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Ducking the Odds: CFB Bowl Season 1st Shift

Rusty and Sean make their picks for the first shift of college football bowl games including Arizona-New Mexico, BYU-Utah, and many more.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Sean and I are going to be picking every bowl game against the spread.  It's a big month coming up for us.  Here are the first week picks.

S:  Arizona v. New Mexico (+11.5)

The last time we saw Arizona in the post season, they got destroyed by Oregon and then embarrassed by Boise State. Expect that trend to continue for a team that has very little momentum and even less consistency. Plus I think it's hilarious that Bob Davie, former Notre Dame coach, is in a Witness Protection Program-type situation in Albuquerque, and is quietly building a nice program there. GO LOBOS.

R:  Arizona v. New Mexico (+11.5)

Arizona and New Mexico seem like teams that would be worlds apart.  But New Mexico, led by Bob Davie, fought their way to a 7-5 season, winning three of their last five over teams such as Air Force, Boise State, and Utah State.  Those teams aren't slouches.  The Wildcats have the talent level to blow out New Mexico but they don't execute at the same level.  The spread is too far apart to pick Arizona.

S:  BYU (+3) v. Utah

Utah, without Devontae Booker, is a little rudderless. No other offensive weapons to speak of. Two very good defenses here, but I think BYU has an edge offensively.

R:  BYU (+3) v. Utah

Utah is secretly the dirtiest team in the country.  Every game I can find an example of a Cougar player absolutely winding up to punch somebody.  But you can say what you want about X's and O's and things of that nature.  There's only one thing that matters in the Las Vegas Bowl and that's how focused the teams are.  In Sin City there's only one team that can avoid the distractions and that's BYU.  I will bet BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl at nearly any spread against nearly any opponent.

S:  Ohio v. Appalachian State (-9.5)

No idea. Appalachian State, like Valparaiso before it, is making a decades-long case for reputation after an improbable upset. I'm buying! The MAC was not great this year, and so I give credit to a 10-win App State team here to run away with it.

R:  Ohio (+9.5) v. Appalachian State

This is Appalachian's State first bowl game in program history, which means they'll be plenty motivated.  Bowl games are sometimes more about motivation than any other factor.  It's easy to not care during post-season practices for what is essentially an exhibition game and to goof off the week you're on location at the bowl site.  Ohio was snubbed last year from the postseason even though they were bowl eligible.  I think giving up nearly ten points is too much.

S:  San Jose State v. Georgia State (+4)

Mountain West was weak this year, and SJSU looked average in it. End of transmission.

R:  San Jose State v. Georgia State (+4)

This is not a good game.  San Jose State had a losing record and Georgia State broke even.  The Spartans have a couple, relatively, quality wins but I can't give points away.

S:  Arkansas State v. Louisiana Tech (-2)

Give me the Bulldogs. More consistency as a program.

R:  Arkansas State (+2) v. Louisiana Tech

Arkansas State won their last 8 games and their losses are to USC, Missouri, and Toledo.  The Bulldogs also had two close wins that might disguise their true skill level.

S:  Western Kentucky (-3) v. South Florida

Laying money on Brandon Doughty here. He's too good to not trust against a Bulls defense I don't know much about. Plus I like to say HILLTAHPPAHS in a Boston accent, so there's that. #analysis

R:  Western Kentucky (-3) v. South Florida

I like the Hilltoppers.  Their only two losses are to LSU and an extremely underrated Indiana squad.  The Bulls have lost a few games they shouldn't have and they'll struggle against Brandon Doughty.

S:  Akron v. Utah State (-6.5)

Grabbing Chuckie Keeton in his swan song for the Aggies. Too good a player to not deliver in his final game.

R:  Akron v. Utah State (-6.5)

There is no shame in any of the Aggies' losses.  They have Chuckie Keeton at quarterback who seems to have been in college for eight years and you just can't discount that much experience.

S:  Toledo v. Temple (-1)

This might be the best non-Power 5 bowl (at least so far). Two very solid teams. But I think Temple has been in bigger moments, has more discipline, and a better defense. OWLZ have what it takes to win.

R:  Toledo v. Temple (-1)

This is one of the toughest games to pick.  Both teams have a couple good wins but I think Temple has a much better record.  Temple kept it close against Notre Dame and had a close-ish game against Houston.

S:  Boise State v. Northern Illinois (+8)

8 is a lot of points to lay on a Boise State team that has not been consistent this year. I'll take the points.

R:  Boise State v. Northern Illinois (+8)

I think Boise State will win but not by 8 points.  Boise State has a win over Washington but also got trounced by Utah State so it's very tough to get a read.  I'll take the points.

S:  Georgia Southern v. Bowling Green (-7.5)

Another great non-Power 5 matchup in a clash of styles: 1970s triple option vs. 2010s blur. I can see Bowling Green scoring enough points in the fourth quarter to cover, though. The defense and clock control game only works if you're getting stops, and I don't see GSU's defense stopping the Falcons' offense for four quarters.

R:  Georgia Southern v. Bowling Green (-7.5)

Bowling Green's losses are to Toledo, Memphis, and Tennessee, all good teams.  Georgia Southern kept it close with Georgia but Bowling Green executes better and can score a lot of points.