12/31 Previews

A few minutes late, but here are my predictions for today’s games. Hopefully better than yesterday’s catastrophe marred by SMU’s ridiculous game plan, two terrible calls by officials, and the Huskers missing their flight to San Diego and having to find last-minute replacement players to play Washington:

Meineke Car Care Bowl: Clemson vs. South Florida

My picks: Clemson 2 confidence points

A brutally bad matchup. Looking at my notes, I’m guessing this game won’t end up on ESPN Classic any time soon. I have “Both teams suck!!” and UNDER 40 underlined. Clemson’s marginally better, I think. I’ll go Clemson 20, South Florida 14.

Sun Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Miami

My picks: Notre Dame +3, Notre Dame 18 confidence points

This is strictly a momentum pick. Both of these teams are fairly evenly matched, but Notre Dame ended the season on a three game winning streak and Miami lost their last two. Notre Dame really hit their stride at the end of the season and Vegas still undervalued them – they were underdogs to both Utah and USC (both straight up wins) and only favored by 9 over Army (a 24-point win). The Irish’s offense has been competent all year and their defense really improved towards the end of the season. It feels like they’re undervalued again, especially with Miami’s Randy Shannon getting fired and Jacory Harris starting at QB instead of the far more dangerous Stephen Morris. I pick Notre Dame in the small upset, 24-17.

Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. Central Florida

My pick: Georgia -6.5, Georgia 30 confidence points

SEC team versus Conference USA. End of story. Prior to SMU’s crapfest yesterday, I’d pick Georgia to win 38-10. Now I’ll pick Georgia to win 45-10 out of bitterness.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Florida State vs. South Carolina

My picks: Florida State +3.5, Florida State 14 confidence points

My thought on South Carolina has always been that they pull (or come close to pulling) one major upset a year and then they’re overrated for the entire season. We saw that this year – the Gamecocks hung around the top ten most of the season on the heels of their upset victory over Alabama. That win looks a lot less impressive after the Tide lost two more times, particularly after the Gamecocks’ second best performance – a narrow regular season loss to Auburn – was erased from memory after the same Auburn team pummeled them in the SEC Championship game 56-17.

Then I saw this stat: in the last two years, when the Gamecocks are favored by 3-10 points, they are 1-5 against the spread and 2-4 straight up. Theory confirmed. South Carolina performs way better as an underdog then as a small favorite. Florida State looked good towards the end of the season – beating bowl teams Clemson, Maryland, and Florida before losing a close game to a very good Virginia Tech team in the ACC Championship. I think Jimbo Fisher gets his team up for his first bowl game and the Seminoles take this game 34-27.

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