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Thread: NCAAF Trends and Indexes - Bowl Season (Sat., Dec. 15 - Mon., Jan. 7)

  1. #16
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    Bowl Tech Trends - Week 3
    December 11, 2018
    By Bruce Marshall


    WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26

    Matchup Skinny Edge


    BOSTON COLLEGE vs. BOISE STATE (First Responder Dallas Bowl)...BC on 16-6 uptick vs. spread. Addazio 8-3 as dog since last season, Eagles 11-2-1 last 14 as dog away from Chestnut Hill. Boise 3-1 last four bowls but 3-3 last six. Broncos 13-6-1 last 19 vs. points away from home.
    Slight to Boston College, based on team trends.

    MINNESOTA vs. GEORGIA TECH (Quick Lane Bowl)...Gophers 2-6-1 vs. spread away from home (2-5-1 last eight as road dog) under P.J. Fleck. Paul Johnson 3-1 SU and vs. line in last four bowls.
    Slight to Georgia Tech, based on team trends.

    TCU vs. CALIFORNIA (Cheez-it Phoenix Bowl)...TCU endured a 7-game spread losing streak this season before recovering to win and cover last two. Frogs 2-7 vs. points last nine bowls. Cal was on a 5-game spread win streak before losing finale vs. Stanford, and is 6-1 vs. points last 7 away from Berkeley. Bears “under” 11-3 last 14 dating to late 2017.
    Cal and “under,” based on team and “totals” trends.


    THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27

    Matchup Skinny Edge


    DUKE vs. TEMPLE (Independence Bowl)...Duke 3-6 vs. spread last nine this season in rare spread slump under Cutcliffe. Blue Devils, however, have covered last four bowls, and Cutcliffe 4-0 as dog this season. Duke 24-11-1 as dog since 2013. Owls 8-4 vs. number this season but 1-2 SU and vs, line last three years in bowls.
    Duke, based on extended trends.

    MIAMI-FLA. at WISCONSIN (Yankee Pinstripe Bowl)...Rematch of LY’s Orange Bowl won by Wiscy 34-24! Miami rallied at end of season with pair of wins and covers but had dropped five previous vs. spread. Richt on 5-11 spread skid. Canes 1-4 SU and vs. line last five years in bowls (1-1 with Richt). Badgers however a miserable 3-9 vs. spread this season and just 1-2 as dog after Chryst was 6-2 as dog previous three years. Badgers have won and covered last four bowls.
    Slight to Wisconsin, based on extended trends.

    VANDERBILT vs. BAYLOR (Texas Bowl)...Derek Mason 8-4 vs. spread this season, and enters on 5-game spread win streak. Vandy 5-1 last six vs. line away from home. Dores have also covered last six vs. BCS-level non-SEC foes. Matt Rhule 4-3 as dog this season but just 8-8 in role since arriving at Baylor LY.
    Vanderbilt, based on team trends.


    FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28

    Matchup Skinny Edge


    AUBURN vs. PURDUE (Music City Bowl)...Malzahn 1-3 SU and vs. line in bowls last four seasons, also 10-19-2 overall vs. spread since mid 2016. Brohm has won bowls the past three tries and covered his last two bowls at WKU and Purdue. Boilermakers 3-0 as dog TY, 8-2 in role for Brohm since last season.
    Purdue, based on team trends.

    SYRACUSE vs. WEST VIRGINIA (Camping World Bowl)...Holgorsen 0-5 SU and vs. line last five bowls. Cuse 8-3-1 vs. spread this season, also 9-3 vs. spread last 12 away from Carrier Dome. Orange also 9-3 as dog sine last season, though not sure where this number goes post-Grier.
    Syracuse, based on team trends.

    IOWA STATE vs. WASHINGTON STATE (Alamo Bowl)...ISU slumped late in season with four straight spread Ls to close campaign though Cyclones were 3-1 SU in those games. ISU was 22-8-1 vs. line in 31 previous games dating to early 2016. Matt Campbell 15-8-1 as dog since taking over at Ames in 2016. Leach was 3-0 vs. spread laying points away from home this season, but Cougs just 1-3 SU and vs. line in bowls for Leach. Wazzu 8-11 vs. spread last 19 against non-Pac 12 foes. Note Pac-12 1-8 SU in bowls LY.
    Iowa State, based on team trends.


    SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29

    Matchup Skinny Edge


    ARKANSAS STATE vs. NEVADA (Arizona Bowl)...Red Wolves 1-3 SU and vs. line last four bowls, though they did cover last four this season. Still, only 4-5 vs. spread last nine away from Jonesboro. Wolf Pack dropped last two vs. line this season after 4-game cover streak. Nevada no covers last five vs. non-MW BCS foes.
    Slight to Arkansas State, based on team trends.

    FLORIDA vs. MICHIGAN (Peach Bowl)...Rematch of opener last season won by Harbaugh, 33-17. That was pre-Dan Mullen at Florida; Gators were 8-4 vs. spread in Mullen debut, Michigan 1-4 vs. spread away from Ann Arbor this season, and 2-8 against spread last 10 away from home. Also just 2-6 last 8 as chalk away from Ann Arbor.
    Florida, based on team trends.

    SOUTH CAROLINA vs. VIRGINIA (Belk Bowl)...Cavs only 1-3 vs. spread last four in 2018 but overall were 8-4 vs. number this season. Wahoos also 4-1 as dog in 2018. Mendenhall, however, 0-4 SU and vs. line last four bowls. SC 4-1 vs. line away from Williams-Brice this season. Muschamp has won and covered bowls the past two seasons and Gamecocks 6-0 SU, 5-0-1 vs. spread in bowls since 2011.
    South Carolina, based on team trends.

    OKLAHOMA vs. ALABAMA (CFP Orange Bowl)...OU just 2-4 SU and vs. spread last six bowls but did beat Saban in 2013 Sugar Bowl. Lincoln Riley 2-0 as dog (0-0 this season). Saban just 3-5 vs. spread in bowl/playoff games since 2013. Tide just 5-6 vs. line last 11 away from Tuscaloosa.
    Slight to Oklahoma, based on team trends.

    NOTRE DAME vs. CLEMSON (CFP Cotton Bowl)...Dabo 7-1 vs. line last eight bowl/playoff games. Clemson on 10-3 spread uptick since late last season. Tigers also 7-2 vs. points last nine away from Death Valley. Brian Kelly just 2-2 as dog since 2016 (0-0 TY) and Irish 2-4 vs. line last six bowls (both covers vs. LSU).
    Clemson, based on team trends.


    MONDAY, DECEMBER 31

    Matchup Skinny Edge


    VIRGINIA TECH vs. CINCINNATI (Military Bowl)...Hokies were on a 6-game spread skid this season before winning and covering last two to salvage bowl streak (now 26 straight). VPI only 3-6 as dog since last season. Bearcats only covered 2 of last 6 this campaign after starting 5-1 vs. line. Cincy no wins or covers last three in bowls (though not since 2015).
    Slight to Virginia Tech, based on extended trends.

    PITTSBURGH vs. STANFORD (Sun Bowl)...Pitt had a 6-game cover streak prior to last two games of season. Panthers 5-3 as dog this season, and Narduzzi 11-6 last 17 getting points. Pitt however 0-3 SU and vs. line last three bowls. Stanford 3-1 SU, 3-0-1 vs. spread last four bowls, closed season on 4-1-1 spread uptick. Tree 6-1-1 vs. number last 8 away from Farm, and one of only two Pac-12 teams to cover spread in bowls last year.
    Stanford, based on team trends.

    MICHIGAN STATE vs. OREGON (Redbox Santa Clara Bowl)...MSU only 4-8 vs. line this season and Dantonio 2-3 as dog after 7-4 mark as short entering 2018. Spartans just 6-9 vs. number last 15 away from East Lansing, though Dantonio 5-1 SU and vs. spread last six bowls. Ducks only 4-7-1 vs. spread this season and are 0-3 SU and vs. line last three bowls. Webfoots 2-8-2 last 12 vs. line against non-Pac 12 foes.
    Michigan State, based on team trends.

    MISSOURI vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (Liberty Bowl)...Mizzou just 2-5 vs. spread last seven away from Columbia (though did cover last two away TY). Tigers 3-5 vs. line against non-SEC BS-level foes since last season. Gundy was 4-0 as dog this season, 10-3 in role since 2015, and has won and covered 3 of last 4 bowls.
    Oklahoma State, based on team trends.

    NORTHWESTERN vs. UTAH (Holiday Bowl)...Underdog side was 11-1-1 in NU games this season with Cats 5-1-1 as short. Pat Fitz has won SU last two bowls but just 1-2 last 3. Kyle Whittingham 10-1 SU in bowls, 8-3 vs. line in those, and 11-6 vs. spread last 17 away from Salt Lake City.
    Slight to Utah, based on bowl trends.

    NC STATE vs. TEXAS A&M (Gator Bowl)...Pack has won and covered last two and 3 of last 4 bowl games. Pack 4-1 vs. spread last five vs. non-ACC. Jimbo 8-4 vs. line TY but just 2-3 vs. points away from home, and only 1-3 last 4 bowls while at FSU.
    Slight to NC State, based on team trends.


    TUESDAY, JANUARY 1

    Matchup Skinny Edge


    IOWA vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE (Outback Bowl)...Iowa 9-5 vs. line since late 2017, but Hawks 0-3 as dog in 2018. Ferentz 2-3 vs. spread last five bowls but has covered last four against non-Big Ten foes. Note Hawkeyes on 12-5 “over” run. MSU 16-9 vs. line since last season, 8-4 TY for Moorhead.
    Slight to Miss State, based on team trends.

    KENTUCKY vs. PENN STATE (Citrus Bowl)...UK winless SU last four bowls but did cover in Music City vs. NU last year. Cats 4-1 as dog TY, Stoops 13-7 getting points since 2016. Penn State no covers last three away TY but James Franklin 3-1 vs. line in bowls for Nittany Lions, 5-2 vs. spread in bowls with Vandy years.
    Slight to Kentucky, based on recent trends.

    LSU vs. UCF (Fiesta Bowl)...Orgeron 2-5 as chalk this season, and LSU just 2-5 vs. spread last seven bowls (1-1 with Orgeron). UCF 4-2 vs. spread last six bowls, 10–3 vs. line since late last season, 5-1 last six vs. points away from home.
    UCF, based on team trends.

    WASHINGTON vs. OHIO STATE (Rose Bowl)...Huskies only 4-9 vs. line this season, 5-11 last 16 on board. Petersen 1-3 as dog since 2016. U-Dub 2-7 vs. line last 9 against non-Pac 12. Huskies 1-3 SU and vs. line in bowls for Petersen. Urban 4-2 SU and vs. line in bowls with Buckeyes, 10-3 SU and vs. line in bowls back to Utah days in 2003.
    Ohio State, based on team trends.

    TEXAS vs. GEORGIA (Sugar Bowl)...Tom Herman teams 12-2 as dog since 2015 with Houston. Herman 2-0 SU and vs. line in bowls. Georgia has covered last five playoff/bowl games, Kirby Smart 2-0 vs. line in those. Bulldogs on 13-5 spread uptick since late 2017.
    Slight to Texas, based on Tom Herman dog trends.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 01-01-2019 at 03:27 AM.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #17
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    Saturday's Early Bowl Tips
    Joe Williams

    **Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette**

    -- The Tulane Green Wave (6-6 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) of American Athletic Conference meet the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (7-6 straight up, 9-4 against the spread) of the Sun Belt Conference at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida for the AutoNation Cure Bowl.

    -- The Green Wave are bowling for the first time since 2013 when they lost to these same Ragin' Cajuns in the New Orleans Bowl by a 24-21 count. Tulane hasn't won in the postseason since 2002 out in the Hawai'i Bowl, pushing past the hometown team on Christmas Day by a 36-28 count. All time the Green Wave have posted a 4-8 record in 12 bowl appearances. This will be their first appearance in the Cure Bowl.

    -- The Ragin' Cajuns will be making their sixth-ever bowl appearance, and their first-ever outside of the city of New Orleans. They posted a 4-1 record in five showings in the New Orleans Bowl, winning their first four in the Big Easy before suffering a 28-21 setback against Southern Mississippi in 2016, their most recent appearance in the postseason.

    -- Tulane stumbled out of the chute with a 1-3 SU/2-2 ATS record, including losses to Power 5 teams at home against Wake Forest on Aug. 30, 23-17, and on the road against Ohio State on Sept. 22, 49-6. However, in perhaps their most impressive victory of the season, the Green Wave took it to fellow bowl team Memphis, 40-24, winning outright as 14 1/2-point underdogs at home. Unfortunately they were unable to carry over the momentum, losing two in a row to slide to 2-5 SU/3-4 ATS. That's when Tulane kicked it into high gear, winning a pair of road games at Tulsa and South Florida before taking down East Carolina at home to get back to .500. Bowl eligibility wasn't a certainty after getting throttled at Houston 48-17 on Nov. 15, and they held off a poor Navy team 29-28 to just inch over the finish line and end up 6-6. The Green Wave enter bowl season on an 0-3 ATS slide.

    -- Tulane posted very marginal numbers on offense this season except for in the run game. They were 30th in the country with 208.7 yards per game, as Darius Bradwell (165-982-9) and Corey Dauphine (116-754-7) are an impressive one-two punch. They were just 103rd in passing, posting a dismal 186.2 yards per game, and 25.7 points per game (PPG) to rank 93rd. Defensively the Green Wave had trouble stopping the pass, ranking just 115th with 265.2 yards per contest. They were halfway decent agaisnt the run, giving up just 153.9 yards per game to check in 50th in the country.

    -- ULL checked in 39th in the country with 437.2 yards per game, and they were potent in the run game with 229.2 yards per game to finish 19th in the land. Trey Ragas managed 1,141 rushing yards (5.8 yards per carry) with eight scores, and Elijah Mitchell scored 12 times on the ground, too. WR Ja'Marcus Bradley (38-557-10) is the threat in the pass game. They also posted 32.5 PPG to rank 39th in the nation. The Cajuns were defensively challenged, ranking 96th in the nation with 432.3 yards per game, and they were hammered for 210.0 per game to rank 107th in rush defense. They also gave up 33.7 PPG to finish 105th overall.

    -- The Green Wave are slight favorites in this one. As a favorite of 9 1/2 or less, they went 2-2 SU/1-3 ATS this season. ULL was a single-digit 'dog on three occasions, going 2-1 SU/ATS.

    -- The Green Wave enter 2-5 ATS over the past seven games, and they're 1-4 ATS in the past five following a straight-up victory. They're also 1-4 ATS in their past five games on a fieldturf surface.

    -- The Ragin' Cajuns are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 games overall, and they're 4-1 ATS in the past five neutral-site games and 4-1 ATS in their five bowl games all-time. They're also 4-0 ATS in the past four games after a straight-up loss while going 4-1 ATS in the past five on fieldturf.

    -- The under has cashed in five of the past six games overall for Tulane, while going 5-1 in their past six outside of the conference. The under is also 4-1 in the past five against teams with a winning overall mark.

    -- The over is 11-1 in the past 12 non-conference tilts for ULL. However, the under is 4-1 in their past five overall, and 7-1 in the past eight appearances in the month of December.

    -- In this series, the underdog has connected in five straight meetings, and ULL is 4-1 ATS in the past five in this series.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.


    **Utah State vs. North Texas**

    -- In the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M. it will be the Utah State Aggies (10-2 straight up, 9-3 against the spread) of the Mountain West Conference facing off against the Conference USA representative North Texas Mean Green (9-3 straight up, 4-8 against the spread).

    -- The Mean Green fired out to a 4-0 SU/3-1 ATS record, including a 27-point thumping of Power 5 conference member Arkansas back in Sept. 15 on the road. QB Mason Fine and the offense rolled up 44 or more points in each of the first four games and they were sailing along until Sept. 29 when Louisiana Tech upset them at home by a 29-27 score. They rebounded with a pair of conference wins at UTEP and against Southern Miss, but they lost a coin-flip game at UAB by a 29-21 margin to take a second conference loss. A second straight trip to the C-USA title game was still in reach, but a 24-21 loss as 14 1/2-point favorites at Old Dominion put the final nail in their coffin. They were able to finish up strong with a revenge-game win over FAU, 41-38 on Nov. 15, and 24-21 at UTSA to close out the season. They didn't exactly finish up strong, going 0-5 ATS in their final five outings, and 1-7 ATS in the last eight.

    -- As far as Utah State, they were looking like a legit Group of 5 representative. They opened the season with a 38-31 loss at Michigan State, easily covering a 23 1/2-point spread. In fact, they covered their first six games until a non-cover at Wyoming on Oct. 20. They Aggies didn't lose again until Nov. 24 in Boise State, failing in their bid for a chance to go to the Mountain West Conference championship game and a more prestigious bowl. They also ended up 3-3 ATS in the final six outings after their perfect 6-0 ATS start.

    -- When UNT has the ball they're be very up-tempo and fun to watch. They were 15th in the country in total yards (472.8 yards per game), 11th in passing yardage per game (316.2 YPG) and 21st in scoring (36.4 PPG). Defensively they were strong against the run, allowing just 113.4 YPG to finish 15th, and they gave up just 21.8 PPG to finish 31st. If Utah State is going to exploit them, it will be on the pass. UNT was 92nd in the nation against the pass, allowing 246.1 yards per game.

    -- Fine threw for 3,734 yards, 27 TDs and five INTs, and his favorite target is WR Rico Bussey Jr. (68-1,017-12). WR Jalen Guyton (50-702-5) is also a threat in the pass game, while it's all about RBs Deandre Torrey (161-942-14) and Loren Easly (74-386-4) in the run game.

    -- For USU, they're 11th in the land in total yards (493.8 YPG), 18th in passing yards (288.8 YPC) and third overall in the nation with 47.2 PPG. Defensively, the Aggies were gashed for 240.1 yards per game, just 84th in the nation. QB Jordan Love completed 65.8 percent of his attempts, throwing for 3,208 yards, 28 TDs and five INTs. Mason vs. Love will be one of the better bowl game matchups we'll see all season. RB Darwin Thompson (132-951-14) is the stud, with Gerold Bright (125-785-8) as the strong change-of-pace guy.

    -- For the Aggies, they'll be playing for interim coach Frank Maile, as Matt Wells took the job at Texas Tech. They have lost their past two bowl appearances, and they're 4-8 overall in 12 all-time bowl games. They won their only previous appearance in the New Mexico Bowl, pushing aside UTEP 21-6 in Wells' second season in Logan.

    -- The Mean Green will be making their third straight bowl appearance in three years under the tutelage of Seth Littrell, and they're hoping the third time is a charm. They lost in the New Orleans Bowl to Troy last season, and to Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2016. Overall they're just 2-7 in nine previous trips, and this will be their first-ever appearance in the New Mexico Bowl.

    -- Utah State is 4-0 ATS in the past four non-conference games, and 9-3 ATS in the past 12 games overall. However, they're 4-15 ATS in the past 19 against winning teams.

    -- North Texas is 10-3 ATS in their past 13 non-conference battles, but they're 0-4 ATS in the past four against winning teams, 2-5 ATS in the past seven games in December and 0-5 ATS in the past five overall.

    -- The 'under' has cashed in six straight bowl games for Utah State, but the over is 23-9 in their past 32 overall. The over is 4-0 in the past four non-conference games and 4-1 in their past five against winning sides.

    -- The 'under' is 4-0 in UNT's past four outside of the conference, 12-3-1 in the past 16 overall and 5-2 in their past seven on a grass surface.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 2:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Arizona State vs. Fresno State**

    -- In the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas it will be the Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) taking on the Mountain West Conference champion Fresno State Bulldogs (11-2 straight up, 9-4 against the spread).

    -- The season started with a lot of promise for AZ State and first-year coach Herm Edwards, as they spanked UTSA and upset a then-ranked Michigan State team 16-13 on Sept. 8 to open 2-0 SU/ATS. However, a two-game losing skid at San Diego State and Washington splashed cold water on the start, and the Sun Devils found themselves 3-4 SU/4-3 ATS through seven games heading into a late-October battle at USC. They won that one 38-35 in exciting fashion behind stud WR N'Keal Harry, who will be skipping this one to get ready for his pro career and the NFL Draft. Sparky also edged rival Arizona 41-40 on Nov. 24 in Tucson for a seventh win.

    -- Fresno State fell 21-14 at Minnesota on Sept. 8, and it appeared maybe it might be a so-so season. However, a 38-14 thumping of UCLA on the road renewed hope, and they punished Toledo 49-27 to wrap up September at 3-1 SU/ATS. They wouldn't lose again until Nov. 9 on a Friday night in Boise State, 24-17. However, they would avenge that loss on the Smurf Turf on Dec. 1 in the MWC Championship Game to punch their ticket to Vegas.

    -- Arizona State ranked 44th in total yards (427.2 yards per game), and they ranked 56th in passing yards (241.3 YPG). However, those stats are out with the window with Harry in street clothes. Defensively, AZ State ranked 71st in total yards (402.8 YPG), 82nd in passing yards allowed (238.7 YPG) and 65th against the run (164.2 YPG). QB Manny Wilkins is still playing, though, and he passed for 2,896 yards, 19 TD and four INT while running for 416 yards and eight more scores. RB Eno Benjamin (277-1,524-15) will also be leaned upon, adding to his impressive stat line.

    -- Fresno State finished 50th in total yards (421.0 YPG), while posting 274.2 YPG to rank 25th in the country. They were also 26th in the land (34.9 PPG). Defensively, the Bulldogs allowed just 323.8 yards per game to rank 17th in the land, and they were third in points allowed with just 13.7 PPG.

    -- QB Marcus McMaryion was a dual-threat option who didn't make many miscues. He passed for 3,453 yards, 25 TD and three INT while rushing for seven touchdowns. RBs Ronnie Rivers (108-531-8) and Jordan Mims (113-436-6) are solid on the ground, while WR KeeSean Johnson (93-1,307-8) and TE Jared Rice (51-624-3) are the top options in the pass game.

    -- Fresno State won last season in the Hawai'i Bowl, snapping a six-game bowl skid. That includes their only other trip to the Las Vegas Bowl, a 45-20 pounding inflicted by USC. The Bulldogs are 2-1 all-time against Pac-12 members at the time. They also played Colorado in the Aloha Bowl in 1993, but they were in the Big 12 then.

    -- Arizona State has a long bowl history, going 14-15-1, including two trips to the Salad Bowl. They appeared in the Las Vegas Bowl once before, getting smacked around by Boise State 56-24 back on Dec. 22, 2011. Arizona State is 2-6 across their past eight postseason appearances.

    -- The Sun Devils are 2-7 ATS in their past nine bowl games and just 1-6 ATS in their past seven battles against Mountain West foes. They are an impressive 10-4 ATS in the past 14 against teams with a winning overall record.

    -- The Bulldogs are an amazing 26-7-1 ATS in the past 34 overall and 16-5 ATS in the past 21 against teams with a winning record. They're also 8-2 ATS in the past 10 non-conference battles. However, Fresno is 1-6 ATS in the past seven bowl games and 4-9 ATS in the past 13 against Pac-12 foes.

    -- The 'over' has cashed in eight of the past 10 neutral-site games for Arizona State, and 4-1 in the past five non-conference games. They over is also 6-1 in their past seven bowl appearances.

    -- The 'under' is 22-8 in the past 30 overall for Fresno State, but the over is 5-2-1 in their past eight bowl appearances. The over is also 16-4-1 in their past 21 against the Pac-12 and 4-1 in the past five outside of the conference.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

  3. #18
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    Saturday's Late Bowl Tips
    Brian Edwards

    **Eastern Michigan vs. Georgia Southern**

    -- The Raycom Media Camelia Bowl will take place Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Crampton Bowl. Kickoff for Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

    -- As of Tuesday afternoon, most betting shops had Georgia Southern (9-3 straight up, 9-3 against the spread) installed as a one-point favorite with a total of 47.5 or 48. However, by Friday afternoon, most spots had GSU favored by three points with the total at 45. The Eagles were +140 on the money line (risk $100 to win $140).

    -- Eastern Michigan (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS) is bowling for only the third time in school history and hasn’t won a bowl game since 1987. Chris Creighton’s squad won each of its last three regular-season contests and five of its past six. The Eagles could’ve easily folded their tents after starting 2-0 before losing four consecutive one-possession games, including a pair of overtime losses at San Diego State (23-20) and vs. No. Illinois (26-23). Remember, EMU lost three OT games in 2017 during a six-game losing streak in which the Eagles went 4-1-1 ATS and lost by only 23 combined points.

    -- EMU forced three turnovers and had three stops on fourth-down attempts in its 28-20 non-covering win at Kent State in the club’s regular-season finale. Senior RB Ian Eriksen led the way with 118 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.

    -- EMU has faced six foes who are going bowling, posting a 2-4 SU record and a 3-3 ATS mark. The Eagles won 20-19 at Purdue as 15-point underdogs when Chad Ryland buried a 24-yard field goal in walk-off fashion. Senior QB Tyler Wiegers, a grad transfer from Iowa, completed 20-of-28 passes for 312 yards and one TD with an interception against the Boilermakers. EMU also beat Toledo by a 28-26 count as a two-point home underdog. The Eagles led 28-3 at halftime and 28-6 with less than 12 minutes remaining. But the Rockets outscored them 20-0 in the final stanza and sliced the deficit to two with 20 ticks remaining. EMU got the stop on the two-point conversion, though, to preserve the victory.

    -- Wiegers has connected on 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,887 yards with an 11/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Blake Banham is his favorite target, hauling in 54 receptions for 714 yards and five TDs. Arthur Jackson III has 43 catches for 506 yards and three TDs, while Mathew Sexton has 36 grabs for 506 yards and three TDs.

    -- EMU’s leading rusher is Shaq Vann, who has 590 yards, five TDs and a 4.4 yards-per-carry average.

    -- EMU has been an underdog six times this year, compiling a 4-2 spread record with a pair of outright victories at Purdue and vs. Toledo. The Eagles are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 non-conference games and 24-11 in their past 35 contests (regardless of the venue or ‘chalk’-‘dog role).

    -- EMU is ranked fifth in the nation in pass defense, 35th in total defense and 32nd in scoring ‘D’ (22.0 points per game). This unit, which gave up only one TD in the last three games of the regular season, is led by junior DE Maxx Crosby, who has produced 62 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, seven QB hurries, four forced fumbles, three passes broken up and one pick-six. Crosby now has 20 career sacks to rank him in a tie for second-most in program history. There are numerous other defensive standouts for the Eagles, including junior DB Brody Hoying, junior safety Vince Calhoun, senior LB Kyle Rachwal and senior DE Jeremiah Harris.

    -- We should point out that EMU has already faced a triple-option attack this season when it lost to Army. Couple that with its extra prep time for the postseason, and you have a stop unit that should be better prepared for GSU’s unique attack (at least when comparing to other regular-season foes who have such short prep time).

    -- In his first full season as head coach, Georgia Southern’s Chad Lunsford has done a sensational job. He took over (a 0-6 team!) for Tyson Summers on an interim basis for last year’s final four regular-season games and went 3-2-1 ATS with a pair of outright victories. Now he has the storied program, one that made the jump to FBS into the Sun Belt conference in 2014 after winning a slew of national titles at the lower level over the last several decades, playing in its second bowl game. The Eagles went 9-3 in 2014 but weren’t eligible for the postseason during their first year at the FBS level. They smashed Bowling Green 58-27 as seven-point underdogs in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl, only to go 5-7 in Summers’s first year on the job in 2016.

    -- Georgia Southern sprinted out to a 7-1 start both SU and ATS with its lone defeat coming by a 38-7 score at Clemson as a 31.5-point road underdog. The Eagles appeared to take control of the Sun Belt East division when they rocked eventual SBC champ, Appalachian State, by a 34-14 count as 11-point home underdogs on Oct. 25. However, they dropped their next two games in blowout fashion at ULM (44-25) and vs. Troy (35-21).

    -- Georgia Southern bounced back to win its final two regular-season games both SU and ATS at Coastal Carolina (41-17) and at Georgia State (35-14). In the win over the Panthers in Atlanta, GSU raced out to a 28-0 lead and didn’t give up any points until there was 9:45 remaining in the final stanza. Sophomore QB Shai Werts completed 8-of-11 passes for 105 yards and two TDs without an interception. He also rushed for 75 yards and one TD on 13 attempts. RB Wesley Fields ran 16 times for 151 yards and one TD. Werts threw a 58-yard TD pass to Colby Ransom and had a 38-yard scoring strike to Darion Anderson.

    -- GSU posted a 3-1 record both SU and ATS in four games as a single-digit favorite during the 2018 regular season.

    -- Werts completed 65-of-109 passes (59.6%) for 954 yards and 10 TD passes without an interception. He also ran for 822 yards and a team-high 13 TDs while averaging 5.0 YPC. Fields rushed for a team-best 959 yards and nine TDs, averaging 5.4 YPC. Fields also had 10 receptions for 237 yards and one TD. Sophomore RB Wesley Kennedy had 15 catches for 182 yards, in addition to 395 rushing yards and three TDs with a 7.2 YPC average.

    -- GSU is ranked ninth in the nation in rushing yards and scores at a 31.1 PPG clip. The Eagles are ranked 27th in the country in scoring ‘D’ (21.6 PPG).

    -- Totals were an overall was for the Eagles (6-6), but they saw a 5-0 run of ‘overs’ snapped when the 49 combined points dropped ‘under’ 60 in the regular-season finale at Georgia State. GSU’s games averaged combined scores of 52.7 PPG.

    -- The ‘under’ has been a steady money maker for the Eagles this season, going 8-4 overall. They’ve seen the ‘under’ cash in three straight games and seven of their past nine. Eastern Michigan’s games have averaged combined scores of 49.5 PPG.


    **Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State**

    -- Conference USA and the Sun Belt Conference will have their representative collide Saturday night in the Big Easy at the New Orleans Bowl. Kickoff from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

    -- As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Appalachian State (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) favored by 6.5 points with a total of 47. The Blue Raiders were +200 to win outright (risk $100 to win $200).

    -- App State shook off the loss of four-year starting QB Taylor Lamb, who is the school’s third all-time leader in career passing yards with 9,786 after graduating following the 2017 campaign that was capped by a 34-0 win over Toledo as a seven-point underdog in the Dollar General Bowl, to have another terrific season. The Mountaineers, who joined the FBS and SBC in 2014, won the league’s first championship game, remained perfect in terms of winning records at the FBS level (5-for-5) and are going bowling for the fourth straight season.

    -- Unfortunately for the program, the enormous success led head coach Scott Satterfield to get a job offer from Louisville, and it was absolutely one he couldn’t turn down. Therefore, Appalachian State is without its head coach. Defensive Line coach Mark Ivey is serving as the team’s interim head coach.

    -- Another hurdle App State overcame this season was the loss of star RB Jalin Moore, a two-time All-SBC first-teamer who went down with a season-ending injury in early October. Moore had rushed for 400 yards and six TDs with a 6.3 YPC average, but Darrynton Evans stepped up nicely to fill those shoes. Evans has run for 1,079 yards and seven TDs while averaging 6.5 YPC. Marcus Williams Jr. has run for 536 yards and four TDs with a 4.6 YPC average.

    -- Sophomore QB Zac Thomas replaced Lamb and had an outstanding debut season as the starter. Thomas has connected on 62.6 percent of his throws for 1,862 yards with an 18/4 TD-INT ratio. He’s run for 476 yards and 10 TDs while averaging 5.7 YPC. There were no jitters for Thomas whatsoever in his debut at Penn State. in front of more than 105,000 hostile fans. In a 45-38 overtime loss to PSU, Thomas hit on 25-of-38 passes for 270 yards and two TDs with one interception. He ran for 43 yards and one TD. He has seven TD passes without a pick in the Mountaineers’ past five outings.

    -- Thomas’s favorite wideout is Corey Sutton, who has 36 receptions for 695 yards and eight TDs. Dominique Heath has caught 22 balls for 299 yards and five TDs, while Evans has 12 catches for 87 yards and one TD.

    -- All 10 of App State’s wins have come by double-digit margins. The Mountaineers were double-digit favorites in 11 of their 12 games, as they covered the spread easily as 24-point ‘dogs in Happy Valley. Since 2015, they’re 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS in nine games as single-digit ‘chalk,’ but we should note that they were 1-2 both SU and ATS in three such spots in 2017.

    -- App State is 3-0 and 2-1 ATS in the program’s first three bowl games that have come in the past three campaigns. We noted last year’s win over Toledo and in ’16, the Mountaineers nipped Toledo (yes, they played in bowls twice in a row) 31-28 as one-point favorites. In the 2015 Camelia Bowl, they edged Ohio 31-29 as 7.5-point ‘chalk.’

    -- App State junior OT Victor Johnson, a first-team All-SBC selection in 2017 who started all 26 games as a freshman and sophomore, missed the regular-season finale with a leg injury. Johnson is ‘questionable’ vs. the Blue Raiders.

    -- App State is ranked fifth in the nation in total defense, third at defending the pass, 30th in run defense and sixth in scoring ‘D’ (15.7 PPG). This unit is led by junior LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, who had a team-high 95 tackles, 7.5 TFL’s, seven passes broken up, three QB hurries, two forced fumbles and one sack. Junior LB Jordan Fehr recorded 84 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two TFL’s, two PBU and two QB hurries, while LB Noel Cook had 69 stops, 3.5 sacks, 6.5 TFL’s, one interception, one PBU and three QB hurries.

    -- Middle Tennessee (8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS) is led by senior QB Brent Stockstill, who will face a stout secondary led by junior CB Clifton Duck (first-team All-SBC last year) and senior CB Tae Hayes, a second-team All-SBC choice in 2017 who had six PBU, three interceptions (for 75 return yards), three TFL’s and two blocked punts/kicks this season.

    -- Rick Stockstill’s squad won seven of its last nine regular-season games to win C-USA’s East Division. MTSU locked up the division by blasting UAB 27-3 as a 3-point home underdog in the regular-season finale. Stockstill connected on 22-of-29 passes for 261 yards and two TDs without an interception to pace the winners.

    -- The win over UAB set up a rematch with the Blazers at Johnny ‘Red’ Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro just seven days later. This time around, however, it was UAB that captured a 27-25 triumph as a 1.5-point road underdog. UAB’s Nick Vogel buried a 28-yard field goal with 3:23 remaining to lift his team to victory. Stockstill completed 29-of-45 attempts for 362 yards and two TDs, but he was intercepted twice.

    -- Stockstill was already his school’s leader in career passing yards coming into his senior campaign. After throwing for 3,214 yards this year, he has 12,126 passing yards and a career 105/33 TD-INT ratio. Stockstill also ran for 178 yards and a pair of TDs this season.

    -- Junior WR Ty Lee, a first-team All-C-USA selection in 2017, had another stellar season by making 67 catches for 828 yards and seven TDs. Patrick Smith had 54 receptions for 526 yards and six TDs.

    -- MTSU’s ground attack is led by RB Chaton Mobley, who has a team-best 579 rushing yards, four TDs and a 5.0 YPC average. RB Tavares Thomas had a team-high five rushing TDs and caught 34 balls for 232 yards and four TDs.

    -- MTSU is bowling for a fourth straight year and for the eighth time in Rick Stockstill’s 13-year tenure. The Blue Raiders had lost four bowl games in a row and five of six under Stockstill until beating Arkansas State 35-30 as 3.5-point underdogs in last year’s Camelia Bowl. They are 4-7 in 11 all-time postseason appearances.

    -- MTSU was an underdog seven times this season, going 4-3 ATS with three outright wins vs. FAU (25-24), at Marshall (34-24) and vs. UABG (27-3).

    -- Totals have been an overall wash for ASU (6-6), but the ‘under’ finished the regular season on a 6-2 run. The Mountaineers have seen their games average combined scores of 52.3 PPG.

    -- The ‘under’ is 7-6 overall for the Blue Raiders, but they saw the ‘over’ go 3-1 in their last four contests. Their games are averaging combined scores of 54.5 PPG.

    **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

    -- Arizona State was already going be without likely first-round pick WR N’Keal Harry for Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl showdown vs. Fresno State. Then on Thursday, reports leaked out that ASU won’t have leading tackler Merlin Robertson. The LB, who garnered Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, is dealing with a personal matter and didn’t make the trip to Vegas in order to be with his family. Robertson had 77 tackles, 8.5 TFL’s and five sacks for the Sun Devils, who were six-point underdogs as of Friday afternoon. Side Note: Herm Edwards’s ASU squad hasn’t lost by more than seven points all season.

    -- Kentucky junior RB Benny Snell has announced his intentions to turn pro a year early. However, on a bright note for UK fans, Snell says he will play in the team’s bowl game vs. Penn State. PSU was favored by 6.5 points as of Friday. Josh Allen, who some draftniks have as a top-10 pick in the first round, will also play for the ‘Cats vs. the Nittany Lions.

    -- Players skipping bowls to stay healthy for the Draft include West Virginia QB Will Grier, WVU’s best o-lineman Yodney Cajuste, Baylor TE Jalen Hurd, Houston DT Ed Oliver, Iowa TE Noah Fant, LSU CB Greedy Williams, South Carolina WR/special-teams All-American Deebo Samuel, N.C. State’s first-team All-ACC LB Germain Pratt, N.C. State’s best WR Kelvin Harmon, Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill and Michigan DL Rashan Gary. Florida WR Tyrie Cleveland (broken collarbone) is ‘out’ vs. Michigan and LSU will also be sans DB Kristian Fulton vs. UCF.

    -- According to sources, Stanford star TE Kaden Smith’s lower-body injury that prevented him from playing in the Cardinal’s last two regular-season games (and might’ve cost him The Mackey Award, as he was one of three finalists) “continues to linger” and he’s unlikely to play in the team’s bowl game. Smith, who is listed as 'questionable,' is projected to be a second or third-rounder if he skips his last two years of college to turn pro. We’re told he won’t announce his decision until after the bowl game.

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    Sharp bettors hit Fresno State odds for Las Vegas Bowl matchup vs. Arizona State
    Patrick Everson

    KeeSean Johnson and Fresno State have been good on the field and at the betting window, at 10-2 SU and 9-4 ATS. Bettors pushed the Bulldogs from -4.5 to -6 against Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

    College football’s bowl season kicks off today with a handful of games, including one right here in Las Vegas. We check in on the action and line movement for all those contests, with insights from Derek Wilkinson, supervisor at The SuperBook at Westgate.

    Las Vegas Bowl
    Arizona State Sun Devils vs. No. 21 Fresno State Bulldogs – Open: -4.5; Move: -4; Move: -4.5; Move: -5; Move: -6


    Fresno State went 10-1 SU and 8-3 ATS over its last 11 games to earn a spot in this 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff. The Bulldogs (11-2 SU, 9-4 ATS) capped their run with a 19-16 overtime victory at Boise State as 1.5-point underdogs in the Mountain West Conference championship game.

    Arizona State, in its first year under coach Herm Edwards, won four of its last five games to become bowl-eligible. The Sun Devils (7-5 SU and ATS) edged Arizona 41-40 as 1.5-point road favorites in the regular-season finale.

    “We have quite a bit of action on that game, and we are heavy on Freson State,” Wilkinson said. “There was sharp money on Fresno, and we’ve got pretty big five-figure liability on the Bulldogs. We’ll definitely be rooting for Arizona State.”


    Cure Bowl
    Tulane Green Wave vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns – Open: +3.5; Move: +3; Move: +3.5; Move: +3


    Tulane squeaked out a victory in its regular-season finale to become bowl-eligible at 6-6 SU (5-7 ATS). The Green Wave let all of a 21-3 lead slip away against Navy, falling behind 28-21, but got a late touchdown and went for the 2-point conversion, winning 29-28 as 5-point home faves.

    Louisiana-Lafayette finished just above .500 at 7-6 SU (9-4 ATS) and reached the Sun Belt Conference final. In that contest, the Ragin’ Cajuns lost to Appalachian State 30-19, but cashed as 17.5-point road pups.

    “We took one sharp bet at ULL +3.5, which brought the line down a little bit,” Wilkinson said of the day’s first game, a 1:30 p.m. ET start. “I don’t expect we’ll move off of 3. Our liability is on ULL. We need Tulane, but not for much.”


    New Mexico Bowl
    North Texas Mean Green vs. No. 21 Utah State Aggies – Open: -9.5; Move: -10; Move: -9.5; Move: -9; Move: -8; Move: -7.5; Move: -7


    Utah State lost its season opener, then won 10 in a row (8-2 ATS) and had a shot to reach the Mountain West title game. However, the Aggies (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) came up short at Boise State in the regular-season finale, 33-24 as 2.5-point pups.

    North Texas won six of its first seven games (4-3 ATS), then went 3-2 in its last five, failing to cover in all five contests. In the regular-season closer, the Mean Green (9-3 SU, 4-8 ATS) were laying 25 points at Texas-San Antonio and escaped with a 24-21 victory.

    Despite the line tightening, The SuperBook expects to be a Mean Green fan in this 2 p.m. ET matchup.

    “We’ve got a decent amount of action on this game, but it’s split both ways,” Wilkinson said. “Most of the wiseguy action, all the limit bets, are on North Texas. We took two significant bets from guys we really respect, at +9.5 and +8. All the public money is on Utah State. We need North Texas for a small amount, and we always like to be on the same side as the sharps.”


    Camellia Bowl
    Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Georgia Southern Eagles – Open: +1; Move: Pick; Move: -1; Move; -1.5; Move: -2.5; Move: -2; Move: -2.5; Move: -3; Move: -3.5; Move: -3; Move: -3.5; Move: -3


    Georgia Southern put together a solid 9-3 SU and ATS season to earn a bowl bid. In the regular-season closer, Georgia Southern rolled over Georgia State 35-14 laying 10 points on the road.

    Eastern Michigan won its last three games to claim a postseason berth. EMU (7-5 SU and ATS) wrapped up the regular season with a 28-20 win at Kent State giving 12.5 points.

    “We actually have a lot of action on this game, a lot of money on Georgia Southern,” Wilkinson said of the 5:30 p.m. ET start. “We have slightly more action on that game right now than on the Las Vegas Bowl.”

    Georgia Southern drew money at several points -- +1, -1.5, -2, -2.5 – including some sharp play and some larger four-figure wagers.

    “The only significant bet on Eastern Michigan was from a house player at +3,” Wilkinson said. “We’re definitely gonna be rooting for Eastern Michigan.”
    New Orleans Bowl
    Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders vs. Appalachian State – Open: -7.5; Move: -7; Move: -6.5; Move: -7; Move: -6.5; Move: -7; Move: -6.5; Move: -7

    Sun Belt champion Appalachian State won 10 of its final 11 games, after taking Penn State to overtime in its season opener. The Mountaineers (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) beat Louisiana-Lafayette 30-19 as 17.5-point favorites in the conference title game.

    Middle Tennessee went on a 5-1 SU and ATS run to cap the regular season, then stubbed its toe in the Conference USA title tilt. The Blue Raiders (8-5 SU and ATS) lost to Alabama-Birmingham 27-25 as 1.5-point home faves.

    “Most of our liability is on Middle Tennessee State,” Wilkinson said of this 9 p.m. ET clash. “We got three $5,000 bets on Appalachian State -6.5 from house players, but we took $22,000 on Middle Tennessee from a house player, too.”
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 12-15-2018 at 12:15 PM.

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    Frisco Bowl Preview
    December 18, 2018
    By Brian Edwards


    Ohio and San Diego State are poised to collide Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium for the DXL Frisco Bowl in Frisco, TX.

    As of Tuesday evening, most books had Ohio (8-4 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) installed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 53.5. The Aztecs were +120 on the money line (risk $100 to win $120).

    San Diego State (7-5 SU, 3-9 ATS) opened the season with a 31-10 loss at Stanford, but it responded with six straight wins. The Aztecs won vs. Arizona State (28-21), vs. Eastern Michigan (23-20 in overtime) and at Boise State (19-13) during their six-game surge.

    However, Rocky Long’s club lost three games in a row and four of its last five to close the regular season in extremely disappointing fashion. The Aztecs have been particularly tough on their betting supporters lately, going 1-6 ATS in their past seven games with the lone spread cover coming by one point.

    San Diego State lost at home vs. UNLV by a 27-24 count as a 24-point home favorite. Next, it went down 23-14 at Fresno State before closing the year with a 31-30 overtime loss to Hawaii as an 18-point home ‘chalk.’

    Juwan Washington rushed for 158 yards and two TDs on 31 carries in the loss to the Warriors. Senior QB Christian Chapman completed only 9-of-19 throws for 149 yards and one TD without an interception. Senior WR Fred Trevillion had a pair of receptions for 88 yards and one TD.

    San Diego State led Hawaii 14-3 at the end of the first quarter, only to see the Warriors outscore it 21-0 in the second to take a 24-14 advantage into halftime. The Aztecs held Cole McDonald and Co. scoreless in the second half so when they scored on a 13-yard TD pass from Ryan Agnew to Isaac Lessard with 6:07 remaining, the game was tied at 24-24.

    Hawaii had possession first in the extra session, getting a 10-yard TD pass from McDonald to JoJo Ward to go ahead 31-24. San Diego State quickly answered on Washington’s 25-yard TD dash, but Long decided to go for two and the win. The move backfired when a two-point conversion pass failed. We could see both Agnew and Chapman under center Wednesday. Chapman started 29 games in his first three seasons, but a shoulder injury in Week 2 forced him to the sidelines for two months. He has split time with Agnew since returning in a 31-23 win at New Mexico on Nov. 3.

    Chapman has connected on 57.5 percent of his throws for 774 yards this year. He has a 4/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. For his career, Chapman has an excellent 39/12 TD-INT ratio. Agnew, a junior who played high school at Southake Carroll in the Dallas area, had only nine career pass attempts coming into the season. He completed 104-of-199 passes (52.3%) for 1,525 yards with a 10/5 TD-INT ratio. Agnew also produced 131 rushing yards, but he was limited to 2.4 yards per carry.

    Washington missed four games in a row after sustaining an injury in the win over EMU. Like Chapman, he returned for the win at UNM, rushing for 95 yards and two TDs on merely 11 carries. For the season, Washington has produced 870 rushing yards, 10 TDs and a 4.8 YPC average. Sophomore RB Chase Jasmin has run for 592 yards and five TDs with a 4.3 YPC average.

    Trevillion has 22 receptions for 598 yards and three TDs. The senior wideout averages 27.2 yards per catch. Kahale Warring has 31 grabs for 372 yards and three TDs.

    San Diego State is ranked 21st in the nation in total defense, third in run defense and 29th in scoring ‘D’ (21.8 points per game). Junior LB Kyahva Tezino has enjoyed a sensational season, racking up 120 tackles, 8.5 sacks, seven QB hurries, six tackles for loss and two passes broken up.

    San Diego State has been an underdog four times this season, compiling a 3-1 spread record with a pair of outright victories. Since midway through the 2015 campaign, Long’s team is an incredible 9-1 ATS with eight outright wins in 10 games as an underdog.

    This is the Aztecs’ ninth consecutive postseason appearance, but they’ll fail in their bid to post a fourth straight double-digit win total. They went 11-3, 11-3 and 10-3 in 2015, ’16 and ’17, respectively.

    Long has taken his program to the postseason eight times during his eight-year tenure. The Aztecs are 3-4 SU in those seven previous bowl games. They won back-to-back seasons over Cincinnati (42-7) at the 2015 Hawaii Bowl and 34-10 over Houston at the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl. But San Diego State was denied a third straight postseason victory by Army at the 2017 Armed Forces Bowl (42-35).

    Frank Solich’s team went 2-2 both SU and ATS in non-conference play. Ohio beat Howard (38-32) and UMass (58-42) at home, but it lost 45-31 to Virginia in Nashville and 34-30 at Cincinnati.

    The Bobcats went 4-1 in its first five MAC games to leave them in a three-way race with Buffalo and Miami (OH) in the East Division. However, the RedHawks captured a 30-28 win as 4.5-point home ‘chalk’ when Ohio came to town. Solich’s bunch would bounce back to trash Buffalo by a 52-17 count as a 2.5-point home favorite the following week. Nevertheless, the Bulls finished 7-1 in league play to win the division.

    Ohio is led by junior QB Nathan Rourke, who has completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 2,225 yards with a 22/7 TD-INT ratio. Rourke can make plays with his legs, too, rushing for 816 yards and 13 TDs while averaging 6.5 YPC. His favorite target is Papi White, who has 58 catches for 897 yards and nine TDs. Andrew Meyer has 34 receptions for 445 yards and four TDs.

    Senior RB A.J Ouellette has run for 1,142 yards and 12 TDs with a 6.2 YPC average. Malek Irons is a force as well, rushing for 831 yards and eight TDs while averaging 6.6 YPC.

    Ohio was a single-digit favorite three times, going 2-1 both SU and ATS. The Bobcats are bowling for the fourth straight season and are hoping to perform the way they did last year at the 2017 Bahamas Bowl, where they blasted UAB 41-6 as seven-point favorites to end a three-game losing streak in the postseason. During Solich’s 14-year tenure, Ohio has gone 3-6 in nine bowl games.

    Ohio is ranked 17th in the nation in total offense, ninth in rushing yards and 10th in scoring with its 41.2 points-per-game average. The Bobcats are 35th in the country in run defense, 66th in total defense and 61st in scoring ‘D’ (26.7 PPG).

    The ‘over’ is 7-4-1 overall for the Bobcats after hitting in their last two regular-season games. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 67.8 PPG. This is the second-lowest total of the season for Ohio, which saw the 45 combined points drop ‘under’ the 52-point tally at No. Illinois back on Oct. 13.

    The ‘under’ is 8-4 overall for the Aztecs, but they saw the ‘over’ go 3-2 in their last five regular-season contests. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 44.1 PPG. This is San Diego State third-highest total of the year.

    Kickoff on ESPN is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

    **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

    -- San Diego State’s win total (8.5) dropped ‘under,’ while Ohio’s (8.5) also slithered South of the number.

    -- USA Today reported early Monday night that Georgia true freshman QB Justin Fields is exploring transferring possibilities. Fields, a five-star recruit, played in 12 of UGA’s 13 games. He rushed for 266 yards and four TDs on 42 attempts, averaging 6.3 YPC. Fields completed 27-of-39 throws (69.2%) for 328 yards and four TDs without an interception. With the SEC Championship Game tied at 28-28 with about three minutes remaining, Kirby Smart inserted Fields into the game on the punt team with the Bulldogs facing a fourth-and-11 play near midfield. In a cataclysmic coaching error, Smart inexplicably called a fake punt. The snap went directly to Fields, who you would think was supposed to throw the ball. He ran instead and didn’t come anywhere close to getting first-down yardage. Whether or not Fields screwed up the play or not, all the blame lies with Smart for making the knucklehead decision. UGA starting QB Jake Fromm is a true sophomore and whether he’s a guy who turns pro early or stays in Athens for four seasons is debatable at this point. Fields apparently doesn’t want to hinge his future on finding out, and that’s understandable. He’ll be in high demand on the transfer market. At this point, it’s unclear if Fields will play in the Sugar Bowl vs. Texas. There’s been some chatter among SEC media member that Mississippi St. could be a landing spot for the talented signal caller. The thinking here is that Fields has a long relationship with Joe Moorhead, who was the OC for James Franklin at Penn St. during Fields’s recruiting process. Before deciding to sign with UGA, Fields had been verbally committed to PSU. A report from The Toledo Blade on Tuesday suggested that Ohio St. was the front-runner to score Fields’s services.

    -- Nick Saban provided ESPN.com with an update on Heisman Trophy runner-up QB Tua Tagovailoa’s progress after undergoing ankle surgery a couple of weeks ago. “He’s doing well. I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run…I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

    -- Iowa QB Nate Stanley will return to the Hawkeyes for his senior season in 2019. Stanley, who announced his decision on Monday, threw for 2,638 yards with a 23/9 TD-INT ratio this year. He had a 26/6 TD-INT ratio as a sophomore in 2017.

    -- Stanford RB Bryce Love won’t play in his team’s Sun Bowl game vs. Pittsburgh in order to focus on staying healthy and preparing for the NFL Draft. Other key players for the Cardinal who won’t be in uniform against the Panthers included OG Nate Herbig, CB Alameen Murphy, DE Dylan Jackson and safety Ben Edwards. Although he’s listed as ‘questionable,’ gamblers shouldn’t expect to see TE Kaden Smith in action, either. Herbig and Smith were both first-team All-Pac-12 selections in 2017. Smith was one of three finalists for the Mackey Award. Love finished his collegiate career with 3,865 rushing yards and 30 TDs. David Shaw’s team is favored by six points versus Pitt.

    -- According to GameCockCentral.com, South Carolina returned to the practice field Monday in preparation for a Dec. 29 date with Virginia at The Belk Bowl in Charlotte. The Gamecocks welcomed back senior LB Bryson Allen-Williams and Jaycee Horn, and Will Muschamp said both players will play vs. UVA. Williams missed the last four games of the regular season, while Horn was ‘out’ for the last two. Deebo Samuel won’t play for USC against the Cavaliers in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Friday's Bowl Tips
    Joe Williams

    **Florida International vs. Toledo**

    Bahamas Bowl History

    -- The Florida International Golden Panthers (8-4 straight up, 9-3 against the spread) from Conference USA take on the Toledo Rockets (7-5 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.

    -- Butch Davis leads his Golden Panthers into the school's fourth-ever bowl game. They won their initial postseason appearance in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against Toledo by a 34-32 score back in 2010 under Mario Cristobal, now the head honcho at Oregon. Under Davis, FIU is 0-1 after getting trucked 28-3 by Temple in the Gasparilla Bowl last season.

    -- Toledo has a much lengthier bowl history, as this will be their 18th postseason game. They were blanked last season by Appalachian State 34-0 in the Dollar General Bowl on Dec. 23, 2017, and each of their past two bowl games have been losses to the Mountaineers. This will be their first appearance in the Bahamas Bowl representing the MAC. After starting out 6-1 in their first seven bowl games the Rockets are 4-6 SU since a loss in the 2002 Motor City Bowl.

    -- FIU has been a friend of bettors this season with a 9-3 ATS mark, including covers in their first four games and each of their two games against Power 5 conference members. They became bowl eligible on Oct. 27 at Western Kentucky, earliest in school history for that accomplishment. They followed that up with a stinker against rival Florida Atlantic, falling 49-14 as two-point favorites at home. The 'over' ended up cashing in their final five games, too.

    -- Toledo whipped up on VMI of the FCS in their opener, covering a 48 1/2-point number, but they fell the next week to Miami-Florida by a 49-24 score the following week in the Glass Bowl. The Rockets rebounded nicely, though, shooting down Nevada 63-44 as 10 1/2-point favorites in their highest-scoring game of the season (combined points). Toledo went over the 50-point mark on six occasions, and they scored at least 24 points in 10 of their 12 outings.

    -- Toledo ranked 30th in the nation with 448.5 total yards per game (YPG), while posting 223.6 yards per contest to check in 22nd in the country. They were also an impressive 11th in points scored, posting 41.1 PPG. Defensively the Rockets had issues, ranking 94th in total yards allowed (430.1 YPG), 105th in passing yards allowed (257.8 YPG) and 78th in rushing yards allowed (172.3 YPG). They also yielded 30.2 PPG to rank 84th. This one could be a shootout, folks.

    -- QB James Morgan was impressive for FIU, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,727 yards, 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions, but he is a pro-style QB and will never be misconstrued with a Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson or other athletic, running quarterbacks. He had a trio of dependable receivers in WR CJ Worton (36-620-6), WR Austin Maloney (28-582-5) and WR Maurice Alexander (35-444-5).

    -- When Toledo has the ball, it's all about QB Eli Peters. He no longer has QB Mitchell Guadagni (shoulder) breathing down his neck, as the latter is done for the season with an injury. Peters completed 54.6 percent of his passes for 1,573 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He is a little more mistake-prone, and less athletic, than Guadagni, who was much more of a dual threat. RB Bryant Koback rushed for 875 yards and 13 scores, while RBs Art Thompkins and Shakif Seymour rolled for a combined 1,089 rushing yards and 11 scores on the ground. WR Cody Thompson is the big-play threat with 10 touchdowns on just 43 grabs, while WR Diontae Johnson and WR Jon'Vea Johnson each had seven receiving scores.

    -- FIU has covered four in a row against teams with a winning record, and four of the past five overall. They're also 5-2 ATS in the past seven non-conference games. However, they're 0-4-1 ATS in the past five tries against MAC foes, and 0-5-1 ATS in the past six neutral-site battles.

    -- Toledo has covered four of the past five as well, while going 8-3 ATS in the past 11 on grass. They're just 2-5 ATS in the past seven outside the MAC, and 2-5 ATS in the past seven tries against winning teams.

    -- The over has cashed in five in a row for FIU, but the under is 6-2-1 in their past nine games in the month of December.

    -- The under is 4-1 in Toledo's past five bowl games, while going 5-1 in their past six neutral-site tilts. The under is also 26-12-1 in their past 39 against winning teams. The over has cashed in four in a row outside of the conference, however.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 12:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Western Michigan vs. Brigham Young**

    Idaho Potato Bowl History

    -- It's time for the 22nd installment of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Albertson's Stadium in Boise, Idaho. The game features the Western Michigan Broncos (7-5 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) against the Brigham Young Cougars (6-6 straight up, 8-4 against the spread), an FBS Independent.

    -- Western Michigan will be playing in their ninth-ever bowl game, and their history in the postseason hasn't been great. They're 1-7 SU all-time, with their only victory in the 2015 Bahamas Bowl against Middle Tennessee. This is their second trip to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, losing their last trip in 2014 against Air Force by a 38-24 score.

    -- BYU has an extensive bowl history, but lately it hasn't been terribly good. They're 1-3 SU in their past four bowl games, although they did win their last appearance on Dec. 21, 2016 against Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl. This will be their first-ever appearance in the Idaho Potato Bowl. They have appearance in a bowl game only once against the MAC, losing 21-3 in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 27, 1999 against Marshall, then a member of the conference.

    -- Western Michigan didn't start out well this season. They were 0-2 SU/ATS in the first two games, losing to Syracuse and Michigan while allowing 104 total points. They turned things around with a 68-0 win over FCS Delaware State, and that kick-started a six-game win streak, including a 4-0 conference start to gain bowl eligibility by Oct. 20. That's good that they wrapped it up early, as they had a three-game conference losing skid from Oct. 25-Nov. 13 before wrapping up the regular season with a 28-21 win against eventual conference champ Northern Illinois. They finished the season 2-6 ATS in the final eight games.

    -- BYU had a strange up-and-down season, and you never knew who was going to show up. They won at Arizona 28-23 to kick off the season as 11 1/2-point underdogs, but followed that up with a 21-18 loss at home to California as two-point favorites. So naturally they went to Wisconsin as 23 1/2-point favorites and won outright, 24-21. BYU was waffled by Washington 35-7 on Sept. 29, and they were hammered by Utah State 45-20 on Oct. 5 to slip to 3-3 SU/ATS. They hung 49 on Hawai'i on Oct. 13 in a win, then followed it up with a 7-6 loss at home to Northern Illinois on Oct. 27. While they were also 3-3 SU in the final six games, they did manage an impressive 5-1 ATS mark during the span.

    -- Western Michigan ranked 29th in offense, posting 448.8 yards per game, including 205.0 yards per game on the ground to rank 32nd in the country in rushing. They were also 36th in the nation with 33.2 points per game allowed. Defensively they ranked 51st in the country with 378.3 yards per game given up, and 48th in the land in passing yardage (209.3 YPG). The Broncos were tuned up for 33.3 points per game to check in 103rd in the nation.

    -- BYU struggled on offense, posting just 354.8 yards per game to finish 108th in the nation. They weren't great passing (94th in the country) or rushing (88th in the country), while posting just 25.4 yards per game to finished 94th. Defense carried the Cougars, ranking 18th with just 325.0 yards per game allowed, 31st in passing yards (195.2 YPG) and 27th in rushing yards (129.8 YPG). They also had a decent 21.7 PPG allowed to finish 28th. And for whatever reason, BYU had the best field-goal percentage against, as opponents made just 33.3 percent of their attempts against the Cougars.

    -- Western Michigan lost QB Jon Wassink (foot) to a season-ending injury in late October, so QB Kaleb Eleby was thrust into the starter's job. He completed 64.9 percent of his passes with 917 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Eleby wasn't nearly the dual threat as Wassink, who had 16 passing scores and six rushing TDs. RB LeVante Bellamy is the yardage threat, running for 1,172 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and six scores, while Jamauri Bogan was the hammer in short yardage with 702 yards, 4.5 YPC and 15 touchdowns. WR Jayden Reed led the way with 792 yards and eight scores, and WR D'Wayne Eskridge is a deep threat with 19.9 yards per reception, posting 715 yards and three scores on just 36 grabs.

    -- BYU has a handful of injuries heading in, but none more important than RBs Squally Canada (lower body) and Lopini Katoa (knee), the top two backs. RB Matt Hadley, a former linebacker, filled in for the two, but he is done for the season with a leg injury. Katoa (77-427-8) and Canada (91-412-5) split the workload this season. If they cannot go it would be RB Riley Burt (46-213-1) tasked with stepping up. QB Zach Wilson (1,261-8-3) took over the starting job from Tanner Mangum (1,063-5-4) midway through the season, and TE Matt Bushman (25-459-2) and WR Talon Shumway (20-319-3) are the ones to watch in the receiving game.

    -- Western is 2-6 ATS over the past eight games overall, and 2-5 ATS in their past seven outside of the conference. They're also 1-4 ATS in the past five following a straight-up win.

    -- BYU enters on a four-game cover streak, and they're 10-4 ATS over the past 14 non-conference tilts. However, they're 2-6 ATS in the past eight neutral-site games and 0-4 ATS in the past four bowl contests.

    -- The 'over' is 4-0 in Western's past four overall, and 4-0 in their past four contests on a fieldturf surface, too. The over is 5-2 ATS in their past seven following a cover.

    -- The 'under' is 24-9 in BYU's past 33 games overall, 7-3 in their past 10 neutral-site games and 12-4 in the past 16 against teams with a winning overall record.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 4:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 12-21-2018 at 01:15 PM.

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    College football betting favorites off to blazing-hot start this bowl season
    Andrew Caley

    Bowl season can be a tricky thing to handicap. With almost entirely non-conference matchups it’s hard to evaluate how certain teams will stack up. Mix in long layoffs, travel and motivation it can be difficult to pick a side. Well, we are just about a week into the 2018-19 bowl season, and here’s hoping you’ve made it as simple as laying chalk, as favorites have gotten off to a blazing-hot start.

    After Marshall's 38-20 victory over South Florida in Thursday night’s Gasparilla Bowl, betting favorites are a perfect 8-0 straight up and a more impressive 7-1 against the spread through the first seven bowl games. Heck, even the lone ATS loss is debateable. Georgia Southern defeated Eastern Michigan 23-21 as 2.5-point favorites in the Camellia Bowl, but the number spent much of the week at -1. So, they could be 8-0 ATS depending on the much you got.

    Not only have favorites been covering the spread this bowl season, it hasn’t really been all that close. In five of the seven bowls, the favorite has covered the number by at least two touchdowns, and in four of the seven, they have done so by three. Overall, favorites are covering the spread by an average of 17.3 points per game through the first seven matchups.

    Unfortunately, these things tend to have a way of evening out. Favorites cashed just 49.6 percent of the time throughout the college football season. But if you’re looking to keep riding this chalky trend here are the upcoming bowl favorites for this weekend:

    Friday, Dec. 21
    Bahamas Bowl: Toledo -4.5 (vs FIU)
    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: BYU -12 (vs Western Michigan)

    Saturday, Dec. 22
    Birmingham Bowl: Memphis -3 (vs Wake Forest)
    Armed Forces Bowl: Army -5 (vs Houston)
    Dollar General Bowl: Buffalo -1.5 (vs Troy)
    Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii -1 (vs Louisiana Tech)

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    COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEATHER ALERT

    The Bahamas Bowl: FIU vs Toledo in Nassau, Bahamas will see strong winds of 20-30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph today.
    Current Odds:
    Toledo: -7
    Total: 57 (opened at 66.5)

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    Saban: 3 Alabama players suspended
    Associated Press


    MIAMI (AP) Alabama has suspended starting left guard Deonte Brown and two other players from the Orange Bowl for violating unspecified team rules.

    Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said in a statement that Brown, tight end Kedrick James and offensive lineman Elliot Baker didn't make the trip to Miami on Monday.

    Top-ranked Alabama faces Oklahoma Saturday night in the College Football Playoff semifinal game.

    Saban didn't indicate the duration of the suspensions or whether they might extend to the national championship game if Alabama wins.

    Brown replaced Lester Cotton as the starter in midseason. Brown has been dealing with a turf toe injury.

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    Clemson DT Lawrence faces ban
    Associated Press

    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and two other players failed NCAA tests for performance enhancing drugs and might not play in the Cotton Bowl against No. 3 Notre Dame.

    Swinney said at a news conference Monday at AT&T Stadium that the NCAA informed Clemson trace amounts of ostarine were found in samples given by Lawrence, reserve offensive tackle Zach Giella and freshman tight end Braden Galloway. Ostarine, also known as enobosarm, is used to treat osteoporosis, but can also act like an anabolic steroid.

    Swinney said the players told him they had not intentionally taken the substance. Clemson is awaiting results of a second sample from each player. The NCAA ban for failing a PED test is one calendar year.

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    Wednesday's Bowl Tips
    Joe Williams

    **Boston College vs. Boise State**

    First Responder Bowl


    -- The Boston College Eagles (7-5 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) of the Atlantic Coast Conference will battle the Boise State Broncos (10-3 straight up, 7-5-1 against the spread) from the Mountain West Conference in the First Responder Bowl, formerly the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

    -- The Eagles haven't had a lot of success in bowl games lately. They won the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl over Maryland by a 36-30 count, but that was their only victory in the past seven postseason games dating back to 2008. This will be their first appearnce in the First Responder Bowl, and their first postseason appearance in the state of Texas since they won the 1985 Cotton Bowl over Houston by a 45-28 score.

    -- The Broncos have had a much better measure of success in bowl games recently, posting victories in seven of their past nine appearances, including last season over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl, 38-28. Under head coach Bryan Harsin they're 3-1 in four bowl games in each of the past four seasons. This will be Boise State's first appearance in the First Responder Bowl, and their first bowl game in the Lone Star State since dropping TCU 34-31 in the Fort Worth Bowl back on Dec. 23, 2003.

    -- B.C. had an exciting season and they outperformed expectations like they usually do. The fired out of the box with three wins against UMass, Holy Cross and at Wake Forest to start 3-0 SU/ATS with an 'over' in each outing. They were humbled at Purdue Sept. 22 by a 30-13 count, but they beat fellow bowl team Temple 45-35 on Sept. 29. A narrow loss and cover at N.C. State was a tough pill to swallow, but they rattled off three straight ACC wins against Louisville, Miami and at Virginia Tech to easily attain bowl eligibility. The Eagles finished on a three-game slide and non-cover streak with losses to Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse, all bowl teams.

    -- The Eagles were rather marginal in all aspects, ranking 66th in the country in total yards (404.4 yards per game), 80th in passing yards (215.2 YPG) and 51st in rushing yards (189.2 YPG). Defensively they were just 71st overall in total yards allowed (403.2 YPG), and 96th against the pass (247.8 YPG). They were slightly better in rushing defense (155.3 YPG) and points allowed (25.7 PPG), ranking 53rd overall in both areas.

    -- Boise opened with an emphatic 56-20 win at Troy on Sept. 1, and they squashed UConn 62-7 as 34-point favorites in Game 2. However, they were overmatched by Power 5 Conference member Oklahoma State, and they were tripped up at home on the Smurf Turf against San Diego State to sit 3-2 SU/ATS through five games. That's when their run started, posting seven straight wins to qualify for the MWC title game. They were tripped up by Fresno State in overtime by a 19-16 score in a snowstorm. The 'under' ended up 5-0 in their final five ames, and 7-2 in the final nine.

    -- The Broncos ranked 23rd in total yards (459.5 YPG), while ranking 18th in the nation with 292.0 passing yards per outing. They also checked in 24th in the land with 35.4 points per game. Defensively, Boise State was 38th overall with 355.9 YPG allowed, and they were tough against the run at 23rd in the nation with 122.9 YPG. They also yielded just 22.1 PPG, 31st overall.

    -- Top RB A.J. Dillon (ankle) is listed as questionable due to an ankle injury he has been hampered with in the second half of the season. He piled up a team-best 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

    -- B.C. is 9-3-1 ATS in the past 13 against winning teams, 3-1-1 ATS in the past five neutral-site games and 15-6-1 ATS in the past 22 overall. They're just 2-7 ATS in the past nine bowl games, however, and 1-9 ATS in their past 10 appearances in the month of December.

    -- Boise is 7-3 ATS across their past 10 bowl appearances, while going 9-4 ATS in the past 13 neutral-site battles. However, they're just 3-7 ATS in the past 10 games played in December.

    -- The over has hit in each of B.C.'s past four bowl appearances while going 5-1 in their past six non-conference tilts. The under is 4-1 in their past five games overall, however.

    -- The under has cashed in five straight for Boise State, and is also 5-0 in their past five against winning teams. However, the over is 5-2 in their past seven bowl contests.

    -- These teams last met Dec. 28, 2005 in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, with Boston College coming away with a 27-21 win.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech**

    Quick Lane Bowl


    -- In the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit we get the Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) from the Big Ten Conference squaring off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-5 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) from the ACC.

    -- Minnesota appeared in this game in 2015, winning 21-14 while covering (-6) against Central Michigan. Georgia Tech is making its first appearance in the game.

    -- After an ugly seven-game bowl losing streak, that Quick Lane appearance in 2015 kicked off a two-game bowl win streak which also incluced a 17-12 win over Washington State in the 2016 Holiday Bowl.

    -- The Yellow Jackets also had their own streak of misery in bowl games, dropping seven in a row from 2005-11. However, they're 3-1 in their past four postseason games, including a 33-18 slaying of Kentucky in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl. Neither of these teams appeared in a bowl game last season.

    -- The Gophers started out 3-0 SU/ATS, including an impressive 21-14 win over Group of 5 contender Fresno State back on Sept. 8. They dropped four in a row from Sept. 22-Oct. 20, including lopsided losses to Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State and Nebraska, and things appeared to be going off the rails. They recorded a 38-31 win over Indiana to cover as 2 1/2-point 'dogs, but a 55-31 loss at Illinois put their bowl eligibility in doubt. However, they humbled Purdue 41-10 and beat the pants off of Wisconsin 37-15 in Madison to punch their ticket to the postseason in emphatic fashion.

    -- The Yellow Jackets didn't get their first win against an FBS foe until Sept. 29, stomping Bowling Green 63-17. They pled up the points at Louisville the following week, winning 66-31 against a bad Cardinals side. Perhaps their most impressive win came Oct. 25, going to Blacksburg to push aside Virginia Tech 49-28. They gained bowl eligibility Nov. 10 with a 27-21 win over Miami, and topped Virginia 30-27 in overtime on Nov. 17 for good measure. They weren't up to the task against rival Georgia in Athens to close out the season, losing 45-21.

    -- The Ramblin' Wreck ranked No. 1 in the country with 335.0 yards per game, and they were 21st in points scored with 35.6 PPG. They don't really pass the ball, as Paul Johnson's club uses the triple-option. Defensively they were adequate, ranking 45th in the country (367.8 YPG), while ranking 55th in passing yards allowed (217.9 YPG) and 50th in rush defense (149.8 YPG).

    -- Ga. Tech QB TaQuon Marshall passed for just 824 yards while completing only 44.0 percent of his passes. That's not his thing. Running is his thing, and he led the team with 897 yards on the ground while piercing the end zone 11 times. TB Tobias Oliver had a team-high 12 rushing touchdowns with 807 yards on the ground (5.6 YPC). RBs Jordan Mason also had seven rushing scores and 6.2 yards per tote, and eight different Jackets had at least two rushing scores (45 total).

    -- Minny had difficulty on offense, ranking 68th in the country in points scored (28.5 PPG). They also were just 89th in total yards (379.0 YPG). They'll have their hands full against the run, and they ranked just 74th in the nation in that category with 170.7 YPG. They also gave up 27.9 PPG to check in 75th in the nation.

    -- For the Gophers, WR Tyler Johnson is the most dangerous player on offense, gathering 74 receptions for 1,112 yards and 10 touchdowns (15.0 average).

    -- The Golden Gophers are 5-0 ATS over the past five non-conference games, but they're just 2-5-1 ATS in the past eight games following a straight-up victory. They're also 0-4 ATS in the past four following a cover.

    -- The Jackets have an impressive 4-0-1 ATS mark over the past five neutral-site battles, but they're just 1-4 ATS in the past five outside the ACC. They are 5-1 ATS in the past six games played in the month of December, however.

    -- The under has connected in six of the past eight non-Big 10 games for Minnesota, while going 4-0 in their past four against teams with a winning record.

    -- For Ga. Tech, the over is 6-2-1 across their past nine games overall, but the under has hit in six of the past eight bowl appearances.

    -- This is the first-ever meeting between Minnesota and Georgia Tech.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 5:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Texas Christian vs. California**

    Cheez-It Bowl


    -- In the Cheez-It Bowl (the bowl formerly known as the Cactus Bowl), takes place at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. The game features the Texas Christian Horned Frogs (6-6 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) of the Big 12 Conference facing off against the California Golden Bears (7-5 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) of the Pac-12 Conference.

    -- The Horned Frogs have appeared in bowl games in six consecutive seasons, and they have won nine of their past 12 postseason tilts. However, they were edged 17-16 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl by Michigan State on Dec. 29, 2012 in their most recent bowl appearance in the state of Arizona. Since 2000, Gary Patterson has led his team to 17 bowls, going 10-6 heading into this one. They're also 3-0 all-time in bowl games against current Pac-12 members.

    -- The Golden Bears won their most recent bowl appearance on Dec. 29, 2015 aginst Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl, 55-36. Cal is also 5-2 SU in the past seven bowl games, and 9-4 SU in the past 13. They won the Insight Bowl on Dec. 26, 2003 in this stadium, topping Virginia Tech 52-49 in a thriller. They also won the Copper Bowl on Dec. 31, 1990 in Tucson against Wyoming in their only other appearance in a bowl game in Arizona.

    -- TCU opened 2-0, including a 42-12 drumming of SMU on the road. They lost a 40-28 game in Arlington, Tex. against Ohio State, and followed that up with a 31-16 loss at Texas to fall to 2-2 SU/ATS. The Horned Frogs picked up a 17-14 win on Sept. 29 against a good Iowa State side, but lost three in a row to Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Kansas to put their bowl eligibility in danger. The loss to the Jayhawks was the real head-scratcher. However, they won three of their final four, including a 31-24 decision against Oklahoma State on Nov. 24 to secure their postseason ticket.

    -- TCU was 93rd in total yards (374.6 YPG), while ranking 95th in rushing offense (148.5 YPG) and 98th in points scored (24.7 PPG). On defense, they're 28th in yardage allowed (344.4 YPG), while ranking 40th against the pass (202.6 YPG), 42nd against the rush (141.8 YPG) and 45th in points allowed (24.4 PPG).

    -- Cal fired out of the gate with a 3-0 SU/1-1-1 ATS mark, including a nice 21-18 victory at BYU. They fell in three in a row from Sept. 29-Oct. 13, including a bad loss to previously winless UCLA. However, they impressed with a 12-10 win against Washington on Oct. 27, lost a narrow (but covered!) game at Washington State on Nov. 3, and won at USC on Nov. 10 for the first time at L.A. Coliseum since 2000, and first time in the series since 2003 when QB Aaron Rodgers was under center in Berkeley. They lost a rescheduled game at home Dec. 1 against Stanford after entering 'The Big Game' on a 4-1 SU/5-0 ATS run.

    -- The Golden Bears offense was rather atrocious in 2018, as they ranked just 111th in the country in total yards (350.2 YPG). If they do anything well, it's run the ball, ranking 75th with 162.5 YPG, but they managed just 22.8 YPG to finish 108th overall. Defensively the Golden Bears are strong, allowing just 319.4 YPG to finish 16th in the nation, they're 23rd overall with 21.2 PPG allowed and 23rd against the pass, too.

    -- TCU has quarterback issues, as QBs Shawn Robinson (shoulder) and QB Justin Rogers (knee) were lost for the season, and QB Michael Collins (foot) is listed as doubtful. The signal-caller duties will fall on QB Grayson Muehlstein, who threw for 328 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions this season, including 180 yards and two TDs in the final against OK State.

    -- Cal enters 5-1 ATS over the past six games, and they're 5-2-1 ATS in the past eight non-conference battles. However, they're 1-5 ATS in the past six neutral-site games and 1-5 ATS in the past six in the month of December.

    -- TCU is just 2-7 ATS in their past nine overall and 3-10 ATS in the past 13 neutral-site games, including earlier this season against Ohio State. They're 2-8 ATS in the past 10 against teams with a winning record and 2-7 ATS in their past nine bowl games.

    -- The under has cashed in seven of the past eight for California, while going 5-0 in their past five games on a grass surface. The over is 9-2 in their past 11 neutral-site games and 7-2 in the past nine bowl games.

    -- The over is 4-1 in TCU's past five neutral-site games and 4-1 in their past five outside of the conference. The under is 8-3-1 in their past 12 bowl games, however, and 7-3 in the past nine played in December.

    -- This is the first-ever meeting between Cal and TCU on the gridiron.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 12-25-2018 at 01:27 AM.

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    Thursday's Bowl Tips
    Joe Williams

    **Duke vs. Temple**

    Independence Bowl


    -- The Duke Blue Devils (7-5 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) from the Atlantic Coast Conference will square off against the Temple Owls (8-4 straight up, 8-4 against the spread) from the American Athletic Conference in the Walk-On's Independence Bowl.

    -- Prior to the arrival of head coach David Cutcliffe the Blue Devils of Duke had appeared in just eight postseason games, going 3-5. Since the 2012 season, Duke has appeared in a bowl game in six of the past seven seasons, including victories in each of their past two appearances against Indiana in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2015, and Northern Illinois in the Quick Lane Bowl last season.

    -- The Owls do not have an extensive bowl history, as this will be just their eighth-ever appearance in the postseason. Much of that success has been recently, as they appeared in only the Sugar Bowl (1934) with head coach Pop Warner and the Garden State Bowl (1979) prior to 2009. Since 2009 they're 2-3 in bowl games, winning last season's Gasparilla Bowl over Florida International.

    -- Temple will be led by interim head coach Ed Foley, as Geoff Collins accepted the head coaching job at Georgia Tech. Oddly enough, Foley also was the interim when Matt Rhule bolted for Baylor and he will be the only head coach in Temple history to coach the team in two separate bowl games.

    -- Duke fired out to a 4-0 SU start, covering their first three. That includes wins over bowl teams Army and Northwestern. They suffered a 31-14 loss against Virginia Tech on Sept. 29, and lost against Virginia at home on Oct. 20. They also fell at Pittsburgh, 54-45, on Oct. 27. Duke was outscored 82-13 in the final two games by Clemson and Wake Forest. The Blue Devils were a tough team to figure, as they went 4-1 SU/5-0 ATS in five games as an underdog, and 2-5 SU/1-6 ATS in seven games as a favorite. Bettors might be relieved to see Duke catching 3 1/2 from Temple in this one, as of Wednesday morning.

    -- Temple suffered losses to FCS Villanova and Buffalo to start the season, and it looked like it might be a lost season under Collins. They bounced back with a 35-14 win at Maryland on Sept. 15, which perhaps saved their season, and they rattled off wins in five of the next six games. They secured bowl eligibility over Houston, 59-49, on the road Nov. 10, and closed out the season with three straight wins.

    -- Temple heads into this one ranked 50th in total yards (420.8 yards per game) while finishing 41st in passing yards (255.8 YPG). They also rolled up 35.6 points per game (PPG) to finished 23rd in the nation. Defensively, the Owls have it on lock down. They were 39th in total yards (356.7 YPG) while checking in seventh in the land against the pass (166.3 YPG). The Owls also finished 47th in the nation in points allowed (24.7 PPG).

    -- Duke managed to finish 75th in total yards with 392.6 yards per game, and they were 66th in passing yards (229.6 YPG). Defensively the Blue Devils had some major issues, especially near the end of the season. They ranked 82nd in total yards allowed (419.4 YPG) and 116th in the nation with 222.3 yards per game allowed on the ground. The Blue Devils were also 70th in the country with 27.4 PPG allowed.

    -- For Duke, QB Daniel Jones (lower body) is listed as questionable. He threw for 2,251 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions while also running for 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

    -- For Temple, QB Anthony Russo (hand) is listed as probable. He managed to pass for 2,335 yards with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. RB Ryquell Armstead (ankle) is listed as questionable, while third-leading receiver Randle Jones (undisclosed) is also listed as questionable.

    -- Temple has posted a 14-6 ATS mark over their past 20 games against winning teams while going 37-17 ATS in the past 54 overall.

    -- Duke has covered in four straight bowl games while also posted a 4-0 ATS mark in the past four neutral-site appearances. They have covered seven of the past nine against teams with a winning record, too.

    -- The 'under' has hit in five of the past six games in the month of December for Temple, although the over is 4-1 in their past five vs. ACC foes.

    -- The 'over' has connected in five straight bowl games for Duke, while going a perfect 4-0 in their past four neutral-site affairs. The under is 4-0 in their past four against winning teams, however.

    -- This is the first-ever meeting between the Blue Devils and the Owls.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Miami-Florida vs. Wisconsin**

    Pinstripe Bowl


    -- In the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York the Miami Hurricanes (7-5 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) from the ACC will take on the Wisconsin Badgers (7-5 straight up, 3-9 against the spread) from the Big Ten. It's a rematch of last season's Orange Bowl when the Badgers pushed aside the Hurricanes 34-24.

    -- The Hurricanes were once one of the most feared bowl opponents, and they went 7-1 SU in an eight-game stretch from 1996-2004. However, they're just 1-7 SU over their past eight bowl appearances, with a lone win in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28, 2016 against West Virginia.

    -- The Badgers enter on a four-game bowl win streak, including last season's Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl in the season before. They also faced the Hurricanes in the Champs Sports Bowl back on Dec. 29, 2009, winning that one 20-14 in Orlando.

    -- Miami had an up-and-down season. They lost a neutral-site game against LSU to start the season, but won five in a row from Sept. 8-Oct. 6. However, they dropped four in a row at Virginia, at Boston College, home to Duke and at Georgia Tech, slipping to 5-5 SU/3-7 ATS. However, the Canes enter this one on a two-game win streak, outscoring Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh by a 62-17 margin.

    -- Wisconsin won four of their first five games, but they were just 1-4 ATS during the span. They struggled away from home, losing at Michigan, at Northwester and at Penn State. They ended up covering just three of their 12 games overall, including a 37-15 loss at home to Minnesota in the season finale.

    -- The Badgers ranked 38th in total yards (437.0 YPG) while posted 268.4 yards per game on the ground to finish seventh in the nation. QB Alex Hornibrook (concussion) will be missing in this one due to injury. RB Jonathan Taylor is the one to watch, as they'll lean heavily upon him. He rushed for 1,989 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.

    -- The Hurricanes were outstanding on defense, ranking second in the nation in total yards allowed (268.1 YPG) while ranking first overall in passing yards allowed (140.8 YPG). They were also strong against the run, ranking 25th (127.2 YPG), so Taylor will have his work cut out. They also were 15th in the country with 18.2 PPG. On offense, Miami was just 92nd overall in total yards (374.6 YPG) and 109th in passing yards (177.2 YPG).

    -- The Hurricanes are 2-5 ATS over the past seven games overall, while going 1-6 ATS across the past seven bowl appearances. They're also just 1-6 ATS in their past seven tries against teams with a winning overall record and 1-8 ATS in the past nine neutral-site affairs.

    -- The Badgers are 1-4 ATS over their past five outings, while going 1-4 ATS in the past five against winning teams. They're also 3-8 ATS in the past 11 neutral-site battles.

    -- The 'under' has cashed in four of Miami's past five bowl games, while going 5-0 in their past five against teams with a winning record. They're also 5-0-1 in the past six games overall, and 6-1 in their past seven games on a neutral-site field.

    -- The under has hit in four of the past five for Wisconsin, while also going 4-1 in their past five neutral-site affairs.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 5:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Vanderbilt vs. Baylor**

    Texas Bowl


    -- The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl takes place at NRG Stadium in Houston, so the Baylor Bears (6-6 straight-up, 5-6-1 against the spread) of the Big 12 might have the advantage in terms of crowd support. They'll take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6 straight up, 8-4 against the spread).

    -- Baylor is searching for its first-ever three-game win streak in bowl games. They took care of Boise State at the 2016 Cactus Bowl in their most recent postseason appearance, 31-12. They're 4-2 SU over the past six bowl apperances. The Bears made one other appearance in the Texas Bowl back on 2010, but they were hammered 38-14 by Illinois in the first bowl under Art Briles.

    -- Vanderbilt does not have an extensive bowl history, but they're a respectable 4-3-1 SU in their eight postseason appearances. They lost their last bowl game in 2016, falling 41-17 to N.C. State in the Independence Bowl. This is their first-ever appearance in the Texas Bowl.

    -- The Bears won their first two games against Abilene Christian and Texas-San Antonio, and the over finished in both of those games and five of their first six overall. They fell against Duke for the second straight season, and were doubled up at Oklahoma 66-33 on Sept. 29. They lost four of five games from Oct. 13 to Nov. 17, although the four losses came against bowl teams. The lone win was a 35-31 victory against Oklahoma State as six-point 'dogs. They wrapped up bowl eligibility with a 35-24 win at Texas Tech on Nov. 24.

    -- The Commodores opened with wins over Middle Tennessee and Nevada, but they suffered their first loss 22-17 at Notre Dame on Sept. 15. The 'Dores sat 3-5 SU/4-4 ATS after a loss at Kentucky on Oct. 20. However, the Commodores racked up a 36-29 overtime win against Ole Miss and a rare win over Tennessee, 38-13, to close out the season with bowl eligibility.

    -- Baylor's offense was solid this season, as they posted 441.7 YPG to rank 34th in the country, and 22nd in passing yard per game (282.2 YPG). Their weak point was rushing the ball, posting just 159.5 YPG to finish 81st. Defensively the Bears were very subpar, ranking 77th in total yards (412.6 YPG) allowed, 79th in passing yards (237.6 YPG) allowed and 79th in rushing yards (175.0 YPG) allowed.

    -- Baylor backup RB JaMycal Hasty (knee) is listed as questionable due to a knee. He ran for 376 yards (5.1 YPC) with three scores, while leading WR Jalen Hurd (knee), who posted 69 grabs, 946 yards and four touchdowns, is ruled out with a knee.

    -- Vandy ranked 69th in total yards per game (397.8 YPG) while ending up 56th in the country in passing yards (240.2 YPG) They were also so-so in points scored, ranking 76th in the nation with 27.7 PPG. On defense, they ranked 83rd in total yards allowed (419.8 YPG) while finishing 88th against the run (187.2 YPG). The Commodores were able to be a bend-don't-break defense, giving up 25.1 PPG to finish 48th in the country.

    -- Vanderbilt RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn (arm), the team's leading rusher, is listed as questionable with an arm injury. He was the team's most explosive offensive option with 1,001 rushing yards (7.0 YPC) and 10 scores on the ground while adding two more TDs through the air.

    -- The Bears are 9-1 ATS in their past 10 games played in the month of December, but 0-5-1 ATS in the past six non-conference games while going 4-11-1 ATS in the past 16 following a straight-up win.

    -- The Commodores have covered five in a row while going 5-1 ATS in the past six non-conference battles. They're also 4-0 ATS in their past four appearances on a fieldturf.

    -- The under has cashed in four in a row for Baylor while going 7-1 in the past eight in the month of December. The over is 20-8 in their past 28 non-conference battles, however, and 10-4 in the past 14 neutral-site contests.

    -- The over has hit in four straight bowl games for Vandy. However, the under is 4-1 in the past five overall, 7-1 in the past eight non-conference games and 8-3 across the past 11 fieldturf battles.

    -- This is the first-ever meeting between Baylor and Vandy on the gridiron.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 12-27-2018 at 03:32 AM.

  13. #28
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    Friday's Bowl Tips
    Joe Williams

    **Auburn vs. Purdue**

    Music City Bowl


    -- The Auburn Tigers (7-5 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) of the Southeastern Conference will face off against the Purdue Boilermakers (6-6 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) from the Big Ten Conference in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadum in Nashville, Tenn.

    -- The Tigers have a lengthy history in bowl games, including a pair of national championships to their credit. But lately things have not gone according to plan in the postseason. They're just 1-4 SU over the past five bowl appearances, with only a win in the Birmingham Bowl in 2015 to their credit during the span. This will be their first appearance in the Music City Bowl since a 28-14 win against Wisconsin back in 2003.

    -- The Boilermakers do not have as long a track record in the postseason, although they have had some success lately. Purdue is 3-1 SU over the past four bowl games, although this is only their second bowl game since 2012. They won the Foster Farms Bowl against Arizona, 38-35, last season. They haven't faced an SEC team in a bowl game since a 34-27 loss to Georgia in the Capital one Bowl in 2003.

    -- Auburn kicked off the season with a lot of promise, pushing aside Washington 21-16 in a neutral-site marquee game. However, they lost their SEC opener 22-21 on the Plains back on Sept. 15, a bitter pill for sure. They rebounded in the next two games, but lost at Mississippi State and against Tennessee to slip to 4-3 SU/2-5 ATS and out of the playoff picture. They refocused their goals and beat Mississippi and Texas A&M to qualify for the postseason. After a rout of Liberty on Nov. 17, they were pounded 52-21 by rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

    -- Purdue got off to a rough start, losing their opener to Northwestern on Aug. 30 and then slipping up against Eastern Michigan in a soaking rain. A loss against Missouri on Sept. 15 had them off to an 0-3 SU/1-2 ATS start, looking like the season might be lost. However, they rattled off four in a row, including a signature win against Ohio State by a 49-20 score, winning outright as 12-point favorites. However, they didn't officially qualify for a bowl until a 28-21 win at Indiana in the final weekend of the season, also taking home the Old Oaken Bucket as an extra prize.

    -- Purdue enters the day 24th in the country with 459.0 total yards per game while finishing ninth in the land with 317.8 yards per game on the ground. Their pass game is lacking, and they ranked just 103rd in the nation with 141.2 yards per outing. They were able to score 31.9 PPG, ranking 44th overall. The defense struggled, posting a 103rd rank with 445.3 yards per game allowed, while giving up 280.8 yards per contest to finish 126th.

    -- Auburn's offense was very subpar this season, a major reason they were unable to realize their lofty goals. They ranked just 94th overall with 373.6 YPG, 89th in passing yards (209.5 YPG) and 71st in points scored (28.2 PPG). The defense managed to finish 44th overall with 363.6 YPG, while holding the opposing offenses to just 141.2 YPG to check in 41st. The Tigers did yield just 19.6 PPG, finishing 18th in the country.

    -- QB David Blough did a good job for the Boilers when asked to pass, posting 3,521 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions, getting better as the season progressed. RB D.J. Knox, who had 868 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground is the top weapon, and the team doesn't lose much if RB Markell Jones (98-502-5) gets into the game. WR Rondale Moore led the team with 1,164 receiving yards and 12 scores, while WR Isaac Zico (43-712-6) is a nice secondary weapon.

    -- Tigers QB Jarrett Stidham didn't live up to expectations, totaling just 2,421 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. RB JaTarvious Whitlow led the way on the ground with 777 yards (5.4 YPC) and four touchdowns. WR Ryan Davis (upper body), who is listed as probable for the game, led the team with 64 grabs and 523 yards, but he failed to score any touchdowns.

    -- Purdue is 7-1 ATS in their past eight non-conference tilts, and 4-1 ATS in the past five neutral-site battles while going 7-3 ATS across the past 10 overall. However, they're just 2-5 ATS in their past seven bowl appearances.

    -- Auburn enters 2-5 ATS in their past seven neutral-site battles while going 2-7-1 ATS in the past 10 outside the SEC.

    -- The over has connected in four straight bowl games for Purdue.

    -- The under is 4-0-1 in the past five bowl games for Auburn, while the under is 6-0-2 in the past eight neutral-site contests. The under is also 12-4 in the past 16 overall for Auburn, while going 15-4-2 in their past 21 non-conference tilts.

    -- This is the first-ever meeting between the Boilermakers and Tigers.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Syracuse vs. West Virginia**

    Camping World Bowl


    -- The Camping World Bowl takes place in the aptly named Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. featuring a battle of Top 20 teams. The West Virginia Mountaineers (8-3 straight up, 6-3-2 against the spread) from the Big 12 Conference will face down the Syracuse Orange (9-3 straight up, 8-4 against the spread).

    -- Bowl games haven't been terribly kind to the Mountaineers lately, as they're 2-6 SU over their past eight postseason appearances, including a loss in this stadium on Dec. 28, 2016 against the Miami Hurricanes when the game was called the Russell Athletic Bowl. They also lost when this game was called the Champs Sports Bowl, falling to N.C. State back on Dec. 28, 2010.

    -- Syracuse has been outstanding in bowl games in recent seasons, success unrivaled by most. They're 3-0 SU in the past three bowl games, 5-1 in the past six and 12-3 over their past 15 bowl appearances. They were routed by Georgia Tech on Dec. 21, 2004 in this game when it was the Champs Sports Bowl.

    -- The big news leading up to this game is West Virginia QB Will Grier announcing he'll sit out to prevent injury as he gets ready for the NFL Scouting Combine and 2019 Draft. As such, sophomore QB Jack Allison will draw the start. He was just 6-of-10 for 75 yards, a touchdown and an interception in limited work this season.

    -- The Mountaineers started out 5-0 SU/4-1 ATS and they were in the Top 10 with thoughts of the playoffs running through their heads. However, a 30-14 humbling at Iowa State on Oct. 13 changed things a bit. They rattled off three wins after that to get back on track, but back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to close out the season took them out of a more prestigious bowl.

    -- The Orange started out 4-0 SU/3-0-1 ATS, including a 30-7 win against Florida State on Sept. 15. They nearly pulled off a monumental upset at Clemson on Sept. 29, and followed that up with a narrow overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Oct. 6. They rebounded with four wins leading up to a measuring stick game at Notre Dame. They failed miserably against the Irish, but cleaned things up in time for a nice win over Boston College in the finale.

    -- Syracuse ranks 15th in the country with 471.8 total yards per game, and they posted 40.8 PPG to finish 10th in the nation. Their rushing offense was also solid, ranking 27th with 210.2 YPG, thanks in large part to senior QB Eric Dungey, a dual threat. The defense ranked 88th in total yards (426.8 YPG) allowed and a dismal 113th against the pass, allowing 263.0 YPG.

    -- West Virginia ranked seventh in total yards (520.4 YPG) and third in the country in passing yards per game (358.1 YPG), but remember, those stats are basically meaningless with Grier not playing. They were also ninth overall in scoring at 42.3 PPG, but can Allison lead them close to that kind of success? Defensively the Mountaineers struggled, giving up 405.5 YPG while checking in 99th in pass defense (254.6 YPG)

    -- The Mountaineers are 3-0-2 ATS in their past five against teams with a winning record, but they're just 1-6 ATS in the past seven neutral-site appearances, 0-5 ATS in their past five bowl games and 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings against ACC foes.

    -- The Orange are 4-1 ATS in the past five against teams with a winning overall mark, 4-1-1 ATS in the past six outside of the conference and 4-1 ATS in the past five overall.

    -- The over has cashed in five straight for the Orange and 4-0 in the past four against winning teams. The under is 3-0-1 in the past four against ACC clubs, however.

    -- The under is 5-1 in the past six neutral-site games for Syracuse, while the over is 5-2 across their past seven games overall.

    -- These former Big East Conference combatants also met Dec. 29, 2012 in the Pinstripe Bowl, with Syracuse coming out on top by a 38-14 count.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 5:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Iowa State vs. Washington State**

    Alamo Bowl


    -- The Valero Alamo Bowl pits the Iowa State Cyclones (8-4 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) from the Big 12 Conference facing the Washington State Cougars (10-2 straight up, 10-2 against the spread) from the Pac-12 Conference in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tex.

    -- Iowa State has back-to-back bowl appearances under Matt Campbell, and they were able to surprise Memphis last season in the Liberty Bowl by a 21-20 score. It was just one of four wins in 13 bowl appearances overall. This will be their first-ever apperance in the San Antonio bowl game.

    -- Washington State is appearing in a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season, and they're looking to snap a two-game postseason losing streak dating back to 2015 with a win over Miami in the Sun Bowl. This will be Wazzu's first appearance in the Alamo Bowl since Mike Price led the Cougars to a 10-3 win over Baylor in the 1994 installment of this game.

    -- Iowa State has traditionally been a bit of a pushover in the Big 12, but not lately. Campbell has changed the culture and belief. The Cyclones struggled with a 1-3 SU/2-2 ATS start, including 0-2 in the conference. However, a win at Oklahoma State by a 48-42 count on Oct. 6 really jump-started things, and the Cyclones became bowl eligible by Nov. 10 with a win over Baylor.

    -- Washington State fell short in their bid for a potential playoff spot, losing the Apple Cup against Washington in the snow. They fired out of the gate with eight consecutive covers, including their only previous loss in conference at USC back on Sept. 21. The Cougars posted 31 or more points in nine of their past 12 outings overall.

    -- Iowa State posted rather marginal numbers on offense, ranking 105th in total yards on offense (359.2 YPG) while doing even worse in the run game, averaging just 124.4 YPG to rank 114th in the country. They ended up with a mediocre 26.8 PPG to finish 83rd in the nation. Defensively they were a respectable 32nd with just 351.0 total yards allowed, and they were particularly hard on the run, ranking 21st overall (122.2 YPG). They allowed just 22.5 PPG, too, finishing 35th overall in points allowed.

    -- Washington State had a magical offensive season, finishing first in the land in passing yards per game with 379.8 YPG. Graduate transfer QB Gardner Minshew led the way with a ridiculous 4,477 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns and nine interceptions while also running for three scores. The mustachioed quarterback will look to cap off an amazing season in style down in San Antonio before getting a legit shot at an NFL job next season. The Cougs also ranked 15th in the country with 38.3 PPG. Defensively they were strong, and perhaps a bit underrated. They were 39th in the country with just 23.1 PPG allowed, impressive considering they play in the air-it-out Pac-12. They were 29th overall in total yards allowed (345.9 YPG).

    -- Iowa State is 15-6-1 ATS in the past 22 games against teams iwth a winning record. However, they're 0-4 ATS in their past four overall and 1-5 ATS in the past six neutral-site affairs.

    -- Washington State cashed in 10 of their 12 games overall this season, and they're 4-1 ATS in the past five non-conference battles. They're also 6-2 ATS in the past eight against teams with a winning record, but 0-5 ATS in the past five against Big 12 Conference combatants.

    -- The 'under' is 5-0-1 in Iowa State's past six bowl games, 6-0-1 in their past seven neutral-site games and 3-1-1 in their past five against winning teams. The under is also 4-0-1 in their past five non-conference tilts and 11-1-1 in the past 13 following a straight-up win.

    -- The under is 4-1 in Washington State's past five against teams with a winning record and 7-2-1 in their past 10 following a straight up loss. The under is also 7-0-1 in Washington State's past eight following a double-digit loss at home.

    -- This is the first-ever meeting between Iowa State and Washington State on the gridiron.

    -- Kickoff is slated for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 12-28-2018 at 02:41 AM.

  14. #29
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    Saturday's Early Bowl Tips
    Brian Edwards

    **Florida vs. Michigan**

    -- This is the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl pitting the Big Ten vs. the SEC in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

    -- Michigan has absolutely dominated Florida in football and basketball for decades! In the Round of 32 at the 1988 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Wolverines ended Vernon Maxwell’s UF career out in Salt Lake City by dealing out a 108-85 pimpslap. I was at Jerry World for the 2013 South Region finals when Nik Stauskas drained a plethora of 3-balls and sent the Gators packing from the Elite Eight for the fourth straight season in a blowout. The Wolverines beat UF 38-30 at the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day of 2003. Then at the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day of 2008, Michigan bested Florida by a 41-35 count to send Lloyd Carr into retirement as a winner. In the 2016 Outback Bowl, Michigan destroyed UF 41-7.

    -- When these schools met at Jerry World in Week 1 of the 2017 season, Florida raced out to a 17-3 lead thanks to a pair of first-half pick-sixes from C.J. Henderson and Duke Dawson. However, Jim Harbaugh’s club would respond with 30 unanswered points and win 33-17 as a five-point favorite. It was the first career start for Feleipe Franks, who was yanked in the third quarter after completing 5-of-9 passes for 75 yards. He coughed up a crucial fumble trying to scramble for a first down.

    -- As of early Friday, most books had Michigan (10-2 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) installed as a six-point favorite with a total of 50.5. The Gators were +190 on the money line. The Wolverines opened as 7.5-point ‘chalk,’ but the decisions of four players to skip the game has led to a 1.5-point adjustment.

    -- Michigan will be without LB Devin Bush, DE Rashan Gary, RB Karan Higdon and OT Juwan Bushell-Beatty. Bush produced a team-best 79 tackles along with five sacks, four tackles for loss, six passes broken up and a pair of QB hurries. Gary, who is pegged as a first-round pick by most NFL Draft experts, recorded 44 tackles, four TFL’s, 3.5 sacks and five QB hurries in nine games. Higdon rushed for 1,178 yards and 10 TDs while averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Bushell-Beatty started 11 games this year and 19 in his career.

    -- Michigan ripped off a 10-game winning streak after losing its opener 24-17 at Notre Dame. Harbaugh’s bunch was poised to win the Big Ten East and advance to the College Football Playoff if it could win its regular-season finale at Ohio State and follow up that win with another vs. Northwestern the next week at the Big Ten Championship Game. But those hopes were shattered in 60 minutes of football at The ‘Shoe, as the Buckeyes blasted the Wolverines 62-39 as 4.5-point home underdogs. Shea Patterson completed 20-of-34 passes for 187 yards and three TDs with one interception. Higdon rushed for 72 yards on 15 attempts and Nico Collins had four receptions for 91 yards and two TDs.

    -- Patterson, the transfer from Ole Miss who played two seasons for the Rebels and was granted immediate eligibility in Ann Arbor, connected on 64.8 percent of his throws for 2,364 yards with a 21/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Patterson ran for 268 yards and two TDs with a 4.1 YPC average. His favorite target is Collins, who has 33 catches for 552 yards and six TDs. Donovan Peoples-Jones has 39 receptions for 541 yards and seven TDs, while Zach Gentry has 30 grabs for 475 yards and two TDs.

    -- With Higdon out, the ground game will lean on Chris Evans and Tru Wilson. Evans has 403 rushing yards, four TDs and a 5.4 YPC average, while Wilson has run for 355 yards and one TD while averaging 6.0 YPC.

    -- Michigan has compiled a 1-2 record both SU and ATS in three games as a single-digit favorite this year.

    -- Michigan is ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense, second in pass defense, 16th at defending the run and 12th in scoring ‘D’ (17.6 points per game).

    -- Michigan is 7-5 in 12 bowl games against SEC opponents since 1984.

    -- After a nightmare 2017 campaign ended in a 4-7 record and saw Jim McElwain dismissed after a torturous tenure that covered (nearly) three seasons, Florida (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) enjoyed an excellent initial year on Dan Mullen’s watch. Mullen, who was UF’s offensive coordinator in 2006 and 2008 when it won a pair of national championships, spent nine seasons as head coach at Mississippi State before returning to Gainesville.

    -- UF’s three losses came at home vs. Kentucky (27-16), vs. Georgia (36-17 in Jacksonville) and at home vs. Missouri (38-17). The Gators’ best victories were at Mississippi State (13-6) and vs. LSU (27-19). They posted comeback wins at Vanderbilt (37-27 after being down 21-3) and vs. South Carolina (35-31 after trailing 31-14), in addition to crushing arch rivals Tennessee (47-21) and FSU (41-14) at Neyland and Doak Campbell Stadiums, respectively.

    -- Florida brings a three-game winning streak to The ATL after trouncing the Seminoles as an 8.5-point road ‘chalk.’ The Gators produced 24 first downs and 536 yards of total offense, while the ‘Noles had only 15 first downs and 293 yards. Franks completed 16-of-26 passes for 254 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also ran 12 times for 46 yards. Lamical Perine rushed for 129 yards and one TD on 13 carries, while Jordan Scarlett had 88 rushing yards and one TD on 20 attempts. Trevon Grimes had five receptions for 118 yards and one TD, while Van Jefferson caught four balls for 92 yards and one TD.

    -- Franks has completed 58.5 percent of his throws for 2,284 yards with a 23/6 TD-INT ratio. He passed his stats with eight TD passes without an interception in a pair of games against FCS foes, but the Wakulla County (FL.) High School product was nonetheless more effective than most (my hand is raised) thought he’s be, which is a credit to Mullen. Franks proved to be a tough, physical runner with 276 rushing yards and six TDs.

    -- Gamblers should expect true freshman QB Emory Jones to be a part of UF’s offensive plan. Jones has played in only three games so he’ll still retain his redshirt status per the NCAA’s new rules. He completed 12-of-16 passes for 125 yards and two TDs without an interception. Jones ran for 27 yards on 14 attempts.

    -- Perine has rushed for a team-high 750 yards and six TDs while averaging 5.9 YPC. Scarlett, who sat all of 2017 due to a suspension, returned to produce 717 rushing yards, four TDs and a 5.9 YPC average.

    -- Jefferson, a transfer from Ole Miss who used to play with Patterson, hauled in a team-best 31 receptions for 439 yards and six TDs. Grimes, a transfer from Ohio State who, like Jefferson, is a former five-star recruit, has 25 catches for 366 yards and two TDs. Josh Hammon has 26 grabs for 308 yards and four TDs, and Freddie Swain has 14 catches for 265 yards and five TDs.

    -- Florida WR Tyrie Cleveland is ‘out’ after breaking his collarbone in the win at FSU. Cleveland has 18 receptions for 212 yards and three TDs.

    -- UF was an underdog three times this year, going 2-1 both SU and ATS.

    -- UF is ranked 27th in the nation in total defense, eighth at defending the pass and 22nd in scoring ‘D’ (20.4 PPG).

    -- UF owns an 8-3 record in 11 bowl games since 2005. The only loss to a foe not named Michigan was the 33-23 loss to Louisville at the 2012 Sugar Bowl.

    -- The ‘over’ went 5-2 in Michigan’s last seven regular-season games to improve to 7-5 overall. The Wolverines have seen their games average combined scores of 54.4 PPG.

    -- The ‘over’ has hit in three straight UF games and is 5-1-1 in its last seven contests to improve to 7-4-1 overall. The Gators have watched their games average combined scores of 54.9 PPG.

    -- Kickoff is scheduled for noon Eastern on ESPN.


    **South Carolina vs. Virginia**

    -- This is the Belk Bowl in Charlotte that’ll be played at Bank of America Stadium. As of early Friday, most betting shops had South Carolina (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS) installed as a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 54. The Cavaliers were +180 to win outright (risk $100 to win $180).

    -- South Carolina finished fourth in the SEC East with a 4-4 record in league play. Will Muschamp has the Gamecocks bowling for a third straight season. They rallied to beat Michigan 26-19 as an eight-point underdog in last year’s Outback Bowl. During Muschamp’s first season, South Carolina lost 46-39 to South Florida in overtime at the Birmingham Bowl but took the money as a 10-point underdog.

    -- South Carolina’s best wins were at Vanderbilt (37-14) and vs. Missouri (37-35). The Gamecocks lost heartbreakers vs. Texas A&M (26-23) and at Florida (35-31). In their rivalry game on Nov. 24, they were without nine injured defensive players at Clemson. Facing one of the nation’s premier defenses, USC rolled up 600 yards of total offense thanks to junior QB Jake Bentley, who completed 32-of-50 passes for 510 yards and five TDs compared to just one interception. Unfortunately, the Tigers racked up 744 yards of offense, including 351 rushing yards. Deebo Samuel had a monster game, hauling in 10 receptions for 210 yards and three TDs. Shi Smith caught nine balls for 109 yards and one TD.

    -- Since USC had its Week 3 home game vs. Marshall cancelled due to a hurricane, it played host to Akron on Dec. 1 to get a 12th game in. Muschamp’s club saw its 4-0 ATS surge snapped in a 28-3 win over the Zips as a 28.5-point home favorite. A streak of four consecutive ‘overs’ also came to a halt with the 31 combined points dropping ‘under’ the 55-point tally. Mon Denson ran for 110 yards on 17 carries and Rico Dowdle produced 86 rushing yards on 13 totes. Bentley hit 14-of-27 throws for 199 yards and three TDs compared to interceptions. Bryan Edwards had five receptions for 109 yards and one TD, while Samuel had four catches for 33 yards and two TDs.

    -- Samuel, who was a first-team All-SEC return specialist and a second-team All-SEC WR, will skip the bowl game to stay healthy for the NFL Draft. Samuel had a sensational career, scoring six TDs in the first 2.5 games of the 2017 campaign before sustaining a season-ending leg fracture. He finished this season with 62 receptions for 882 yards and 11 TDs, in addition to 570 yards on kickoff returns and one TD. For his career, Samuel played in 30 games and produced 148 catches for 2,076 yards and 16 TDs. He had 1,219 yards on kick returns and four TDs and rushed for 154 yards and seven TDs with a 6.2 YPC average.

    -- Bentley has completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 2,953 yards with a 27/12 TD-INT ratio. He also has two rushing scores. For his career, Bentley has a 54/28 TD-INT ratio and eight rushing TDs.

    -- Edwards, a junior who hasn’t announced whether he’s going to return to school skip his senior season to enter the NFL Draft yet, has 52 receptions for 809 yards and seven TDs. Smith, a true sophomore who is listed as ‘questionable’ vs. UVA for undisclosed reasons, has 39 catches for 597 yards and four TDs.

    -- South Carolina has four quality RBs. Dowdle rushed for a team-best 638 yards and four TDs while averaging 5.5 YPC. Denson has 415 rushing yards, two TDs and a 5.1 YPC average, while Ty’Son Williams has 319 rushing yards, four TDs and a 4.8 YPC average. A.J. Turner has run for 294 yards and two TDs while averaging 6.4 YPC.

    -- USC has been a single-digit favorite just twice this year, posting a 2-0 SU record and a 1-1 ATS mark.

    -- Virginia (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS) is in the postseason for a second straight year for the first time since 2004-2005. During the third season of Bronco Mendenhall’s tenure, UVA won seven games for the first time since 2011. The Cavaliers got destroyed 49-7 by Navy as 1.5-point underdogs in last year’s Military Bowl.

    -- UVA has been an underdog five times this season, going 4-1 ATS with a pair of outright wins at Duke (28-14) and vs. Miami (16-13).

    -- Mendenhall’s team took a 6-2 record into a home game vs. Pitt on Nov. 2. However, the Panthers came to Charlottesville and won a 23-13 decision as seven-point road underdogs. UVA would bounce back to top Liberty 45-24, only to lose back-to-back overtime games at Ga. Tech (30-27) and at Va. Tech (34-31) to close the regular season.

    -- Virginia was a four-point road favorite to snap a 14-game losing streak against the Hokies, who raced out to a 14-0 halftime lead. UVA signal caller Bryce Perkins hit Joe Reed for a pair of third-quarter TD passes of 29 and 75 yards and the Cavs trailed 17-14 heading into the final stanza. After Va. Tech extended its lead to 24-14 on the opening play of the fourth quarter, UVA countered with a 12-yard TD run from Jordan Ellis to cut the deficit to 24-21 with 12:55 remaining. Then with 6:51 left, the Cavs took their first lead on a 29-yard scoring strike from Perkins to Hasise Dubois. They would go up 31-24 on Brian Delaney’s 28-yard field goal with 2:41 left. Va. Tech pulled even when Hezekiah Grimsley recovered his teammate’s fumble in the end zone with 1:51 remaining. In the extra session, the Hokies had the ball first and went ahead on a 42-yard FG by Brian Johnson. On UVA’s possession, it got a quick first down only to botch a handoff between Perkins and Ellis on the next play. The fumble was recovered by Va. Tech to end the game and give it a 15th straight win in the in-state rivalry.

    -- UVA comes to Charlotte having lost three of its past four games both SU and ATS. The Cavs covered as 6.5-point underdogs in the OT loss to the Yellow Jackets on The Flats in Midtown Atlanta.

    -- Perkins, a juco transfer who started his career at Arizona State, has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 2,472 yards with a 22/9 TD-INT ratio. He’s also a playmaker with his legs, rushing for 842 yards and nine TDs with a 4.3 YPC average. Ellis has run for a team-best 920 yards and nine TDs while averaging 4.9 YPC.

    -- Olamide Zaccheaus is Perkins’ favorite target, catching 82 balls for 973 yards and six TDs. Dubois has 47 receptions for 521 yards and five TDs, while Reed has 24 grabs for 455 yards and seven TDs.

    -- UVA is ranked 24th in the country in total defense, 14th at defending the pass and 27th in scoring ‘D’ (21.8 PPG).

    -- After cashing in four of its last five regular-season games, the ‘over’ improve to 7-5 overall for the Gamecocks. Their games have averaged combined scores of 59.8 PPG.

    -- The ‘over’ has hit three consecutive UVA contests and four of its last five to improve to 7-5 overall. The Cavs have seen their games average combined scores of 50.2 PPG.

    -- ABC will provide the telecast at noon Eastern.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 12-29-2018 at 02:43 AM.

  15. #30
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    Cotton Bowl Preview
    Brian Edwards

    Clemson and Notre Dame will square off at Jerry World in Arlington, TX., in the first College Football Playoff semifinal game Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. As of early Friday, most books had the Tigers listed as 12.5-point favorites with a total of 56.5. The Fighting Irish were +350 on the money line (risk $100 to win $350).

    For first-half wagers, Clemson is favored by seven and the total is 28 points. Notre Dame is available on the money line for a +270 payout.

    Clemson (13-0 straight up, 7-6 against the spread) has been favored by 16 points or more in 12 of its 13 games. The lowest spread for the Tigers this year was -12 in a Week 2 showdown at Texas A&M. They survived the trip to College Station by winning 28-26.

    Dabo Swinney’s squad was tested only one other time in a 27-23 comeback win over Syracuse. Clemson won 11 of its 13 games by 20 points or more. The Tigers trailed the Orange 23-13 after Eric Dungey’s one-yard TD run gave The ‘Cuse a 23-13 advantage with 12:58 left.

    Trevor Lawrence, the true freshman who had been named the starting QB that week, had been knocked out of the game in the second quarter. But Chase Brice, a redshirt freshman QB, made some key plays, Travis Etienne ran like a beast and the defense got key stops to spark a critical rally.

    Clemson pulled to within three on Etienne’s 26-yard TD run with 11:08 remaining. The sophomore RB found the end zone again with 41 ticks left to lift his team to victory. Etienne rushed for 203 yards and three TDs on 27 attempts.

    Lawrence returned the next week and quickly went about establishing himself as one of the country’s premier signal callers. In his next three starts after being injured vs. Syracuse, Lawrence threw seven TDs without an interception in blowout wins at Wake Forest (63-3), vs. N.C. St. (41-7) and at FSU (59-10).

    For the season, Lawrence has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 2,606 yards with a 24/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His favorite target is Tee Higgins, who has 52 receptions for 802 yards and 10 TDs. Justyn Ross has 34 catches for 699 yards and six TDs, and Amari Rodgers has 46 grabs for 514 yards and four TDs. There’s also ‘Mr. Reliable,’ senior Hunter Renfrow, who has 43 receptions for 472 yards and one TD.

    Etienne garnered second-team All-American honors by rushing for 1,464 yards and 21 TDs while averaging 8.3 yards per carry. He also had 10 receptions for 65 yards and one TD. The Tigers are four-deep in the backfield with excellent reserves in Lyn-J Dixon, Adam Choice and Tavien Feaster.

    Dixon has rushed for 536 yards and five TDs with a 9.6 YPC average. Choice has 506 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 7.4 YPC average, while Feaster has run for 409 yards and six TDs with a 5.8 YPC average.

    Clemson is fourth in the country in total offense, 27th in passing yards, ninth in rushing yards and fourth in scoring with its 45.4 points-per-game average. Senior OT Mitch Hyatt was a third-team All-ACC pick as a freshman in 2015, a first-team All-ACC selection in ’16, a second-team All-American in ’17 and a first-team All-American this season.

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least 100 times: The best move of Swinney’s coaching career was hiring Brent Venables away from Oklahoma to become his defensive coordinator after Geno Smith and West Virginia hung a 70-spot on the Tigers at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 5 of 2012. It was a coup to pull Venables away from Norman after serving as OU’s DC for 13 seasons under Bob Stoops.

    Venables has delivered and then some. This year’s Clemson stop unit ranks fifth in the nation in total defense, 18th at defending the pass, third in run defense and second in scoring ‘D’ (13.7 PPG).

    Three defensive linemen for Clemson earned first-team All-American honors, including Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Lawrence is ‘out’ for the rest of the season after testing positive for a trace amount of ostarine, an illegal muscle-growth supplement. Reserve TE Braden Galloway and reserve OL Zach Giella were also suspended for the same reason. All three players could be facing a one-year suspension, but that’s of no consequence to Lawrence, as the junior is expected to turn pro anyway.

    Lawrence had produced 37 tackles, seven QB hurries, six tackles for loss, three passes broken up and one blocked kick. He was also used as a fullback in goal-line packages and had one two-yard TD run.

    Wilkins has recorded 45 tackles, 8.5 TFL’s, five sacks, six QB hurries, two passes broken up, one forced fumble, one blocked kick and two fumble recoveries for 21 return yards. Like Lawrence, Wilkins is also used on some short-yardage situations. He has three carries for three rushing yards and a pair of TDs.

    Ferrell has 46 tackles, 10.5 sacks, seven QB hurries, 6.5 TFL’s, three PBU and two forced fumbles. The Tigers are third in the nation in sacks with 46.

    Notre Dame (12-0 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) scored only 24, 24 and 22 points in its first three games of the season. Brian Kelly’s club defeated Michigan (24-17), Ball St. (24-16) and Vanderbilt (22-17) in one-possession games at home. With the offense dragging a bit, Kelly decided to name sophomore Ian Book as his new starting QB replacing Brandon Wimbush, who had led the Irish to a 10-3 record in 2017 when he rushed for 14 TDs and had a 16/6 TD-INT ratio.

    The move was a stroke of genius. The offense was parked immediately, producing 56, 38 and 45 points in its next three games. Notre Dame went to Winston Salem and blasted Wake Forest 56-27 in Book’s second career start. Then the Irish thumped Stanford 38-17 as a 4.5-point home favorite before going to Blacksburg and spanking Va. Tech by a 45-23 count.

    Eight of Notre Dame’s opponents made the postseason. The Irish won 31-21 at Northwestern, 36-3 vs. Syracuse at Yankee Stadium and 24-17 at Southern Cal in the regular-season finale.

    Kelly’s team has only been an underdog once this year, beating Michigan as a 2.5-point home underdog. Notre Dame has won three of its past four bowl games, including a pair of wins over LSU at the 2014 Music City Bowl and last year’s Citrus Bowl.

    Book and senior RB Dexter Williams are the catalysts for an offense that averages 33.8 points per game. Book has completed 70.4 percent of his throws for 2,468 yards with a 19/6 TD-INT ratio. He has run for 250 yards and four TDs.

    Williams has run for 941 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 6.6 YPC. Tony Jones Jr. has run for 392 yards and three TDs with a 4.7 YPC average, while Jafar Armstrong has 377 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 5.3 YPC average.

    Miles Boykin has posted team-bests in receptions (54), receiving yards (803) and TD catches (eight). Chase Claypool has caught 48 balls for 631 yards and four TDs, while Chris Finke has 47 grabs for 547 yards and two TDs. Alize Mack has 34 receptions for 349 yards and three TDs.

    Notre Dame is ranked No. 21 in the country in total defense, No. 35 at defending the pass, No. 31 in run defense and No. 10 in scoring ‘D’ (17.2 PPG). This unit is led by senior MLB Te’von Coney, who has produced 107 tackles, 5.5 TFL’s, five QB hurries, four PBU, 3.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and one interception.

    These storied programs squared off at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 3 of 2015, with Clemson winning a 24-22 decision. However, the Irish covered the number as a three-point road underdog. Notre Dame mounted a furious rally after trailing 21-3 early in the fourth quarter. Torii Hunter Jr. one-yard TD receptions from DeShone Kizer with seven ticks left cut the deficit to 24-22, but the two-point conversation failed. The 46 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 48-point total.

    Totals were a wash (6-6) overall for Notre Dame, but the ‘under’ cashed in its last two regular-season contests. The Irish’s games have average combined scores of 51.0 PPG.

    The ‘under’ is 3-1 in Clemson’s past four games to improve to 7-6 overall. The Tigers have seen their games average combined scores of 59.1 PPG.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 12-29-2018 at 02:44 AM.

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