Bowl Previews and Picks: December 21 Games

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about the holidays. It’s college football bowl season. The fun starts Saturday with four games and end 16 days later with the highly anticipated BCS National Championship between Florida State and Auburn.

I’m going to preview and give a pick against the spread for every bowl game this season. Picking bowl games is a little different than picking games on a normal college football Saturday. There is a long layoff for teams between regular season and the bowl game. The games are played at a neutral site but there can be hidden home field advantages for teams closer to the stadium or schools that have a good traveling fan base. Motivation plays a big part in bowl games. Some teams see the bowl as a reward for a great season and other teams that underachieved might think the game is a nuisance. Also coaching changes between the end of the regular season and bowl season have occurred so that could play into the motivation of a team. When making my pick, I might consider some team and coach history in bowl games. I won’t be focused much  on that though because I have followed college football all season long and think the players now are more important than historic trends.

New Mexico Bowl: Washington State vs. Colorado State 

Schedule analysis: Washington State (6-6) opened the season with a seven-point loss at Auburn. The next week they upset USC 10-7 on the road. The rest of the Cougars’ season continued to be up and down. They lost conference games to Stanford, Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State by more than 24 each game. Late wins at Arizona and home against Utah secured bowl eligbility before losing their final game at Washington by 10. Colorado State (7-6) started the season 2-4 after losses to Colorado, Tulsa, Alabama and San Jose State. The Rams season turned around when they beat Wyoming by 30 on the road. Colorado State continued to beat the bad teams in the Mountain West with wins against Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Air Force. The combined record of the conference teams they defeated was 15-45. Against better Mountain West teams like Boise State and Utah State, they lost by double digits.  

Miles from stadium: Washington State is 1,234 miles away from University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Colorado State is 375 miles away.

Motivation: Making a bowl is an achievement for both programs but an early afternoon start in Albuquerque might not be ideal. I don’t think one team is more motivated than the other.

Pick: Washington State -4.5

When making my pick I will usually lean with the underdog before doing research. Both teams struggle defensively. Colorado State has a balanced offense and Washington State relies heavily on the pass. I’m picking more against Colorado State than I’m picking Washington State. The Rams didn’t beat anyone good this season.

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC Continue reading