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  • Newsletters bowl games/nfl final week

    Just getting this thread started. Check back!!

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        Stanford Steve and The Bear: CFB bowl picks, bets, nuggets

        What's in store for this holiday season in college football?
        "Stanford Steve" Coughlin and Chris "The Bear" Fallica break down the bowl season as only they can, offering their top bets, teasers to look at and betting nuggets for the games.
        The guys are ready to continue their prognostications and will do so throughout the bowl season.
        Stanford Steve (1-2 in Week 16, 27-18-1 overall)
        The Bear (2-1 in Week 16, 24-21-1)

        The plays

        Cheez-It Bowl

        No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-2, 60.5) vs. No. 18 Miami Hurricanes

        (Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN; at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida)
        Stanford Steve: I know it's really hard to forget what the Hurricanes looked like the last time you saw them -- when they gave up over 500 yards rushing and 62 points to North Carolina -- but you're going to have to. The Cowboys aren't what I thought they were coming into the season, turning the ball over too much and lacking that big-play potential from Mike Gundy teams in the past. I like a motivated Canes team to cover this spread and get that awful taste out of their mouths from their last game out.
        Pick: Miami +2 (Miami 29, Oklahoma State 27)
        AutoZone Liberty Bowl

        West Virginia Mountaineers (-7, 41.5) vs. Army Black Knights

        (Thursday, 4 p.m. ET, on ESPN; at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee)
        Stanford Steve: I feel dirty going against the cadets, but when I look at their past three wins, they faced the offenses of Georgia Southern, Navy and Air Force. You would think the Mountaineers have way better talent on offense than those teams. Plus, I like the idea of a Neil Brown defense defending the option, and I like West Virginia's personnel in the front seven. I'll lay the points with the Mountaineers.
        Pick: West Virginia -7 (West Virginia 27, Army 16)
        The Bear: It's good to see Army was properly rewarded with a bowl game after a 9-2 season (three wins versus non-FBS teams). But against a well-coached, solid defensive team, this might not be the best of matchups, considering that Army also has had to get up for its two biggest rivals in consecutive weeks and captured the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in the process. The Mountaineers laid an egg in their previous game against Iowa State, but even with a key defensive opt-out (Tony Fields), I think West Virginia is the right side here versus what is sure to be a public underdog.
        Pick: West Virginia -7
        Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

        No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (-7, 50.5) vs. No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats

        (Friday, noon ET, on ESPN; at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)
        The Bear: The Bulldogs had a mail-it-in effort against Texas in a bowl game two years ago, after they blew the SEC championship game (and probably still should have been in the College Football Playoff). Last year, however, Georgia showed in the Sugar Bowl versus Baylor, completely dominating the Bears. The Bulldogs aren't headed to the CFP, and there will be opt-outs, but there won't be disappointment. As long as JT Daniels and George Pickens are playing, Georgia will score. Expect Georgia's young talent to star in a thorough win over a Cincinnati team, which was shut out 42-0 by Ohio State the last time it faced a team with this much talent. The Bearcats have the zero in the loss column, but power ratings have them ranked 17th (FPI, Sagarin) and ninth (SP+). Cincinnati didn't belong in the CFP as one of the best four teams in the nation, yet a win here could cap a rare undefeated season. But I'm on Georgia here.
        Pick: Georgia -7
        Rose Bowl Game Presented by Capital One

        CFP Semifinal: No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-19.5, 65.5)

        (Friday, 4 p.m. ET, on ESPN; at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
        Stanford Steve: While the back door will be open all game long, I think both offenses will dominate this game. I expect Notre Dame to score the points to keep this game close enough to cover. I do think the Irish will have issues with the offense that the Tide bring to the table, as Alabama's foot is never off the gas. We'll take the over.
        Pick: Over 65.5 (Alabama 45, Notre Dame 24)
        Allstate Sugar Bowl

        CFP Semifinal: No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers (-7.5, 66.5)

        (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, on ESPN; at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans)
        The Bear: There will be a lot of talk and comparison to last year's CFP semifinal meeting, but this year's Buckeyes team is nothing compared to that team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Despite facing the offenses of Nebraska, Penn State, Indiana, Michigan State, Rutgers and Northwestern, Ohio State is 22nd in adjusted defensive EPA. There's no J.K. Dobbins. About the biggest plus you can give Ohio State here is how fresh the Buckeyes will be after playing only six games. QB Justin Fields' thumb is something to watch, as well. I also think the Clemson players will be tired of hearing how Ohio State should have beaten them last year and will have their coach's back, after Dabo Swinney has been vocal about teams playing only six games and where Swinney has the Buckeyes ranked. What we saw in the ACC championship game is the Clemson we've come to know and expect, and I think that's the version we'll see in New Orleans.
        Pick: Clemson -7.5
        TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

        No. 23 NC State Wolfpack vs. Kentucky Wildcats (-2.5, 50.5)

        (Saturday, noon ET, on ESPN; at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida)
        The Bear: Mark Stoops has found a way to lead the Cats to bowl wins with teams that struggled offensively, and I expect he'll do that here too. NC State has surprised a lot of people this season with its 8-3 mark, but I don't think the Wolfpack can win the line of scrimmage here against UK. Kentucky found itself after a rough spell with a blowout of South Carolina, and anything close to that effort here should give UK its third straight bowl win.
        Pick: Kentucky -2.5
        Outback Bowl

        Ole Miss Rebels vs. No. 11 Indiana Hoosiers (-7.5, 66)

        (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on ABC; at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida)
        The Bear: The Rebels are going to score points with or without Elijah Moore. And while the Rebels' defense is not very good, Indiana's offense has struggled moving the ball without QB Michael Penix Jr. after having thrown for just 115 and 130 yards in the past two games. There has been a lot of talk about IU's inclusion in the New Year's Six, but after last season's crushing Gator Bowl loss, any bowl win would cap a special season for the Hoosiers. But I think this one is going to be close.
        Pick: Ole Miss +7.5
        PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

        No. 25 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones (-4.5, 57.5)

        (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, on ESPN; at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona)
        Stanford Steve: The Cyclones are my favorite bet of the bowls. Top to bottom, from coaching to every position on the field, I think they have the advantage. Love the Clones, and I'll lay the points.
        Pick: Iowa State -4.5 (Iowa State 38, Oregon 24)
        The Bear: Iowa State came up a few yards shy of a Big 12 title, and the culprits were what the Cyclones struggled with this year -- turnovers and special teams. But the opportunity for Iowa State to win the Fiesta Bowl doesn't come around often, and that should be a motivating factor. Injuries on the offensive line could be problematic, as Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux has played his best ball in conference title and bowl games. But the Iowa State defense should give Oregon trouble, as well. Oregon QB Tyler Shough struggled mightily in the Pac-12 title game, to the point where it almost appeared he wasn't trusted to throw the ball. He'll have to throw it in order for the Ducks to have a chance here. I'll lay the points with what I think will be a hungry Iowa State team out to prove itself.
        Pick: Iowa State -4.5
        Stanford Steve's 3-team, 10-point teaser

        Northwestern +6.5 (vs. Auburn)
        Georgia +3 (vs. Cincinnati)
        San Jose State +.5 (vs. Ball State)
        Bear Bytes

        Underdogs on the money line has been the way to go
        ? Since 2008, single-digit bowl underdogs have covered the spread 52% of the time. Of the 203 that covered in that span, 167 (or 82.3%) won outright. That also would mean 42.2% of all bowl games with a single-digit spread were won outright by the underdog.
        Group of 5 'dogs struggle against the spread in Power 5 matchups
        ? Over the past 10 years, there have been 28 post-Christmas bowls in which there was a Power 5 team favored over a Group of 5 team. The G5 team won eight of the 28 games outright and went 11-16-1 ATS. Four of the eight wins came against teams that were 6-6 entering the game. Since Houston's win over Pitt in January 2015, G5 underdogs are 3-14 straight up vs. P5 teams.
        ? If you limit the above to G5 underdogs vs. an SEC team, they are 2-6 outright and 3-5 ATS. The two wins were by UCF: against Auburn in 2017 and Georgia in 2010.
        Big Ten vs. SEC
        ? Indiana is favored over Ole Miss, and Northwestern is favored over Auburn. Dating back to the 2015 season, Big Ten teams are 4-11 SU and ATS vs. SEC teams in bowl games. The past three SEC teams that were bowl underdogs versus Big Ten opponents won outright: Kentucky over Penn State, Florida vs. Michigan and South Carolina vs. Michigan.
        Pac-12 resurgence?
        ? Oregon and Colorado are the only Pac-12 teams playing in bowl games this season. Last year, the Pac-12 posted a 4-3 mark in bowls. The conference had gone 4-12 in its previous 16 bowl games.
        Big 12 favorites
        ? All five Big 12 teams in bowl games are favored. Of the 14 Big 12 teams that made bowls the previous two seasons, only one was favored: TCU over Cal in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl (arguably the greatest game of all time). Big 12 teams have been favored just five times in their past 22 bowl games. All five of those teams won and four covered.
        Support the troops
        ? Since 2013, Air Force, Army and Navy are 11-2 both outright and ATS in bowl games. That includes four outright wins in five games as underdogs.
        More to know
        ? Favorites covered all three CFP games last year for the first time in the six-year history of the CFP.
        ? In the past three years, there has been just one upset in a CFP game: Clemson over Alabama in the 2018 championship game (favorites covered six of the nine games). In the first three years, five of the nine games were won by the underdog.
        ? Favorites have covered five of the six semis over the past three years. The only favorite that didn't cover was Alabama, against Oklahoma in 2018, a game the Tide led 28-0 just 17 minutes into the game.
        No. 21 Oklahoma State vs. No. 18 Miami
        ? Miami has lost nine of its past 10 bowl games and is 2-10 ATS in its past 12 bowl games. Oklahoma State has covered each of its past four bowl games, with three coming as an underdog.
        Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 20 Texas Longhorns (-7.5, 63.5) vs. Colorado Buffaloes, Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, on ESPN)
        ? This is the first time since 2011 Texas is favored in a bowl game.
        Duke's Mayo Bowl: Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Wisconsin Badgers (-7.5, 51.5), Wednesday (noon ET, on ESPN)
        ? The Badgers have won five of their past six bowl games; the only defeat in that span was a one-point loss to Oregon last year in the Rose Bowl. Each of Wake Forest's past five bowl games have been one-possession games (decided by six, three, three, eight and six points, respectively).
        ? Prior to a measly 48 total points scored in last year's bowl loss to Michigan State, Wake Forest's three bowl games under Dave Clawson saw 71, 107 and 60 total points scored. Those three games resulted in Wake Forest wins. If you include the three bowl games Clawson coached in at Bowling Green, those saw 57, 49 and 85 points.
        Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 7 Florida Gators vs. No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners (-3, 70), Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, on ESPN)
        ? Dan Mullen teams have won seven of their nine bowl games (4-5 ATS). This is the fourth straight year Oklahoma has been an underdog in a bowl game (0-3 SU, 1-2 ATS).
        Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: No. 24 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-2.5, 47) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs, Thursday (noon ET, on ESPN)
        ? Mike Leach teams are 1-9 ATS in their past 10 bowl games (4-6 SU). Included in those games are four outright losses and a 1-7 ATS mark as a favorite. In the past five years, Leach's teams have averaged 19.6 points in bowl games (28 is the high in that span).
        Mercari Texas Bowl: Arkansas Razorbacks vs. TCU Horned Frogs (-4.5, 57), Thursday (8 p.m. ET, on ESPN)
        ? Twelve of TCU's past 14 bowl games have been one-score games. Seven were decided by a field goal or less.
        No. 9 Georgia vs. No. 8 Cincinnati
        ? Since UCF upset Auburn in 2017, AAC underdogs have lost six straight bowls by an average of 27.3 points, with five by at least 14 points. None of the six covered.
        Vrbo Citrus Bowl: Auburn Tigers vs. No. 14 Northwestern Wildcats (-3.5, 43.5), Friday (1 p.m. ET, on ABC)
        ? This is just the third time in 15 bowl games Northwestern is favored.
        No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
        ? There have been only two bowl games with a larger point spread than the CFP semifinal between the Tide and Fighting Irish: 2020 Appalachian State -21.5 vs. North Texas and 2017 FAU vs. Akron. Both covered and won by a combined 106-31 margin.
        ? This is the largest underdog Notre Dame has been since losing 38-3 as a 32.5-point underdog to USC in 2008. Since that game, the Irish have been a double-digit 'dog nine times and covered six. Two of the three non-covers came versus Clemson in the CFP and the ACC championship game.
        ? Alabama is 3-6 ATS in CFP games, failing to cover each of its past three games.
        No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson
        ? This is Ryan Day's 24th game as Ohio State head coach. He has been an underdog twice -- the two games versus Clemson.
        ? Despite not facing a single offense ranked in top 40 in adjusted offensive EPA, Ohio State is just 22nd in adjusted defensive EPA. The Buckeyes now face their toughest offensive opponent of the season.
        ? Since a 2016 loss at Syracuse, Clemson has won 43 straight games as a favorite of at least a TD. Only five of those games were decided by single digits.
        ? Since 2013, Ohio State is 5-3 in bowl games. The Buckeyes are 0-3 versus Clemson and 5-0 versus everyone else.
        ? Since 2012, Clemson is 9-3 in bowl games. The Tigers are 3-3 against SEC foes Alabama and LSU and 6-0 versus everyone else. Clemson is 10-2 ATS in those 12 games. Amazingly, Clemson has been favored only twice in those dozen contests.
        No. 23 NC State vs. Kentucky
        ? Dave Doeren has coached in six bowl games. Five have been decided by more than 17 points. That's counter to Kentucky's past three bowls, which have been decided by a combined 11 points.
        No. 25 Oregon vs. No. 10 Iowa State (-4.5, 57.5)
        ? This is just the second time Iowa State has been favored in a bowl game; the other was in 2012, a game the Cyclones lost 31-17 to Tulsa.
        ? All three Iowa State bowl games under Matt Campbell have gone under the total, by 12.5, 3 and 27.5 points, an average of 14.3 points per game. Going back even further, six straight and nine of ISU's past 10 bowls have gone under.
        ? In its past 19 games as an underdog, Oregon is 7-12 ATS (5-4 under Mario Cristobal). All seven of the covers were also outright wins. Included in those victories are wins in each of the past two Pac-12 title games and the Rose Bowl.
        Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (-7.5, 65.5) vs. No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels, Saturday (8 p.m. ET, on ESPN)
        ? Jimbo Fisher is 6-1 with a favorite in a bowl game, the only loss coming with FSU against Houston in 2015. His teams are 4-3 ATS in those seven games.


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            WINNING POINTS


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