College bowl confidence pool odds 2018: Optimal picks, predictions by expert on 20-6 roll

Bowl season is officially here. A total of 39 games will play out on the 2018-19 college football bowl schedule between now and New Year's Day. This year, we'll see gems like Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl, Florida vs. Michigan in the Peach Bowl, and Kentucky vs. Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. And don't forget the two College Football Playoff semifinals, pitting Alabama against Oklahoma and Clemson against Notre Dame, with the winners meeting on Jan. 7. If you're finalizing your bowl confidence picks, you're going to need plenty of help, as you likely haven't seen all 78 teams play this season. Do you really know what to expect from teams like Middle Tennessee, FIU, and Vanderbilt? To get a leg-up, check out the latest college football picks for bowl pick'em and confidence pools from SportsLine's Josh Nagel.

Nagel is noted for specializing in college athletics, and his football handicapping has been on point this season. The Nevada-based expert has hit 60 percent of his point-spread picks this season, and enters the bowl season on an impressive 20-6 run. Those picks include providing SportsLine members with point-spread winners for the Pac-12, SEC and Big 12 title games during championship weekend. Anyone who has followed him is way up. 

Now, he's using a season's worth of data gathered from game film, analytics and his strong feel for the game. He has analyzed each bowl matchup and ordered every game by level of confidence. He's only sharing his final picks over at SportsLine. 

One surprise we'll give away: Nagel likes Duke to beat Temple as a 3.5-point underdog in the 2018 Independence Bowl. He's assigning 29 points to this Dec. 27 matchup in Shreveport, La. 

The Blue Devils (7-5) have quarterback Daniel Jones (2,251 yards, 17 TDs, 7 INTs), an NFL prospect who led Duke to quality wins this season over teams like Army, Northwestern, Georgia Tech and Miami. Nagel sees Jones leading the Blue Devils to a win over a Temple squad that is in transition and has plenty of questions under center. 

"Temple coach Geoff Collins has left for Georgia Tech, which makes a letdown a real possibility for the Owls," Nagel told SportsLine. "Quarterback Anthony Russo also could miss the game with an injury. Expect Duke to be prepared for this game and take advantage."

Meanwhile, he's assigning 28 points to Ohio State knocking off Washington in the 2019 Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

Nagel points to Ohio State's explosive offense as being the difference-maker in this traditional Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins enters the Rose Bowl having thrown for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns this season. And he's been absolutely on fire in his past three outings, throwing for 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns during that span. If you didn't hear, he finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Oklahoma's Kyler Murray and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa.

"The Buckeyes should get the best of this matchup in Urban Meyer's final game at the helm," Nagel said. "Washington has a tough defense, but has struggled to consistently score points. Ohio State has a major edge in firepower."

Nagel is also assigning a high-confidence ranking of 33 to a team that's barely favored by a field goal. He is highly confident in the winner, but many people in your pool may be skeptical. Picks like these could be the difference between winning your 2018 bowl confidence pool and going home empty-handed. 

So which teams should you rank in which order in your football confidence pools? And what underrated favorite do you need to be all-in on? Visit SportsLine to see the full bowl confidence picks, and see what teams won't disappoint, all from our senior analyst who's hitting 77 percent of his spread selections.

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