College football bowl season begins Saturday and the 35th and final bowl will be played Jan. 6.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Bowl season begins Saturday. It
ends about 20 minutes before Valentine's Day. The last time I checked the list
of participating teams, everybody but Kentucky, Indiana, Western Kentucky and
Purdue was included.
If picking the NCAA Tournament bracket is the most
celebrated sports office activity in the area, Bowl Confidence Pick contests
are quickly closing ground.
You know how that works. You pick the winners in all 714
bowl games and then rank them in order of how confident you are an individual
team will deliver. The person with the most points wins – either a healthy pot
or a pat on the back if you're playing for entertainment purposes only.
So with kickoff in the Colorado State-Washington State game
bearing down, here are Five Tips to Help You Pick Bowl Winners With Confidence.
1. Respect the Pac-12. Why? Because the guys in Las
Vegas respect the Pac-12. I've been arguing all season that from top-to-bottom
the Pac-12 is actually a stronger league than the Southeastern Conference.
when the season began one of the Pac-12's middle of the pack teams (Washington
State) went on the road and nearly upset the Southeastern Conference's best
odds say I'm on to something. All nine Pac-12 teams are favored – and six are favored by at least six points.
Here is the
unfortunate note: You will not find a single Pac 12-SEC bowl matchups. Too bad.
2. Everybody likes Louisville.
Charlie Strong's team did not stir much
respect in the computer rankings this season. Guess what? The Cards are getting
more respect than the Miami Hurricanes.
All six computer rankings used in the Bowl
Championship Series formula rank the Cardinals higher than the Hurricanes.
Vegas like Louisville by 3 ½ points. Jeff Sagarin's predictor rankings say that
you can pick the Cardinals with more confidence. He's got the Cards by six.
3. Beware teams with incentive issues. You've
heard that line a time or two. You heard it a ton last year when Florida played
Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
Look for teams that suffered a
disappointing loss to end their seasons and might not be gaga about playing one
Who are the teams most likely to
come out flat?
Ohio State seems like a natural to me.
All the Buckeyes had to do was beat Michigan State, and they were playing
Florida State for the BCS title.
They didn't even get the
consolation prize of representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.
Now they're in Miami, matched
against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. They've got the usual assortment of guys
thinking about leaving school early for the NFL. Beware.
Two more: Michigan and Boise State.
The Wolverines have already
returned nearly half of their ticket allotment for a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
matchup with Kansas State. Doesn't sound like a program that can't wait to get
to Tempe, Ariz.
Boise State has a pedigree of
playing in BCS-level games under coach Chris Petersen. Now Petersen is the
coach at Washington. Boise opened as a three-point underdog against Oregon
State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. The Beavers are currently favored by three.
4. Who does Phil Steele like?
Phil Steele watches college football the
way that TMZ watches the Kardashian Family. He doesn't miss a move.
Here are Steele's five most confident bowl
1. Baylor over UCF; 2. Alabama over Oklahoma; 3.
Arizona State over Texas Tech; 4. East Carolina over Ohio; 5. Mississippi State
record, Steele likes Miami to beat Louisville. Hmm.
5. Pick against the Atlantic Coast Conference. As
much as the odds favor the Pac-12, they tilt against the ACC. Eleven ACC teams
made bowls. Two are favored.
North Carolina over Cincinnati. Big deal. The other is Florida State over
Auburn. Does that make you wonder about the competition the Seminoles played
this season? Me, too.
Of course, I
can't leave you without sharing my bowl confidence picks, even if I'm not
making them with a ton of confidence.