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Poinsettia Bowl pick/Intro to Bowl Season

The purpose of every college football betting season for me is to pad my bankroll. Well, duh? What I mean by that is that I'm trying to pad the bankroll specifically for the bowl season when I feel the player has the biggest advantage over the books. Well, it's the biggest advantage outside of betting against point shavers like any of John Calipari's teams or the MAC football conference as a whole. But I digress.

Bowl season is almost as profitable as being Art Schlichter's cellmate.

The point is we've done a pretty good job of building a bankroll during the most unusual college football season in recent memory to the tune of 44-31-3 up 12 units. Whether you're a nickel or dime player up 6 or 12K, or a 50 cent or dollar player up $600 to $1200, you're in a good position to take advantage of some soft bowl lines. Inter-conference matchups, coaching changes, motivation, styles of play, lots of public/dumb money, make it difficult for the bookmaker to set sharp lines. And we'll gladly take advantage.

So the nuts and bolts of the bowl season are as follows. We'll have an opinion on every bowl game for players that like to have action on most if not all of the bowl games. They'll be separated into three different categories, big bets or two unit palys, medium bets or one unit plays, and leans or half unit plays. The big and medium plays will have a more extensive write-up while the leans will be more blurb-like. I'll post them all individually, and atleast a few hours before game time. Last year the record during bowl season was 20-12 and hopefully we can duplicate that success, especially on the bigger plays. Here are the picks if you still want to get early action in or if you have office or confidence pools you want to enter. It's followed by the write-up for the Poinsetta Bowl. The writeups for the rest of the bowls will come nearly daily. Good luck.

Big Plays 2 units
Cincy -11 vs. Souther Miss.
Nevada +3 vs. New Mexico
Michigan State +4 vs. B.C.
Mississippi Sate +3 vs. UCF
Kentucky -1.5 vs. FSU
Auburn +3 vs. Clemson
Illinois +14 vs. USC

Medium Plays 1 unit
Utah -8 vs. Navy
BYU -6 vs. UCLA
ASU +2.5 vs. Texas
TCU -4 vs. Houston
Indiana +4.5 vs. Okie State
Oregon State -5 vs. Maryland
South Florida -6.5(Could move to big if line keeps falling) vs. Oregon
Mizzu -3 vs. Arkansas
Michigan +10 vs. Florida
OU -7.5 vs. West Virginia
VA Tech -3.5 vs. Kansas
Ohio State +5 vs. LSU

These picks are easier than stealing.

Small Plays half unit
Memphis +3 vs. Florida Atlantic
Central Michigan +10 vs. Purdue
Virginia +6 vs. Texas Tech
Georgia -10 vs. Hawaii
E. Carolina +11 vs. Boise State
Wake -3 vs. UCONN
Penn State -5.5 vs. Texas A&M
Bama -3.5 vs. Colorado
Air Force +3.5 vs. Cal
Georgia Tech -5 vs. Fresno
Wisconsin +3.5 vs. Tennessee
Ball State +10 vs. Rutgers
Tulsa -5 vs. Bowling Green

Poinsettia Bowl Qualcomm Stadium San Diego, CA 8 pm Central
Kyle Whittingham brings his 8-4 Utah Utes one time zone over to face a Navy squad who has just lost its head coach and savior Paul Johnson. Navy promoted assistant coach Ken Niumatalolo on Dec. 8, one day after Paul Johnson left after six seasons to take the Georgia Tech job. Athletic director Chet Gladchuk specifically selected Niumatalolo because of his familiarity with the option. Utah is coming off of a heartbreaking loss to rival BYU who scored on a last minute touchdown drive and held on to win by knocking down a Brian Johnson pass in the endzone as time expired. It should be a battle of strength on strength as Utah brings in a top 5 defense and Navy has led the nation in rushing 4 out of the last 5 years.

Ahhh, the poinsettia.

The numbers.
The strength on strength aspect starts with Utah's defense who hold opponents one yard per play under what their yards per play vs. average defenses would be. (4.6 vs. 5.6). One concern is they allowed a similar offensive attack in Air Force to run for 344 yards and 5.6 yards per attempt which occured the second week of the season. But Utah had only one week to prepare for the option and allowed only 98 rushing yards per game the next 10 games of the season by holding UCLA to 83 yards rushing, TCU to 94, Wyoming to 37, and New Mexico to 81. Plus, they've had nearly 1 month to prepare for a Navy option attack that runs it for 1.3 yards per play more than its opponent gives up on average.

Defensively, Navy sports the worst unit playing this bowl season and among the worst unit in Division 1 overall. They give up a whopping 8 yards per play vs. teams that net 5.7 ypp against average teams. That's horrendous. They've given up 450 yards to Rutgers, 539 to Ball State, 506 to Duke, 474 to Air Force, 418 to Pitt, 409 to Wake, 581 to Delaware State, 375 to Notre Dame, and 635 to North Texas. With perhaps the exception of Rutgers, the Brian Johnson led version of Utah's offense is a better offensive unit than the teams that torched Navy listed above.

Prediction. Look for Utah to name its score on this beleaguered Navy defense, running and throwing at will much like it did to an undermanned Louisville team on the road to the tune of 582 yards of total offense. On defense, Utah is playing much better ball at this stage of the year then they did against Air Force's pseudo-option attack in week 2. They'll slow down Navy much like Wake Forest did, bringing a variety of run blitzes and getting hits on Navy QB Kapo-Kaiku-Beni Hanna. Kyle Whittingham is a good defensive coach and should have his troops prepared to stop the option. This should also be a motivated team if the Utes' recent bowl history is any indication. Navy should be motivated as well indicated by the service academies' record of 20-6 ATS since 1976. However the loss of Paul Johnson and its effects both in short term preparation and longterm disappointment have to take its toll on this Navy bunch. I like Utah to win comfortably in this one because they simply outclass Navy matchup-wise and the motivation factor should be a wash. 38 to 21 Utah.

The Bet. Utah -7.5 for one unit.

I'll have a small New Orleans bowl blurb as well as the weekend write-ups tomorrow. Good luck everyone.