Welcome to the post season edition of the Gamble-Tron. We had a decent regular season, even though it ended on a pretty terrible note during rivalry week. But like the great Bill Belichick is fond of saying, we're on to the bowl games. If you think that betting on 18-22 year-old young men is an exercise in futility over the course of the fall, the bowls take that to a level miles beyond the comings and goings of September through November.
Bowl games are goofy, and there is absolutely no tried and true method of predicting them. There are teams whose head coach and/or multiple assistants have left, leaving an interim coach to run things. There are players who already have school in the rearview mirror, whether it's because they don't have the grades, are planning to transfer or have their eyes on the NFL. Then there are the Robert Nkemdiches of the world, who decide to do really dumb stuff and get themselves suspended.
There are hundreds of variables, and we're supposed to figure out which teams will play better? Ugh. On the other hand, betting on these games makes them much more fun to watch! So let's see if we can go at least .500, which would be a remarkable accomplishment. Also, once again, we have some special guests making picks of their own.
Rivalry Week: 3-5 (Yes, I'm taking credit for the G-Prep prediction) / -$460
Early Bowls: 1-1 / -$5
Season Total: 56-43-2 / 4-6 / $1110
Why I'm already a genius: New Mexico is not a very good team. On the other hand, neither is Arizona. The most entertaining part about the New Mexico Bowl was watching Anu Solomon make awful throw after awful throw, and complete most of them! That's how bad the New Mexico defense is. This was backdoor cover city, and we will take it!
Why I'm already an idiot: What if I told you that BYU would outscore Utah 28-0 in the final 48 minutes, yet would never have the ball with a chance to tie the game?! Unbelievable. As I told Jeff Nusser on Sunday, this was the bowliest bowl game ever. BYU proved in one afternoon that you can't win a game in the first quarter, but you sure as hell can lose it. Yuck.
Now, we move forward. Last bowl season, after the Gamble-Tron suffered a particularly awful year, I decided to let my two young sons pick these games to prove that knowledge of the sport means absolutely zero when it comes to this exercise. As proof, my then-three year-old went 6-2 against the spread. My then-six year-old went 5-3, and old dad went 4-4, because of course.
This year, in addition to Jackson and Carson, we're rolling in cousin Tyson via the miracle of internet technology. Tyson is a Pullman resident and die-hard Coug. Though he hasn't yet seen his sixth birthday, he already lives and dies with the Cougars and Seahawks. He also knows more about sports than his dad. I had to put half a bottle of whisky on the table to honor our friend Kyle Sherwood's 2015 brown liquor renaissance. So, without further adieu, let's turn the floor over to the experts.
Sun Bowl - Miami vs. WSU (Miami +2.5/-110, WSU -2.5/-110):
No surprise that we had a consensus pick for the Cougs. These kids have been brainwashed to a level greater than that of the Manchurian Candidate. No way I'm going against the crowd on this one.
The Pick: $220 on WSU
Heart of Dallas Bowl - Southern Miss vs. Washington (USM +8.5/-110, UW -8.5/-110):
Jackson displayed the pro move of betting with your head and not your heart. I'm with him here. I'll be rooting for Southern Miss, but I think UW will have the walk-ons in before the fourth quarter starts.
The Pick: $110 on UW
Foster Farms Bowl - UCLA vs. Nebraska (UCLA -6.5/-115, Nebraska +6.5/-105):
For me, this is (for reasons still unknown) the toughest call on the board. At the end of the day, I'm going with talent over whatever motivation a bad team that gets to leave Nebraska in the middle of winter will have.
The Pick: $115 on UCLA
Armed Forces Bowl - Cal vs. Air Force (Cal -7/-110, USAFA +7/-110):
I said a couple weeks ago that I love Air Force so much that I'm prepared to propose to them. Lots of Cal players with their eyes on the NFL will be making business decisions in this one. On the other side, the only thing the Zoomies have to look forward to are multiple deployments to places you never want to find yourself.
The Pick: OFF WE GOOOO INTO THE WILD BLUE YONDER, FLYING HIGH INTO THE SUN! for $110
Holiday Bowl - USC vs. Wisconsin (USC -3/-120, Wisconsin +3/+100):
I don't care if Wisconsin has been playing without a quarterback, they're far more happy to be here. Sometimes, that makes all the difference. Oh, and look at that value on Bucky!
The Pick: $100 on Wisconsin
Rose Bowl - Iowa vs. Stanford (Iowa +6.5/-110, Stanford -6.5/-110):
I think Iowa will win. I want Iowa to win. If Iowa wins, I'll be able to say that I'm an alumnus of a school that won the Rose Bowl. Sure, it might not be the school I really really want to win it, but still. Go Hawks.
The Pick: $110 on Herky and the boys. There is still no beer in heaven.
Alamo Bowl - Oregon vs. TCU (Pick 'em, -110):
Ok, maybe this is the toughest call on the board. I'm not gonna lie, I can't wait to watch this game. It is gonna be so fun to watch Vernon Adams and Trevone Boykin play Super Tecmo Bowl against eachother for 60 minutes. I think Josh Doctson's absence will be the difference.
The Pick: $110 on Oregon
Cactus Bowl - West Virginia vs. Arizona State (WV -1/-110, ASU +1/-110):
This should be another fun game. Both teams have suffered a bevy of injuries on defense. ASU recently lost its offensive coordinator to Memphis. I'm not gonna lie, I'm taking West Virginia solely because Dana Holgorson is so cool. That's as good a reason as any during bowl season.
The Pick: $110 on West Virgina
Orange Bowl - Oklahoma vs. Clemson (Oklahoma -3.5/-110, Clemson +3.5/-110):
Although the boys didn't offer a ton of analysis here, I agree with them. Yes, Oklahoma has Baker Mayfield and some studs in the backfield. However, Clemson has Deshaun Watson and a really good defense. The coordinator of that defense used to coach at Oklahoma. Think he wants to stick it to his old bosses? Plus, I've stood on Clemson's field, and I've never stood on Oklahoma's.
The Pick: $110 on Clemson
Cotton Bowl - Michigan State vs. Alabama (MSU +9.5-110, Alabama -9.5/-110):
Mark Dantonio has an outstanding record as an underdog in big games. So you're going to give me 9.5 points? Where do I sign!? Alabama has an outstanding defensive line, and some exceptional linebackers, such as Reggie Ragland. No matter. Sparty finds a way to keep this one close, if not win it.
The Pick: $110 on Michigan State