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Betting Against the Spread: College Football BCS Bowl Picks

Clemson Tigers

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." One look at my picks below and you'll understand the difference between bowl picks and regular season picks. I would put a second mortgage on Alabama covering 16 points over Oklahoma in a "real" game but am not touching it in the bowls.

2013 Record Against the Spread: 43-34-1

BCS Bowl Picks:

Stanford (-6.5) vs. Michigan State
This is business as usual for Stanford, which is playing in its second consecutive Rose Bowl after topping Wisconsin last season. Michigan State will be without Spartans legacy and defensive captain Max Bullough in its first trip to the Granddaddy of them all since 1987. These two teams mirror each other in personnel and style, so special teams and mistakes will make the difference. Stanford was 7-6 against the number this season and Michigan State was 8-4-1. Prediction: Stanford -6.5

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UCF (+16.5) vs. Baylor
There are some big numbers in the bowl season this winter and the Fiesta Bowl is one of them. UCF has won seven times by one score or less and has played up to its competition (Louisville, Penn State, South Carolina). Baylor, however, has crushed folks week in and week out (other than Oklahoma State). Both teams are playing in their first BCS bowl, meaning motivation should be less of a factor here. So pick this game like you would a regular season tilt. The number simply feels way too big for a UCF team that has played well in big spots. The Bears were 9-3 against the number and the Knights were 7-5 this year. Prediction: UCF +16.5

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Oklahoma (+16) vs. Alabama
Alabama has little to play for and we’ve seen the Crimson Tide tank a Sugar Bowl after being knocked out of the national championship game in the final game of the regular season (SEE: 2008). Oklahoma could be a preseason favorite next fall in the Big 12 and a good showing against Bama would go a long way to entrenching the Sooners as the frontrunner. Both Bama and Oklahoma were 7-5 against the spread this season. Take the motivated team. Prediction: Oklahoma +16

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Clemson (+2.5) vs. Ohio State
Which team wants to be here less? Both had eyes on the national title game but both came up just short — and neither won their conference. But there is some history between these two despite only playing once before. Woody Hayes got fired after punching a Clemson player in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Ohio State is the more complete team and has plenty to play as a potential preseason top five team should they win. The Bucknuts were 6-6-1 ATS this year while Clemson was 6-6. Prediction: Ohio State -2.5

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Florida State (-8) vs. Auburn
The Noles are the significantly more complete and talented team. But only one has been playing playoff games since October. Auburn has won every possible way imaginable and it appears they have the “team of destiny” moniker stitched into their shoulder pads. If you are going to give Gus Malzahn a month to prepare and more than a touchdown’s worth of points, I am taking Auburn. Don’t bet against fate, even if FSU is that much better. Both the Noles and Tigers finished the year 11-2 against the spread. Prediction: Auburn +8

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Bowl Picks Against the Spread, Part 2:

Top 25 Games

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Braden Gall

Steven Lassan

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Nebraska (+9) vs. Georgia

UNLV (+7) vs. North Texas

Iowa (+8) vs. LSU

Wisconsin (pk) vs. South Carolina

Stanford (-6.5) vs. Michigan St

UCF (+16.5) vs. Baylor

Oklahoma (+16) vs. Alabama

Oklahoma St (+2.5) vs. Missouri

Clemson (+2.5) vs. Ohio State

Vanderbilt (-3) vs. Houston

Arkansas St (+9) vs. Ball St

Florida St (-8) vs. Auburn