The Loaf: College Football Picks – Bowl Season, Week 2 –

Staff Writer: Michael Brown

Welcome back to The Loaf! We’re back at it for Week 2 of the Bowl Season. In this edition of The Loaf I’ll be taking us through the games tomorrow (12/21) through Thursday (12/27). Last week I took you through the first week, and we went a solid 3-1 obtaining that bowl season TOA$$$$T. The Cajuns (+3.5) let us down, but we cashed in on Georgia Southern (PK), Arizona State-Fresno State (Under 54.5), and UAB (-2.5). We now stand at 25-13 on the season. We begin to move into some more high-profile bowls as we move through Christmas and approach the Playoff. Here’s what I’ve got for Week 2 of the Bowl Season:

First up we have Cal-TCU (UNDER 40.5) in the Cheez-It Bowl from Phoenix, Arizona. Woof. This number is even lower in some spots; I’ve seen it as low as 38.5. It’s low for a reason, too. Firstly, Cal’s defense is nasty, and has singlehandedly won games for the Golden Bears this season. It’s nasty, and should be out in full force for a bowl game that Cal will likely be

patrick laird (use this one)

I talked a lot about Cal’s defense, and rightfully so, but running back Patrick Laird (28) has been awesome this season; he’s 68 rushing yards away from 1,000 on the season – PHOTO CREDIT – Al Sermeno, KLC Fotos

much more motivated for than TCU, whose offense is plagued with injuries and transfers. TCU has already lost wide receiver Kavontae Turpin who was kicked off the team in October following an assault arrest. Leading rusher Darius Anderson has been ruled out for the game due to an undisclosed injury. Quarterback Shawn Robinson announced he was transferring to Missouri. Backup quarterback Michael Collins played well when he got snaps in favor of Robinson this season, but too will be out with an injury. With those players in the lineup, TCU still struggled mightily to score against some really bad defenses in the Big 12. So now, TCU will be up against the best defense it’s seen this season in Cal with a very depleted backfield. I don’t expect the Horned Frogs to score a lot. Meanwhile, you’ve also got a very pedestrian Cal offense up against a somewhat stout defense from TCU. This one, unlike most bowls, looks to be quite low-scoring. Also of note, the under is 9-3 this season in Cal games, and 7-1 in the Golden Bears’ last 8 games. Cal 20, TCU 10

            We have one more total play this week with Houston-Army (UNDER 60) in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl from Dallas, Texas at the (real) Cotton Bowl. I can’t say I’m as confident in this one as I am with Cal-TCU. I’m a little worried Houston might be able to move the ball, but

kelvin hopkins jr

Army QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. (8) has been great for the Black Knights this season; look for him to have a big game in the Armed Forces Bowl against a depleted Houston defensive line – PHOTO CREDIT – ESPN

Army is solid on the defensive side of the ball; it gave Kyler Murray Oklahoma all it could handle in Norman. I really like this under, though, because of the option factor. Option teams like Army run the ball and drain the clock, moving at a slow, methodical pace. Some people will argue that Houston sees Navy every year, so the Cougars should be well prepared for the option. My counter to that is that Houston consistently has trouble against Navy, and it doesn’t help that All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver will be out as he prepares for the NFL Draft (players skipping bowls to “prepare” for the draft is the lamest thing, by the way). Army, who is better than Navy, should have no problem controlling this game, and limiting possessions. 60 points is just a little too much I think. Army 28, Houston 24

            We’re gonna keep it in the Group of 5 for Troy (+2) vs Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl from Mobile, Alabama. There isn’t much to this one, honestly. Troy is just the better team. Buffalo is a good team,

BJ smith

Running back B.J. Smith (26) was electric for Troy in its road win against Nebraska earlier this year; can he provide another big performance in the Dollar General Bowl against Buffalo? – PHOTO CREDIT – Nati Harnik, AP

and absolutely should’ve won the MAC; it had no business losing that game to NIU. With that said, Buffalo isn’t that good, and is probably slightly overrated due to a very weak strength of schedule. Troy, meanwhile, has played (and beaten) some solid teams like Nebraska and Georgia Southern. The eye test just favors Troy; they look better. I also worry about Buffalo being able to move the ball against Troy, which has only given up more than 22 points twice this season, and not once since September. For these reasons alone I would take Troy to win this game, but this game is also played in Mobile. Mobile is 145 miles from Troy, but 1,153 miles from Buffalo. This is going to be a home game for Troy. Troy is 11-3-2 in its last 16 games against-the-spread, and 16-3 straight up in its last 19 games. They’re a really good team. Troy 27, Buffalo 21

            We’re moving on now to a rematch of last year’s Orange Bowl, where I like Wisconsin (+4) vs Miami (FL) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City. This is more of a fade Miami play than it is me liking Wisconsin, but still. Why on earth is Miami favored? What have they done to justify being favored in any game? There’s nothing that makes me think Miami shows up and plays well in this game. Absolutely nothing. Miami is just pathetic on offense; it’s hard to watch them try to move the ball. The quarterback situation has been a disaster of sorts, and play-calling hasn’t gone well for Mark Richt. The defense has been the lone bright spot for the Canes this season, but now Manny Diaz is off to Temple. How will they respond? I don’t imagine it will be entirely positive. What motivation do these South Florida boys have to go up to the Bronx in the cold weather and play a physical, beat-em-down game against Wisconsin? I’m gonna say none. Wisconsin has surely been a disappointment this season too, and Alex Hornibrook’s poor play has been a big part of that. He’s not playing in this game, though, and Jack Coan will get the start at quarterback. I expect a heavy dosage of Jonathan Taylor, and I expect Paul Chryst will have his boys ready to go. They’ll care a whole lot more than Miami will. Advantage: Badgers. Wisconsin 28, Miami 10

jonathan taylor

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (23) hasn’t had the Heisman-type season he was hoping for, but he’s still been fantastic, and looks to have another big game against Miami, as he did in last season’s Orange Bowl, where he broke the single-season rushing record for a freshman – PHOTO CREDIT – SunSentinel

            For my last game this week, I’m breaking one of my own personal rules. I’ve told myself since I began The Loaf that I would never pick a game involving my favorite team, Georgia Tech. But I’m gonna do it. Give me Georgia Tech (-5) vs Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl from Detroit, Michigan. Listen, I wouldn’t pick my own team unless I really thought they were gonna open up a can, and I do. There are so many reasons Georgia Tech is going to win this game by a lot. Firstly, they’re just better than Minnesota. It has better wins than Minnesota, and its losses aren’t as bad.

ga tech defense

Georgia Tech’s offense typically gets most of the attention being that it’s a spread option attack, but the defense has quietly improved a lot this season under new defensive coordinator Nate Woody – PHOTO CREDIT – AP

Also, Georgia Tech has quite a chip on its shoulder. They feel that they were slighted in the bowl selection process, and deserved a better bowl destination than Detroit on the day after Christmas. And they’re right. They want to go into this game and make a statement. Minnesota is also going to be missing a few key players in this game on both sides of the ball, which doesn’t bode well for the Gophers. Plus, Paul Johnson always does well against teams he doesn’t see every season; Georgia Tech is going to light up the scoreboard against a Minnesota defense that gives up close to 200 rushing yards a game. Speaking of which, and most notably, this is Paul Johnson’s last game as Head Coach at Georgia Tech. He’s retiring after 11 years with the Jackets and 40 total years of coaching. New Head Coach Geoff Collins is cleaning house in terms of the staff, so this is the last game for all of the assistants too. It’s going to be an emotional game for these players and coaches, and they’re gonna want to let them, Johnson specifically, ride off into the sunset (or whatever their future may entail if it isn’t retirement) with a win as the cherry on top. So, Georgia Tech is the better team than Minnesota, and Georgia Tech is going to want to win this game more than Minnesota will. Give me the Jackets. Georgia Tech 42, Minnesota 24

That’s what I’ve got for this week’s edition of The Loaf. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a very merry bowl season!!

As always, LET’S GET THIS TOA$$$$T.

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