After both Thursday Night games looked scary for most of the night, in the end I pulled out two wins with Florida covering by a point and Baylor getting a late breakaway touchdown run to cover by a pair. Close but wins nonetheless – keep it going with 4 games tonight!
Armed Forces Bowl
BYU VS Tulsa (-1)
When it comes right down to it, I just don’t think much of BYU. They haven’t done dooty against any good team this year – they’ve played a couple close games, but Tulsa is a solid club and I think they are out to prove more in this contest. Sure, Tulsa got slapped around by Houston in the last game of their pre-bowl season, but they have an explosive offense that might just be too powerful for the Cougars to keep up.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Rutgers VS Iowa State (+1.5)
I’m not super impressed with either of these teams, but Iowa State is the much better team from the much better conferences. The cyclones may be just 6-6 on the season, but take a moment to recognize that 5 of their 6 losses came against ranked foes. The Scarlet Knights lost to West Virginia (#25) by 10 – their only game against a top 25 opponent. The Knights were brutal against Connecticut to end the season, turning the ball over a ton and barely showing up defensively. Big moments, big let down – I expect an easy win for the Cyclones.
Music City Bowl
Mississippi State VS Wake Forest (+6.5)
The Bulldogs were 2-6 in SEC play. The Demon Deacons used their weak conference match-ups to build themselves up to 6 wins. Neither of these teams had impressive seasons. The Bulldogs boast a better defense, but Wake Forest seemed to figure it out later in the year, plus they are getting enough points to make them my pick.
Iowa VS Oklahoma (-13.5)
I’m usually and Iowa fan, and Oklahoma really struggled over the 2nd half of the season, not looking at all like the team that was supposed to contend for a National Championship. With their star receiver’s knee, so went their swagger, and it’s showed. Still, they are too talented, and I’m thinking a month of practice got them to realize it.
North Carolina Tar Heels @ Tennessee Volunteers Music City Bowl Pick: I’m not sold on Tennessee – their last 4 games have shown me that they can win, and win when it matters, but only against teams like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Memphis – hardly big wins to hang your hat on. Winning is big, for confidence and just learning how to do it, but because you won doesn’t mean you’ll win. So, when I finally decided to pick the Vols, I didn’t do so because of those 4 wins to end the season, the 4 straight wins they needed to become bowl eligible. I picked them because this is a home game for the Vols, and they’ve been better at home than on the road. Defensively, they are figuring it out. Since allowing 41, 41, and 38 in three straight games (against Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina) they haven’t allowed more than 14 points. That’s a nice turnaround.
I love the semi-success Carolina had this season despite losing most of their defense to eligibility issues, and some key offensive players as well. The Tar Heels battled their way to 7-5 despite being forced to play without Robert Quinn, Greg Little, Charles Brown, and Bruce Carter for much of the season. Quinn is one of the best players in college football, and all in all this team lost 7 defensive players to eligibility. Yet they still played tough against tough teams, and got to this point.
But the past is there, and this season is already a success for the Heels. In a home game I like Tennessee to find a way to win in a close one.
North Carolina Tar Heels @ Tennessee Volunteers (+2)
60% of the betting public likes Clemson, and that makes sense. It’s the Tigers that have finished the season with the type of flourish most expected from them all season long. It’s the Tigers that possess one of the most dynamic players in all of college football, running back, kick/punt return, receiving option, super player C.J. Spiller. There’s lots of flash on Clemson’s side, but one might say that Kentucky finished the season just as strong.
Both teams lost their last game, but Kentucky, like Clemson, won 5 of their last 7 games. Two of those were as double digit underdogs, beating Georgia and Auburn. Kentucky barely lost to Tennessee (overtime), Mississippi State (a touchdown), and South Carolina (2 points). Their other two losses? Alabama and Florida. Kentucky is 6-6 ATS on the season, and 3-1 overall on the road – a nice stat for bowl teams. They score 27.2 per game while giving up 22.8. They are 5-3 ATS and SU in their last 8 games.
Clemson has won 6 of their last 8, but come into the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl losing two in a row. An embarrassing loss to South Carolina on the road, and a close loss (5 points) to Virginia Tech for the ACC crown. Clemson is 8-5 SU this season, and 8-5 ATS, and 5-3 ATS over their last 8 games.
And taking a decent ACC team over an SEC opponent hasn’t made much sense, but that’s the direction I’m going. Clemson has a solid rushing attack, and when they out-rush opponents, they usually win. Kentucky has been out-rushed 5 times in the last 10 games, they’ve lost 4 of those contests. I think Clemson’s D-line can stifle Kentucky’s rush attack, and that will allow the Tigers to run the show.
Kentucky Wildcats VS Clemson Tigers (-7)