2023 Bowl Picks Against the Spread

My picks have done pretty well this year in this column, and I do see some value spots in the bowl games, but I wanted to first put in my two cents on the Florida State playoff snub.

I actually felt sorry for the committee this year, because there were fully seven teams with awesome resumes that would usually get them into the playoffs, and five or six of those could reasonably scream blue murder if they were excluded.

I was on Twitter (I'm not calling it X) a great deal in the hours following the conference champions games, and the CFB community was actually kind of split whether it would be Florida State, Alabama, and/or Texas that was going to be left out. You wouldn't know that now; you would think instead everybody had Florida State in and this is the most shocking and egregious decision the committee has ever made.

Here's the thing: the committee told you they would do this. They were adamant that they were going to pick the four best teams, not the four most deserving teams. Is Florida State right now one of the four best teams? You tell me — the books have them 2-touchdown underdogs to Georgia. How frequently does Vegas get it that wrong?

For the record, I do think the playoff berths should go to the most deserving teams. But if we are picking the four best, I don't think FSU fits the bill and I am not sure they would even if they had a healthy Jordan Travis.

On to the picks.

Boise State +3.5 over UCLA

The Broncos represent my betting strategy for bowl games in a nutshell: take good G5 teams over P5 teams that may or may not be particularly motivated. UCLA especially looks un-motivated, losing three out of their last four, including getting waxed at home by Cal and — ugh — Arizona State. Boise State won the Mountain West and did so under an interim coach for the final three games. They are resilient.

Duke +7.5 over Troy

Unfortunately for Troy, Duke is one of the P5 teams that should be motivated, because the Dookies can't take bowling for granted and had, by their standards, and outstanding year. Even accounting for the losses of Mike Elko, Riley Leonard, and whoever else split, the Duke talent level should still be superior to Troy's.

Oregon State +6.5 over Notre Dame

Once again, I am looking at motivation. Notre Dame tries to play for national championships, not the Sun Bowl. Oregon State I believe will play with a chip on the shoulder, as part of the Unloved Two with Washington State. The Beavers have quietly had an excellent season. They were blown off the field in the Civil War, but their other three losses were by a combined 8 points.

Iowa/Tennessee UNDER 36.5

I don't play totals often; they're boring to me. But Iowa's last eight games have gone under, including the ridiculous totals 27.5 against Rutgers and and 25(!) against Nebraska. At 36.5, this is the highest total in an Iowa game in seven game weeks, and while I understand Tennessee's offense is not a Big Ten West offense, they are also not a '90s Hawaii offense, either.

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