2015 Bowl Season kicks off on December 19th with 5 bowl games. Predicting games against the spread early in the bowl season can be tricky because motivation comes into play. Will teams like Arizona and Utah play hard against opponents who are from mid-major conferences? Then there are teams like Georgia St., who have never been to a bowl game. Will it be too big of a stage? This is what makes bowl season both fun and maddening for the betting community.
Gilden New Mexico Bowl
Arizona (6-6, Pac-12) vs New Mexico (7-5, Mountain West)
With Arizona’s injury situation (including starting QB Anu Solomon) and New Mexico playing on their home field, it would seem like the Wildcats -9 is a large number but the line is holding steady after being as high as 10. The Wildcats have lost 4 out of their last 5 games (2-3 ATS). This has been a lost season of U of A and you don’t know how motivated they will be playing a mid-December bowl game on their opponent’s home field.
New Mexico is 3-2 (3-2 ATS) in its last 5 including a 12 point victory over Air Force in their season finale. The Lobos will look to have their option attack control the game against a very charitable Arizona defense. To do that, their 3-headed monster of Lamar Jordan (QB), Jhurell Pressley (RB) and Teriyon Gipson (RB) must grind the clock and stay out of 3rd and long.
Prediction: New Mexico +9
Even if Solomon plays, it’s hard to see this Arizona team motivated enough to put the hammer down in what’s essentially a road game.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (9-3, Independent) vs Utah (9-3, Pac-12)
BYU coach, Bronco Mendenhall, will be on the Cougars’ sideline for the final time before heading to UVA. In Mendenhall’s 11 year tenure at BYU, they have been to a bowl game each year posting a 6-4 record. BYU’s season got off to a sweet and sour start as they upset Nebraska but lost starting QB Taysom Hill but the Cougars rebounded to post 9 wins. Recent history versus their rivals hasn’t benn favorable as they have lost their last 4 against Utah.
This game got a lot more interesting when Utah DL Viliseni Fauonuku said “BYU, y’all are a good team but you’re a dirty team. Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’” Obviously the Utes aren’t treating this as just another game. They see this as a rivalry game against an opponent that uses questionable tactics. Look for the Utes to play a very physical game.
After starting 6-0, the Utes finished the season 2-3 (1-4) ATS.
Prediction: Utah -2.5
Both teams come in motivated for different reasons and that will make this a fun game to watch. Despite Utah’s overall record ATS, 5-7, look for them to cover the spread.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Ohio (8-4, MAC) vs Appalachian St (10-2, Sun Belt)
Ohio looks to get their most wins in a single season since 2012 when they face Appalachian St. for the first time in school history. The Bearcats finished second in the MAC East and they’re riding a three game winning streak with an average victory margin of 16.3 points during that stretch. On the season, the Bobcats have 73 plays over 20 yards led by Papi White, who has done it 9 times. They will need every bit of offense against Appalachian St. as the Bearcats have given up 27 points or more 6 times this season.
The MAC is usually the darlings of the bowl season but this time they are being one upped by Appalachian St. The former FCS power is best known for their victory at Michigan back in 2007. The Mountaineers are one of four teams that have made the jump from FCS and FBS and make a bowl game in its first year of full eligibility and could be become the first team to win their inaugural bowl game.
Appalachian St’s only two losses this season came on the road to top ranked Clemson and Sun Belt Champion Arkansas St. Like Ohio, they come into the bowl game with a 3 game winning streak and an average margin of victory of 18.3 points.
Prediction: Appalachian St. -7
This game is virtually split down the middle when betting the spread. ASU is only 6-6 ATS while Ohio is 8-4 but Mountaineers defense should be good enough to make this a two score victory.
Autonation Cure Bowl
San Jose St. (5-7, Mountain West) vs Georgia St (6-6, Sun Belt)
San Jose St.
San Jose St. limps into the Autonation Cure bowl having lost 4 out of its last 6 games but the one thing San Jose St. should be able to do in this game is score. Neither defenses are going to remind you of the ’85 Chicago Bears so expect a big day out of Tyler Ervin and Kenny Potter.
Georgia St. is the type of team this type of bowl game was made for. In a three year stretch, the Panthers were 2-33. This season they started 2-6 but then things clicked. They ran off 4 straight victories by an average margin of 18.25 points a game. Their offense is led by QB Nick Arbuckles’ 26 touchdowns.
Prediction: Georgia St. +1
The Panthers (8-3-1 ATS) are riding a lot of momentum and are set up for a storybook ending. In a game that is pretty much a toss-up, take the points.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Arkansas St. (9-3, Sun Belt) vs Louisiana Tech (8-4, Conference USA)
Arkansas St. comes in riding a 9 game winning streak beating each opponent by double digits along the way. The Red Wolves went undefeated in conference with the lowest margin of victory being 10 points (vs ULL). They are led by Fredi Knighten and his 19 touchdown passes along with 1,000 yard rusher Michael Gordon.
The Bulldogs are led by running Back Keith Dixon is no slouch himself rushing for just under 1,000 while scoring 17 touchdowns. Dixon has 83 touchdowns during his storied career at Louisiana Tech.
Former Florida Gator QB, Jeff Driske threw for 24 touchdowns but is coming off a tough outing against Southern Mississippi.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech -1.5
This is another game where bucking the trend of taking the team with a better ATS record. The Bulldogs were 6-6 ATS while the Red Wolves were 8-4 but in what will be a high scoring affair, Louisiana Tech gets the slight edge.
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