College Football Bowl Game Extravaganza (Part 1)

'Tis the season for bowl games and NFL playoffs. Over the next few weeks I will be previewing and picking the winner of each college football bowl game as well as my usual NFL picks. This is part 1 covering the bowl games on Saturday, December 15. It's the most wonderful time of the year for sports gambling and it all begins with a game that most people outside the great state of Louisiana probably won't be paying much attention to.

Saturday, Dec. 15

AutoNation Cure Bowl – Tulane vs. Louisiana Layfette

I am not going to sit here and lie to myself that I know anything about these two teams. That’s when it is best to go to the stat sheets and team schedules and make your best educated guess. Tulane is a 3.5-point favorite in this game and the over/under is 61 points. I decipher both teams have decent offenses and/or poor defenses. After doing some research, the answer is the latter. Both teams have allowed an average of over 400 yards per game this season. Tulane’s best win was over Memphis earlier in the season and Louisiana Layfette’s best win was scoring 14 points against Alabama.

Pick: Tulane

New Mexico Bowl – Utah State vs. North Texas

Utah State would usually be an easy pick in this spot, but the Aggies have undergone some coaching changes in the past few weeks. Despite a question mark in the head coach spot, the Aggies do have some serious talent on this offense. QB Jordan Love is a prototypical college QB who is as efficient of a runner as he is a passer. On the other side of the field is junior QB Mason Fine who leads the North Texas offense. Fine and Love have almost identical numbers this season. The biggest difference between these two teams is their records against the spread. Utah State is 9-3 ATS and North Texas is 4-8 ATS. I would advise staying away from Utah State -7.5 in this game but they’re an intriguing team to bet on the money line.

Pick: Utah State

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl – Fresno State vs. Arizona State

Herm Edwards returned to coaching this season with Arizona State and I’ll be the first to admit I am impressed with the job he has done. He took a mediocre Sun Devil team and made them bowl eligible. That being said, there still isn’t enough talent on this team,yet, for them to be considered a legit contender in the PAC 12. Fresno State had a weird loss against Minnesota at the beginning of the season but rolled through the rest of their opponents until facing Boise State on the blue turf in November. They lost to the Broncos in that matchup but got their revenge in the Mountain West Conference Championship game in a horrendous 19-16 overtime win. QB Marcus McMaryion and WR KeeSean Johnson will be too much for this young Sun Devil secondary and the Fresno State defense is as good as a defense I’ve seen from a non-Power 5 school this season.

Pick: Fresno State

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl – Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan

Despite Georgia Southern having two more wins than Eastern Michigan, these two teams are very similar on paper. 2 of Georgia Southern’s 3 losses have come in the last 5 games while Eastern Michigan has won 5 of their last 6 games. Georgia Southern is 9-3 ATS and Eastern Michigan is 7-5 ATS. With the line being Georgia Southern being favored by 3, I suspect this game to go back and forth.

Pick: Georgia Southern

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State

I have an irrational love for this Appalachian State team. RB Darrynton Evans is a 1,000-yard rusher as a sophomore and should be a top 3 round prospect by the time he is a senior. Appalachian State is on a 5-game win streak and one of their two losses came against Penn State in the first week of the season in a crazy overtime game. That shouldn’t, however, take away from how solid Middle Tennessee has been this year. Senior QB Brent Stockstill has had a great year passing for over 3,200 yards and 28 TDs. If Appalachian State controls the ball on the ground and keeps their strong defense off the field as much as they can, they’ll walk away with this one easily. Middle Tennessee is going to have to start off fast in order make this Mountaineer team uncomfortable.

Pick: Appalachian State