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Ducking the Odds: Bowl Games Second Shift

Rusty and Sean make their picks against the spread for the second shift of the college football bowl season. Some of the games are Miami v Washington State, Washington v Southern Miss, UCLA v Nebraska, and USC v Wisconsin.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

S:  Middle Tennessee State v Western Michigan (-2.5)

I think Western Michigan is scrappy. I don't know much about MTSU, but I'll take the Broncos.

R:  Middle Tennessee State v Western Michigan (-2.5)

Both teams come in 7-5 but Western Michigan has had a better regular season.  These games are a total tossup but I give a slight edge to the team that kept it close with Michigan State.

S:  Cincinnati v San Diego State (+2.5)

I'll take SDSU. They have had a really good run, and know how to travel and play in Hawaii. This is new territory for Cincy.

R:  Cincinnati v San Diego State (+2.5)

The Aztecs started 1-3 but have won every game since then, winning a lot of games in convincing fashion.  The Aztecs have gone 3-2 their last five games.  I'd pick SDSU to win straight up.

S:  Connecticut v Marshall (-3.5)

I've always been a sucker for Marshall.

R:  Connecticut (+3.5) v Marshall

I don't think Marshall has been impressive throughout this season and Uconn has won a few quality games.  I would even pick UConn to win straight up.

S:  Miami v Washington State (-1.5)

I've dug Wazzu all year, but they looked terrible against Washington in the Apple Cup. Was tempted to take Miami purely on that basis, but I still want to look at Wazzu on the basis of the body of their work, and not just the one data point against UW (where, admittedly, they looked like garbage).

R:  Miami v Washington State (-1.5)

I have no idea how Washington State is the underdog.  They were the hottest team in the country for a period of weeks.  They beat Oregon.  They almost beat Stanford.  They beat UCLA.  Meanwhile, Miami got dominated every time they played a good team, and if it weren't for inept officiating, they would've lost to Duke.

S: Washington (-8.5) v Southern Miss

Washington is on the upswing with a lot of good, young offensive talent. I think Southern Miss is thoroughly outclassed here.

R:  Washington v Southern Miss (+8.5)

Southern Miss scores a lot of points.  The Husky defense will be up to the task but giving away 8.5 points is way too much in bowl season.

S:  Duke v Indiana (+2.5)

I'll take Indiana. I think Duke is going to have problems chasing around all of the Hoosiers' receivers.

R:  Duke v Indiana (+2.5)

Indiana had close losses to Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, and Rutgers.  They are much better than their record says.  I've liked Indiana all year and I like them in this spot, especially as an underdog.

S:  Virginia Tech (-13.5) v Tulsa

Virginia Tech is a different squad with their quarterback back at the helm.  The Hokies are motivated to send Frank Beamer out in style, and will crush the Golden Hurricane.

R:  Virginia Tech (-13.5) v Tulsa

This is Frank Beamer's last game coaching for the Hokies.  Tulsa didn't beat a good team this year and lost to some bad ones.  This is a pick against the Golden Hurricanes and for the Hokies coming out hot.

S:  UCLA (-6.5) v Nebraska

UCLA is much more talented than Nebraska. Nebraska may get forced to throw to hang in with UCLA, which is not a good place for the Huskers to be. UCLA will have a largely home crowd up in the Bay and will win by at least a touchdown.

R:  UCLA (-6.5) v Nebraska

Mike Riley is a nice guy but I don't think he's going to fix Nebraska's problem and they won't beat UCLA.  UCLA is very talented and should be able to beat an underperforming Cornhusker squad.

S:  Navy v Pitt (+3.5)

Love Keenan Reynolds, but surprised this line isn't bigger in Navy's favor, even after they looked crappy vs. a bad Army team.  Whenever I am confused by the line, I take the 'dog. Give me Secretly Decent Pitt.

R:  Navy (-3.5) v Pitt

Pitt's best win is over Duke and they've lost a few close games.  Navy has one of the best players in the country with Keenan Reynolds.  They've beat some great teams and their only losses are to a couple of the better teams in the country.

S:  Minnesota (-6.5) v Central Michigan

Minnesota can out-physical, out-methodical, and out-boring the Chippewas. Minnesota by a TD, but not more than a TD.

R:  Minnesota (-6.5) v Central Michigan

Minnesota is a decent team.  They've had a few close losses so I believe they are better than their record indicates.  The spread does cause some concern.  Central Michigan hasn't beat a good team this year.

S:  Cal (-5.5) v Air Force

Cal is going to smoke these guys. No one on Air Force can cover Cal's 4th WR, and definitely can't contain Jared Goff. 42-20.

R:  Cal (-5.5) v Air Force

The Falcons stumble into this game having lost their last two games.  Cal has developed a better defense throughout the year and can score a lot of points.  They'll get up early and pull away.

S:  North Carolina (-3.5) v Baylor

Baylor is sooooo beat up. Gotta take UNC here, who can score with Baylor, and put pressure on whatever poor freshman is behind center for Baylor these days.

R:  North Carolina (-3.5) v Baylor

People stopped paying attention to the Tar Heels after they lost to South Carolina and they quietly put together a great season.  Baylor is down deep on their QB depth chart.

S:  Colorado State (-3.5) v Nevada

I live in Colorado, and there are rams that live here, so...I'll take the CSU Rams.

R:  Colorado State (-3.5) v Nevada

This one is a tossup to me.  But Colorado State let a few good teams off the hook this year.

S:  LSU (-6.5) v Texas Tech

Big contrast of styles here. I just can't see Tech stopping the run or protecting the passer. LSU has good cohesiveness with the late season retention of Les Miles, and cruises over the Red Raiders.

R:  LSU (-6.5) v Texas Tech

LSU struggles with teams that can stop their running game.  Texas Tech does not have a good defense.  LSU's offense will roll and Texas Tech will make a few mistakes on offense.

S:  Auburn v Memphis (+2.5)

Oh man. No idea. I'll tentatively take the underdog here.

R:  Auburn v Memphis (+2.5)

Memphis beat Ole Miss and did what they were supposed to do throughout the season dropping two of their three games against good teams.  Auburn has been incredibly inconsistent and downright atrocious at times.

S:  Mississippi State v NC State (+5.5)

Rolling with the Pack. Neither squad looked great down the stretch, but I trust NC State more to keep it close than MSU to hold a lead.

R:  Mississippi State (-5.5) v NC State

I think Dak Prescott, who has maybe been one of the top three players in the SEC, is going to have a day against the Wolfpack.  The Wolfpack had a decent season but I think Mississippi State is on another level.

S:  Texas A&M v Louisville (+2.5)

Louisville plays quality defense; the type of quality defense that has given A&M fits this year. Not a great postseason of news bytes for the Aggies as basically every QB is transferring out, and A&M has not recaptured the Johnny Football magic.  Cardinals had a horrible start, but are secretly a pretty decent team with a solid defense. Cardinals in the upset.

R:  Texas A&M v Louisville (+2.5)

The Aggies don't have a quarterback right now.  They will be one-dimensional on offense and I don't think their defense will do enough to win them the game.

S:  USC (-3.5) v Wisconsin

Lock of the bowl season. Wisconsin is just straight up not good. USC is inconsistent, but super talented. They should be somewhat healthier on defense, and should out-speed Wisconsin in all three phases.

R:  USC (-3.5) v Wisconsin

With Clay Helton at the helm USC has done well.  They have the most talent on their team but it's always come down to execution for the Trojans.