Little Caesars, Poinsettia Bowls on the Docket for Tonight

Savage
Savage
Pitt needs to keep Tom Savage out of this situation in order to beat Bowling Green tonight.

We’ve already seen the craziness of bowl season and we are just getting started. Colorado State came from 35-13 down to beat Washington State 48-45 in the New Mexico Bowl last week. Tulane also rallied in their bowl game as they were down by a score of 21-0 to Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans’ Bowl. Unfortunately, the Rajun Cajuns hung on for a 24-21 victory.

Tonight on this day after Christmas we have two more bowl games to consider. One comes from the indoor confines of Ford Field in Detroit while the other comes from very nice San Diego. Let’s get to it shall we?

Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green (-4.5) – Bowling Green is getting awfully comfortable with visiting downtown Detroit and Ford Field. They were there just a few weeks ago and upset Northern Illinois for the Mid-American Conference title. Now they get a chance to put one final feather in their cap with a win over ACC team Pitt.

One important difference for the Falcons does exist though and that’s the fact head coach Dave Clawson has left for Wake Forest. The interim coach for the bowl game will be assistant Adam Schiere. Other than that, I expect things to roll right along for the Falcons as usual. Bowling Green follows the lead of quarterback Matt Johnson who has over 3,100 yards passing and 23 touchdown passes.

He leads an offense that scores about 35 points per game. In their way will be a Pitt Panther defense led by one of the top defensive linemen in America. Aaron Donald won four different individual awards at the recent college players’ awards show and he was every bit deserving. Despite his presence, the Panthers still gave up 27 points per game and that’s a major issue.

When Pitt is on offense, they are led by QB Tom Savage who has NFL size and an NFL caliber arm as well. He has thrown for over 2,800 yards and 21 touchdown passes. His favorite target is Tyler Boyd who has electrified Panthers’ fans all season with 77 catches and over 1,000 receiving yards. The Falcons feature a very fast and athletic defense that gave up just over 14 points per game this year.

That could be bad news for Savage who was sacked 41 times this season. Pitt is 4-8-1 against the spread in their last 13 games while the Falcons are 5-0 straight up in their last five games. The over/under is 51 and I like the over in this one and I also like Bowling Green to cover.

Lynch
Heisman Finalist Lynch looks to go out a winner against Utah State.

Utah State vs. Northern Illinois (-1.5) – Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch will close out his outstanding career by leading Northern Illinois into San Diego to play the Utah State Aggies. The Huskies were BCS busters last season as they went to the Orange Bowl, but lost to Florida State. This year, the Huskies entered the MAC Championship unbeaten but were upended by a very good Bowling Green team.

Utah State opened the season without Gary Anderson as its head coach. Anderson left for Wisconsin following last year. With Matt Wells at the helm, the Aggies had to overcome the loss of their starting quarterback early in the season. They were able to do just that behind freshman Darrell Garretson who led the team to five wins and an 8-5 finish. This is the Aggies’ third straight bowl game and third against a MAC school.

Lynch enters needing 119 yards to become the only quarterback ever to rush and pass for 2,000 plus yards in a season. It will not be easy because Utah State offers the Mountain West Conference’s best defense. This is where the game will be won or lost. USU has seen the over/under total go under for their last five games while NIU has seen just the opposite.

I expect a very close game and with the over/under at 58, I really like the over. I also like the Huskies to cover as well.

A Little Bit of Everything for Saturday Morning

Bryant
Bryant
Kobe Bryant will return tomorrow and I look for Kobe to be 100% and more.

We know when Kobe will be back. Northern Illinois took an unexpected tumble creating an opening in the BCS and Gary Kubiak became the first NFL coaching casualty. Let’s get it started.

The Los Angeles Lakers have confirmed that Kobe Bryant will return to the court tomorrow when the Lakers host Toronto at Staples Center. Bryant’s return comes on the heels of him becoming the highest paid player in the NBA after he signed a two-year extension two weeks ago.

The obvious question fans and pundits will have is “What can we expect to see from Bryant?”

The Lakers are claiming you will see a ‘dominant’ Kobe Bryant and while that could just be posturing and advertising to some, I think there is some truth in it too. Unlike many players in many sports who come back too soon, I believe Bryant’s attitude and ego have kept him from doing so. Typically we see guys return and have limited minutes and only a set number of options available to them offensively but that won’t happen with Bryant.

I’ll be very surprised if Bryant doesn’t log at least 35 minutes. This is just how Bryant is and the Lakers know that. If he can’t come back and be “Kobe” then he wouldn’t come back at all.

Clawson
Bowling Green and head coach Dave Clawson won the MAC title by knocking off unbeaten Northern Illinois.

A BCS Hiccup

The BCS bowl games were looking quite neat and tidy heading into this weekend. Then a rather unexpected thing happened in Detroit last night. Northern Illinois entered the MAC Title game against 9-3 Bowling Green unbeaten and fully expecting to go to a second-straight BCS game. This is obviously why they actually play the games as the Falcons ripped the Huskies 47-27.

Heisman hopeful Jordan Lynch looked fairly pedestrian as he threw two interceptions and ran for just 126 yards which is certainly lower than he usually rushes. So what exactly does this mean for the BCS?

Chances are that the door swings open for either Baylor, Clemson or Oregon. The Bears can make it a moot point if Oklahoma State loses today and they defeat Texas. They would get the automatic bid for the Big 12. Should they win, but so does Oklahoma State, they would look very enticing with just one loss and a high-octane offense.

If not them, a one-loss Clemson or a two-loss Oregon could get the bid. As you know, the fan base is a huge factor in who gets chosen because BCS game like to make money believe it or not. That’s where Baylor could be hurt. The small private university does not have a large base or a national following. Both the Ducks and Tigers would be far more intriguing so keep that in mind.

Kubiak Fired

The Houston Texans parted ways with head coach Gary Kubiak yesterday in the midst of the team’s 11-game losing streak. The head coach since 2006, Kubiak amassed a record of 61-64 with two playoff wins in four attempts but this was supposed to be “the season.” Owner Bob McNair believed the team had put together its’ most talented roster but injuries and poor play made that a moot point.

Kubiak will more than likely return to the NFL in an offensive coordinator capacity. Talk of him being a head coach again has been relatively sparse. If I’m the Texans, I’m putting in calls to Lovie Smith, Bengals’ defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and possibly Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio who has done a great job running the Broncos in John Fox’s absence.

Job number one for whoever gets the job will be to find a quarterback. Case Keenum will get the first shot while Matt Schaub will be on the way out.

Four More Games For Me to Rebound With This Weekend

Kiffin
Kiffin
Can Lane Kiffin and the Trojans rebound this week against Boston College?

Season Record 2-7, Last Week 1-3

If ‘close’ counted in wagering college football games then I’d be kicking some serious butt. Unfortunately it doesn’t and therefore I’m struggling through the first two weeks.

I’m bound to get back on track and I think this is the week to do it.

Boston College (+14) at USC – The Trojans have had a heck of a week haven’t they? They lose to Washington State in the Coliseum behind some atrocious quarterback play and then have to deal with rumors about a ‘players’ only meeting.’ I’ve found that in most cases, those meetings typically don’t do much for the success of a team.

Boston College travels West with a 2-0 record over Villanova and Wake Forest. The defense is giving up just 12 points per game but the offense is only averaging 24. The Trojans can still play pretty good defense and I think that’s the difference here. I also look for the Trojans to get the ground game going too. I like the athleticism of USC to cover.

Lynch
I love Lynch and Northern Illinois traveling west to play Idaho.

Northern Illinois (-28.5) at Idaho – The Vandals have been outscored 82-16 in their first two games against North Texas and Wyoming. They rank 124th in the nation in scoring and 114th in the country in scoring defense. The Northern Illinois Huskies had a week off following their 30-27 win at Iowa.

Quarterback Jordan Lynch accounted for over 300 yards of total offense and the Huskies’ D picked up three Hawkeyes’ turnovers despite giving up over 400 yards. This game being played in the Kibbie Dome worries me slightly but the Huskies will still romp over arguably the worst team in the FBS.

Kansas (+7) at Rice -Charlie Weis’ Jayhawks are 1-0 following a 31-14 win over South Dakota State. Rice meanwhile is 0-1 having lost their season opener to Texas A&M in College Station 52-28 but the score doesn’t indicate how competitive the game was. The Owls rolled up over 500 yards of offense on the Aggies and trailed by only three points entering the third quarter.

It was only when Johnny Manziel entered the game in the second half that Rice was behind the eight ball. The Owls rushed for over 300 yards on 51 carries against an Aggies defense that was supposed to be better than that. Despite being from the more powerful conference Kansas is really bad. I like Rice to win by more than seven.

Notre Dame (-21) at Purdue – I have to say I’m really surprised by this spread. Purdue enters at 1-1. Their loss came against Cincinnati by the score of 49-7. Their victory came in their home-opener 20-14 over Indiana State who by the way gave up 73 points in their opener to Indiana. For the Fighting Irish, this is a classic trap game.

They are coming off a shootout loss to Michigan and host rival Michigan State next week. The loss in Ann Arbor was disappointing because Brian Kelly had to think his defense was better than what they showed. The Boilermakers should offer them the perfect opportunity to earn back some confidence and respect.

The Boilers rank 99th in passing and 103rd in rushing nationwide. That should be more than enough for the Irish defense to lay their ears back. I fully expect Notre Dame to continue to throw the ball with Tommy Rees, but I also think they’ll try to establish some dominance on the ground too.

I think Darrell Hazell will get things turned around in West Lafayette in time but it won’t be this season. Look for the Irish to put a whipping on the Boilermakers and cover the 21.

 

College Games I Love This Weekend

Kiffin
Kiffin
Kiffin needs a big season in Los Angeles and it will get started at Hawaii.

Last week I ran down some of the great opening week match-ups in college football but most of the oddsmakers didn’t have quality lines out just yet. That has changed now as our friends at Bovada have lines for all the action coming up on college football’s opening weekend.

I’m not going after games I think will be good games today though. I’m going after games I believe you could really cash in on. There are teams with new coaches and new quarterbacks as well as teams with a whole lot to prove in 2013. Let’s get it started.

USC (-22) at Hawaii – The Warriors were 3-9 last season and finished near the bottom of the FBS in just about every key category. They gave up over 35 points per game (107th), scored just over 21 points per game (102nd) and rushed for 108.6 yards per game (114th).

Did I mention they were ranked 101st in passing? The Trojans will use two quarterbacks on the island this weekend. Both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will see time. The Trojans will be a team on a mission to prove they were better than last year’s paltry record. I love the Trojans to cover.

Western Michigan (+28) at Michigan State – The Broncos head up I-69 to play a Spartans’ team that lost five games in 2012 by three points or less despite getting very little out of the quarterback position. MSU must replace stud running back Le’Veon Bell but there are a host of contenders.

WMU enters with their top running back and top receiver out of this contest. New Head Coach P.J. Fleck is the youngest in college football and has brought tons of energy to Kalamazoo but rebuilding will take time. The Spartans will cover on Friday night.

Lynch
I like Lynch and the Huskies at Iowa in the opener.

Northern Illinois (+3) at Iowa – The Huskies come off a 12-2 season in which they shocked the college football world by busting the BCS and going to the Orange Bowl. Head Coach Rod Carey took over for the bowl game after Dave Doeren left for NC State.

Superstar QB Jordan Lynch returns as do several other playmakers on offense, but the defense must replace seven starters. The Hawkeyes are coming off an  embarrassing 4-8 season and the luster that once surrounded Kirk Ferentz has waned. They’ll open with a new QB and pressure facing the defending MAC champion. I love the Huskies here.

Louisiana-Lafayette (+10.5) at Arkansas – The Bret Beilema Era begins in Fayetteville and does so with huge expectations. He must replace starters at both the running back and quarterback positions while re-tooling the offense more in the mold of what he did at Wisconsin.

The Rajun Cajuns will enter as favorites to win the SunBelt Conference. They are coming off a 9-4 season and a bowl victory. Head Coach Mark Hudspeth has lost just eight games in his two season with LL. I won’t call for the upset but I will call for the Cajuns to keep it well within the spread.

BYU (-1) at Virginia – The Cavaliers return seven starters on both offense and defense from a team that struggled behind two different quarterbacks. Both guys are gone and the duty to falls to Sophomore David Watford who played in 2011 but redshirted last season.

The Cougars’ defense was one of the best in the nation last season surrendering just 14 points per game. The offense should be better as last year’s QB injuries were a lot to overcome.

While I see Virginia being an improved team this year, I like BYU in the opener.

 

Bowl Season Is Go

With the exclusion of this weekend’s Army-Navy game, College Football’s regular season came to a close this past weekend.

Division champions – and co-champions – were crowned. Coaches were fired. Seniors made their final bow. And the Bowl Season officially began with the announcement of the 34 Bowl Games to be played and, of course, the BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama’s 32-28 win over Georgia in Atlanta confirmed what most have believed all season; the Crimson Tide will play in the National Championship Game, taking on an undefeated Notre Dame team that surprised everybody.

The weekend’s major talking point wasn’t Nick Saban’s side though. With a 44-37 double-overtime victory over Kent State on Friday night, Northern Illinois took the Mid-American Conference championship and a #15 berth in the BCS Rankings. Significantly, that #15 ranking was enough to see the Huskies into the Orange Bowl where they will meet Florida State, champions of the ACC. Cue massive uproar and BCS bashing.

Elsewhere in the BCS portion of Bowl Season, Stanford’s Pac-12 championship sets up a Rose Bowl clash with the unexpected Big Ten champion, Wisconsin.

Oregon and Kansas State, two sides disappointed to have faded away from the national title picture in the twilight of the season, will collide in the Fiesta Bowl.

Florida, runners up to Georgia in the SEC’s Eastern Division, will head to the Sugar Bowl to take on Louisville, who took a one quarter share in this year’s Big East.

Outside of the BCS games, the Capital One Bowl sees Georgia, runners up in the SEC, take on Nebraska, runners up in the Big Ten, in one of the more intriguing games on the schedule, and one that many think will be more interesting than at least three of the BCS games.

In the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Clemson, runners up in the ACC, face an LSU side that finished second in the SEC’s Western Division and played some solid football down the stretch.

In the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, to be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Oklahoma, runners up in the Big 12, will face a Texas A&M side that surprised many in its first season in the SEC, and not just because of that win over Alabama.

Across the 35 games there are plenty of talking points to be discussed, and over the next month and change CasinoReview will tackle as many of these as possible. Meanwhile, below we’ve provided you with a comprehensive list of the games including the opening favorites, point spreads and totals, all of which could see some serious action before it all ends on January 7.

 

Bowl Season Schedule

 

Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 15, 1 PM ET)

University Stadium, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Nevada (8-5, 4-4 MWC) vs. Arizona (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12)

Favorite: Arizona Spread: 8 Total: 73

 

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 15, 4:30 PM ET)

Bronco Stadium, Boise State University, Boise, ID

Toledo (9-3, 6-2 MAC) vs. #22 Utah State (10-2, 6-0 WAC)

Favorite: Utah State Spread: 9 Total: 59

 

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 20, 8 PM ET)

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA

San Diego State (9-3, 7-1 MWC) vs. BYU (7-5)

Favorite: BYU Spread: 3 Total: 52

 

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg (Dec. 21, 7:30 PM ET)

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL

Ball State (9-3, 6-2 MAC) vs. Central Florida (9-4, 7-1 CUSA)

Favorite:  Central Florida Spread: Total: 60

 

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 22, 12 PM ET)

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA

East Carolina (8-4, 7-1 CUSA) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)

Favorite: Louisiana-Lafayette Spread: 4 Total: 67

 

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas (Dec. 22, 3:30 PM ET)

Sam Boyd Stadium, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV

#19 Boise State (10-2, 7-1 MWC) vs. Washington (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12)

Favorite: Boise State Spread: 6 Total: 46

 

Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Dec. 24, 8 PM ET)

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI

Southern Methodist (6-6, 5-3 CUSA) vs. Fresno State (9-3, 7-1 MWC)

Favorite: Fresno State Spread: 12 Total: 62

 

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Dec. 26, 7:30 PM ET)

Ford Field, Detroit, MI

Western Kentucky (7-5, 4-4 Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (6-6, 4-4 MAC)

Favorite: Western Kentucky Spread: 7 Total: 57

 

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (Dec. 27, 3 PM ET)

RFK Stadium, Washington, DC

#24 San Jose State (10-2, 5-1 WAC) vs. Bowling Green (8-4, 6-2 MAC)

Favorite: San Jose State Spread: Total: 49½

 

Belk Bowl (Dec. 27 6:30 PM ET)

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

Duke (6-6, 3-5 ACC) vs. Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2 Big East)

Favorite: Cincinnati Spread: 10 Total: 56½

 

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27, 9:45 PM ET)

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA

Baylor (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) vs. #17 UCLA (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12)

Favorite: N/A Spread: EVEN Total: 74½

 

Advocare V100 Independence Bowl (Dec. 28, 2 PM ET)

Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA

Ohio (8-4, 4-4 MAC) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)

Favorite: Louisiana-Monroe Spread: 6 Total: 59

 

Russell Athletic Bowl (Dec. 28, 5:30 PM ET)

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL

Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC) vs. Rutgers (9-3, 5-2 Big East)

Favorite: Virginia Tech Spread: Total: 43

 

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Dec. 28, 9 PM ET)

Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX

Minnesota (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) vs. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

Favorite: Texas Tech Spread: 12½ Total: 57

 

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 29, 11:45 PM ET)

Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX

Rice (6-6, 4-4 CUSA) vs. Air Force (6-6, 5-3 MWC)

Favorite: Air Force Spread: Total: 61

 

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (Dec. 29, 3:15 PM ET)

AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA

Arizona State (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) vs. Navy (7-4)

Favorite: TBC Spread: TBC Total: TBC

 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 29, 3:15 PM ET)

Yankee Stadium, New York, NY

Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East) vs. West Virginia (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

Favorite: West Virginia Spread: Total: 67

 

Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29, 6:45 PM ET)

Alamodome, San Antonio, TX

#23 Texas (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) vs. # 13 Oregon State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)

Favorite: Oregon State Spread: 1 Total: 60

 

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 29, 10:15 PM ET)

Sun Devil Stadium, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Michigan State (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) vs. TCU (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

Favorite: N/A Spread: EVEN Total: 42½

 

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Dec. 31, 12:05 PM ET)

LP Field, Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt (8-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. North Carolina State (7-5, 4-4 ACC)

Favorite: Vanderbilt Spread: Total: 52

 

Hyundai Sun Bowl (Dec. 31, 2 PM ET)

Sun Bowl Stadium, University of Texas El Paso, El Paso, TX

Georgia Tech (6-7, 5-3 ACC) vs. USC (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12)

Favorite: USC Spread: Total: 66

 

Autozone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, 3:30 PM ET)

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Iowa State (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) vs. Tulsa (10-3, 7-1 CUSA)

Favorite: Tulsa Spread: 2 Total: 52½

 

Chick-fil-A Bowl (Dec. 31, 7:30 PM ET)

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

#14 Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC) vs. #8 LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC)

Favorite: LSU Spread: 3 Total: 57

 

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (Jan. 1, 12 PM ET)

EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL

Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) vs. #20 Northwestern (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten)

Favorite: Mississippi State Spread: Total: 52

 

Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1, 12 PM ET)

Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX

Purdue (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12)

Favorite: Oklahoma State Spread: 18 Total: 69

 

Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 PM ET)

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
#7 Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) vs. #16 Nebraska (10-3, 7-1 Big Ten)

Favorite: Georgia Spread: Total: 57

 

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 PM ET)

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

#10 South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC) vs. #18 Michigan (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten)

Favorite: South Carolina Spread: 4 Total: 48

 

Rose Bowl presented by Vizio (Jan. 1, 5 PM ET)

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

#6 Stanford (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) vs. Wisconsin (8-5, 4-4 Big Ten)

Favorite: Stanford Spread: Total: 48½

 

Discover Orange Bowl (Jan. 1, 8:30 PM ET)

Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

#15 Northern Illinois (12-1, 8-0 MAC) vs. #12 Florida State (11-2, 7-1 ACC)

Favorite: Florida State Spread: 13½ Total: 59½

 

All State Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2, 8:30 PM ET)

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA

#21 Louisville (10-2, 5-2 Big East) vs. #3 Florida (11-1, 7-1 SEC)

Favorite: Florida Spread: 14½ Total: 47

 

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3, 8:30 PM ET)

University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

#5 Kansas State (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) vs. #4 Oregon (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12)

Favorite: Oregon Spread: 8 Total: 79

 

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (Jan. 4)

Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX

#9 Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC) vs. #11 Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1 Big 12)

Favorite: Texas A&M Spread: Total: 72

 

BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 5, 1 PM ET)

Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-4 Big East) vs. Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5 SEC)

Favorite: Ole Miss Spread: 2 Total: 51½

 

GoDaddy.com Bowl (Jan. 6, 9 PM ET)

Ladd Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL

#25 Kent State (11-2, 8-0 MAC) vs. Arkansas State (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt)

Favorite: Arkansas State Spread: 2 Total: 62

 

Discover BCS National Championship (Jan. 7, 8:30 PM ET)

Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

#1 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. #2 Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC)

Favorite: Alabama Spread: Total: 43

College Football Championship Picks

Having handled Georgia Tech last weekend, Georgia now looks to upset Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

It’s championship weekend in College Football and CasinoReview has the inside track on who’s likely to take home titles and bolster their BCS hopes along the way.

 

Pac-12 Championship Game: #16 UCLA @ #8 Stanford

With the two teams battling it out for the Pac-12 championship meeting just one week earlier, it would be easy to dismiss the game as uninteresting and missable. Been there done that. But the Bruins’ trip to The Farm Friday night is anything but.

UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) has played tough for much of the season and will play tough this weekend despite losing to Stanford (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) last weekend.

Odds: Stanford is a 10-point favorite at home. Only Florida State has a larger advantage in any championship game this weekend. The over/under is 52.

Take: Stanford – While this game shouldn’t be written off just because the sides faced off last weekend, it’s hard to see the result being any different. The Cardinal has taken four straight from the Bruins, by an average of nearly 22 points. Take Stanford to cover the spread with the total going under.

 

SEC Championship Game: #2 Alabama vs. #3 Georgia

If you listen to most, Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) has one more hurdle to leap before heading to Miami to take on Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game. That has to have Georgia (11-1, 7-1 SEC) seething.

The Bulldogs are not traveling to Atlanta merely to make up the numbers. The side believes it has a real opportunity of knocking off the Crimson Tide and securing its first SEC championship since 2005.

Alabama was victorious the last time these two sides met (2008) but that win snapped a three-game Bulldogs winning streak.

Odds: Alabama is favored (-8) over Georgia, with the over/under at 51.

Take: Alabama – This might not be the cake walk some think it will be but Nick Saban will have his team ready to play in its first SEC title game in three years. The Tide will roll on, covering the spread. Take the total to go over.

 

Big Ten Championship Game: #12 Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) fulfilled bookies’ predictions by winning the depleted Leaders Division in the Big Ten and advancing to the championship game. The Badgers’ path to Indianapolis could be considered less than successful though, what with both Ohio State and Penn State finishing ahead of the Badgers.

Nebraska (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) meanwhile put forward a strong showing, holding off Michigan in the Legends Division, rewarding punters that took 3/1 preseason odds.

Odds: Nebraska is a 2½-point favorite, with the over/under at 48.

Take: Nebraska –The Cornhuskers bettered Wisconsin in September and will do so again, spoiling the Badgers’ hope of two straight titles. Take the Cornhuskers to cover the spread with the total going under.

 

Quick Picks…

MAC Championship Game: Both #12 Northern Illinois (11-1, 8-0 MAC) and #17 Kent State (11-1, 8-0 MAC) made some late season BCS noise before heading off to Detroit. The winner of this will truly be the best in the conference, going undefeated in conference play. Take Northern Illinois, winners of five straight and 16 of 19 all-time against Kent State.

CUSA Championship Game: Not the most glamorous of conferences, the CUSA will culminate with a close contest between Central Florida (9-3, 7-1 CUSA) and Tulsa (9-3, 7-1 CUSA), two sides that have played good conference football this season. Take Tulsa, winners of three straight against UCF, with home field advantage.

ACC Championship Game: In what may well be the least interesting of all six championship games, take #13 Florida State (10-2, 7-1 ACC) to defeat Georgia Tech (6-6, 5-36 ACC) who didn’t make this game on merit.

Big Games Still on the College Football Slate

Thanks to an elaborate sequence of events, a win over Wisconsin this weekend could find the Indiana Hoosiers representing the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game.

On Tuesday CasinoReview took a look at the biggest rivalry games still to be played this season. There’s a whole chunk of them and College Football is going to be exciting down to the last play of the season.

Today we’ve trawled through the remaining schedule and picked out the biggest (non-rivalry) games left on the slate, most of which focus on those teams looking to play their way into a conference championship game or a conference title itself.

Below is a list of the top ten(ish) fixtures left on the schedule.

Editor’s Note: Much of the content is based on assumptions that the formbook will remain true. Of course, College Football is all too good at throwing upsets out there, so there’s (always) a chance that those games played towards the end of November may take on a whole different meaning. For now, let’s play nicely in the world of theoretical football. As a final note, the games included on this list generally feature two sides that will be impacted by the same game. Yes, we know Alabama-Texas A&M is going to be a big game, but more so for the Tide than the Aggies.

 

Wisconsin @ Indiana (Nov. 10)

Big Ten: Indiana could represent the Leaders Division at the Big Ten Championship Game. This might seem a little beyond the realms of plausibility, but it’s true. Due to both Ohio State and Penn State – the two table-toppers – being ineligible, Wisconsin currently fills the ‘top’ spot, one-game ahead of the Hoosiers. If Indiana beats the Badgers, in theory it has an ‘easier’ schedule (at Penn State, at Purdue) than Wisconsin (Vs. Ohio State, at Penn State). That means this Saturday’s game could ultimately decide the Leaders Division’s representative. Shocking.

San Diego State @ Air Force (Nov. 10)

MWC: It should be duly noted that the Mountain West isn’t simply about one big game; there are plenty to follow. With five teams still in the hunt, this weekend’s clash between the Aztecs and Falcons will not decide the conference, but it will make a massive dent. As well as this meeting with the San Diego State, Air Force still has an impending clash with Fresno State (Nov. 24) which puts the impetus firmly on the Falcons’ side of the field. Nevada’s games with Fresno State (Nov. 10) and Boise State (Dec. 1) could prove to have a huge impact too.

Arizona State @ USC (Nov. 10)

Pac-12: USC hosts the Sun Devils this coming weekend aware that a loss will effectively mean the end of the Trojans’ hopes for the South Division title. A win for USC sets up a must-win game with UCLA the following weekend, although Lane Kiffin’s side will still need to hope Stanford can knock off the Bruins in the last week of the season.

Oregon State @ Stanford (Nov. 10)

Pac-12: Big strides can be made in the Pac-12 North this weekend also, as the Beavers travel to the Farm to take on Stanford. Both sides currently have conference records of 5-1, and are within touching distance of the undefeated Oregon. A loss for either side will see those championship chances extinguished. Both sides still have to face Oregon, which brings us to…

Stanford @ Oregon (Nov. 17) or Oregon @ Oregon State (Nov. 24)

Pac-12: If Stanford beats Oregon State, the North Division title will be decided in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 17. If the Beavers win, a Civil War showdown in Corvallis on Nov. 24 will be for all the marbles. Yes, we realize that this list wasn’t supposed to include rivalry match-ups, but this is one hell of a three-way dance.

Kent State @ Bowling Green (Nov. 17)

MAC: Bowling Green’s 26-14 win over Ohio on Wednesday night looks to have turned a three-horse race for the MAC’s Eastern Division into a two horse race. Providing the team wins this weekend, the Golden Flashes will visit Perry Stadium knowing that a win will all but secure the title.

Utah State @ Louisiana Tech (Nov. 17)

WAC: The Bulldogs of LA Tech have been bothering the rankings for what seems like the better part of the season now. Only a loss to Texas A&M mars the school’s record. But Louisiana Tech isn’t guaranteed a second straight WAC title. Utah State, still unbeaten in the conference, will have a say in who is crowned the final conference football champion. Essentially, barring any hiccups down the stretch, this game will determine who takes the prize.

Toledo @ Northern Illinois (Nov. 17)

MAC: Currently one and two in the MAC’s Western Division, the Rockets and Huskies will meet in DeKalb, Ill., next weekend in what could be the division decider. Toledo’s loss to Ball State on Tuesday night has given Northern Illinois the advantage for now, but a head-to-head win would propel Toledo above the Huskies.

Louisville @ Rutgers (Nov. 29)

Big East: With both sides facing two conference challenges between now and this New Jersey showdown, a lot of scenarios can arise. For now, it’s simple: if both teams steer the course, this clash will determine who closes out the season as Big East champions.

Arkansas State @ Middle Tennessee (Dec. 1)

Sun Belt: Finally, with four weeks of play left, the Sun Belt Conference is completely up for grabs. No fewer than seven teams (Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Troy, and North Texas) are still mathematically in the mix, which makes this a bettors’ paradise or nightmare, depending how you look at it. Let’s keep it simple then; if the remaining schedule is true to the formbook, this clash between the Red Wolves and Blue Raiders could well decide the division. This weekend’s rivalry clash between Arkansas State and ULM could have a huge bearing also.

 

List of Conference Championship Games

ACC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

Big Ten: Sat., Dec. 1 – Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

C-USA: Sat, Dec. 1 – Hosted by team with highest winning percentage

MAC: Fri., Nov. 30 – Ford Field (Detroit, MI)

Pac-12: Fri., Nov. 30 – Hosted by team with best conference record

SEC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)

BCS National Championship Game: Mon., Jan. 7 – Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)