Welcome back for Part 7 of the Bowl picks. This is the final article for College football this season. Going into Thursday, we are 16-14 on the bowl season.
All lines courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
Ohio (6-6) vs Nevada (7-5)
Ohio is 6-6 on the season. They’re a good team overall, though they’ve lost four games by three points or less. Ohio’s strength is their rushing attack. The Bobcats average 217 yards per game at a 5.5 YPC average. The 20th ranked Bobcats offense is led by quarterback Nathan Rourke (20 TDs & 5 INTs at a 8.6 YPA). Rourke also averages 5.4 YPC on the ground and leads the team with 12 rushing touchdowns.
O’Shaan Allison (6.4 YPC) and De’Montre Tuggle (6 YPC & 10 TDs) split carries out of the backfield. The Bobcats struggled to turn the ball over (1.4 turnovers per game) and only force 1.1 takeaways on defense. Defensively, the Bobcats struggle most against the run (178 YPG on 4.8 YPC).
Nevada is one of those statistical anomaly teams. They average .4 more turnovers than takeaways per game. They’re 111th on offense and 101st on defense. Offensively, their quarterback, Carson Strong (10 TDs & 7 INTs at 5.9 YPA), leads a balanced offense that struggles to move the ball efficiently (2.4 TDs per game). Defensively, the Wolfpack allows 4.2 YPC and 3.9 TDs per game.
This one seems like an easy pick and so far this bowl season, we’re 5-1 on the “This game seems obvious” picks. I like Ohio to win this game in a big way. They have the offensive firepower and the better team in the trenches, while Nevada is lucky to even be in this game, seeing as they’re in the bottom quarter of the country on both offense and defense. I’m going Ohio big here.
Pick: Ohio -8
Armed Forces Bowl
Southern Miss (7-5) vs Tulane (6-6)
Southern Miss is…above average, I guess? They’re 74th on offense and 49th on defense. Southern Miss’ issues start with the passing game. Quarterback Jack Abraham (18 TDs and 15 INTs at 8.7 YPA) leads the offense to 289 yards per game through the air.
Though they move the ball well, the Golden Eagles are throwing 1.3 INTs per game and average .8 fumbles per game. De’Michael Harris and Kevin Perkins split carries in the backfield to an average of around 4.7 YPC. Defensively, the Golden Eagles are strong against the run (3.4 YPC) and relatively good against the pass.
Tulane runs variations of an option-style offense. They pass more than traditional option-style offenses (26 attempts per game) but their production comes from their ground attack (251 YPG at 5.4 YPC). Justin McMillan leads the attack (14 TDs & 10 TDs) but does most of his damage on the ground (4.6 YPC and 12 rushing TDs). Tulane’s rush defense is their weakest unit (165 YPG & 4.5 YPC). The Green Wave also averages .3 more turnovers per game than takeaways.
I have been using the same method for many of these picks by going with the team with the better O-line matchup, but both teams here should be able to have huge days on offense. I tend to lean more with the team who runs the ball better and turns it over less, so I’m going to go with Tulane to get out to enough of a lead where Southern Miss has to throw their way back into the game and I think a few Southern Miss interceptions will be their undoing.
Pick: Tulane -7
Lending Tree Bowl
Miami (OH) (8-5) vs Louisiana (10-3)
The Miami of Ohio Redhawks won six of their final seven games en route to a MAC Championship. Miami was a run-first offense this season (38 attempts/game) and really struggled scoring through the air (.8 passing TD per game). The Redhawks thrived off takeaways as their positive turnover margin helped them immensely. Defensively, the Redhawks were fine against the pass but struggled against the run (174 YPG at 4.2 YPC). Teams ran the ball on Miami 42 times per game on average.
The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns only lost to two teams all season (App St & Miss St). The Ragin Cajuns were 10th on offense and 20th on defense in scoring for the season. Louisiana’s offense is predicated on a strong rushing attack (42 attempts per game, 265 YPG, and 6.4 YPC).
Though the Ragin Cajuns don’t throw the ball much, they are productive when they do. Levi Lewis is averaging 8 yards per attempt and has 24 TDs and 5 INTs on the season. The Ragin Cajuns have a three-headed attack at running back and two of them average at least 7.3 YPC.
This team is an explosive offense with few weaknesses on defense. Their biggest weakness on defense is the team’s inability to stop the run. Louisiana allows 180 yards per game at 4.6 YPC. Though they have a positive turnover margin, Louisiana averages just under one fumble (.8) per game.
I like this game to be entertaining, with plenty of scoring going on in the first half, but I don’t believe Miami will be able to keep pace with the Ragin Cajuns offense. I like Louisiana to pull away.
Pick: Louisiana -14
National Championship Game
#1 LSU (14-0) vs #3 Clemson (14-0)
I was a little off in the CFB Semifinals. By “A little off”, I mean way off on the LSU game. I feel like Ohio State was absolutely robbed in the other semifinal game, but overall, we may look back on this season and consider the champion to be one of the greatest teams of all time.
Offensively, we’ve seen few teams like Clemson and LSU who have such a tremendous offense and defense. We’ve certainly not seen two teams with such explosive offenses going against each other in a title game. Regardless, this is going to be a nearly impossible game to predict, given the volatility in analysis around pass-heavy teams.
LSU has been absolutely killing good teams lately. They seem like a team on a mission, throwing the ball without much regard for opposing secondaries and game script. Last week, Joe Burrow threw for 7 touchdowns in the first half against Oklahoma. I’ve never seen anything so absurd to happen in a playoff game. Considering how Oklahoma wasn’t even close, it was impressive to see LSU continuing to attack the OU secondary in the first half of the game. Defensively, I like the secondary of the LSU Tigers and feel like they have good enough talent to challenge the Clemson offense.
For Clemson, they turned out to be the sleeping giant we all feared they may actually be. Following some big plays and sketchy officiating, the Clemson Tigers came away with a hard-fought win and looked very efficient on offense from the second quarter on. Clemson’s secondary is probably one of the best in the country and features multiple future NFL players. If there’s a secondary out there who can slow down the LSU attack, this one has a good chance to do so.
This comes down to coaching for me. It was refreshing to see LSU attacking OU vertically throughout the first half last week, but my concern here is that they try to do the same against a much better secondary and Clemson comes away with a few INTs and flips momentum early.
I think this will be a very entertaining game throughout, but I think, in the end, it will come down to a final drive. Because of that, I can’t pass up on Clemson when they’re getting five points. These may be two of the top 5 teams of all time.
Is it too much to put our money on the defending champs who are playing the “nobody believes in us” card? I think not and I think Clemson may actually win outright, so the +175 odds for Clemson seem like a worthy play to me.
Pick: Clemson +5.5