Posted by deaconcat08 on December 14, 2011
These upset picks below will determine whether or not I accomplish my unbelievable quest to finish above .500 on the season in my weekly upset picks. I came into the last week of the regular season with a remarkable 32-31 record but a disappointing 1-4 mark has put me at 33-35 entering bowl season. Nevertheless, I will have plenty of chances to get back over .500, as I have eight upsets to offer here including my double-digit longshot. I am actually predicting that a total of eight underdogs will win their bowl games straight up, but three of those picks are underdogs of less than three points (Nebraska, UCLA and NIU) and will not be featured on this list in accordance with the rules I set out at the beginning of the season.
You always see around 10-12 upsets every bowl season, and there are several reasons why bowl upsets are so common. First of all, the underdog often comes into these games with a lot more motivation to win than the favorite, especially if the favorite was expecting to be in a better bowl (see Oklahoma, Texas A & M, and Mississippi State). Also, teams typically have about a month off between the end of the regular season and their bowl game, so there is plenty of time for a hot team to lose its momentum and for a struggling team to re-group. Throw in other factors like coaching changes and player suspensions and it’s no wonder bowl season is always unpredictable and upset-filled. Just as a reminder, the “Upset Special” classification is used to denote the upset that I believe is most likely to occur each week (similar to my lock of the week in my weekly picks column). The lines below are ordered from smallest underdog to largest, and the value in each parentheses represents the number of points by which each team is currently an underdog according to the World Sports Exchange.
Upset Special of the Bowl Season: Air Force (+3.0) vs. Toledo (Military Bowl)- See my analysis for this game in my picks of the week entry below.
Cal (+3.0) vs. Texas (Holiday Bowl)- Texas is probably the more talented team, but I got to go with the team who was playing much better at the end of the regular season. Cal ended the year winning three out of their final four games with the lone loss coming by just three points to the 4th ranked team in the country on the road. Meanwhile, the Longhorns finished the season at the other end of the spectrum losing three out of their last four.
Ohio (+3.0) vs. Utah State (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl)- I realize that Ohio is 0-5 all-time in bowl games, but I’ll take the MAC runner-up (and almost champion) over the WAC runner-up any day. I think this bowl season will really show people just how bad the Western Athletic Conference is right now. Utah State finished the season with just one win over a bowl team (Wyoming) and two losses against non-bowl teams (Fresno State, Colorado State).
Michigan State (+3.5) vs. Georgia (Outback Bowl)- See my analysis for this game in my picks of the week entry below.
Wake Forest (+6.5) vs. Mississippi State (Music City Bowl)- I realize this is kind of a homer pick since I am a Wake Forest alum who will be attending this game on December 30th in Nashville. Nevertheless, Wake Forest is a really good bowl team, as they have won their last five non-BCS bowls dating back to 1979. Meanwhile, Mississippi State is the classic disappointment team who expected to do bigger and better things this season. As a result, I am not sure they show up in Nashville ready to play this game.
Wyoming (+7.0) vs. Temple (New Mexico Bowl)- The Cowboys shocked the college football world by upsetting Fresno State in this exact same bowl game two years ago, and I think you’ll see history repeat itself this season. The Cowboys will have a lot more fans in Albuquerque, and they should be a lot more motivated to play this game, as Temple has to be disappointed about choking away the MAC East and failing to reach a better bowl game.
Kansas State (+8.0) vs. Arkansas (Cotton Bowl)- This would be a shocker, but K-State comes into the Cotton Bowl with a lot to prove after getting shafted by the BCS. I think the Wildcats ball control offense will frustrate the Hogs and be able keep Tyler Wilson and company off the field. Also, keep in mind that Arkansas looked horrible outside of Fayetteville all season long.
Double-Digit Longshot of the Bowl Season: Northwestern (+10.0) vs. Texas A & M (Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl)- See my analysis for this game in my picks of the week entry below.