College Capper: Bowl Week 3

College Capper: Bowl Week 3

This article is part of our College Capper series.

Chris' Picks

Thank goodness for Big Game Bob, or I'd have been staring down an 0-fer last week. So much can change between time of submission and games kicking off ('Rona, opt-outs, etc.) that I can take losing with a grain of salt. But I definitely think I'm struggling to find the right angle (i.e. motivation) in these matchups. Let's buck that trend and end the year on a bang.

I'm not going to officially make picks on the two playoff games, unlike my counterpart. Good for him for going on the record! But my two cents: I think Alabama is overvalued based on their SEC championship showing, but also think Nick Saban with this much time to prepare is almost unbeatable. Cincy stays close for a while, but eventually succumbs. 

You can conversely make the argument that Georgia is being viewed more for its debacle in Atlanta than its season-long body of work. But I like Michigan's momentum, and timely downfield passing calls lately. This one feels incredibly low scoring, I don't trust Stetson Bennett and will take the points.

Wisconsin (-6) vs. Arizona State

Contrasting styles, as the Badgers want to ground and pound while Arizona State goes as far as QB Jayden Daniels takes it. The ASU run defense was feast or famine, holding three of its final four opponents to less than 100 yards. But Oregon State got it for 237 and Utah went for 208, and I think the Badgers find similar success, and in

Chris' Picks

Thank goodness for Big Game Bob, or I'd have been staring down an 0-fer last week. So much can change between time of submission and games kicking off ('Rona, opt-outs, etc.) that I can take losing with a grain of salt. But I definitely think I'm struggling to find the right angle (i.e. motivation) in these matchups. Let's buck that trend and end the year on a bang.

I'm not going to officially make picks on the two playoff games, unlike my counterpart. Good for him for going on the record! But my two cents: I think Alabama is overvalued based on their SEC championship showing, but also think Nick Saban with this much time to prepare is almost unbeatable. Cincy stays close for a while, but eventually succumbs. 

You can conversely make the argument that Georgia is being viewed more for its debacle in Atlanta than its season-long body of work. But I like Michigan's momentum, and timely downfield passing calls lately. This one feels incredibly low scoring, I don't trust Stetson Bennett and will take the points.

Wisconsin (-6) vs. Arizona State

Contrasting styles, as the Badgers want to ground and pound while Arizona State goes as far as QB Jayden Daniels takes it. The ASU run defense was feast or famine, holding three of its final four opponents to less than 100 yards. But Oregon State got it for 237 and Utah went for 208, and I think the Badgers find similar success, and in turn, allow QB Graham Mertz to manage the game. Getting ahead early further allows them to lean on the run and will force Daniels into mistakes, creating separation on the scoreboard.

Washington State (-7) vs. Central Michigan

When in doubt, fade the MAC! It's fair to question Washington State's motivation with a lesser opponent, but it's won three of four and six of eight after opening 1-3. The Cougars are also 7-1 ATS in this current hot streak. It's strength on relative strength, as CMU wants to pass, and the Cougs have shown they can stop it, holding seven of their last nine opponents to 206 yards or less while posting a nice 15:14 TD:INT ratio. The Chippewas faced two Power 5 schools in September, and lost by a combined 84-45. A similar outcome seems likely here.

Arkansas (-2) vs. Penn State

Penn State went 2-5 SU down the stretch, beating only Maryland and Rutgers. Now, the Nitany Lions are without wideout Jahan Dotson, four starters on defense and their defensive coordinator, who's now the head man at Virginia Tech. Yes, Arkansas will miss star wideout Treylon Burks, which could hurt offensive balance, but the Hawgs boast the nation's 12th best rushing attack, led by Trelon Smith, mobile QB KJ Jefferson and Raheim Sanders. I like them to take advantage of Penn State's missing pieces.

Utah (+4.5) vs. Ohio State

This figures to be the ultimate test in motivation being the sole factor in picking games. Rumors have Utah fans snatching up tickets in droves, while Ohio State might be returning some of its allocation? Pair that with four Buckeyes opting out, and it's clear who wants to play and who expected more from the season. It's not like Ohio State lacks talent to replace its opt-outs, just experience. And I'm not sure Utah is that good just because it smacked Oregon twice. Further, I wish we'd gotten in earlier when you could have forecasted the Buckeyes to be without their NFL-eligible talent. But I'm taking the bait. The Utes bring max effort and keep it close enough.

Kansas State (-3.5) vs. LSU

Throughout the bowl season, we've seen depleted teams wilt as games go on. There my be none more depleted than the Tigers, who apparently have only 63 scholarship players on their current roster, with more than a handful of those not available here. They have no idea who will play quarterback, Max Johnson has transferred, Myles Brennan did too, returned, but won't play. And freshman Garrett Nussmeier is in need of a waiver to play and not burn his redshirt. They could be forced to use WR Jontre Kirklin under center. I don't love KSU, and would even less if Nussmeier is free to play. But as is, I can't see LSU competing for four quarters. Give me RB Deuce Vaughn to find success and lead the Wildcats to a win.

Bowl Week 1: N/A
Bowl Week 2: 1-3
Season: 38-40

GREG'S PICKS

A couple things have become clear this bowl season, and one seems to have a great impact on the other. The first is that opt-outs and COVID withdrawals are having a major impact, especially when those absences are at skill positions. Second, more than previous bowl seasons, it seems like the start of the game is determining the outcome. There have been a couple comebacks, but for the most part, the team that has led at half has won the game. In fact, only five of 20 games have seen a team come back from being down at halftime. More than that, though, in blowout games, it has been apparent almost from the opening kick which way the game was going to go.

After a slow start to bowl season, Week 2 has been much better. One game was cancelled and there's one yet to finish as I write, but to this point I'm 2-1 in week 2.

Wake Forest (-14.5) vs. Rutgers

This is the rare game where I'm siding with the favorite even though the underdog will be highly motivated. Rutgers wasn't expecting to play this postseason, but with the withdrawal of Texas A&M, the 5-7 Scarlett Knights are suddenly back in the mix. I'm sure Wake Forest will be motivated, but not nearly as much as it would have been against Texas A&M. That right there would normally be enough for me to side with Rutgers, but the problem is Wake is so much better than Rutgers that I could see this game getting out of hand from the start. Rutgers was blown out in three of its final four games, and while Wake generally had a tough time getting separation this season because of its defense, Rutgers simply doesn't have enough on offense to keep up.  

 Cincinnati (+13.5) vs. Alabama 

It's amazing how one game can completely change the perception of a team. Leading up to the Georgia game, there weren't many people giving Alabama a chance to win, but after that game, the (pardon my pun) tide has shifted and suddenly the perception is that this team is like the dominant Alabama teams of the past decade. The Tide enter as nearly two-touchdown favorites against an undefeated Cincinnati team. Cincy definitely deserves to be here, but there is still plenty of doubt about whether they belong with the other three teams. It's hard to gauge how good this team is, but one thing the Bearcats have going for them is they played well on a big stage last year. They'll have to play their best to hang around in this game, but that's what I expect. As for Bama, it will be tough to come down from its SEC championship while not looking past Cincinnati.

Wisconsin (-6) vs. Arizona State

Judging by the bowl pools I'm in, the Badgers are a popular play, which is of concern. But as I mentioned at the top, teams most decimated by opt-outs are struggling this bowl season, and ASU is missing several key players. The biggest problem is the ASU secondary is without several pieces, so if the Sun Devils sell out to stop the run, as expected, they are going to be extremely vulnerable on the back end. Can Graham Mertz take advantage? Two months ago I would have said no, but he picked up his game over the final month of the season. Additionally, Wisconsin was a much better team with Braelon Allen as the lead back.          

Michigan State (-3) vs. Pittsburgh

This one seems pretty obvious, right? I'm not sure how Pittsburgh can lose Kenny Pickett and keep up. In almost every situation like this in the postseason, we've seen the team with the replacement player struggle. Perhaps Pittsburgh is set up better to replace Pickett than other teams that have lost a major piece, but I just don't see it. Pickett was everything for this Panther team, and it's not like they've got an easy opponent. MSU struggled down the stretch, but has plenty of talent and will be hungry to close out this season in style after a rough few seasons prior to this one.        

 Georgia (-7.5) vs. Michigan

This was not an easy pick, and unlike the last time when I picked against Michigan, this has nothing to do with focus or lack thereof. This pick is all about Michigan's strength on offense and what Georgia will do against that strength. Alabama exposed issues in the Bulldogs' secondary, but it did so with perhaps the best passing attack in the country. Michigan, while competent through the air, likely won't take advantage of that weakness. The other side of the ball is what interests me the most. Can Georgia move the ball against a good Michigan defense? I don't think it will be easy, but I think the Bulldogs will get enough done on offense to cover this number.  

Bowl Week 1: 1-4B
Bowl Week 2: 2-1

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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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