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Each week, Mike Mitchell examines the computer's picks and selects those which he believes have the best chance of being correct. 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 in CAPS. An explanation of how the computer's SU and ATS wins and losses are scored can be found at Weekly Picks Help.


EASY PICKINS:
The computer likes the favorite with room to spare.
Last Season: 99-28 SU (.780), 66-61 ATS (.520)
This Season: 55-23 SU (.705), 39-39 ATS (.500)
Last Week: 0-0 SU (.000), 0-0 ATS (.000)
This Week: 4-1 SU (.800), 2-3 ATS (.400)
PAST RECORDS

Saturday, December 17
NEW MEXICO (-6.5) by 10.36 over Utsa (New Mexico Bowl) - Each of the Lobos' last four bowl games have now been in their home stadium, but they are just 1-2 in the previous 3. New Mexico leads the nation in rushing offense while UTSA ranks 52nd in rushing defense. The Roadrunners rank 97th in total offense and New Mexico ranks 57th in total defense.
New Mexico won 23-20. UTSA scored TD in final minute to kill ATS pick. Computer won SU, lost ATS.

Tuesday, December 20
Western Kentucky (-5.5) by 7.05 over Memphis (Boca Raton Bowl) - The biggest concern with this pick would be the departure of head coach Jeff Brohm who left to become the head coach at Purdue. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt will serve as interim coach, then hand the reins over to newly-hired Mike Sanford, Jr. The line dropped slightly after Brohm's announced departure. WKU ranks 7th in total offense while Memphis ranks 33. Both teams love to throw the ball and neither can stop the pass. WKU quarterback Mike White completed 67.4% of his passes for 4,027 yards, 34 TD's and just 6 INT's. Memphis, in its first year under Justin Fuente replacement Mike Norvell, has the nation's 82nd-ranked pass defense. Memphis QB Riley Ferguson brings a 63.8% pass completion percentage with 3,326 yards and 28 scores against just 9 picks. The WKU pass defense ranks 109th. WKU ended the regular season with 5 straight wins by 28 points or more, then avenged a regular season loss at Louisiana Tech with a 14-point win over the Bulldogs in the CUSA title game.
Western Kentucky won 51-31. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Friday, December 23
Old Dominion (-3) by 7.96 over Eastern Michigan - It's the first bowl game for the Monarchs after reconstituting the program in 2009 after a 70-season hiatus. Eastern Michigan is playing in its first bowl game since 1987. The computer was 12-0 picking ODU games straight up, and 7-4 ATS. The Monarchs bring a more balanced attack while the Eagles get 2/3rds of their yards through the air. The ODU pass defense ranks 59th. Meanwhile, ODU QB David Washington threw 28 TD passes and had just 4 INT's.
Old Dominion won 24-20. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Tuesday, December 27
Army (-9.5) by 12.75 over North Texas (Heart Of Dallas Bowl) - Look for Army to turn the tables on North Texas which earned a shocking 35-18 win at Army midseason when the Mean Green was an even bigger underdog, thanks in no small part to 7 Army miscues. This meeting will take place in Dallas, just 40 miles from UNT's Denton campus. North Texas ranks 118th on offense and 80th on defense. Army was 2nd nationally in rushing offense and the Mean Green rank 105th in stopping the run. The Black Knights are bowling for the first time since 2010, and just the 6th time ever (3-2). UNT is playing in its second bowl game since 2013 and 8th all-time (2-5).
Army blew a 17-point lead and won 38-31 in OT. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Saturday, December 31
Ohio State (-3.5) by 6.36 over Clemson (Fiesta Bowl Playoff Semifinal)) - The computer trend line favors the Buckeyes by 12.02 points. Clemson has won both previous meetings - the 2013 season Orange and the 1978 infamous 'Woody Hayes punch' Gator Bowl. Clemson ranks 9th on defense and 13th on offense. Ohio State ranks 4th on defense and 21st on offense. But the Buckeyes tackled the nation's 2nd-toughest schedule while the Tigers faced the 30th-ranked schedule. For Clemson, 4,324 of its 6,158 yards came through the air while Ohio State's attack slightly favored the rush by a margin of 3,100 to 2,654. The OSU pass defense ranks 6th. Clemson's run defense ranks 22.
Clemson won 31-0. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.


HOLD YOUR HORSES:
The computer likes the favorite, but by fewer points than the oddsmakers.
Last Season: 54-12 SU (.818), 35-31 ATS (.530)
This Season: 34-13 SU (.723), 29-18 ATS (.617)
Last Week: 0-0 SU (.000), 0-0 ATS (.000)
This Week: 4-1 SU (.800), 3-2 ATS (.600)
PAST RECORDS

Monday, December 26
Mississippi State (-13.5) by 9.95 over Miami, Ohio (St. Petersburg Bowl) - The computer trend line favors MSU by just 4.31. The first RedHawks bowl team since 2010 features the nation's 26th-ranked defense vs. the Bulldogs' 40th-ranked offense. Though Miami hasn't been an offensive juggernaut, it has exhibited the ability to score and be competitive virtually every time out. Miami endured just 2 losses by more than 10 points during an 0-6 start, then reeled off 6 straight wins to become bowl eligible.
Mississippi State won 17-16. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Friday, December 30
Michigan (-7) by 3.67 over Florida State (Orange Bowl) - This is just the 3rd meeting all-time (1-1) and first since 1991. Michigan went 10-2 against the nation's No. 27 schedule. FSU went 9-3 vs. the No. 10 schedule. The Wolverines rank 45th on offense, but boast a 2nd-ranked defense which allowed an average of just 252.7 yards and 12.5 points, yet still lost their last 2 meetings against ranked opponents (3-2 overall) at the end of the year. FSU was 2-2 vs. ranked teams and enters the game with the No. 24 offense and No. 29 defense.
Florida State won 33-32. The computer lost SU, won ATS.

Saturday, December 31
Alabama (-14.5) by 8.98 over Washington (Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Playoff Semifinal) - The computer trend line actually favors Washington by 1.27 points. The offenses are a statistical dead heat and the defenses are both top ten with 'Bama ranked 1 and the Huskies ranked 2. Alabama is 4-0 all-time vs. Washington, but the two haven't met since 1986. This will be their 3rd meeting in a bowl game, adding to the Sun Bowl in 1986, and the 1926 Rose Bowl (end of 1925 season).
Alabama won 24-7. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Monday, January 2
Wisconsin (-7.5) by 3.62 over Western Michigan (Cotton Bowl) - Western Michigan was 2-0 vs. the Big Ten. Wisconsin was 7-2. But seriously, the computer trend line actually favors Western Michigan by 2.44 which seems a little nuts. Nonetheless, I like WMU's chances of keeping this close. Defensive rankings favor the Badgers 7-25, but offense tilts to the Broncos 16-87. The question is whether or not the extreme offensive tilt makes up for the difference in SOS (Wisconsin 4, Western Michigan 74). No matter what, it will be interesting to see what guys like QB Zach Terrell and WR Corey Davis can do against a top dog from the Big Ten. Terrell is 4th nationally in pass efficiency after throwing for 3,376 yards, 32 TD's and 3 INT's. Davis caught 91 balls for 1,427 yards and 18 scores to rank 9th in receiving ypg, 7th in total receiving yards, and 1st in receiving touchdowns. Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck is a folk hero in Kalamazoo, not only for getting the Broncos to Dallas and a big-time bowl, but also for not bailing to a Power 5 school. Western Michigan beat Wisconsin 24-14 in 1988 and is 1-3 vs. the Badgers. The teams last met in 2000 with Wisconsin prevailing 19-7. Western Michigan opened the year with wins over Big Ten members Northwestern (22-21) and Illinois (34-10). Wisconsin beat Northwestern 21-7 and Illinois 48-3. Both teams annihilated Akron with WMU zipping the Zips 41-0 while Wisconsin won 54-10.
Wisconsin won 24-16. The computer won SU, lost ATS. Western Michigan missed a PAT that would have made it 24-17 and flipped the ATS result.

USC (-6.5) by 3.55 over Penn State (Rose Bowl) - You can surely expect the Nittany Lions to arrive in Pasadena with a chip on their shoulder after winning the Big Ten, beating Ohio State in the regular season, and getting left out of the playoff. For PSU fans, this rates up there with 1968, 1969, 1973 and 1994 when the undefeated Nittany Lions weren't recognized as national champions. Defensively, the teams are a statistical wash. Offensively, they're only about 30 yards apart. USC faced the nation's toughest schedule while Penn State's ranks 12th. This really should be a gem of a Rose Bowl between two storied programs.
USC won 52-49. The computer won SU, won ATS.


UPSETS:
The computer likes the underdog as the outright winner. This is every upset projected by the computer.
Last Season: 28-57 SU (.329), 43-42 ATS (.506)
This Season: 33-52 SU (.388), 42-43 ATS (.494)
Last Week: 0-0 SU (.000), 0-0 ATS (.000)
This Week: 3-4 SU (.429), 3-4 ATS (.429)
PAST RECORDS

Saturday, December 17
Appalachian State by 1.40 over Toledo (-2) (Camellia Bowl) - The 9-3 Mountaineers of the Sun Belt take on the 9-3 Rockets of the MAC. Appalachian State has made the postseason in each of its first two years of eligibility since joining the FBS. Toledo has won its last 2 bowl games by an average of 17 points. The Rockets boast the nation's 4th-most potent offense while Appalachian State ranks 15th in defense. This game is one of seven first-time matchups in the 2016-17 bowl season.
Appalachian State won 31-28. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Friday, December 23
Ohio by 0.08 over Troy (-4) (Dollar General Bowl) - This game has the slimmest of all margins with the Bobcats favored by less than one-tenth of a point. Ohio would have been a 4.02-point favorite in the preseason.
Troy won 28-23. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Monday, December 26
Boston College by 2.90 over Maryland (-1) (Quick Lane Bowl) - Two of the worst Power 5 conference teams to make the bowl season collide in Detroit. BC is ranked 73rd and Maryland is ranked 75th. Despite giving up over 475 yards and 45 or more points in losses to Virginia Tech, Clemson, Louisville and Florida State, the Eagle defense is somehow ranked 8th nationally. Maryland's offense ranks 94th, but BC's only ranks 127th. The trouble for the Terps is their 82nd-ranked defense.
Boston College won 36-30. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Thursday, December 29
Oklahoma State by 3.09 over Colorado (-2.5) (Alamo Bowl) - Oklahoma State is 16-10 in bowl games and is making its 10th consecutive postseason trip. This is Colorado's first bowl appearance since 2007 and the Buffs have just 1 bowl win this century. OSU's offense outranks Colorado 17th to 43rd while the defensive rankings favor Colorado 17th to 108th.
Oklahoma State won 38-8. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Friday, December 30
TCU by 2.48 over Georgia (-1.5) (Liberty Bowl) - This game features a pair of under-achievers as Georgia was 2 games under its predicted season forecast, and TCU was 4 games below expectations. Georgia has the 3rd-most bowl wins (29) of any school and is 29-19-2 overall. Gary Patterson is 8-2 in bowl games with TCU. The Bulldogs have the edge on defense. The Horned Frog offense has been anything but consistent.
Georgia won 31-23. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Saturday, December 31
Kentucky by 1.03 over Georgia Tech (-5) (TaxSlayer Bowl) - The Kentucky offense averaged 37.5 ppg over the second half of the season, including a 41-38 season finale victory over Louisville. Both teams love to run and Georgia Tech has the better run defense.
Georgia Tech won 33-18. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Monday, January 2
Iowa by 4.40 over Florida (-2) (Outback Bowl) - Iowa won its last 3 games by a cumulative 82-23. Florida lost its last two by aggregate 85-29 as the Gator defense allowed over 6 yards per play. Iowa is looking for its bowl win since 2010.
Florida won 30-3. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.



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