ESPN will soon be reminding college football fans that this is “the most wonderful time of the year,” with 35 bowl games crammed into a 17-day period. From the Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 21) to the Vizio BCS National Championship (Jan. 6), there will be plenty of opportunities to ignore your family during the holiday season.
Thirty-five games means 56 percent of the 125 schools in Division 1-A will be in action, another way of saying you have to be really bad to not get in a bowl. As it is, some of the coaches who made it will get fired anyway.
Ten percent of schools made the cut with 6-6 records (including Washington State and Oregon State from the Pac 12), but at least no school with a losing record made it. That could change with the addition of three more games next year.
Nobody in his right mind will watch all of the games (Do you really care about Louisiana Lafayette vs. Tulane?), but plenty of people love to bet on the games. As a service to loyal readers of this blog (and because I’m going to do it anyway), I’ll list some games I think are worth betting on next week.
In the mean time, here are some angles you might want to consider as you do your own handicapping. (Remember: The following pertains to point spread winners, not outright winners.):
THE BIG TEN IS OVERRATED
It’s hard to take seriously a conference that can’t count (it actually has 12 schools). Its schools do poorly in bowl games because the conference is weak, a fact that’s masked by the lame non-conference schedules they play. You can bet that most of the following teams will come out on the short-end of the point spread:
Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan St., and Ohio St.
The Buckeyes remind me that:
SEVERAL SCHOOLS ARE DISAPPOINTED
Every year, several schools with high hopes of making a major bowl suffer a late defeat that lands them in a mid-level or worse game. There are other schools that think they were robbed and deserve to be in a more prestigious game.
Either way, it will be difficult for them to get up for their bowl game, and some will just go through the motions. Schools that are vulnerable to this trap include Ohio St., Fresno St., Northern Illinois, Oregon, Arizona St., Wisconsin, and Alabama. Pay attention to the comments of players and coaches.
Don’t be in a hurry to bet your money, because you can be sure that some coaches will be fired or leave for better jobs, at least two or three key players will be injured in practice, and even more players will be sent home for getting in trouble. Trouble always seems to plague schools that play bowl games in New Orleans (two games) and Florida (six).
SUPPORT OUR MILITARY
On the other hand, the military academies tend to be good bets in bowl games because they’re focused on the goal and in bed by curfew. Navy is the only one that made the cut this year, playing Middle Tennessee State in the Armed Forces Bowl.