by Michael Stewart
I actually watch and bet on a fair bit of college football, but I haven't talked about this level of the game that much in this blog space. So instead of bombarding you with free picks on all the 35 bowl games, I wanted to wait until the last minute to give you my takes on the six biggest games of the post season. And here they are in all their blurbalicious glory.
Have a Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks for reading this blog space throughout 2013. Rose Bowl - #4 Michigan State Spartans +6.5 over #5 Stanford Cardinal
Two of the best defences in the country facing off in the historic Rose Bowl? Yes please! I prefer Michigan State's defence over Stanford's, but I also like how the Spartans haven't really had a bad game all year. Outside of their lone loss to Notre Dame, the Spartans have been clobbering opponents left and right. This will be a very tightly played game, but Stanford is prone to a playing some seriously dull stretches during games. The Spartans can close the gap in those moments. An outright win by the Spartans wouldn't shock me in the slightest.Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - #6 Baylor Bears -16.5 over #15 UCF Knights
What a small school like UCF has done in conference nobody cares about has been remarkable. But it's also worth mentioning that UCF barely beat schools like Houston, SMU and South Florida. How in the blue blazes do you expect them to hang with the number one scoring offence in the country? You can't. Don't overthink this one. I'm certainly not.AllState Sugar Bowl - #11 Oklahoma Sooners +15.5 over #3 Alabama Crimson Tide
I really like this Blake Bell and Trevor Knight combination. They're slightly Leak-Tebow-esque right? If your'e shaking your head at that sentiment then go right ahead and bet on Alabama because this team is probably livid that they were shunned from the national title game after losing in the Iron Bowl. But this isn't the same Alabama team that won two championships. They've struggled against dynamic and creative offences this year, like when they nearly lost to Johnny Manziel and were defeated outright by Auburn. So while the Bell-Knight tag team might not be that great, they'll be ready to give the Tide plenty of headaches with Stoops unleashing his bag of tricks all night. This line is simply too large and if Oklahoma can keep this game close through the first quarter, this cover is theirs for the taking. AT&T Cotton Bowl - #8 Missouri Tigers PK over #13 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Missouri is every bit as strong as their incredible 10-2-1 ATS record suggests they are. They're a balanced offence that will stay the hell away from cornerback Justin Gilbert and continue to generate points while Oklahoma State remains flustered. The Cowboys were not a strong team at the beginning of the year and went on a marvellous run that propelled them in to the top tier bowl games, but they're no match for Missouri. The fact that this is a pick 'em has more to do with Oklahoma State's gargantuan public following and Missouri's small horde of backers than the actual game itself. Missouri should be favoured by at least -5.0 in my estimation.Discover Orange Bowl - #7 Ohio State Buckeyes -2.5 over #12 Clemson Tigers
This is going to be a fun one but in the end I simply prefer Braxton Miller as a do-it-all game breaker over Tajh Boyd. Miller has a better team behind him as well, and the real x-factor here is Urban Meyer who will know how to prepare his team for a massive tilt like this one. Clemson doesn't deserve to be here. They're only in this game because of the clout of the ACC. BCS National Championship - #2 Auburn Tigers +8.5 over #1 FSU Seminoles
I have two fun facts that you need to know for this game. First, the SEC has dominated the national title scene for seven straight years. The ACC hasn't won a championship since the turn of the century. In fact, the last time that the ACC won the title was with FSU back in 1999. So there's that.
The second nugget is even more interesting. The team that runs the ball better always wins. Look at the list of BCS Championship MVP's over the last eight years: Vince Young, Chris Leak, Matt Flynn, Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram, Michael Dyer, AJ McCarron and Eddie Lacy. All of those guys were either running-backs or run-first quarterbacks, except for McCarron who was pretty much handing the ball off to Trent Richardson anyhow.
Now name the FSU running back off the top of your head. You can't! Stop googling it because I've already proved my point. Auburn is the best rushing team in the country by a mile and with Tre Mason and Nick Marshall running wild against FSU's defence, Auburn has a great chance of not only covering, but winning this game outright.
I'm also not completely sold that FSU is a championship caliber team. Jameis Winston is a phenomenal athlete but he also hasn't played anyone better than Clemson or Miami this year. All Auburn's done this year is dismantle the best that the SEC has to offer. There are plenty of bowl games where you can bet against the SEC, but you shouldn't bet against the SEC champion in the national title game. Go War Eagles...er...Tigers...whatever, I need another drink.
Happy New Year, everyone! Be safe and destructive all at once.