Hello, Coug fans, and welcome to the Gamble-Tron's final shot at college football fake betting glory in 2014. We finished down a bit over the course of the regular season, but that's in the past. We are planning on getting a hefty Christmas bonus this year, so why not waste it all on the whims of college kids? Plus, those bowl pools are no fun. Take it from someone who played them for 15 years and barely won anything.
Having to predict the winners of over 35 games is an exercise in futility, let alone picking winners against the spread. Therefore, we've narrowed it down to the bowl games involving Pac-12 teams. Why is it nearly impossible to predict these games? The reasons are too many to go over, but motivation almost always seems to be the primary one. Which team wants to be there? Which team just wants the season to be over (cough, both teams in Shreveport, cough)? Which players are going through the motions and waiting to leave school? It's maddening.
Since those bowl pools are nearly always won by people who have next to zero football knowledge, who often pick winners based on nicer locale or more appealing team colors, we're switching things up for our bowl predictions. My two boys, ages six and three, are going to give out their winners. If they don't agree, I'll step in and break the tie. If they do agree, I might write a slight counter to their pick. I'm pretty sure that I'll be in line for "Dad of the Year" for introducing my two kids to the wonderful world of sports gambling.
As mentioned earlier, the Gamble-Tron received a pretty nice fake Christmas bonus this year, a whopping $2,000! Therefore, we're betting it all on the bowls. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to play along, and you all have the same budget to spread out among the eight games as you see fit. The more the merrier. Away we go...
Las Vegas Bowl: Utah (-3) vs. Colorado State
We have our first disagreement right out of the gate! Since I'm still suffering flashbacks from Colorado State's last bowl game, my mind is a bit clouded here. Colorado State boasts one of the nation's top passers in Garrett Grayson, along with Biletnikoff Award finalist Rashard Higgins. However, they lost their coach to Florida. Also, I think Utah's defensive line is stout enough to slow Dee Hart.
The Pick: $250 on Utah
Sun Bowl: Arizona State (-7.5) vs Duke
There is no logical reason why this games should be close, which is exactly why it will be. ASU was playing for a spot in the Pac-12 title game a couple weeks ago, and now they're playing in...El Paso? I spent a month there one night. Duke will keep this game close.
The Pick: $250 on Duke
Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. USC (-6)
Another disagreement here, as Carson doesn't care that Nebraska just lost its foulmouthed coach, he's going with the Big Ten anyway. I was stunned when I read that USC has never been here. If there's one thing we know, it's that Steve Sarkisian knows how to beat a bad Nebraska quarterback in San Diego. There must be a Joey's near Jack Murphy Stadium.
The Pick: $400 on USC
Foster Farms Bowl: Maryland vs. Stanford (-14)
The boys both like Stanford and so do I. 14 seems like a lot of points to eat given Stanford's offensive ineptitude this year, but if you watched Maryland, it doesn't seem like much of a gamble. I will be pretty surprised if Maryland scores more than 13 points. The only question here is that motivation bugaboo, as the Cardinal are used to playing in BCS bowls, and this ain't that. Still, I think they win pretty easily. Also, yes, I realize that the game is actually in Santa Clara.
The Pick: $150 on Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona (-3.5)
I'm thinking the same thing as the two boys here. Boise State, as usual, didn't exactly play a murderer's row schedule this year. Arizona was probably the most pleasant surprise in the conference, and they're playing the first BCS game in program history. Plus, it's practically a home game. Anu Solomon has some time to heal up, and the Wildcats win.
The Pick: $300 on Arizona
Alamo Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA (pk)
I don't know about you, but I get 2012 Holiday Bowl flashbacks whenever I think about this game. The odds-makers must have seen the same thing when the line opened at 3.5 in favor of Kansas State. I'm pretty surprised that this line has shifted so much, and that tells me that my initial instinct is right. Kansas State is going to play its usual brand of football. UCLA? Well, that's the rub. No one has any earthly idea what UCLA will do. It makes sense that Carson went with UCLA, since I never have any idea what he's going to do either. Like UCLA this season, it tends to be what I don't want him to do.
The Pick: $200 on Kansas State
Cactus Bowl: Washington (-5.5) vs. Oklahoma State
This one required two takes for a multitude of reasons, one of which will be painfully obvious.
Now that I've officially failed as a parent, let's try this again.
Further investigation revealed that Jackson, for some reason, thought I was talking about Clemson and not UW. I can neither confirm nor deny that there was a cattle prod involved in the making of that second Cactus Bowl video. Anyhoo, I vehemently disagree with the boys here. Oklahoma State is possibly the worst Power Five team still playing (non-B1G division). The main reason they're here is because Tyreek Hill rescued them against Oklahoma. In case you haven't heard, he's (rightfully) not on the team anymore.
Meanwhile, Washington has feasted on bad teams this year. They kind of had to, since they didn't beat a team with a winning record all season. I was stunned when I saw that a team with three (!!!) first-team All-Americans could only scratch out an 8-5 record. Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it one more time for Cyler Miles! Plus, it's not like that defense with said All-Americans was dominant this season. Regardless, I don't see any way Oklahoma State keeps this close. Oh well, how can I go against those two faces?
The Pick: $100 on Oklahoma State
Florida State vs. Oregon (-9.5)
I know the boys are Pac-12 homers, but I have to disagree here. In fairness to them, these predictions were made before we were made aware of Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's season-ending knee injury. Florida State has shown a penchant all season for getting down early and coming back to win. They've done it against all manner of teams, from Boston College to Clemson. I don't see any way that Oregon runs away with this game, especially against a team full of guys with national championship experience. Oregon will win, but it'll be close. Sorry boys, but I'm exercising some veto power.
The Pick: $350 on Florida State
Once again, thanks to all of you who read this column throughout the season, especially the folks who played along. Here is your final chance to show everyone your handicapping acumen until next fall. Sigh.