Good start to the bowl season, 2-0. Moves us to +6.25 units on the season.
Today is tricky. The early signing period has changed college football as we know it. A few years ago, if you were a coaching staff, your schedule was simple:
Last game of season.
Prepare for bowl game.
Recruit until first Wednesday in February, National Signing Day.
Now, coaches have to deal with recruiting in first few weeks of December, as 80-85% of the signings happen during the early signing period. Their focus may not 100% be on the bowl game, especially if you're playing an early one. Add in factors like changing jobs, selling houses, moving family, etc. and you have yourself a hard handicapping experience for a lot of these games. I suggest being cautionary when betting these early bowl games. Wait for your spots after Christmas to hammer.
That being said, let's have some winners.
Stack Cash With Jack Mac: 122-104, +6.25 units (Bowl Season: 2-0)
App State -17
I like watching every bowl game, but boy could this one be a sleeper.
Both of these teams play slow. SDSU ranks 110th in pace, while CMU ranks 60th. The biggest factor in this game will be SDSU's defense. Rocky Long's unit ranks 17th according to SP+. Opponents against SDSU haven't scored over 20 points since October 12th and no team has scored more than 23 points all season.
On the other side of the ball, SDSU has been dreadful on offense. Ryan Agnew has been at SDSU forever and has not produced anything of note at QB in his career. Their best weapon is their rushing attack, which is where CMU excels on defense: 21st in rushing success, 11th in line yards, 11th in havoc, 1st in stuff rate.
This one is going to be a sleeper.
Pick: Under 39.5
What an interesting matchup of two completely different teams. Georgia Southern ranks 4th in rushing percentage (amount of times you run the ball), while Liberty throws the ball the 18th most in the country.
The more I think about this game, the more I like Liberty. Buckshot Calvert is going to get what he wants throwing the ball against Georgia Southern's pass defense that ranks 86th in pass success rate. Liberty has the 45th most explosive pass offense in the country, while Georgia Southern ranks 77th in defending it. Liberty will also be able to establish the run, ranking 14th in rushing success rate.
Liberty may struggle against Georgia Southern's triple-option offense, but GeSo hasn't been that good this year rushing the ball, ranking 84th in rushing success rate. Liberty is good in the trenches, ranking 16th in power success rate.
This is Liberty's first bowl game in the history of their program. This, also, is a big game for their program from an administrative level. Liberty offered to pay a substantial amount of money to enter the Sun Belt last year, but were rejected. This game could be a big "fuck you" to the Sun Belt if they take down one of the conference's best programs.
Pick: Liberty +5.5
Have no idea what to do with this game, so I won't be forcing it.
SMU swears they are excited to be in this game, but are they really? They had NY6 aspirations early in the season and are now in the Boca Raton Bowl. FAU is playing without their coach and at home, which is always a disappointment for any program thanks to the idea of a bowl game being a week of fun away from home.
Both these teams are very good G5 teams. SMU ranks 47th in SP+, while FAU ranks 46th. I lean FAU with the points.
LEAN: FAU +7
FIU has turned it on late in the season thanks to the health of QB James Morgan and a scary defense. Their crowning achievement this season will be their win over Miami no matter the result here, but I don't see a lack of motivation for this squad. James Morgan is a 5th year senior and this will be the first bowl game he'll be playing in.
FIU's defense, specifically their secondary, has turned into one of the best in the G5. This will be a key to FIU's success today against Arkansas State's explosive passing attack, which ranks 15th in the country. FIU has stopped explosiveness and passing success all season, ranking 19th and 36th respectively.
Along with their defense getting better, FIU's offense has turned into a juggernaut of rushing explosiveness. They tout the 15th most explosive rushing attack in the country thanks to their 2-headed monster. Arkansas State's defense ranks in the bottom 20 of stopping rushing explosiveness.
Pick: FIU +1
Similar to the FAU-SMU game, I do not know what to do with this one. This is Chris Petersen's final game as Washington's coach and he'll be going up against his former team, Boise State. Washington will be without their LT Trey Adams and TE Hunter Bryant. The Huskies have struggled with keeping a clean pocket for Jacob Eason all year long and without their best lineman, it may spell bad news for them. Add in that Eason's security blanket and best weapon Hunter Bryant is out? Boise State could shut down Washington.
Boise State is similar to SMU, feeling a bit disappointed to not be in a bigger bowl game. Washington is 7-5, but all their loses have came within a 7-point margin. Too many factors. I just don't have a read on this one.
LEAN: Boise State +3.5
UAB may be the worst 9-3 team in the history of college football. It showed against FAU in the CUSA championship.
They'll be going up against an App State team that has the opportunity to win their 5th bowl game in 5 years and I don't see them having any issues doing that. App State has advantages all over the field on both sides of the ball. UAB ranks 79th overall in SP+, while App State ranks 28th.
This reminds me of a bowl game 2 years ago, where Akron was fresh off a miraculous berth in the MAC Championship, which they lost by 17 to Toledo. They walked into the Boca Rotan bowl against FAU, which they lost 50-3.
This game is a massive mismatch and the line shows it. I see App State in a blow out.
Pick: App State -17.5