It seems like the regular season in college football just ended.
Actually it did just last weekend with the Army-Navy game. Even if your not interested in the service academies, that tradition is still worth a watch. It holds more meaning than many of the games in the bowl season, which starts this Saturday.
“Bowl Week” long ago became “Bowl Fortnight,” or maybe more accurately, “Bowl Month.” In 1991 there were merely 18 bowl games, meaning 36 out of the 104 D-1 teams at the time made a bowl.
Back in those modest days, I thought that was quite enough.
Now, 70 FBS teams out of 120 play a 13th (or even 14th) game. Even something once known as the NHL would think that’s way too many to qualify for a “postseason.”
I will now attempt to give you the Against The Spread winners for all 35 bowls.
1. Gilden New Mexico Bowl: Arizona (7-5) v. Nevada (7-5) – Dec. 15
SPREAD: Arizona -9
I would put a decent amount of confidence points on U of A. The Wildcats have one of the nations leading rushers, Nevada-Reno one of the worst defenses.
ATS PICK: Arizona
2. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: #22 Utah State (10-2) vs. Toledo (9-3) - Dec. 15
SPREAD: USU -10 1/2
If you’re a USU fan, you have to be elated to see Coach Gary Andersen (a great Utah name!) stay put. The Aggies went 10-2 on the year. The losses were 16-14 at Wisconsin and 6-3 away at BYU. USU is built on defense more than offense, so the spread worries me on this one, especially against a 9-3 team that was only good for being third/fourth best in the mighty MAC.
ATS PICK: Toledo
3. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego St. (9-3) – Dec. 20
SPREAD: BYU -2 1/2
Not much love lost over the years between former conference rivals, in any sport. The last game between the two ended in controversy a few years back in Provo, when the Aztecs appeared to have an apparent late turnover but was upheld on instant replay. Later it was learned that two of the officials in the replay booth were “in the church.”
BYU is another team with a stout defense, OLB Ezekial Ansah has pushed his way into first-round NFL Draft consideration, and fellow junior linebacker Kyle Van Noy and WR Cody Hoffman are also considering the NFL waters.
KVN hit for the cycle in 2011 (tackle for loss, sack, INT, forced fumble, fumble recovery, TD, blocked kick) and needs a fumble recovery to repeat the feat this year. In South Bend, a similar stat line would had gotten him Heisman consideration.
ATS PICK: BYU
4. Beef O’Brady’s Bowl: Central Florida (9-4) vs. Ball St. (8-4) – Dec. 21
SPREAD: UCF -7
Ball State’s Pete Lembo (four bowl appearances in four years) is another coach staying put, and the Cardinals closed the season with a six-game winning streak. You have to take Tyler Juranovich’s school, the touchdown, and the hook in this game.
ATS PICK: Ball State
5. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. East Carolina (8-4) – Dec. 22
SPREAD: ULL -6
ULL is the team that came within a blocked punt of winning at Florida and is obviously playing in it’s own backyard for the second consecutive year.
ATS PICK: Lafayette
6. MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: #19 Boise St. (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5) – Dec. 22
SPREAD: Boise -5 1/2
I continue to root for Steve Sarkisian and U-Dub to turn the corner, while Chris Petersen continues to have his name spun in the coaching carousal -I don’t see him going to Wisconsin, which is the lone quality gig left. I got to go with the MWC Champ on this one.
ATS PICK: Boise
7. Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State (9-3) vs. SMU (6-6) – Dec. 24
SPREAD: Fresno -12 1/2
The Bulldogs rose back to prominence first-year post-Pat Hill as tri-champions of the MWC. Meanwhile SMU gets selected to this game since they are basically Hawaii’s No. 2 team with HC June Jones’ ties with the state. On paper Fresno wins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mustangs have more motivation and end up winning this game outright.
ATS PICK: SMU
8. Little Caesars Bowl: Western Kentucky (7-5) v. Central Michigan (6-6) – Dec. 26
SPREAD: WKU -5 1/2
The Hilltoppers are participating in their first-ever bowl game but are in interim-coach mode waiting the triumphant arrival of Bobby Petrino. Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher is a projected first-rounder, so this a good game to watch from a draft-geek perspective.
WKU had a nice breakthrough with Willie Taggart, but I don’t like them against the line with the current coaching turnover in progress.
ATS PICK: Central Michigan
9. Military Bowl pres. by Northrop Grumman: #24 San Jose St. (10-2) v. Bowling Green (8-4) – Dec. 27
SPREAD: SJSU -7
San Jose St. had one of its best seasons in school history finishing the season in the top-25. But as is the case with mid-majors having such a season, it usually comes with the cost of the HC moving to supposedly greener pastures. In this case, Mike MacIntyre went to Colorado. That and traveling cross-country are enough reasons to go against the Spartans.
ATS PICK: Bowling Green
10. Belk Bowl: Cincinnati (9-3) v. Duke (6-6) – Dec. 27
SPREAD: Cincinnati -7
UC is dealing with yet another coach (Butch Jones) bolting town (getting old), while Duke is in a bowl for the first time since the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl v. Wisconsin and gets to play this game close to home. This would be a much more marquee matchup on the hardwood than the gridiron.
ATS PICK – Cincinnati
11. Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: #17 UCLA (9-4) v. Baylor (7-5) – Dec. 27
The game is pick ‘em for good reason between two explosive offensives and not much D. The over-under on this game is 79, and I would go with the over. If you like to pick and choose your bowl viewing pleasure v. watching every single game, this would make for good appointment viewing as this game ends with a basketball-like scoreline.
ATS PICK: UCLA
12. AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Ohio (8-4) v. Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) – Dec. 28
SPREAD: LA-Monroe – 7
An even touchdown spread is kind of hefty, but I’ll take Monroe playing close to home against a team that finished the season in reverse.
ATS PICK: LA-Monroe
13. Russell Athletic Bowl: Virginia Tech (6-6) v. Rutgers (9-3) – Dec. 28
SPREAD: VA Tech -2 1/2
I will not pick Virginia Tech in any game. I’m something like 0-20 when going for the Hokies ATS. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me 20 times… And would this count as a Big Ten bowl win?
ATS PICK: Rutgers
14. Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas Tech (7-5) v. Minnesota (6-6)- Dec. 28
SPREAD: Texas Tech -12 1/2
Probably won’t watch this game because I worry about coach Jerry Kill’s health every time the Gophers take the field. The B1G is incidentally underdogs in all seven of their bowl games. TT has not only lost coach Tommy Tuberville (who allegedly bolted smack in the middle of dinner with potential recruits - Mike Leach wouldn’t do that) but took his OC along with him.
ATS PICK: Minnesota
15. Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Rice (6-6) v. Air Force (6-6) – Dec. 29
SPREAD: AFA -1 1/2
When in doubt, go with the service academy and the option attack.
ATS PICK: AFA
16. New Era Pinstripe Bowl: West Virginia (7-5) v. Syracuse (7-5) – Dec. 29
SPREAD: WVU -4
Nice game only since it involves a pair of former rivals of the conference once known as the Big East. The game also serves as a de-facto NFL Draft audition for WVU QB Geno Smith, and the cold/blustery conditions in the Bronx will serve as a good test to NFL brass who will be watching and projecting how Geno might do in a late-season game in adverse weather conditions.
ATS PICK: West Virginia
17. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Arizona State (7-5) v. Navy (8-4) – Dec. 29
SPREAD: ASU -14 1/2
Two touchdowns and a hook just too much of a spread against a service academy ,and an offense that ASU usually does not see. Ken Niumatalolo’s squad will be ready for this one.
ATS PICK: Navy
18. Valero Alamo Bowl: #13 Oregon State (9-3) v. #23 Texas (8-4) – Dec. 29
SPREAD: Oregon St. -2
The Beavers have trended downward after a hot start, while the Longhorns are in their backyard and looking to gain some momentum towards 2013 and beyond. Getting two points in this game, I would have the Horns as a lock in this game.
ATS PICK: Texas
19. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: TCU (7-5) v. Michigan State (6-6) – Dec. 29
SPREAD: TCU – 2 1/2
For those scoring at home, the game formerly known as the Insight Bowl has fallen victim to the Tech Crash and is now known as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – but you will not want to see this one go into overtime. I would really like to go with Sparty, but after seeing their alleged offense in person during the season, I know better.
ATS PICK: TCU