Bowling Green ended their season with a terrific 8-2 SU and ATS run, and seriously peaked at the right time, so it’s only logical that you back them alongside me with my Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl free pick. They finished off their last three opponents by an average winning margin of +26.3 points per game. Northern Illinois was previously believed to be unbeatable in the MAC, but the Falcons ripped them apart 47-27 to claim the conference title.
Their overall spread record of 10-3 ATS was also a conference best, and they maintained status as a huge value play throughout the year. Not too many people made scratch off this team because they’re very much a fringe play, but this team can run with the best of them. Bowling Green averaged 207.5 yards on the ground thanks to the shifty Travis Greene, who tallied 1,555 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Johnson wasn’t electrifying, but posted 3,195 yards through the air as well. This team is as balanced as they come, which is why they get the early lean in my Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl free pick.
The one reason to watch Pittsburgh this year has been quarterback Tom Savage, a highly touted NFL prospect who has a relatively full tool box. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, with a great overall character, Savage will probably come out of the draft evaluation process smelling like roses despite the fact that Pittsburgh was a rotten bet throughout the year. Savage had 2,834 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 9 picks but completed 61.2 percent of his passes.
There’s a part of me that likes Savage’s potential, but the handicapper in me sees no reason to leverage them in my Little Caesar’s Bowl free pick. The Panthers went just 5-7 ATS on the season, and this offense never really found its rhythm. It didn’t help matters that the defense gave up 27.2 points per game, and they are very vulnerable overall. Making things worse is the fact that Bowling Green will be able to pull back their secondary to hedge against Savage, as I expect the Falcons to run out to an early lead and stay there. I mean this both figuratively and literally.
The only reason you wouldn’t follow my lead with this Little Caesars Pizza Bowl free pick is because of the curiously shallow line. That has as much to do with this being an intra-conference matchup between a team from the MAC and the more respected ACC. But Pittsburgh isn’t one of those teams you can count on, and Bowling Green has become one of the more complete teams on the market. They’re riding high at the right moment and have a balanced attack, and a pretty good defense, that can stymie Tom Savage and the Panthers.