By Ryan Mayer
The college football bowl season is upon us. With 40 games spread out over the next two weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline/Bookmaker.eu. Find all our picks here.
All lines listed are as of publishing date. As always lines may change in the lead up to games so be sure to check.
National Funding Holiday Bowl
Minnesota vs. Washington State
Spread: Washington State -9.5
Spread: Interesting match-up here. A pair of teams that didn’t get a ton of shine this season until later in the year when people started looking at the records and going “oh wow, maybe they’re actually good?” They attack in completely different styles. Wazzu runs a spread “Air Raid” style of attack headed by QB Luke Falk who’s completed 71-percent of his passes for over 4,000 yards and 37 TDs. He’ll face a Minnesota defense that allows its opponents to complete just 55-percent of their passes on the season. However, the Gophers just suspended 10 players, five of them defensive backs, indefinitely.
On the Minnesota side of things, the Gophers are a running team primarily as QB Mitch Leidner has had an up-and-down senior season. The Gophers average 4.3 yards per carry and over 186 yards per game on the ground, but the Cougars defense has been stout against the run ranking 28th in the country allowing just 132.9 yards per game. Leidner may actually have better success in the passing game here as the Cougars rank 121st against the pass giving up 283.6 yards per game and 32 passing touchdowns. One other area that the Cougars struggled with that Minnesota can exploit: defending a big, mobile quarterback. Sefo Liufau shredded the Cougars in the weeks prior to the Pac-12 title game, and Leidner has the same sort of punishing running style. The Minnesota program has a lot of turmoil surrounding it now though with players deciding to boycott all football activities in the wake of the suspensions to the 10 players. That turmoil scares me away from the Gophers despite the high line. Washington State +9.5
Total: These two teams have sported high-scoring offenses this season combining for 70.6 points per game, but the defenses are built to stop what their opponent does well. However, the Gophers’ numerous suspended players weakens their defense and that’s where I think this game could turn into a shootout. Over 61.5
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.