The Bowl season is on and if you’re looking to take a break from Christmas shopping, there are nine college football games on tap before the big day. Let’s take a look at all the matchups and try to pick a winner in each game.
*Odds provided by bovada.lv / Record against the spread from Dec. 16 bowl games: 3-2
Akron vs. Florida Atlantic — This is by far the biggest point spread of the college football bowl season. The Owls (10-3) are more than a three-touchdown favorite to beat the Zips (7-6).
Florida Atlantic, coached by former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, started the season 1-3 before reeling off nine straight wins — their first 10-win season since 2003. Kiffin’s record-setting offense will be on display on a national stage. During the winning streak, the Owls have outscored their opponents 409-208.
Terry Bowden’s Zips head into the postseason trying to reach eight wins for only the second time since the mid-1980s. Akron is 8-4-1 against the spread (ATS) this year.
VGB’s pick — Florida Atlantic (-23)
Louisiana Tech vs. SMU — The Frisco Bowl promises to be a high-scoring affair with the over/under line at 70 points. The Mustangs (7-5) average more than 40 points a game, while the Bulldogs (6-6) score close to 29.
Courtland Sutton is coming off back-to-back seasons with 1,000 receiving yards for SMU. However, Louisiana Tech has only allowed 16 touchdown passes this season.
SMU is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games and the Mustangs have lost three of their last four straight up. Louisiana Tech has a one-point loss to South Carolina on their resume. The Bulldogs are 6-6 ATS.
VGB’s pick — Louisiana Tech (+5)
Temple vs. Florida International — The Golden Panthers (8-4) have doubled their win total from last year under first-year coach Butch Davis and they put up 63 points on UMass in their season finale. A victory over the Owls (6-6) would give FIU its most wins in a season since joining the FBS in 2004.
The Owls won three of their last four games to become bowl eligible, including a 21-point victory over Tulsa in their last contest in November. They started off the season 0-4 against the spread, but finished their last eight at 6-2. Temple has lost in its last two bowl appearances and hasn’t won since the 2011 New Mexico Bowl.
VGB’s pick — Florida International (+7)
UAB vs. Ohio — After a two-year absence from the FBS, the Blazers (8-4) can end their season with their first-ever bowl victory. They lost their only other bowl appearance in 2004. They won four of their last five games and are 8-3-1 ATS. The Blazers rank second in Conference USA in rushing offense.
The Bobcats (8-4) ground attack averages more than 240 yards a game. They need to turn things around here after losing their last two games to Akron and Buffalo — both times as heavy favorites. They’re also trying to end a three-game losing streak in bowl games.
VGB’s pick — UAB (+7.5)
Central Michigan vs. Wyoming — The Chippewas (8-4) lost four of five in the middle of the season, but they bring a five-game winning streak into this bowl game.
John Bonamego’s team is led by quarterback Shane Morris, who passed for 2,908 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. Central Michigan is playing in its fourth straight bowl game, having lost the last three.
The Cowboys (7-5) feature a future NFL quarterback in Josh Allen. But the junior’s status is uncertain for this game as he’s been dealing with a shoulder injury since early November. Wyoming’s defense allows less than 18 points a game.
VGB’s pick — Wyoming (Pick)
Texas Tech vs. South Florida — There will be no shortage of points in this game which features the Red Raiders’ spread offense and USF’s high-powered attack.
Nic Shimonek threw for 3,547 yards and 30 touchdowns for Texas Tech (6-6), while USF’s Quinton Flowers is one of the most explosive players in the country. He threw for 21 touchdowns and ran for 10 more for the Bulls (9-2).
The Bulls are 5-6 ATS this season, while the Red Raiders, who lost five of their last seven, are 6-5-1. The team that touches the ball last may just win this one.
VGB’s pick — South Florida (-3)
Army vs. San Diego State — The team that has the most success on the ground will win this bowl game.
The No. 1 rushing team in the country in Army (8-3) squares off against the Aztecs (10-2), who feature 2,000-yard rusher Rashaad Penny. The senior All-American averages more than 224 all-purpose yards a game.
The Black Knights are looking for their second straight bowl win, but San Diego State’s run defense has limited opponents to 110.8 yards a game. Army has won seven of its last eight games and is 6-6 ATS. San Diego State has won four in a row and is 8-4 ATS.
VGB’s pick — San Diego State (-7)
Appalachian State vs. Toledo — The Rockets (11-2) are out for revenge after losing by a field goal to the Mountaineers (8-4) in the Camellia Bowl last year.
The Rockets, who captured their first MAC title since 2004, are led by quarterback Logan Woodside. The senior, who was named MAC offensive player of the year, threw for 28 touchdowns while averaging 289 passing yards a game.
The Mountaineers have won three games in a row to finish off the season and two straight bowl games. Their defense boasts 34 sacks this year, including 83 tackles for a loss. They are 5-7 ATS, while the Rockets are 7-6.
VGB’s pick — Appalachian State (+7.5)
Houston vs. Fresno State — What a difference a year makes for the Bulldogs (9-4). Fresno State went a dismal 1-11 last year before Jeff Tedford took over as coach.
The Bulldogs have won four of their last five and give up just over 17 points a game this year. They also led the Mountain West in sacks with 32.
Fresno State will have to account for Houston’s Ed Oliver on every play. The Cougars defensive tackle became the first sophomore to win the Outland Trophy this season. Some are calling him the best player in the country.
The Cougars (7-4) are 6-5 ATS, while the Bulldogs are 9-3-1.
VGB’s pick — Fresno State (+2.5)