Bowl season is upon us. Translation: It’s time to start betting on games that you ordinarily would never bet on unless you were in a substantial hole with your bookie. There’s nothing better than relaxing like a sloth on your living room couch while watching a bunch of 20-year old kids decide your economic fate. Good times.
I don’t live and breathe college football like I do the NFL. I spend most of my Saturday watching college games and getting berated by my wife for being glued to the TV, but I definitely have more of a soft spot in my heart for the pro game. With that being said, I still love to bet on college football and I feel as though I’m pretty good at it.
However, rather than providing only my opinion for this season’s Bowl games, I’ve rounded up a group of guys that love the game just as much as I do, if not more.
Andrew Webster is a football liveblogger for @theScoreApp and used to work as a Wheel Reporter for theScore Television Network in Canada. He is admittedly biased to everything Philadelphia (Phillies, Eagles, Villanova, steak sandwiches, and general douchebaggery), but he knows the college game inside and out. Webster used to be assigned to be our in-house handicapper for ScoreMobile’s college football picks before he decided to take his talents to the Bahamas.
Gino Bottero is also a football liveblogger for @theScoreApp and a personal friend of mine. Gino and I attended university together, and rather than focusing on getting an education, we spent the majority of our days trying to handicap the board. He’s the sharpest betting mind that I’ve ever come across. In his spare time, he enjoys eating penne alla vodka and calling fouls in friendly games of pickup basketball.
Ron Papa is an Information Technology (IT) extraordinaire. When Papa isn’t fixing broken computers and printers, he’s focused on identifying value on the board. We discuss our picks together on a week-to-week basis and I can personally attest to the fact that Papa wins more than he loses. If only he could say the same about his FIFA ’13 skills.
Together, we’ll provide you with our opinions for all of the Bowl games this season. We’ll pick all of the games, no matter if we like the game or not, but our explanations will provide you with our confidence in each selection. Hopefully we can all make some cash together.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl – Arizona Wildcats vs. Nevada Wolfpack
- Consensus line: Arizona -9, total 76.5
- Public action: 60% on Arizona, 70% on the OVER
Pizzola: I was really expecting to see a total in the low 80′s here. Both teams rank in the top 30 nationally in total offense and both teams are near the bottom of the NCAA in total defense. Additionally, both teams run a high-tempo offense which means that less time comes off the clock in between plays. The Wolfpack are ranked 118th in the nation in red-zone defense, which doesn’t bode well for them against an Arizona offense that averaged 37.0 points per game against much stingier defenses. This has all the makings of a shootout. Over 76.5
Webster: I actually really liked the Wildcats coming into this season, but ultimately it was a disappointing year, hence ‘Zona playing in the New Mexico Bowl. While Arizona had no trouble scoring points, they did have a stretch where they gave up 141 points over three games. This game is bound to be a shootout as both teams combined to average 74 points per game. Wildcats QB Matt Scott and Wolfpack QB Cody Fajardo both give enough firepower to easily go over this total. Over 76.5
Bottero: As Webster said, Arizona’s expectations must have been set a little higher than the New Mexico Bowl when the season started, so motivation may be a factor here. Nevada stunk against the spread this year going 3-9 versus the number, at one point failing to cover a spread in two calendar months, but as long as they continue to run their pistol offense effectively they will be worth a look. Stefphon Jefferson probably isn’t a name you know, but if you bet this game you will want to have him on your side rather than playing against you. I would not be surprised if Nevada won this game outright. Nevada +9
Papa: Arizona is led by sophomore sensation running back Ka’Deem Carey who is 243 rushing yards shy of 2000, and it’s not a reach for him to hit that mark against Nevada. It’s hard for me to back a team from the Mountain West in this spot, and I think it will be tough for them to keep pace if it’s a shootout like the total suggests. Don’t let the identical records fool you; Arizona played a much tougher schedule and held their own against some top-ranked programs in the Pac-12. I think the Wildcats run away with this game at some point, and they should cover easily. Arizona -9
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Toledo Rockets vs. Utah State Aggies
- Consensus line: Utah State -10.5, total 58.5
- Public action: 63% on Utah State, 66% on the OVER
Pizzola: The Rockets enter this game with a 9-3 record, but it’s important to note that none of their three losses came by more than a touchdown. With three wins over Bowl eligible teams, I think Toledo is ready for the step up in class here. The Rockets defense has looked poor at times this season, but they’re especially good at forcing turnovers. Toledo’s defense picked off 17 passes and forced numerous fumbles, so there’s a good chance that they could be working with some short fields in this contest. I think the number is just a little bit too high. Toledo +10.5
Webster: If I was another state that grew potatoes I’d be pretty pissed that Idaho grabs all the potato attention. Seriously, do they think they’re the ONLY state that grows the “apple of the earth”? A quick Google search shows that Washington trails Idaho in potato growth by only a few thousand per year, so come on Washingtonians, get growing those potatoes and take the mantle away from those uppity Idahoans. As for this game, there’s no way Toledo will be able to stop the Aggies’ top rusher and receiver Kerwynn Williams. Utah State wins in a blowout. Utah State -10.5
Bottero: The 22nd-ranked Aggies have some gaudy wins this year, but how much credit do they really deserve for beating up on the likes of Idaho and Texas-San Antonio? The Rockets had one fewer win than the Aggies, but the MAC offered up tougher competition than the WAC did this year. Even so, none of Toledo’s losses were by more than seven points. Utah State’s offense has sputtered at times and I don’t see them building up much of a margin here. This pick goes out the window if quarterback Terrance Owens and running back David Fluellen both miss this game, but they will have had a full month to recover by kickoff. Toledo +10.5
Papa: I’ll be honest, these two teams didn’t make my board throughout this season and my attempts to handicap this game were as frustrating as playing Pizzola in a game of FIFA ’13. I’m going to pass on this game completely. There are still 33 Bowl games left after Saturday and a full NFL schedule to play with on Sunday. For the sake of making a pick, I’ll piggyback Pizzola and Bottero and side with the big ugly dog. Toledo +10.5
The 2nd Edition of our Bowl Previews will be posted on Wednesday, December 19.
It will include:
- San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl – BYU vs. San Diego State
- Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl – Ball State vs. UCF
- R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – East Carolina vs. UL Lafayette
- MAACO Bowl Las Vegas – Boise State vs. Washington
- Sheraton Hawaii Bowl – Fresno State vs. SMU
Until then, good luck.