Bowl season begins on Saturday with five games, including the Las Vegas Bowl, which is the highlight of the scheduled match ups. Fresno State and Arizona State will face each other for the first time since 1941.
The other games feature lesser-known schools, but there are still some intriguing contests, including two Louisiana schools playing in the Auto Nation Cure Bowl.
Below are the five bowl games, and who we think will cover the spread.
1. Middle Tennessee State +6.5 vs. Appalachian State
This is a game of stability against uncertainty. Middle Tennessee State has a coach that has been to four consecutive bowl games, while Appalachian State just lost their coach Scott Satterfield to Louisville.
Losing Satterfield three weeks before the New Orleans Bowl didn’t give the Mountaineers much time to prepare. That should be a definite disadvantage on Saturday.
Despite Satterfield leaving, Appalachian State is still a 6.5-point favorite. Most of that is because the team averages 36.7 points per game, which was good for 20th in FBS. They should be able to pick apart the Blue Raiders’ defense.
MTSU, however, has a pretty decent passing attack that should give Appalachian State problems.
Take MTSU and the points.
2. Arizona State +3 vs. Fresno State
Fresno State has always had an inferiority complex when it comes to playing teams in the Pac-12. They feel disrespected, mostly because they are, and a smart coach like Jeff Tedford uses it as motivation.
The Bulldogs aren’t the underdog here, Arizona State is, and though three points doesn’t seem like a lot, Fresno State is going to have to guard against overconfidence.
The Sun Devils are without N’Keal Harry, the wider receiver deciding to skip the Las Vegas Bowl to guard against injury and prepare for the NFL Draft. He is projected as a first-round pick, so ASU will definitely miss him.
It makes one wonder how motivated the Sun Devils are to be in a postseason game. They could fall victim to the Vegas Flu, and have more fun in Sin City then they should.
Take Fresno State and give away the points.
3. Tulane -4 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
The Auto Nation Cure Bowl features two teams that are very familiar with one another. Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette have met each other 28 times with the Green Wave holding a 22-6 advantage.
Revenge will be on the mind of the Ragin’ Cajuns, and to win they will have to prevail over a tough Tulane run defense. Tulane features its own potent running attack, alternating between backs Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine.
The key to this game will be the success Louisiana has in the air. If they can mount a decent passing attack, they could pull off the upset.
Take Louisiana and the points.
4. North Texas +11 vs. Utah State
The New Mexico bowl might be a good game to look at the over because both of these programs like to score in bunches. North Texas averaged 36.4 points a game, while Utah State averaged 47.2 points.
This should be an old fashioned shootout. Quarterbacks Jordan Love of the Aggies, and Mason Fine for the Mean Green are two of the most productive signal callers in the country.
Love is a sophomore and threw for 3,208 yards, 28 touchdowns. His opponent Fine had 3,734 yards and 27 touchdowns.
It should come down to which defense will stop them. North Texas is an 11-point-underdog, but should keep the game close. Utah State lost coach Matt Wells to Texas Tech, so that might be a distraction worth considering.
Take North Texas and the points.
5. Eastern Michigan +2.5 vs. Georgia Southern
The Camellia Bowl opened as a pick ’em between Eastern Michigan and Georgia Southern, but the sharps have bet this game on the Georgia Southern side, making them a 2.5-point favorite.
They had an impressive start to the season, until they met No. 2 Clemson in their third game and got crushed 38-7. The defense stumbled a bit late in the season, and that is a concern, but they should be able to defeat Eastern Michigan.
Take Georgia Southern and give away the points.