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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: 88-34 SU (.721), 52-70 ATS (.426)
This Season: 99-28 SU (.780), 66-61 ATS (.520)
Last Week: 0-0 SU (.000), 0-0 ATS (.000)
This Week: 3-1 SU (.750), 3-1 ATS (.750)
PAST RECORDS

Saturday, December 26
Marshall (-4.5) by 17.29 over Connecticut (St. Petersburg Bowl) - Somehow, Marshall just wins bowl games. Perhaps it's a product of a generally well-traveling and well-dispersed fan base. The Herd are 9-2 overall in bowls and winners of 4 straight. This is the first bowl trip for the Huskies since 2010. The computer's trend line only likes Marshall by 6.
Marshall won 16-10. The computer won SU, won ATS.

UCLA (-6) by 7.44 over Nebraska (Foster Farms Bowl) - The 'Huskers limp in at 5-7 vs. a Bruin squad that underachieved to go 8-4. The preseason projections put Nebraska at 10-2 and UCLA at 11-1. The Mike Riley hire is one I just don't understand and harkens back to the ill-advised choice to hire Bill Callahan in 2004. Nebraska ranks 71st in overall defense and 122nd against the pass.
Nebraska won 37-29. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Tuesday, December 29
LSU (-7.5) by 8.66 over Texas Tech (Texas Bowl) - This feels like a rout in LSU's favor. Texas Tech may have the nation's 2nd-most potent offense but also has the nation's 2nd-worst defense. LSU running back Leonard Fournette leads the nation in rushing at 158.27 yards per game and 18 TD's. Texas Tech ranks 126th in run defense.
LSU won 56-27. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Saturday, January 1
Michigan (-4) by 5.06 over Florida (Citrus Bowl) - Michigan is 2-0 vs. Florida, with both meetings in Florida-based bowl games - the 2007 season Capital One and the 2002 season Outback. On offense, Michigan ranks 71st and Florida 109th. On defense, Michigan ranks 4th and Florida 6th. Florida was 6-0 with Will Grier at QB, but just 3-4 since his suspension. The Gators scored a total of 17 points in their final 2 games vs. Florida State and Alabama, with just 1 offensive touchdown.
Michigan won 41-7. The computer won SU, won ATS.


HOLD YOUR HORSES:
The computer likes the favorite, but by fewer points than the oddsmakers.
Last Season: 69-11 SU (.863), 33-47 ATS (.413)
This Season: 54-12 SU (.818), 35-31 ATS (.530)
Last Week: 0-0 SU (.000), 0-0 ATS (.000)
This Week: 3-1 SU (1.000), 1-3 ATS (.250)
PAST RECORDS

Saturday, December 19
San Jose State (-4.5) by 2.32 over Georgia State (Cure Bowl) - The Panthers (6-6) finished the season strong with 4 straight wins, including a 34-7 blowout of Georgia Southern in Statesboro after entering the game as a consensus 20-point underdog. Georgia State had 6 wins vs. FBS foes, but also lost to FCS member Liberty. The Spartans (5-7) only had 4 wins vs. FBS foes. The Panthers rank 8th in passing offense while San Jose State ranks 2nd in pass defense. SJSU's balanced offense ranks 56th nationally vs. GSU's defense which ranks 85th.
San Jose State won 27-16. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Arizona (-10) by 4.94 over NEW MEXICO (New Mexico Bowl) - This is a home game for the Lobos (7-5), led by head coach Bob Davie. Arizona (6-6) is lead by head coach Rich Rodriguez. New Mexico was projected in the preseason as a 5-7 team while Arizona was picked to go 9-3. So basically, the Lobos outperformed expectations and the Wildcats drastically underachieved. The Lobos had wins over Utah State, Boise State and Air Force among their last 4 games. New Mexico ranks 8th in the nation in rushing offense, but 122nd passing. The bad passing numbers may not matter as Arizona ranks 89th in stopping the run.
Arizona won 45-37. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Tuesday, December 29
California (-6) by 1.07 over Air Force (Armed Forces Bowl) - Air Force's pass defense ranks 25th. Cal's rushing defense ranks 102nd. Thus, Air Force should be better at stopping Cal's passing game than Cal should be at stopping the Air Force's potent rushing attack.
California won 55-36. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Thursday, December 31
Alabama (-10) by 3.67 over Michigan State (Cotton Bowl) - Michigan State makes a second straight trip to the Cotton Bowl where it edged Baylor 42-41 last year by scoring 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. Alabama returns to this game for the first time since the 2005 season. The computer trend line projects the Tide to win by 7.84.
Alabama won 38-0. The computer won SU, lost ATS.


UPSETS:
The computer likes the underdog as the outright winner. This is every upset projected by the computer.
Last Season: 60-50 SU (.545), 68-42 ATS (.618)
This Season: 28-57 SU (.329), 43-42 ATS (.506)
Last Week: 0-0 SU (.000), 0-0 ATS (.000)
This Week: 3-2 SU (.600), 3-2 ATS (.600)
PAST RECORDS

Saturday, December 19
Arkansas State by 2.64 over Louisiana Tech (-1) (New Orleans Bowl) - After 4 straight visits to the GoDaddy Bowl, Arkansas State (2-3, bowl games) returns to the New Orleans Bowl for the first time since 2005. Louisiana Tech (3-3-1, bowl games) makes its first appearance in the Big Easy. The Red Wolves ride into the bowl season with the nation's 4th-longest current winning streak at 8 games after running the Sun Belt table while averaging 48.6 points per game. Between them, these teams had just 3 wins over schools with a non-losing record. The computer trend line is Arkansas State by 5.10.
Louisiana Tech won 47-28. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Tuesday, December 22
Toledo by 3.25 over Temple (-1) (Boca Raton Bowl) - Temple (10-3) versus Toledo (9-2) is another great matchup for the second year bowl game in Boca Raton, Florida that takes place in FAU's 29,414-seat stadium. Last year, this game matched 12-1 Marshall with 11-2 Northern Illinois (Marshall rolled 52-23). So far, Temple head coach Matt Rhule hasn't been plucked by another school. Toledo can't say the same thing as Matt Campbell has left for Iowa State. However, offensive coordinator Jason Candle was promoted to head coach and should help give the Rockets the offensive consistency they'll need power their 28th-ranked offense past Temple's 18th-ranked defense.
Toledo won 32-17. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Thursday, December 24
San Diego State by 5.38 over Cincinnati (-1) (Hawaii Bowl) - The Aztecs (10-3) won 9 straight Mountain West games to claim their first outright conference title since capturing the WAC in 1986. The Bearcats (7-5) were just 4-4 in the American Conference and won consecutive games just once during the season, despite owning the nation's 5th-ranked offense. SDSU counters with the nation's 5th-ranked defense and 15th-best running game. The computer trend line favors San Diego State by 9.37.
San Diego State won 42-7. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Saturday, December 26
Duke by 4.18 over Indiana (-1) (Pinstripe Bowl) - It's off to the Big Apple for the Blue Devils and Hoosiers. Duke is making a 4th straight bowl appearance while Indiana is making its first bowl trip since 2007 and only its second since 1993. Experience should easily favor Duke as head coach David Cutcliffe will be coaching his 9th bowl game while Indiana's Kevin Wilson will be coaching his 1st.
Duke won 44-41 in OT. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Wednesday, December 30
Memphis by 2.10 over Auburn (-3) (Birmingham Bowl) - Pick a Tiger, either Tiger. I'm less inclined to agree with this computer pick, now that Justin Fuente has left to take the Virginia Tech head coaching job. However, Fuente hasn't taken everyone on his staff to Blacksburg, yet, and the team will be led by offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey. Auburn (6-6) will be without defensive coordinator Will Mushcamp who has been hired by South Carolina as its new head coach. Auburn went 2-4 down the stretch and one of those wins was vs. Idaho. Memphis (9-3) needed a season-ending 63-0 win over SMU to halt a 3-game losing streak to Houston, Temple and Navy - all of which are bowl teams.
Auburn won 31-10. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.



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