Tag Archives: Boise State

Beating Vegas: Bowl Locks, Part 1

The College Bowl Season is an exciting finale to the year for college football enthusiast.  Lets keep that part in mind: “for the enthusiast.”  Motivation becomes a factor for some teams that fell short of the playoff or had higher expectations at the start of the year.  Some teams take their opponents to lightly while other programs look at the bowl game as an opportunity to make a name for themselves.  The tricky part about Bowl Season is to not go and place a bet on every line.  You still need to be picky about how you side with – and throughout this bowl season, Beating Vegas will continue to provide you insight on how to get the edge.

(These are locks from games played between Dec. 16th to the 20th)

Camellia Bowl (played in Montgomery, Alabama) on December 16th

Arkansas State (-3.5) vs. Middle Tennessee, total 57

Arkansas State was mentioned in an early Beating Vegas article this season and it was mostly due to expectations set for quarterback Justice Hansen.  The senior took a big step forward in his final season completing 63.7% of his passes and throwing for 3600 yards and 34 touchdowns.  Hansen is a quarterback that has learned how to go through his progressions and it shows as he has three wide outs with over 600 yards receiving; and all through the depth chart you can see receptions by just about everyone.   The Arkansas State Red Wolves don’t run the ball much but when they do, it’s a modest 4.1 yards a carry.  That doesn’t bode well for Middle Tennessee State who actually stop the run decently but have struggled against the pass all year.  The Blue Raiders secondary has only put together four interceptions on the season.  The line is pretty dangerous but expect it to climb to about 5 by kickoff.  Middle Tennessee will be a better team than Arkansas State next season, but for all that matters, Arkansas State wins this by double digits.

The Pick: Arkansas State -3.5

Boca Raton Bowl (played in Boca Raton, Florida) on Dec. 19th

Akron +17 vs Florida Atlantic, total 61.5

This is a true-home-game for the Florida Atlantic Owls, but that is not the only reason they are a huge favorite in this game.  The Owls are riding a nine game winning streak and they’ve done it by riding the shoulders of running back Devin Singletary, who is a top five back in the nation, but you’ve never heard of him.  Singletary has run for 29 touchdowns and 1859 yards this season and he must be thinking “lunch-time” when he sees an Akron defense that is allowing five yards a carry.  Singletary and the Owls have a “smash average advantage” five and half yards a rush.  Akron is just a “nice story” this year.  They fought hard and got some close victories but were pretty much handled by better competition.  Florida Atlantic and head coach Lane Kiffin will be looking to bring a huge victory to the home crowd and breeze through this Akron team by maybe four touchdowns.

The Pick: Florida Atlantic -17

Las Vegas Bowl (played in. . .come on man) On Dec. 16th

Oregon -5 vs Boise State, total 63

Oregon lost coach Willie Taggart to Florida State (I still don’t get why Jimbo Fisher left the Florida State job for Texas A&M, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment) which leaves Mario Cristobal in as head coach.  Cristobal will have no issue on the sidelines, because he was the offensive coordinator under Taggart.  The players wanted Cristobal so there should be no feelings of abandonment by the team.  Cristobal’s one run as a head coach was at Florida International where he posted a 8-14 record in his final 22 games (Wikipedia).  He hasn’t been a head-coach since 2012 and now he has to be mindful of a bunch of young men who may be in Las Vegas for the first time in their lives.  The biggest question mark for Oregon comes in the form of running back Royce Freeman.  Freeman is their stud-senior back who has racked up over 1400 yards on the ground at a clip of 6 yards a carry.  Freeman practiced this week, but there is already talk of him maybe sitting out to prepare for the NFL draft.  Knowing that this is even a thought might have Freeman not trying to over-extend himself in this game. . . Starting quarterback Justin Herbert is back under center and although the pundits will say it’s a “different offense under Herbert” – they aren’t lying – but at the same time aren’t telling the whole story:  Freeman is the main cog to this offense.  Boise State on the other hand has their key players ready to roll and no coaching change on their sidelines.  Boise has a tough run defense, and in the Western Atlantic Conference, that says a lot. Boise State is holding the opposition to 3.5 yards a rush and holding offenses under a 60% completion percentage.  The Boise staff and players won’t be overcome by the Las Vegas mystique because they come here just about every other season to play UNLV.   Expect Oregon to jump out in front early, but Boise makes things happen in the second half.

The Pick: Boise State +5

I’ll see you guys next week with more LOCKS for this Bowl Season!

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Bowl Season, Part Two

The start to this Bowl Season has had the underdogs, not only covering, but winning – told you all from the start – Bowl Games are a totally different animal.  The motivation factor is huge for these teams.


Independence Bowl: Vanderbilt +4.5 vs N.C. State

N.C. State is a team that kind of meddles around the middle of the pack, will fight hard against good teams and look decent against the bad ones.  Vanderbilt is a defensive team, who seemed to hit their stride with impressive victories over Ole Miss and Tennessee to close out the season.   Both teams had to beat a rival in order to become bowl eligible so the “motivation” factor is there for the 6-6 teams.  Vandy became a very well balanced offense towards the end of the year.  N.C. State has shown they can stop the run (best in the A.C.C allowing only 3.2 yards a rush) but let opponents complete 60% of their passes against them.   N.C. State’s offensive front may have an issue with the talented Vandy defense though.

The Pick: Vanderbilt +4.5

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Army -10 vs North Texas

North Texas is a huge home dog for all things considered but it’s for good reason.  Army should have no problem running against the Mean Green, and they are in the bottom three of every offensive statistical category in Conference USA.  North Texas has 5 wins this season and for all things considered shouldn’t even have a bowl game appearance. The Army boys always play focused and should win this one by 20.

The Pick: Army -10

Military Bowl: Wake Forest +11.5 vs Temple

With the crazy story coming out about the Wake Forest commentator selling team secrets to teams within the conference, who knows what kind of mind-state this team will be in.  Wake has had a pretty impressive defense this year though allowing only 21.8 ppg in a very offensively diverse ACC Conference.  Temple has been impressive all year, and in their last five games allowed only 33 points in total (pitching two shut outs in the process).

The Pick: The under at 40.5

Cactus Bowl: Baylor +7.5 vs Boise State

This one should be fun to watch.  The over/under is set at 67 and this is the kind of game where we may get 50 by halftime.  The issue here is that Baylor just wants this season to be over and done with and Boise State may be deflated still from losing to Air Force (they just can’t seem to get over THAT hump year after year) and playing in the Cactus Bowl might be a let down – yes a team from the WAC can have a “let down.”  Boise is a proud place though so one would think they’d wanna out-duel another high octane offense.  Baylor runs the ball extremely well and Boise is average at best against the run.  Jeremy McNichols at Boise is an absolute beast who has rushed for over 1600 yards this year and Baylor’s rush defense which allows 5.1 yards a carry will have their hands full.

The Pick:  Baylor +7.5 OR just roll with that over of 67

Pinstripe Bowl:  Northwestern +5.5 vs Pittsburgh

Love this Bowl Game for one reason and one reason only: It’s played every year in my hometown – THE Bronx, New York.  My friend Rob asked if I wanted to go this year, I thought about it and said “I don’t care who wins this game.  I don’t care who loses this game.  So, no.” With that being said, Northwestern’s wins came all against bad competition – except for Duke, we’ll show the Blue Devils props for a second. . . Pitt running back James Conner has rushed for over a thousand yards this year and added 15 rushing touchdowns to his stat sheet this season.  Pitt is a team that got an early win over Rose Bowl invitee  and Big 10 Champ, Penn State and won in a shootout against Clemson who finds themselves in the College Football Playoff.  Pitt should win this one by a touchdown, but it’s Pitt, so you’ll definitely sweat it out for no reason.

The Pick: Pittsburgh -5.5

Russell Athletic Bowl: West Virginia  +2.5 vs Miami Florida

Talk about two teams that sound exciting on paper but never show up to big games.  Miami won four in a row.  Then lost four in a row. Then won four in a row again.  If we were to predict a pattern, that means Miami should lose this game.  But that’s just silly.  Right?  Eh. . . Both teams are pretty even on the defensive and offensive side of the ball, but we’re talking about Mark Richt, the coach of the Hurricanes here.  In his whole career Richt couldn’t win a game that meant anything.  In terms of recruiting, this game means a lot for Richt, so he’ll lose.

The Pick: West Virginia +2.5

Fosters Farm Bowl: Indiana +7 vs Utah

This is one of those games that Utah does NOT want to be in.  They are well coached and have a lot of talent but expect them to underestimate Indiana.  As they should.  Indiana hasn’t beaten anybody good all year and in order to stand a chance against Utah, they are going to have to get rid of the ball quickly.  Utah may sleep walk in this one because they SHOULD walk in here and dominate and because of that, Indiana should cover.

The Pick: Indiana +7

Texas Bowl: Kansas State +2 vs Texas A&M

Texas A&M was once ranked as a top team in College Football, then the pressure became too much for them.  They lost 3 of their last 4 as well, with their one win being a struggle of sorts to UTSA. . .  Kansas State is the same team every year, it doesn’t matter who they get or lose – better than average team that never has a chance to win the Pac-12. . .

The Pick: The Over at 56

Birmingham Bowl: South Florida -10 vs South Carolina

South Carolina is awful.

The Pick: South Florida -10

Belk Bowl: Arkansas +7 vs Virginia Tech

Quiet as kept, Virginia Tech has had a very good season and mostly because of their quarterback Jerod Evans.  Evans has thrown at a 63% completion rate and over 3300 yards, and has run for 759 yards.  His total touchdown number is at 37, and he faces an Arkansas defense that allows 30 points per game.  Arkansas puts up the same on offense pretty much, and that’s never really a recipe for success, but “success” is a winning season and it has them at 7-5.  This game means something to Evans, who knows scouts will be keeping an eye on the junior QB. . .

The pick: Virginia Tech -7

Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State +3 vs Colorado

Watching Colorado and understanding that “a win is a win” — eh, they are just not impressive to watch.  OK State has been better than OK for most of the year, but the disappointing showing verse Oklahoma to finish off the year left a nasty taste in the Cowboys’ mouths.  Coach Mike Gundy is one of the better motivators in the country and he should have his guys psyched in this match up.  The Cowboys have too much talent on the offensive side of the ball, Colorado won’t be able to keep up.

The Pick: Oklahoma State +3


Those are some of the picks — we’ll return next week with the THIRD segment of the Bowl Games!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


Beating Vegas: Entry Ten

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: If it wasn’t for a second half collapse by N.C. State to Florida State – it would’ve been a perfect week here at “Beating Vegas.”  None-the-less, we took Vegas to the woodshed last week.   We’re having a pretty good year, so let’s keep it going!

Georgia Southern (+14) at Georgia


Let’s start off by saying: “If you’re tired of Georgia and coach Mark Richt’s routine of letting down and not showing up when it matters during the season – raise your hand.”  Just as I thought, we’re unanimous in that.  There’s a reason why folks keep expecting things from Georgia every year though – they’re talented.  Richt has been able to set the table, but he can never get to the main course it seems. . . The loss of running back Nick Chubb was obviously huge, but in his absence, Sony Michel has ran for five yards a carry and has had to do it against some pretty tough defenses.   Georgia Southern is a team that is feeling pretty proud of themselves.  Carrying a 7-2 record and whipping on the hapless as they’ve been plowing through their schedule.  The competition for Georgia Southern has been abysmal, but look at their two toughest games against Appalachian State and West Virginia.  Appalachian held Georgia Southern to meaningless book-end touchdowns and won 31-13, while the Mountaineers at Georgia Southern for lunch 44-0.   Georgia Southern is the tough guy who should never leave his neighborhood and this is the time of year when Georgia beats on teams when it doesn’t really matter.

The Pick: Georgia -14

Duke (+2.5) at Virginia


Betting on either of these teams is like playing  Russian Roulette with your bank account but here we go. . . Virginia isn’t doing much on either side of the ball that is impressive: allowing 32 points per game, and scrapping just enough to put up 24 points a game on offense. Hank Kurz of the Associated Press wrote the Virgina’s head coach Mike London (who is 10-38 verse ACC opponents) is trying to rally his team to finish strong after another disappointing season.  The Duke Blue Devils  have been one of the harder teams to get a good read on, and they’ve lost three straight games.  One of those games should’ve been a win (ahem, Miami. . .) but against UNC and especially against Pitt – they look lost in themselves.  That Miami, game really did a number on them (good going ACC).  Duke’s offense should get back on track this week, they have twenty touchdowns on the heels of a ground game averaging 4.7 yards a carry.  Virginia has given up over 1700 rushing yards in 10 games this season and have allowed teams to throw at a 64% completion rate against them. Even in their losses against teams with a winning record, they’ve been able to move the ball, so the field should open up nicely for the Blue Devils come Saturday.

The Pick: Duke +2.5

LSU (+4) at Ole Miss


This one should seem pretty cut and dry.  Ole Miss is putting up forty points a game to LSU’s 33.6 and we all know how LSU gets their points – running the ball.  More specifically, running the ball with Leornard Fournette. Fournette may be the best player in college football and is a wrecking ball who’s accumulated 1485 rushing yards at 6.9 yards a clip, but his Heisman hopes may have gotten crushed in back to back losses where he could not run for over 100 yards.  Teams have had enough and are daring / inviting LSU to throw the ball by stacking as many defenders in the box as they can to stop Fournette.  It doesn’t get much easier for LSU this week either.  The Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels defense has only allowed five rushing touchdowns all year and are holding the opposition to 3.2 yards a carry.  This is a defense that is strong enough and athletic enough to cause headaches for this LSU offensive line.  Ole Miss is suspect against the pass, but not to worry when going against Brandon Harris who is netting about ten completed passes a game and very rarely ever has more than two wide outs in the huddle with him.  The only thing that would make one think twice about taking Ole Miss is that nobody likes four point spreads.  If you can take it down to three, then do so – if not – I’m sure you’ll be fine anyway.8

The Pick: Ole Miss -4

If You Must: Caution here:  Air Force getting eleven points just seems too hard to resist.  This game has a team that likes to throw it in Boise State and a team that does nothing but run in Air Force.  Boise’s red zone defense has been pretty dreadful their last few times out, and Air Force will move the ball.  The over might be ridiculous but fun to lay some wood down on as well – but in this high scoring affair, take Air Force +11.

Teaser of the Week: Four Gamer;  West Virginia -16, Michigan State +25, Navy PK and Ole Miss +8

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Seven

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: No excuses, most of us fell for that Utah trap.  Vegas won out on that one, getting about 75% of folks to take the road underdog in that won.  Although this weekly article is called “Beating Vegas” – you have to expect Vegas to swing back at you.  Even if it’s a low blow. . .

Rutgers (+19) at Wisconsin


The Wisconsin Badgers defense averages 11.1 points a game.  That looks impressive at first but after looking at their schedule it’s easy to see that those numbers are blown up after beating down opponents like Miami Ohio, Troy and Hawaii (one might even want to throw terrible Purdue in there for good measure).  This year’s Wisconsin team has been tough to watch.  They are not as dominant this year running the ball – still above average, but just not what we’re used to seeing.  And they have to stick with the ground game, even through its struggles because quarterback Joel Stave just doesn’t have the tools to pose a serious threat against any opposing secondary.  Add to the fact that Wisconsin wide out Robert Wheelwright has a serious case of the “drops,” it’s an all out struggle at times.  Rutgers isn’t that much better.  They have a 3-4 record but have gone score for score with a talented Indiana offense in a 55-52 victory, and gave all Michigan State could handle in a 31-24 loss.  Getting destroyed last week by Ohio State didn’t surprise anybody, but getting whipped like that at home must’ve stung a bit. . . Rutgers has two running backs in Robert Martin and Josh Hicks who can bang in the trenches and help make it a “grinder” of a game.  Wisconsin has lost the right this season to be a near three-touchdown favorite against a team that puts up a fight like Rutgers.

The Pick: Rutgers +19

Boise St (-20) at UNLV

This is the first time those funky Broncos from Boise State have been written about here.  They’ve had an impressive season if you don’t look at their two losses, where they gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter to BYU and then got totally blindsided losing to Utah State 52-26.  Boise has the number one offense in the Mountain West Conference and it’s led by wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck who averages a notch under 20 yards per reception.  Although Boise State’s offense gets most of the attention (38 points per game) it’s their rush defense that will be a problem for UNLV.   The Running Rebels of UNLV’s ground game is formidable, averaging 4.7 yards a carry and 213 yards a game, but they will be tested by a Boise State defense that allows only 2.5 yards a rush.  What makes things worse for UNLV is that their passing attack is a work in progress, to say the least.  Quarterback Kurt Palandech has added a little spark to the aerial attack, but not enough for Boise to worry about, especially since they hold opponents to a 50% completion rate and have 14 interceptions on the year so far.

The Pick: Boise State -20

Air Force (-7) at Hawaii


Here’s another match up out of the Mountain West conference.   Hawaii has been abysmal offensively averaging 17 points a game.  In true Rainbow Warrior fashion, Hawaii depends on a strong passing attack to move the ball.  The problem is, they are completing less than 50% of their passes and have a total of eight touchdowns to fourteen interceptions.  This leads them to fall behind quickly and abort a running game, that is pretty non-existent anyway.  Air Force is the polar opposite when it comes to offense.  They only attempt about 10 passes a game, but lead the Mountain West conference with a rushing attack that gets 333 yards a game.  That average puts them third in the nation – a spot behind Baylor and a spot above LSU – which shows how dominant this run game is.  The Air Force defense is strong against the pass and should only look stronger against this Hawaii air attack.  Air Force hasn’t won a road game so far this season and that will surely change this weekend.

The Pick: Air Force -7

Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Denver Broncos


Both teams are coming off of bye weeks and both teams are struggling offensively.  We all knew coming into the season that the Broncos would have some issues, but Green Bay’s struggles are just confusing.  Running back Eddie Lacy is about to lose his job to James Starks in Green Bay, and CJ Anderson has pretty much lost his starting job to Ronnie Hillman  in Denver.  Peyton Manning’s Broncos are 6-0 and it’s all due to the defense.  Manning has seven touchdowns to ten interceptions so far this year, and on the ground the Broncos are only averaging 85 yards a game.   Green Bay hasn’t been awful on the ground, just inconsistent – and their passing game isn’t bad at all – just not as explosive as we’re used to seeing.   For a team that hasn’t looked crisp in their last three games – coming back and playing arguably the best defense in the league won’t be an inviting task.  With all that being said – forget about the winner and the loser of this game – look at this over/under of 45.5 points.  Vegas is playing the odds that the names of Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, under the lights of Sunday Night Football, will make casual fans want to see a shoot out.  Be smarter than the casual fan.

The Pick: The Under at 45.5

If you must:  Head coach, Bobby Petrino hasn’t gotten this Louisville offense where he’d like them to be and it’s an obvious work in progress.  On paper, it would seem that Louisville as a twelve point favorite is a slam dunk, but Wake Forest has a pretty good defense playing at home.  Wake takes a lot of shots through the air and this Louisville defense is letting opponents complete passes at a rate of 60%.  Wake Forest +12 won’t be fun to watch, but they should cover.

Tease of the Week: (4 gamer) Iowa -5, Western Kentucky -11, Arkansas State -6.5 and TCU -2

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio