G.W. Gras

Senior Writer for The Bears Brawl and Lead Host of The Bears Brawl Podcast.

Once again, “Beating Vegas” has provided the public with the best free advice against the the spread that you can ever find. A lot of work is put into each and every college season, and the appreciation for those that have spread the word comes from the heart.

So now, in our grand finale, we tackle every bowl game.

Bowl season is tricky. Some teams are not happy with the bowl they were chosen to play in. Other universities see it as a big deal to get invited to ANY bowl game. Then there are teams who have no head coach, star players are sitting out the game in leu of the NFL draft and since these games really mean very little – fans won’t travel.

These predictions are all “leans” more than “locks,” and we hope we help you along the way.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 17 Memphis
Sat., Dec. 28 | Noon ET | ESPN
Location: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, Texas
Opening line: Penn State -7

As a Penn State fan, it makes no sense that Wisconsin was picked over Penn State to represent the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl – but in the end – Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl – it doesn’t matter. This is a bowl game Penn State doesn’t care to be in, but James Franklin just got an extension to remain as head coach, so this is going to be a recruiting tool, and also he won’t let his team come out and lose to a non-power five opponent. If you followed earlier in the year, I told folks to take the OVER in Memphis’ win total – it was a slam dunk of a bet. And unlike Penn State, their head coach decided to jump ship and go to FSU. Franklin will have his boys ready to play.

THE PICK: Penn State -7

 

Source: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America

Capital One Orange Bowl
No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia
Mon., Dec. 30 | 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Hard Rock Stadium | Miami Gardens, Fla.
Opening line: Florida -13

Virginia showed some moxie in the first quarter of the ACC title game . . . and were soon embarrassed for trying to pump their chest out on Clemson. Virginia has some guys, but Florida has the speed.

The PicK: Florida -13

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual
No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
Wed., Jan. 1 | 5 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Rose Bowl | Pasadena, Calif.
Opening line: Oregon -2.5

Justin Herbert would’ve been the first quarterback taken in the last NFL draft but opted to stay in Oregon. That decision only hurt him as LSU’s Joe Burrow is clearly going to be the first QB taken in the draft. This game will probably hurt his draft stock a little more. Oregon winning the Pac-12 was the highlight of the season – this team had Championship potential and fell short – as for Wisconsin – they are going to play lights out because this is as big as it can get for them.

The Pick: Wisconsin +2.5

Allstate Sugar Bowl
No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor
Wed., Jan. 1 | 8:45 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome | New Orleans, La.
Opening line: Georgia -7.5

If Kirby Smart can’t get his team up for the SEC title game and shot at the National Championship scene – what makes you think he’ll get them for the Sugar Bowl. Matt Rhule on the other hand is all about building up his program and will pull all the tricks out of his magic hat on a National stage. Bulldogs win – barely.

The Pick: Baylor +7.5

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
Buffalo vs. Charlotte
Fri., Dec. 20 | 2 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium | Nassau, Bahamas
Opening line: Buffalo -4.5

This one should be low scoring affair, with Buffalo being able to expose more of Charlotte’s defense than vice versa.

The Pick: Buffalo -4.5

Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl
Kent State vs. Utah State
Fri., Dec. 20 | 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Location: Toyota Stadium | Frisco, Texas
Opening line: Utah State -8.5

I’ve seen Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s but I’ve never been enticed to actually enter one. And I’m a sucker for Strawberry-Banana smoothies. With that being said, I doubt very much I’ll watch this game – as will nobody. Utah State should win this game, but they have been very inconsistent this season, and I’d expect in this bowl game for their motivation to be at an all time low.

The Pick: Kent State +8.5

New Mexico Bowl
Central Michigan vs. San Diego State
Sat., Dec. 21 | 2 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Dreamstyle Stadium | Albuquerque, N.M.
Opening line: San Diego State -4.5

San Diego has a defense and not much else. Central Michigan is pretty well balanced, so I don’t understand the line. San Diego State typically plays in low scoring games and in both of Central Michigan’s lowest scoring match-ups they lost both games by 5 points. The spread is 4.5 – I’m rolling with the points in this one.

Cure Bowl
Georgia Southern vs. Liberty
Sat., Dec. 21 | 2:30 p.m. ET | CBSSN
Location: Exploria Stadium | Orlando, Fla.
Opening line: Georgia Southern -6

This is probably my favorite game in terms of “confidence picks.” Liberty lines up a bunch of pansies all season long and pads stats. Georgia Southern is going to punch them in the mouth early and often.

The Pick: Georgia Southern -6

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
Matchup: Florida Atlantic vs. SMU
Game info: Sat., Dec. 21 | 3:30 p.m. ET | ABC
Location: FAU Stadium | Boca Raton, Fla.
Opening line: SMU -3.5

Here is a case of a coach leaving one school and another school will still be in tact. Florida Atlantic will give up plays in the air and not be too focused.. The hook here scares me, but I’m going with the Mustangs.

The Pick: SMU -3.5

Camellia Bowl
Matchup: Arkansas State vs. Florida International
Game info: Sat., Dec. 21 | 5:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Cramton Bowl | Montgomery, Ala.
Opening line: Arkansas State -3

Arkansas does one thing – throw the ball. Unfortunately for them, FIU is number one in against the pass Conference USA. Arkansas’ lack of offensive balance and inability to stop the run will be their demise.

The Pick: FIU +3

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Matchup: No. 19 Boise State vs. Washington
Game info: Sat., Dec. 21 | 7:30 p.m. ET | ABC
Location: Sam Boyd Stadium | Las Vegas, Nev.
Opening line: Washington -3.5

Aside from the playoff games, this is probably the most intriguing match-up of the bowl season. Chris Peterson is stepping down as head coach of Washington after this game. Peterson has brought along Washington in his time there, even got them into the college football playoff – but what he did while at Boise State is just legendary. This is going to be an emotional game and the Washington players are going to play their hearts out for their coach. Boise is tricky on offense but defensively have been too relaxed this year.

The Pick: Washington -3.5

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Matchup: No. 20 Appalachian State vs. UAB
Game info: Sat., Dec. 21 | 9 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome | New Orleans, La.
Opening line: Appalachian State -17.5

This will be the type of game where UAB’s defense will keep them in it for a while, but eventually they will get worn down. UAB’s offense will deliver too many three-and-out drives and lose the field of position – giving App State this cover late in the game.

The Pick: App State -17.5

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Matchup: Marshall vs. UCF
Game info: Mon., Dec. 23 | 2:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Raymond James Stadium | Tampa, Fla.
Opening line: UCF -17.5

This game really depends on how UCF sees the “Gasparilla Bowl. . .” Honestly I’ve thought about three times during the year that Marshall was a “smart play” and got burned so I’m riding with the team that’s done nothing for gamblers but cover spreads for years.

The Pick: UCF -17.5

SoFi Hawaii Bowl
Matchup: BYU vs. Hawaii
Game info: Tues., Dec. 24 | 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Aloha Stadium | Honolulu, Hawaii
Opening line: BYU -2.5
The home-field advantage here means pretty much everything. BYU will be in a hostile territory and be forced to play faster than they probably want to.

The Pick: Hawaii +2.5

Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Matchup: Miami vs. Louisiana Tech
Game info: Thurs., Dec. 26 | 4 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Independence Stadium | Shreveport, La.
Opening line: Miami -7.5

The fact that Miami even made it to a bowl game is a head scratcher. Tech has a pretty good run defense and take gambles in the secondary. Those things should work in their favor against a Miami team that has no identity.

The Pick: Louisiana Tech +7.5

Quick Lane Bowl
Matchup: Pittsburgh vs. Eastern Michigan
Game info: Thurs., Dec. 26 | 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Ford Field | Detroit, Mich.
Opening line: Pittsburgh -11

I have a rule in betting, if Pitt is ever a double digit favorite, take the under-dog.

The Pick: Eastern Michigan +11

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
Matchup: North Carolina vs. Temple
Game info: Fri., Dec. 27 | Noon ET | ESPN
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium | Annapolis, Md.
Opening line: North Carolina -6

There is a new aura of confidence starting to brew at UNC and this bowl game will be a nice look when it comes to recruiting. Temple’s pass defense is a problem for UNC and it’s not as if teams don’t throw it efficiently in the American Athletic Conference. Mack Brown has been around the block though and will get this win with relative ease.

The Pick: UNC -6

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Matchup: Michigan State vs. Wake Forest
Game info: Fri., Dec. 27 | 3:20 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Yankee Stadium | Bronx, N.Y.
Opening line: Michigan State -3.5

As a Bronx Born native, I can reassure you that the folks in my home town could care less about this match-up. I’m looking at the line in this one, low number in favor of the bigger named team in a game that means nothing. You know what that means. . .

The Pick: Wake Forest +3.5

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Matchup: No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
Game info: Fri., Dec. 27 | 6:45 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: NRG Stadium | Houston, Texas
Opening line: Texas A&M -4.5

This game will mean something to two head coaches that love to talk and love the spotlight in Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher. Texas A&M will have their hands full trying to stop Cowboy’s running back Chuba Hubbard who has run for 1936 yards this season with 21 touchdowns. Hubbard feels he was snubbed in the Doak Walker award and finished 8th in Heisman voting, which for a guy with his numbers is confusing. Depending on his motivation – he could be out to prove something to every and anyone watching.

The Pick: Oklahoma State +4.5

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Matchup: No. 16 Iowa vs. No. 22 USC
Game info: Fri., Dec. 27 | 8 p.m. ET | FS1
Location: SDCCU Stadium | San Diego, Calif.
Opening line: Iowa -2.5

This is big for USC when it comes to the recruiting world. USC has people already talking about next season (which is pretty much the Trojan norm) and they will go against a well coached Iowa team who will be out of their element in San Diego.

The Pick: USC +2.5

Cheez-It Bowl
Matchup: Washington State vs. Air Force
Game info: Fri., Dec. 27 | 10:15 p.m. ET | ESPN
Location: Chase Field | Phoenix, Ariz.
Opening line: Air Force -2.5

This just looks like a set up for a disaster. Air Force averages 5.1 yards a rush, while Washington State allows 4.9. It was a disappointing season for the Cougars and they are going up against a good Air Force team that plays the same no matter the hype surrounding a game.

The Pick: Air Force +2.5