About the Data

Lines in parenthesis are the opening lines as reported at DocSports.com. Later lines are used in the event of a "pick 'em" opening. The Congrove Computer Rankings' pick is shown outside the parenthesis. The home team is capitalized.

Easy Pickins

The computer likes the favorite with room to spare. Senior editor Mike Mitchell believes these have the best chance of being correct.

This Week 2-2 (.500) 1-3 (.250)
Last Week 2-0 (1.000) 2-0 (1.000)
This Season 38-17 (.691) 28-27 (.509)
Last Season 55-23 (.705) 39-39 (.500)

Troy (-6.5) by 11.29 over North Texas - December 16 - New Orleans Bowl. A resurgent North Texas went 9-4 this season with 2 losses to Conference USA champion FAU. Troy enters at 10-2, including an upset win at LSU that was immediately followed by an upset home loss to South Alabama. The Trojans enter the bowl game on a 6-game winning streak. Troy is 3-3 all-time in bowl games and won its last 2, both of which came against Ohio in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl and the 2016 Dollar General Bowl. The Mean Green, who are 2-6 in bowl games, lost in overtime to Army in last year's Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. Nearly 50% (7-of-16) of all New Orleans Bowls ever played have featured Troy or North Texas, but this is the first time either has played in this game since 2010 and the first time they will be playing each other in this game. The Trojans lead the series between these former Sun Belt rivals 8-2. This is the first time they've met since North Texas left for CUSA after the 2012 season. They both have formidable offenses and get most of their yards through the air. Leading UNT RB Jeffrey Wilson is out though Nic Smith is a more than capable next man up. The two major statistical differences I'd point for impacting the outcome of this game are defense and turnover margin. The Troy 'd' ranks 26th and UNT' ranks 97th. Troy has a turnover ratio of plus-4 to North Texas's minus-8. Matchup.

SUATSTroy won 50-30.

Arkansas State (-3.5) by 3.92 over Middle Tennessee - December 16 - Camellia Bowl. This has actually been a bit of a down year for both schools. Arkansas State was 6-2 in the Sun Belt to finish 1 game out a first-place tie. It's only the second time the Red Wolves haven't won or shared the Sun Belt crown since 2010. Middle Tennessee went 6-6, but was 4-2 with Brent Stockstill at QB. Stockstill, the son of head coach Rick, injured his shoulder in the 4th quarter of a win at Syracuse in week 2 and didn't return until the UTEP game on November 4. These two former Sun Belt rivals last met in 2012, after which MTSU defected to Conference USA. MTSU was 7-5 in those conference matchups, though ASU took the last 3 in blowout fashion. Middle Tennessee will be playing in its 7th bowl game in history, all at different destinations, and all since 2006 with Stockstill as head coach. The Blue Raiders are 1-5 overall in bowl games with the only win occurring in the 2009 New Orleans Bowl. Arkansas State has a 3-4 bowl record after a 31-13 win over UCF in last year's Cure Bowl. Matchup.

SUATSMiddle Tennessee won 35-30.

Southern Methodist (-4.5) by 5.31 over Louisiana Tech - December 20 - Frisco Bowl. Formerly the Miami Beach Bowl (relocated to Frisco, Texas). Sonny Dykes was introduced as SMU's new head coach on December 12 and will lead the Mustangs for the bowl game, instead of Jeff Traylor who was named interim head coach after Chad Morris took the job at Arkansas. This is practically a home game for SMU which went 7-5 versus the 79th-ranked schedule. Louisiana Tech was 6-6 vs. the 119th-ranked schedule. Dykes coached the Bulldogs from 2010-2012. This is SMU's first bowl since 2012, and Louisiana Tech's 4th in-a-row. The Bulldogs are looking to run their bowl record under Skip Holtz to 4-0, while Holtz goes for his 5th straight bowl win as a head coach. The computer trend line has the Mustangs by just under 10. Matchup.

SUATSLouisiana Tech won 51-10.

Northwestern (-6.5) by 10.35 over Kentucky - December 29 - Music City Bowl. It's a solid bet that the Wildcats will win, and the computer's looking for it to be the Northwestern (9-3) variety with relative ease over Kentucky (7-5). Pat Fitzgerald's 23rd-rankd team (CCR Top 130) enters this game on a 7-game winning streak that included 3 consecutive victories in overtime. Kentucky was 5-1 before stumbling through the back-half of the season and lost its last 2 to Georgia and Louisville by a combined 86-31. Matchup.

SUATSNorthwestern won 24-23.

Hold Your Horses

The computer likes the favorite, but by fewer points than the oddsmakers. Senior editor Mike believes these have the best chance of being correct.

This Week 1-2 (.333) 2-1 (.667)
Last Week 0-0 (.000) 0-0 (.000)
This Season 30-10 (.750) 22-18 (.550)
Last Season 34-13 (.723) 29-18 (.617)

Temple (-7) by 5.64 over Florida International - December 21 - Gasparilla Bowl. Both schools became bowl eligible under first-year head coaches - Geoff Collins at Temple (6-6), and Butch Davis at FIU (8-4). Collins was the defensive coordinator at Florida before he took this job so it shoudn't come as a big surprise that the Owls ranked 3rd in the American on defense. At FIU, Davis brought in highly-regarded offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky and the Panthers have shown vast improvement over the course of the season. This is FIU's first bowl game since 2011, and 3rd all-time. Temple is in the postseason for the third consecutive year. I expect a close battle in St. Petersburg, Florida. The computer trend line likes FIU by 0.79. Matchup.

SUATSTemple won 28-3.

Michigan (-9.5) by 4.62 over South Carolina - January 1 - Outback Bowl. No. 32 Michigan (CCR Top 130) faces No. 34 South Carolina as a pair of 8-4 teams face-off in the Outback Bowl. It's the first time since 2010 since this bowl features two teams that weren't ranked in the final top 25, but that is a bit misleading as to how good these teams are. All 4 losses by the Wolverines came against teams in the final top 16 of the playoff committee rankings, and 3 of those are in the top 9. The Gamecocks' losses to Kentucky and Texas A&M were inexplicable, while the other two came against Clemson and Georgia who are both in the Final Four playoff. The computer trend line has Michigan winning by 8, but this contest could go either way and should be one of the better matchups of the bowl season. Matchup.

SUATSSouth Carolina won 26-19.

LSU (-2.5) by 1.48 over Notre Dame - January 1 - Citrus Bowl. After losing at home to Troy, LSU righted the ship and went 6-1 with the only loss occurring at Alabama. The Irish were 8-1 before imploding 41-8 at Miami, and falling 38-20 at Stanford. Statistically, Notre Dame has the better offense and LSU has the better 'd'. The computer trend line has Notre Dame by 8 in this battle of 9-3 teams, and I think that's interesting enough to roll with it. Matchup.

SUATSNotre Dame won 21-17.


The computer likes the underdog as the outright winner. This is every upset projected by the computer. Senior editor Mike Mitchell does not select these games, but does offer commentary.

This Week 3-1 (.750) 4-0 (1.000)
Last Week 1-0 (1.000) 1-0 (1.000)
This Season 49-54 (.476) 62-41 (.602)
Last Season 33-52 (.388) 42-43 (.494)

Computer's upset picks continue streak - The computer went 3-1 straight up, 4-0 against the spread for bowl season. It was 2-1 straight, 3-0 ATS on championship weekend upset picks, and 1-0 SU and ATS on Army-Navy. That brings its cumulative upset picks record over the last 5 weeks plus the bowl season to 22-8 SU and 27-3 ATS.

Boise State by 1.31 over Oregon (-5.5) - December 16 - Las Vegas Bowl. It's the 16th straight bowl appearance for the Mountain West Conference champion Broncos (10-3), while the Ducks (7-5) had an 11-year bowl streak halted last year when they went 4-8. Oregon got back above .500 overall this year, but was still under .500 in the PAC-12 with a 4-5 mark in Willie Taggart's only season as head coach. Taggart left for Florida State, and Oregon promoted from within when Mario Cristobal became the official head coach on December 8th after being named 'interim' head coach three days earlier. Boise State is 2-0 vs. Oregon (2008 and 2009), and 12-4 versus the current PAC-12 lineup. A 4-game win streak vs. PAC-12 teams was ended with Washington State's triple-overtime 47-44 win over the Broncos at the start of this season (September 9). Matchup.

SUATSBoise State won 38-28.

Texas by 0.88 over Missouri (-2.5) - December 27 - Texas Bowl. The Tigers (7-5) and Longhorns (6-6) haven't met since 2011 when Mizzou stopped a 6-game losing streak in the series with a 17-5 win in their final season in the Big 12. The Tigers joined the SEC the following year. The 2017 Missouri team began the season 1-5, then took advantage of a super soft backend schedule to reel off 6 straight wins. The 2017 Texas team has played Jekyll and Hyde all year - never winning or losing more than 2 in-a-row. The Longhorns lead the all-time series 17-6. Matchup.

SUATSTexas won 33-16.

Stanford by 2.93 over TCU (-2) - December 28 - Alamo Bowl. This is an intriguing matchup as both teams are good, but a little shy of great, and have one oddity in common - they each lost twice to the same team in the same season. The Horned Frogs are 10-3 with 2 losses to Big 12 champ Oklahoma. Stanford is 9-4 with two losses to PAC-12 champ USC. The Cardinal are 14-13-1 overall in bowls and have a 3-bowl winning streak to protect in their 9th straight postseason appearance. The Horned Frogs are 15-16-1 after a loss last year to Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. Stanford RB Bryce Love was the runner-up for the Heisman this year, but TCU is 4th nationally at stopping the run. Horned Frog QB Kenny Hill hit 67% of his passes with 21 TD's and just 6 INT's and Stanford is justĀ  73rd at stopping the pass. The telling stat might be that Stanford was 7-0 at home, but 2-4 off "the farm". Matchup.

SUATSTCU won 39-37.

NAVY 12.24 over Virginia (-1.5) - December 28 - Military Bowl. A pair of 6-6 teams, who finished the season poorly, face-off in the 10th edition of this game. Virginia began the season 5-1, then flopped to 1-5 in the second half. Navy began 5-0 before losing 6 of the next 7. The Cavs were 2-5 vs. bowl-eligible teams, while the Middies were 2-6 in such games. This is one of four games being played in the stadium of a participating team as this one takes place at Navy. The Midshipmen hosted Pittsburgh in this game two years ago, grabbing a 44-28 victory. Navy is 10-11-1 all-time in bowl games. A 48-45 loss to Louisiana Tech in last year's Armed Forces Bowl ended the Naval Academy's longest bowl winning streak at 3. This is Virginia's first bowl game since 2011 while it marks Navy's 6th straight, and 14th in the last 15 years. The Cavaliers are 7-11 in bowl games with their last win coming in the 2005 Music City Bowl. Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall is 6-5 in bowl games, but has lost his last 3. Navy's Ken Niumatalolo is 4-5 in bowl games, but 3-1 in his last 4. The key stats are that Virginia entered the bowl season ranked 81st at stopping the run and Navy ranked 2nd in rushing offense. On the other side of the ball, Virginia had to rely heavily on the passing game (ranked 41st) as they were the 5th-worst rushing offense in the nation. Navy ranks 62nd at stopping the pass. Matchup.

SUATSNavy won 49-7.

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