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College Football Bowl Spread Picks: Las Vegas, Bahamas, Birmingham and Dollar General

Quinton Flowers, USF Bulls Football

Quinton Flowers, USF Bulls Football

College football's bowl season starts on Dec. 16 with five matchups on tap, including Oregon-Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, as well as North Texas and Troy meeting in the New Orleans Bowl. After the opening Saturday of the 2017-18 bowl season, nine other games are slated prior to Dec. 25. With bowl season approaching, here are picks against the spread for each postseason game from Dec. 16-24. 

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College Football Bowl Spread Picks: Games from Dec. 16-24

New Orleans Bowl: North Texas (+6.5) over Troy

North Texas made another big leap in Year 2 of the Seth Littrell era, improving from 5–8 overall and 3–5 in C-USA in 2016 to 9–4 and 7–1 (and West Division champs). But how good were the Mean Green? Five of their nine wins came by even points or fewer, and they lost two games to FAU by a combined score of 110–48. On the plus side, they did beat UAB and Army, teams that combined for 17 wins. Troy will be the pick by many fans because of name recognition — the Trojans shocked the college football world by winning at LSU this season — but North Texas might be the smart play, especially getting almost a touchdown.

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Troy 28, North Texas 24

Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky (-6.5) over Georgia State

Western Kentucky was overvalued for most of the season — the Hilltoppers went 3–9 against the spread — but should have little difficulty finishing the year on a high note. Georgia State was a nice story, rebounding from an 0–2 start (that included a loss at home to an FCS team) to finish with a 6–5 mark. But those six wins came against Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, ULM, South Alabama, Georgia Southern and Texas State. Not good.

College Football Rankings: WKU
College Football Rankings: Georgia State

Western Kentucky 38, Georgia State 20

Las Vegas Bowl: Oregon (-7) over Boise State

Boise State lost both of its games against Power 5 opponents, losing at Washington State 47–44 and at home vs. Virginia 42–23. The Broncos also struggled offensively down the stretch, scoring 17 points in a loss at Fresno State in the regular-season finale and 17 points in the Mountain West Championship Game victory over Fresno State. Oregon ended the season on an offensive tear, scoring 48 vs. Arizona and 69 vs. Oregon State. The guess here is the Ducks will be highly motivated to play well for recently promoted head coach Mario Cristobal.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Boise State
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Oregon

Oregon 41, Boise State 27

New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State (-5.5) over Marshall

Neither team played well down the stretch of the regular season. Marshall was 6–1 after a 38–10 win at Middle Tennessee in late October but lost four of its last five games (each by 11 points or fewer). Colorado State was 6–2 at one point, with both losses to Power 5 teams (Colorado and Alabama). The Rams, however, lost three straight to fall out of contention in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West conference. Colorado State appears to be the better team.

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Colorado State 30, Marshall 17

Camelia Bowl: Arkansas State (-3.5) over Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee is a tough team to evaluate because the Blue Raiders have suffered some key injuries that slowed what was expected to be a powerful offense. Quarterback Brent Stockstill returned to the lineup late in the season, but MTSU will be without outstanding widoeut Richie James. Arkansas State missed an opportunity to claim a share of the Sun Belt title by losing at home to Troy on the final weekend of the season. This should be a tight game.

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Arkansas State 38, Middle Tennessee 34

Boca Raton Bowl: FAU (-22.5) over Akron

This is reportedly the biggest point spread ever in a bowl game. And it’s understandable. Florida Atlantic is riding a nine-game winning streak and boasts arguably the best offense of any Group of 5 team not named UCF in the nation. Akron won the MAC West but is 7–6 overall with a rather weak résumé. This will get ugly.

College Football Rankings: FAU
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FAU 51, Akron 21

Frisco Bowl: SMU (-5) over Louisiana Tech

This will be a strange game. Sonny Dykes, recently hired to take over for Chad Morris at SMU, will coach his new team in the bowl game against a Louisiana Tech team that he coached from 2010-12. I’m guessing the SMU playbook won’t be too extensive. Louisiana Tech slumped to six wins this season after winning nine in each of the previous three seasons. This is not a vintage Bulldog team.

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SMU 38, Louisiana Tech 20

Gasparilla Bowl: Temple (-7.5) over FIU

The record (6–6) isn’t overly impressive, but Geoff Collins did a nice job in his first season at Temple. The Owls won three of their final four games to become bowl eligible — a solid accomplishment after a 3–5 start. FIU is in a bowl game for the first time since 2011 thanks in large part to the magic of Butch Davis, the Panthers’ first-year coach. Lane Kiffin stole all of the headlines for his work at FAU, but Davis authored an impressive turnaround in South Florida as well.