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Plenty of college bowl games over the holiday week



For The Recorder
Friday, December 22, 2017

The 2017-18 college bowl season includes 20 games during the next seven days. The rundowns of this week’s match-ups include regular season records and records against the spread, together with the point spreads and over/under. Picks are against the spread and for entertainment purposes only.

Today’s Games

Birmingham Bowl Noon, ESPN

Legion Field, Birmingham

Texas Tech (6-6) vs. S. Fla (9-2)

Line: So. Florida by 2½ (67.5)

ATS: (Tex Tech 6-5-1; USF 5-6)

SCOUTING REPORT: USF’s preseason aspirations were derailed by losses to Houston and Central Florida. QB Quinton Flowers took 502 snaps and accounted for 325 yards a game by land and by air. As he goes, so go the one dimensional Bulls. … Tech senior Nic Shimonek threw for 30 TDs with eight pics; his 156.0 passing efficiency is 11th best in the FBS. After being inexplicably benched for the season finale against Texas, he rallied the Red Raiders from a 23-13 fourth quarter deficit to a 27-23 win.

PICK: SO. FLORIDA

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

Army  (9-3) vs. San Diego St. (10-2)

Line: S.D. State by 7 (46.5)

ATS: (Army 6-6; SDSU 8-4)

SCOUTING REPORT: SDSU’s Rashaad Penny leads the nation in rushing and all purpose yards, a one-man show. … Army led the nation in rushing with its top heavy ground game; Aztecs were eighth in stopping the rush. … Knights led the nation in third down conversions (52 percent) and were 16-for-25 on fourth down attempts; Aztecs stopped opponents in all but two of 16 fourth down conversion attempts.

PICK: SDSU

Dollar General Bowl 7, ESPN

Ladd-Peebles Stad, Mobile, Ala.

App. St. (8-4) vs. Toledo (10-2)

Line: Toledo by 7½ (62.5)

ATS: (App. State 4-7; Toledo 7-5)

SCOUTING REPORT: Rockets one of just four FBS teams that averaged more than 20 points in the second half. QB Logan Woodside holds school records for passing yards, touchdowns and passing efficiency;  tossed 28 TDs with five interceptions this season. … App. State’s strength-of-schedule ranked 121st and resulted in easy wins against Savannah State, Georgia Southern, Coastal Carolina, … Losses to UMass and UL Monroe revealed a lack of the discipline it had under coach Jerry Moore when it won three consecutive I-AA titles. … Toledo is celebrating its centennial season of football, and the Rockets want to atone for last year’s 31-28 loss to App. State in the Camellia Bowl.

PICK: TOLEDO

Sunday

Hawai'i Bowl, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu

Houston (7-4) vs. Fresno State (9-4)

Line: Houston by 2½ (49.5)

 ATS: (Houston  6-5; Fresno St. 10-2-1)

SCOUTING REPORT: Beware Fresno State defense that allowed just 17.2 points per game, ninth fewest in the FBS. … Houston has a passing problem: Kyle Postema, D’Eriq King and Kyle Allen have combined for 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions but the Cougars have won four of their last five games, including against So. Florida and Memphis, No. 19 at the time.

PICK: HOUSTON

Tuesday

Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

Cotton Bowl, Dallas

W. Virginia (7-5) vs. Utah (6-6)

Line: Utah by 7 (56.5)

ATS: (West Va. 5-7; Utah 8-3-1)

SCOUTING REPORT: Underachiever vs. overachiever reflected by records against the spread. … Utes’ place kicker Matt Gay’s 27 treys tops in FBS. … Mountaineer QB Will Grier listed as doubtful after surgery in November to repair a broken finger.

PICK: WEST VA.

Quick Lane Bowl, 5:15, ESPN

Ford Field, Detroit

No. Illinois (8-4) vs. Duke (6-6)

Line: Duke by 5½ (47.5)

ATS: (No. Ill. 6-6; Duke 6-5-1)

SCOUTING REPORT: Huskies sophomore Sutton Smith is FBS sack leader (14) and tackles for loss leader (28 1/2) on a team that leads the nation in TFLs (106). Dual threat QB Marcus Childers passed for 15 touchdowns (with five INTs) and rushed for five. … Topsy-turvy Blue Devils lost six straight after beating Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, but recouped to win their last four games.  Duke quarterback Daniel Jones nearly as likely to throw an interception (11) as a touchdown (12).

PICK: NO. ILLINOIS

Cactus Bowl, 10 p.m., ESPN

Chase Field, Phoenix

Kansas St. (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6)

Line: K-St. by 2 (63.5)

ATS: (Kan. St. 5-7; UCLA 4-8)

SCOUTING REPORT: UCLA wasn’t bowl eligible until the last play of the season, when a 37-yard field by J.J. Molson beat Cal with four seconds left. Bruins QB Josh Rosen is a projected first rounder; running backs Bolo Olorunfunme and Soso Jamabo have combined this season for 988 yards and 11 TDs. Defense allowed 299 first downs, the most among bowl-bound teams. … Wildcats’ OL and DL anchored by All-America Dalton Risner and Will Geary, respectively. Return man D.J. Reed averages 17 yards, second best in the FBS.

PICK: K-STATE

Wednesday

Walk-On's Independence Bowl, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

Indpndnce Stad., Shrveport, La.

Fla. State (6-6) vs. So. Miss (8-4)

Line: Fla. State by 15½ (48.5)

ATS: (Fl. St. 8-4; So. Miss. 8-4)

SCOUTING REPORT: Fla. State offense averaged under 10 points a game in the second half this season. Coach Jimbo Fisher has left for Texas A&M, leaving Seminoles to rely on its legacy: seven wins in the last nine bowl games. Seminoles won four of their last five to keep the program’s 36-year consecutive bowl streak intact. … Golden Eagles wideout Korey Robertson caught 72 passes, scored 11 TDs  and was 17th nationally in yards per game and his team comes in on a three-game roll; big play offense scored seven TDs from 42 yards and longer. 

PICK: FLA. STATE

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Yankee Stadium, New York

Iowa (7-5) vs. Boston Coll (7-5)

Line: Iowa by 3 (46)

ATS: (Iowa 5-6-1; BC 8-3-1)

SCOUTING REPORT: Eagles were the least penalized team in the nation; young, banged-up offensive line allowed just 12 sacks. Zach Allen leads defensive linemen in tackles (93). Nine Eagles made All-ACC, including seven underclasmen. RB AJ Dillon turned it on in the second half with 1,099 yards and 11 touchdowns to help BC win five of six. … Iowa’s Joshua Jackson and BC’s Lukas Denis are tied for most FBS interceptions with seven apiece. … Hawkeyes’ 55-24 rout of Ohio State was coach Kirk Ferentz’s finest moment. … Expect this low scoring affair to be won in the trenches in the cold and dark of Yankee Stadium.

PICK: BOSTON COLLEGE

Foster Farms Bowl, 8:30, FOX

Levi's Stadium, Snta Clara, Cal.

Arizona (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

Line: Arizona by 3½ (66.5)

ATS: (Az. 6-6; Purdue 8-4)

SCOUTING REPORT: Boilermakers improved from 3-9 to be bowl eligible under new regime; back-to-back wins against Iowa and Indiana keyed by  linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, named All-America by Pro Football Weekly. … Wildcats linebacker Colin Schooner is the Pac-12’s defensive freshman of year; tailback J.J. Taylor is the co-offensive freshman of year.

PICK: PURDUE

Texas Bowl, 9 p.m., ESPN

NRG Stadium, Houston

Missouri (7-5) vs. Texas (6-6)

Line: Missouri by 3 (60.5)

ATS: (Mo. 7-5; Texas 8-4)

SCOUTING REPORT: Longhorns’ six TDs by the defense leads the FBS, and Australian punter Michael Dickson is reigning Ray Guy winner.  … Missouri QB Josh Lock threw 12 interceptions but led the nation with 43 touchdown passes; J’mon Moore and Emanuel Hall caught 18 of them.

PICK: MISSOURI

Thursday

Military Bowl, 1:30 p.m. ESPN

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.

Navy (6-6) vs. Virginia (6-6)

Line: Pick ‘Em (55)

ATS: (Navy 6-5-1; Va. 6-6)

SCOUTING REPORT: Navy ranks second in rushing and next-to-last in passing. Sophomore QB Malcolm Perry averages almost nine yards per carry.  …  Virginia is ranked 80th against the run; six of Cavs’ 10 rushing touchdowns were scored by Jordan Ellis. … Cavs ride in on a three-game skid. … Game opened with Navy by 3 1/2 and moved to a pick-‘em after the Midshipmen’s lackluster loss to Army.

PICK: NAVY

Camping World Bowl, 5:15, ESPN

Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida

No. 19 Oklahoma St. (9-3) vs. No. 22 Va. Tech (9-3)

Line: Ok. St. by 4½ (65.5)

ATS: (Ok. St. 6-6; Va. Tech 6-6)

SCOUTING REPORT: Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph led the nation in passing (4,553 yards) and tied for fourth in TD passes (35). Rudolph’s passing prowess earned him the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. … Hokies bring it on defense, tied for most blocked punts (five) and were third in red zone defense. Quarterback Andrew Motuapuaka is the only player east of the Mississippi to have been nominated to be the Polynesian Player of the Year. 

PICK: OK. ST.

Valero Alamo Bowl, 9, ESPN

Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

No. 15 TCU (10-3) vs. No. 13 Stanford (9-4)

Line: TCU by 2½ (49)

ATS: (TCU 6-6; Stanford 5-6-1)

SCOUTING REPORT: TCU senior QB Kenny Hill threw 21 TD passes (with six picks) with 67.2 completion percentage. Horned Frogs second nationally in Red Zone defense. … Cardinal running back Bryce Love scored 17 touchdowns while averaging 167.3 yards per game, third best in FBS.

PICK: STANFORD

San Diego County Credit Holiday Bowl, 9 p.m., FOX

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

No. 18 Washington St. (9-3) vs. No. 16 Michigan St. (9-3)

Line: Wash. St. by 2 (46.5)

ATS: (Wash. St. 7-5; Mich. St. 6-5-1)

SCOUTING REPORT: Cougars’ All America defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa will sit out first half for targeting his last game out. Cougars bitten by 29 turnovers, fourth-most in the FBS. … Spartans boast the best third down defense in the country; secondary held opponents to fewer passing yards than any other team in the nation.

PICK: MICH. ST

Friday

Belk Bowl, 1 p.m. ESPN

BOA Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5) 

Line: Wake Forest by 3 (46.5)

ATS: (Wake 8-3-1; Te. AM 6-4-2)

SCOUTING REPORT: Texas A&M players trying to adjust to new coach/sheriff Jimbo Fisher. Aggies lost three of their last five, including 45-21 to LSU in season finale. Fisher was hired a week later. … Deamon Deacons’s tight end Cam Serigne is all-time ACC leader in career receptions and receiving yards. … Coach Dave Clawson used his Williams College (’89) roots to recruit Mt. Greylock’s Jake Benzinger for the offensive line. Deacons a model of inconsistency, winning four straight and losing three straight, beating BC and Louisville and loing to Duke.

PICK: WAKE FOREST

Hyundai Sun Bowl, 3 p.m., CBS

Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas

No. 24 N.C. State (8-4) vs. Ariz. State (7-5)

Line: N.C. State by 6½ (59.5)

ATS: (N.C. St 3-7-2; Az. St 7-4-1)  SCOUTING REPORT: Sun Devils’ five blocked punts tied them for the most in the FBS. Winners of five of their last seven, they rank 40th in total offense and 108th in total defense. … Wolfpack QB  Ryan Finley’s 3,200 yards’ passing included 16 touchdowns with six interceptions. Bradley Chubb’s 22 tackles for loss are the second most in the FBS.

PICK: NC STATE

Frank-Am Mrtg. Music City Bowl, 4:30 p.m., ESPN

Nissan Stad, Nashville, Tenn.

No. 21 Northwestern (9-3) vs. Kentucky (7-5)

Line: Northwestern by 7 (51.5)

ATS: (Northwestern 9-3; Ky. 3-9)

SCOUTING REPORT: Northwestern has reeled off seven straight wins since losing three straight to Penn State, Wisconsin and Duke. … Hunter Niswander boomed an 80-yard punt against Iowa. Well balanced attack features running back Josh Jackson and four receivers who’ve all gained at least 400 yards. … Note two teams’ records ATS. … Kentucky senior guard Nick Haynes was dropped from the team after texting: “Most coaches don’t care, it’s all about that check.”

PICK: NORTHWESTERN 

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, 5:30 p.m., CBSSN

Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.

Utah St. (6-6) vs. N Mex St. (6-6)

Line: Utah St. by 4 (61.5)

ATS: (Utah St. 6-6; N. Mex. St. 6-5-1)

SCOUTING REPORT: First bowl appearance for New Mexico State since 1960. DB Shamad Lomax has four forced fumbles but QB Tyler Rogers has thrown 16 interceptions. … Utah St. freshman QB Jordan Love’s 140 yards total offense ranks 50th and the team defense is ranked 75th.

PICK: NEW MEXICO ST.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

AT&T Stadium, Arlingtn, Texas

No. 5 Ohio State (11-2) vs. No. 8 USC (11-2)

Line: Ohio St. by 7½ (64.5)

ATS: (Ohio St. 5-7; USC 4-9)

SCOUTING REPORT: Trojans QB Sam Darnold single-handedly beat Penn State in last year’s Rose Bowl; this year he has 12 interceptions to go with his 26 touchdown passes. USC is 76th in total defense. … The Buckeyes ranked eighth in total defense despite having the third-toughest schedule in D-1. Weak side DE Nick Bosa had a monster game during Buckeyes’ 27-21 win against top-ranked Wisconsin. Urban Meyer tweeted “Best center in the nation is a Buckeye again” after Bill Price won the Rimington Award.

PICK: OHIO ST.