2013 bowl game betting picks: Cotton Bowl to be a shootout

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I pick up my bowl picks with the New Year's Day bowl games. Perhaps a new year will bring with it better gambling luck. The bad beat in the Duke-Cincinnati game was unreal. I held Duke +7.5, but the Blue Devils were about to take the lead with under four minutes, fumbled, allowed a 70+ yard TD pass, and then threw a pick-six to blow the cover.

Northwestern (PK) at Mississippi State, Over 52. Ah, the Gator Bowl. Mississippi State is an eight-win SEC team. Yet I am taking Northwestern? Let me explain. Name Mississippi State's best win. How about its second-best win? Tennessee? Arkansas? Auburn? Middle Tennessee State? Troy? Kentucky? South Alabama? The bottom line is that Northwestern is considerably better than every team Mississippi State beat this season. Plus, the Bulldogs lost four of five games down the stretch by an average margin of more than three touchdowns. Granted, the teams that did that to Mississippi State are considerably better than Northwestern. Does Mississippi State really want to be in this game?

Purdue at Oklahoma State -17: The Heart of Dallas Bowl should see a lot of Oklahoma State fans watching what is a really good team. That it is despite dealing with injuries to its quarterbacks is a testament to the quality of its coaching staff. Getting the bowl practices to smooth out some issues from the season with the young quarterbacks will help the Cowpokes quite a bit, and even if OSU starts slow, it should pour it on later in the game.

Michigan +6 at South Carolina, Under 48.5: I like Michigan to win the Outback Bowl outright in a low-scoring game. Without Marcus Lattimore, I don't see South Carolina's offense scoring a lot on the Wolverines' defense, which is quite good. I think both teams will look to play somewhat conservatively and lean on their respective defenses.

Nebraska +9 at Georgia, Over 60: Georgia is missing its huge nose guard, John Jenkins, who is academically ineligible. Are the Dawgs going to bounce back and be motivated for this game after losing the SEC Championship Game? Is Nebraska really as bad as it showed against Wisconsin?

Wisconsin at Stanford -6, Under 48: Wisconsin has an underrated defense and an overrated offense. Stanford is similar, but is better on both sides of the football. Another Rose Bowl loss for the Badgers.

Louisville at Florida -13.5, Over 45.5: I like Florida big in the Sugar Bowl. Louisville is the worst team in the BCS (yes, NIU is a better team), but it can score some, particularly if Florida gets up big. Look for UF to throw the football more than normal, and bowl practices should help Jeff Driskel a lot.

Kansas State at Oregon Under 76: I wanted to play Kansas State, but the number has not climbed as much as I wanted. Thus, I'm playing the under. Look for Kansas State to slow the tempo down here in an attempt to limit possessions.

Texas A&M at Oklahoma, Over 71.5: Betting more than 71.5 points is scary, but this wager is all about pace. Texas A&M and Oklahoma both want to run 80 or more plays per game, and this is a match of two excellent offenses.

Pitt +4 at Ole Miss, Over 52: Ole Miss has sold out this game and is excited to be there. Pitt is going to the Birmingham bowl for the millionth year in a row. But there's hope for Pitt, as it finally is keeping its head coach for the bowl game. Both of these teams continued to get better throughout the year, and are both well-coached. But the improvement has mostly come via the offenses, and thus the over play.

Arkansas State at Kent Under 62.5: This is an extremely long layoff for both teams, both of whom will be replacing their head coaches. With pace offenses, the long layoff can sometimes take a team out of rhythm.

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