We’re getting into the tail end of Bowl SZN. It’s bittersweet. On the one hand, we are getting into some really good games, including the Playoff semifinals, but on the other hand, it means we are getting to the end of college football season. After a summer of prep and a long season of ups and downs (especially for me), this is the second to last preview of the year then it’s right back into prep season to try to make 2022 more like 2020 than 2021. I’ll have more thoughts on the season as a whole once the National Champion is crowned but I do want to thank everyone who has continued to ride with me to this point in the season. Let’s finish the season strong.
Bowl SZN: 14-14 -0.7u
CFB YTD: 150-131-5 +7.09u
UNC vs. South Carolina (+10) o/u 57.5
I am really conflicted about this game. I was a sucker and bet South Carolina early, assuming Sam Howell wouldn’t care about playing in this game but Howell did decide to play and the line has moved in UNC’s favor 2.5 points since that official decision. Despite Howell playing, I’m still conflicted here. UNC went into this season with lofty expectations and in what was predicted to be (and was) a down year for Clemson, UNC was even a dark horse National Championship candidate. In Sam Howell’s senior year the team that had dominated their conference the past few years didn’t even make the conference championship game and UNC couldn’t capitalize- they went 6-6 and lost all 4 games against teams currently ranked and are now playing in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
Meanwhile, South Carolina went way over their win total while beating Florida and Auburn and landed Spencer Rattler in the transfer portal. It made for a big first year for Shane Beamer and SC seems to be a program on the rise. Normally when you have a program on the rise as a big dog against a program coming off of a disappointing season, the underdog is a great bet. However, Howell playing indicates that UNC at least cares somewhat about this game and there is still a decent talent gap between the two teams especially with SC’s quarterback Jason Brown transferring out and their star EDGE opting out for the NFL draft. Overall, I think UNC as a MLP piece is the way to go. UNC will find a way to win the game but that’s a lot of points for this matchup.
Picks: 1.5u USC +7.5, 1u UNC/Tenn MLP, UNC to finish MLP with WMU
Tennessee vs. Purdue (+5.5) o/u 65
This should be one of the more fun bowl games of the year. I expect pace and lots of points like we’ve seen from the Vawls all year. Purdue is very content throwing the ball a ton and getting into a shootout with Tennessee. I think ultimately the Vawls’ talent wins out but both teams should be able to hang numbers. I got the over early but I would still bet it at the current number.
Picks: 1u o61, 1u Tenn/UNC MLP (-103)
Pitt vs. Michigan State (-2.5) o/u 56
Along with South Carolina, this is one of the few bowl games I missed on and tried to get a good number early before players announced and I missed on. I got Pitt as favorites when it seemed like Kenny Pickett would play and I really thought he would and Kenneth Walker would NOT. Well, I was right about Walker opting out for Sparty which is still huge but Pickett is also not playing which, as the line indicates, is an even bigger absence. Nick Patti is stepping at QB for Pitt and I have heard some really good things about him and Pitt still has a lot of weapons on offense so I’m still confident they can score on Sparty. Defensively, Pitt is also still a tough unit and I think they can hold Sparty to minimal points. I have to eat my bad number with Pitt here but I would still bet Pitt if I had to pick a side at the current number (although I’m not adding).
Picks: 1.5u Pitt -3.5 (like current # for 1u with updated news), 1u u56
Wisconsin vs. ASU (+6) o/u 41
I like Wisco as a MLP piece. Other than their dud against Minnesota to end the regular season, they were a much better team the second half of the season and I would contribute a lot of that to Braelon Allen. When Allen moved into the lead RB role for Wisco it totally transformed their offense and it allowed Graham Mertz to play much more within his means. On the other hand, ASU was an up and down team all year and I don’t trust them at all. Wisconsin’s defense is the only unit I can really count on in this game and I think the defense will travel and show up for a bowl game.
Pick: 1u Wisco/Georgia MLP (-111)
Wake Forest vs. Rutgers (+14.5) o/u 62.5
I really don’t know what this game is going to look like. Rutgers ended their season with no idea they would get to play in a bowl game, let alone against a top-20 team in the Gator Bowl on NYE. This is a massive massive game for their program but this is also the best season for Wake Forest in a long time and they will definitely want to top it off with a win. My only worry for Rutgers is that they just aren’t physically or mentally prepared for this game with little prep time. I could see Wake in a blowout but their defense is so bad. Just like in the Wisco game, there is only one unit I trust in this game- the Wake Forest offense. I think Sam Hartman puts up massive numbers in this game and Wake hangs 45+.
Pick: Wake Forest TT o38 (shop around for best number at -120 or better, I’ve seen some way too high #s at some shops compared to others)
Washington State vs. Central Michigan (+7) o/u 57.5
I like the Chips here. They went from playing in the Arizona Bowl to playing in a much bigger bowl game in the Sun Bowl. They are now facing P5 competition on a bigger stage and I think they’ll be up for it. The Chips won 6 of their L7 games SU and went 4-0 ATS in their L4 to get to this position (their lone loss came to MAC champs UNI by 1 point) and I think they’ll be ready with their former major P5 head coach at the helm. CMU has a balanced offense highlighted by Lew Nichols, an insane running back, and I think they’ll score enough to stay within this number in a game they care about way more while Wazzou is in flux this offseason.
Pick: 1u CMU +7.5
Cincy vs. Bama (+13.5) o/u 57.5
I’m terrified at how much I like Cincy here. Cincinnati has the best secondary in the country and John Metchie is out at WR for Alabama. Metchie doesn’t have the flash of Jameson Williams but in my opinion he is Alabama’s most important and most reliable receiver. Bryce Young really impressed me in the SEC Championship Game but I’m about as not sold as you could possibly be on a Heisman winning, SEC Champion quarterback. That is to say, Bryce Young is really good but he’s not Joe Burrow and in my opinion, he’s not even Mac Jones. At RB, Brian Robinson is a monster, but he’s not Najee Harris. I think Alabama will have a pretty conservative, run-heavy game plan on offense and will try to play a more physical, low-scoring game and just rely on having the bigger, better athletes.
Offensively, Desmond Ridder is a smart and reliable QB and I don’t think he’ll make mistakes. Alabama’s secondary isn’t that good and Cincy will have a great game plan to take advantage of their holes. I think Luke Fickell is an unbelievable coach and his guys will be just as ready as Saban’s guys which usually doesn’t happen against Saban. I think Ridder will be able to hit a couple of big plays to score enough to help his unbelievable defense. Cincy keeps this thing close and I think they’ll have a chance to win the game at some point in the 4th quarter.
Picks: 2u Cincy +14, 1u u58.5
UGA vs. Michigan (+7.5) o/u 45
Here we go… I’ve been all over the Dawgs all season and I was on Michigan in all of their big games in the second half of this season. I like both of these teams a lot and I don’t have a strong side here unfortunately. Where I think Georgia has a big edge is their rush offense. Georgia couldn’t run against Alabama’s dominant rush defense but Michigan doesn’t have nearly the rush defense of Bama. UGA will go run heavy and I think we see a lot of JT Daniels in this game because UGA knows they need him if they get a rematch with Bama. I believe in this Georgia team and I think their run defense will dominate and force Michigan to pass more than they want to. I like Georgia to find a way to win this game but I think Michigan keeps it close. I’m going for the middle with Michigan over a TD and UGA in a MLP. I think this game could also provide good live/2H spots so look out for that.
I also like the over here. I think this number is way too low for such a big game where both teams will go with everything they have. Yes, both of these defenses are very good but let’s look at all of the big games they’ve played late in the year. For Georgia- against Bama the total points scored was 65, against Tennessee was 58. For Michigan- they were right on 45 against Iowa, we saw 69 in their matchup with Ohio State, and there were 70 points in their matchup with Sparty. I think Georgia particularly has an edge with what they do offensively and these teams will be able to score.
Picks: 1u Michigan +7.5, 1u UGA/Wisco MLP (-111), 1u o45
That’s all folks! Go Dawgs! Be back with one last preview on New Year’s Day.