Betting Against the Spread: College Football Bowls Picks, Part 1

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Braden Gall offers his top picks for the first round of bowl games in 2013.

Betting Against the Spread: College Football Bowls Picks, Part 1

Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line. I finished the regular season 43-34-1 and that is where — if it were up to me — I would end my college football betting. Because betting on bowl games is a fool's errand. Motivation, focus, talent differentials all play huge roles in determining the outcome and, most of the time, this cannot be pinpointed for "exhibition" games. So my advice is stay away from every game not named the "BCS National Championship Game." But if you must, here are my top picks for games happening before the New Year (I will have the BCS bowls and other games taking place in 2014 coming soon).

2013 Record Against the Spread: 43-34-1 (4-2 last week)

Bowl Picks, Part 1:

Fresno State (+6.5) vs. USC
The Bulldogs normally get up for bowl opponents from big conferences as they have won four straight postseason games against “BCS” conference teams. USC has lost four straight bowl games and are on their second interim head coach of the season. Even if Fresno loses, it’s hard to see a team with Derek Carr throwing passes getting blown out. I will take the points. Prediction: Fresno State +6.5

Ole Miss (-3.5) vs. Georgia Tech
Generally speaking, teams with plenty of time to prepare for the triple option fair well against Paul Johnson. The Tech head coach is 3-7 in bowl games overall and Ole Miss is simply a significantly better team on both sides of the ball. Look for a large contingent of Rebel fans in Nashville and for Ole Miss to build momentum for what could be a big 2014 season. Prediction: Ole Miss -3.5

Rutgers (+14.5) vs. Notre Dame
Rutgers is just bad. How is that for analysis? The Knights have won two of their last seven games and those wins came against South Florida and Temple — a combined 4-20 on the season. Notre Dame is significantly better on both sides of the ball and especially on defense, where Rutgers will struggle to find much space. Look for the Irish to roll big in this one with eyes on a potentially exciting 2014 campaign. Prediction: Notre Dame -14.5

BYU (+3) vs. Washington
Washington has lost its head coach and has a lot of players eyeing a jump to the NFL — Bishop Sankey, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Keith Price. BYU has a steely-eyed coach in Bronco Mendenhall and a dynamic quarterback in Taysom Hill. Look for the long preparation time to help the established coaching staff more than the inexperienced interim staff. Chris Peteresen isn’t on campus just yet, Huskies fans. Prediction: BYU +3

Miami (-3.5) vs. Louisville
Fans in Louisville have seen what a motivated Cardinals team can do in a bowl game when they trounced a superior Florida team in the Sugar Bowl last season. Yes, the game is being played in Orlando but a good chunk of the Louisville roster calls Florida home, including their star quarterback. Look for the Hurricanes — without Duke Johnson — to be looking ahead to next season while Teddy Bridgewater will have his squad focused in what should be his final college football game. Prediction: Louisville -3.5

Bowl Picks Against the Spread, Part 1:

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
Washington St (-5) vs. Colorado St
Fresno St (+6.5) vs. USC

Buffalo (+2) vs. San Diego St

Tulane (-2.5) vs. UL Lafayette
East Carolina (-13.5) vs. Ohio
Boise St (+3) vs. Oregon St
Pitt (+5) vs. Bowling Green
Marshall (-2.5) vs. Maryland
Syracuse (+5) vs. Minnesota
BYU (+3) vs. Washington
Rutgers (+14.5) vs. Notre Dame
Cincinnati (+3) vs. North Carolina
N. Illinois (-1.5) Utah St
Miami (+3.5) vs. Louisville
Michigan (+3.5) vs. Kansas St
MTSU (+6) vs. Navy
Ole Miss (-3) vs. Georgia Tech
Oregon (-13.5) vs. Texas
Arizona St (-14) vs. Texas Tech
Arizona (-7.5) vs. Boston College
Virginia Tech (+7.5) vs. UCLA
Rice (+7) vs. Mississippi St
Duke (+12) vs. Texas A&M
Last Week:4-55-45-43-6
Year-To-Date:112-118-4115-115-4114-116-4119-111-4

 

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