It is officially the best time of the year! There is, essentially, a College Football or NFL game every single day of the week. Our Amateur Hour series is taking an interesting turn as we head into Bowl Season. Predicting the outcomes (i.e. gambling) on College Football Bowl games is an entirely different beast than predicting regular season or even Conference Championship games. First of all, many of these teams are facing competition from conferences that they haven’t played in years and most likely have no common opponents to draw experience from. Secondly, there is a lot of turnover from the regular season to the bowl games due to coaching changes and loss of scholarship players. It always seems like there is an extraordinary amount of players who are not eligible to play in bowl games. Some of this stems from not having the qualifying grades to participate in the bowl games. Other players are suspended from participating in the postseason due to arrests (Oregon) or even snowball fights (Go Ducks!). When gambling on Bowl games it is almost as important to look at the macro view of a football program as it is to analyze the X’s and O’s. Here are my 10 rules for gambling on the College Football Bowl Season.
1. Take AQ conference schools over non-AQ schools when in doubt. They have faced better competition and usually have more talent on the field. Don’t be swayed by overall record.
2. Bet on the coaches, especially if they are experienced. Talented and experienced coaches know how to manage the long layoffs between the last regular season game and the bowl game.
3. Teams that play closer to home are more successful. Never underestimate the power of the fan.
4. Bet on Alabama. Because, well, it’s Alabama.
5. Bet on teams that are underdogs by 6 or more points. Since the 2006 Bowl Season 6 or more point underdogs are 40-29 against the spread (58%).
6. Bet on teams that are underdogs by 10 or more points. Since the 2006 Bowl Season 10 or more point underdogs are 12-8 against the spread (60%).
7. Bet on the Fiesta Bowl. Don’t question it, just do it. Hello Baylor. We’ll get to you in a couple of weeks. Just put some money aside for that one.
8. Don’t bet on games taking place in the North East unless it’s indoors or you have a fantastic read on the game. Those games taking place in the extreme cold and potential snow are always screwy. It’s not worth your time. But watch those games, because snow makes football way more fun. That’s why I’m incredibly excited for the Super Bowl in New Jersey New York.
10. Never bet against Florida State.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Washington State -4.5 v. Colorado State
Rule #1 states that you should bet on AQ schools due to the level of competition faced and the talent advantage. Washington State it is. You have to appreciate what Mike Leach has been able to accomplish in his short time as the Cougars Head Coach. While the Cougs only went 6-6 this season, they did have a couple of very impressive performances, most notably against USC, and were competitive in almost every game. We know that Washington State is going to throw the ball all over the field with Junior Connor Halliday. The Cougs have the 4th rated passing attack in the nation and are facing a Colorado State team that ranked 109th out of 123 FBS schools in passing yards allowed. Colorado State is going to find success running the ball against the Cougars, whose defense isn’t anything to call home about. Sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs rushed for 1,572 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. This will be a high scoring affair; however, the Rams won’t be able to contain the aerial attack of the Cougars and Washington State will win by double digits.
Prediction: Washington State 45 – Colorado State 31
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State +6 v. USC
First of all, what the hell is Royal Purple? It sounds like an alcoholic beverage. Or perhaps that is just a guess based on the location of the game. It’s actually a synthetic lubricant and motor oil. I’m glad Google could clarify that for me. Secondly, you would think a Bowl Game in Las Vegas would be freaking epic! Who doesn’t want to go to Las Vegas? The problem is that the stadium is something like 15 miles away from the strip, even though both teams stay on or near the strip. USC is staying at Mandalay Bay, so if you want to go party with the Trojans you should probably stop by Light Nightclub at Mandalay on Friday or Saturday night.
As for the game, I’m going to buck my first rule already. Eff it! Fresno State sports the best passing attack in the nation the fifth best scoring offense. The Bulldogs barely missed out on a BCS bowl game appearance. So why is USC favored by 6 points? Well, I really have no idea. This is a huge game for Derek Carr’s draft stock and he is going to come out firing. USC is going through a huge transition with the hiring of Steve Sarkisian and no longer has Ed Orgeron on staff to guide “his guys” through this bowl game. I see no way USC wins on Saturday. Sorry Trojans.
Prediction: Fresno State 38 – USC 28
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State -1 v. Buffalo
POTATOES FOR EVERYONE! The pick here is San Diego State because they have faced better competition so far this season and are playing in familiar territory. The Aztecs took down the Boise State Broncos in Boise last season and should be used to the environment. Pay close attention to Rule #3. San Diego State is going to have more fans in attendance than Buffalo. Edge Aztecs.
Prediction: San Diego State 31 – Buffalo 27
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: UL Lafayette +1.5 v. Tulane
The Tulane football program came out of nowhere this season to finish 7-5 and become bowl eligible for the first time in 11 years. Under the guidance of Nick Montana, yes Joes kid, the Tulane offense has been solid enough to compete in every game, while the Green Waves defense has carried the team this season. Tulane is playing on its home field in this bowl game. That’s at huge advantage for the Waves. The problem here is that UL Lafayette has a legitimately good football team and sports one of the better dual-threat QBs in the nation in Terrance Broadway. Is there a better last name for a QB than Broadway? Some writer on Any Given Sunday is angry at himself for not naming Willie Beamen Willie Broadway. ULL also has one of the best nicknames in the FBS: Ragin’ Cajuns. Are you kidding me?! I’m not betting against Ragin’ Cajuns and a QB named Broadway. No way in hell. Plus, ULL took down Tulane 41-13 in New Orleans last year. Enough said.
Prediction: UL Lafayette 35 – Tulane 21
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl: ECU -14 v. Ohio
East Carolina is going to be victorious on Monday. There is little question about who has the more talented roster and has had a better season. ECU is 9-3 and has a 15.2 point differential per game this season. Ohio, on the other hand, is 7-5 and has barely outscored its opponents this year. ECU is averaging 40 points per game this season and has one of the most dynamic QB-WR combinations in the country with Junior QB Shane Carden and Junor WR Justin Hardy. Look for ECU to roll in a big way.
Prediction: ECU 52 – Ohio 20
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Oregon State -3 v. Boise State
Without Chris Peterson what is Boise State? Seriously, I don’t have any idea who is going to be running the show for Boise State against a talented Oregon State team. Oregon State is coming off a near miracle victory over the Oregon Ducks in the Civil War and has been one of the biggest hit or miss teams in the FBS this season. Oregon State began the season by losing to Eastern Washington, only to follow that up by winning six straight before dropping their last five games to Stanford, USC, ASU, UW, and Oregon, each of which were ranked in the AP Top 20 at some point during the season.
There are a couple of reasons to love the Beavers in this matchup against the Broncos. The first is obviously that Peterson isn’t coaching the Broncos any longer and there is no way to predict how Boise State will respond without their long time leader. Peterson is one of the finest coaches in the nation and meant everything to that program. It is hard for me to imagine them playing one of their better games of the season without him at the helm. The second reason I love the Beavers on Tuesday is because the Broncos defense was ranked 93rd in pass defense. The Beavers have Senior QB Sean Mannion who threw for 4,403 yards this season, which was second in the nation. Oregon State also has one of the best WRs in the nation in Brandin Cooks who broke the Pac-12 record for receptions with 120 and had the most receiving yards in the nation this season with 1,670. Both teams are going to put numbers on the board but Oregon State is going to dominate the game.
Prediction: Oregon State 44 – Boise State 38
Championship Week: 6-3
2013 Season: 100-88-1
2012 Season: 57-39-7