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NCAAF • "College Bowl Games" • Monday 12/28/15

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    Sports Picks Weekly

    5* Navy -2.5

    3* Pittsburgh at Navy – OVER +52


    Shinoba Sports

    Pitt / Navy – Over 52.5

    Navy -3


    Steve Merril

    Steve’s Screenshot

    Pittsburgh vs. Navy (-2.5, 52.5)
    (2:30 pm ET, ESPN)

    My power ratings actually make Pittsburgh a -2 point favorite, so there is some line value on the Panthers as an underdog at the key number of +3 or more.

    Pittsburgh (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) and Navy (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) are both similar teams in that they are heavily reliant on running the football. Despite that, both teams have extremely efficient offenses that produced a lot of points this season. The Panthers ranked #37 in offensive efficiency while averaging 28.2 points per game. The Midshipmen ranked #3 in offensive efficiency while averaging 36.2 points per game.

    Both teams have good defenses. Pittsburgh allowed 24.6 points per game on 5.6 yards per play versus offenses that averaged 30.7 points per game on 5.9 yards per play. Navy’s defense only allowed 21.3 points per game on 5.5 yards per play versus offenses that averaged 28.8 points per game on 5.8 yards per play.

    The line value favors Pittsburgh, however the matchup favors Navy in the Military Bowl today as service academies historically play well in bowl games, plus Navy is very familiar defending a run-based opponent.


    Central Michigan vs. Minnesota (-6, 48.5)
    (5 pm ET, espn2)

    My power ratings make Minnesota -7, so there would appear to be some line value on the Golden Gophers.

    However, this is not a good matchup for Minnesota to win by a margin. Central Michigan (7-5 SU, 9-3 ATS) and Minnesota (5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS) are similar teams in that they play excellent defense, and they both run the ball over 32 times per game.

    The difference between the two is that Central Michigan has a much better passing offense that completed 66.9% of their passes while averaging 313.7 yards per game on 8.1 yards per pass attempt. Minnesota’s passing attack is weak as they only completed 57% of their passes while averaging 214.2 yards per game on 6.5 yards per pass attempt.

    This game will be played in Michigan, so the Chippewas are in their home state which means they should have the crowd edge as well. The line value definitely favors Minnesota, but the matchup favors Central Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl today.




    MINNESOTA (-4.5) over Central Michigan
    5 p.m. ET
    At 5-7, the Golden Gophers are one of three bowl teams with a losing record, but the first two (San Jose State and Nebraska) have already won and covered, and we think that trend continues here today. All seven of Minnesota’s losses came to quality teams, and in losses to TCU, Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan the Gophers won the game ATS. So, despite that losing record this is a step-down game in class. In fact, Minnesota is a sparkling 22-4 in games against MAC opponents and over the last three years it is 5-2 ATS with more than one week of rest and 13-6 ATS against teams with a winning record. Lay the short number.




    Annapolis, MD

    Pitt at Navy (-3/53) 2:30 ET ESPN

    With 40 Bowl games dotting this year’s post-season roster, one must wonder who the people are who are footing the bill for these extravaganzas. In this case, with Navy hosting the Military Bowl, it is appropriate that Northrop Grumman is sponsoring the event. For those of you unfamiliar, Northrop Grumman is a major player in global security, headquartered in nearby Falls Church, VA. They specialize in unmanned cyber security and global aerospace defense. All who attend this game should feel very secure!

    On the field, Pitt will travel to Annapolis to visit Navy who will be playing this game on its home field. I favor the unique advantage that the Naval Academy has with its option attack, led by one of the nation’s best signal callers. Pitt enters at 8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS following a season-ending home loss to Miami, FLA by a score of (29-24). Though the Panthers allowed 29 or more points in 3 of their last 4 games (all at home), this is a solid defense. Under the guidance of 1st year HC Narduzzi (the former DC at Michigan St.), Pitt allowed just 25/345. More to the point of this contest, the Panthers allowed just 127/4.1 overland. Even with 4 weeks to prepare, it is doubtful that they will be well prepared for the option attack. In a 3 point win vs. the only option team they faced this year (GA Tech), they allowed 28 points. This year, the Navy option attack is far superior to the GA Tech offense. Credit to the Pitt offense who survived the pre-season loss of RB Connor (gained 1,765 yards in 2014) to field a representative offensive attack that averaged 26/381! It is doubtful, however, that they can keep pace with the potent Navy offense, nor have success against one of the best Navy defenses in years, that allows 21/367.

    Expect an outstanding home field performance after the Navy offense under achieved in their (21-17) victory against Army on December 12th. As a 22 point favorite, the Navy option never got fully untracked against an Army defense that is well familiar with its nuances. This is the last game in a historic CFB career for 4-year Navy starter, QB Reynolds. With running mate Swain, his bull-dozing fullback to balance the attack, I expect Navy to have their way against an unsuspecting Pitt defense that is ill-prepared for the nuances of the triple option attack. Though rumored to be in line for the head coaching position at BYU, current Navy HC Niumatalolo (an LDS member whose son is a linebacker for BYU) appears to be the coach for the Naval Academy for this game.

    In the final analysis, QB Reynolds and the Navy triple-option simply too much for a Pitt defense to defend for a full 60 minutes.


    Ford Field, Detroit, MI

    C. Michigan v. Minnesota (-6/48) 5:00 ET ESPN2

    The immediate knee-jerk here is to Big 10 over MAC in a game where the line is under a TD. But, that would be discounting the fact that Minnesota is yet another one of our 5-7 SU Bowlers. As such, only 2 of their 12 games have resulted in victories of more than 3 points with FG wins coming in September against Colorado St. (in OT), as well as MAC teams, Kent St. and Ohio, in Minnesota. Now, they line up against a C. Michigan team who is better than any of those opponents. Former Minnesota interim HC Claeys has the security of the contract in replacing his former well-liked boss, Jerry Kill, who was forced to retire mid-season due to health concerns. Though the Gophers outperformed expectations in his tenure at 4-1 ATS, they were just 1-4 SU. Simply can’t see a Minnesota team who has played much higher profile Bowl games in each of the 3 previous seasons (losing to Missouri, Syracuse and TTTRR) being excited to face a MAC opponent in Detroit! The Ford Field surface ensures good conditions for the passing game of C. Michigan led by QB Rush. And, the Chips will surely be eager to make amends after their 49-48 come-from-ahead loss to W. Kentucky in one of last year’s most exciting Bowl finishes. Central has outperformed expectations the entire season with an 8-3 ATS record for 1st year HC Bonamego, who has inspired his troops with his own fight against a life-threatening illness. In a classic dog favoring minor Bowl scenario, with C. Michigan likely to have the majority of the crowd support, must favor a C. Michigan team which will be capable of pulling this upset.



    (2*) Military Bowl Play
    I have this game lined pk, so value for me on this Pitt club. I have also played a portion of my play on the Pitt money-line fwiw. Pitt has a very under-rated QB and offense and I see them having success moving the ball vs this Navy defense. I’ve had good success picking my spots when playing on this Pitt team this season, and I think we have another winner with them here this afternoon.



    1* Pittsburgh/Navy – Over 53



    3* Pittsburgh +3 over Navy 2:30 pm ESPN

    ‘Bowl Top Opinion’
    Minnesota -4.5 over Central Michigan 5:00 pm
    (Quick Lane Bowl) ESPN2

    ‘Bowl Regular Opinion’
    ‘Marquee’ SINGLE
    UNDER 53 – Military Bowl (Pittsburgh-Navy) 2:30 pm ESPN

    ‘Bowl Had to pickem’
    ‘Marquee’ SINGLE
    OVER 48 – Quick Lane Bowl (Minnesota-Central Michigan) 5:00 pm ESPN2



    ‘Legend Play’


    The Sports Betting Network

    ‘Monday NCAAF plays’
    Pittsburgh Panthers +3
    Central Michigan Chippawas +6


    Brandon Lang

    40 Dime Navy over Pitt.
    The current line on this game is -3 in Vegas and offshore. If your line is -3 to -4 1/2 you buy the 1/2 point down. Be sure to shop around for the best line available.


    Jeff Benton

    100 Dime Pittsburgh plus the points against Navy.
    At 7:30 am eastern time, the Panthers are the +3 point underdogs in Vegas and offshore. I suggest buying the half-point up on Pitt if your line is anywhere from +2′ to +4 points.


    Trace Adams

    1000♦ Central Michigan-Minnesota to play OVER the total in the Quick Lane Bowl.
    At 8:30 am eastern time, the total for this game is 48 points both in Vegas and offshore.


    Anthony Redd

    50 Dime Central Michigan Chippewas against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
    As I release this play at 6:40am Pacific here in Vegas, the line on Central Michigan is +4 1/2 in Vegas and offshore.



    Free Bowl pick is 2* Navy -2 1/2 vs Pittsburgh.

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