College Capper: Bowl Season Week 2

College Capper: Bowl Season Week 2

This article is part of our College Football Picks series.

Chris' Picks

Last week's absence from me had nothing to do with a limp to the finish in Championship Week. Just too busy in the personal life to force out five picks I likely didn't really like anyway. Hopefully the week off has cleared my head and we close with a strong two weeks to bowl season. Only three of 17 games in this slate's window (December 24-30) have spreads over one possession. My suggestion is to get an immediate read and go with it. It's a gut-feel slate rather than one of analysis and thought!

East Carolina (+3.5) vs. Boston College

As said in the intro - gut feels are the play. Boston College should have a nice advantage along the lines, at least in size, but they've surprisingly struggled to stop the run. Their offense has also been an absolute mess, even with Phil Jurkovec back under center. The Eagles went 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS to close the year, scoring more than 17 points just twice in that stretch. The Pirates have a veteran QB in Holton Ahlers, a big-play RB in Keaton Mitchell, and capable depth at receiver. They should be able to challenge the Eagles' defense, and I'm banking on them being the more motivated team as well.

Mississippi State (-9.5) vs. Texas Tech

This line has moved as much as two points since opening, and some sites have it at (-10.5), which will certainly make me cautious. Texas Tech has the more

Chris' Picks

Last week's absence from me had nothing to do with a limp to the finish in Championship Week. Just too busy in the personal life to force out five picks I likely didn't really like anyway. Hopefully the week off has cleared my head and we close with a strong two weeks to bowl season. Only three of 17 games in this slate's window (December 24-30) have spreads over one possession. My suggestion is to get an immediate read and go with it. It's a gut-feel slate rather than one of analysis and thought!

East Carolina (+3.5) vs. Boston College

As said in the intro - gut feels are the play. Boston College should have a nice advantage along the lines, at least in size, but they've surprisingly struggled to stop the run. Their offense has also been an absolute mess, even with Phil Jurkovec back under center. The Eagles went 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS to close the year, scoring more than 17 points just twice in that stretch. The Pirates have a veteran QB in Holton Ahlers, a big-play RB in Keaton Mitchell, and capable depth at receiver. They should be able to challenge the Eagles' defense, and I'm banking on them being the more motivated team as well.

Mississippi State (-9.5) vs. Texas Tech

This line has moved as much as two points since opening, and some sites have it at (-10.5), which will certainly make me cautious. Texas Tech has the more balanced attack and is more willing to challenge vertically, so there's a case to be made they keep pace. But Mississippi State has the far better defense, and their offense doesn't run the ball ever, which should allow QB Will Rogers to absolutely destroy the Red Raiders' 118th-ranked pass defense. Would you believe that despite no rushing, and Mike Leach's air-raid offense, Mississippi State ranks eighth nationally in time of possession? Tons and tons of short, accurate passes will lead to far more points than punts, and an easy Bulldog win.

Louisville (-1) vs. Air Force

I'm always uneasy going against the service academies and their option, clock-churning offenses. But I'm not impressed with the Falcons body of work, at all. They didn't play a Power 5 team and in four conference games against opponents that finished with a winning league record, they went 2-2-2 SU and 1-2-1 ATS. If the Cards were at a field goal or more, I'd be a bit more nervous. But Air Force hasn't seen a dynamic player in the mold of UL QB Malik Cunningham. His big-play ability with his legs and downfield passing will allow them to score with less than ideal time of possession. As a pick 'em, I really like Louisville to come away victorious.

Virginia Tech (+3.5) vs. Maryland

Something is amiss here. Virginia Tech has only two scholarship QBs, none with starting experience, and will be without WRs Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson due to opting out and transferring, respectively, but the Hokies are still only 3.5-point underdogs? That tells me Maryland just isn't very good, something that's backed up by a 2-6 SU, 1-7 ATS finish to their year. I absolutely could make a case for Maryland winning this game going away. But when something seems that clear, I'll go against it. In what I'll say is a toss-up, give me the team getting points. The Hokies will use a varied running game to churn clock and yardage, and pull off an upset.

Oklahoma (-4) vs. Oregon

Perhaps all of the Sooners' defensive opt-outs will have me eating crow, as Oklahoma will be without three pass rushers and their leading tackler. But I simply don't think Oregon QB Anthony Brown is good enough to make them pay and/or keep up with the Sooners, and he won't have WR Devon Williams. Oklahoma will have Caleb Williams under center, who won't be being pressured by Kayvon Thibodeaux. I'm not sure who he will be throwing to, but I think he's the far superior talent and will put up plenty of points. Oklahoma by 7+, please.

Last week: 1-4; Season: 37-37

GREG'S PICKS

With a bit of an overlap in our articles during bowl season, I'm unable to provide a full recap of the previous week, but as I write, I'm currently 1-2 with Army and Florida still remaining. The three results to date were a loss on the 1st half under in the Toledo game, which looked really good late in the 1st quarter, an easy win on the over in the WKU game and a loss in the BYU game. In my defense in the BYU game, I wasn't aware its starting QB would not play and that obviously had an impact.

Onto week two as we get closer to the big-time bowls…

All lines courtesy of draftkings.com

Games through Thursday, December 30th. 

Over (55.5) Memphis vs Hawaii

This bowl game has always held a special place in my heart. For those of us that have a hard time disconnecting from sports, this bowl has often provided a source of comfort throughout the years as it's often the only game in town on Christmas Eve. That is the case again this year and while this matchup isn't as sexy as years past, I think we're in for some excitement as neither of these teams has much of a pass defense and both teams can move the ball through the air. Hawaii has found itself in some low-scoring affairs this season, but I think that has more to do with the competition than the Rainbow Warriors themselves. Memphis has no problem getting into a shootout and that's what I'm expecting here.

Georgia State (-5.5) vs Ball State

There are many reasons that bowl games are tougher to handicap than regular-season games and one of them is the cross-conference nature of these games. In this case, we have teams from two of the lesser conferences in college football, so how do we determine which one is better? No really, how do we know? I'm not sure there's an answer and even if there was, would it determine a winner here? I don't think it would, so we look for advantages in the numbers. The one that sticks out here is Georgia State's rushing attack vs. Ball State's rushing defense. GSU rushed for over 220 yards per game this season while BSU surrendered almost 170 on the ground. There's our advantage. Oh, and going anti-MAC is never a bad idea.                 


Houston (+2.5) vs Auburn 

I hate to go the "hunch route" during bowl season, but sometimes, that's all you have to go on. Auburn comes from the better conference and it surely has more talent, but I think Houston has all the intangibles in this spot. Let's start with the fact that Auburn hasn't played since November 27th. That's an extremely long layoff and I have to imagine the Tigers will be rusty out of the gate. Next, we look at the loss of the Tiger's QB to the transfer portal. Bo Nix has spent over a decade at Auburn and now he decides to move on? That's a kick to the groin. Last, we look at motivation. The Tiger's most recent game was a heartbreaker where they let a win over their archrival Alabama slip from their grasp. They've had a month to think about that and now they are supposed to get excited about playing Houston?         

Mississippi State (-9.5) vs Texas Tech

When we last saw Texas Tech, the Red Raiders were giving Baylor everything it could handle, but that game wasn't indicative of the season they had. The Red Raiders enter the bowl season at 6-6 and their margin of victory is negative. We all know about the troubles that Mike Leach has had in bowl games and that's due in large part to the extra prep time that opposing defenses have had to prepare for his unique offense, but in this case, I don't think a year would be enough time for Texas Tech to figure out a way to slow down the Bulldogs. Texas Tech surrendered over 266 yards per game through the air this season and that number is about to go much higher after Mississippi State puts up 400+.          

Over (63.5) Tennessee vs Purdue

Upon first glance, I sided with Tennessee in this game as I recalled the Volunteers outplaying expectations at almost every turn this season, but a closer look revealed that they didn't have a great season, merely a good one. More often than not though, they put up a fight against stiff competition, they just didn't come out on top all that often. The same can be said for Purdue, but the Boilermakers did have a big upset win of Michigan State just over a month ago. Of course, that win was followed by a trouncing at the hands of Ohio State, which planted a seed of doubt about them in my mind. In the end, I landed on the over because both teams' strengths lie in their offenses and neither team has a dominant defense. The number is high, but there is a lot of firepower on both sides of the field in this one.  


Bowl season record pending

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Chris Bennett
Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.
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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