It all comes down to the most wonderful time of the year: bowl season.
It was an up-and-down year for much of the regular season. There were several weeks in which we came away with just one or two winners. At one point in the season, we were 10 games under a .500 record. It was miserable.
Some readers were letting me know online that the picks weren’t doing so well. I can be hard on myself so doubt started to set in. Should I be the one doing this article?
But as the weather turned cold, the picks got hot. And despite the losing mark, I felt confident about the last two weeks for some reason. It couldn’t have played out any better. The final week of the regular season and conference championship week had just one loser in the 10 games picked. And honestly, I’m still in some disbelief that Buffalo gave away the MAC Championship.
Now, we enter bowl season. We have some of the best Group of 5 teams squaring off against one another, G5 underdogs against Power Five opponents and even a couple G5 teams that are favored against P5 programs. Let’s finish this season out strong.
Conference Championship Week: 4-1
Overall Record: 34-35-1
*All lines are according to Scores and Odds and are accurate at the time this story was posted
AutoNation Cure Bowl - Dec. 15
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns vs. Tulane Green Wave
It’s a battle of in-state foes in the opening game of bowl season and one that historically Tulane has dominated. The Green Wave are 22-4 all time against the Ragin Cajuns and I expect that number to increase. Louisiana’s weakness is defending the run and Tulane’s option offense will run all over them.
Pick: Tulane -3.5
New Mexico Bowl - Dec. 15
North Texas Mean Green vs. Utah State Aggies
The Aggies are ranked third in the nation in scoring, - behind only Oklahoma and Alabama - while UNT 21st in scoring at 36.4 points per game. With two prolific offenses on the field and the news that both Seth Littrell and Mason Fine are staying at North Texas for one more season, they’ll be looking to end the season with a bang. Expect a lot of points in this one.
Pick: Over 66.5
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl - Dec. 15
Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
The marquee matchup in the first weekend of bowl games should see the ranked Bulldogs have no problem taking down Herm Edwards’ bunch. Arizona State is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games against Mountain West opponents and 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games in December, while Fresno sports one of the best defenses in the country. This is one of several games during bowl season where a G5 program should take down a P5 opponent.
Pick: Fresno State -5.5
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl - Dec. 21
FIU Panthers vs. Toledo Rockets
If you have followed along all season, you know FIU has been one of my favorite teams to back. The Panthers have a slight advantage playing in the Bahamas compared to Toledo. The Rockets were throttled in last year’s bowl game against App State and are finishing the season with the backup quarterback under center. Meanwhile, the Panthers are 9-4 against the spread as underdogs since Butch Davis took over as head coach.
Pick: FIU +6
Birmingham Bowl - Dec. 22
Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Memphis Tigers
Wake’s 91st-ranked rush defense takes on Darrell Henderson, who finished first in the nation in total touchdowns and second in rushing yards. Even if he doesn’t play (Henderson declared for the NFL Draft but has yet to say whether he’ll play in the bowl game), Patrick Taylor Jr. is more than capable of getting the job done. Memphis couldn’t come up with a win over a P5 opponent in last year’s bowl game, but redeem themselves this season.
Pick: Memphis -3.5
Dollar General Bowl - Dec. 22
Buffalo Bulls vs. Troy Trojans
Troy fans won’t need to go far to see their Trojans as Birmingham is a two-hour drive, while the Bulls will be playing in their first bowl game since 2013. The over is 7-0 in the Trojans last seven bowl games, and with both teams averaging over 30 points per game, reaching the posted total should be no problem.
Pick: Over 53
SoFi Hawaii Bowl - Dec. 22
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs vs. Hawaii Warriors
Reasoning is simple here: every time Hawai’i has played in this bowl game (seven appearances), they have gone over the total. Add in that the Warriors have gone over in seven of their last eight meetings against Conference USA opponents, and it leads us to believe Hawaii goes over the total once again.
Pick: Over 60
Servpro First Responder Bowl - Dec. 26
Boston College Eagles vs. Boise State Broncos
BC relies on AJ Dillon to get their offense rolling, while the Broncos have a great back of their own in Alexander Mattison. Both squads also feature solid defenses so expect this one to stay under the total.
Pick: Under 55
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Jan. 1
Yes, the Knights are without McKenzie Milton, but LSU is without starting corners Kristian Fulton and Greedy Williams, the latter of which is preparing for the NFL Draft. That will be the difference in this game. Some members of the LSU team are already thinking about the offseason, while UCF is out to show the nation once again that they are one of the nation’s elite programs. They might not shock another SEC opponent, but they’ll do enough to cover.
Pick: UCF +7.5