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.

Remember that 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 team (Auburn).

The bowl-game 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 more time.

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 picks:

1. Baylor over UCF; 2. Alabama over Oklahoma; 3. Arizona State over Texas Tech; 4. East Carolina over Ohio; 5. Mississippi State over Rice.

For the 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.

One is 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.

Proceed with caution.

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.

35. Baylor over UCF

34. Alabama over Oklahoma

33. Notre Dame over Rutgers

32. Arizona State over Texas Tech

31. Arizona over Boston College

30. Texas A&M over Duke

29. East Carolina over Ohio U.

28. Navy over Middle Tennessee

27. Oregon over Texas

26. North Texas over UNLV

25. Washington State over Colorado State

24. Georgia over Nebraska

23. Washington over BYU

22. Buffalo over San Diego State

21. Florida State over Auburn

20. USC over Fresno State

19. Ball State over Arkansas State

18. Stanford over Michigan State

17. Bowling Green over Pittsburgh

16. UCLA over Virginia Tech

15. LSU over Iowa

14. Louisville over Miami

13. Kansas State over Michigan

12. Mississippi State over Rice

11. North Carolina over Cincinnati

10. Minnesota over Syracuse

 9. Utah State over Northern Illinois

 8. Marshall over Maryland

 7. Houston over Vanderbilt

 6. Tulane over Louisiana

 5. Georgia Tech over Ole Miss

 4.  Clemson over Ohio State

 3. Oklahoma State over Missouri

 2. Wisconsin over South Carolina

 1. Oregon State over Boise State

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