Happy New Year! A few more bowls are appetizers for the tune-up that is the Jan. 6 Auburn/Florida State match for all the marbles.
Tuesday, Dec. 31
Duke (10-3) loves to throw the football under HC David Cutcliffe and QB Anthony Boone (10 TDs, 11 INTs), averages 31.6 points and 234 yards passing. Blue Devils are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games and 18-8-1 OVER when not facing ACC opposition.
Texas A&M (8-4) has speed all over the field on offense, averaging 43.6 points and 351 yards passing behind QB Johnny Manziel (33 TDs, 13 INTs) and WR Mike Evans (1,322 yards). The electric Manziel also ran for 686 yards. The defense is weak giving up over 33 points six times.
Note: The Aggies are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games, 4-1 UNDER in their last five Bowl games. A&M failed to cover the last game, a 28-21 loss to Missouri. The OVER is 45-21-2 in Aggies last 68 games following a spread loss.
Wednesday, Jan. 1
Outback Bowl, Tampa
Iowa (8-4 SU) is a power running team with sophomore QB Jake Rudock (18 TDs, 12 INTs) playing well as a young starter behind junior RB Damon Bullock (467 yds, 4.1 ypc) and junior RB Mark Weisman (938, 4.5 ypc). Iowa is 34-16-2 UNDER away from Nile Kinnick Stadium.
LSU (9-3) lost senior QB Zach Mettenburger (22 TDs, 8 INTs) in the finale, so all eyes are on freshman QB Anthony Jennings (1 TD, no picks, 99 yards). The kid has great targets to throw to in junior WRs Jarvis Landry (1,172 yds) and Odell Beckham.
Note: The Iowa defense allowed 18.9 ppg (13th in the nation). Iowa missed a bowl last season but the Hawkeyes are 5-0 ATS in their last five road games. LSU is on a 9-3 OVER run and the OVER is on grass.
Friday, Jan. 3
Orange Bowl, Miami
Ohio State (12-1): Urban Meyer went 24-0 as Buckeyes coach before losing the Big 10 title game, 34-24, to Michigan State. The powerhouse rushing offense led by QB Braxton Miller is third in the nation in rushing with 317.5 ypg, fourth in scoring (46.3 ppg). The defense imploded the last two games, giving up 41 to rival Michigan and 438 yards to Michigan State.
Clemson (10-2) has a dynamite, balanced offense striking for 40 points and 329 yards passing (12th) behind QB Taj Boyd (29 TDs, 9 INTs) and WR Sammy Watkins (1,237 yards). The Tigers topped Georgia (38-35) to open the year, but then flopped in losses to the only other Top 10 teams they faced, Florida State (51-14) and South Carolina (31-17).
Note: Tigers are 2-6 ATS in their last eight bowl games, while the Buckeyes are 36-16 ATS on grass.
Monday, Jan. 6
Florida State (13-0) allowed 10.7 ppg, tops in the nation. They faced four Top 25 teams and won by an average score of 50-9. Their closest game was a 14-point win over BC. The Seminoles are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 neutral site games. The defense will have to be content with talented freshman QB Jameis Winston (38 TDs, 10 INTs), plus Florida State boasts the nation’s best combination of receivers.
Auburn (12-1): The defense has been “bend but don’t break” all year, giving up 41 to Texas A&M, 38 to Georgia, 42 to Missouri and 35 to LSU. LSU was the only team to beat the Tigers, 35-21, allowing 457 yards (228 rushing). But Auburn’s deceptive-run offense leads the nation in rushing with 335.7 yards and 40.3 points per contest.
Note: Auburn is on an 11-1 ATS run, 7-0 ATS against a team with a winning record. Florida State is 5-1 UNDER against the SEC, while the UNDER is 6-2 in the Tigers last eight bowl games.
Jim Feist, author and leader in sports information for over 40 years, hosts TV’s Proline as well as running National Sports Services since 1975. Follow him on twitter: @JimFeistSports . Reach him at [email protected]