Coming into the post-Christmas portion of bowl mania with a 6-4 record isn’t bad but isn’t great. Today we have a full slate of bowl games that should put us well over .500 or (gulp) under .500.
St Petersburg Bowl
UConn (6-6, AAC) vs Marshall (9-3, Conference USA)
Despite being 6-6, the Huskies (5-7 ATS) have a signature win over conference champion Houston. UConn will depend on their defense as their offense only averages 17.8 points a game which is 10th worse in the nation.
Marshall (7-5 ATS) had an impressive 9 wins but their season changed when they lost top rusher Devon Johnson. That has put more pressure on freshman quarterback Chase Litton to make plays. Despite finishing the season 1-2, Litton has posted an impressive 8 TD’s and 3 Ints.
Prediction: Marshall -4
This is where going against conventional wisdom is the play. UConn’s defense is stout and their secondary is one of the best in the nation. Conventional wisdom says take the Huskies against a freshman quarterback and a missing star running back but the bowl season has been about teams that score points and Marshall scores.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Miami (FL) (8-4, ACC) vs Washington St (8-4, Pac 12)
The Canes finished the season winning 4 out of 5 including their controversial win over Duke. Their most impressive win in that stretch was a 5 point win at Pitt. The Canes are led by quarterback Brad Kaaya. Kaaya loves the deep ball. His throws average 9.44 yards to the intended receiver (18th in the nation). On defense, Miami (Fl) is ranked 82nd
The Cougars offense is just as explosive as the Canes but they do it with the short pass instead of the long pass. Starting quarterback Luke Falk had 36 touchdown passes. He led the nation in both pass attempts and yards per game. Like the Canes, they struggle on defense and ironically, those two were tied for 82nd in the nation.
Prediction: Miami (FL) +3
When you look at the points Miami (FL) gives up against good offensive teams, it’s tempting to take Washington St. but Leach’s teams haven’t won a bowl game since 2009 and even though, I generally hate those stats, it’s enough for me to take the Canes.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
Washington (6-6, Pac-12) vs Southern Mississippi (9-4, Conference USA)
The last two games of the season rescued what was a very disappointing year for the Huskies. But they showed life in wins against Oregon St. and Washington St. Not only did Washington crank up their offense in the last two games but the defense gave up a combined 17 points against two solid offenses.
Southern Mississippi had the 10th ranked offense in the nation, averaging over 40 points per game. They were led by quarterback Nick Mullens who ranked 10th in the nation in touchdown passes and yards. They also had a pair of 1,000 rushers in Jalen Richard and Ito Smith.
Prediction: Southern Miss +8
Sticking with the theme of offense over defense makes me lean towards Southern Mississippi to do enough to cover.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Indiana -3 over Duke
Camping World Independence Bowl: Virginia -14 over Tulsa
Foster Farms Bowl: UCLA -5.5 over Nebraska
Bowl Season Record ATS: 6-4
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