Picking Every 2016-17 College Football Bowl Game Against the Spread

BY Fansided and Michael Collins/FanSided via Saturday Blitz • December 14, 2016

Jan 9, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; General view of the college football playoff trophy during media day at Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

College football bowl games are coming, and so are the Las Vegas betting lines. Here are my yearly picks against the spread.

The last five years I’ve provided readers with this list of picks for all the college football bowl games. In 2015, my 75 percent record took a bit of a dip, going 25-17 against the spread in the bowl games and national championship game. Still a pretty respectable number.

I’ve broken down the team in each bowl game, and looked at the current betting lines to give you some solid bowl game wager advice for the season.

Some fun bowl game betting factoids for this season’s matchups:

    Time for some picks. Here’s a brief breakdown of each game, some looks at the current average point spread and which teams will cover their spread or beat them.

    Sep 10, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; Grambling State Tigers quarterback Trevon Cherry (15) hands off the ball to wide receiver Martez Carter (4) during the second quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl
    North Carolina Central (9-2, 7-0 MEAC) vs. Grambling State (11-1, 10-0 SWAC)
    Dec. 17 – 12 p.m., ABC
    Georgia Dome, Atlanta

    Average Line: Grambling, -15

    The second year of the Celebration bowl is a matchup of two classic HBCU schools, with Grambling State representing the SWAC, and NC Central representing the MEAC in Atlanta.

    Both schools have reason to be motivated to win this game, with both barely missing out on making the inaugural game in 2015.

    If you want to make a prediction about this game, look no further than Grambling quarterback DeVante Kincade. The Ole Miss transfer QB has tossed 28 touchdowns to only three interceptions this season (tops in the FCS), and is third in the FCS in passing efficiency (171.6).

    There will be a lot of offense in this game, but most of it may end up coming from Grambling’s side of the field, as they’ve put up a blistering 539 points this season.

    Prediction: 15 points is a lot to cover, even for a team as good as Grambling, but in this case, take the Tigers to cover that spread.

    Dec 19, 2015; Albuquerque, NM, USA; General view of University Stadium prior to the 2015 New Mexico Bowl between the Arizona Wildcats and the New Mexico Lobos . Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Gildan New Mexico Bowl
    New Mexico (8-4, 6-2 MWC) vs. UTSA (6-6, 5-3 C-USA)
    Dec. 17 – 2 p.m., ESPN
    University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.

    Average Line: New Mexico, -7

    This is actually a nice warm-up bowl for the FBS slate of games this year. New Mexico has had quite a nice season, and will be appearing in this bowl game for the second consecutive season (having lost to Arizona last year).

    UTSA is a vastly improved team, and new head coach Frank Wilson has the Roadrunners bowl eligible for the first time since moving up to the FBS level in 2011.

    If you’ve watched UTSA this season, you know they are a fun and unpredictable team, and they’ll have a lot of adrenaline pumping through their veins in the school’s first bowl appearance. That said, New Mexico is a solid and seasoned team with some explosive offensive weapons.

    This game will be decided by who makes the least number of mistakes on defense, and who wins the turnover battle – a stat that favors UTSA.

    Prediction: The Roadrunners may not come away with their first bowl win here, but look for them to keep the score close and beat the seven point spread. 

    Dec 19, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; General view of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign at Las Vegas Blvd on the Las Vegas strip. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico
    Houston (9-3, 5-3 AAC) vs. San Diego State (10-3, 6-2 MWC)
    Dec. 17 – 3:30 p.m., ABC
    Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

    Average Line: Houston, -3

    The line on this game has tightened up since Tom Herman accepted the job at Texas and Major Applewhite was promoted to head coach of the Cougars.

    Houston actually had aspirations of being a possible Group of Five playoff team, and their victories over Oklahoma and Louisville (the reason both teams probably were eliminated from the playoff) are the biggest positives on their resume. Unfortunately, losses to Navy, SMU and Memphis derailed lot of Herman’s plans for this season.

    The Aztecs topped Wyoming in the Mountain West Championship game, and can win their second consecutive bowl game with a win over Houston.

    As disappointing as the season may have turned out for Houston, they still have Greg Ward Jr. at quarterback, a guy who can make things happen on the field. There will be very little change in how the Cougars approach and play this game with Applewhite at the helm.

    The difference-maker in this game could very well be Houston freshman defensive lineman, Ed Oliver, who won the AAC Freshman of the Year, as well as first team All-American honors.

    Prediction: Houston and Applewhite have a lot to prove, and this is a team who can score points in big bunches when they are right. Given the rest they’ll have they should easily cover 3 points.

    Dec 19, 2015; Montgomery, AL, USA; Appalachian State Mountaineers celebrate after winning the 2015 Camellia Bowl at Cramton Bowl. The Mountaineers defeated the Bobcats 31-29. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
    Appalachian State (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt) vs. Toledo (9-3, 6-2 MAC)
    Dec. 17 – 5:30 p.m., ESPN
    Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.

    Average Line: Toledo, -1

    There’s a reason the line is only one point in this game, and that’s because they are as evenly matched a pair as you’ll see in his year’s bowl schedule.

    App State finished the season 55th in total offense, putting up 431 yards per game, while Toledo was 4th with 529 yards per game. On the flip side, the Mountaineers came in 15th nationally in total defense only giving up 326 yards per game, while the Rockets finished 55th, giving up 394 yards.

    This looks to be a tug-of-war with the white cloth barely moving in the center.

    The slight nod has to go to Toledo just based on the competition they faced in the MAC as compared to App State’s Sun Belt foes.

    Prediction: This one could just as easily be a pick-em, but go with Toledo to cover one point in what will be a back and forth game.

    Nov 26, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; UCF Knights running back Taj McGowan (12) celebrates after he scored a touchdown against the South Florida Bulls during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. South Florida Bulls defeated the UCF Knights 48-31. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    AutoNation Cure Bowl
    UCF (6-6, 4-4 AAC) vs. Arkansas State (7-5, 7-1 Sun Belt)
    Dec. 17 – 5:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
    Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

    Average Line: UCF, -6

    Vegas is giving a lot of respect to the Knights with a six point line here. Arkansas State is a pretty good team, and is more evenly matched than many might think on this one. Both offensively and defensively the stats are pretty equal, and both teams ended with the +3 in the turnover margin.

    The American is undoubtedly a much tougher conference than the Sun Belt, so UCF gets some edge there for their wins, and the fact that this is essentially a home game for the Knights plays in their favor as well.

    Prediction: Take the Knights and up to 7 points. The Red Wolves won’t be able to keep up in a shootout.

    Dec 19, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; A general view of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the second quarter of the 2015 New Orleans Bowl between the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
    Southern Mississippi (6-6, 4-4 C-USA) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt)
    Dec. 17 – 9 p.m., ESPN
    Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

    Average Line: Southern Miss, -3.5

    Of the smaller bowl games, this is absolutely one of the most difficult to call. This one will probably come down to making some big defensive plays.

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    Southern Mississippi ranks 14th nationally in total defense, while ULL is 105th in total offense. Big edge to the Golden Eagles there. But the one stat that has to jump out is that Southern Miss is a terrible -16 in turnover margin on the season.

    Look for ULL to take the ball away a few times, which could make the difference in this game. Still pretty close to call.

    Prediction: I don’t like teams who can’t take care of the football. Take ULL to beat the 3.5 point spread.

    Nov 25, 2016; Tulsa, OK, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane running back James Flanders (20) makes a run against Cincinnati Bearcats at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joey Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Miami Beach Bowl
    Central Michigan (6-6, 3-5 MAC) vs. Tulsa (9-3, 6-2 AAC)
    Dec. 19 – 2:30 p.m., ESPN
    Marlins Park, Miami

    Average Line: Tulsa, -11.5

    The Chippewas love to stage upsets in bowl games, but this year they’re just too far overmatched.

    The Golden Hurricane score, and score a lot. CM’s defense simply won’t be able to keep up with an offense that averages 41.4 points per game. Not with a defense which gives up nearly 30 per contest.

    The point spread does look a bit large, but by the 4th quarter, Tulsa should be rolling along without any problems. Should be a big day for James Flanders and D’Angelo Brewer, both of whom topped 1,000 rushing yards this season.

    Prediction: Tulsa should run away (literally) with this one. Take them to cover 11.5

    Dec 3, 2016; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers offensive lineman Darrell Williams Jr. (62) and teammate Hilltoppers offensive lineman Forrest Lamp (76) hold the CUSA championship trophy following the game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Western Kentucky won 58-44. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

    Boca Raton Bowl
    Memphis (8-4, 5-3 AAC) vs. Western Kentucky (10-3, 7-1 C-USA)
    Dec. 20 – 7 p.m., ESPN
    FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.

    Average Line: WKU, -4.5

    Western Kentucky finished 2nd in the nation in scoring offense at 45.1 points per game (Louisville was first at 45.3), and they were also 2nd in the nation in plays of over 20 yards from scrimmage with 94 of them (Louisville had 97).

    Those stats all add up to trouble for Memphis, who allowed 27 points, 442 total yards and 243 passing yards per game this season. The Tigers weren’t so bad on offense themselves, but were nowhere near what WKU was able to produce.

    The great equalizer for the Tigers could be turnovers, where they finished +10 this season. If Memphis can create some turnovers and keep WKU’s offense off the field they have a chance.

    Prediction: WKU will just have too much for Memphis to handle in the passing game. It won’t be a blowout, but the Hilltoppers should cover up to 6.

    Nov 26, 2016; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars running back Jamaal Williams (21) runs the ball in the second quarter against Utah State Aggies defensive end Christopher

    San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
    BYU (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-5, 6-2 MWC)
    Dec. 21 – 9 p.m., ESPN
    Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

    Average Line: BYU, -8.5

    Wyoming is back in a bowl game for the first time since 2011, and there’s a lot of excitement about the growth of the Cowboys this season. BYU definitely has their work cut out for them.

    BYU finished with a disappointing four losses against teams who – in retrospect – they probably should have beaten. Underachievers seldom do well in bowl games, particularly against teams with some emotion and something to prove like the Cowboys.

    Wyoming finished the season with two straight losses, and struggled on defense all season. giving up 34.8 points per game. BYU is built to take down a team like this.

    Even if BYU doesn’t play up to their ability, they should win this game, but there is big upset potential here as well.

    Prediction: BYU wins, but it’s going to be closer than 8.5 points. Wyoming has shown they can hang around in shootouts. Take the Cowboys to beat the spread.

    Nov 26, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Colorado State Rams wide receiver Robert Ruiz (L) is congratulated by wide receiver Detrich Clark (R) after scoring a touchdown on a punt return against the San Diego State Aztecs during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
    Idaho (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) vs. Colorado State (7-5, 5-3 MWC)
    Dec. 22 – 7 p.m., ESPN
    Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho

    Average Line: Colorado State, -13.5

    Is it possible to bet against Idaho in a bowl with their name in it? In this case, yes, most definitely.

    Mike Bobo’s offense has finally started churning out some points and the Rams finished the season with wins over New Mexico and San Diego State. Still, they’ve had some defensive lapses and look poorly coached at times.

    Next year will be Idaho’s final year at the FBS level, so they’ll take nothing for granted. They might not have some of the talent of Colorado State, but they are one of those gritty teams you don’t want to face.

    Prediction: Colorado State probably still wins this one handily, but 13.5 is a mighty large spread considering this is a home game for the Vandals. Idaho beats that spread and keeps it within 10 at least.

    Sep 10, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers wide receiver Justin Smith (8) runs in for a touchdown as Missouri Tigers linebacker Donavin Newsom (25) attempt to defend during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 61-21. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
    Eastern Michigan (7-5, 4-4 MAC) vs. Old Dominion (9-3, 7-1 C-USA)
    Dec. 23 – 1 p.m., ESPN
    Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas

    Average Line: Old Dominion, -3.5

    After the devastation of Hurricane Matthew this past October, folks in the Bahamas could use the infusion of tourist money and media attention.

    That said, you’re playing in the Bahamas in late December. Who cares who wins? Here’s what matters –

    Prediction: Go with the MACtion and take Eastern Michigan in the upset.

    Dec 10, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Navy Midshipmen fullback Shawn White (31) runs as Army Black Knights defensive back Jack King (23) defends during the third quarter of the 117 annual Army Navy game at M&T Bank Stadium. Army Black Knights defeated Navy Midshipmen 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
    Louisiana Tech (8-5, 6-2 C-USA) vs. No. 25 Navy (9-4, 7-1 AAC)
    Dec. 23 – 4:30 p.m., ESPN
    Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

    Average Line: Navy, -1

    Three weeks ago, Navy might have been favored by 10 in this game. But the loss of quarterback Will Worth and tailback Toneo Gulley in the AAC Championship game was a huge blow, as seen by the Midshipmen’s performance against Army.

    New QB Zach Abey is on his way to being a good one, but is still a little green to be coming up against a team like Louisiana Tech.

    It’s tough to make a season-long comparison for Navy because this is such a vastly different team. But the one thing Navy has done well all year is create turnovers, especially forced fumbles. Defensively they are a middling team at best.

    La Tech is one of those defensively horrible teams who wins by virtue of scoring a lot of points, regardless of how many the defense gives up.

    Prediction: Navy’s ball-control offense should be enough to keep the La Tech offense on the sideline. Take the Midshipmen to cover the points.

    Sep 17, 2016; Hattiesburg, MS, USA; Troy Trojans running back Jordan Chunn (38) is tackled by Southern Miss Golden Eagles defensive back Curtis Mikell (19) in the second quarter at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    Dollar General Bowl
    Ohio (8-5, 6-2 MAC) vs. Troy (9-3, 6-2 Sun Belt)
    Dec. 23 – 8 p.m., ESPN
    Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.

    Average Line: Troy, -3.5

    While the non-football fans in your family are out doing last minute gift grabbing, you can take in what actually should be an entertaining game.

    Ohio comes in as one of the few teams to come close to spoiling Western Michigan’s perfect season, losing 29-23 in the MAC Championship Game. Both teams are evenly matched defensively, but the men of Troy do have an offensive edge on the Bobcats.

    The Bobcats are limping into this game, losers of two out of their last three, and the win coming in a disappointing 9-3 victory over Akron.

    Prediction: Troy’s ability to create turnovers along with a potent run defense should be enough to carry them to a win in this bowl game, possibly by double digits.

    Dec 24, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; A general view before the Hawaii Bowl between the Rice Owls and Fresno State Bulldogs at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

    Hawai’i Bowl
    Hawai’i (6-7, 4-4 MWC) vs. Middle Tennessee (8-4, 5-3 C-USA)
    Dec. 24 – 8 p.m., ESPN
    Aloha Stadium, Honolulu

    Average Line: Not Available

    And in the big shocker of the bowl season, Hawai’i is playing in the Hawai’i Bowl. (Insert water is wet, grass is green joke here).

    The Rainbow Warriors are one of only three bowl teams with a losing record this season, and the Blue Raiders are 5-1 straight up in their past six games against teams with a losing record.

    You do the math.

    Essentially this is a Hawaiian vacation for MTSU…but then again, any trip out of Murfreesboro could be considered a vacation.

    Prediction: Home stadium or not, this isn’t a very good Hawai’i team. If Vegas ever publishes a line on this game, take MTSU to cover up to 10 points.

    Nov 26, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen and players celebrate with the Egg Bowl trophy after the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mississippi State won 55-20 Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

    St. Petersburg Bowl
    Miami (Ohio) (6-6, 6-2 MAC) vs. Mississippi State (5-7, 3-5 SEC)
    Dec. 26 – 11 a.m., ESPN
    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

    Average Line: Mississippi State, -12

    If you’re one of the people who can figure out Mississippi State this season, you’re one up on the rest of us. Additionally, if you’re one of the people who can figure out how a 5-7 SEC team got a bowl invite, then you have a slightly irregular brain.

    There is literally no reason – other than filling needed slots – why this Bulldogs team belongs in a bowl.

    Miami is probably a better team than their 6-6 record indicates. After starting the season with six straight losses, the RedHawks reeled off six consecutive wins to become bowl eligible. They look to keep their streak going in what could be a huge feather in the cap for the RedHawks.

    Prediction: Admittedly, Miss State is probably a better overall team and may pull out a win here. But to think it will be by more than 7 points is silly. Take Miami to beat a 12 point spread.

    Nov 26, 2016; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback Perry Hills (11) throws a pass against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the fourth quarter at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

    Quick Lane Bowl
    Maryland (6-6, 3-6 Big Ten) vs. Boston College (6-6, 2-6 ACC)
    Dec. 26 – 2:30 p.m., ESPN
    Ford Field, Detroit

    Average Line: Maryland , -1.5

    In a former-ACC vs current-ACC matchup, the Terrapins and Eagles should provide a pretty good game to watch rather than standing in the returns line at Walmart.

    Boston College hasn’t been as stout defensively as they were in past seasons, but still only gave up 24.6 points per game. The Terps are enjoying their new head coach, D.J. Durkin, who took his team to a bowl in his first season – no small feat considering a conference schedule that included Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska.

    This will be a game filled with trick plays, turnovers and probably a special teams play to end it.

    Prediction: BC’s wins have come against some pretty soft competition this year. Take Maryland to cover up to 3.

    Dec 26, 2015; Shreveport, LA, USA; General view of a sign before the Independence Bowl between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Camping World Independence Bowl
    NC State (6-6, 3-5 ACC) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
    Dec. 26 – 5 p.m., ESPN2
    Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.

    Average Line: NC State, -4

    If you’re a fan of 1-0 extra inning MLB pitching duels, then you’ll love this game which may end up with a score that resembles the John Smoltz-Jack Morris World Series game.

    Not only do these teams have identical records, but they play a very similar style of ball. NC State finished 33rd in scoring defense, giving up 23.3 points per game, while Vanderbilt finished 27th, giving up 22.6 points.

    On offense, neither team finished in the top 75 in the nation.

    Ball control, smash-mouth defense, and two brutal front sevens will be featured in this game. The Commodores excel at creating turnovers, and that could be the difference against the Wolfpack.

    Prediction: This is Vandy’s first trip to a bowl under Derek Mason, and they’ll likely be pretty pumped up. The Commodores’ upset button is pushed.

    Dec 10, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Army Black Knights running back Cole Macek (13) and linebacker Connor Slomka (43) pose in the locker room with the Secretary

    Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
    Army (7-5) vs. North Texas (5-7, 3-5)
    Dec. 27 – 12 p.m., ESPN
    Cotton Bowl, Dallas

    Average Line: Army, -9

    After finally getting the 14-year streak of losses against Navy off their backs, Army looks to get back in the win column in bowl games for the first time since 2010 (also the last time they played in a bowl).

    The emotion of the win over Navy will be long gone by Dec. 27, and Black Knights still need to learn how to take care of the ball, finishing the season with a -4 turnover margin.

    North Texas is another team who were invited to a bowl based on APR, not wins and losses. Even if Army commits four turnovers, as they did against Navy, their 327 yard-per-game rushing average should be plenty to hold back the North Texas defense who gave up a whopping 220 rushing yards per game.

    On offense, the Mean Green were nearly as bad as on defense, so Army will have the ball…a lot.

    Prediction: Army wins big. It won’t even be close.

    Dec 3, 2016; Annapolis, MD, USA; Temple Owls defensive lineman Avery Ellis (52), lineman Praise Martin-Oguike (50) and defensive lineman Averee Robinson (43) hold the American Athletic Conference trophy on the field after defeating Navy Midshipmen 34-10 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
    No. 24 Temple (10-3, 7-1 AAC) vs. Wake Forest (6-6, 3-5 ACC)
    Dec. 27 – 3:30 p.m., ESPN
    Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.

    Average Line: Temple, -13

    Temple probably deserves a better bowl game than this, given their AAC Championship, crowned with a win over a very tough Navy team. Such is life in the Group of Five.

    At least we can be assured that the Owls haven’t received any confidential game or play information from the Wake Forest radio booth.

    The Demon Deacons aren’t even in the same class as Temple, and their 120th ranked scoring offense will be put to the test early against a Temple defense who finished 3rd nationally in total defense, only allowing 276 yards and 17 points per game. Even the Owls middling offense should be able to put away Wake Forest by halftime.

    Prediction: Temple rolls, easily covers, and probably holds Wake to less than 10 points.

    Nov 19, 2016; Boulder, CO, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) prepares to pass the ball in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    National Funding Holiday Bowl
    Minnesota (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) vs. Washington State (8-4, 7-2 Pac-12)
    Dec. 27 – 7 p.m., ESPN
    Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

    Average Line: Wazzu, -6.5

    There may not be two teams matched up with such diametrically opposed styles as Minnesota and Washington State.

    The Cougars will air it out…again…and again…and again. Luke Falk has averaged 49 pass attempts per game, and if head coach Mike Leach thinks it will get him a win, he’ll have Falk throw it 70 times.

    Minnesota plays old-style, grungy, turf hanging from the facemask football, and they love to pound it on the ground.

    Defensively, neither team is breaking any records, although the Gophers do a better job of holding down the yardage total. The bottom line is, Minnesota’s secondary is going to be dog-tired by the 3rd quarter and will have a hard time keeping up with the Wazzu receivers.

    Prediction: Wazzu pulls away late in this one, and covers at least a touchdown for the win.

    Nov 18, 2016; Boise, ID, USA; Boise State Broncos wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck (82) runs for gain after making a reception against the UNLV Rebels in the second half at Albertsons Stadium. Boise State defeated UNLV 42-25. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
    Boise State (10-2, 6-2 MWC)  vs. Baylor (6-6, 3-6 Big 12)
    Dec. 27 – 10:15 p.m., ESPN
    Chase Field, Phoenix

    Average Line: Boise State, -7.5

    Baylor is lucky to even be in a bowl game for a number of reasons. The Bears have had a tumultuous season, and it can’t be over soon enough for most fans outside of Waco.

    Boise State nearly reclaimed their rightful place atop the Mountain West Conference, and pulled off some big wins against Power-5 teams, including Washington State and Oregon State. A tough loss in the season finale against Air Force kept the Broncos out of the MWC title game.

    Baylor may be the most ice cold team in the nation, finishing 2016 with six straight losses. That alone should have kept them out of bowl consideration. Bears fans can thank bowl oversaturation for the postseason berth.

    Prediction: Make it seven straight losses for Baylor, and another Power-5 opponent win for Boise State, who will cover easily.

    Dec 26, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; General view of the video board prior to the start of the 2015 New Era Pinstripe Bowl between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Duke Blue Devils at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    New Era Pinstripe Bowl
    No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. Northwestern (6-6, 5-4 Big Ten)
    Dec. 28 – 2 p.m., ESPN
    Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

    Average Line: Pitt, -5.5

    Not even going to get into statistics on this one. There is no possible way I’d bet against the team who beat both the eventual ACC and Big Ten champions.

    How they beat Clemson:

    How they beat Penn State:

    Pitt wants Bama next.

    Prediction: Pitt finishes their season with a win at Yankee Stadium. Something few teams from Pennsylvania can say. Panthers cover. 

    Nov 26, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) throws a pass against Duke Blue Devils during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami won 40-21. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Russell Athletic Bowl
    No. 16 West Virginia (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) vs. Miami (8-4, 5-3 ACC)
    5:30 p.m., ESPN
    Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

    Average Line: Miami, -3

    It’s clear Vegas still loves to respect Mark Richt, regardless of what his team has done. The Hurricanes bookended four wins at the start and end of the season, sandwiching four straight losses in the middle.

    Streaky much, coach Richt?

    To be fair, the Hurricanes did get healthier as the season went on and their offense really began to click. Brad Kaaya can pick anyone apart if he’s not on his backside after 2.5 seconds in the pocket.

    West Virginia was an eyelash away from possibly winning the Big 12, but faltered in a must-win game against Oklahoma. Unlike many teams in the Big 12, the Mountaineers actually played some defense this season, but probably not as good as some of the defenses Miami had to face in the ACC.

    Prediction: Tough game to call, but I’ll side with Vegas on this one. Rarely does Mark Richt not get it done in a bowl game. Canes cover.

    Nov 26, 2016; Boulder, CO, USA; Utah Utes defensive end Bradlee Anae (56) celebrates his sack in the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Foster Farms Bowl
    Indiana (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) vs. No. 19 Utah (8-4, 5-4 Pac-12)
    Dec. 28 – 8:30 p.m., Fox
    Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.

    Average Line: Utah, -8

    Indiana is in the midst of some internal strife and in-fighting following the firing of head coach Kevin Wilson. The Hoosiers were a marginally good team prior to that. Who knows what will show up with Tom Allen at the helm.

    Utah has put together a strong season, with a resume of wins over BYU, USC, and UCLA, but did stumble to the finish line losing two straight games, including an upset loss to Oregon.

    The Utah offense will simply be more than the Hoosiers can handle, not to mention the possible emotional factor of this game for Indiana.

    Prediction: Utah wins, but look for the Hoosiers to keep it closer than 8 points. Indiana beats that spread.

    Dec 3, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Jesse Ertz (16) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the TCU Horned Frogs during the first half of an NCAA football game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

    AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
    Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
    Dec. 28 – 9 p.m., ESPN
    NRG Stadium, Houston

    Average Line: TAMU, -2

    Immovable object, meet irresistible force. Kansas State’s defense, meet Texas A&M’s offense.

    If you did a boxing-style tale of the tape on this game, you’d almost come to the conclusion that this game would be a draw.

    The Wildcats give up only 21 points and 382 yards per game, while the Aggies roll up 35 points and 468 yards per game. Something will have to budge sooner or later.

    Flip the script you say? Well, that won’t help. Kansas State puts up 32 points and 386 yards per game, while TAMU gives up 24 points and 444 yards per game. Kind of a wash.

    You want an edge here, then it has to go to coaching and special teams – both in favor of Kansas State.

    Prediction: Not a good bowl matchup for the Aggies. Take K-State to upset TAMU.

    Jan 3, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; General view of Legion Field prior to the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    Birmingham Bowl
    South Florida (10-2, 7-1 AAC) vs. South Carolina (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
    Dec. 29 – 2 p.m., ESPN
    Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.

    Average Line: USF, -10.5

    Year one of the Will Muschamp era at South Carolina hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride, and the Gamecocks are in for some bumps against South Florida.

    The only losses this season for the Bulls were against Florida State and eventual conference champion Temple. In the meantime they manged to beat three other teams who are playing in bowls this year, and beat a Syracuse team who I’d dare say is better than South Carolina.

    Muschamp’s team finished 120th in scoring offense this season, putting up only 19.3 points per game. That won’t nearly be enough to keep up with USF, who averages 43.6, and plays pretty good defense too.

    Prediction: I quote Clubber Lang…”Pain”. It’s over in the first quarter. Take the Bulls to cover up to 14.

    Dec 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Justin Fuente prior to the ACC Championship college football game against the Clemson Tigers at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Belk Bowl
    Arkansas (7-5, 3-5 SEC) vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech (9-4, 6-2 ACC)
    Dec. 29 – 5:30 p.m., ESPN
    Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

    Average Line: Virginia Tech, -7

    Virginia Tech came pretty close to making a run at the ACC title, but in the end were just overpowered by a superior Clemson team. Still, Beamer-ball seems to be alive and well under first year head coach Justin Fuente.

    Arkansas is yet another hard to figure SEC team. Is there record a produce of in-conference cannibalism, or just conference mediocrity this season? The Hogs have alternated wins and losses every week since Sept 17, and if the pattern continues they are do for a win against the Hokies.

    But watching Arkansas stumble around against a pitiful Missouri team had everyone scratching their heads.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech is the more consistent and solid (and well-coached) of the two teams, and when the Hogs have lost this year, they’ve generally lost big. Hokies cover the 7.

    Dec 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Colorado Buffaloes running back Phillip Lindsay (23) celebrates with offensive lineman Tim Lynott (56) after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes during the Pac-12 championship at Levi

    Valero Alamo Bowl
    No. 12 Oklahoma State (9-3, 7-2 Big 12) vs. No. 10 Colorado (10-3, 8-1 Pac-12)
    Dec. 29 – 9 p.m., ESPN
    Alamodome, San Antonio

    Average Line: Colorado, -3

    This year’s Alamo Bowl features two teams that should be watched closely next season. Both came extremely close to winning conference titles this season, and will be ready to take the next step in 2017.

    In the meantime, we get to see one of the nation’s most prolific offenses in Oklahoma State match up against one of the top defenses in the country. To see the Cowboys wild air attack going against the tough as nails Colorado secondary will make for some interesting viewing.

    Colorado had a taste of what they will likely get from OK State in the Pac-12 Championship game against Washington. Wile the Buffs came out on the short end of that game, it was more about the Huskies defense – something that Oklahoma State has issues with.

    Despite the Buffs solid defense, this game could turn into a shootout, and that type of game might favor the Cowboys.

    Prediction: Have to lean towards the team with the better defense on this one, so take Colorado to cover the 3 points.

    Nov 12, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (16) runs past Auburn Tigers linebacker Darrell Williams (49) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Auburn 13-7. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    AutoZone Liberty Bowl
    Georgia (7-5, 4-4 SEC) vs. TCU (6-6, 4-5 Big 12)
    Dec. 30 – 12 p.m., ESPN
    Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn.

    Average Line: UGA, -1

    It’s been a difficult season for first year head coach Kirby Smart at Georgia, and this bowl game probably isn’t what most UGA fans had in mind.

      Both the Dawgs and the Horned Frogs sit around the middle of the pack defensively in the nation. Where Georgia has been lacking is on offense, where they finished 105th nationally in scoring offense (24 ppg), 97th in passing offense (195 ypg) and 53rd in rushing offense (186.50 ypg).

      The Georgia offensive line has been awful for most of the season, and hasn’t given true freshman QB Jacob Eason time to do much of anything, less yet save this offense. The Horned frogs are one of the nation’s leaders in sacks, and will have a chance to add to that total against the Bulldogs.

      This may be Nick Chubb‘s last game as a Dawg, not that he’s had a lot of help this season. If the UGA o-line can’t find some way to make a hole or two, it’s going to be along afternoon for Eason.

      This one is likely to be a yawner in a half-empty stadium.

      Prediction: For whatever reason, Georgia finds a way to get up for games like this. Isaiah McKenzie could be the difference on special teams.

      Nov 12, 2016; Eugene, OR, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs the ball for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

      Hyundai Sun Bowl
      No. 18 Stanford (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) vs. North Carolina (8-4, 5-3 ACC)
      Dec. 30 – 2 p.m., CBS
      Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas

      Average Line: Stanford, -3.5

      If someone told you three months ago that Stanford would be playing in the Sun Bowl against an unranked North Carolina team, you’d think them looney.

      Yet here we are, with two teams who nowhere near met expectations.

      The Cardinal have Christian McCaffrey and the Tar Heels have Mitch Trubisky. Those are the two big reasons to watch this game. Everyone knew Stanford would be rebuilding this year, so a 3-loss regular season doesn’t really look that terrible.

      North Carolina was supposed to take their next step after giving Clemson all they could handle in the ACC title game last season. At times they looked ready, and other times they looked inept.

      This will be a strength against, strength matchup with Stanford’s defense trying to stop North Carolina’s powerful offense. In those cases it’s usually best to lean towards the defense. This will be McCaffrey’s final game as a member of the Stanford Cardinal, so look for him to make it something to remember.

      Prediction: The combination of good defense and McCaffrey put Stanford on top in this one. Covering 3.5 shouldn’t be a problem.

      Dec 30, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; General view of the Music City Bowl logo prior to the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and Louisville Cardinals in the 2015 Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

      Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
      Nebraska (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) vs. No. 21 Tennessee (8-4, 4-4 SEC)
      Dec. 30 – 3:30 p.m., ESPN
      Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

      Average Line: Tennessee, -3

      Whether anyone in Knoxville wants to admit to it or not, Vols head coach Butch Jones is coaching for his job in this game. If Tennessee loses and finishes with five losses (one more than they had last season), Jones can probably start looking around for work.

      Cornhuskers head coach Mike Riley isn’t any more comfortable than Jones, however a strong second half of the season might have given him a reprieve, win or lose here.

      Tennessee can’t take care of the ball, finishing with -2 turnover margin including a whopping 13 fumbles lost, and 12 interceptions thrown this year. Nebraska thrives on taking it away, especially in the passing game where they’ve intercepted opposing quarterbacks 16 times this season.

      It’s all going to come down to Vols QB Joshua Dobbs and how well he takes care of the football. Given his track record, things don’t look good for Big Orange.

      Prediction: The Tennessee foundation that has been crumbling this season will give way. Take Nebraska in the upset.

      Nov 25, 2016; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Boise State Broncos cornerback Jonathan Moxey (2) takes a snap in the third quarter against the Boise State Broncos at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

      Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl
      South Alabama (6-6, 2-6 Sun Belt) vs. Air Force (9-3, 5-3 MWC)
      Dec. 30 – 5:30 p.m., Campus Insiders
      Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.

      Average Line: Air Force, -13

      There’s a reason this bowl isn’t being broadcast on standard terrestrial television. All due respect to Air Force, this game simply isn’t worth the bandwidth.

      The Falcons weren’t quite as powerful offensively as some teams in the past, but were still putting up 34.3 points per game and 322.75 rushing yards per game, third only behind New Mexico and Army. They’ll still be able to find plenty of ways to score against the Jaguars who gave up over 212 rushing yards per game in the Sun Belt.

      This one will be (mercifully) over quickly.

      Prediction: Take Air Force to handily cover up to 14.5 points.

      Dec 31, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; A general view of the logo and end zone marker prior to the the 2014 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

      Capital One Orange Bowl
      No. 6 Michigan (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) vs. No. 11 Florida State (9-3, 5-3 ACC)
      Dec. 30 – 8 p.m., ESPN
      Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.

      Average Line: Michigan, -7

      The “What Could Have Been” Bowl for two teams who saw possible conference title games slip away this season – Florida State early on, and Michigan late in the season.

      But, what we do have here is a titan-sized match up between not only two of the best programs in the nation, but two of the biggest coach egos as well.

      Both teams love to force turnovers and hand short fields over to the offense.

      The only team who allowed less points per game than Michigan was Alabama, and it’s that Wolverine front seven that Jimbo Fisher had best be worried about. FSU quarterback Deondre Francois has been pummeled all season long, and that will probably continue in this game.

      The equalizer for FSU is typically tailback Dalvin Cook (how he didn’t get an invite to New York is beyond me), but against a Michigan defense which has only allowed 116.75 yards per game, the big plays from Cook may be severely limited.

      Prediction: The FSU offensive line which has allowed 34 punishing sacks this year will cost the Noles this game. Take Michigan and the 7 points.

      Nov 26, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half at Papa John

      Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
      No. 20 LSU (7-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. No. 13 Louisville (9-3, 7-1 ACC)
      Dec. 31 – 11 a.m., ABC
      Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

      Average Line: LSU, -3.5

      The 2016 Citrus Bowl features two teams who had wildly different ideas of where they’d end up this season as compared to being in Orlando on New Year’s Eve.

      Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson stumbled through the end of the season somewhat, but should be well-rested and healthy by the time this game arrives. The Cardinals knocked on the door of the ACC title game this year, but couldn’t quite get it done.

      While LSU isn’t a team who can thrive in a shootout (as they showed against Texas A&M) they have a defense who stifle a good offense when they want to.

      Where Louisville has had trouble this year is in turnovers, finishing the season with a -7 turnover margin, good for 108th in the nation. LSU broke even, with a flat zero turnover margin. If the Tigers can force some bad throws they’ll have a shot.

      Prediction: With Orgeron now firmly in place as the permanent head coach, some of the emotional luster may be worn off the Tigers. They’ll also have trouble containing Jackson. Louisville beats the spread and wins.

      Nov 26, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Brant Mitchell (51) reacts with teammates after intercepting the final pass of the game against the Georgia Bulldogs during the fourth quarter at Sanford Stadium. Georgia Tech defeated Georgia 28-27. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

      TaxSlayer Bowl
      Georgia Tech (8-4, 4-4 ACC) vs. Kentucky (7-5, 4-4 SEC)
      Dec. 31 – 11 a.m., ESPN
      EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.

      Average Line: Georgia Tech, -3.5

      In an SEC-ACC matchup, you never know what can happen, especially when Paul Johnson and his triple-option offense come rolling in after a month off.

      Kentucky has made a lot of strides this season, but finished 108th in the nation in rushing defense, giving up 225 yards per game. Georgia Tech’s group of running backs will be licking their chops.

      On the Yellow Jacket side of the ball, they fared a little better against the run (171.50 yards per game) than they did the pass (233.9 yards per game), which will make it difficult for the Wildcats to use their typical formula of Boom Williams rumbling over defenses to set up play-action passes.

      The Kentucky passing game will need to get going early if the Wildcats want a chance at winning this one.

      Prediction: Tech’s run game will dominate the Cats and the clock. Jackets easily cover the 3.5

      Dec 31, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; A general view of the 2015 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl logo prior to the game between the Houston Cougars and the Florida State Seminoles at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

      College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
      No. 4 Washington (12-1, 8-1 Pac-12) vs. No. 1 Alabama (13-0, 8-0 SEC)
      Dec. 31 – 3 p.m., ESPN
      Georgia Dome, Atlanta

      Average Line: Alabama, -16

      Let’s get this straight from the very start…Alabama IS the better team between these two. However, it’s not always the best team who comes out on top, and when you give Chris Petersen over a month to prepare for a big game, anything can happen.

      Just ask Oklahoma.

      The Huskies have their work cut out for them, and their only loss came to a USC team who was absolutely obliterated by Alabama in the first week of the season.

      Like I said, the Crimson Tide are simply better.

      But sometimes you just have a gut feeling about a game, and although Nick Saban would supposedly never allow it, you have to think Alabama will be overlooking Washington much in the same way that FSU overlooked Oregon two years ago.

      This isn’t about matchups or talent or 5-star players. This is just one of those cases where a team is going to pull a huge upset for no other reason than they just pushed all the right buttons.

      Prediction: Not only do the Huskies whip the two touchdown-two conversion spread, but they win this game. (Either way, take Washington to beat the spread).

      Nov 26, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer leads the team onto the field before the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

      College Football Playoff semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
      No. 3 Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) vs. No. 2 Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC)
      Dec. 31 – 7 p.m., ESPN
      University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

      Average Line: Ohio State, -3.5

      By the time this game begins, both Ohio State and Clemson will know who their potential opponent in the national title game will be. That could actually make a difference if my upset prediction holds true.

      More from Saturday Blitz

        If Alabama does beat Washington, look for Ohio State to come at Clemson with some fury. They want to play Bama again badly.

        That said, this could be one of the best games of the year. Both teams have top 10 defenses and top 15 offenses. Both have players who have experienced the playoff before, and both have coaches who thrive on intensity.

        Both quarterbacks – J.T. Barrett and Deshaun Watson – are dangerous weapons both with their arms and legs, and have the ability to carry a team to a win.

        This could easily be two undefeated teams locking up in this game, and both will have to play that way to come out with a win. Give the edge to Ohio State for a tougher schedule over the season.

        Prediction: This is what Urban Meyer lives for. He’s a big game coach, and rarely does he lose one. Buckeyes win, however any spread over 3 should be avoided. At 3.5 go with Clemson to beat it.

        Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; The Florida Gators mascots cheer for their team during the game against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. The Gators defeat the Tigers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

        Outback Bowl
        No. 17 Florida (8-4, 6-2 SEC) vs. Iowa (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten)
        Jan. 2 – 1 p.m., ABC
        Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

        Average Line: Florida, -2.5

        This one may as well be called the Ho-Hum Bowl. Two completely anemic offenses and pretty darned good defenses match up in this one.

        The Gators are going to be angry after being decimated by Alabama in the SEC Championship game. The Hawkeyes (as usual) are just glad to be here.

        Jim McElwain will have this team, and in particular his defense, fired up. Iowa will have zero answers for what the Gators will throw at them defensively – not that they’ve had many answers all season.

        Iowa averaged 26.8 points per game, and Florida averaged 23.4 during the season. First one to break into double-digits wins this one.

        Prediction: Gators cover up to 3, and restore the pride of their wounded defense.

        Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; A general view of the field before the 2015 CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl between the Michigan State Spartans and Alabama Crimson Tide at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

        Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
        No. 15 Western Michigan (13-0, 8-0 MAC) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten)
        Jan. 2 – 1 p.m., ESPN
        AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

        Average Line: Wisconsin, -7.5

        Western Michigan got the Group of Five invite to the New Year’s Six by virtue of their undefeated season. Wisconsin got here by being practically impenetrable on defense.

        Make no mistake, Western Michigan is a great team with a fine coach, but running the table in the MAC isn’t quite comparable to having to play the likes of Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and LSU in one season.

        The Broncos put up a gaudy 43.5 points per game this season, while the Badgers only allowed 15.5. Something’s gotta give, and for my money it’s not going to be the hogs on that Wisconsin defensive line.

        Prediction: Hats off to the Broncos on a great season, but it probably comes to an end in Arlington. However, 7.5 may be a bit of a big spread against a Wisconsin team who has struggled to score a lot. Take WMU to beat that spread.

        Jan 1, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; General view of the Rose Bowl before the game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Stanford Cardinal in the 2016 Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

        Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual
        No. 9 USC (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) vs. No. 5 Penn State (11-2, 8-1 Big Ten)
        Jan. 2 – 5 p.m., ESPN
        Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

        Average Line: USC, -7

        USC may be the second most improved team in the nation…behind Penn State. What the Nittany Lions did to close out this season was one miracle after another. Has the magic run dry?

        The Trojans are a more complete team, and have more star power to boast, but that didn’t stop Penn State from beating Ohio State and Wisconsin. PSU quarterback Trace McSorley has been putting up NFL-like numbers.

        Given what we’ve seen of how well the Trojans shut down passing games, this one is going to come down to how much push the Penn State offensive line can get to make some holes  for Saquon Barkley.

        USC’s defense is going to be tough, and playing in the Rose Bowl will make it practically a home game for the Trojans. Not an easy task for the Lions.

        Prediction: USC wins the game, but won’t cover the spread. Take Penn State to beat a 7-point spread.

        Dec 3, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes the ball against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the second quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

        Allstate Sugar Bowl
        No. 14 Auburn (8-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2, 9-0 Big 12)
        Jan. 2 – 8:30 p.m., ESPN
        Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

        Average Line: Oklahoma, -4

        Auburn had some flashes of good play this season, but generally speaking the Tigers were more known for underwhelming offense, mistake-filled play and playing down to their opponents. The only reason Auburn is in this game is due to SEC agreements. They were the least objectionable SEC team left.

        Oklahoma could practically be a playoff team they way they closed out the season, and Baker Mayfield is going to have a fun evening toying with the Auburn secondary. It’s going to be a big game for his favorite target, Dede Westbrook.

        Prediction: Sooners easily cover 4 (maybe even 40). Take the Oklahoma and the points.

        Jan 23, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Southeastern conference commissioner Greg Sankey holds the College Football Playoff trophy with Alabama running back Derrick Henry (2) and head coach Nick Saban during a presentation to celebrate the victory in the CFP National Championship game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

        College Football Playoff National Championship
        Jan. 9 – 8 p.m., ESPN
        Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

        Since there are any number of ways these matchpus could end up, and my above picks for the semifinals could be wrong, I’ll simply give what I think a fair point spread would be for each possible combination.

        Washington (+6.5) vs. Clemson (-6.5)
        Washington (+13) vs. Ohio State (-13)
        Alabama (-3.5) vs. Clemson (+3.5)
        Alabama (-1.5) vs. Ohio State (+1.5)

        Remember, it’s all for fun and if you use my advice for your winning wagers, I expect a thank you tweet at the very least. If you lose, then I defer to one of Coughlin’s laws: Never show surprise, never lose your cool. Enjoy this year’s bowl season and good luck to your favorite team.

        All stats via cfbstats.com

        All betting information/lines via oddsshark.com

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