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/ 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.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

#23 Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern

Spread: Pitt -5.5

Total: 66

Spread: The Panthers are an out-score you, light up the scoreboard type of team. The Wildcats are a shut-down defense and the offense does just enough to get the win type of team. Contrasting styles make for intriguing match-ups and color me intrigued here. Can Pitt’s rushing attack (26th, 226.9 YPG) out-muscle a Northwestern defense that has allowed opponents just 136.7 yards per game (32nd)? Will the Wildcats with quarterback Clayton Thorson be able to pick apart a Pitt secondary that has been dreadful this season? The Panthers are one of the more explosive teams in the country (22nd offensive IsoPPP) but, the defense is one of the worst in the country at giving up explosive plays (110th defensive IsoPPP).

However, Thorson hasn’t been a consistent passer this year, completing just 58-percent of his attempts, but he has posted a nice 21-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s used to getting help from running back Justin Jackson (1,300 yards 12 TDs 4.9 YPC), but he likely won’t in this game as the Panthers rank 9th in the country allowing just 108.9 yards per game on the ground. As explosive as Pitt is, it’s mainly come from the run-game led by James Conner. Problem is, Northwestern can stop the run. They’ve been horrible against the pass, so the question is whether you think Nathan Peterman can pick apart the Wildcats defense. I think the Panthers will win, but Northwestern keeps it close. Northwestern +5.5

Total: As explosive as Pitt’s offense can be and as bad as the defense has been, this number is a little too high for my liking. I’m expecting a close game and one that stays more in the 30-26 or 31-28 range which would leave us well short of the total. Under 66

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.