*All bowl games will be posted in order of date played.
ATS: Arizona -8 1/2
Confidence: Arizona 14
Why?: Nevada’s defense regressed over the course of the season, finishing 96th in scoring and averaging over 38 points per game over their last six contests. Arizona scored under 30 points three times during the season, an opener against Toledo, and games against Oregon and UCLA. Nevada doesn’t have the defensive talent to stop Matt Scott and Ka’Deem Carey. Stephfon Jefferson is one of the best backs in the country, but Nevada won’t be able to keep up with the pace Arizona sets.
ATS: Utah State -10 1/2
Confidence: Utah State 7
Why?: Utah State Quarterback Chuckie Keeton quietly put together a fantastic season at Quarterback for the Aggies. Five points in two loses are all that separate Utah State from a perfect season. Their top-ten ranked defense had some trouble containing Louisiana Tech’s offense, but Toledo’s more balanced attack won’t be nearly the challenge. The game’s score will depend on how well Utah State’s suffocating defense executes early.
ATS: San Diego State +3 1/2
Confidence: San Diego State 8
Why?: San Diego State faced a similar foe when they defeated Chris Peterson’s Boise State team. A well-coached defense with NFL prospects isn’t going to force a talented San Diego State team into submission. San Diego State’s offense matches-up well with BYU’s talent on defense; Ezekial Ansah and Kyle Van Noy will spend the majority of their time trying to put a cap on Adam Muema and Walter Kazee, and if the middle of the field opens up, Senior Tight End Gavin Escobar will help cement his status as a Day 2 NFL Draft selection. If Andrew Dingwell can limit mistakes, expect San Diego State to pull-out a close game.
ATS: Central Florida +7 1/2
Confidence: UCF 9
Why? Ball State has more talent on offense than does Central Florida, but the trip down to St. Petersburg will be difficult for a young team that doesn’t have much experience. Sophomores are Willie Snead and Jahwan Edwards are potential All-MAC players moving forward, but I believe they will have trouble after the extended break. Central Florida is quicker on defense than most of the Ball State schedule. Central Florida, led by Senior Runningback Latavius Murray, will not have the same issues in a virtual home game.
ATS: LA Lafayette -7
Confidence: LA Lafayette 10
Why? Sophomore Justin Hardy is going to turn some heads on national TV, but I’m not sure he can win the game for East Carolina. The two squads are evenly matched, I’m going with Lafayette, playing in a virtual home-game.
ATS: Boise State -5
Confidence: Boise State 6
Why? Never bet against Chris Peterson in a situation where preparedness will be a deciding role. Peterson has proved for years that his team, specifically on the defensive side of the ball, is always prepared. There’s not as much NFL talent on the Boise State roster this year, but that didn’t stop them from winning a share of the Mountain West title. Keith Price hasn’t been effective in preventing turnovers so far this season, and I doubt that changes here. Boise wins with defense and at least one trick-play Touchdown.
ATS: Fresno State -13
Confidence: Fresno State 11
Why? This is one of the more one-sided games picked by the bowl committees. Fresno clearly has more talent on both sides of the ball than SMU. SMU, in my estimation, was chosen mostly because of their rich following that will be able to make the trip to attend the game. Expect Fresno Quarterback Derek Carr to show why he is a Top 75 prospect going into his senior season.
ATS: Western Kentucky -6 1/2
Confidence: Western Kentucky 12
Why? Central Michigan probably has the two best players on roster in Left Tackle Eric Fisher, my #3 rated Left Tackle prospect and a probable 1st round pick, and suspended Wide Receiver Titus Davis. They also have home-field advantage a day after Christmas. I just don’t think they have the talent in other areas to contend. They’ve won just 12 games in the past three years, that’s no coincidence.
ATS: Bowling Green +7
Confidence: San Jose State 13
Why? San Jose State has the best player in the game in Quarterback David Fales, a potential first round pick going into his Senior season, but Bowling Green’s defense is no joke, and will be able to keep the game close.
ATS: Cincinnati -9 1/2
Confidence: Cincinnati 16
Why? Cincinnati is clearly the more talented team, but I have a gut feeling Duke will come more prepared. Without Butch Jones, I don’t know how much motivation Cincinnati has in a game where they’re favored so heavily. I think in the second half talent will prevail, but don’t be surprised when Duke goes up early.
ATS: UCLA -3
Confidence: UCLA 24
Why? Like the Cincinnati game, one of the teams is clearly more skilled from top to bottom – that being UCLA. Anthony Barr and Datone Jones anchor a defense that should be blitzing a lot to throw off the timing of the Baylor offense. UCLA’s offense will have to sustain long drives so that Baylor’s quick-hitting offense can’t get on the field. If you love the draft and want to watch a guy you may not have heard of, watch UCLA Sophomore Xavier Su’a-Filo, who is an absolute monster at Guard.
The rest of the games will be added periodically over the next week or so.