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NCAAF • "College Bowl Games" • Tuesday 12/29/15

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    Bowl Tech Trends – Week 3
    By Bruce Marshall

    AIR FORCE vs. CAL ‘Armed Forces Bowl’
    Cal 1-5 vs. line last six this season and has dropped its last pointspread decision of the year a remarkable seven seasons in a row! Bears just 2-4 vs. spread away from Berkeley in 2015 and have not covered a bowl since the 2007 team in this same bowl vs. Air Force. Falcs 13-5-1 last 19 vs. spread and are 8-3 their last 11 as dog. Troy Calhoun 4-1 vs. line last five in bowls.

    ♦Air Force, based on team trends.

    BAYLOR vs. NORTH CAROLINA ‘Russell Athletic Bowl’
    Art Briles no wins or covers last two years in bowls, and Bears just 6-10 vs. number their last 16 on the board. Heels 8-5 vs. line this season though only 2-3 vs. spread away from Chapel Hill. Larry Fedora no covers last four bowls with USM and UNC.

    ♦Slight to North Carolina, based on recent trends.

    NEVADA vs. COLORADO STATE ‘Arizona Bowl’
    Pack closed season on 4-0-1 spread run and was 4-1-1 vs. line away from Reno, now 9-3-1 vs. spread away since last season. Pack 2-2 vs. line last four bowls. Rams 2-5-1 vs. spread last 8 away from Fort Collins and have failed to cover in bowls the past two seasons.

    ♦Nevada, based on team trends.

    TEXAS TECH vs. LSU ‘Texas Bowl’
    TT 10-5 last 15 vs. spread since late 2014 and Kingsbury 9-5 vs. number last 14 as dog, and Tech has won SU in its last four bowls since 2009. Les Miles no covers last four or five of last six bowls, and also no covers last five away from Baton Rouge. Tigers 3-10 vs. spread last 13 as chalk away form home.

    ♦Texas Tech, based on team trends.


    College Football Betting Trends – Tues – Dec, 29

    Air Force at California, 2:00 ET
    Air Force: 6-0 ATS after a game where they committed 1 or less turnovers
    California: 1-9 ATS after 2 games where they forced 1 or less turnovers

    Baylor at North Carolina, 5:30 ET
    Baylor: 2-14 ATS after 3 games where they committed 3 or more turnovers
    N Carolina: 39-21 ATS after 2 games where they forced 1 or less turnovers

    Nevada at Colorado State, 7:30 ET
    Nevada: 5-1 ATS after playing a conference game
    Colorado St: 1-4 ATS as a neutral field favorite of 7 points or less

    Texas Tech at LSU, 9:00 ET
    Texas Tech: 9-2 ATS after allowing 31 points or more in 2 straight games
    LSU: 0-8 ATS in road games after playing a game at home


    Preview: California at Air Force

    When: 2:00 PM ET, Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas


    1. Two teams with very different offensive styles meet Dec. 29 as Air Force takes on California in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas. Air Force’s ground game ranks third nationally with 321.8 rushing yards per game, while Cal boasts an explosive aerial attack led by junior quarterback Jared Goff, who broke his own single-season school records for passing yards and touchdowns. The teams are meeting for the first time since the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl, when the Golden Bears overcame a 21-point deficit and escaped with a 42-36 victory.

    2. Cal won two of its final three games to secure its first postseason appearance since 2011, while Air Force won five straight to clinch the Mountain West Mountain Division title but fell 27-24 to San Diego State in the conference championship game. The Falcons’ triple-option offense has received a boost from tailback Jacobi Owens, who started the final seven games and rushed for a season-best 156 yards against San Diego State. The Golden Bears also will need to keep a close eye on senior quarterback Karson Roberts, who has rushed for nine touchdowns and thrown for nine others.

    3. All five of Air Force’s losses came away from home this season, but it should have solid backing in Fort Worth, which is less than a 12-hour drive from Colorado Springs. Safety Weston Steelhammer recorded a team-high 80 tackles and five interceptions as well as 10.5 tackles for loss and seven pass breakups to lead the Falcons, who ranked third in the Mountain West in scoring defense at 23.2 points per game. Steelhammer will need another strong effort against the Golden Bears, who closed the regular season with a 48-46 home win over Arizona State.

    TV: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN.

    LINE: Cal -7

    ABOUT CAL (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12):
    Linebacker Hardy Nickerson recorded a team-high 101 tackles for the Golden Bears, who will be hard-pressed to slow down the Falcons’ running game after ranking 11th in the Pac-12 with 203.5 rushing yards allowed per game. Running back Daniel Lasco, wide receiver Kenny Lawler and safety Damariay Drew each battled injuries late in the regular season, but all three starters should be available against Air Force. Goff, who is expected to bypass his senior year and declare for the NFL draft, has thrown for a school-record 90 career touchdowns and had 4,252 passing yards and 37 TDs against 13 interceptions this season.

    ABOUT AIR FORCE (8-5, 6-2 Mountain West):
    The Falcons’ run-oriented offense is engineered by Roberts, who averaged 111.2 rushing yards and was sacked only twice all season. Senior defensive end Alex Hansen earned First-Team All-Mountain West honors with 7.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss, but the defense allowed an average of 33 points over the last four games. The Falcons’ secondary was impressive in wins over Fresno State and Hawaii but struggled against a top-rated quarterback on Sept. 19, when Michigan State’s Connor Cook threw for 247 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-21 victory.

    PREDICTION: California 30, Air Force 24


    Preview: North Carolina at Baylor

    When: 5:30 PM ET, Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    Where: Orlando Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida


    1. North Carolina goes after its school-record 12th victory of the season when it takes on injury-plagued Baylor at the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando, Fla. The No. 10 Tar Heels lost their opener to South Carolina and won 11 consecutive games before dropping the ACC Championship game 45-37 against No. 1 Clemson. North Carolina has won 11 contests for the fourth time (also 1972, 1980 and 1997) and faces the No. 17 Bears, who lost three of the last four games.

    2. Four different quarterbacks have been under center this season for Baylor and freshman Jarrett Stidham (broken ankle) is not expected to be ready, which will hand the start to Chris Johnson. The sophomore won’t be able to look in the direction of Biletnikoff Award winner Corey Coleman (74 receptions, 1,363 yards and a nation-leading 20 touchdowns), who has been ruled out due to a sports hernia. Coach Art Briles also announced that running back Shock Linwood (1,329 yards rushing, 10 TDs) would not play against North Carolina due to a broken foot.

    3. There’s no doubt who will be at the helm for North Carolina as senior quarterback Marquise Williams attempts to end his final campaign with another strong performance. Williams is one of five ACC players in history to accumulate more than 10,000 yards of offense and threw 12 of his 21 touchdown passes this season in the last six games while suffering only two interceptions in that span. The 6-2, 225-pound Williams has also rushed for 867 yards and 11 scores in 2015, and has been responsible for a school-record 94 touchdowns in his career.

    TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.

    LINE: Baylor –1.5

    Sophomore running back Elijah Hood is one of the biggest reasons the Tar Heels are having one of their best years, rushing for 1,345 yards and 17 touchdowns. With All-American guard Landon Turner leading the way, Hood and Williams have averaged more than six yards per carry while senior Quinshad Davis is one reception away from 200 in his career. North Carolina is averaging 40.9 points with a school-record 532 and its defense (22.6 against) is much improved from 2014, when it allowed 39 points and almost 500 yards per contest.

    ABOUT BAYLOR (9-3, 6-3 Big 12):
    The Bears lead the nation in scoring (48.0) and total offense (604.6 yards) despite losing starting quarterback Seth Russell (2,104 yards, 29 TD passes) in the seventh game with a neck injury. Stidham completed 68.8 percent of his passes (12 scores, two interceptions) and Johnson has thrown only 38 times while KD Cannon (46 catches, 828 yards, six TDs) and Jay Lee (36, 726, eight) still give the Bears two top targets without Coleman. Johnny Jefferson, who rushed for 158 yards in the regular-season finale against Texas and has 701 overall, will lead the running attack with Linwood out.

    PREDICTION: North Carolina 41, Baylor 28


    Preview: Nevada at Colorado State

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona


    1. For the first time since the Big Eight’s Nebraska and Oklahoma met in the 1979 Orange Bowl, two opponents from the same conference will square off in a non-playoff bowl game when Nevada and Colorado State of the Mountain West meet Dec. 29 in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson. With only 77 bowl-eligible teams to fill 80 slots and several conferences unable to fill their affiliations, the selection process became a scramble and, when the dust settled, the West-Division Wolf Pack and Mountain-Division Rams wound up pitted against each other in the first-year bowl. The teams did not meet in the regular season due to the conference’s unbalanced-schedule rotation, but Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson quickly issued a statement following the bowl-pairings announcement Dec. 6, saying: “It is a travesty the Mountain West has been forced into this situation. Clearly, the system is broken. … There is consensus change needed, and this year’s outcome must not be repeated.”

    2. Nevada struggled offensively this season, ranking 87th in the FBS in scoring (26.1 points per game) and 83rd in total offense (377.7 yards), and will have an interim play-caller in Tucson with offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich leaving to accept the head-coaching position at Hawaii. Wide receivers coach Jim Hofher, a former head coach at Cornell and Buffalo, will handle the duties and also will switch from coaching the receivers to quarterbacks. And with the Wolf Pack playing in a post-Christmas bowl game, coach Brian Polian has started his search for the team’s next offensive coordinator to step in for Rolovich, who had served in that capacity the last four seasons.

    3. Mike Bobo already has had the most successful initial coaching season in Colorado State history, and the Rams are building on that with the additional practices and the extra game itself. In particular, quarterback Nick Stevens has shown strides under Bobo, the offensive coordinator at Georgia the previous eight seasons, as he set the program’s sophomore record with 2,369 passing yards. Stevens also has thrown a Mountain West-leading 21 touchdown passes – the fifth-highest single-season total in Colroado State history.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, American Sports Network/Campus Insiders.

    LINE: Colorado State -3

    ABOUT NEVADA (6-6, 4-4 Mountain West):
    The Wolf Pack are making their 10th bowl appearance in the last 11 seasons, but it was a struggle as they got off to 1-2 start and then closed the season with two straight losses. With 205.6 rushing yards per game out of the pistol attack, Nevada ranks 28th nationally and joins Southern Miss as one of two FBS programs to boast a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in tailbacks James Butler (1,153) and Don Jackson (1,029). All-Mountain West defensive linemen Ian Seau and Lenny Jones and safety Dameon Baber lead the Wolf Pack defense, which ranked fifth in the conference against the rush (188.8 yards) and seventh versus the pass (206) while allowing 27.2 points per game.

    ABOUT COLORADO STATE (7-5, 5-3):
    The Rams are making their third straight bowl appearance and have won 11 of their 13 meetings with Nevada, including a 31-24 victory in Reno a season ago. Colorado State is averaging 30.2 points and 417 yards per game, and closed the season on a four-game roll, thanks in large part to senior All-Mountain West receiver Rashard Higgins (66 receptions, 933 yards, eight TDs), who needs 115 receiving yards to become the program’s all-time leader. All-Conference middle linebacker Cory James leads the defense, which ranked seventh in the Mountain West against the rush (208.1 yards) and fourth versus the pass (186.2) while allowing 27.2 points per contest.

    PREDICTION: Colorado State 37, Nevada 26


    Preview: Louisiana State at Texas Tech

    When: 9:00 PM ET, Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas


    1. LSU coach Les Miles spent the last few weeks of the regular season unsure about his job security but comes into bowl season armed with the knowledge that he’ll be back to guide Leonard Fournette and company again next year. Miles will try to reward the school’s faith in him when he leads the Tigers against Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl in Houston on Dec. 29. The Red Raiders enter the postseason with some momentum after knocking off Kansas State and Texas in their final two games.

    2. Texas Tech boasts the No. 2 scoring offense in the nation at an average of 46.6 points and the No. 2 passing attack (389.7 yards). LSU proved to be more vulnerable in the defensive secondary than usual and slipped to 47th against the pass, surrendering an average of 211 yards through the air. The Tigers were in the mix for a spot in the National Championship Playoff before surrendering 30 or more points in three straight losses, but finished the regular season with a 19-7 triumph over Texas A&M.

    3. The Red Raiders will put their passing offense up against any opponent behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who enters bowl season third in the nation with 4,283 passing yards. The sophomore threw for 32 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more in a breakout campaign. The Texas Tech passing game is in direct contrast to LSU’s attack, in which quarterback Brandon Harris heads an offense that averages 173.1 yards – 110th in the nation.

    TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN.

    LINE: LSU -7

    ABOUT TEXAS TECH (7-5, 4-5 Big 12):
    The Red Raiders became bowl eligible with a 59-44 victory over Kansas State on Nov. 14 and are excited to have an extra month of bowl practice to continue the steps forward gained down the stretch. “I think the last two games, (we) played our best football and felt like that is what we wanted to do and have a month to continue to try to get better and play one of the best teams we will have played all year,” coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters. “I like where we are at, but know that it is a big challenge ahead of us.” Kingsbury’s squad could use the extra time to work on the defense, which gave up 44.5 points in its final two games.

    ABOUT LSU (8-3, 5-3 SEC):
    The Tigers’ offense took a dip when Fournette’s historic pace tailed off in a 30-16 loss at Alabama on Nov. 7. The superstar sophomore posted his three lowest rushing totals in the team’s three losses before bouncing back with 159 yards in the season-closing victory over Texas A&M, pushing him past Charles Alexander (1977) for the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,741. “My brother was showing me a highlight tape someone made of me. Just looking at it, I was like, ‘Man, I did all that?’” Fournette told reporters. “It was like a dream, everything was coming so fast. I had a wonderful season. I enjoyed every bit of it.”

    PREDICTION: LSU 35, Texas Tech 31



    $1000 – OVER 67
    Air Force / California



    #241 Air Force +7

    #247 Texas Tech +7


    Norm Hitzges

    Air Force +7 California



    2* Air Force vs Cal – Under 67

    3* UNC -2.5

    4* Colorado State -3

    2* Texas Tech +7



    ‘Video selections’
    LSU-7 – 48-34
    Air Force – 42-38



    Game: Air Force Falcons (241) vs. California Golden Bears (242)
    Time: Tuesday 12/29 2:00 PM Eastern
    Pick: Game Total OVER 68 (-107)
    This is a matchup of an unstoppable ground attack against an unstoppable air attack. Air Force’s ground game ranks third nationally with 321.8 rushing yards per game, and on a 4-0 run OVER the total, including 7-3 OVER after a loss. The Falcons’ triple-option offense has a star in tailback Jacobi Owens (1,009 yards, 5.4 yards per carry) and faces a terrible Cal defense. The Golden Bears rank #11 in the Pac-12, allowing 203.5 rushing yards per game. California is 22-7-1 OVER the total in non-conference games. Cal boasts an explosive aerial attack led by junior quarterback Jared Goff (37 TDs, 13 INTs, 4.252 yards), who is expected to enter the NFL draft soon. Cal is 7-3 OVER the total at neutral sites and this has all the makings of a high-scoring shootout. Play this one to finish OVER.


    NEWSLETTER College Football Prediction From Allen Eastman

    Take #248 LSU (-7) over Texas Tech (9p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 29)
    LSU did not think that it was going to end up in this bowl game. But they also didn’t think they would keep Les Miles. I think that Miles wants to prove to everyone that he is still the right man for the job and will do so with a blowout win over a Big 12 school here. The SEC has heard everyone say how down the league is this year. They will want to prove otherwise with a big bowl season. Texas Tech has struggled against good teams this year and limped to the finish line with just two wins since mid-October. Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor each blew out Tech, and this team is overrated. LSU has gone 4-0 ATS in its last four games against teams from the Big 12, and I think that it is time for the Tigers to snap their four-game bowl ATS losing streak. The Red Raiders are just 2-6 ATS in neutral-site games, and I think LSU will bowl them over with their strong running game here. Take the Tigers.



    ‘Bowl Game of Year’ (One & Only)
    Over 67.5 – Air Force / California



    3* – Air Force

    3* – Texas Tech

    ‘Reg plays’
    North Carolina

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