Good morning, Cougar fans. I hope you're all doing ok after the first Saturday without football since August. Yeah, I know the Army-Navy game was pretty good, and there were FCS playoffs and all, but it wasn't the same. Saturdays without football are far less fun. The good news? We get three more Saturdays with multiple college football games. Sure, those games include the likes of Ohio and Appalachian State facing off in something called the Camellia Bowl, but still.
Of the 10 bowl games involving Pac-12 teams, seven of them will take place on Saturdays, with only Cal, USC and Stanford playing on other days. What does this all mean? It means the next few weekends are our final chance to get in some action on our favorite conference. So let's take a look at the betting lines and give our initial thoughts.
For the four or five of you who are waiting to see how the Gamble-Tron forecasts the bowl games, fear not. We will be back next week with those picks. However, due to some anticipated production issues, we will only make our picks for the first two games here. Look for a post including the rest of the games next week, with two or three special guest pickers. We will also publish the final week's results in that column. Hint: The Gamble-Tron's picks went, um, poorly. Away we go.
New Mexico Bowl - Arizona vs. New Mexico (Arizona -9/-110, New Mexico +9/-110): Well, this isn't exactly a great way to come out of the gate. This line opened at 11.5, and quickly dropped below 10. New Mexico has been a revelation, winning seven games under Bob Davie.The last time Arizona was here, they needed an absolute miracle to beat Nevada. They were unquestionably more talented that time, too.
As with many of these games, it's a case of talent versus motivation. Normally, you'd think that a team playing a bowl game at its home stadium wouldn't actually be excited about it, but the Lobos haven't been to a bowl game in ages. On the other side, Arizona was in the Fiesta Bowl last season. Think they're excited to play in Albuquerque next Saturday? Me neither.
The Pick: $110 on Los Lobos
Las Vegas Bowl - BYU vs. Utah (BYU +2.5/-105, Utah -2.5/115): This has become a de facto home game for BYU, as their fans had a week's head start on buying up tickets. On the other side, Utah's fans are up in arms. First, they are upset that they were passed over by the other bowls in the pecking order. Next, they somehow think they magically became superior to BYU since they joined the Pac-12. The emails in Stewart Mandel's weekly mailbag column are pretty damn funny.
Also, I think it's comical that Utah fans are calling their team Pac-12 South Co-Champs even though they went 2-3 in the division, and lost to the team tied with them in the standings. I know it's technically true that they tied for first place, but they seem to be taking that pretty seriously.
As for this game, it should be pretty entertaining. Bronco Mendenhall will be on the sidelines for BYU before he heads to Virginia. WSU fans know a little about how that could turn out. Still, I think BYU's team will play hard for Mendenhall, and I think BYU wins a tight one. Once Mendenhall heads east, get ready for Ken Niumatalolo to take his place. Also Travis Wilson still stinks.
The Pick: $105 on BYU
Sun Bowl - Miami vs. WSU: WSU opened at -1.5, and the line has since gone up to 2.5 or three, depending on where you look. I think the smart play is the over 62. We'll see.
Heart of Dallas Bowl - Washington vs. Southern Miss: Opened at UW -8.5 and has held steady. If UW doesn't win this game by at least two touchdowns, they should have to walk back home.
Foster Farms Bowl - UCLA vs. Nebraska: This line opened up at UCLA -6.5, and hasn't moved. I may be crazy, but that seems at least a point low. Nebraska has lost lots of close games, but those losses include Purdue and Illinois. Nebraska is not a good team.
Armed Forces Bowl - Cal vs. Air Force: Cal opened as 6.5 favorites, and the line now stands at seven. That is likely due to the complete mismatch that is the Cal offense against the USAFA defense. Still, I like Air Force so much here that I'm prepared to propose.
Holiday Bowl - USC vs. Wisconsin: The line opened at USC -3 and hasn't budged. This may be the toughest call on the board. Wisconsin has no quarterback, which doesn't help. USC was here last year, and will undoubtedly expect the Badgers to fold as soon as the Trojan helmets appear. We shall see.
Rose Bowl - Stanford vs. Iowa: I can not wait to watch this game. The line favors Stanford anywhere from six to seven, depending on where you look. This game will be very close.
Alamo Bowl - TCU vs. Oregon: This is one of the tightest games on the board, as Vegas currently has it at a Pick 'em. As with the Rose Bowl, I can't wait to watch this game. There should be a bazillion points scored.
Cactus Bowl - Arizona State vs. West Virginia: Along with the Alamo Bowl, this one is dead even. Along with the Alamo Bowl I expect points upon points, which should make for maximum entertainment. It's just a shame that nobody outside Pacific and Mountain time will watch it.
So there are your Pac-12 bowl games from a gambling angle. We'll be back later with more picks.
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