The pick here is Oklahoma
December 30, 2004
Ten college football bowl games will be played today and tomorrow, and by Tuesday evening the season will be over. It would not be advisable to bet on every one of those remaining games, but everyone loves predictions, so here goes.
So far, the record here is 8-4 against the spread in the bowls going into Thursday’s action, and hopefully that pace or better continues. We are looking to bet on teams that are motivated and happy to be where they are at, play under better coaches, avoid key injuries and suspensions, have strong senior leadership, own offensive and defensive advantages over their oppononts, come from stronger conferences, and have experienced recent success in bowl games.
Music City – Alabama and Minnesota both finished a lousy 3-5 in their respective conferences, which makes this bowl the worst of what’s left. If defense wins this game, then Alabama will win it with the No. 1 defense of all bowl teams over Minnesota’s, which gives up more than 400 yards a contest. Taking Alabama -2.
Sun – Arizona State is 1-4 in its last five bowl games, and its leading rusher has been dismissed from school. Betting Purdue -7.
Liberty – If you want to see some action, watch this battle between the two highest scoring teams in the nation. Going over 79.
Peach – Miami-Florida owns the coaching advantage with national championship winner Larry Coker against interim Florida head man Charlie Strong. Trying Miami-Florida -3.
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Outback – Wisconsin cannot be happy being out back in Tampa after ruining all its national title and Rose Bowl hopes during two season-ending blowout losses. Going with Georgia -7.
Cotton – Although Texas A&M will enjoy somewhat of a home-field edge in Dallas, neither they nor Tennessee has done well in recent bowls. With Tennessee’s defense having disappeared late in the year, the pick is over 551/2.
Gator – Florida State is 4-0-1 in Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl, but laying 8 points with a shaky Chris Rix at quarterback would be risky. The Seminoles’ No. 1 ranked rush defense should stifle West Virginia’s potent running attack, and FSU didn’t go over 39 points in its last seven games, so the bet is under 45 1/2.
Capitol One – Hopefully “what’s in your wallet” is more money by going against LSU and lame-duck head coach Nick Saban. The choice is Iowa +6 1/2.
Rose – Other than its fans, no one should be rooting for Texas who lobbied its way into Pasadena and spoiled a traditional match-up involving deserving California. The key for Michigan will be forcing Texas into throwing the ball. Wanting Michigan +6 1/2.
Fiesta – One lame duck deserves another in this clash between departing head coaches. Undefeated Utah should be playing undefeated Auburn, not 8-3 Pittsburgh. Even though it’s a ton of points, the choice is Utah -15 1/2.
Sugar – Will powerful Auburn be motivated after being unfairly excluded from the national championship picture? The Tigers and Virginia Tech combined to give up only 23 points per game, so the wager will be under 44 1/2.
Orange – For the national title, Oklahoma and USC seem to be evenly matched. The game should be won in the trenches where Oklahoma owns a slight advantage on both sides of the ball. Southern Cal is using a brand new offensive line and set of receivers this season, and appears to have had a better overall squad in 2003. Oklahoma has a chip on its shoulder after playing poorly in the championship game last year, and current Heisman Trophy winners like USC’s Matt Leinart usually don’t win their bowl games. It’s Oklahoma +3 and on the money line in an upset.
In the NFL last week, Atlanta and Philadelphia played poorly because they had nothing to gain by winning their ball games. It would be important to note that this week joining the Falcons and Eagles are New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and San Diego. If Buffalo wins in the morning, Jacksonville will be eliminated from the playoffs before its kickoff. If Green Bay wins and St. Louis loses in the morning, Seattle will be locked into the No. 4 seed and have nothing to play for.
Joe Ellison is the Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.