Hello, folks, and welcome to this season’s final Big 10 betting lines.
I told you all I’d be back for the postseason, and here we are. I’m ready to end this season on a high note. I went 3-4 in Week 13 of the regular season to bring my yearly total to 54-48, so I’m hanging right around .500.
Let’s get into these bowl games, shall we?
Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs. Boston College
Line: Iowa -2.5; O/U: 45.5
This is the first of two games on today, and it features Iowa, who whooped Ohio State earlier this season, and Boston College, a team that scored at least 35 points in five of its last six games to close the regular season.
Iowa has been a very strange team in the conference this year. The Hawkeyes’ last four games of the season included that whooping of the Buckeyes, then losing their next two to Wisconsin and Purdue (!) and then closing the the season by annihilating Nebraska 56-14. The Hawkeyes also only won two road games all season — that beatdown in Nebraska and then a 44-41 barn burner at Iowa State in Week 2.
With Iowa being as streaky as it is, and Boston College ending its regular season strong, I like the Eagles in this game. Boston College also took down a Big Ten team last season in the bowl season (Maryland), so I like the Eagles’ chances to do that again.
Pick: Boston College +2.5
Foster Farms Bowl: Purdue vs. Arizona
Line: Arizona -3; O/U: 66
Purdue has been another streaky team in the conference this season. After starting out strong by slaughtering Missouri on the road, taking Louisville down to the wire and hanging around with Michigan at home, it looked like Purdue was going to have a pretty good season. I’d say making a bowl game for Purdue under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm is a good start. But bad losses down the stretch to Rutgers and Nebraska derailed what could have been a great first season for Brohm.
On the other side, Arizona has had a pretty similar season. The Wildcats took down a ranked Washington State, a Josh Rosen-led UCLA team and put up 45 on both Colorado and Cal. They also only lost to USC by two touchdowns.
Led by quarterback Khalil Tate, who is pretty much Rich Rod’s new version of Denard Robinson, the Wildcats should be able to defeat Purdue in this one. The last time Purdue won a bowl game was the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (now the Quicklane Bowl). Not only do I think Arizona wins, but I think Arizona wins handily. The over/under combined with the spread indicated Vegas thinks this will be a Big 12-esque game, but I don’t think so at all.
Pick: Arizona -3
Holiday Bowl: No. 16 Michigan State vs. No. 18 Washington State
Line: Pick ‘em; O/U: 46
This should be a very intriguing game. Michigan State, led by the most boring head coach on the planet, vs. Washington State, led by one of the most entertaining coaches on the planet. Two different coaches leading two very similar squads into this San Diego showdown. Should be fun!
Washington State has the 31st ranked total offense in the country, led by senior quarterback Luke Falk. Meanwhile Michigan State has the 92nd ranked total offense, not all that good, but does have the 9th ranked total defense to counter Washington State’s offensive attack. But Washington State doesn’t slack in the defensive department either (14th total offense), so the Cougars should have a decent showing against the superior defense of MSU.
I’m kind of surprised this is a pick ‘em game. Washington State defeated some very good teams this season (USC, Boise State, Stanford) and will more than likely have more fans at this game than MSU. With it being a straight pick ‘em game, I like the Cougars in this one.
Pick: Washington State
Music City Bowl: No. 21 Northwestern vs. Kentucky
Line: Northwestern -7.5; O/U: 51
One thing is for sure — the Wildcats are going to win this one. The only question is which Wildcats?
This game features two great running backs — Northwestern’s senior Justin Jackson and Kentucky’s sophomore Benny Snell Jr. Jackson ran for 1,205 yards and nine touchdowns in his final season for Northwestern. Snell Jr. ran for 1,318 yards (2nd in the SEC) and 18 touchdowns (1st in SEC) in his second season with Kentucky. Impressive numbers for both, but especially Snell Jr., who is still young and has eligibility remaining.
If it wasn’t for Snell Jr. for Kentucky, the Wildcats’ offense would be a non-factor. Their passing game ranks 98th in the country, averaging only 181.1 passing yards per game. Northwestern, on the other hand, has the 52nd ranked passing offense and the 70th ranked rushing offense. Not fantastic numbers, but clearly better than Kentucky’s.
With Kentucky’s great rushing attack, I’m not extremely confident in Northwestern covering the spread. I’m going to take the “over” in this game.
Pick: Over 51
Cotton Bowl: No. 5 Ohio State vs No. 8 USC
Line: Ohio State -7.5; O/U: 64.5
This is by far the bowl game I am most interested in watching this season. This should be an amazing game.
Both the Buckeyes and Trojans ended their seasons on a high note by winning their respective conference championship games. USC has won its last five games while OSU has won four of its last five. Both teams come in extremely hot, so this should be a fantastic matchup of two powerhouse programs.
I am going to pick USC in this game, and the reason for that is because I believe this will be a shootout until the very end. I don’t expect this to be a 49-24 game by any means; in fact, I think it will be something around 40-37, much like last year’s Rose Bowl between USC and Penn State. I truly believe this will be the best non-CFP bowl game of the year. OSU should be favored in this game, but not by that many points.
Pick: USC +7.5
Fiesta Bowl: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington
Line: Penn State -2; O/U: 55
I am also really interested in this game, too. Two teams that were destined for the College Football Playoff before the season started are now hoping to end their season with a NY6 bowl victory.
I see this as a game where there is no regard to defense, even though both teams have very good defenses. This will be all about the offenses — Saquon Barkley, Trace McSorely, Myles Gaskin, Jake Browning. Man, this is going to be a fun game. I will take the “over” once again, but if you don’t like taking the over or under, I’d take Penn State if I were you.
Pick: Over 55
Orange Bowl: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami (FL)
Line: Wisconsin -6; O/U: 45
This line is crazy to me, so I will keep this one short and simple.
Miami absolutely destroyed Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at home this season. The Hurricanes’ road games are a different story, but guess what? This bowl game is at Hard Rock Stadium, which is located in, you guessed it, Miami, Florida. Wisconsin hung around with Ohio State in its first big test away from home all season, but came up short at the end of the day. I expect that to happen again in this game.
I am taking Miami all day long.
Pick: Miami +6
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina
Line: Michigan -8; O/U: 43
I’ve done this for most of the second half of the season for the Wolverines, so I am going to do it again. Until they show me they have an offense that can compete against good teams, I am going to pick the team receiving points from Vegas. I’ll take South Carolina, hope I’m wrong and hope to be encouraged by the U-M offense heading into 2018.
Pick: South Carolina +8