Last week ATS: 3-4-1 (2-4-1 National, 1-0 B1G)
Season ATS: 91-96-5 (43-47-2 National, 47-49-3 B1G)
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Army (-10) v. North Texas - 12/27 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
The only bowl game which features a rematch from the regular season will take place in Dallas on Tuesday afternoon. On October 22nd North Texas defeated Army 35-18 thanks to seven turnovers by the Black Knights and 160 yards rushing and three scores from running back Jeffrey Wilson.
Last time out Army was able to snap a 14-game losing streak to Navy, defeating the Midshipmen 21-17. After winning a combined six games in 2014 and 2015, Army was able to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. The Black Knights rely heavily on their rushing attack, running for 327 yards per game and passing for just 76 yards per game.
Army isn’t going to turn the ball over seven times like they did in the first meeting, but I don’t see them blowing out the Mean Green. This just feels like too many points for the Black Knights to be laying. Army avenges their earlier loss to North Texas but the margin of victory isn’t by double digits.
Army 30, North Texas 23
Military Bowl: No. 24 Temple (-11.5) v. Wake Forest - 12/27 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
I bet Temple is hoping they can pry some insider information out of somebody with Wake Forest ties. Not like the Owls will really need it, but it certainly couldn’t hurt interim head coach Ed Foley. Earlier this month Matt Rhule left to take the Baylor job, and after this game Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins will take over.
What can I say about Wake Forest? No really, I don’t know what I can say about the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest has a pretty good defense, but that’s about it. I really can’t see Wake Forest’s feeble offense doing much against Temple’s tough defense.
It’s always a little nerve racking backing a team in a bowl game with an interim coach, especially giving this many points. I feel Temple is a little different, since they have not only won seven in a row, but they were able to win the AAC. The Owls should have little trouble against the Demon Deacons here.
Temple 34, Wake Forest 17
Holiday Bowl: Minnesota v. Washington State (-10) - 12/27 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
Is Minnesota even focused on this game? The Golden Gophers were too busy having a stupid boycott when 10 players were suspended by the school. Too bad Minnesota didn’t continue their protest, that way we wouldn’t have to watch Mitch Leidner play quarterback. The senior has tossed 12 interceptions this year, including four in the regular season finale against Wisconsin.
Washington State has little trouble at their quarterback position. Luke Falk has been great pretty much all year, throwing for 4,204 yards and 37 touchdowns. The Cougars took a hit when wide receiver River Cracraft was injured for the season, but they still have Gabe Marks, who has hauled in 85 passes and 13 touchdowns.
Minnesota’s passing defense was second worst in the Big Ten, so it could be a long night for the Golden Gophers as they try and slow down Falk and Marks. This one isn’t going to be pretty for Minnesota as Mike Leach’s squad piles on the points in San Diego.
Washington State 41, Minnesota 24
Cactus Bowl: Boise State (-7.5) v. Baylor - 12/27 10:15 PM EST - ESPN
Speaking of embarrassing programs, now we move to Baylor. The Bears started off the season with six straight wins, but nothing went right for Jim Grobe in the second half of the season, as Baylor dropped their final six games. It certainly didn’t help that quarterback Seth Russell was injured, leaving Zach Smith to start the final three games of the regular season.
Boise State had dreams of earning the Group of Five berth to the Cotton Bowl, but a 30-28 loss to Wyoming earlier in the year, and a 27-20 loss to Air Force in their final game of the regular season dashed those hopes. Baylor will likely get a heavy dose of Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols, who has rushed for 1,663 yards and 23 touchdowns this year.
I feel like Baylor has checked out on the season. Not only is interim coach Jim Grobe coaching his final game for the Bears, but running back Shock Linwood is skipping this game to focus on the NFL Draft. Quarterback Brett Rypien and McNichols will likely put up big numbers and hand Baylor their seventh loss in a row.
Boise State 38, Baylor 23
Pinstripe Bowl: No. 23 Pittsburgh (-5.5) v. Northwestern - 12/28 2:00 PM EST - ESPN
The Pinstripe Bowl is one of my favorites of the non-major bowl games. Not only do we get the game being played in Yankee Stadium, but usually it is pretty fun. The last two years the game has gone into overtime, and this year’s matchup could be pretty exciting.
Pitt comes into this game having won the highest scoring FBS game ever, and they will be looking to send running back James Conner off to the NFL on a high note. Conner has overcome a lot during his time with the Panthers, and this year ran for 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns. With the productive offense Pitt has put on the field this year, it’s easy to see why LSU hired offensive coordinator Matt Canada away from the Panthers.
Northwestern has some playmakers of their own on offense. Running back Justin Jackson reached 1,000 yards rushing for the third straight season, while wide receiver Austin Carr was one of the best receivers in the country this year. The Wildcats have been tough to predict at times this year though, and while they have the offense to keep up with Pittsburgh, I just don’t have enough confidence in their defense to be able to slow down Panthers.
Pittsburgh 42, Northwestern 31
Russell Athletic Bowl: No. 16 West Virginia v. Miami (-3) - 12/28 5:30 PM EST - ESPN
Mark Richt’s first season in charge of the Hurricanes was pretty much a tale of three seasons. Miami started the year with four straight wins, then lost four straight, and then closed out the season with four straight wins. So I guess this means they lose this one, right? Brad Kaaya had another strong season for the Hurricanes, throwing for 23 touchdowns, while Mark Walton rushed for just over 1,000 yards and scored 14 rushing touchdowns.
Had it not been for the two teams from Oklahoma in the Big 12, who knows where West Virginia might be bowling this year. Dana Holgorsen was able to remove some of the heat from his seat with a 10-2 regular, and a win against Miami will give the Mountaineers their first 11-win season since 2007. Surprisingly it hasn’t been all offense for West Virginia this year, as the Mountaineer defense has held it’s own in the Big 12.
I’m a little puzzled by this line. I think West Virginia is the better team, but for some reason Miami is laying the points. Probably a little too good to be true, but I’ll take the Mountaineers here. This should be a fun game between two talented teams, and hopefully it ends up with a West Virginia win.
West Virginia 30, Miami 27
Foster Farms Bowl: Indiana v. No. 19 Utah (-7) - 12/28 8:30 PM EST - FOX
A lot of people were surprised when head coach Kevin Wilson resigned earlier this month and defensive coordinator Tom Allen was tabbed to replace Wilson. Now in Allen’s first game he gets to face Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, who has 9-1 in bowl games. The Hoosiers probably are feeling lucky to even be in a bowl game after they barely squeaked by Purdue 26-24 in the regular season finale.
Indiana’s defense is definitely improved this year, but it’ll be interesting to see if they can slow down Utah running back Joe Williams, who rushed for over 1,000 yards despite missing four games earlier this year due to a short-lived retirement. The Utes come into this bowl game having lost their last two games to Oregon and Colorado.
I feel like I’ve been terrible at picking Indiana games this year, so it’s probably wise to go with the opposite of what I pick. Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow has been a turnover machine this year, tossing 16 interceptions, so I’ll take Utah to make it 10-1 in bowl games under Whittingham.
Utah 31, Indiana 21
Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (-3) v. Kansas State - 12/28 9:00 PM EST - ESPN
Texas A&M probably wishes they could stop playing games after October. The Aggies are 6-8 the last three years in games after October. This year the last two wins Texas A&M had came against UT-San Antonio and New Mexico State. It isn’t going to help the Aggies will be missing third-leading receiver Speedy Noil, who will be suspended for this game.
Bill Snyder has done it again. I have no idea how the Wildcats made it to 8-4 this year, but here they are. Quarterback Jesse Ertz has accounted for 18 total touchdowns this year, but other than that I have no idea who Kansas State has. I’m sure that’s just the way that Snyder likes it.
Not only will this likely be the final game for defensive end Myles Garrett, but it definitely will be the final game for quarterback Trevor Knight, who returned from injury to play against LSU. I’m sure picking against Snyder will bite me, but I think the talent of Sumlin’s team wins out over the fundamental football of Snyder’s squad.
Texas A&M 27, Kansas State 20