Fellow ‘Cats fans, bored Northwestern students on winter break and degenerate gamblers alike: welcome to bowl season. Most people regard mid-late December as holiday season, but to Matt and I, this is the finest part of the season from the greatest sport, college football. Follow along as we continue our quest to help you make money and take down the big bad wolf that is Las Vegas.
Avery Zimmerman: 8-3
Matt Albert: 7-4
A combined 15-7 isn’t bad right? We killed it in the midweek bowls, going 8-2 and rewarding all zero (I hope) of you that bet based on our forecasts. Unfortunately for pure viewing purposes, every game so far sans two have been decided entering the final minutes. This pretty much summed up the level of excitement that the games provided.
It's bowl season and a potato is conducting the band in Boise. pic.twitter.com/M8m7nSXFgs— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 22, 2018
Maybe as we enter the true meat of bowl season, the drama will ramp up. We should probably quit while we’re ahead before we succumb to the natural gambling fate of losing, but what’s the fun in that? On we go.
Memphis (-3) vs. Wake Forest: Birmingham Bowl
Avery: Memphis — Even without Darrell Henderson, Memphis will have enough firepower in the backfield to score highly in this one. Taking heavy S&P+ favorites has worked out thus far, so why go away from that method of thinking. Memphis is ranked 23rd by the metric, while Wake Forest sits at 77th. The Demon Deacon defense won’t be able to handle Memphis, as the Tigers cruise to victory.
Matt: Wake Forest — Memphis will sorely miss RB Darrell Henderson who is sitting out the game for the NFL Draft, but also has another 1000 yard rusher. Wake Forest, however, has made defenses out to seem like sieves (such as Duke). I’m taking Wake Forest with the points, this game should be a good (and very high scoring) bowl game and fun to watch.
Army (-6) vs. Houston: Armed Forces Bowl
Avery: Army — This seems like a pretty straight-forward pick. Houston will be without two of its key cogs, defensive lineman Ed Oliver and quarterback D’Eriq King. It comes into the bowl having lost three of its final four contests. Army, on the other hand, enters with a win on its final eight games of the season, and the game preceding that was an overtime loss to playoff participant Oklahoma. When you see lines like this, it usually means that Vegas knows something, but I can’t see Houston staying competitive in this game.
Matt: Army — Folks,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
You can’t pick against Army. It’s virtually unamerican to do so. That should be reason enough. Nevermind the fact that Houston QB D’Eriq King and star defender Ed Oliver are not playing. Take the Black Knights — end of story.
Buffalo (-2) vs. Troy: Dollar General Bowl
Avery: Troy — From what I can gather, Troy and Buffalo are two extremely matched teams. I can’t pretend like I’ve seen much of either team this year, but this should be a close one. Buffalo brings a potent offense while Troy brings an efficient defense, and I’m inclined to rely on the defense to pull it out.
Matt: Buffalo — This game should be interesting because Buffalo’s offense is very solid (32nd in Off. S&P+) and Troy’s defense (35th in Def. S&P+), but the Troy offense has minimal firepower (82nd in Off. S&P+). Troy’s starting quarterback had a season ending injury in a victory over Coastal Carolina and their backup Sawyer Smith came in and looked solid. I’m riding with Buffalo, but it should be a close one.
Hawaii (-1) vs. Louisiana Tech: Hawaii Bowl
Avery: Hawaii — Hawaii scores almost 10 more points per game than LA Tech does, but they concede just over 10 more points than the Bulldogs per game. Remember what I said about relying on the defense? Forget that. Hawaii is going to score too much for LA Tech to keep pace, and it wins on its home turf.
Matt: Hawaii — While researching this game, I came upon the peculiar fact that Louisiana Tech lost a football game 6-5 to Southern Mississippi. Hawai’i is taking this game, no question. On their home turf nonetheless, Hawaii has looked very good (with the exception of the month of October) and should continue this streak.
Boise State (-2) vs. Boston College: First Responder Bowl
Avery: Boise State — BC struggled late in the season as its starting running back and quarterback struggled with injuries, and while both should be good to go for this game, they won’t be able to find their rhythm in one effort. Boise State has won seven of its previous nine bowl games, and won seven of its final nine games this year. I trust BSU to continue those trends.
Matt: Boise State — Boise State has been on an absolute heater with the exception of their overtime loss to Fresno State. I expect that hot streak to continue to come in to this game with Boise St. having an extremely solid Boxing Day showing.
Georgia Tech (-5.5) vs. Minnesota: Quick Lane Bowl
Avery: Georgia Tech — The Northwestern-Minnesota game tells me all I need to know about the Gophers. The quarterback play is just not there, and neither is the defense. In Paul Johnson’s final game as Georgia Tech head coach, the Yellowjackets utilize their triple-option offense to roll Minnesota.
Matt: Georgia Tech — Georgia Tech’s option offense is up their for the best in the country, they run the ball in a dominant fashion. Yes, Minnesota has their pluses and have looked good at times, but they will not be able to compete with the beatdown they will take from the Yellow Jackets.
Cal (-1) vs. TCU: Cheez-It Bowl
Avery: Cal — This is an extremely atypical Cal team. After being an offensive team that didn’t have a defense for years, the script totally flipped this year. Cal gave up only 21 points per game this year, while TCU’s stout defense also limited teams to 24. I’ll take Cal in its first bowl game since 2015 to claim the glory of an excellent snack.
Matt: TCU — The Cheez-it Bowl! TCU has been underwhelming this season, but their defense has sort of held up. This game should be much more of a defensive battle than a high scoring affair. At the end of the day, I’m taking TCU.