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 so 'give the points'. It's our opinion these are the computer picks in this category that have the best chance of being correct.

Bowls 0-2 (.000) 0-2 (.000)
Last Week 0-2 (.000) 0-2 (.000)
This Season 42-20 (.677) 26-36 (.419)
Last Season 38-17 (.691) 28-27 (.509)

Michigan (-7) by 15.45 over Florida - Saturday, December 29 - Peach Bowl.
This year's edition of the Gators - in their first season under Dan Mullen - went 9-3 overall but just 5-3 in the SEC. The Gators also haven't defeated a good opponent since the end of September and early October when they knocked off Mississippi State and LSU on consecutive weekends. They were vastly outplayed in losses to Georgia and Missouri in games 8 and 9, and finished the season with ho-hum wins vs. South Carolina, Idaho and FSU. Michigan got embarrassed by Ohio State in its final game, and that just seems to be a Michigan thing - especially under Jim Harbaugh. But Florida played the 60th-ranked scheduled while Michigan faced the 5th-ranked schedule and Michigan still finished the regular season with a better record (10-2 vs. 9-3), a defense ranked 1st vs. Florida's 27th, and offense stats that are basically even. The computer trend line has the Wolverines favored by 10.72 to beat Florida for their first bowl win since the last time they played Florida in a bowl game (2015 Citrus). In fact, Michigan is 4-0 all-time vs. Florida with 3 bowl wins.  (NOTE: Michigan RB Karan Higdon declared for the NFL Draft and will not play, joining DL Rashan Gary and LB Devin Bush).

SUATSFlorida won 41-15

Penn State (-6) by 8.23 over Kentucky - Tuesday, January 1 - Citrus Bowl.
Kentucky hasn't won a bowl game since 2008 (lost 4 straight), so we'd love to pick the 'Cats here since we successfully picked them to end the 31-game losing streak to Florida, but they simply don't have the offense to keep up with the Nittany Lions. Kentucky averaged 18.3 points per game vs. SEC foes while Penn State averaged 28.4 vs. Big Ten teams. The Kentucky defense is stout, led by Bednarik and Nagurski awards winner Josh Allen (LB). The Wildcats gave up 16.5 ppg in conference play vs. PSU's 20.7. This is Kentucky's first bowl game in Florida since losing 26-14 to Penn State in the 1998 season Outback Bowl.

SUATSKentucky won 27-24

Hold Your Horses

The computer likes the favorite, but by fewer points than the oddsmakers so 'take the points'. It's our opinion these are the computer picks in this category that have the best chance of being correct.

Bowls 1-1 (.500) 2-0 (1.000)
Last Week 1-0 (1.000) 0-1 (.000)
This Season 27-7 (.794) 19-15 (.559)
Last Season 30-10 (.750) 22-18 (.550)

Buffalo (-3) by 1.79 over Troy - Saturday, December 22 - Dollar General Bowl.
We look for Troy to win outright in the first meeting between these two schools. Troy will travel well to this game in Mobile, Alabama which is roughly 145 miles from Troy's campus. Troy's defense, which held Nebraska to 19 points in a 24-19 win, is tied for 12th nationally with 36 sacks, and is tied for 10th in tackles for loss. Buffalo is 0-2 all-time in bowl games, and is playing in the postseason for the first time since 2013. The Trojans have won 3 straight bowl games to improve their bowl record to 4-3. The Bulls were the favorite to win the MAC Championship but we took Northern Illinois and won. The Sun Belt team has defeated the MAC in 3 straight Dollar General Bowls, and 5 of the last 6.

SUATSTroy won 42-32.

Alabama (-14) by 4.47 over Oklahoma - Saturday, December 29 - Orange Bowl (Final Four Playoff Semifinal).
Oklahoma lost 54-48 in OT to Georgia last year in a Final Four Playoff game at the Rose Bowl in Lincoln Riley's inaugural season as head coach. Riley has his troops back in the hunt with a second consecutive Heisman-winning QB as future MLB baseball player Kyler Murray has already broken Baker Mayfield's record for total offense in a season, and his passer rating of 205.72 tops Mayfield's FBS record of 198.90. If the Sooners weren't so bad on defense, we might be looking at a legitimate shot for them to beat Alabama and advance to the championship game. But Oklahoma ranks 108th on 'D' while 'Bama ranks 10th. Of course, Alabama has the Heisman runner-up in QB Tua Tagovailoa who has a passer rating of 202.30 which also tops Mayfield's record. We don't usually put a score on a game but can't resist giving this one a shot. We'll go with 52-42, Alabama.

SUATSAlabama won 45-34


The computer likes the underdog as the outright winner. This is every upset projected by the computer. We do not select these games, but we do offer commentary/analysis.

Bowls 6-5 (.545) 8-3 (.727)
Last Week 1-0 (1.000) 1-0 (1.000)
This Season 46-43 (.517) 57-32 (.640)
Last Season 49-54 (.476) 62-41 (.602)

Computer's upset picks are .696 ATS since early November of 2017 - The computer correctly picked Clemson in an upset over Alabama in the national championship game after going 7-3 against the spread on bowl games (5-5 straight up). On the conference championship weekend, the computer correctly forecast its only upset pick of the week to improve to 6-0 SU and 6-0 ATS over the last two weeks of the season. The week before that, the computer was 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS. Just prior to that, the computer had one of its worst weeks in awhile but still went 2-4 SU and 3-3 ATS. Those results come after 3 fantastic winning weeks where the computer was a combined 14-6 SU and 14-4 ATS. Among the computer's more spectacular upset picks this season were Iowa State over West Virginia, Syracuse's first win over Florida State since 1966, the end to Kansas' 46-game road losing streak AND the end of Kentucky's 31-game losing streak to Florida. Since the second week of November 2017, the computer's upset picks are 66-49 (.574) SU, 80-35 (.696) ATS.

Clemson by 4.38 over Alabama (-6) - Clemson and Alabama go toe-to-toe for the national title. This is the third national championship matchup of these two teams in the five years of the 4-team playoff format and this is a rubber match as each has won a game. Clemson ranks 4th in total offense and 'Bama ranks 5th. The Tigers rank 2nd in total defense and the Tide ranks 13th. Alabama has gone 14-0 against the nation's No. 23 schedule while Clemson's 14-0 mark has come against the nation's No. 32-ranked slate. Alabama has won 16 straight games and Clemson has won 14 in-a-row. Clemson ranks 10th in rushing yards per game while Alabama ranks 34th. The Tigers are 24th in passing yards per game and the Crimson Tide ranks 6th. Dabo's 'D" ranks 2nd in tackles for loss and 1st in sacks. Nick's boys rank 9th in TFL's and 4th in sacks. Alabama's 26th in turnover margin at +8 and Clemson is 38th at +5.

SUATSClemson won 44-16

Arizona State by 2.70 over Fresno State (-4.5) - Saturday, December 15 - Las Vegas Bowl.
The Sun Devils haven't played in this game since 2011 when Boise State ran them out of the building 56-24. Arizona State is 3-0 all-time versus Fresno State, but hasn't played the Bulldogs since 1941 when ASU was also called the Bulldogs. These teams are statistically even on offense while Fresno State has the statistical advantage on defense. However, the Sun Devils played the tougher schedule even though it was 'down' year for the PAC-12.  A story to watch is the absence of ASU's top pass-catcher, N’Keal Harry (73 receptions for 1,088 yards and 9 TD's). Harry has signed with an agent for the upcoming draft.

SUATSFresno State won 31-20

Eastern Michigan by 2.16 over Georgia Southern (-1) Saturday, December 15 - Camellia Bowl.
A battle of Eagles. This is only the third bowl game in the history of EMU football and the second for GSU. Chris Creighton has now led Eastern Michigan to two bowl games in three years after the school went 20 consecutive years without a winning record prior to Creighton's arrival. Georgia Southern has only been playing FBS football since 2014 and went bowling in its first year of eligibility in 2015. Since then, Georgia Southern has had four different head coaches. Willie Fritz left for Tulane after the final 2015 regular season game and Dell McGee was interim head coach for the 58-27 win over Bowling Green in the GoDaddy Bowl. Tyson Summers was fired after a year-and-a-half produced a 5-13 mark so Chad Lunsford took over as interim head coach the rest of the 2016 season. Lunsford was named official head coach just before the end of that season and turned the program around to a 9-3 record this year, thanks largely by reverting back to a triple-option offense that enters the bowl season ranked 8th in the nation. Eastern Michigan's only bowl win came in the 1987 California Bowl and the computer favors EMU by 2.16 points to win this, though the computer trend line agrees with the oddsmakers and favors Georgia Southern by 1.

SUATSGeorgia Southern won 23-21 on a 40-yard FG as time expired

Northern Illinois by 0.17 over Alabama-Birmingham (-2) - Tuesday, December 18 - Boca Raton Bowl.
It's the first-ever meeting between these two schools. Northern Illinois is riding a 5-bowl losing streak and is just 4-8 in its bowl history. UAB has never won a bowl game. The Blazers got here by avenging a regular season loss to Middle Tennessee. They fell to Middle Tennessee in the final regular season game, but then won the rematch a week later in the Conference USA title game. The Huskies got here by upsetting Buffalo in the MAC Championship game. Statistically speaking, UAB enters the bowl season with the 13th-best defense in the nation but Conference USA was the lowest-rated conference in all of college football, just a notch below the MAC. We said NIU's DE Sutton Smith would be the difference-maker in the MAC title game vs. Buffalo and he registered 10 tackles (8 solo), 3-1/2 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. As a team, NIU ranks 31st on defense. The problem for the Huskies comes on offense where they were 8th-worst in the nation in yards per game and 11th-worst in point production. UAB was 67th in yardage and 62nd in points.

SUATSUAB won 37-13

Ohio by 5.62 over San Diego State (-3) - Wednesday, December 19 - Frisco Bowl.
This is the first meeting between the Bobcats and the Aztecs. The computer's preseason forecast nailed Ohio's record of 8-4 and only missed by one on San Diego State's final mark of 7-5 (predicted 8-4).  SDSU is a 10-point underdog on the computer trend line. The Aztecs fell to 74th in rushing this season after being a top 14 running team for 3 straight seasons behind Rashaad Penny and Donnel Pumphrey. Ohio was 17th in rushing this season with A.J. Ouelette gaining 1,142 yards on the ground and scoring 12 TD's. The Bobcats also got 831 yards and 8 TD's out of Maleek Irons while QB Nathan Rourke ran for 816 and 13 scores. Rourke also threw for 2,228 yards on a 22-7 TD-INT ratio and a 61.1% completion clip.

SUATSOhio won 27-0.

Wake Forest by 6.90 over Memphis (-5) - Saturday, December 22 - Birmingham Bowl.
The computer trend line has this as a pick 'em game in the first meeting between these schools since 1967. Memphis' 4th-ranked offense received a blow on December 12 when RB Darrell Henderson opted out of playing in this game after he declared early for the NFL draft. Henderson was No. 2 in the nation with 1,909 yards rushing and 22 TD's. Patrick Taylor was also a 1,000-yard rusher for Memphis with 1,012 yards and 15 TD's. QB Brady White threw for 3,125 yards with 25 touchdowns and 8 picks. Wake's offense is not nearly as potent but still ranks a respectable 33. The Deacs lost freshman starting QB Sam Hartman to a season-ending leg injury in the Syracuse game on November 3. Sophomore Jamie Newman started the last 3 games and had his most impressive game in the season finale versus Duke when he led his team to a 59-7 win with an 18-of-23, 4 TD performance. Neither team has done much on defense with Memphis ranked 84th and Wake 116th.

SUATSWake Forest won 37-34

Louisiana Tech by 7.67 over HAWAII (-1) - Saturday, December 22 - Hawaii Bowl.
This holiday classic has the No. 84 Rainbow Warriors hosing the No. 71 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Hawaii is the lowest-ranked school out of all the bowl teams, despite an 8-5 record. Still, the computer trend line favors the Rainbow Warriors by 4 as they gained 6.01 power points over the course of the season while the Bulldogs dropped 5.64 power points. Hawaii's passing offense was 9th nationally as Cole McDonald ranked 5th with 3,790 yards, 35 TD's and 8 INT's. The Bulldogs were 95th on offense. On defense, Louisiana State ranked 33rd and Hawaii 101st.

SUATSLouisiana Tech won 31-14

Boston College by 2.52 over Boise State (-3) - CANCELED Wednesday, December 26 - SERVPRO First Responder Bowl.
BC finished the regular season on a 3-game losing streak while BSU fell at home to Fresno State in the MWC title game for just its 9th home loss since 1999. The BC offense completely disappeared over the last 3 games, averaging just 16 points per contest to Florida State, Clemson and Syracuse. Boise was on a 7-game winning streak before the loss to Fresno. The computer trend line has this game as a toss-up. The Eagles are 1-6 in bowl games since 2008, including 1-3 under Steve Addazio. The Broncos are 7-2 in their last 9 postseason trips, including 3-1 under Bryan Harsin.

Duke by 9.02 over Temple (-3) - Thursday, December 27 - Independence Bowl.
The Owls finished the season strong with wins in 6 of their last 7 games, losing only to undefeated UCF. But their success also led to the loss of head coach Geoff Collins to Georgia Tech. Assistant head coach Ed Foley, who mostly coached tight ends and special teams, is the interim head coach for the bowl game. The Blue Devils were Jekyll and Hyde all year - defeating a pair of bowl teams (Miami and Baylor), but getting plowed 59-7 in the season finale by Wake Forest. The computer trend line favors Temple by 5, though one has to think that Duke head coach David Cutcliffe's experience combined with the absence of Collins from the Temple sideline, plays postively in the Blue Devils' favor.

SUATSDuke won 56-27

Virginia Tech by 8.65 over Cincinnati (-5.5) - Monday, December 31 - Military Bowl.
Virginia Tech and Cincinnati have been occasional adversaries in bowl games. The Hokies beat the Bearcats 20-7 in the 2008 season Orange Bowl and 33-17 in the 2014 season Military Bowl where they are facing each other again this year. A third bowl meeting took place in the 1947 Sun Bowl with Cincinnati prevailing 18-6. Overall, this is their 5th meeting in the last 13 seasons as they also played in the regular season in 2006 and 2012. The Hokies own the current longest streak of bowl appearances at 26 years after Florida State failed to make the postseason after 36 straight trips. Virginia Tech needed wins in its last two games to get here and accomplished that feat by upsetting Virginia, and then crushing an 8-3 Marshall team. Cincinnati brings a 10-2 record to Annapolis, but played just 4 bowl teams with losses to Temple and UCF and victories over Ohio and Tulane. Virginia Tech faced 7 bowl teams and went 3-4. The computer trend line favors Cincinnati to cover the spread, but we'll take the Hokies outright for this reason - a loss would make them 6-7 for their first losing season since 1992 and this young team seemed to finally learn at the end of the season that their tails are on the line to carry on the winning tradition in Blacksburg.

SUATSCincinnati won 35-31

Michigan State by 8.44 over Oregon (-2.5) - Monday, December 31 - Redbox Bowl.
Michigan State opened the season with the most returning talent of any team in the nation as 19 starters and 47 lettermen were back on the field. They also had a favorable schedule with Northwestern, Ohio State and Michigan at home. Expectations of challenging for the Big Ten title - even a national title - were realistic. The computer had them going 12-0. Well, they lost all three of those home games, in addition to winnable road games at Nebraska and Arizona State, and wound up 7-5. This group essentially laid an egg and it's not the first time it's happened on Mark Dantonio's watch. In 2009, a 12-0 forecast became a 6-6 reality. In 2016, another 12-0 projection became a 3-9 nightmare. The computer trend line actually favors Oregon by double-digits as the Ducks finished above the expectations of a 5-7 season by going 8-4 overall, and 5-4 in the conference. About the only thing we see that works in Michigan State's favor is Dantonio's mystifying habit of winning bowl games. He is 5-1 in the postseason over his last 6 tries, eking out 4 of those wins by 4 points or less.

SUATSOregon won 7-6

Northwestern by 0.91 over Utah (-6.5) - Monday, December 31 - Holiday Bowl.
Utah leading rusher Zack Moss (1,096 yards, 11 TD's) suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice in early November. He missed four games and was still the PAC-12's 5th-leading rusher. Utah QB Tyler Huntley also missed the last four games from a broken collarbone in the loss to Arizona State days earlier, but is probable for a bowl game return (as of December 11).  The Utes managed to go 3-1 down the stretch with backup Jason Shelley at QB but the team only had a single 100-yard rushing performance (Armand Shyne vs. Colorado) after Moss had six such games. In the 10-3 conference title game loss to Washington, Shelley had 3 interceptions and the team was held to 51 yards rushing and 188 total yards.  Northwestern is without RB Jeremy Larkin but the 'Cats are a passing team and won't feel the effects of his absence nearly as much as Utah will miss Moss. And Utah's pass defense is suspect, allowing 16 TD's even though they picked off 14 passes. The computer trend line favors Northwestern by 4.

SUATSNorthwestern won 31-20

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