December 29-31 Slate
We are on to preview number four! We grinded out a profit during Bowl Preview Part Three to get the season YTD total back over 30u. Now the games are getting really really fun. I am going to cover every game up until the CFP semifinals in this preview. So that will be the games on the 29th, 30th, and the NYE games that aren’t the CFP games. Then tomorrow I will release a specific preview just for the semis. Can’t wait.
Bowl SZN: 19-12-1 +9.08u
CFB YTD: 179-140-3 +30.84u
Let’s get into the games.
Pinstripe Bowl- Syracuse (+10.5) vs. Minnesota o/u 44.5
I don’t have too much here since I included Minny in an MLP with Memphis from the last preview. But I think you can’t back Syracuse in this game. They finished the season worse than maybe any team in CFB. Let’s cash this next leg.
Pick: 1u Memphis/Minnesota/LSU MLP
Cheez-It Bowl- Oklahoma (+10) vs. FSU o/u 65.5
This is an intriguing game. FSU really had a nice season and is pushing in the right direction with Mike Norvell. They beat both SEC teams on their schedule in Florida and LSU and lost by 2 to NC State and 6 to Clemson. Their only bad loss was by 10 against Wake which isn’t even that bad of a loss.
Oklahoma’s season was a different story. In year one under Venables, a 6-6 season is very underwhelming. It did end up being a strong year for the Big 12 but a 49-0 loss to Texas and losses to WVU and Texas Tech were real low points in this season. Dillon Gabriel still ended up putting up some big numbers when he was on the field but this OK defense was horrific.
I think in this game Jordan Travis will be able to score at will and Oklahoma will struggle to keep up. I think the Noles keep moving in the right direction.
Pick: 1u FSU -9.5
Alamo Bowl- Texas (-3) vs. Penix o/u 66.5
This is the big one! The Fighting Penixes look to wrap up a really good season here with an Alamo Bowl win over Texas. Michael Penix was a top-5 QB in college football this season and has stood tall against every single test he has faced. With Penix announcing that he will return to Washington next year, I think it will be all positive momentum for Washington.
Texas is also building in the right direction after a decent season in year two under Sark and year one of Quinn Ewers. Ewers obviously possesses a ton of talent but made a lot of freshman mistakes this season. There were times when Hudson Card appeared to be the better of the two QBs and Card has now departed for Purdue. Texas will be without their superstar RB Bijan Robinson in this game and I think that will really deter them.
There will be a lot of pressure on Ewers to generate all of the offense without Bijan. Despite Washington’s defensive struggles, I think Ewers will still end up making a key mistake or two. On the other side, Penix won’t make those mistakes. I expect him to dazzle here and the Huskies to win outright.
Pick: 2.75u Penix +3.5, 1u Penix ML +188
Duke’s Mayo Bowl- Maryland (+1) vs. NC State o/u 46.5
I like NC State here. They are obviously without Devin Leary but they have been for weeks now and still beat Wake Forest and UNC. Ben Finley looked really sharp in the last game of the season against UNC. MJ Morris who was the original Leary replacement before getting hurt is also expected back for this game. I think Doeren could use both of these guys in this game as they come with different skill sets.
Whoever plays QB for NC State will be well-protected by this elite OL going against a weak Maryland pass rush. Taulia is playing in this game but Maryland has had 3 of their top WRs opt out for the draft and their stud TE is transferring to Alabama. I think Taulia will struggle with so many unproven weapons against this sharp Wolfpack defense.
Pick: 1.5u NC State +1.5
Sun Bowl- Pitt (+5.5) vs. UCLA o/u 53.5
This is one of the two games in this preview that I got wrong betting early in Bowl SZN. I expected DTR and maybe even Zach Charbonnet to not play here. However, both look good to go so UCLA’s offense will be at almost full strength. UCLA will be without their backup RB who had a lot of production so if Charbonnet is not full go then that could be a concern for the rushing attack.
My only note on DTR playing, which will apply to some other games in this preview, is that if he does get banged up, he might just sit the rest of the game. A lot of these players want to do what they perceive to be the right thing by playing in these games but then you take a bad hit or something feels funny and you then decide not to risk anything and sit.
For Pitt, their defense is awesome and Nick Patti has enough experience to guide this team. I would still play Pitt at the current number, I got the worst of the number but I am sticking with my bet.
Pick: 1.5u Pitt +3.5
Gator Bowl- Notre Dame (-2.5) vs. South Carolina o/u 51.5
The Gamecocks. Shane Beamer is 6-0 SU and 6-0 ATS at South Carolina with extra time to prep if you include Week Ones. He has beaten Florida by 23, Kentucky by 10, Texas A&M by 6, and UNC by 17 in last year’s bowl game. In each of those games, he had extra prep time and in each of those games, the Cocks were underdogs.
Last year, in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, South Carolina started their WR Dakereon Joyner who was a high school QB at quarterback for the bowl game against Sam Howell’s UNC team. The Gamecocks’ offense put up 38 points. Shane Beamer just thrives in this type of adverse situation. There has been a lot of chatter about the opt-outs of Jaheim Bell, Marshawn Lloyd, and others. But Spencer Rattler is still playing QB and Juice Wells is still playing WR so the South Carolina offense should be fine.
South Carolina has the best special teams in the nation and they will undoubtedly have some trickery ready there with the Beamer Ball plays.
Notre Dame has opt-out issues of their own that are more significant than South Carolina’s, in my mind. Their all-world TE Michael Mayer has opted out for the draft and he was their entire offense. They will also be without their QB in Drew Pyne who is transferring. That leaves Tyler Buchner to start this game and he is the QB that lost to Marshall earlier this season. The kid stinks. I think his QB play and the absence of Mayer will balance out the secondary opt-outs for South Carolina.
The Gamecocks win outright. I made these bets when the line was at 4. At the current #, I would not play ML and would just play 2u on South Carolina +2.5.
Picks: 2.75u South Carolina +4, 1u SC ML +140
Arizona Bowl- Ohio (-1.5) vs. Wyoming o/u 41.5
This game kinda stinks. Ohio was an incredible team this year but they will be without their QB in Kurtis Rourke. Rourke was basically their entire team and I don’t know what we’ll get out of their offense without him. They only managed 7 points in the MAC Championship without him.
Wyoming ended up with a nice season but with some ugly wins. They beat Tulsa by 3 in OT, Air Force by 3, Hawaii by 7, and Colorado State by 1. This is not a team that is really going to come out and steamroll anyone. I expect both defenses to perform here and both offenses to struggle to find a spark. Give me the under.
Pick: 1u u41.5
Orange Bowl- Tennessee (+6) vs. Clemson o/u 63.5
The I Lost to Shane Beamer Bowl. Both of these teams should be a bit deflated after South Carolina destroyed BOTH of their playoff lives. Clemson will be without DJU who is transferring. That is a major UPGRADE in my opinion, with Cade Klubnik who played great against UNC in the ACC Championship. Tennessee will also be without Hendon Hooker but that is a major downgrade to Joe Milton.
Despite the game being a blowout, Milton was not good at all in his lone start against Vandy. I expect the Clemson defense to give him some problems. You can beat this Clemson defense by going deep like Spencer Rattler did in that 2H against them. Hooker, Hyatt, and Tillman would light this defense up but without their QB and top-two WRs, Tennessee will probably be more of a run-first team and that is where Clemson will crush you.
Offensively, Klubnik should want to put on a show here and should be able to against this weak Tennessee secondary. I think Clemson has the better team with all of the Tennessee opt-outs and they will be more motivated in this game. Their playoff hopes were always a longshot whereas Tennessee really blew a layup at making the CFP and then lost their star QB to injury. Dabo also refuses to not make his guys get up.
Pick: 1.5u Clemson -6.5
Sugar Bowl- Alabama (-6.5) vs. Kansas State o/u 56
This is the other game I got wrong here. I am shocked that Bryce Young is playing in this game. He is projected to be the #1 overall pick in the draft and wants to play this game?? I wouldn’t be shocked if this is a bit of a smokescreen and he plays a quarter or alternating drives with Jalen Milroe who is expected to be next year’s starting QB.
I think Kansas State will still be able to score. Adrian Martinez should be fully healthy for the first time in a while and he and Will Howard could alternate drives and give the Bama defense problems. Of course, the great Deuce Vaughn is always good for a couple of explosive plays. This Kansas State team is legit and we just saw them beat a CFP team with everything on the line.
I got the worst of the number but I would still take KSU here even with all of the news. This Bama team just isn’t what we all thought they would be entering this year and even with their starts playing, I am still not sold that motivation will be at 100% or that those guys will play like it is a normal game. Give me the Wildcats.
Pick: 2u Kansas State +4.5
Music City Bowl- Iowa (-2.5) vs. Kentucky o/u 31
From a couple of really exciting games to… this one. The lowest total in CFB history. Iowa had the worst offense in college football and will not have Spencer Petras for this game (not that it could be worse). Kentucky had an awful offense and that was with Chris Rodriguez at RB and a projected 1st round pick at QB in Will Levis. They will have neither of those guys for this game so their already dreadful offense will only get worse. Iowa’s special teams will dominate as always and they will probably win 9-7 on a safety and a pick-six.
Picks: 1.5u u32, 1u Iowa ML +100
That’s it, folks! Let’s crush this slate and be sure to check back soon for the CFP semifinals preview! As always…