My Winners for Today’s Semifinal Games and More.

A win in the Rose Bowl would make Jameis Winston's career record at Florida State 28-0.

Normally a piece like this would be featured in the research area of the website but I’m “blogging” it today because I just have to break down these New Year’s Day games.

Florida State (+8) vs Oregon (O/U 71) – Despite being the only unbeaten team left in college football, the Seminoles are the three-seed in the first-ever college football playoff. Frankly, there’s a couple of reasons for that and those are the relatively weak schedule and the constant need to come from behind against much of that competition.

The Ducks are out to prove a couple of things; first, that they aren’t a finesse team and second, that their Heisman winning QB is better than Florida State’s. While may will make this a game between Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, I believe the defenses will play a significant role in who advances to the title game.

FSU has struggled defensively compared to last year and that’s giving lots of people reason to lay their money on the Ducks but there is one major concern I have here. Oregon struggles to score touchdowns in the red zone because they tend to go east and west more than north and south and they run out of room near the end zone. Offensive coordinator Scott Frost will need to make proper adjustments there.

Trends: The Ducks are 5-0 straight up in their last five games… Florida State is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games…The total has gone UNDER in four of FSU’s last five games.

The Pick: As badly as I want to take FSU here because of their penchant for comebacks this season, I have a feeling the Ducks are going to run them out of the building with an offensive pace they haven’t seen all year. Take the Ducks to cover and take the OVER.

The Buckeyes' fortunes will rise or fall behind QB Cardale Jones tonight.

Ohio State (+9) vs Alabama (O/U 58) – Ohio State comes to New Orleans with a team led by a quarterback who has started just one game in his career. Granted, Cardale Jones tore up Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title game 59-0, but he’ll face a much greater challenge in terms of both defensive talent and defensive coaching from Alabama.

The Tide under Nick Saban have always been a run-first team but behind new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, the offense has exploded. The key will be whether the Alabama offensive line can handle a very good defensive line from Ohio State. If the Crimson Tide control the line of scrimmage then it could be a long day for the OSU defense.

Trends: Alabama is 4-10-1 against the spread in their last 15 games… Ohio State is 5-0 straight up in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in 11 of OSU’s last 12 games… The Crimson Tide is 5-0 in its’ last five contests.

The Pick: With six national titles between the two of the them, Saban and Urban Meyer will have their teams ready to play. I think Bama wins but I like the Buckeyes getting the points and I like the OVER as well.

Other Bowls

Wisconsin (+7) vs Auburn – Take the Tigers to cover as the Badgers are in a bit of disarray right now.

Michigan State (+3) vs Baylor – I can’t get Sparty’s second half collapse against Oregon’s high-octane offense out of my head. Take the Bears to cover.

Minnesota (+5) vs Missouri – Are you sensing a trend? Every Big Ten team playing today is an underdog. With good reason too, take the Tigers to cover.

Bowl Betting Tips (Jan. 4 Edition)

Landry Jones and the Oklahoma Sooners will be looking for an upset victory over Texas A&M in Friday's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

The BCS portion of College Bowl Season wrapped up last night with Oregon winning straight up and against the spread in a 35-17 win over Kansas State. In terms of the BCS, all that’s left is Monday’s National Championship Game between #1 Notre Dame and #2 Alabama.

Before we get to that game though, we have three more non-BCS games to make some money from, starting with tonight’s AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. #9 Texas A&M will square off against #11 Oklahoma in one of the standout games of bowl season, a game that most believe is far more intriguing than the BCS fare we’ve seen over the past three days.

To get you bang up to date, Casino Review presents its betting tips for the Cotton Bowl as well as the remaining bowl games; the BBVA Compass Bowl (Saturday) and the Bowl (Sunday).


AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic

#9 Texas A&M vs. #11 Oklahoma

Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX

Friday, 8:00 PM ET

A better matchup than the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Rose Bowl, and maybe even better than the Fiesta Bowl, this year’s Cotton Bowl is arguably one of the top three games of the postseason, at least on paper.

After a successful start to its SEC career, #9 Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will meet former Big 12 rivals #11 Oklahoma (10-2, 7-1 Big 12) in the Cotton Bowl on Friday, a matchup that will have seats filled at home and in Cowboys Stadium.

Since defeating Alabama on Nov. 10, it’s been impossible to avoid the Aggies and their Heisman-winning quarterback, Johnny Manziel. Oklahoma will look to hush the hyperbole machine with a win over the Texas side.

Both teams were offensively impressive this season, each averaging more than 40 points per game. The Aggies were the third-highest scoring team in the nation with a particularly balanced offense, whilst Landry Jones and the Sooners offense ranked fifth in the country in passing yards. Just one look at the total line on this one tells you all you need to know about expectations that this will be a shootout.

Odds: Texas A&M opened as favorites (-4½) but the spread has slipped to 3½. The total stands at 73, having risen from 72 at opening.

Take: Oklahoma – Undeniably the fairy tale ending to this season would be for Johnny Manziel – the only freshman ever to be awarded the Heisman – to lead his Aggies side to a Cotton Bowl win over the Sooners. However, Oklahoma has had A&M’s number for years, winning eight of the last nine and 11 of the last 13 meetings between the schools. A&M’s bowl record is a mess also, with 12 losses from the last 14 bowl games, including six straight Cotton Bowl defeats. These two teams are so close on the field that experience and historical success could make all the difference. Take the total to go under; whilst these teams can put points on the board without batting an eyelid, both schools have underrated defenses.


BBVA Compass Bowl

Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss

Legion Field, Birmingham, AL

Saturday, 1:00 PM ET

After the spectacle and razzmatazz of the Cotton Bowl, things will calm down a lot as Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-4 Big East) and Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5 SEC) meet in the Compass Bowl.

For casual football fans this one will be missed in the furor of the NFL playoffs but for bettors there’s money to be made here.

Pittsburgh will play in its third straight Compass Bowl, looking to improve on a 1-1 record. Ole Miss will be making its Compass Bowl bow, but excellent bowl pedigree will have the side more than confident.

The Rebels have won four straight bowl games, as well as eight of nine, and 10 of 12. In fact, Ole Miss is 21-12 (.636) all-time in bowl games. Of those teams that have played 20 or more bowl games, only one other side has a superior record: USC (.667).

Pittsburgh faces a tough challenge, but with a defense that ranked 26th or better in rushing yards, passing yards, and points allowed, the Panthers may be up for the challenge.

Odds: Ole Miss opened as a two-point favorite but the spread has subsequently risen to 3½. The over/under on the total is 54 (up from 51½).

Take: Ole Miss – With little to choose between the two sides, it boils down to which side fares well in big games. The Rebels might not have had a great season in the SEC this year, but there’s no denying this team knows how to win come bowl season. Take the Rebels (9-3-0 ATS) to cover the spread also. Take the total to go over. Bowl

#25 Kent State vs. Arkansas State

Ladd Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL

Sunday, 9:00 PM ET

Scheduled following the final NFL Wild Card game of the weekend, the Bowl sees a potentially forgettable matchup between #25 Kent State (11-2, 8-0 MAC) and Arkansas State (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt). We say potentially because this is exactly the sort of game that can turn into a TV viewing delight.

Both sides take to the field with scoring on their mind. Arkansas State averaged 36.4 points per game (22nd) while Kent State averaged 34.6 (31st). Defensively the schools marry-up well also, with  the Red Wolves allowing 25.4 points per game (51st) and the Golden Flashes conceding 25.1 (49th).

Both sides will be looking for their first major bowl victory. Kent State has made just one bowl appearance in school history (1972 Tangerine Bowl) while Arkansas State lost in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl as well as last year’s edition of this game.

Odds: Arkansas State has seen a two-point advantage on the spread rise to four ahead of kickoff. The total stands at 61½, down from 62 at opening.

Take: Kent State – The Golden Flashes went unbeaten in the MAC this year, and whilst most will dismiss that record on the grounds that it’s the MAC, that is still an impressive feat. An upset win over the Red Wolves would be the perfect close to the season. Take the total to go over, as has been the trend with both these sides this year.