College football bowl games 2018: Six Pack of picks, predictions for Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and more
Trust The Process for the final time in 2018 ... and first time in 2019
Bowl season has been a roller coaster for The Six Pack. In the first edition, I dug myself quite the hole with an 0-4 start, and I followed that up with a 3-3 performance the following week. Last week, I went 5-1, so I'm 8-8 overall, but it's been up-and-down campaign.
What's that mean for this week? Well, if I were able to predict the future, I'd have a much better record on the season than 51-47-2. It's been the worst season in the history of this column, but to me, that means I'm due for a great week to finish up and head into the new year.
So let's end 2018 and start 2019 with some money in our pockets.
Games of the Week
Sugar Bowl -- No. 5 Georgia (-12.5) vs. No. 15 Texas: There's a voice in the back of my head currently screaming, "TOM HERMAN AS AN UNDERDOG! TOM HERMAN AS AN UNDERDOG!" I hear it, but I'm going to ignore it. After all, it was only a month ago when Texas was an underdog against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game, a team it beat earlier in the season, and I picked against the Longhorns. It worked out fine. And while there's a part of me that is still worried about Herman's ability to get his teams fired up for these games playing the "nobody believes in us card," I happen to be one of those people that doesn't believe in Texas here.
Georgia is just better than Texas at nearly every area on the field. Furthermore, Georgia is 4-0 ATS following a loss, 7-0 ATS in its last seven neutral site games and 5-1 ATS in its previous six games overall. We've seen a lot of blowouts this bowl season, and among the games on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, this one strikes me as the one most likely to be the next. Georgia 38, Texas 17
Rose Bowl -- No. 6 Ohio State (-6.5) vs. No. 9 Washington: There are two conflicting forces at play here. On the one hand, you have a team coached by Chris Petersen in a bowl game, and history has shown Petersen teams are capable of pulling off upsets. That hasn't so much been the case lately, however. Since coming to Washington, the Huskies have gone bowling every season under Petersen but they're only 1-3 in those games both straight up and against the spread.
Then there's Ohio State, which is playing its final game under Urban Meyer. We all saw how fired up and ready this team was to play against Michigan, and if it brings that same kind of approach to Meyer's final game, Ohio State could blow Washington out of the water just like it did Michigan. Oh, and Meyer has gone 9-3 ATS in bowl games as a coach. While he's only 5-3 ATS as a favorite in those games, if we look closer, we find that Meyer's teams are 5-1 ATS when they're favored by more than 3.5 points. I expect that record will improve in Pasadena, and the Buckeyes will send Meyer out with a win. Ohio State 31, Washington 21
Lock of the Week
Hyundai Sun Bowl -- Stanford (-4.5) vs. Pittsburgh: Stanford and Pitt will square off in the Sun Bowl on CBS this Monday afternoon, and you will definitely want to tune in to see Stanford cover this spread against the Panthers. Yes, Stanford will be without running back Bryce Love, but you want to know a secret? Stanford wasn't much of a running team this season, even with Love. Oh, sure, it tried to run the ball, but it wasn't nearly as effective at it as you'd expect a Stanford team to be. What the Cardinal are this season is a passing team. Stanford ranks 7th in passing S&P+ thanks to K.J. Costello and his cadre of giant receivers like JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Kaden Smith and Colby Parkinson.
Stanford will be facing a Pitt team that's been run-of-the-mill against the pass defensively, and while it won its division, Pitt played five games against teams ranked in S&P's top 30 this season. It lost all five of those games by an average of 26.8 points per game. Stanford is ranked No. 27. Lay the points. Stanford 28, Pitt 17
Rock Fight of the Week
Holiday Bowl -- No. 17 Utah vs. No. 22 Northwestern (Under 46): This is one of the lowest totals available this bowl season, and it's this low for a reason. Now, maybe you think it's too low, so you should take the over. A lot of people felt that way about the Cheez-It Bowl between TCU and California when they saw a total of 38.5. That game finished 10-7. In overtime. Now, I think this game will feature more than 17 points, but probably not too much more than that. Northwestern's had one of the least efficient offenses in the country all season long, and it's been just as bad on special teams. Utah's offense was decent most of the year, but then it lost starting QB Tyler Huntley, leading rusher Zack Moss and leading receiver Britain Covey. Huntley will be back in this game but Moss and Covey won't be. Take the under. Utah 21, Northwestern 17
Underdog of the Week
Liberty Bowl -- Oklahoma State (+9) vs. No. 23 Missouri: Taking Oklahoma State as an underdog this season has been an excellent way to make money. Oklahoma State enters this game at 6-6 after what was a very disappointing season for a program accustomed to winning 10 games a season and finishing near the top of the Big 12. The Cowboys were also only 6-6 ATS, but guess what? They were 4-0 ATS as underdogs. They were two-point dogs against Boise State and won by 23. They were 2.5-point dogs against Texas and won by three. They were 21.5-point dogs to Oklahoma and lost by a point. They were six-point dogs against West Virginia and won by four. Now they're nine-point dogs against a Missouri team that has one very good win against Florida, and seven other wins that are just kind of meh. I don't know if the Cowboys win another one outright, but I do think this spread is overstated a bit. Missouri 42, Oklahoma State 38
Turkeys of the Week
Military Bowl -- Virginia Tech (+6) vs. Cincinnati: I won't lie and say that a significant reason behind this pick hasn't been the AAC's performance in bowl games. So far this season, AAC teams are 1-4 straight up and 1-4 ATS in bowls. This isn't a recent phenomenon, either. Since the AAC came to existence in 2013, the conference has gone 15-22 ATS in bowl games, with a mark of 7-12 ATS when the AAC team is favored. Cincinnati itself is 0-3 ATS as an AAC team. The Bearcats have had a good season, but it has played two teams ranked in the top 40 of S&P+ rankings, and it lost both of those games. Virginia Tech is not a top-40 team, but it enters this game having won two straight against top 50 teams, and even if I don't know that the Hokies win outright, I have to think they cover this spread. Virginia Tech 27, Cincinnati 23
Game(s) of the Week
Lock of the Week
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