Welcome back, and thanks for checking out the Gamble-Tron’s final edition for 2022. Once again, it seems like yesterday that we were inventing WSU props from whole cloth and trying to guess whether Pac-12 teams would exceed win total expectations or stink up the joint.
/ cough cough Colorado
But as usual, the season went by in a flash, and now we’re trying to figure who’s playing who, where the game is taking place, and what we should get our wife for Christmas. Wait, it’s not Christmas Eve yet, so scratch that last one. But before we do the equivalent of throwing darts with our non-dominant hand while wearing a blindfold, we’ll take a quick look back at the season that was.
Much like WSU defense in the Apple Cup, our performance during rivalry week was disastrous. Seems like that’s becoming a tradition. And no, I’m not just writing about WSU’s near-annual Apple Cup bed-wetting, as we tried to ruin an otherwise successful season in 2021 with a terrible final week. What’s worse, we kept throwing bad money after really bad money, and ended up 8-17, which put a dent in the season winning percentage, not to mention the ego.
HOWEVA, we still did pretty darn well, especially when adding in our season total predictions.
2022 Over/Under Win totals: 13-7-2
2022 Picks Against the Spread: 120-102
2022 Winning Percentage: 55%
We’re not going to include bowl picks in our season, because they are increasingly their own subset. In the past, all a prospective action-haver needed to figure out was which team had more motivation, and that was more than half the gambling battle. And it was still damn near impossible to predict the actual winner of the game, let alone against the point spread! Now? Good luck, player. Transfers, bowl-skippers, injuries, accelerated coaching changes and the like have made bowl predictions a virtual impossibility.
(Here’s where I won’t mention that the Gamble-Tron went 9-3 in last year’s bowl predictions. Nope, not gonna say anything about it.)
But like most people, we’re just here for the cash, and so we’re writing one final column for 2022, trying to figure out what the hell is going to happen between December 17 and January something-or-other.
All odds courtesy of DraftKings.
Jimmy Kimmel (who triggers a certain group of people which is hilarious) L.A. Bowl Brought to You by Guillermo’s Corporate Security
Fresno State Bulldogs vs. Washington State Cougars (+3)
The Cougs play in the Pac-12’s lid-lifter for the first time since 2013. Wait, they didn’t have a bowl game in 2013, so I guess this is the first time WSU (one of just three Pac-10 bowl participants that year!) opens conference bowl play since the Aloha Bowl on Christmas Day back in 1988. Semi-interestingly, Fresno State opened bowl season in 1988, too, beating Western Michigan 35-30 in something called the California Bowl, which took place in Fresno’s home stadium and definitely was not invented to get the Bulldogs into a bowl game.
As far as this season, WSU has a bunch of guys who decided that playing with their teammates one last time was overrated. On the other side, Fresno’s best player, and Mountain West first-team all-conference quarterback Jake Haener still cares, and is starting for the Bulldogs. Not good, Bob! Couple that with WSU’s annual tendency to face plant in the postseason, and you get a pretty easy call.
The Pick: Fresno / Over 53
Las Vegas Bowl
Why do I get the feeling that Florida has less than zero interest in this game, while the Beavers will be fired up to play? Plus, Florida’s quarterback and best player, Anthony Richardson, isn’t playing because reasons. I know the Beavers are more excited to be there, and I know Florida is playing a bunch of bench players, but dang, 10 points?
The Pick: Florida / Under 53
Back in the day, the Holiday was almost always guaranteed to be entertaining as hell. Then WSU showed up and played multiple stinkers. This one, though, could be a callback to the old days when some random WAC team was scoring 48 and giving up 50. Both of these offenses can put up points, and both of these defenses tend to let offenses put up points.
The Pick: Oregon
Bijan Robinson isn’t playing. His backup isn’t playing. The backup! Too good for a bowl game! Anyway, as far as I know, everyone from Washington’s team is playing in the Sark Bowl presented by Joey’s. Give me those points.
The Pick: Washington / Over 67.5
Pitt Panthers vs. UCLA Bruins (-6)
In its last two Sun Bowl appearances, UCLA has won 50-38 and 42-12. Pitt? Yikes. The Panthers think that southern border wall is a real thing, having scored a total of 13 points, including an epic 3-0 loss to Oregon State in 2008. It appears that Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet are playing in the Sun Bowl. Hang on. Good players? On a Pac-12 team? Playing in the bowl game? OH MY GOD I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WAS ALLOWED! DO THEY EVEN CARE ABOUT THEIR FUTURES?!
The Pick: UCLA
Tulane Green Wave vs. USC Trojans (-2)
Imagine seeing this NY6 matchup, accompanied by this line, in mid-October. One has to think that the short spread is baking in Caleb Williams’ likely absence, as hamstring injuries are notoriously finicky. Even so, USC has to beat Tulane by at least a field goal, right? RIGHT??!! One advantage USC has is that Lincoln Riley faced Tulane last season, so he knows what to expect. The bad news? Tulane scored 35 points in that game. Grinch for the Broyles Award!
The Pick: USC / Over 62
A few key players missing in this one, including the best defensive backs on both sides. While Ohio State said, “thanks, but no thanks” to the Tournament of Roses, Penn State is damn sure excited to be there. Utah is, too, and this should be a tight game. In that case, give me the field goal.
The Pick: Mount Nittany / Under 54
Turns out Alabama has guys who actually care enough to play in a “meaningless” bowl game, including two (Bryce Young and Will Anderson) who are surefire Top 10 NFL Draft picks. I didn’t even know that was allowed anymore!
The Pick: Tide
EDIT: Let’s empty the barrel - Illinois +4, Under 46 / LSU -14.5
And if you just can’t wait til Saturday to get some action on bowl games, there are two on Friday, December 16! It wouldn’t be bowl season without a MAC team playing a team from whatever conference UAB plays in. The Blazers are laying 10.5 against Miami of Ohio in a Friday matinee. Later on, there’s actually a really good matchup in the...Cure Bowl? That’s right! UTSA faces off against Troy in a battle of ranked teams! I can guarantee you that there has never been a bowl in mid-December which featured two teams in the Top 25. As one would expect, this is a tight line, with the RoadRunners giving a point.
You know you want some action on that! I do!
Happy Gambling, and thanks once again for reading this season.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.