Tag Archives: Bowl games

Beating Vegas: Bowl Locks, Pt.3

Independence Bowl (played in Shreveport, Louisiana) on Dec. 27th

Southern Mississippi +15 versus Florida State

At the start of the season, Florida State was looked upon as a National Title contender.  Now at season’s end, they look like an average program, whose coach has abandoned them for Texas A&M.  .  . Most thought Jimbo Fisher would be a “lifer” at Florida State and the move to the Aggies shocked just about everyone, but now the Seminoles must gather the pieces and try to wrap up this forgettable season with a bowl win.  During the season, Florida State had a knack for losing to the good teams and beating / barely beating the below average squads.  They racked up three wins in a row to finish off the season, but those blowout wins came against competition like Delaware State, Louisiana-Monroe and Florida. . . The early injury to quarterback Deondre Francois pretty much de-railed their season early, but gave experience to James Blackman.  Blackman’s play this year has been pretty inconsistent throwing 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  He should find some spots to do damage though in this match up against Southern Miss because the Eagles give up 13 yards a catch which is the second worse in Conference USA.  But defense is not the calling card for Southern Miss, it’s their offense, led by running back Ito Smith who is averaging 5.7 yards a carry and has rushed for over 1300 yards.  Although Ito is the focal point, quarterback Kwadra Griggs has done well in keeping his mistakes to a minimum (15 touchdowns and 2 interceptions).  Florida State will be without their best defensive players, most notably safety Derwin James – as they are preparing for the NFL draft, making things a little easier for this offense to work.  Florida State is waiting for this season to end, and with a lame-duck coach, the players are already thinking about what their fates will be next season.  As for Southern Miss, a win against Florida State does wonders for this program.  No matter the current state of the Seminoles.

The Pick: Southern Miss +15

Foster Farms Bowl (played in Santa Clara, California) on Dec. 27th

Purdue +3 versus Arizona

Jobs were saved and life had been reignited into the Arizona Wildcats football program all because of one young man: Khalil Tate.  As the team’s quarterback, he ran for over 1300 yards and averages 10 yards a carry.  His running back mate J.J. Taylor has added in over 800 rushing yards of his own (6 yards per carry).    Arizona finished behind only Army and Navy in total rushing yards this season, but were number one in the country in yards per rush with 6.8.  The points total in this game has an over/under at 65.5 – Arizona has only gone under that number twice this year while Purdue did not go over that total once all year.  Purdue is 6-6 but has been playing below-average all year long.  They had a three game skid in the middle of the season, where they played Wisconsin tough but lost, and then loss to Rutgers (14-12) and Nebraska (25-24) in back to back weeks.  They finished the season off strong with a road win in Iowa and the victory over their rival, Indiana.  Purdue is very balanced on offense – nothing crazy, but very modest and respectable (4.4 yards per carry; and completing 59% of their passes).  This bodes well for the Boilermakers who are playing a very high powered, yet one dimensional offense in Arizona – but the Arizona Wildcats are just pitiful on defense (hence most of their came totals going over 65.5 points).  The Boilermakers have a good run defense that only allows 3.6 yards a rush and because Tate isn’t half the threat throwing the ball as he is running with it – Purdue can bring more help in from their secondary to slow down this rush attack.

The Pick: Purdue +3

Sun Bowl (played in El Paso, Texas) on December 29th

N.C. State -6.5 versus Arizona State


Nobody knows why Arizona State fired head coach Todd Graham who finished the season with a 7-5 record.  Graham is a pretty good coach that recruits well and gets the most out of the players he gets, but he was fired and replaced by ESPN personality and former football coach, Herm Edwards.  Edwards hasn’t coached a football game in nearly 20 years, but here he is, head coach of a college football team.  Arizona State, stood in the middle of the Pac-12 this year with 31 points per game, completion percentage of over 61% and averaging more than four yards a carry.  The problem for the Sun Devils was on the defense end, where they couldn’t do much to stop the pass or the run and gave up 31 points per game. . . N.C. State has been a favorite for “Beating Vegas” the last two years.  The Wolfpack are just well coached and do everything on the field above-average, pretty consistently.  Quarterback Ryan Finley has thrown for over 3200 yards this year, but more impressive than  that, he has only six interceptions in 450 pass attempts this year. Running back Nyheim Hines rushing for over 1000 yards this year and has been a very well kept secret in college football this year.  After their bye-week, the Wolfpack lost a tough back to back at Notre Dame and then a loss at home to Clemson (which they had a chance to take the win).  They then had a another tough two games ahead of them against Boston College and Wake Forest, only beating Boston College in that run.  . .  The bottom line is, N.C. State isn’t a team that takes anything for granted and they play smart and well coached football for the entire four quarters.  Most of the players on Arizona State only know Herm Edwards as the crazy old guy on ESPN who has some pretty funny sound-bites.

The Pick: N.C. State -6.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

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


Bowl Season, Part One

It’s finally “Bowl Season” in college football.  Beating Vegas has had a tremendous year against the spread and we are hoping to continue the winning streak.  Bowl Season is a tricky animal though.  Some new head coaches/coordinators are thrown into the mix, some players who are looking to protect themselves for the draft play a little more cautiously, and some teams are just disappointed in the Bowl Game they are playing in.  Motivation means a lot in bowl season – sometimes even more than the match ups themselves.  Proceed with caution. . .


New Mexico Bowl:  Texas San Antonio +7 vs New Mexico

Texas San Antonio is here because of weak scheduling.  New Mexico is actually a pretty good team that gets overshadowed in a conference that has Boise State, San Diego State, Air Force and Wyoming.  New Mexico’s one dimensional offense will be enough to overtake a San Antonio defense that is average at best against less-than-average competition.

The Pick: New Mexico -7

Las Vegas Bowl: Houston -3.5 vs San Diego State


Houston’s dream season was shot down at the mid-way point and they looked like a team uninterested in football until they had to play against Louisville.  For Tom Herman, it’s a dream year as he lands the big job and big pay-day at Texas.  Major Applewhite has been promoted to head coach, so the style of play will remain the same.   San Diego has a great rushing attack, but this Houston defense is allowing less than three yards a carry on the year.  Because the change-of-the-guard isn’t a shock to the culture at Houston, they should play motivated and want to get a win for one of their own in Applewhite.

The Pick: Houston -3.5

Citrus Bowl: Arkansas State +5.5 vs Central Florida

Pretty good match-up here in a bowl game nobody cares about really.  Isn’t Citrus a bit too close to Orange – except without all the fan fare?

The Pick: Central Florida -5.5

Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State -1 vs Toledo

Appalachian State runs the ball at forty-four times a game and averages 5.6 yards a carry, while Toledo lets up 4.7 on the ground per carry.  Toledo has a ridiculous pass attack which completes passes at a nearly 70% completion rate.  Sit back and just watch both defenses struggle.

The Pick: the over at 57.5

New Orleans Bowl: Southern Mississippi -4 vs Louisiana Lafayette

Southern Mississippi was looking to have a decent season until they dropped three of their last four and their offensive attack seemed to play sluggish in the late going.  Southern Miss, on paper is the better tea, but this is basically a home bowl game for Lafayette and their defense should be up to the challenge in this one.

The Pick: Louisiana Lafayette +4

Miami Beach Bowl: Central Michigan +11.5 vs Tulsa

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This game is interesting and it has nothing to do with the teams involved.  With all the college football teams in the state of Florida you would think at least ONE of them would get selected to go to this bowl game but nah.  This game is also played at Marlins Park, so this will be yet another nearly-empty crowd in attendance.  Central Michigan’s biggest moment this year was a hail-mary-type play which should’ve never happened to beat Oklahoma State and Tulsa’s biggest moment is when they were picked by me to cover against Ohio State by about 30 points and decided to not show up.  Tell you what though, they only scored 3 against Ohio State, but scored at least 35 points in every other game this season.  Tulsa has had six wins this year by 20 or more points and although Central Michigan is a team that does not quit, they played another team with a powerful offense in Western Michigan and couldn’t stop anything.  Tulsa will give up points to Central Michigan, but winning by two touchdowns is definitely a possibility.

The Pick: Tulsa -11.5

Boca Raton Bowl: Memphis +5 vs Western Kentucky

The over/under in this game is 79. . . insane.  But if you’ve watched these two teams play, especially in their last games, it’s definitely a possibility.  Because of that, go against the majority who haven’t watched them all year.  Western Kentucky can make some stops – “some stops” will be “just enough” to keep this game under.

The Pick: the under at 79

Poinsettia Bowl: BYU -8.5 vs Wyoming

This is what we call a “disrespect-game.”  Wyoming hasn’t been on anybody’s radar this year and BYU, although for an independent, challenge themselves throughout the year – pretty much get the benefit of the doubt in this one, just because of the name.  BYU has a tough nosed defense, but the speed of Wyoming may be a problem.  Against better competition, BYU’s win margin was within a single digit – factor that with Wyoming being a “better competition” type of team, I’ll roll the dice and take the points.

The Pick: Wyoming +8.5

Idaho Potato Bowl: Colorado State -13.5 vs  Idaho

You look at it as a home game for Idaho as a 13.5 point dog and think to yourself “Gotta take the home team,” – right?  Eh, Colorado’s defense has been pretty average this season, but pretty average is pretty impressive considering some of the offenses in the Mountain West conference.  Colorado’s air-attack is their strength, 60% completion, 24 touchdown passes to 5 picks – it’ll be tough for Idaho’s weak secondary that allows a completion percentage of 63% and 270 yards a game to it’s opposition.

The Pick: Colorado State -13.5

Bahamas Bowl: Eastern Michigan +4 vs Old Dominion

Nothing screams “Bahamas” more than a football game between a bunch of kids from Michigan and the good boys of Old Dominion.  Eastern Michigan has an average rush defense going against an Old Dominion running game that gets 5 yards a clip.  Old Dominion’s passing game is a lot more controlled than Eastern Michigan – the more disciplined team will come out on top –

The Pick: Old Dominion -4

Armed Forces Bowl: Louisiana Tech -4.5 vs Navy


Navy has to be the most confusing team in college football.  One week, they look like world beaters and the next they play some really uninspired football.  Of course Navy’s run attack is a thing of beauty averaging 5.8 yards a carry, and they’ll go head to head against an athletic Louisiana Tech defense that only allows 3.7 yards per rush.  Quarterback Ryan Higgins leads the Bulldogs’ offense which is ranked 7th in passing yards, in the nation.  Navy expected more from this season and for Louisiana Tech, this is a game that should garner them the respect they deserve this year.

The Pick: Louisiana Tech -4.5

Dollar General Bowl: Ohio University +4  vs Troy

Very good match up of two teams that play both sides of the ball pretty well.   They’re defenses are good for where they play though – the Mac and the Sun Belt.

The Pick: the over at 49

St Petersburg Bowl: Miami (Ohio) +13 vs Mississippi State

If a team from the SEC plays a team from the MAC – they should be winning the game by AT LEAST 20 points.  That’s just what I think, so whatever.

The Pick: Mississippi State -13

Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland -1 vs Boston College

The ACC offers some of the best offenses in football, half of it’s teams average over 33 points a game.  Even with that, Boston College’s defense remained one of the most impressive.  They finished number one in the ACC in total yards allowed per game (310) and finished second in the ACC in yards allowed per rush (3.3).  Maryland is a team that lost 6 of its last 8 games and only beat up on teams they could run against.  This team can really go either way when it’s all said and done, which is why the spread is where it’s at.

The Pick: Boston College +1


We’ll be back soon, with Part 2.  This is enough for your minds to fester on for a while though.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio



Beating Vegas: Entry Fifteen

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: Pushed on that sloppy and head scratching Jets win against Dallas, lost with Georgia State but covered with Ohio University and the big tease.  NFL is running high on emotion at this point of the year and there is no telling how these bowl games will unfold in college – BUT, we’ve been pretty much taking care of our faithful readers here at NGSCSports.Com, so don’t you worry, we got you!

The Bahamas Bowl (played at Thomas Robinson Stadium):

Middle Tennessee State (+4.5) vs Western Michigan

The line is interesting but the over/under is what you should be looking at.  Vegas has put the points total between the two universities at 63.  It’s a pretty big number but taking the ‘over’ just might be the way to go.  Out of the twelve games Western Michigan has played this year, nine have had a points total of at least 60 points.  Senior quarterback Zach Terrell will get to showcase his talents in this game in front of a national audience who isn’t familiar with him.  Terrell has thrown at a 68% completion rate, and has accumulated over 3200 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.   Middle Tennessee State has been averaging       points per game this season and it’s due to their aerial attack courtesy of sophomore quarterback Brent Stockstill who’s stats mirror Terrell’s except he’s thrown for about 500 more yards.  Middle Tennessee is able to look good against the bad teams, but drew losses to better competition in the Sun Belt Conference (Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech) and had back to back losses against lowly BCS Conference opponents (Vanderbilt and Illinios).   Neither team has a defense that will scare off these high octane offenses but Western Michigan is clearly the more balanced of the two attacks.  Western Michigan is a pretty good bet at -4.5 but that over is too tempting to let go of.

The Pick: The Over at 63


The St. Petersburg Bowl (played at Tropicana Field)

Uconn (+4.5) vs Marshall

Nov 8, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies corner back Jamar Summers (21) returns an onside kick against Army at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

UConn is a pretty awful 6-6 team, who somehow beat a ranked Houston team during this season.  The UConn Huskies put up a putrid 17.8 points a game (second to last in the American Conference) BUT – this is a team that DOES have a defense allowing only 19.8 points per game (second in the conference, only to Temple).  UConn’s brand of football is uneventful and hard to look at, but it’s got them to a bowl game (for what it’s worth.)  Marshall’s defense is stout as well.  They were the best defense in Conference USA (18.4 points allowed per game).  Marshall’s opposition threw at a completion percentage under 50% against them, although when they played the aerial attacks of Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky, that number swelled considerably. . .  That won’t be an issue against UConn though, who as a team, struggle to run and struggle to pass.   Ultimately, Marshall will win the turn over battle and force enough three and outs that things will work out for them.

The Pick: Marshall -4.5


The Sun Bowl (played at Sun Bow Stadium)

Miami Hurricanes (+3) vs Washington State


The Washington State Cougars were a nice surprise out of the Pac-12 this year, finishing with an 8-3 record, mostly due to their aerial assault.  Wide receivers Gabe Marks and Dom Williams are both close to accomplishing some impressive highlights to their amazing seasons.  Marks has over 1100 receiving yards but he is one catch shy of 100 receptions, while Williams is three yards away from a 1000 yard season.   These two talented wide outs have been the beneficiaries of their quarterback Luke Falk who has thrown for 37 touchdowns and has completion percentage of 70%.    The Miami Hurricanes defense has 15 interceptions on the year and hold opponents to less than 200 yards through the air.  That is nearly half of what Luke Falk averages per game throwing the ball —  Something has GOT to give.   Miami’s rush defense is terrible but that shouldn’t matter because the Cougars barely run the ball anyhow.  Offensively the Hurricanes live and die by quarterback Bray Kaaya who isn’t a bad quarterback but has very little help around him and at times pushes too much.

The Pick: The Over at 61


If You Must:   The Pittsburgh Steelers at -10 over their rival the Baltimore Ravens seems like a slam dunk.  The Ravens offense has turned into “throw it to Aiken and let’s see what happens” while their defense has turned into “let’s sleep walk through this season and see what happens.”  The Steelers are coming into the end of the regular season hot and if Big Ben remains healthy there is no reason this team can’t put up five touchdowns a game.  The Ravens haven’t even scored five touchdowns in their last three games. . .

Tease of the Week: (four gamer) Cowboys/Bills Under 55; Chiefs – .5; Marshall +7.5 and Seahawks -1.5


Good Luck, Wager Wisely and Happy Holidays!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


College Bowl Game Predictions, Pt. 2

Liberty Bowl – West Virginia Mountaineers vs Texas A&M Aggies

Texas A&M made all of us scratch our heads this year.  A year removed from “Johnny Football” we all thought a new sun had risen in Texas with quarterback Kenny Hill.  After Hill found himself benched they turned to Kyle Allen and after starting out 5-0 they finished 7-5.  West Virginia is a good team who was dealt a tough hand with their schedule.  Quarterback Clint Trickett is questionable, and no disrespect to his fantastic season but his back up Skyler Howard looked tremendous against (albeit) Iowa State.  Texas A&M is pass happy and going against a very good pass defense.  The pick here is West Virginia -3.

Russell Athletic Bowl – Clemson Tigers vs Oklahoma Sooners

I kind of thought I was the only one who knew Russell Athletic was still around. Good for them they have their own bowl game.  It’s amazing they’ve stood the test of time with athletic apparel companies like Nike and Under Armour clearly holding weight in not just college athletics but all areas of sporting.  Oh, this game?  Both of these teams disappoint their fan bases every year – never take the favorite when it comes to Clemson or Oklahoma.  The pick here is Clemson +3 (but I might just take the over at 54).

Texas Bowl – Texas Longhorns vs Arkansas Razorbacks 

It was an up and down season for Texas’ first year head coach Charlie Strong, but that was expected.  Making any bowl game was a success to be honest and a win in the national spot light in their home state can be huge for recruiting.  Arkansas is a team who’s offensive line is massive.  They can control games at their own pace and although losing to Missouri was tough, this is a program on the rise.  The pick here: Texas +6.

Music City Fiesta Bowl – Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs LSU Tigers

This game has the potential to be very long and sloppy.  Coach Brian Kelly of Notre Dame was visibly frustrated towards the end of the season with the play of his defense and the carelessness of his quarterback Everett Golson.  LSU has a good running game and doesn’t try throwing the ball at all because they flat out can’t.  The pick here is REALLY the under at 52.5

Belk Bowl – Louisville Cardinals vs Georgia Bulldogs

Once again Georgia coach Mark Richt proved that he can recruit and make his team look good on paper – but he can’t win when it matters.  On the other side of things Bobby Petrino proved that it doesn’t matter the character of the man, he can flat out coach a winner.  No reason why Georgia should be a -7 favorite against a pretty well balanced Louisville team.  The pick here is Louisville +7.

Foster Farms San Francisco Bowl – Maryland Terrapins vs Stanford Cardinal

This game is interesting because the Terps think they’re on a program on the come-up, when in truth they are pretty terrible and Stanford is a team that has looked disinterested in playing football for most of this season.  Stanford will squeak by in one that – on paper – should be a walk in the park.  The pick here is Maryland +14.

Chick-Fil_A Peach Bowl – Ole Miss Rebels vs TCU Horned Frogs 

In what should be one of the more exciting match ups of this bowl season.  Ole Miss took a shot to the gut after losing to LSU and Auburn and TCU took the massive head shot after getting bumped from  the college football playoffs.  Both teams are coached well and will play up to the level of it’s competition.  As good as TCU’s offense is, this is an Ole Miss defense that has the speed to keep up.  Both quarterbacks, TCU’s Trevor Boykin and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace will have to be careful with the football in what will be one of the most watched bowl games of the year.  The pick here is Ole Miss +3.


Fiesta Bowl – Boise State Broncos vs Arizona Wildcats

Arizona really wet the bed against Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship game.  Linebacker Scooby Wright is one of those players who is everywhere all the time, and has helped make this Wildcats defense tougher.  Boise though can score at will it seems and is back to their home away from home the Fiesta Bowl.  The pick here is Boise State +3.5.

Orange Bowl – Georgia Tech Yellowjackets vs Mississippi State Bulldogs

What’s the record for the number of teams called “the bulldogs” in bowl games?  Because this year, there’s been a bunch.  This game is for those that love smash mouth football.  The over/under in total pass attempts should be around 20 combined by both teams.  Even when Mississippi was ranked #1 they weren’t blowing people out by 50.  The pick here is Georgia Tech +7.

Outback Bowl – Wisconsin Badgers vs Auburn Tigers

Wisconsin is still licking their wounds after being thoroughly embarrassed by Ohio State in the Big 10 championship game.  That game made us forget how amazing Melvin Gordon ran the ball this year.  Auburn has failed to cover in six of their last seven games and Vegas has the spread shrinking more and more. The pick here is Auburn -6.5.


Cotton Bowl – Michigan State Spartans vs Baylor Bears

The hope here is that neither team comes Arlington, Texas in “let down” mode.  Regardless, this will be the game that shows how the committee was correct in keeping out the Baylor Bears and how Michigan State is one of the most balanced teams in college football today.  The pick here is Michigan State +3.

Citrus Bowl – Minnesota Golden Gophers vs Missouri Tigers 

Missouri has proved that the jump from Big 12 to SEC was nothing for this program but they ultimately can’t wear the SEC crown. . . yet.  Minnesota is coming into this one as a considerable underdog for a team that was ranked nationally late in the season.  “Respect” for the Gophers and “disappointment” for the Tigers will play the biggest roles in this game.  The pick here is Minnesota +5.

Armed Forces Bowl – Pittsburgh Panthers vs Houston Cougars

Nobody knows how the Panthers beat Miami after for the most part having a pretty non-eventful season, but running back James Connor is going to touch the ball about 30 times in this game and help wear down a Cougars team that isn’t like the ones we’ve seen in recent history.  The pick here is Pittsburgh -3.

Taxslayer Bowl – Iowa Hawkeyes vs Tennessee Volunteers 

Nobody expected coach Butch Jones to have a 10 win season at Tennessee but 6-6 is a disappointment so having the chance to finish above .500 will keep them engaged for all four quarters.  The Hawkeyes bring a very experienced bunch to the table, most who will be playing their last game here.  The pick here is: Tennessee -3.

Alamo Bowl – UCLA Bruins vs Kansas State Wildcats

This will be the last time for UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley to try to impress on a big stage.  As he enters the draft this year he brings along his 29 total touchdowns but all in all a disappointing season for the Bruins.  The Bruins are capable of beating good teams, and Kansas State is very well balanced team.  Wideout Tyler Lockett of Kansas State will certainly get his against a UCLA defense who’s secondary has been shown out of position time and time again.  The pick here is Kansas State (Vegas currently has this game as a “pick ’em.”

Cactus Bowl – Oklahoma State Cowboys vs Washington Huskies

Who knows where Oklahoma State pulled that win against Oklahoma from to end the season.  It was the sharpest they’ve looked all season but it took them to play their hated rival to do it.  Washington “ain’t got no beef” with the Cowboys but they do bring to the table a very good defense to keep this game close for a while.  The pick here is Oklahoma State +5.5.

Birmingham Bowl – East Carolina Pirates vs Florida Gators

Watching the Gators this year was straight torture.  Yes they have a good defense but they can’t score at all.  Ever.  They’ll get a couple of stops against this Pirate offense, but won’t be able to contain them for four quarters.  Field position will be key for the Pirates.  The pick here is East Carolina +7.

Go Daddy.Com Bowl – Toledo Rockets vs Arkansas State Red Wolves

The best part of any GoDaddy.Com bowl is seeing the numerous adds that feature Danica Patrick all dolled up and looking adorable with other dolled up and adorable females who are appealing to the eye.  I won’t even pretend as if I know anything about Toledo and Arkansas State.  The pick here is the over at 67.

Rose Bowl (Playoff Semifinal) – Florida State Seminoles vs Oregon Ducks

Last year’s Heisman trophy winning quarterback verses this year’s Heisman trophy quarterback.  This can be the game that separates the gap between Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariotta when it comes to the upcoming pro draft.  Florida State has been living off second half comebacks this season but try giving Oregon a 14 or 21 point lead and coming back. . .  This game ends the reigning champs undefeated streak.  The pick here is Oregon -9.5.


Sugar Bowl (Playoff Semifinal) – Ohio State Buckeyes vs Alabama Crimson Tide

The best two coaches in the last 10 years of college football square off as it’s Urban Meyer against Nick Saban.  Nick Saban kept his cool throughout the season and has found himself ranked number one in the final polls.  Ohio State is one of the few teams that can match up with Alabama both physically and athletically – Urban Meyer may coach in the Big 10 conference, but he’s been recruiting SEC talented players.  Having a third string quarterback against a Nick Saban run defense is a tall task to over-come.  Whoever wins this game, ultimately becomes the National Champion because these two teams are just better than the teams in the Rose Bowl.  The pick here is Ohio State +9.5.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio


College Bowl Game Predictions, Pt. 1

New Orleans Bowl – Nevada Wolfpack vs Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns:

This game has obviously everything you want.  Two teams with pretty cool nicknames that will score a lot.  The New Orleans Bowl is usually a game that goes “over” in total points, but this is a home-bowl-game for the Cajuns.  The pick here is the Cajuns -1.

New Mexico Bowl – Utep Miners vs Utah State Aggies:

Utah State is one of those teams that you kind of love them as underdogs but not much as favorites.  This isn’t a sexy game at all, but  a final score of 21-13 favoring the Aggies isn’t too far fetched considered their isn’t much offense to be seen from both sides.  The pick here is Utep +10.5.

Las Vegas Bowl – Utah Utes vs Colorado State Rams

Utah started losing steam late in the year and Colorado State was ‘under the radar’ for most of the season.   Both defenses cause turnovers but Colorado State’s offense is a little more versatile.  Utah might be in ‘let down mode’ for this game.  The pick here is Colorado State +3.5.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Western Michigan Broncos vs Air Force Falcons:

The Broncos defense is a little more opportunistic than the Falcons’ but the Falcons are pretty careful with the ball and focus on the ground game more than anything else.  The pick here is Western Michigan +1.5.

Camellia Bowl – South Alabama Jaguars vs Bowling Green Falcons

Both teams looked better in the first half of the season than the second half – but it doesn’t matter because it’s brought both teams here to the Camellia Bowl (sponsored by a company called Raycom Media. . .?)  For the Jags it’s their first bowl game ever, and for the Falcons it’s their first since early 2000.  There is something to like about quarterback James Knapke of the Falcons, that his stats don’t show, but he’s been in some battles this year and should come away with one of his better games against the Jaguars defense. The pick here is Bowling Green +3.


Miami Beach Bowl – BYU Cougars vs Memphis Tigers 

This a game that matches up two teams that love to run the ball.  BYU might be the stronger of the two teams, but Memphis, at least to the naked eye, just seems faster – Memphis has one or two big plays in them that make the difference in this one.  The pick here is Memphis PK.

Boca Raton Bowl – Marshall Herd vs Northern Illinois Huskies

In the BCS way of thinking – Marshall Herd would’ve been a BCS buster type of team until they stumbled against Western Kentucky.   Northern Illinois was the talk of the “BCS buster” town last season and many thought they would fall off but they put together a nice season.  Marshall seemed to be running out of steam late in the year, Northern Illinois has been in this spot and is well coached.  The pick here is Northern Illinois +10.


Poinsettia Bowl – Navy Midshipmen vs San Diego State Aztecs

This is one of those games where your heart tells you to go with Navy but this is one of those games where that one dimensional offense loses steam late. This is a home game for the Aztecs and in bowl games, if you have the chance to take a home team, take it.   The pick here is San Diego State +3.

Bahamas Bowl – Central Michigan Chippewas vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

The Chips enter the inaugural Bahamas Bowl with the NCAA’s 16th ranked defense going up against Western Kentucky’s quarterback Brandon Doughty who threw for over 4000 yards and 44 touchdowns this season.  The Chips and Hilltoppers both beat the champions of their respective conferences and are both coached up well for big games.  Western Kentucky upsetting Marshall 67-66 leaves a memory in a lot of folks’ minds meaning that’s where most of the money will lean.  The pick here is Central Michigan +4.

Hawaii Bowl – Fresno State Bulldogs vs Rice Owls 

The expectation for Rice was that with a lot of returning starters, they’d have at least an 8 or 9 win season. They ultimately finished with 7 wins  and now get a free trip to Hawaii for it.  Fresno had a disappointing season after losing high profile offensive players to the NFL draft.  Fresno can handle the atmosphere at Hawaii, but these kids from Rice will be more in awe of their surroundings then the actual game.  The pick here is Fresno State +2.5.

Heart of Dallas Bowl – Illinois Fighting Illini vs Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Louisiana Tech put on quite a display against Rice racking up 76 points but followed that up losing by three to the Marshall Herd the following week.  Tech will be missing three defensive starters in this game which will something to watch with this usually good Tech defense.  Illinois may be a “power conference” team, but they’ve limped all season long.  The pick here is Louisiana Tech -6.

Quick Lane Bowl – Rutgers Scarlet Knights  vs North Carolina Tar Heels

In Rutgers’ first season in the Big 10 it was clear they didn’t belong – where they should’ve played is the ACC – so playing against UNC should be more of an even game for Rutgers. Rutgers is a team that all season long, lost to good teams and won against bottom feeders.  UNC is neither bad nor good and are led by the dual threat quarterback Marquise Williams who ran for over 700 yards and threw for over 2800 yards.  With the drama that’s going on with the university, who knows when the next time we’ll see UNC in a bowl game – these players know that as well.  The pick here is UNC -3.

St. Petersburg Bowl – North Carolina State Wolfpack vs Central Florida Knights

For UCF this is a home game and although the trend here has been “take the home bowl team” this one is trickier.  Central Florida was expected to drop off a lot without Blake Bortles under center but they kept themselves relevant all year long.  N.C State is never really relevant as their is nothing that pops off the screen about them.  Central Florida lost to UConn, and I’m basing this prediction off that head scratching moment more than anything.  The pick here is NC State  +2.

Military Bowl – Virginia Tech Hookies vs Cincinnati Bearcats

The player to watch in this game is Gunner Kiel, the quarterback of the Bearcats.  If he plays well in this national stage, he might have “all eyes on him” next season to see if his game can project to the next level.  Virginia Tech has been hanging onto the fact that they beat Ohio State all year long but seriously they are just okay on defense and as usual, struggle to get points on the board.  Cincy does “just enough” in this game.  The pick here is Cincinnati -3.

Sun Bowl – Duke Blue Devils vs Arizona State Sun Devils

Pretty interesting match up of two teams that came in with higher expectations but ultimately find themselves in the Sun Bowl.  Arizona State late in the year had a slight (slight) chance of taking the Pac 12 conference, but ran flat to end the season.  Duke didn’t finish strong either, but this is more of a “let down” for Arizona State who is clearly the better squad.  Duke sees this more as a chance to prove itself as a legit football program against a strong Pac 12 team.  The pick here is Duke +7.5.

Independence Bowl – Miami Hurricanes vs South Carolina Gamecocks

Miami had their chances this year but couldn’t come through in big games.  The four point loss to Florida State resulted in them ending the season with a three game losing streak.  South Carolina showed that they lost a lot to graduation or the NFL draft as their only wins came against bad teams.   People are dumb and will watch reruns of ESPN documentaries about the Hurricane and feel that they’re back.  Vegas has the line right with this one.  The Pick here is South Carolina +4.

Pinstripe Bowl – Penn State Nittany Lions vs Boston College Eagles

The Bronx sets the back drop for the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and both teams will have their fair share of fan support in New York.   Both teams are “grind it out teams” but Penn State entered this season thinking they’d be more balanced.  Quarterback Christian Hackenberg is supposed to be the kid with a nice future ahead of him, but 15 interceptions and bad decision making has made people think maybe the pressure has gotten to him.  Boston College has had close losses and nice wins against good teams – Penn State’s best try was a triple over-time loss to Ohio State.  The pick here is Boston College -3.

Holiday Bowl – Nebraska Cornhuskers vs USC Trojans


It’s hard to compare the two considering the Cornhuskers come from more of a running offensive conference and the Trojans are coming out of a more pass-happy conference.  With that said, the Trojans might be coming back to prominence and expect to compete for the Pac 12 crown next season – they are going to approach this game as an insult and look to embarrass a Nebraska team, who has already shown disappointment in their team by firing their head coach.  The pick here is USC -6.5.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio