Bowl Preview and Picks: December 26 Games

Little Caesars Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green

Schedule analysis: Pittsburgh (6-6) played nine bowl-bound teams this season. They started their first season in a new conference with a promising 4-2 record. The losses came on Labor Day to Florida State and at Virginia Tech in October. The Panthers defeated New Mexico, ACC Coast champs Duke, Virginia and Old Dominion. The second part of their season was struggle for the Panthers. They defeated two bowl teams in Notre Dame and Syracuse, but lost to Navy, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami. One of Pittsburgh’s most impressive wins was against Duke but that was early in the season before the Blue Devils started playing their best football. The win against Notre Dame was a revenge game for the Panthers and the Fightin’ Irish proved to be a very inconsistent team this season. After starting the season 5-3, Bowling Green (10-3) ended the season on fire. The routed Miami (OH), Ohio and Eastern Michigan before beating Buffalo by 17 on the road. Their reward was a date with undefeated Northern Illinois in MAC Championship. The Falcons dominated Northern Illinois 47-27 at Ford Field. Continue reading

Hawaii Bowl Preview and Pick

Hawaii Bowl: Boise State vs. Oregon State 

Schedule analysis: Boise State (8-4) was an outstanding home team this year. They were 6-0 on their home turf but played a weak schedule. UT Martin, Air Force, Southern Miss, Nevada, Wyoming and New Mexico all had losing records this season. Boise State won on the road at Utah State, but that was the week after the Aggies lost star quarterback Chuckie Keeton with a season-ending injury. They also defeated Colorado State on the road. The Broncos started the season with a loss to Washington and dropped conference games to Fresno State, BYU and San Diego State. Oregon State were upset by Eastern Washington in their opener and rebounded to win their next six including a road tilt at San Diego State. Then the tough part of Oregon State’s schedule occurred and they lost their last five to Stanford, USC, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon. The Oregon loss was 36-35 in Eugene and the Beavers should’ve won. They put a maximum effort into the rivalry game and fell short.  Continue reading

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl Preview and Pick

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: Ohio vs. East Carolina 

Schedule analysis: Ohio (7-5) started the season strong. They lost their first game at Louisville who were top ten at the time. Then the Bobcats won four straight and six of seven to climb to a 6-2 record. November can along and Ohio played on three straight Thursday nights. Ohio was embarrassed on national TV all three games losing 30-3 to Buffalo, 49-0 to Bowling Green and 44-13 to Kent State. Ohio wrapped up the regular season with a big win against Massachusetts. The second half of the season either saw them blow out their opponent or they got blown out. East Carolina finished 9-3 on the strength of their offense. They went 2-1 playing teams from the ACC. The Pirates lost to Virginia Tech 15-10. They defeated North Carolina early in September and North Carolina State in their second to last game. East Carolina ended the season on a sour note with a 59-28 loss at Marshall with the C-USA East title on the line. Ohio beat Marshall 34-31 in Week 3 this season.  Continue reading

NFL Picks: Week 16

The NFL flexed Chicago and Philadelphia to Sunday Night Football on NBC after Week 14. It was possible that both teams would be playing for a chance to win their respective divisions. There is a chance that could happen but both teams will need results from the early games to go their way. In fact, by the time the Bears and Eagles take the field on Sunday night, it could be a meaningless game other than for seeding in the NFC playoffs.

With two games to go, the Eagles lead the Cowboys by one game in the NFC East. Dallas currently hold the head-to-head and division record tiebreaker over Philadelphia. If the Cowboys (three-point road favorites) defeat the Redskins in Week 16, the Eagles wouldn’t be able to clinch the division with a win over the Bears. The Cowboys and Eagles play in Dallas the last game of the season so that game then would decide the NFC East.

The NFC North is a little more complicated. Two losses in a row by the Lions has given the Bears and Packers new life and control of their own destiny. The Lions host the Giants and Packers host the Steelers in late afternoon games Sunday. If the Lions loss their third straight and Packers win, then the result from the Bears game on Sunday night won’t matter. The division would be decided at Solider Field in Week 17 when the Packers come to town.  Continue reading

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