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.
After a mediocre start, our fortunes continued as we have struggled to crack the code of COVID-era bowl handicapping, but now has never been a better time to get hot, with much more intriguing matchups set to kick off within the week. Let’s look at the contests that are fast approaching.
Cure Bowl: Coastal Carolina (-7.5) vs. Liberty
Avery: Both of these squads have impressive offenses, and both have underwhelming defenses, so I’m inclined to take the points. Liberty has a ton of fire power and they’ll be able to keep up with Coastal’s dangerous option look, leading to a high-scoring affair that comes down to the wire. I’ll go with Liberty to keep it within a touchdown.
Matt: Like Avery, I have pretty mixed feelings about how this game may go. I agree that it will be a close one but I expect Coastal to lock in and pull away in the fourth quarter. I’m on Coastal -7.5.
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: Louisiana (-14) vs. UTSA
Avery: The Ragin’ Cajuns are just too talented for UTSA, so this spread is understandable, and if we’ve seen anything from this unique bowl season thus far, favorites are capable of running away with games and making them ugly fast. I think the same will go down in this one. Give me Louisiana to cover.
Matt: I’m with Avery on this one, if we’ve seen anything this bowl season so far — it’s that it has become very clear early on in bowl season that teams either show up or don’t. I think that ULL comes out hungry and covers.
LendingTree Bowl: Georgia State (-3) vs. Western Kentucky
Avery: Both teams have rounded out the year nicely and have been fortunate enough to get a ton of action this season. This spread is appropriately even, with nothing standing out too strongly on either side, but I’ll ride a Panthers squad that has played some good ball since getting walloped by the Chanticleers.
Matt: I don’t want to sound rude, but more power to whoever decides to watch this game. Georgia State quarterback Cornelious Brown IV has been lighting up the Sun Belt so far this season and I don’t expect anything different here. I’m on the Panthers here.
Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma State (-2) vs. Miami
Avery: This is a really fascinating matchup and the first real blockbuster of the bowl season. Though the Cowboys will be without star running back Chuba Hubbard, they still bring plenty of offensive weapons into the contest, much like Miami who is led by transfer QB D’Eriq King. The latter has been extremely effective this year and will be too much for Oklahoma State to handle, giving the Hurricanes a nice win to close out their season.
Matt: This game is going to be really fun football to watch. Avery kind of set the stage above, but the Oklahoma State defense has been able to be much more clinical than Miami, with the Hurricane defense giving up an average of 400 yards per game. While Chuba Hubbard missing this game is obviously a big loss, the Cowboys have had no issue running the ball since his departure. With a little bit of hesitation, I’m on the Cowboys.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas (-10) vs. Colorado
Avery: Ten points? I have no idea what the Longhorns have done this year to warrant that spread, so there’s no way I can trust Tom Herman’s team to deliver a resounding win. I know Colorado hasn’t played much football this year, but they’re more than equipped to deal with Texas and they might even pull off a huge upset victory. Give me the Buffs.
Matt: I think this spread hedges far too much on the fact that Colorado has not played particularly much football, but sometimes you need to call a spade a spade, and that makes me think Colorado won’t be able to keep pace with the Texas offense. For that reason, I’m on the Longhorns.