Boston College news is - obviously - light this week, so let's talk bowls.
While Jeff might have beat me good in this year's Pick 5 challenge, way back when as part of our humble beginnings, I took him out to the woodshed picking last year's bowl games, racking up a 20-14 victory. This year, however, we are mixing it up. No more straight up bowl picks ... we are going ATS.
Here are our picks for the first 17 bowl games this December. Check back tomorrow for games 18-34.
EagleBank - Wake Forest (-3) vs. Navy - ESPN - 12/20 - website
Brian: As Jeff pointed out earlier, our back of the envelope math tells us there will only be two rematches this season in college football - Boston College-Virginia Tech and Wake Forest-Navy. It's very difficult to beat a team twice in one season (we are painfully aware of this fact), and there's no way Riley Skinner repeats his 4 INT regular season performance in his final game as a Deacon. Wake Forest
Jeff: I like the Deamon Deacons to win here but Navy can hang with them and possibly win as they did earlier this season and it's nearly a home game for Navy. Additionally, I'll be watching the game with a Naval Academy grad Saturday so I'll jump on his bandwagon and hope that if the Midshipmen do lose, they lose by less than 3. Navy +3.
New Mexico - Colorado State (+3) vs. Fresno State - ESPN - 12/20 - website
Jeff: Colorado State played in the more difficult conference this year and whenever I caught a little of some Fresno State games they were rather unimpressive. I'll take the 3 points here and the Rams.
Brian: Colorado State hasn't had a winning season since the Eagles played them in the bowl game back in 2003. That was subsequently the last year that the Rams went bowling, and really, were any good. They haven't won a bowl since 2001. Since then, Fresno State has registered bowl wins against Georgia Tech, UCLA and a ranked Virginia team on the smurf turf. Take Fresno State to cover.
magicJack St. Petersburg - Memphis vs. South Florida (-13) - ESPN2 - 12/20 - website
Brian: I know next to nothing about the Memphis football program. It would appear Memphis is a mediocre-to-bad Conference USA team (6-6, 4-4), while South Florida is THE disappointment in the Big East this season (2-5). This game is in the Bulls backyard, but 13 is a lot of points. I'll take Memphis to cover.
Jeff: A 6-6 team that does not play in a BCS conference is tough to pick. South Florida did play a difficult out of conference schedule this year and is playing a home game. I'll go with the home favorites in South Florida.
Pioneer Las Vegas - BYU vs. Arizona (-3) - ESPN - 12/20 - website
Jeff: Early in the year when BYU shut out UCLA it gave us reason to wonder if BYU was perhaps the best team in the country. After all, UCLA had already beaten Tennessee so that win looked real, real good. But eventually the season played out and now we know BYU is definitely not one of the elite teams this year. Fortunately for them though it doesn't take one of the nation's elite to beat the Wildcats. I'll take BYU +3.
Brian: Remember way back when back in September when the Mountain West went 4-0 against the Pac 10 and everyone was talking about how much of a powerhouse conference the MWC was? Yea, well here is an opportunity for the Pac 10 to redeem itself. I realize Arizona was part of that 0-4 Pac 10 performance back in September, dropping a game against New Mexico, but since then, Arizona has stayed with USC, Oregon State and Oregon and upset a ranked Cal team. I like the Wildcats to pull off the upset (?) and cover. Besides, as EDSBS points out, coach Bronco Mendelhall and the Ys don't look that comfortable in Vegas.
R+L Carriers New Orleans - Southern Miss (+4.5) vs. Troy - ESPN - 12/21 - website
Brian: Southern Miss has won four straight, but they did only squeak by Sun Belt conference member Arkansas State by 3 back in September. Meanwhile, the men of Troy have manhandled Arkansas State 35-9 to capture the Sun Belt conference championship. Troy by at least a touchdown.
Jeff: Troy is best known for leading LSU by 28 points well into the 2nd half this season but losing in the end in Baton Rouge. I know the Tigers are not the same Tigers that won it all last year but it is impressive nonetheless so I'll go with you here and take Troy as well.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia - Boise State (+2.5) vs. TCU - ESPN - 12/23 - website
Jeff: Ball State blew it by declining an invitation to play Boise State in a bowl game which looked like it would've matched the two undefeated teams in the nation that got left out of the BCS, but then, Ball State blew it in their conference championship game and we are left with the two best non-BCS conference schools who didn't make the BCS playing each other in San Diego. TCU is favored for a reason. Boise State went relatively untested this year and will get its first loss of the year right before Christmas. TCU -2.5
Brian: TCU has won its last 3 bowl games, but much like the Eagles, haven't really played the most marquee teams in December, tallying wins against Houston, Northern Illinois and Iowa State. This is actually a rematch of the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl, a game Boise State took 34-31 in TCU's backyard. I think Boise State will be very eager to prove that they were indeed a BCS team this year. This should be one of the best games of bowl season which I think will go down to the wire. Take Boise State +2.5 to cover.
Sheraton Hawaii - Hawaii (-1.5) vs. Notre Dame - ESPN - 12/24 - website
Brian: This seems like a soft landing spot for 6-6 Notre Dame to fall, as they could win their first bowl game since I was 11. Not so fast my friend! The fake Irish have lost 4 of their last 5 while Hawaii gave Big East champion Cincinnati a scare in their final regular season game. Take Hawaii. What better way to spend Christmas Eve by watching Notre Dame lose its 8th straight bowl game.
Jeff: No way I'm picking Notre Dame. Hawaii -1.5!!
Brian: Of course, this pick wasn't biased at all ...
Motor City - Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan (-7) - ESPN - 12/26 - website
Jeff: Central Michigan is one of the best non-BCS programs that no one seems to talk about. Maybe they don't talk about them because they went to Athens earlier this year and got handled by the Bulldogs. But wait, any non-BCS team would've been handled by Georgia this year. Non-BCS schools are overrated these days but Central Michigan is one of the better ones and I'll give the 7 points and take 'em over FAU.
Brian: While Florida Atlantic is an up and coming program, this is a team that is coming off a 57-50 overtime win against Florida International. I don't know much about FIU, other than they seem to show up a lot in ESPN's Bottom 10. While it's commendable for a team to go from 1-5 to start the season to 6-6 and bowl eligible, I think that's where the story ends. Central Michigan BIG.
Meineke Car Care - West Virginia vs. North Carolina (0) - ESPN - 12/27 - website
Brian: This is a pick 'em. Two evenly matched teams. After starting off the season strong (6-2), the Heels got ready for hoops season a little early and had a forgettable November, going 2-2 down the stretch, including getting smoked by in-state rival NC State. Pat White's last game for the Mountaineers lifts WVU over North Carolina in front of the home crowd.
Jeff: All BC fans remember the sea of blue created in the sold out Car Care bowl several years ago when BC beat the Tar Heels in 2004. Since then BC has been unable to beat the Tar Heels in their true home so maybe Brian is on to something that the Charlotte home crowd is not as big of an advantage as the true home field in Chapel Hill. BUT, Brian overestimates Pat White's ability to carry the Mountaineers this year. I'll take UNC to win.
Champs Sports - Wisconsin vs. Florida State (-5) - ESPN - 12/27 - website
Jeff: Wisconsin is not good. Their best win was @Fresno State where they won by 3. You can load up on this game. Take Florida State, playing in Florida -5.
Brian: Agreed. I just can't see the Badgers covering. Take Florida State.
Emerald - Miami (Fla.) vs. California (-7) - ESPN - 12/27 - website
Brian: San Francisco ... that's fun to say. Miami (Fla.) beat Virginia who blanked Maryland who jumped out ahead of California early and held on for a 35-27 victory. I'm thinking that given the home field advantage, Cal wins this game, but it should be a competitive game. Miami.
Jeff: Everyone (and by everyone, I mean ESPN analysts) loved Miami when they creeped into the Top 25 a few weeks ago. Now, everyone seems to be completely off the Miami bandwagon and does not like their chances as they travel all the way to the West Coast. I may have some east coast and ACC bias here but the strength of the ACC and the fact that Miami's lone out of conference loss came against the Gators, I definitely like Miami to cover and probably to win this game.
Independence - Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech (+2) - ESPN - 12/28 - website
Jeff: Don't know much if anything about either one of these teams this year. I'll go with the team that played in the better conference this year. Louisiana Tech +2.
Brian: A complete guess. I'm going with Northern Illinois.
Papajohns.com - NC State vs. Rutgers (-7) - ESPN - 12/29 - website
Brian: Two of the country's hottest teams in the pizza bowl. Fitting. Rutgers has won 6 straight while the Wolfpack has won 4 straight. This game should be a good one to watch. I wouldn't be surprised if Rutgers wins, however, NC State will keep it close. NC State is something ridiculous like 11-1 against the spread this year, so I'll ride that all the way to the finish line. NC State.
Jeff: How is NC State getting so many points against Rutgers? NC State will not keep it close. They will win outright easily. NC State +7 without question.
Valero Alamo - Missouri (-13.5) vs. Northwestern - ESPN - 12/29 - website
Jeff: Missouri played in the Big 12 this year but don't let their record deceive you. They played in the lowly Big 12 North so giving 13.5 points is simply too much to give here. Take Northwestern because even though they may not win, they can keep it close.
Brian: This spread is too high. I've watched Northwestern play a bunch of times this season, and nothing I've seen leads me to believe that Missouri is going to blow them out. These teams are very similar. Both beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to the only good teams they played. Northwestern has a very curious loss at Indiana and Missouri lost a strange one to 7-5 Kansas. Take Northwestern.
Roady's Humanitarian - Maryland (+1.5) vs. Nevada - ESPN - 12/30 - website
Brian: The last year the ACC sends a team to go play on the Smurf Turf. Luckily for the Terrapins, Boise State didn't land here. However, Nevada isn't a pushover WAC replacement. They are averaging 37.8 points per game and Eagles fans are pretty familiar with the mediocre Maryland defense. Maryland will also be without their defensive coordinator for this game. The ACC is 4-2 in the H-Bowl; make it 4-3 as the WAC's Nevada Wolfpack tell the ACC not to let the door hit the Terps on the way out ... in front of 116 fans.
Jeff: 4-2 and they often have to play Boise on their home field. Make it 5-2 after "good Maryland" shows up. Maryland is very good against the spread as an underdog this year. I believe 6-0-1. Look for that trend to continue, I'll take the Terps.
Texas - Western Michigan vs. Rice (-3) - NFL Network - 12/30 - website
Jeff: I want to boycott picking this game because its on the NFL network, but I will do it for the blog. Rice had a surprisingly nice season but since I picked a conference USA team over a MAC team earlier I'm going to go with the MAC team here. Western Michigan is every bit as good as Ball State this year. Take Western Michigan +3.
Brian: Rice is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won 6 straight, scoring over 44 points per game over that 6 game stretch. Rice's only losses this year are to Texas, Vanderbilt and Tulsa - all bowl teams. Western Michigan came up short when they played the two toughest teams in the MAC West - Ball State and Central Michigan. I like Rice to cover in a game no one watches.
Pacific Life Holiday - Oklahoma State (-3.5) vs. Oregon - ESPN - 12/30 - website
Brian: There will probably be a lot of points in this one. I like Zach Robinson and the Cowboy offense to be the difference in this one, though. Plus here's a little history lesson: Oklahoma State bowl record: 12-6. Oregon bowl record: 8-13. Oklahoma State covers and the Cowboys finish with their best record since 1988.
Jeff: This game has a lot of implications as to how good the Big XII South was this year and how not good the Pac 10 was this year after USC. If Oregon can come up with a victory it would say a lot for its conference. However, I do not expect that to happen and think Oklahoma State will win by 2+ touchdowns.