College basketball is known for its March Madness, but college football has some madness of its own as well. It’s called bowl season. Let the games begin.
Five matchups kick off the holiday football season this weekend. After 40 bowl games, the hectic schedule ends on Monday, Jan. 8 in Atlanta when a national champion will be crowned. The Clemson Tigers, currently ranked No. 1 in the country, hold the title.
For these 10 teams playing this weekend, this is their championship. Let’s take a look at all five contests and try to pick a winner in each against the spread (odds provided by bovada.lv).
Troy’s Resume Includes Win Over LSU
North Texas vs. Troy at New Orleans — The Trojans (10-2) won the last time they played in the state of Louisiana. More than a 20-point underdog, Troy stunned SEC powerhouse LSU in September.
The Trojans finished the season off with six straight wins under coach Neal Brown. They should be able to come up with a game plan to score on North Texas as Florida Atlantic put up 110 points on the Mean Green in two games this season. The Mean Green (9-4) are undefeated at home, but just 3-4 on the road.
Troy is 5-6-1 against the spread this season, while North Texas is 8-5.
VGB’s pick — Troy (-7)
WKU QB Among Nation’s Elite Passers
Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State at Orlando, Fla. — Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White just may get a look in the NFL if he can continue to put up these numbers. The six-foot-four senior has 24 touchdown passes this season against seven interceptions. He is fourth in the nation in passing yards with 3,826.
The Hilltoppers (6-6) have lost four of their last five, but the Conference USA’s best passer should be the difference. Western Kentucky is 3-8-1 against the spread.
The Panthers (6-5) come into this game off two straight losses. They’re also 0-4 against the spread in November and December games.
VGB’s pick — Western Kentucky (-6.5)
Ducks Hope To Run Wild Against Broncos
Boise State vs. Oregon at Las Vegas — This is the game of the day as the No. 25 Broncos (10-3) tackle the Ducks (7-5).
Oregon went 1-4 without sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert, who missed five games with a broken collarbone. Since his return, the Ducks have been on fire. They won their last two starts by a combined score of 117-38. Add Oregon’s strong running game to the mix, and the Ducks could hit the jackpot in Las Vegas.
Oregon will be without their all-time leading rusher in Royce Freeman, who opted to skip the bowl game and prepare for the NFL draft. The senior is eighth in the nation this year with 1,475 rushing yards.
This is only the third time this season that Boise State, which has won eight of its last nine, has not been favored.
The Ducks are 6-6 ATS, while the Broncos are 7-5-1.
VGB’s pick — Boise State (+7.5)
Rams Need Big Game From Star Receiver
Marshall vs. Colorado State at Albuquerque, N.M. — Neither one of these teams is coming into this bowl game with a lot of confidence. The Rams (7-5) have lost three of their last four, while the Thundering Herd (7-5) have lost four of their last five.
Colorado State’s Michael Gallup is fifth in the nation in receiving yards with 1,345 on 94 catches and seven touchdowns. Expect him to have a big day for the Rams, who made a trip to Tuscaloosa this season to take on Alabama. Even though they were 31-point underdogs to the Crimson Tide, the Rams lost 41-23.
The Thundering Herd defense, which allowed 19.2 points per game this season, should keep the score close.
VGB’s pick — Marshall (+6)
Starting Quarterbacks Can Pile Up The Points
Middle Tennessee State vs. Arkansas State at Montgomery, Ala. — The Blue Raiders (6-6) played without their starting quarterback for six games this season. Brent Stockstill, who was nursing an injured left shoulder, went 4-2 in his junior season, including a win over Syracuse. The Orange are the same team that stunned No. 1 Clemson this year.
Justice Hansen broke the Sun Belt single-season record with 34 touchdown passes this year for the Red Wolves (7-4), but he also threw 15 picks.
In late November, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe scored a total of 117 points as the Red Wolves won 67-50. This should be a high-scoring affair as well.
VGB’s pick — Arkansas State (-3.5)