Time to finish strong
January 01, 2019 3:00 AM
by Joe D'Amico
And just like that, the college football season is coming to a close.
It was a very successful campaign for us. Not just because we made money, but because I got to meet all of you and we had some fun together. Obviously, it is always more fun when we are making money.
I want to thank the amazing staff at the Gaming Today for all their support and allowing me to be the crazy son of a gun that I am. But most of all, I want to thank all of you, my readers and followers. You are the best. Oh BTW, you’re not getting rid of me that easy. Remember, you’ll be seeing me very soon as we are just months away from baseball season and my “Clear the Bases” column right here in GT.
We have had one heck of a Bowl campaign. Going into New Year’s Eve’s action, thus far we have had 14 favorites, 13 underdogs, 15 unders and 12 overs. Those are some pretty even stats.
We have five of the biggest Bowl contests remaining on New Year’s Day as well as the National Championship. So, let’s finish this Bowl season the way we started it... WINNING!
Outback Bowl – Mississippi State (-7) vs. Iowa: Iowa was an underdog three times this season, losing and failing to cover all three contests. Not only that, but the defense gave up 28 or more points in five outings in 2018.
Despite mediocre offensive statistics, the Hawkeyes still managed to average, 31.5 PPG. But here they will be without one of their best receivers, TE Noah Fant, who is skipping the game to prepare for the NFL draft.
The Mississippi State defense is the best in the country, allowing only, 12.0 PPG, ranking 6th vs. the pass and 10th against the run. The Bulldogs are a running team and while the Hawkeyes’ defense is good against the rush, the Mississippi State “O” will keep the Iowa “D” on the field and tire the unit out.
While Iowa QB Nate Stanley is a passer, the Bulldogs’ play-caller, Nick Fitzgerald, is a dual-threat QB, something that Iowa hasn’t seen too much of this season.
The Hawkeyes are 1-3-1 ATS the last five games played on neutral sites and 1-4 ATS the last five games overall. The Bulldogs are 5-0 ATS the last five non-conference games and 4-1 ATS the last five overall games. MISSISSIPPI STATE
Citrus Bowl – Kentucky (+6.5) vs. Penn State: Both teams are looking not just for a Bowl victory, but to reach a 10-win season.
In the five years James Franklin has been the Penn State HC, the team has faced an SEC foe just once, losing to Georgia, 24-17. Franklin’s squad isn’t a very seasoned bunch. Experience is big in college football, particularly this time of year.
Well, Kentucky is an experienced team.
Offensively, they are all about the run. This doesn’t bode well for the 72nd ranked Penn State rush defense that yielded more than 5.0 YPC to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Defensively, the Wildcats rank 8th nationally, allowing just 16.2 PPG. They are better on both sides of the ball in the trenches.
The Nittany Lions will have trouble slowing down RB, Benny Snell Jr. (1,305 yards, 14 TDs) and protecting their QB Trace McSorley. PSU is 0-4 ATS the last four vs. the SEC. KENTUCKY
Fiesta Bowl – Central Florida (+7) vs. LSU: Giving a team that has won 25 straight games and beat another SEC representative in Auburn in last year’s Peach Bowl over a touchdown is a gift.
Central Florida enters yet another Bowl game eager to prove they deserve more respect and a higher spot in the polls. Backup QB Darriel Mack Jr. has been perfect in replacing injured starter McKenzie Milton, accounting for 522 yards passing, two TD’s and more importantly, 0 INTs along with rushing 340 yards and six TDs.
The Knights own an offense that ranks 5th in rushing and 29th in passing. LSU has a good defense, but is playing this Bowl contest without two starting DB’s (Fulton injured, Williams NFL draft). The Tigers possess an offensively-challenged “0” that have trouble maintaining sufficient ball-control to keep the Knights offense off the field.
UCF has 22 seniors playing their final game that want to go out perfect. LSU is 1-6-1 ATS the last eight non-conference games and 2-5 ATS the last seven Bowl games. UCF is 5-2 ATS the last seven non-conference games and 5-1 ATS the last six overall games. CENTRAL FLORIDA
Rose Bowl – Ohio State (-6.5) vs. Washington: Very simply, OSU has more talent, a smarter head coach, the better overall coaching staff, and Dwayne Haskins at the helm (70.2 percent completion rate, 4,580 yards, 47 TDs and just 8 INTs).
I don’t normally judge a team from one or two recent performances, but the way Ohio State followed their narrow 52-51 win at Maryland, with decisive victories over Michigan (62-39) and Northwestern (45-24) shows me just how strong of a unit they are at this point in the season.
Washington was a ‘dog twice in 2018, losing to Auburn and getting help from the weather against Washington State.
Ohio State HC Urban Meyer is leaving after this Bowl game, so expect a big sendoff from his squad .The Buckeyes are 5-2 ATS the last seven Bowls, 13-3-1 ATS the last 17 vs. the Pac-12, and 8-2 ATS the last 10 on neutral sites. OHIO STATE
Sugar Bowl – Georgia (-13) vs. Texas: I don’t know how not making the CFP will affect Georgia. They are certainly the better team on paper. They score more points offensively, and hold opponents to less points defensively.
But they have all the pressure on them and Sam Ehlinger is a true “big game” QB.
I am very selective when releasing plays, that is why I have put “leans” on a few Bowls and did not put out as “official” plays.
Staying away from a game you don’t feel strongly about is just as important as moving on one you do. I am staying further away from this game than I would from eating gas station tacos. However, I put a small lean on Georgia, which has the more-talented squad. GEORGIA
Last week: 3-3