College Capper: Bowl Season Week 1

College Capper: Bowl Season Week 1

This article is part of our College Football Picks series.

GREG'S PICKS

After my first big week of the season, I came back down to Earth rather quickly during Championship week. With a couple of weeks to clear the mind, however, I'm back in a good mental space. Before I get to the recap, I want to mention one thing as we enter bowl season. Due to any number of factors, bowl season is full of wild variances from the lines. If you play every game, you are going to have some very easy wins and some very bad losses. This is due to opt-outs, suspensions, but more than anything else, motivation. Motivation or lack thereof is how a 15-point dog can win by 20 or a 20-point dog can win outright. In other words, do NOT play teasers in bowl games.

Championship week got off to a nice start with an easy over in the WKU game, but it was all downhill from there. Oklahoma State was never in position to cover and neither was Georgia. Iowa didn't put up much of a fight either. The one that stung was the over in the Pittsburgh game. Those teams combined for 35 points in the first quarter and only 31 in the remaining three quarters and the game went under.

All lines courtesy of draftkings.com

Games through Thursday, December 23rd. 

Under 26.5 1st half Toledo vs Middle Tennessee  Friday, Dec. 17 (12:00 ET)

With a limited number of games this week, I have to get a little creative to find

GREG'S PICKS

After my first big week of the season, I came back down to Earth rather quickly during Championship week. With a couple of weeks to clear the mind, however, I'm back in a good mental space. Before I get to the recap, I want to mention one thing as we enter bowl season. Due to any number of factors, bowl season is full of wild variances from the lines. If you play every game, you are going to have some very easy wins and some very bad losses. This is due to opt-outs, suspensions, but more than anything else, motivation. Motivation or lack thereof is how a 15-point dog can win by 20 or a 20-point dog can win outright. In other words, do NOT play teasers in bowl games.

Championship week got off to a nice start with an easy over in the WKU game, but it was all downhill from there. Oklahoma State was never in position to cover and neither was Georgia. Iowa didn't put up much of a fight either. The one that stung was the over in the Pittsburgh game. Those teams combined for 35 points in the first quarter and only 31 in the remaining three quarters and the game went under.

All lines courtesy of draftkings.com

Games through Thursday, December 23rd. 

Under 26.5 1st half Toledo vs Middle Tennessee  Friday, Dec. 17 (12:00 ET)

With a limited number of games this week, I have to get a little creative to find five worthy of selection. I like the under in this spot because both teams have top-30 pass efficiency defenses, but at just 50.5, that's a little too low for my taste. There are so many things that can happen to get the number over 50 so I'm going to shrink the amount of time that crazy things can happen, take the extra point and a half, and hope things play out as I expect in the first half. With the added prep time, I'm expecting the defenses to be slightly ahead of the offense for a bit. Hopefully long enough to get this game to the half before hitting 27 points.

Over (67) Western Kentucky vs Appalachian State Saturday, Dec. 18 (11:00 am ET)

App St. can play some defense, the Mountaineers held their opponents to under 20 points per game this season, but they haven't seen anything like Bailey Zappe on the WKU offense. The 'Neers rank 12th in the country in passing efficiency defense, one spot ahead of Marshall, which played WKU earlier this season and surrendered 53 points. On the other side of the ball, WKU doesn't offer much on defense, allowing nearly 30 points and over 400 yards per game. App St. has enough on offense to turn this into a shootout.                 


BYU (-7) vs UAB,  Saturday, Dec. 18 (3:00 ET)

Why is this line only seven? Motivation. That's the unknown here, because if we could be assured that the Cougars were motivated to win this game, they'd be favored by double digits. The resumes of these two aren't even comparable. UAB beat no one of significance this season while BYU beat Utah, Arizona State, Virginia, USC…you get the point. Utah might be the only really good team of that bunch, but that list is much better than the wins that UAB has to show. UAB has a strong run defense, which would be a problem if the Cougars were one-dimensional, but they're not. You'll be able to tell if this is a winner within the first 10 minutes of the game.          

Army (-3.5) vs Missouri

Yes, I'm taking a team that just lost to Navy to cover against an SEC team. A couple of things are in play here. First: Army is going to be steaming after losing to Navy and while a win in a bowl game will not completely ease their pain, it will help. Motivation will not be a problem for Army. Second, Missouri can't stop the run and that's a problem against Army. Missouri surrendered over 225 yards per game on the ground this season and that was to SEC teams that like to throw more than run the ball. Now it faces a team that runs 86% of the time!         

Florida (-6.5) vs Central Florida

Motivation will certainly be key here as there's certainly a chance that the Gators won't get up for this game, but this pick has more to do with UCF. This is not the high-powered UCF teams that we've become accustomed to over the past decade. This team is fairly pedestrian on offense, throwing for just over 200 yards per game. Yes, the Golden Nights were able to run the ball this season, but the competition wasn't exactly stiff. Florida had a terrible year by its standards, but the Gators closed with a nice victory over FSU and I'm expecting them to use this game as a springboard into next season.       


Last Week: 1-4-0, Last Season: 29-41-1 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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