Northwestern fans, students and gambling degenerates alike, welcome back to a series that is fast becoming a staple of the holiday season here at Inside NU. Over the past two years, Matt and Avery have picked nearly every bowl game that has occurred. From glorious playoff semifinals to the most random of games, we have seen it all, and we’re excited to meet the site’s gambling quota for the year once again.
Well, we’re off to the slowest start in this series’ history, but that is merely a setback towards a greater comeback! How are we going to do that, you might ask. By picking the worst bowls of the lot, that’s how! So let’s get into it.
Avery: While I didn’t actually bet against Northwestern, it serves me right for doubting the capabilities of the wizard Mike Hankwitz and NU’s squad in general. My negative record is justified alone based on that pick. On Matt’s end, a trust in Brian Kelly’s Irish pushed him in the wrong direction, but at least he backed the ‘Cats. Nonetheless, it’s time to recover.
Myrtle Beach Bowl: Appalachian State (-20) vs. North Texas
Avery: Okay, like most of my picks in this edition of the series, I have not watched these teams play, but statistically any effort on North Texas’ end will be tough, due to the significant discrepancy on talent that appears on both sides of the ball. It’s hard to find an edge here for NT, and because of that, I’m going to have to go with a Mountaineers cover.
Matt: I’m going to take App State here, I know the spread is large, but North Texas is not very good and App State QB Zac Thomas is elite. The Mountaineers also averaged nearly 250 yards per game on the ground, showing just how versatile this attack is. This game should not, and will not, be close.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Tulane (-3) vs. Nevada
Avery: In terms of where Tulane is as a program, I am very impressed. I would expect more out of Nevada, which has not made the same strides in recent years as the Green Wave, but overall these are two schools that have plenty of motivation to succeed in this esteemed bowl game. With only 3 points to cover, I have to go with the better team, which is Tulane. I think the Green Wave will comfortably handle the Wolf Pack, with my only real concern being the location of the bowl and its proximity to the two schools.
Matt: Ahhhh, the Idaho Potato bowl, one of my favorite bowls. This one tells the tale of two teams with two totally different trajectories (please appreciate the alliteration). Tulane started its season slowly and has won four of its last five, with the lone loss coming to a talented Tulsa team. Nevada started with 5 straight wins but has lost two of its past three games. There’s no doubting Carson Strong’s talent — he is the Mountain West’s Offensive Player of the Year, but I’m on Tulane -3. Need to trust the recent momentum and this Tulane team is for real.
Boca Raton Bowl: BYU (-6.5) vs. UCF
Avery: My logic for this pick is so twisted it makes you consider why I even bet on sports, but I suppose that is exactly why you do it? Did that make any sense? No? Alright, nonetheless, I don’t believe in BYU, but I don’t believe in UCF even more. Additionally, BYU has a ton to prove after being embarrassed on its last national stage, after claims of being mis-ranked by the committee were promptly squashed by Coastal Carolina. The Cougars come out with a vengeance that earns a cover.
Matt: I’m going to take UCF against BYU here. These two quarterbacks are both incredibly talented, with Dillon Gabriel and Zach Wilson both being NFL prospects for this season. While both teams are good, I think it’s a close one, and so I’m taking UCF with the points. This will be an electric game.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Georgia Southern (-4.5) vs. Louisiana Tech
Avery: This one is as simple. Louisiana Tech does not lose bowl games, earning victories in its last six attempts. Despite its starting quarterback not being available, it’s impossible to pick against that. LA Tech gets a straight up win and a seventh consecutive postseason win.
Matt: While Louisiana Tech has the longest streak of bowl wins in FBS football, I’m taking Georgia Southern. Louisiana Tech is missing quarterback Luke Anthony, and his replacement has had difficulty stepping into the starting role. I’ll trust a healthy starting signal caller and role with Georgia Southern.
Montgomery Bowl: Memphis (-9) vs. Florida Atlantic
Avery: Though I haven’t seen much of the Owls, I have seen Memphis play a bit, and I’ve been largely impressed. They showed some nice poise against Navy and have enough talent to cover this spread. I’m going to go with the Tigers and put my faith behind a team that has won four of its last five.
Matt: I’m taking Memphis, even with the points. FAU has been really inconsistent this season and has struggled as of late. Memphis is also incredibly inconsistent, but their offense is generally solid and they should win by around two touchdowns in my eyes.
New Mexico Bowl: Houston (-10.5) vs. Hawai’i
Avery: Neither of these teams have a dominant force on either side of the ball and neither of these teams have had an impressive season. When there’s a situation like this I have no choice but to take the free points with the Rainbow Warriors and just hope that there isn’t something I’m missing.
Matt: I’m taking Hawaii here. In its last six games, it’s 4-2 against the spread, while Houston is 2-4 in that span. There’s no question the Houston offense can put up points, but the Cougars’ defense really doesn’t do them any favors, and that’s a liability when trying to cover a two-score spread.
Camellia Bowl: Buffalo (-3) vs. Marshall
Avery: Both of these squads are reeling after losses in their respective conference championship games, so there’s plenty of motivation on both sides to end the season on a positive note. On its face, Buffalo appears to have a better team, but without their star running back Jaret Patterson, the offense does not work nearly as well, evidenced in its loss to Ball State in the MAC title game. I’m not sure how the Bulls will crack the Marshall defense, so I’m going to go with the Thundering Herd.
Matt: I’m on Buffalo here, and I’m interested in how they can play assuming they don’t have starting Jaret Patterson. I still think the Bulls will find a way to hand Marshall a decisive loss. Most games that Buffalo has played thus far haven’t been close, and while Patterson is a loss, I think the Bulls still pull it off.