett is at quarterback, but the truth is, his decision making has been a hindrance at times. The same can be said for Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson and his Clemson Tigers, who would’ve had a perfect season if not for a one point loss against Pitt. Whoever wins this game is going to get destroyed by Alabama when it’s all said and done so ultimately this game doesn’t matter – but for these two coaches, Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Dabo Sweeney of Clemson – one is looking to add to his already legendary status, while another is trying to get back into a Championship position which he let slip away last year. This game is a legit flip-of-the-coin and for that reason, go with the Tigers.
The Pick: Clemson +3
Playoff Semi-Final: Alabama -14 vs Washington
Chris Peterson of Washington has been one of the most influential and consistent coaches of the last decade. For all of those years at Boise State being snubbed by the BCS to get a shot in the Championship Game or by a loss that derailed the Boise State Broncos’ season – he has made it, with the Washington Huskies. He has made it, that is, with a shot at the title. Unfortunately for him, he is playing against one of Nick Saban’s best teams in Alabama. 14 points seems like a lot for a Washington team that puts up 44.5 points per game, but this Bama team allows 11 and puts up 40 of their own on average. . . I said for the last month the only team in college football that can go head to head with Alabama is USC, and the Trojans ended up beating Washington 26-13. The Washington offensive line will be dominated.
The Pick: Alabama -14
Bonus: Alabama at the moment is -350 to win it all, while the field is +250. You should know where I’m “rolling” with this one. . .
Good Luck and Wager Wisely — once again thank you for coming to Beating Vegas week after week. See you guys next season!