General rules for bowl game predictions. Rule 1: Almost always bet the underdogs. You can go back something like 26 years and if you would have blindly bet all bowl game underdogs you would have had a profitable bowl season every year. Currently, favorites are 3-2 against the spread so far this bowl season. Rule 2: Strongly consider betting the better rushing team. This comes down to a simple timing thing. Its easy to run the ball than throw it. Most teams have several weeks off between games and most of the time it takes passing offensives a little longer to get rolling in bowl games simply because they need to get their timing back. Rule 3: Strongly consider betting the better defensive team. You will have to do you homework in to follow this rule because many of the teams playing have never played each other, come from different conferences, and the stats can be misleading.
Western Kentucky (-6.5) vs. Central Michigan: In general, I tend to fade the MAC in bowl games as they have performed terrible over the past few years. After looking at CMU, there isn’t much to be impressed by here despite winning their last three games of the year to become bowl eligble. Their defense has given up almost 200 yards rushing per game, which is terrible considering they play in the MAC. WKU’S rushing attack is strong averaging 186 yards per game. With the new coach for the bowl game, I expect him to stick with the bread and butter and keep the ball on the ground with a huge dosage of running plays. WKU’s coach for the bowl game has had previous experience stepping in for coaches that bolted prior to the bowl game, so that should help him tonight. I am not in love with this pick by any means, but I just don’t see what CMU can do here to win this game or cover the spread. I look for WKU to dominate from start to finish. BET WKU -6.5 FOR 1 UNIT. Loser CMU 24 WKU 21.
West Virginia vs. Syracuse (+4): There clearly should be a ton of points scored in this affair, so if you are looking for a total play you almost have to take a shot at the over, but the number is high at 71. IMO WVU won every game they should have won this year and lost every game they should have lost. People were loving them after starting 5-0, but their best win in that stretch was home win over Baylor. Then they hit the tough part of their schedule and lost 5 straight. They did finish the year strong winning their last two, over ISU and KU. So while on a paper it looks they had an up and down year, this team was much more a product of their schedule than anything else. Their offense is above average, but not great and their defense is horrible to say the least. As for Syracuse, they are a pretty solid football team overall. They don’t do anything great, but they are not terrible any where either. The key will be ball control for Syracuse, run run run and then run some more. They have to keep WVU’S offense off the field. If Syra establish the running game early, which is key, they can really start to exploit the terrible passing defense of WVU. If you are in Vegas, or betting on the net, then I would consider doing some in game wagering here. Watch the game closely early and see if Syracuse can get the running game going, if so they win this game outright. With the potential for such a high scoring game the spread is probably meaningless here. Based on the that, play on SYRACUSE TO WIN AT +155. WINNER SYR 38 WVU 14.
Iowa State vs TULSA (+2): These teams met for the second time this year, ISU easily won the first matchup. First, motivation for ISU is clearly questionable in this meaningless game against a team they already dominated. TULSA right now has the better defense and more importantly better rushing attack, which makes the team more dangerous than previous years, as they have primarily been known for the passing attack. Money continues to come in on ISU, but I like the revenge factor and focus of this Tulsa team. TULSA +2 for 1 unit. WINNER TULSA 31 ISU 17
NC State vs VANDERBILT (-7): I think Vandy is a solid squad and should dominate NC State. This game is about strength vs strength and strength vs weakness. Vandy’s great pass defense goes up against NCSt good passing game push. Vandy’s D vs NCSt rushing game advantage Vandy. Vandy’ offense first NCSt defense huge advantage Vandy. Take Vandy over NCSt for 1 unit. WINNER VANDY 38 NCST 24.
Mississippi State vs. NORTHWESTERN (-1): Based on everything available to a bettor, you have to take a shot here with NW. First, their rushing attack is very solid and MSt’s rushing defense is pretty weak giving up over 150 yards rushing per game. Second, NW is 11-1 ats the spread. Third, I believe the coaching matchup favors NW, I just like how Fitzgerald handles and runs his staff. I expect NW to be fully prepared for this matchup. Fourthly, MSt has 0, count them 0, quality wins this year. I know this is SEC vs. B10, but I still favor NW in this matchup. Take Northwestern -1 over Mississippi State.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (+13.5) vs. Florida State: I mentioned the opportunity for in game wagering in the Syracuse game and I believe this game fits the same bill. For NIU to have any chance to win this game or cover the spread they absolutely must establish the running game. They have a great running attack averaging 250 yards per contest, however, FSU’s D is only allowing 92 yards per contest. If they get the running game going early then they have a chance to win this game outright. That being said NIU does have a potent passing game as well, but if they cannot establish the run early, then FSU runs away with this game. The other serious factor to consider is motivation. FSU was overlooked all year and now they have to play against a team they are supposed to crush by two touchdowns. There is one thing I have to say about the BCS and that is IMO it does a great job of rating the best teams in the country. We all have a problem that only two teams get the chance to play for the national title game, we want a playoff. However, it is tough to argue that the BCS doesn’t get the rankings correct (look back, LSU vs. Alabama they were clearly the best two teams in the country, Notre Dame and Alabama this year, best two teams in the country based on records and losses). I say that to say this, Florida State was ranked about 10th all season by the BCS. You have to consider that factor when determining how good FSU really is. Therefore, I will take the 13.5 points with NIU for 1 unit. LOSER!
PITTSBURGH (+4) vs. Mississippi: Sorry for this being late, but had a crazy work week. Love Pittsburgh here. They actually are very solid team. They play everyone tough. Their bad losses came early in the season. I think the top teams in the SEC are great, but those on the bottom half were well below average this year. I think Pitt can win this outright. PITT +4 plus 1 unit. LOSER!
NOTRE DAME (+9.5) vs. Alabama: Really tough game to call here. Both defenses are rock solid. Coaching is outstanding for both teams. Special teams, very slight edge to Alabama. Offensive edge to Bama. I give the offensive edge to Bama based more on overall talent and experience. However, I don’t think McCarron is that good of a QB, so ND’s defense is definitely going to have to cause a turnover in the passing game to help their offense out, which could change the whole dynamic of the game. The other key to the game for ND is touchdowns. If you watched the ND vs. USC game, ND scored on 4 of their first 5 possessions, three field goals and a touchdown. However, they only led 16-10 at halftime. They can’t miss opportunities, if given, to score when in Alabama territory. The other thing that is key is ND establishing the running game. If they can’t get the running game going they are going to be in trouble as I don’t believe Golson has the talent and experience to pass effectively against the Bama D. Overall, I look for this game to be pretty close. I don’t feel comfortable laying the 9.5 with Bama. There were some stories/rumors circulating about Bama players not taking this game too seriously, so that could be a factor. It is vital that ND land the first punch and maybe the second. I think 10 is the right number here and ND will have to play probably their best game of the year to have a chance to win or even cover. PLAY ON NOTRE DAME FOR 1 UNIT.
Check back for continued updates everyday during the bowl season. Good Luck.
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