With Christmas come and gone, it is time to look toward the New Year and more of my expert college bowl picks for the blue chip college football bowl games! The two College Football Playoff Semifinal games, the Rose Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl, kick-off in prime time, but before then are the Outback, Cotton and Citrus bowls.
Analyzing My Blue Chip College Bowl Game Expert Picks
No. 19 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers
When: Thursday, Jan. 1 at 12:00 pm ET
TV: ESPN 2
Betting Line: Auburn -6.5
Analysis: Auburn’s 8 and 4 straight up record really isn’t all that bad considering that the Tigers played against some of the best teams in the nation including Kansas State, whom they beat, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Mississippi State, LSU and Alabama.
— Outback Bowl (@outbackbowl) December 28, 2014
But the Tigers’ against the spread record has been terrible this season. The Tigers are only 4 and 8 ATS while Wisconsin wasn’t much better at 5 and 8.
The big difference between these two teams is that the Badgers are one-dimensional on offense, while QB Nick Marshall for Auburn is capable of throwing touchdown passes and also rushing for touchdowns and yards. The balance on offense should carry the day for the Tigers who are 5 and 1 against the spread in their last 6 bowl games.
Expert Outback Bowl Pick: Auburn -6.5
No. 8 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 5 Baylor Bears
When: Thursday, Jan. 1 at 12:30 pm ET
Betting Line: Baylor -3
Analysis: In some sportsbooks, the line has gone down by a half a point to Baylor -2.5. What’s interesting about that is the fact that over 60% of football handicappers believe that Baylor will cover the spread in this game.
— Cotton Bowl Classic (@CottonBowlGame) December 27, 2014
As opposed to the Outback Bowl where both participants haven’t been good at covering the spread this season, Michigan State and Baylor are covering giants. The Spartans went 8 and 4 against the spread this season while Baylor went 7-4-1 against the spread. Both Baylor and Michigan State have very good offenses.
The Bears average 48.8 points per game while Michigan State averages 43 points per game. MSU’s defense is better though, teams average less than 300 yards per game against it, and is the pick in this matchup.
Expert Cotton Bowl Pick: Michigan State +3
No. 16 Missouri Tigers at No. 25 Minnesota Gophers
When: Thursday, Jan. 1 at 1:00 pm ET
Betting Line: Missouri -4.5
Analysis: Missouri is getting the benefit of the doubt by football handicappers mainly because they played in the SEC. But, pay closer attention and a case can definitely be made for Minnesota to win this game straight up.
If you are still in Minnesota or Missouri (or not Orlando) this weekend, we are just going to leave this here… pic.twitter.com/ygilhzu0v7
— BWW Citrus Bowl (@BWWCitrusBowl) December 27, 2014
Mizzou played in the SEC East, the lesser of the two divisions in the conference. Alabama blew out the Tigers in the SEC Championship game, 42 to 13, and Minnesota is no slouch of a team. The Tigers allowed 135 yards per game on the ground while the Gophers averaged 224.6 yards per game.
Minnesota went 8 and 4 ATS this season. The Gophers were also 5 and 0 against the spread versus teams with winning records and are 5 and 1 against the spread in their last 6 games following an ATS victory. Minnesota is the pick in the Citrus Bowl.
Citrus Bowl Expert Pick: Minnesota +4.5
No. 2 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 3 Florida State Seminoles
When: Thursday, Jan. 1 at 5:00 pm ET
Betting Line: Oregon -9
Analysis: Before top Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu went down with a knee injury in practice, the Ducks were up to a -10 point favorite against Florida State. They’re still a -9 point favorite, meaning that most football handicappers really believe that QB Marcus Mariota is going to do enough for Oregon to essentially blow out Florida State.
— Rose Bowl Game (@rosebowlgame) December 9, 2014
It’s hard to argue against the Ducks covering this spread. Oregon has gone 8 and 0 against the spread in their last 8 games. They’ve covered spreads above 17 points in 4 out of those 8 games. Mariota has thrown only 2 interceptions this season while his counterpart in this, Jameis Winston, has thrown 17 picks.
Florida State’s defense can be exploited. Oregon should roll in this matchup.
Rose Bowl Expert Pick: Oregon -9
No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
When: Thursday, Jan. 1 at 8:30 pm ET
Betting Line: Alabama -9
Analysis: Two of the most storied teams in college football history square off in the second College Football Playoff Semifinal game on January 1 in the Sugar Bowl.
— Allstate Sugar Bowl (@SugarBowlNola) December 7, 2014
Alabama, the consensus number one ranked team in the nation, battles the fourth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Alabama’s senior QB, Blake Sims, has been very good this season. A lot of Sims’ success has to do with the fact that he’s thrown more than a few passes to Amari Cooper, the best wide receiver in the nation.
Ohio State is the epitome of a team with heart. The Buckeyes will start their third string quarterback, Cardale Jones in this game. Jones was great against Wisconsin’s defense, but it’s hard to see him doing much against Alabama. The Crimson Tide is allowing only 88.4 yards per game on the ground and less than 17 points.
Alabama should do more than enough to cover this spread.
Sugar Bowl Expert Pick: Alabama -9