Stock the refrigerator full of snacks and beer, put the kids to bed, grab your helmet, sit back and relax, because it’s time to go bowling.
Between Saturday and January 1, we have 40 bowl games to enjoy. The two biggest contests are the Orange and Cotton Bowls, which make up the College Football Playoff. The winner will square off in Santa Clara, Calif., on Monday, January 7 for the National Championship title.
Just because some of the earlier matchups don’t consist of the big name teams as in the Rose and Sugar Bowls, it doesn’t make them any less exciting or give you less of an opportunity to make money.
New Mexico Bowl – Utah State (-9) vs. North Texas: Utah State coach Matt Wells, the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, will be leaving to be the head coach at Texas Tech. Though still running practices and will be on the sideline this game, Wells is not technically in charge. Assistant Frank Maile is the interim HC. Reports are North Texas’ Seth Litrell is looking for a new position somewhere.
The Mean Green players could be distracted, not knowing who will be at the helm next season. North Texas has been point spread poison, covering just once over their last eight outings, including five straight. The Mean Green are a passing offense, but top WR Rico Bussey Jr., left the last game with a leg injury. So check his status as game time approaches.
Utah State’s numbers, on both sides of the ball, rival that of the best in the nation. Offensively, the healthy, well-balanced unit averages over 47.2 PPG, and is equally dangerous in the air (18th), as well as the ground (32nd). Defensively, the Aggies allow just, 23.0 PPG. To further motivate the team, they come off their first loss since Week 1, snapping a 10-game win streak. UTAH STATE
Las Vegas Bowl – Fresno State (-4) vs. Arizona State: As soon as this matchup was announced, I went out and picked up first-row, 50-yard line seats. Guess where? On the Bulldogs’ side of the field.
Not to take any credit away from an Arizona State team that beat Michigan State, Southern Cal, Utah, and Arizona, but they must face the nation’s No. 3 stop-unit without one of their biggest offensive stars. WR, N’Keal Harry (1080 YR, 9 TD’s), who is an expected first-round draft pick, will not play in the game to avoid any possible chance of injury.
Offensively, Fresno State puts up 34.9 PPG, mostly in the air. This doesn’t bode well for a porous ASU defense that ranks 82nd vs. the pass. Fresno State is 8-2 ATS the last 10 non-conference games, 4-1 ATS the last five in the month of December, and 27-6-1 ATS the last 34 overall. FRESNO STATE
Boca Raton Bowl – UAB (-2.5) vs. Northern Illinois: Both defenses are very tough. The Huskies allow just, 21.5 PPG. The Blazers yield a mere 17.3 PPG.
The big difference here is the superiority of the UAB offense. Their success begins on the OL. Head coach Bill Clark, who is in the conversation for national Coach of the Year honors, recruits some of the best players in the south.
Please understand, he gets all of the Alabama also-rans, which results in the team rushing for over 208.9 YPG. Not only that, but the OL has the size and strength to hold off the NIU defense, particularly, their best player, DE Sutton Smith.
The Huskies are just 2-9, both SU and ATS, their last 11 bowl games, including an 0-7 ATS slide as an underdog, and a current 0-5 ATS run. The Blazers are eager to earn the school’s first bowl victory ever. UAB
Last week: 0-0