I'll return after Christmas with my picks for the New Year's Day bowls and the BCS games. Visit SB Nation odds partner OddsShark for lines updates on all bowl games.
SB Nation's Dan Rubenstein picks the BCS games.
BYU -3 at San Diego State: The Aztecs' run game has been very impressive this year... until one looks at the competition the Aztecs have faced. BYU's offense is nothing special, but its defense is the truly elite unit in this game, and the reasonable price of -3 is too short to pass up.
East Carolina at Louisiana Lafayette -4.5 and Over 65: Lafayette is considerably better than East Carolina, and neither team plays much defense. Lafayette in a track meet, 45-30.
Washington at Boise State Under 45: Both of these teams play good defense, and Washington still cannot block anyone with its porous offensive line. The fear here? Turnovers creating short fields and easy scores. Let's go punts!
Bowling Green at San Jose State -7 and Under 47: San Jose State is a very solid football team. Bowling Green is not as good. I do have some concern about San Jose State's coaching staff, with former coach Mike MacIntyre heading to Colorado.
Cincinnati at Duke +7.5 and Over 58.5: Neither team plays great defense, and Cincinnati's coaching staff has been gutted. Finding motivation in bowl games is crucial, and Duke has not made a bowl game in years. Look for the Blue Devils to come out focused and aggressive.
Baylor at UCLA (pk) and Over 79.5: This is what the Holiday Bowl should be. Scoring, scoring and more scoring. Both defenses are great at allowing big plays, and San Diego offers perfect weather for offense. I think UCLA should be favored by more than a field goal, so getting them as a pick is an obvious choice.
Ohio +7.5 at Louisiana-Monroe: ULM has been hurt by injuries, including its quarterback Kolton Browning. The number here seems inflated because of Monroe's name value, as they beat Arkansas early in the year and almost did the same at Auburn.
Rutgers +3 at Virginia Tech and Over 41: Why is Virginia Tech favored over Rutgers? Conference affiliation? Rutgers has been the better team for most of the year, and catching a field goal is too much to pass up. The total seems too low, and while I'd be a fool to expect competent offense out of either squad, I do think big plays against single coverage will be possible, and short fields via turnovers, probable.
Minnesota +13.5 at Texas Tech: Tech's coach just bolted, and I think Minnesota's squad will be fired up to play in a bowl. The game is in Houston, but I don't know how many Red Raider fans will actually show up. 13.5 points just seems like too much.
Air Force at Rice +1.5: Rice improved down the stretch, and the 15 bowl practices should help the Owls to be prepared for the option attack of Air Force.
West Virginia at Syracuse +4: Syracuse is a better team than West Virginia. Ryan Nassib is a better quarterback than Geno Smith. And the game is in Syracuse's backyard. This should be a fantastic bowl for the viewers. If you don't know who Nassib is, shame on you, front-running college football fan. But this game should be a good lesson.
Oregon State at Texas Under 57.5: I have zero confidence in Texas, but find Oregon State to be a bit overrated. I have more confidence in Texas' defense putting it together than I do Oregon State's offense, however.
TCU at Michigan State +3: I have these teams as dead even. Both offenses are one-dimensional and not very good. Both defenses are excellent. Three points are much more valuable when the total is as low as this (40.5). Michigan State burned me a few times this year, and it's time to make some money back.
N.C. State at Vanderbilt Under 52.5: Vanderbilt is a good football team, despite not beating a single team with a winning record all season. And it is good because of its defense. Vanderbilt's offense is not good at all. N.C. State has much better defensive talent than it played this season, and when it didn't make mental mistakes in coverage, was pretty good.
Georgia Tech +10.5 at USC and Over 63.5: USC preparing for Georgia Tech's offense? I'm sure the Trojans will be very motivated to do that after their train wreck of a season. Georgia Tech's defense stopping USC even with preparation? Doubtful.
Clemson at LSU Over 58.5: LSU sometimes struggles with spread offenses (see the Ole Miss game), and Clemson has one of the best spread attacks in the country. Clemson's defense is absolutely horrible, and should allow for enough easy scores to counteract the derp-factor of the LSU offense.
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