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Inside NU bowl betting special part 4: Pre-CFP fun

There are plenty of intriguing battles in the lead-up to the CFP.

NCAA Football: Florida at Michigan Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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 me, 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: 10-7

Matt Albert: 10-7

While we weren’t as hot results wise as we had been in the past, the latest slate of football games provided a bit more entertainment. Memphis-Wake Forest provided a back-and-forth battle that included a wild ending.

Army followed that up by tying both the bowl victory margin record as well as the record for most points scored in a bowl game. It was a bit dull from that point on, but at least the forthcoming schedule should provide some fireworks. Here are our picks for a loaded couple days of college football.

Temple (-3.5) vs. Duke: Independence Bowl

Avery: Temple — This spread is very reflective of the trends that these two teams are on. Temple has won eight of its last nine, while Duke has won four. Most recently, Duke was shellacked in its final regular season game, 59-7, by Wake Forest. While I love Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, there is no reason to believe in the Blue Devils right now. Temple covers a tight game.

Matt: Temple — Like they often do, Duke got off to a very hot start yet faded down the stretch. Temple, won five of their final six, only losing to UCF. As much as I want to pick Duke because the Blue Devils beat Northwestern, it just doesn’t make sense. The Blue Devils have struggled to get it going and I understand and have seen how good Daniel Jones can be when he turns it on, but he can’t do it for this game. Take the Owls.

Miami (-3) vs. Wisconsin: Pinstripe Bowl

Avery: Wisconsin — After a wholly disappointing year for Miami, it comes in to the Pinstripe Bowl with all types of turmoil. Leading receiver Jeff Thomas already announced he will be leaving the program for Illinois (idk), and there are rumors of issues in the locker room, with a possible suspension to starting quarterback N’Kosi Perry looming. On the other side, our friend Jack Coan is starting for Wisconsin, but that isn’t enough for me to trust Miami. Wisconsin pulls away in a low scoring battle.

Matt: Miami — These teams met almost exactly one year ago to date (playing in the orange bowl on December 30th). Both have followed these up with extremely underwhelming seasons. The two both rely heavily on the run (we can remember Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor from when we beat the Badgers this season and he fumbled twice). Wisconsin, however, has to play quarterback Jack Coan, who wasn’t great when we faced him but has gotten more time under his belt since. Take Miami, they have fewer questions (Ryan Connelly has an undisclosed injury and isn’t playing either).

Vanderbilt (-3.5) vs. Baylor: Texas Bowl

Avery: Vanderbilt — Vanderbilt had a really nice year while flying under the radar. It has competed well in every single game bar a lone blowout at the hands of Georgia. That includes one-score losses to Notre Dame, Kentucky, and Missouri. Baylor has also had a solid year, rebounding from a 1-11 season to a 6-6 one. However, one of its biggest weapons, Jalen Hurd, is out due to a knee injury. I believe in Vanderbilt to finish the year strong and win by a double-digit margin.

Matt: Vanderbilt — Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn of the Commodores will run all over Baylor. Both teams had to win at least their last game of the regular season to get to this point. At the end of the day, the Commodores prevail.

Auburn (-3.5) vs. Purdue: Music City Bowl

Avery: Purdue — Auburn is another team that had an extremely disappointing season. After high hopes were formed following an early-season victory against Washington, it all went downhill. Auburn went 4-5 against Power Five competition, but they picked up three wins against Mercer, Alabama State, and Liberty, a credit to the SEC’s consistently daunting non-conference schedules. Anyway, Purdue brings an electric offense and a team that just found out Jeff Brohm would be staying at the program. Fired up, Purdue wins outright.

Matt: Purdue — Rondale Moore announced himself to the country in an August matchup at Ross-Ade Stadium against Northwestern. In the time since, he’s been incredible, proving himself to be one of the best true freshmen in the country. Purdue has shown that they have the chops to go the distance in big games before (see: Ohio State) and can win high scoring matchups like I expect this one to be. Take the Boilermakers ATS.

Syracuse (-1.5) vs. West Virginia: Camping World Bowl

Avery: Syracuse — West Virginia will be without Will Grier, who is opting to focus on his NFL future. That alone gives me concern about the Mountaineers, who will be starting sophomore Jack Allison who has ten attempts on the year. Dino Babers is a great coach and he’ll have his team ready to win its first bowl game since 2013.

Matt: Syracuse — The most important thing to know: Will Grier is NOT PLAYING in the bowl game, which completely changes the dynamic of the game. On the surface, one would think that West Virginia is more talented, but without their heartbeat this is sort of a crapshoot. I’m taking Syracuse ATS and ML, they’re much more of a known quality and what I’ve seen is good.

Washington State (-3) vs. Iowa State: Alamo Bowl

Avery: Washington State — This is poised to be a really tight matchup. Losses to USC and Washington thwarted its Rose Bowl hopes, but Washington State would still post its highest win total in program history with a win. Iowa State rebounded well from a 2-3 start to finish 8-4, and a win would give the Cyclones their highest win total since 2000. This should be a pretty high-scoring affair, and I could see it going either way, but I’ll trust the team with the superior quarterback to edge it.

Matt: Washington State — Fifth-year senior quarterback Gardner Minshew of Washington State has been on fire this season, throwing for over 300 yards in 11/12 games the Cougars have played. The air raid style offense of the Cougars will lead them to victory over the Cyclones. Take them ATS no problem.

South Carolina (-6) vs. Virginia: Belk Bowl

Avery: Virginia — Virginia was once 7-2 and on track to go to the ACC Championship game. It has cooled off since then but I see the Cavaliers putting a nice bow on the season and defeating a South Carolina team that is 4-5 against Power Five opponents (notice a trend?).

Matt: South Carolina — Take the Gamecocks, pound the spread. They’re by far the better team and should win if they can get themselves motivated (I think that they will be able to) and South Carolina will shine.

Michigan (-6.5) vs. Florida: Peach Bowl

Avery: Florida — After getting walloped by Ohio State, Michigan players just don’t care about this game (rightly so). Michigan will be without some elite talent against Florida, and I just can’t put any faith in the Wolverines with that being the case. Michigan wins but Florida covers the spread.

Matt: Florida — The Wolverines are by far the better team in my opinion, the issue is that they have a lot of players sitting out of the bowl game. The three main players for the Wolverines that are sitting out are DE Rashan Gary, LB Devin Bush Jr., and RB Karan Higdon. These players were key for the Wolverines. Normally, I’d pick the Wolverines and since they are coming off being absolutely embarrassed by Ohio State, but I’m going with the Gators ATS. I can’t determine whether or not I would take them straight up though.

Arkansas State (-1) vs. Nevada: Arizona Bowl

Avery: Arkansas State — Who knows, I’ll just go with the heavy S&P+ favorite in this one. If you watch this game you have some serious dedication.

Matt: Nevada — The Wolf Bowl!!!!!!! Arkansas State has a great duo of running backs but at the end of the day Nevada takes it. While Arkansas State is 29 places higher in S&P+, they have played a much easier schedule than Nevada — except for when they played ‘Bama (and got crushed). Take Nevada ATS and ML.