Category Archives: NCAAF

Heart of Dallas Bowl Against The Spread Pick

Heart of Dallas Bowl Against The Spread Pick

This year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl offers some feel good stories heading into the holiday season as the surprising, yet 4 point underdog Illinois Fighting Illini and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs enter the Heart of Dallas Bowl looking to cap off strong conclusions to the regular season with a Bowl win.

Not many people, present company included, predicted that the Illinois Fighting Illini would be invited to a bowl game just a month ago as they were just 4-6 heading into the final two-game stretch of the year. However, they overcame all odds and produced their first bowl berth under head-coach Tim Beckman.

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The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs had an easier road to the 2014 College Bowl season, as a five-game win streak in the middle of the season gave them an early edge.

Analyzing My Heart of Dallas Bowl Against The Spread Pick

Heart of Dallas Bowl
Illinois Illini vs Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Date: Dec. 26, 2014 
Start Time: 1:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Dallas, Texas
Stadium: Cotton Bowl
TV Info: ESPN
Stream Info: WatchESPN.com
Radio:  Illinois Vs  Louisiana Tech
Point Spread: Bulldogs -6
Game Total: 62

Illinois Will Win the Heart of Dallas Bowl If

The Fighting Irish get some competent play at quarterback!

The Fighting Illini reached six wins to become bowl game eligible, but this is a team with a bunch of holes – and not nearly enough duct tape to cover them. Still, it all starts for Illinois at quarterback. Senior quarterback Reilly O’Toole has been mediocre at best this season in tossing nine touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

 While O’Toole has thrown four touchdown passes and just one interception over his last two starts, he did toss five TD passes and six picks over his previous seven starts while leading the Fighting Illini to a dismal 1-5 SU mark over the span.

Louisiana Tech Will Win the Heart of Dallas Bowl If

They score at least 30 points and avoid the costly turnover!

If Louisiana Tech scores at least 30 points, they should easily win and cover the spread. Illinois has given up at least 30 points in every loss this season and the Bulldogs have reached that figure five times in their last eight games.

The good news for the Bulldogs is the fact that they have a very talented quarterback in Cody Sokol. The senior signal-caller has thrown 19 touchdowns passes over his last eight games, but there is one area of major concern – and that’s the fact that Sokol has tossed at least one pick in five straight games while going just two games all season without an interception.

Who Will Win the Heart of Dallas Bowl?

On paper, this bowl game pairing looks more like a mismatch than a matchup between two evenly matched teams and I believe Louisiana Tech is going to put a hurting on their ‘bigger name’ opponents in this one.

Louisiana Tech topped the 50 points plateau three times this season and hung a jaw-dropping 76 points on Rice on Nov. 29. The Fighting Illini just doesn’t have that kind of offensive firepower – nor do they have a very good defense. Louisiana Tech pounded the snot out of Illinois 52-24 the last time these two teams met in 2012 and I’m expecting another sound spanking for the Fighting Illini in this one.

The Heart of Dallas Bowl Pick: Louisiana Tech -6 Points

College Bowl Betting Odds & Picks

Boca Raton Bowl ATS Upset Pick

On December 23rd, 2014, the Northern Illinois Huskies will travel to senior-heaven Boca Raton, Florida, to take on the 11 point favorite Marshall Thundering Herd in the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl. The Huskies earned their trip to the game by winning the Mid-American Conference for the third time in the last four years with a 7-1 record and going 11-2 overall.

Could this game be the ATS upset pick of the 2014 Bowl season? Let’s find out.

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Boca Raton Bowl
Marshall Thundering Herd vs Northern Illinois Huskies
Date: Dec. 23, 2014 
Start Time: 6 p.m. ET 
Location:Boca Raton, Florida
Stadium: FAU Stadium
TV Info: ESPN
Stream Info: WatchESPN.com
Radio:  Marshall Vs  Northern Illinois
Point Spread: Thundering Herd -11
Game Total: 61.5

Marshall Will Win the Boca Raton Bowl If

They can keep Northern Illinois from scoring at will!

The Conference USA champion Thundering Herd may have gotten the lion’s share of their publicity for their prolific, high-scoring offense, but it is the team’s underrated defense that has been the foundation for success this season. Well…that and their exciting offense.

Anyway, the Herd gave up just 20.8 points per game this season (22nd) and they got throttled in their only loss of the season, giving up a whopping 67 points in their heartbreaking regular season-ending one-point loss to Western Kentucky.

Marshall’s powerful offense has also been put quite in check recently with the Thundering Herd getting held to 26 points or less in two of their last three games, so that Bears watching as well.

QB Rakeem Cato is completing 58.5 percent of his passes for 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Cato has nine touchdowns and five picks in his last two games. Tommy Shuler and Davonte Allen have combined for close to 1,500 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns while Deon-Tay McManus has six of his 24 receptions in his last two games.

Marshall’s ground game is averaging 6.9 yards per carry, as Devon Johnson leads the way with 1,636 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.

Defensively, the Marshall Thundering Herd are allowing 20.8 points, 351.8 yards, and they’ve forced 35 sacks and 22 turnovers. Neville Hewitt leads Marshall with 114 tackles and Arnold Blackmon has 13.5 tackles for loss.

Northern Illinois Will Win the Boca Raton Bowl If

They play defense like they have the have the last six weeks!

The Mid-American Conference champion Huskies will have to play defense like they have for the last six weeks if they want to keep Marshall’s explosive offense from going crazy against them.

Marshall ranked second in the nation in total offense (563.4 ypg) and an equally-impressive fifth in scoring (45.1 ppg) thanks to a well-balanced offense that finished 18th in passing and seventh in rushing.

If the Huskies want to pull off the upset and win this contest, they’ll have to start by keeping Marshall’s offense from going bonkers. The good news is that Northern Illinois has held each of their last half-dozen opponents to 24 points or less while holding three of those opponents to 17 points or less.

The Huskies gave up at least 34 points in each of their two losses this season, so that could be the amount of points they need to hold Marshall to less than.

QB Drew Hare is completing 59.9 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and two interceptions. Hare has six total touchdowns and one pick in his last two games. Catching the ball are Da’Ron Brown and Juwan Brescacin who have combined for more than 1,400 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns while Aregeros Turner has seven of his 33 receptions in his last two games. Northern Illinois’ ground game is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, as Cameron Stingily leads the way with 895 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

Defensively, the Northern Illinois Huskies are allowing 23.6 points, 382.9 yards, and have forced 30 sacks and 24 turnovers. Marlon Moore leads the Huskies with 93 tackles and Jason Meehan has 9.5 tackles for loss.

Who Will Win the Boca Raton Bowl?

The inaugural Boca Raton Bowl features two conference champions – and that in itself tells me that this will likely be a thrilling affair between two proud teams that comes down to the game’s final minutes.

Northern Illinois has plenty of momentum on their side as they ride a seven-game winning streak into this contest, but Marshall showed a lot of grit in bouncing back from their only loss of the regular season to beat Louisiana Tech in their conference title game showdown.

With Marshall struggling to score down the stretch and failing to cover the spread in three straight – and Northern Illinois catching fire at the same time – I say, not only will the Huskies cover the bowl game betting line as insane 10-point underdogs, but they’ll do so by getting the outright upset win.

Boca Raton Bowl Betting Pick: Northern Illinois +10 Points

College Bowl Betting Odds & Picks

Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl Betting Line

The invitees to the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl get a free trip the island country of consisting of more than 700 islands with the Central Michigan Chippewas from the MAC division facing the one field-goal favorite Western Kentucky Hilltoppers from the Conference USA division will face off on Wednesday, December 24, at 12 PM EST on ESPN in the Popeyes’ Bahamas Bowl.

Central Michigan finished the season 7–5 after a disappointing 2–3 start that saw them lose three straight games during the month of September. Western Kentucky also finished the season 7–5, with their season-saving win coming in a monumental upset over the then undefeated Marshall Thundering Herd. 

Analyzing The Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl Betting Line

Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs Central Michigan Chippewas
Date: Dec. 24, 2014 
Start Time: 1:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Nassau, Bahamas
Stadium:
TV Info: ESPN
Radio:  Western Kentucky Vs  Central Michigan
Point Spread: Hilltoppers -3
Game Total: 65

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Central Michigan Will Win the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl If…

They can score at least 28 points and win the turnover battle!

28 points would seem to be the magic number for Central Michigan if they want to have any chance of upsetting the high-scoring Hilltoppers. The Chippewas averaged a pedestrian 25.2 points per game this season, and won just two games while scoring less than 28 points.

And speaking of numbers…if Western Michigan gets 32 points or more….this game is likely a lock seeing as how Central Michigan gave up 32 points or more in all five of their losses.

Western Kentucky has lost just once in their last five games – when they lost the turnover battle against Louisiana Tech, so if the Chippewas can force more turnovers than they give away, that would help their chances immensely.

Western Kentucky Will Win the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl If…

They don’t give up 42 points or more!

Western Kentucky can score the ball like crazy and are an absolute lock – if they don’t give up at least 42 points.

Why 42 points?

Because that’s the minimum amount of points they allowed in all five of their losses. Western Kentucky ranked sixth in the nation in total offense and an identical sixth in scoring (44.0 ppg), thanks mostly to their stellar third-ranked passing attack (365.0 ypg).

Outscoring the Hilltoppers is a tough proposition, but then again, this is the same team that lost to the likes of lowly Florida Atlantic, UAB, Middle Tennessee and a pitiful Illinois team this season. 

Who Will Win the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl?

Central Michigan has a very good defense that held a very good Northern Illinois team to just 17 points in October, but I just don’t see them stopping Western Kentucky’s highly explosive offense in this bowl game battle.

The Hilltoppers have momentum on their side too after winning each of their last four games, including their spine-tingling 67-66 overtime win over previously unbeaten Marshall in their regular season finale.

Western Kentucky wins and wins going away!

The Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl Pick: Western Kentucky -3 Points