Michigan Gets Their Man; More College Football Thoughts

Jim Harbaugh is the next head coach at Michigan but how long will he stay?

University of Michigan Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett made it very clear in the days following the firing of Brady Hoke; having a “Michigan man” was no longer a top priority.

There was always an exception to that rule and his name was Jim Harbaugh. Yesterday, Harbaugh became the 20th head football coach of the Wolverines. There is no one more “Michigan man” than Harbaugh who started at quarterback from 1984-1986 for the Bo Schembechler -led teams who were so successful.

I must admit I’m surprised Harbaugh spurned the National Football League and especially for less money than what he could have gotten from just about any of those teams. I think that two things played a major factor in his decision however.

Number one is that of the available NFL jobs, none had a quarterback that Harbaugh really wanted to work with and that’s vitally important for the old QB because as we know he can flat-out coach quarterbacks (see Andrew Luck). The Raiders and Jets both have young signal-callers but neither was enticing enough for Harbaugh.

The argument could be made that both Atlanta and Chicago have good, veteran quarterbacks in Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler but each have their issues.

The second reason Harbaugh chose to leave the NFL is because I really feel he was tired of seeing what was happening to his alma mater an the call to come home and fix it was too great.

Michigan fans will once again pack the seats at Michigan Stadium to see the prodigal son return and he will make the program prominent once again but I caution them this; the desire to win a Super Bowl never leaves you as a player or coach if you’ve had a taste of it and Harbaugh has. I believe his stint in Ann Arbor will be five years or less because that desire will be too strong to avoid.

The OU faithful are starting to wonder what's going on with Bob Stoops.

Bowl Game Bullets

-What on Earth has happened to Bob Stoops and Oklahoma? They were a preseason top five team who ended up finishing with five losses following a humiliating 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. That score wasn’t indicative of how poorly Oklahoma played either. It was 40-0 after three quarters and Clemson pretty much emptied the bench in the final stanza. I have a feeling Stoops falls into that category of having been in the same place too long.

-I could be way off base here, but I think the Pac-12’s success in these early bowl games is a sign that Florida State better strap it up tomorrow when they face Oregon in the Rose Bowl. After Stanford’s 45-21 drubbing of Maryland last night in the Foster Farms Bowl, the Pac-12 moved to 4-0 in bowl season making them the only unbeaten conference remaining. Let’s face it – the level of competition between the ACC and Pac-12 wasn’t really a discussion topic anyway was it?

-As if I needed any more proof for my personal war against instant replay reviews in football I give you the LSU-Notre Dame game. Mad Hatter Les Miles went for a fake field goal and replays clearly showed the ball breaking the plane of the goal line but officials concluded it was disputable because of where the knee was. Here’s the thing, if the knee was down the play is over based on where the ball is when the knee touches right? The ball was over the goal line. If you can’t get replay right that you shouldn’t use it.

-Have a great New Year’s Eve and be safe people.

New Year’s Day Handle For College Football Equal to a Super Bowl

Props aside, the college football lineup for New Year’s Day will be on a par with the Super Bowl says bookmakers.

Both the Sugar and Rose Bowl are receiving two-way action, as the games are now just 24 hours away.

If the total betting handle is any indication and it certainly is, college football’s decision to put its two semifinal games for the national championship on New Year’s was the correct one.

A great deal of action has been written on the two games leading up to the kick offs and much more is expected over the next 24 hours, according to Bovada and betonline.

The two big games, along with three others on the day, will make the day the biggest New Year’s Day lineup ever for college football, according to topbet and sportsbook.com.

In fact, eliminating the props that are offered that are very popular with betting on the Super Bowl, the lineup for New Year’s Day will be one that is comparable to a Super Bowl.

One bookmaker said that when taking into consideration straight bets, totals, sides, teasers and parlays, January 1 will be as much as the Super Bowl.

However, almost 50% of the total money bet on a Super Bowl is for prop bets, and excitement around individual college players is not as high as it is for the NFL.

The betting action is split evenly thus far between favorites and underdogs in the two College Football Playoff semifinal games.

Both games are very popular with bettors and both teams in each game are getting their share of support by the public at the betting window.

Both playoff games on Thursday are sitting with a spread of 9 points. In the Alabama vs. Ohio State matchup, the Crimson Tide has gone up to 9.5 points but has pulled back to 9. Oregon in its matchup against Florida State started at -8 and was bet up to -9.5 but has since retreated to -9 as well.

A number of bookmakers said that the favorites would need to win for them to do well since a great deal of money has been placed on the two dogs in those two games. The money line is the popular bet since diehard supporters of their college team only believe their team will win outright and often do not take the points route, but just the money line.

One bookmaker said he would need Oregon to win both the points and money line and Ohio State to win the points and Alabama to cover the spread.

The betting frenzy will continue right up to kickoff on Thursday.

Your Latest Super Bowl Odds as We Head Into the Playoffs

Marshawn Lynch is the key to a Seattle Super Bowl repeat.

The National Football League Playoffs begin on Saturday and before we dive too far into those games let’s take a look at the latest Super Bowl odds for the 12 teams still standing. I’ll give “why they can win it” and I’ll give you “why they can’t.”

Seattle Seahawks 12/5 – Top-seed and first-round bye

Why they win it? Defense and Marshawn Lynch

Why they don’t? The officials. If they call it tight in the secondary, a close game could easily be turned.

New England Patriots 3/1 – Top-seed and first-round bye.

Why they win it? The defense forces many turnovers and Tom Brady is Tom Brady.

Why they don’t? Brady has had less than stellar playoff performances in recent years. If he falters and the defense can’t create turnovers then forget it.

Green Bay Packers 6/1 – Two-seed and a first-round bye.

Why they win it? Offensive balance and consistent pressure from the defense.

Why they don’t? Aaron Rodgers’ calf injury persists and the defense becomes susceptible to the run.

Denver Broncos 13/2 – Two-seed and a first-round bye.

Why they win it? The continued balance with C.J. Anderson running the ball keeps on rolling and the defense makes teams one-dimensional.

Why they don’t? The playoff demons of Peyton Manning rear their ugly heads and that’s a real possibility as he is under .500 in the playoffs.

Can Tony Romo finally get over his late-season hiccups?

Dallas Cowboys 15/2 – Sunday vs. Detroit.

Why they win it? Tony Romo is turnover-free and the defense plays well and creates turnovers.

Why they don’t? Romo becomes “late season Romo” and the defense struggles to stop the run.

Pittsburgh Steelers 14/1 – Saturday vs Baltimore.

Why they win it? The defense continues to gel while Ben Roethlisberger has an epic playoff run.

Why they don’t? The Le’Veon Bell injury. This offense will not be the same without him.

Indianapolis Colts 28/1 – Sunday vs. Cincinnati

Why they win it? The running game suddenly emerges and the defense finds consistency.

Why they don’t? Andrew Luck is asked to carry them. He can for stretches but not to a Super Bowl title. He is too prone for turnovers throwing it that much.

Carolina Panthers 33/1 – Sarturday vs. Arizona

Why they win it? They ride Jonathan Stewart and a defense that keeps coming together.

Why they don’t? The defense cracks and Cam Newton tries to do too much.

Baltimore Ravens 40/1 – Saturday at Pittsburgh. Ravens +3.5

Why they win it? Joe Flacco snaps out of his funk and the defense creates numerous turnovers.

Why they don’t? Justin Forsett is limited, Flacco keeps struggling and the defense can’t make stops.

Cincinnati Bengals 40/1 – Sunday at Indianapolis. Bengals +4

Why they win it? Andy Dalton gets over the hump and Jeremy Hill becomes a major factor.

Why they don’t? The defense can’t get pressure and Dalton turns it over as he has all season.

Detroit Lions 40/1 – Sunday at Dallas. Lions +7.5

Why they win it? Matthew Stafford gets hot and the defense limits opposing offenses to field goals.

Why they don’t? The suspension of Suh dooms them in the first round along with continued poor play from Stafford.

Arizona Cardinals 66/1 – Saturday at Carolina. Cards +6

Why they win it? The defense becomes an impenetrable wall and the QB play is flawless.

Why they can’t? Quarterback issues plain and simple.


Seattle Tops the Futures Board for Super Bowl XLIX

The long road to the Super Bowl begins this weekend with the NFL Wildcard games that start the postseason.

The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks have wrapped up home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC and have been named the favorite to win February’s Super Bowl XLIX.

The latest odds on Bovada and sportsbook.com shortened the Seahawks odds from 5 to 2 to 9 to 4. New England, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, is the second choice in the Super Bowl futures board at 5 to 2 according to topbet and betonline.

That price for the Patriots is unchanged from the previous week, as New England has already clinched home field throughout the AFC playoffs prior to Week 17.

Green Bay and Denver are the only two other teams listed that have prices in the single digits, followed by the 10 to 1 Dallas Cowboys.

One way to make a strong bet on the Super Bowl winner is taking the money line during each week of the postseason and then rolling those winnings over each week.

The six teams in each conference are very equally matched heading into the postseason. Dallas is playing at the top of its game, but many are still not sure if their game is good enough to beat Seattle or Green Bay if they were to meet in the NFC Conference Championship.

In the AFC, the Patriots led by Tom Brady have played well for most of the season. Their Sunday loss to Buffalo should not affect the team as reserves played a huge part in that game.

In the NFC, Seattle has found its game again after a midseason hiccup that nearly cost them their division title, but the Seahawks have won 6 straight heading to the postseason.

The Super Bowl will be played on February 1 in Glendale, Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The current line in the game is with the NFC as a favorite by 1.5 points. The point total is sitting on 49 at the moment.

Below is a list of the odds for the 12 teams that remain in contention for Super Bowl XLIX.

Super Bowl XLIX Futures
Seattle Seahawks 9 to 4
New England Patriots 5 to 3
Green Bay Packers 5 to 1
Denver Broncos 6 to 1
Dallas Cowboys 10 to 1
Indianapolis Colts 20 to 1
Pittsburgh Steelers 20 to 1
Baltimore Ravens 30 to 1
Detroit Lions 40 to 1
Cincinnati Bengals 40 to 1
Carolina Panthers 40 to 1
Arizona Cardinals 75 to 1

Playoffs are Set; Questions are Many in the National Football League

Jets' Owner Woody Johnson (center) has parted ways with his General Manager John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan.

The National Football League is now into its’ second season and there is no shortage of great story-lines so let’s get to it.

Ryan/Idzik Out

Earlier this morning the inevitable came down from New York Jets’ Owner Woody Johnson. Both General Manager John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan have been fired and now the Jets will have to bring in a whole new regime there.

Whoever comes in will have a quality front-seven to work with but a whole bunch of questions on offense especially on offense. I have to believe you’ll see the Jets look for an offensive-minded guy but there’s no guarantee especially when you’re talking about the Jets.

AFC Playoff Breakdown

The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos are your top seeds and have next week off. The Pats will play the lowest remaining seed from Wild-Card Weekend while the Broncos will host the higher one.

The Steelers' playoff success will hinge on the health of Le'Veon Bell.

Rematches are the name of the game on Saturday and Sunday in the AFC. In primetime, the AFC North Champion Pittsburgh Steelers will host Baltimore. This will be the rubber match as the teams split earlier this season with both winning at home. The Steelers are currently listed as 3.5 point favorites.

The Sunday afternoon game features a rematch from earlier this season as the Indianapolis Colts host the Cincinnati Bengals. In week seven, the Bengals traveled to Indy and were crushed 27-0 in a game where their offense mustered just eight first downs.

The Colts are struggling though as the playoffs arrive. The running game is nearly non-existent and they have banged up receivers. For the Bengals, it always comes back to Andy Dalton who will make his fourth start in the playoffs and is still looking for his first win. The Colts have opened as six-point favorites.

NFC Playoff Breakdown

The defending champion Seahawks are your top seed in the NFC while the Green Bay Packers are the two-seed.

The first NFC game on Wild-Card Weekend will be Arizona traveling to Carolina. The Panthers blew out the Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC South yesterday and despite having a losing record, Carolina will not be an easy out. The defense is playing better and the running game is thriving behind Jonathan Stewart.

Obviously the issue for Arizona is the QB position. Drew Stanton is expected back from his sprained knee but will he be able to generate enough offense? This was the same place Arizona started their Super Bowl run in 2009. The Cards are a 4.5 point underdog.

The final game of the opening weekend features the Detroit Lions playing at the Dallas Cowboys. An interesting point here is that the Cowboys were unbeaten on the road this season. That means they went 4-4 at home in ATT Stadium.

The Lions come in with a struggling offense and a defense that is licking its’ wounds after Aaron Rodgers beat them on basically one leg. If Matthew Stafford can’t get himself right then this will be yet another one and done for the Lions in the postseason. Detroit is opening as a seven-point underdog.

What to Expect in the Playoffs

I don’t believe Seattle and New England are 100% infallible but they are clearly the favorites. Going in to either team’s stadium will not be easy but neither team was unbeaten at home.

If you’re looking for teams to cause trouble then go with the Panthers in the NFC and the Steelers in the AFC. The only issue with Pittsburgh is Le’Veon Bell who hyper-extended his knee and is uncertain for Saturday.

I think this is a season where chalk holds. Dallas at Seattle in the NFC title game and Denver and New England in the AFC Championship.

NFC Wildcard Weekend Early Look

The NFL regular season has concluded. This weekend the wildcard games take place. In the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers will be laying points in their respective home games.

Carolina earned its berth in the postseason with a blowout victory over Atlanta in the Georgia Dome on Sunday, despite finishing the season under .500 at 7-8-1.

Carolina will be laying points against the Arizona Cardinals whom have an overall record of 11-5.

Bovada and betonline opened the line with Carolina favored by 4.5 points by that has been bet up to 5 points.

The total on topbet and sportsbook.com opened and stayed on stayed on 39.

Arizona finished its regular season at 11-5 ATS, which was the best in the NFL. The Cardinals were 4-2 ATS as a road dog, with the two non-covers at Seattle and at Denver.

However, some will have to think twice prior to backing Arizona, whose situation at quarterback remains nothing less than a mess.

The Cardinals hope that Drew Stanton will return after he missed the past two games due to an injured knee.

Ryan Lindley played in Stanton’s absence and lost two straight games to the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

Carolina is 4-1 straight up and 2-3 against the spread this season as a favorite at home.

Pick: Carolina 27-17

In the second NFC wildcard game, perhaps a bit more intriguing is the matchup on Sunday between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions. Dallas opened as a 6.5-point home favorite. The point total is sitting on 48.5.

This season at home as a favorite the Cowboys were 3-3 SU as well as 2-4 ATS.

Over the Cowboys past 20 games as a home favorite Dallas is just 5-15 ATS since November of 2011.

Those who like the better defense that is getting points will look at Detroit. However, the Lions are only 2-3 ATS as road dog this season.

Dallas is coming off a big win over NFC East rivals the Washington Redskins. The offense for Dallas is very balanced with Tony Romo having another strong season. However, it has been the play of running back DeMarco Murray who has been the team’s best offensive weapon. Murray ran for 1875 years on the season to break a single season rushing record at Dallas that had been held by Emmitt Smith.

Prediction: Dallas 34-28

The AFC games have the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals visiting the Indianapolis Colts.

Tomorrow those games will be reviewed with a prediction for both.

NFL Late-Game Picks for Week 17

Eddie Lacy could be the 'X' factor in today's game between his Packers and the Lions.

Here are four late games I really like today.

Detroit (+7) at Green Bay (O/U 47.5) – By now you know the history… The Lions haven’t won in Lambeau Field since 1992 and while the players and coaches will scoff at that, it has to be in their minds. Unlike most indoor teams, the Lions are suddenly surviving on the defensive side while the offense continues to struggle.

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is an excellent game-planner and he will he have studied the team’s loss in Detroit over and over to find weaknesses. In my opinion this game is more about Matthew Stafford than it is Aaron Rodgers. Stafford has to play well and he hasn’t for much of the season.

Trends: Detroit is 4-2 straight in their last six games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in four of Green Bay’s last five games against the Lions…Detroit is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games versus the Packers.

The Pick: The Packers have been a scoring machine at home but the Lions can get after it on defense. I like the Lions getting the points and the UNDER.

Cam Newton needs a big game if the Panthers are to win in Atlanta today.

Carolina (+3) at Atlanta (O/U 48) – Both of these teams are lousy on defense. They each give up about 25 points per game but the Falcons score on average about five more points per game on offense than do the Panthers. Being that this game is an “all or nothing” proposition, I expect both teams to pull out all the stops to earn the win.

One of the key issues here is the health of the Falcons’ receivers. Roddy White has battled ankle issues but will play and Julio Jones has had a hip problem. If both can go, it’s a big boost for the offense.

Trends: The Panthers are 3-6-1 straight up in their last 10 games… The total has gone UNDER in eight of Atlanta’s last 11 games… Carolina is 1-5 SU in their last six games on the road in Atlanta.

The Pick: I like Falcons to cover and I love the OVER.

Arizona (+7) at San Francisco (O/U 37) – The Cardinals are staggering into the playoffs behind a quarterback carousel that is struggling. Drew Stanton will miss this one but could return for a the playoffs. Ryan Lindley gets the start despite being told Logan Thomas would be the man for most of the week.

For the 49ers, all signs point to this being Jim Harbaugh’s final game there. Where he goes next is up in the air, but despite missing the playoffs, he leaves the franchise far better than he found it.

Trends: Arizona is 0-5 straight up in their last five visits to San Francisco… The Niners are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in four of the Cardinals last six games against San Francisco.

The Pick: I like UNDER and I think the Cards find a way to keep it close so take them getting the points.

Cincinnati (+3) at Pittsburgh (O/U 48) – The final game of the 2014 NFL regular season is the third and final battle of the day for a division crown. The winner claims the AFC North and will get a home game for Wild-Card Weekend. The loser is still in the playoffs but will have to hit the road.

The Steelers took a close game into the fourth quarter in the first meeting in Cincinnati three weeks ago and scored 25 points to win 42-21. While the Bengals struggled to slow Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers had no answer for A.J. Green. I think both are limited a bit tonight forcing other players to step up.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in five of Cincinnati’s last seven games… The Steelers are 5-2 straight up in their last seven games at home against the Bengals… Cincy is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games on the road in Pittsburgh.

The Pick: I expect a little less scoring tonight so take the UNDER but I’ll take the Steelers to cover in a tight game.

Week 17 Ends the NFL Regular Season with Still Much Undecided

The last week of the NFL regular season has arrived. It is quieter in comparison to year previous. Nine of the 16 games in Week 17 of the NFL have meaning for the playoffs, with two others featuring teams that are playoff bound where their games do not mean a thing.

Three quarterback changes have been made since the start of the week.

However, surprisingly, the action in Week 17 this season has seen four games produce line movements of 1.5 points or more. Normally, the last week of the NFL season sees line movements that are atypical of a normal NFL Week since many variable come into play based upon the players playing or resting for the postseason.

Sharp bettors are holding back waiting to hear information that would give them the decided edge on any number prior to the books getting the same info.

The week’s biggest movement on a line had the Baltimore Ravens go from a home favorite of 9-points versus Cleveland, to 13.5 points, after it became known that Brian Hoyer would not play quarterback and Conner Shaw a rookie must take his place.

Cleveland is 0-4 SU in its past four games, while Baltimore can still make the playoffs with a win.

It is not often that sharp money finds itself at the worst of the line because their information often is spot on. However, they were late by 15 minutes, with info on the lacerated spleen of Alex Smith forcing him to sit out the Chiefs Sunday game versus the Chargers.

There was big movement on boards such as Bovada and topbet on Kansas City laying between -3 and -3.5 points and when most of the books moved it to -4, the news Smith would not play became public and the line retreated to -1.

In the 49ers meaningless affair with Arizona, San Francisco opened at -4.5. Arizona can still clinch the title of the NFL West with a win and a Seattle loss.

Ryan Lindley was announced during the week as the starter, after most thought Logan Thomas would start. With Lindley was announced the line jumped to -6 and since has gone up to -6.5.

New England has clinched home field advantage in the playoffs through the AFC Championship and therefore is just 3-5-point favorites over Buffalo when they could have been 9-point favorites. However, no one is sure how long the starters will play.

The Cowboys could still have a bye next week, but the likely scenario has they at home next week as the NFC East champs playing a wildcard opponent.

Intriguing NFL Storylines for the Final Week of the Season

By all accounts, Jim Harbaugh is coaching his last game in San Francisco tomorrow.

The 2014 National Football League Season comes to an end this weekend and while you can find all the playoff scenarios at nfl.com, I’m looking at those but also a lot more. Let’s get rolling.

Monday is of course now known as “black Monday” because this is typically the day that NFL coaches who are on the hot seat are in fact fired. My expectation is that you’ll see several coaches packing up their offices.

If I’m a betting man, I have to believe Rex Ryan is finally out in New York although there are arguments to be made that General Manager John Idzik is a bigger problem. I also believe Tony Sparano will be removed as the Raiders’ interim tagged coach and will be looking for new employment. I his case, it’s hard to to avoid the decent success his team has had but I believe the Raiders will look elsewhere.

Also on the chopping block will be Mike Smith in Atlanta if the Falcons lose tomorrow. Even if they advance to the playoffs I expect him to be gone unless they make a miraculous run to the Super Bowl.

The biggest name will of course be Jim Harbaugh. Michigan officials were reportedly already in San Francisco yesterday and will be at Harbaugh’s door as soon as the official word comes down that he is fired. Reports are that that will come very soon after the Niners’ final game. My feeling is that the 49ers are making a mistake. Harbaugh has been hugely successful and rescued this franchise from mediocrity. If anyone should go it’s the GM Trent Baalke but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

Other potential unemployed coaches: Tom Coughlin, Marc Trestman, Jeff Fisher, Doug Marrone

A.J. Green went for over 200 yards last time the Bengals faced the Steelers. Can he do it again?

Three Division Champs to Be Crowned Sunday

In the AFC, Pittsburgh hosts Cincinnati at Heinz Field on Sunday night in the final game of the regular season. The winner gets the AFC North title and a home playoff game next week while the loser hits the road to open the postseason.

In their first meeting three weeks ago, the Steelers scored 25 points in the fourth quarter to win 42-21. I expect a much closer game this time around but you have to like the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger who plays well at home especially late in the season.

In Green Bay, a similar situation exists. The Packers host the Lions and the winner earns the NFC North title and possibly a top seed in the NFC while the loser becomes the fifth or sixth seed and starts the playoffs on the road. While the chances exist for Detroit to to be anywhere from a one-seed to a six-seed, they have to get past the Packers in Green Bay.

The last time the Lions won at Lambeau Field was 22 years ago when Rodney Peete was the quarterback and Barry Sanders was the running back. Matthew Stafford has to play better for the Lions to have a chance Sunday.

Last but not least is the showdown in Atlanta where it’s all or nothing for the Falcons and Panthers. A win gets either into the playoffs while the loser goes home and possibly looks for a new coach. The winner of the NFC South will also become the second team since the 1970 merger to win a division with a record under .500 and will create more discussion about re-seeding for the playoffs.

In all likelihood, the Falcons or Panthers will host a team with at least three or four more wins then they have and that doesn’t sit well with many. Take the Falcons with the home-field advantage tomorrow.


Five College Football Bowl Games Give Bettors Many Choices

Saturday has five college football bowl games on its lineup for bettors to take a shot at one day before the last week of the NFL regular season.

There have been a number of bowl games this past week to bet on but as the bowl season moves on towards the New Year, the games becoming more compelling.

On Saturday, the five games have some intriguing matchups including the Independence Bowl featuring Miami taking on South Carolina and the Holiday Bowl with USC playing Nebraska.

Here are a few words about each of the five games taking place on Saturday. The lineup of games should give bettors ample choices to choose from.

Military Bowl – Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

Cincinnati is favored in this bowl by 3 points with the point total sitting on 51. Cincy has the better record. However, the Bearcats have faced weak competition this season. Virginia Tech beat Ohio State this season and the Buckeyes easily beat the Bearcats. The Hokies however have played inconsistently the entire season.

Sun Bowl – Arizona State vs. Duke

The Arizona Sun Devils are favored by 7 points, with the point total sitting on 65. Both teams should be highly motivated to reach win No. 10 for the season in this game. The Sun Devils have a strong offense with talent that likely will go on to play in the NFL. Look for high scoring in this one, with a lean toward Duke and the points.

Independence Bowl – South Carolina vs. Miami

The Miami Hurricanes are favored in this bowl by 3.5 points, with the point total sitting on 61.

Both motivation and defense favors the Hurricanes. Miami has a great deal to prove after Louisville blew them out last season in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

At the same time, South Carolina has been used to playing in bowl games that are more high profile and that could have a bearing on their overall play.

Pinstripe Bowl – Boston College vs. Penn State

Boston College is favored in this game by 2.5 points with the point total sitting on just 40.

Penn State will be highly motivated in this game as they return to play in the postseason since have their ban lifted. BC plays up to its level of competition or down depending up its opponent. The total is low and that could be the best way to go.

Holiday Bowl – USC vs. Nebraska

The Trojans are favored by 7 points with the point total sitting on 62. Nebraska will play under interim coach Barney Cotton. USC has one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Cody Kessler. The spread might by too much for USC to cover. Look for plenty of points to be scored in this one.