The bowl game chooses against the spread
The selection of pÃ©tanque sets has been more difficult than ever this year. With so many COVID opt-outs, transfers and absences, it’s hard to predict who will be on the pitch for these games.
Nonetheless, I will continue with more choices with the hope that none of these games get canceled. So far, I’m 3-4 in bowl play after getting 1-2 in my most recent picks.
These picks cover the rest of the Bowls calendar, but do not include all six New Years Bowls or the college football playoff semi-finals. Each of these games will have their own previews (with picks against the spread included) here on Yahoo Sports.
(Every hour ET, BetMGM odds)
Time: 3:15 p.m. (December 28) | Line: Louisville -1.5 | Total: 55
There have been a lot of high scoring games so far in bowling and I think this could be another. Both of these teams are capable of hitting explosive games, especially on the ground.
Air Force is an optional team and manages it extremely effectively at 342 rushing yards per game. Louisville, with Malik Cunningham as a quarterback, has its own fairly diverse rushing offense. As a team, the Cardinals are averaging 5.43 yards per carry, the seventh best in the country. Cunningham leads the way with 968 rushing yards and is also a very efficient passer.
The Louisville defense is allowing 4.52 yards per carry. The Air Force have been pretty good defensively this season, but haven’t faced an attack as quick and athletic as Louisville’s. UL is averaging 6.68 yards per play, ranking it 11th in the country. The Air Force has faced only one team this year that ranks in the national top 50 in yards per game.
Choice: Over 55
Time: 6:45 p.m. (December 28) | Line: MSU -9.5 | Total: 58.5
Texas Tech is a program in transition. Matt Wells has been fired, Sonny Cumbie has been the interim and Joey McGuire is the new coach. TTU was able to get into a 6-6 bowl game winning one of their last five games, and Cumbie (now Louisiana Tech’s head coach) will coach the team in that game.
Texas Tech’s defense has been pretty bad for most of the year, especially against the pass. Mike Leach and Mississippi State will broadcast it. And with Leach’s personal history with Texas Tech, he won’t hesitate to climb the score in an inferior team. Texas Tech plays first-year Donovan Smith as quarterback, and he won’t have main receiver Erik Ezukanma with him. TTU is going to play hard, but I don’t think the Red Raiders will be able to follow for more than 60 minutes.
Pick: Mississippi State -9.5
Time: 10:15 p.m. (December 28) | Line: Minnesota -4.5 | Total: 45
Minnesota have a clear identity in attack. He’s going to throw the ball and try to beat you deep with game passes. That’s a recipe that should work against West Virginia. The Gophers are a much more physical team along the lines of scrimmage. And that’s on both sides of the ball.
Minnesota’s defense has been strong all year and will be a tough game for West Virginia. WVU is a team that has had its difficulties offensively. In it, WVU will be without running back Leddie Brown. Brown has accounted for 69.3% of WVU’s rushed production this season. Brown’s absence will put pressure on quarterback Jarret Doege, who struggles with turnovers.
Minnesota also has the advantage of having Kirk Ciarrocca back in the fold. Ciarrocca was on the WVU staff this year, but was brought back to Minnesota after the regular season for his second stint as the Gophers’ offensive coordinator.
Picks: Minnesota -4.5
Time: 5:45 p.m. (Dec. 29) | Line: Clemson -1.5 | Total: 44.5
It’s not the stadium Clemson usually plays at, but the way the Tigers’ season has gone makes me think they’ll be motivated to win this game. If there was a late season disappointment that knocked Clemson down in that bowl game, there could be a disappointment factor. Instead, I think Dabo Swinney will have his team ready to end this season with a sixth straight win. This also applies to the coaching staff, as two new coordinators will make their respective debuts.
Iowa State are a good team that have had a disappointing season, but I really believe in this Clemson defense. The fact that Breece Hall is not playing for the Cyclones adds to this equation. It should be a competitive game, but Clemson just has more talent and can find a way to win.
Picks: Clemson -1.5
Time: Noon (January 1) | Line: PSU -2.5 | Total: 47.5
Arkansas are playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2016. Sam Pittman quickly reversed that schedule and you know the Razorbacks will be ready to take on a schedule like Penn State in a New Years Bowl.
Penn State has a pretty good defense, but some of the reports of specific defensive staff potentially not playing for the PSU in this game don’t lend themselves to defense of the type of offense Arkansas employs. On top of that, the Penn State offense is struggling to run and relies way too much on Sean Clifford. I take the points.
Picks: Arkansas +2.5