Ryan Mayer

The college football bowl season is upon us. With 39 games spread out over the next two and a half 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 are as of the date of publication.

Camping World Bowl

#22 Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. #19 Oklahoma State (9-3)

Spread: Oklahoma State -4

Total: 63

Spread: Virginia Tech continued their success under Justin Fuente, backing up a 10-4 debut season under him with a 9-3 finish this year. Freshman QB Josh Jackson was a revelation, completing 60 percent of his passes for over 2,700 yards and 19 touchdowns with just eight picks en route to leading the unit to averaging 28 points and over 400 yards per game. The running game was largely by committee with four guys getting 60+ carries not including Jackson who toted it 108 times on the year. The main target for Jackson was wide receiver Cam Phillips who just missed a 1,000 yard season (964). As impressive as the offense was under the freshman QB, the defense was the biggest reason for the Hokies success as Bud Foster’s group allowed opponents just over 13 points and 300 yards per game. The leader is hard-hitting linebacker Tremaine Edmunds who tallied 101 tackles, 14 for loss and 5.5 sacks this season. But, the unit could be missing DB Mook Reynolds who has a lower body injury and they lost fellow LB Terrell Edmunds for the year to a shoulder injury that required surgery.

The slightly banged up Hokies defense will need to be at their best against the Cowboys offense that was one of the highest-scoring units in the country this year (46.2 PPG). It’s led by QB Mason Rudolph, who had a top-notch senior season with over 4,500 yards and 35 TDs this season. His main receiving threat is the speedy James Washington who averaged 20.6 yards per reception this year with 12 touchdowns. Washington is complemented by Marcell Ateman, who is a deep threat in his own right (19.4 YPC). Combined with running back Justice Hill (245 carries 1,347 yards 14 TD) and this is a balanced attack that can hurt you in a variety of ways. The defense, however, leaves something to be desired. Granted, they play in the wide open Big 12, but after a solid start to the year, the Cowboys fell off down the stretch allowing 39 or more points in four straight games to WVU, OU, ISU and KSU. They finished by limiting Kansas to 17 points, but that’s the Jayhawks. They have been pretty good against the run (131.5 YPG 3.5 YPC), but they’ve given up over 260 yards through the air per game.

Both teams were 6-6 against the spread this year, and the only real difference between the two is that Va. Tech was 0-2 as an underdog. In the end, I’m relying on the veterans on Oklahoma State against a freshman QB in Josh Jackson. Oklahoma State -4

Total: The Va. Tech defense hasn’t given up more than 31 points all season (Clemson) and they also haven’t scored more than 24 points in each of their last five games. Despite how quickly the Cowboys can put points on the board, the under still feels like a better bet. Under 63


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