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.

Betting the Bowl Games Requires a Little Extra Work

Assuming he wins the Heisman, will Jameis Winston suffer the same fate that many other Heisman winners have?

There’s a pretty darn good chance that if you read my stuff and also check out the site on a regular basis that you’ll be participating in a college football bowl pool.

These have changed significantly over the years while remaining very much the same. What I mean is that some are still your basic ‘circle the winner’ pool while others have evolved into rating a bowl’s strength versus other bowls.

Because I’m kind of an old school guy I like just picking winners but I also like playing the spreads too. The latter is where you have to be very careful. If you are playing the spreads in college bowl games then you have a lot of work to do.

You can’t just look at the BCS Title game for example and automatically decide you love or hate the 8.5 point spread favoring Florida State. As with any game, there are factors that need to be considered, but bowl games are unique because of a number of ‘other’ factors that play in to them as well.

Despite guiding Bowling Green to a MAC Title and bowl game, Clawson won't be around for it as he took a new job at Wake Forest.

First and foremost, you must take into account in each and every bowl game the coaching situation. Every year we see mid-major teams that have great seasons make it to bowl games. The problem? Quite often those coaches are scooped up by bigger schools.

Think Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly to Notre Dame or San Diego State’s Brady Hoke to Michigan. This season we already have Mid-American Conference Champion Bowling Green heading into their bowl game in Detroit without head coach Dave Clawson.

Clawson has taken the opportunity to become head coach at Wake Forest, thus leaving his Falcons’ team with an interim coach. Do your due diligence and look back at bowl games where coaches have left their teams to see how they’ve done without them.

Another factor to consider is awards season. You might be surprised to know that more often than not, if the Heisman Trophy winner plays in the BCS Title game his team loses. That trend goes back to even before the BCS.

This year most think Florida State’s Jameis Winston will win the prize. As you know his Seminoles are playing for the title against Auburn.

A third factor to consider is the fan base. While I don’t put as much credence into this one as much anymore, I still take it into account. Take this year’s Orange Bowl match-up for instance. Common sense thought tells you that Clemson being so much closer to Miami geographically than Ohio State will have a larger crowd.

Not so fast my friend… Few teams travel as well as the Buckeyes. Last week at their Big Ten Title game they outnumbered Michigan State fans by a huge margin. Speaking of the Spartans, I expect the green and white to heavily outnumber the Cardinal of Stanford despite proximity. Remember the Spartans haven’t played in this game since the 1987 season.

One final thing to consider that is unique to bowl games is ‘player situation.’ I call it that because it’s pretty broad. Basically, pay close attention to players who have been suspended (see Oregon snowball fight), who are planning to go pro or who have had issues off the field throughout the season or their careers.

All three of those factors can have an undecided bearing on the success of the teams they play for.

The bottom line is that the bowls are unique and they’ll require a little more attention than the usual college football game.

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 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 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