Picking the rest of the bowl games

Fifteen college games remain in the football bowl season, and by this time next week, they will all be decided. That means there's plenty of picks to get to.

As mentioned last week, the strategy is to bet on teams that are motivated and happy to be where they are at, play under better coaches, avoid key injuries and suspensions, have strong senior leadership, own offensive and defensive advantages over their opponents, come from stronger conferences, and have experienced recent success in bowl games.

Predictions: Going into yesterday's action, the record here was 8-4-1 against the spread in this year's bowl games, so hopefully that pace or better carries on.

Music City Bowl-Minnesota owns the No. 5 ranked offense in the nation, but its defense gives up over 400 yards a game. The bet is on the Over 59 1/2 total.

Sun-Northwestern and UCLA gain and yield more than 900 yards combined per contest. One hundred points are possible here. The bets are with Northwestern on the money line and Over 74 1/2 points.

Independence-Even though his offense was statistically the worst of all bowl teams, we'll go with "the old ball coach" and once national champion Steve Spurrier. The pick is South Carolina -4.

Peach-LSU and Miami Florida possess the No. 5 and No. 3 defenses in the country, respectively. Throw in the fact that LSU's starting quarterback is out with an injury, and the bet will be on the Under 41.

Meineke Car Care-These teams' defenses also rank in the top 20. We'll try NC State and South Florida Under 42.

Liberty-Fresno State used up a lot of bullets in its 50-42 loss at No. 1 USC, but one month's rest should be enough time to reload. Senior quarterback Paul Pinegar is 3-0 in bowl games. The choice is Fresno State -7.

Houston-Iowa State and TCU together allow 37 points per game. We'll go with Under 49, and cross our fingers.

Cotton-This is a classic match-up with Alabama's No. 2 defense attempting to hold off Texas Tech's nation-leading pass attack. Tech catches breaks with a 'Bama defensive back suspended and the game being played in Texas. Picking Texas Tech -3.

Outback-Florida quarterback Chris Leak has not been a good fit for first-year head coach Urban Meyer's offense. Taking Iowa on the money line.

Gator-Virginia Tech owns the best defense in the country. Louisville lost its starting quarterback and a defensive end to injuries. Betting on Virginia Tech -9.

Capitol One-Although Auburn is clearly the better team, the feeling here is that the Wisconsin players will fight hard for retiring head coach Barry Alvarez. Trying Wisconsin +10 1/2.

Fiesta-New Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis has produced the nation's most improved offense to compensate for his poor defense. Expecting Over 56 points.

Sugar-Big East teams like West Virginia have lost each of their BCS bowl games by 17 points or more. The Mountaineers have a freshman quarterback and running back, they don't throw the ball, and they are 1-11 in their last 12 bowl games. Georgia feels very much at home in the Georgia Dome. The wager is on Georgia -7 1/2.

Orange-In a battle between major college football's winningest coaches, the edge this season goes to the Coach of the Year, Penn State's Joe Paterno. The bet is Penn State -9.

Rose-The Rose Bowl truly will be the Granddaddy this year as it will decide the national championship. There should be plenty of fireworks since Texas and USC are the highest scoring teams in the country.

If there is a statistical difference, it appears it would be on defense. Texas' defense owns the advantage at No. 6 in the nation, while USC's is middle-of-the-road.

This week, ESPN has been comparing USC to all the great teams in the history of college football, basically handing the Trojans their third consecutive title. That must be making the Texas players hungry, angry, and sick. The Longhorns are just as undefeated this year. Never has a school won three championships in a row. The picks are Texas +7 and on the money line, and over 71.


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