The Loaf: College Football Picks – Bowl Season, Week 1 –

Staff Writer: Michael Brown

Welcome back to The Loaf! We took a brief hiatus for Army-Navy, and now we’re ready to roll into the Bowl Season. We’re coming off a great Conference Championship Week; we got back to our winning ways with a 6-1 week. We didn’t cash in on Texas-Oklahoma (Over 77), but Georgia (+13.5), Ohio State (-13), Washington-Utah (Under 45), Virginia Tech (-3.5), Fresno State-Boise State (Under 53), and Cal-Stanford (Under 48.5) were all winners, and we got a whole lot of TOA$$$T. That got us to 22-12 on the season, and now we’re going to try to build on our success and finish the season strong with the bowl games.

People often have different ways of splitting Bowl Season into “weeks,” and some would just think I’d do one big Loaf for all the bowl games, but this is how I’m gonna go about it: December 15-20, December 21-27, and December 28-January 1. By doing this, I’ll be able to predict games closer to when they actually happen, rather than picking games three weeks in advance. Plus, I’ll be able to give you, the people, three Loaves (and maybe a grand finale to recap the season? I’m not sure yet) to finish the season instead of just one. The more the merrier, right?

Here’s what I’ve got for Week 1 of the Bowl Season:

I’m gonna keep it localized to start and take Georgia Southern (PK) vs Eastern Michigan in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The first thought that comes to mind is that this game is in Montgomery. Statesboro is less than 5 hours from Montgomery, and Ypsilanti is nearly 12 hours from Montgomery. Georgia Southern is going to have more fans there,

shai werts

Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts (4) has been great this season. Expect a big game from him against the EMUs – PHOTO CREDIT – The Athletic

which is valuable in bowl games. Plus, Georgia Southern is just a better team. This line has climbed up to Georgia Southern (-3) in some spots I think, which still seems a little low honestly. I have the utmost respect for my beloved EMUs, but they just aren’t that great. Eastern Michigan was mediocre in a dreadful MAC. They played Army out of conference, and got carved up for nearly 300 yards on the ground. That’s notable, of course, because Georgia Southern, like Army, runs an option offense. You’d have to expect Georgia Southern be able to move the ball well against an Eastern Michigan defense that struggles stopping the run. Plus, fading the MAC is never a bad idea, especially during Bowl Season. Georgia Southern, by the way, is 8-3 this season against the spread. Georgia Southern 34, Eastern Michigan 17

            We’ll stay on the Fade-the-MAC train for UAB (-1.5) vs Northern Illinois in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Florida. First of all, shouts to UAB Head Coach Bill Clark who was named the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year on December 13! He’s done a great job

bill clark

UAB Head Coach Bill Clark has already been recognized for his brilliant job this season with UAB. Can he cap it off with a bowl win over Northern Illinois? – PHOTO CREDIT – CBS Sports

reviving (literally) this program, and he’s a big reason I expect UAB to win this game by at least a field goal. Bowl games, more often than not, are about who wants it more. Motivation can either help you immensely in these games or it can doom you. UAB will have no shortage of motivation in this game. Bill Clark won’t allow it. They want to be there, they are excited to be there, and they want to win the game. When I consider that and then think about how UAB is just a better team than Northern Illinois, UAB seems like the obvious side here. NIU is really bad on offense, 123rd overall in the nation in overall offensive efficiency. UAB is pretty dang good on defense, too. Plus, like Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois comes from the MAC, which consistently struggles throughout Bowl Season; it’s 14-21 against the spread in bowl games since 2012. UAB, meanwhile is 8-4 ATS this season. UAB 24, Northern Illinois 10

            I have just one underdog this week, and it comes in an intrastate battle with Louisiana (+3.5) vs Tulane in the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida. I’m not sure why Tulane is the favorite in this game. The Cajuns are simply better. Of Tulane’s six wins, most are close in margin and came against bad teams. Really, Tulane is your run-of-the-mill Group of 5 team that sucks but is good enough in a bad conference to stumble into a bowl game. Louisiana’s pretty identical to Tulane when you just look at the record (Cajuns are 7-6, Tulane is 6-6), but Louisiana has now won 6 of its last 9 games after starting the season 1-3. Two of those first three losses came against Mississippi State and Alabama, so those don’t really even count anyway. Louisiana also had two shots at Appalachian State, both in Boone, and one in the Sun Belt Championship. Unfortunately, it came up short in both, but it fought hard and competed until the very end in both. Long story short, the teams look similar on the outside, but it doesn’t take much digging to realize that Louisiana is the better team. Also, Louisiana is 7-4 this season ATS, and Tulane is 4-7. Do with that what you will. Louisiana 34, Tulane 30

elijah mitchell

Louisiana running back Elijah Mitchell (15) has 1,293 total all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns this season. He needs just 49 more yards on the ground to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing for the season, which would be a huge accomplishment in his sophomore season – PHOTO CREDIT – ragincajuns.com

            We’re going to wrap up this week’s Loaf with the best game of the weekend, Arizona State vs #21 Fresno State (UNDER 54.5) in the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada. What can I say? Fresno State unders are a very reliable principle, 9-3 this season. The Bulldogs

n'keal harry

Without N’Keal Harry (1), it will be difficult for Arizona State to move the ball against a stout Fresno State defense in the Las Vegas Bowl – PHOTO CREDIT – Rick Scuteri, AP

are NASTY on defense. Just awesome. Conversely, Arizona State’s best player, the motor that makes their offense go, the best receiver in College Football, N’Keal Harry, will not be playing in this game as he prepares for the NFL Draft. You’ll see a depleted Arizona State offense up against a stellar Fresno State defense. Meanwhile, Arizona State is alright on defense, and Fresno State just does what it needs to do on offense. Nothing special or flashy, just wearing down its opponents. This game will not feature many points, but, rather, some great defensive plays and maybe a turnover or two. Manny Wilkins has been up and down this season, and without N’Keal Harry to throw to, things may not go very well against that Fresno State defense. Fresno State 27, Arizona State 20

            That’s what I got for our first window of bowl games on The Loaf. Hopefully these next three weeks don’t go by too fast.

As always, LET’S GET THIS TOA$$$T

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