About the Data

Line in parenthesis is the opening line from Doc's College Football Picks. 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.

Upsets

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. Since 2002, the computer's upset picks are 660-816 (.448) SU, 811-665 ATS (.549) ATS. Bowl game records are 53-40 (.570) SU, 59-34 (.634) ATS.

SU ATS
This Week 2-5 (.286) 2-5 (.286)
Last Week 1-1 (.500) 1-1 (.500)
This Season 33-64 (.340) 48-49 (.495)
Last Season 30-46 (.395) 38-38 (.500)

The computer's opposite picks were 38-38 (.500) ATS last year after an amazing 62-27 campaign in 2018. A .500 record is still rather incredible for picking outright upsets. Last year, the computer called both UCF upset losses to Pitt and Cincinnati, the first of which ended a 25-game winning streak, and the latter that ended a 19-game conference winning streak. It also pegged Virginia's upset of Virginia Tech that snapped a 15-game losing streak in the rivalry for the Cavaliers. In 2018, 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. That year, it also called 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. The top plays in 2020, so far, are the computer's outright upset picks of Indiana over Penn State and Michigan. The Hoosiers opened the season with a 36-35 win in overtime over the Nittany Lions to improve to 2-22 all-time in that series. Two weeks later, Indiana beat Michigan 38-21 to end a string of 24 consecutive losses to the Wolverines. Other impressive 2020 picks include Texas A&M beating Florida as a 7-point underdog, Memphis ending a 13-game losing streak to UCF, and Florida State under the spread against North Carolina. The Upset Picks were 4-1 SU and ATS over the Thanksgiving weekend, including its picks of 11-point underdog Michigan State halting Northwestern's undefeated season, and 7-point underdog Hawaii doing the same to Nevada..

By request, here are the SU and ATS records for 2016-2018. For 2016, they were 33-52 SU, 42-43 ATS. In 2017, they were 51-54 SU, 61-44 ATS. In 2018, they were 46-43 SU, 62-27 ATS.

Here are this week's upset picks:

Central Florida by 2.64 over Brigham Young (-4) - Boca Raton Bowl. Tuesday, December 22. These teams met in 2011 and 2014, with each team winning once. Had this game been scheduled at the start of the season, the computer would've had UCF favored by more than 8. However, the Cougars have seen their power rating increase 14 points during the season while UCF's has only risen by 1.64. However, BYU's best win came against a depleted Boise State team while the Knights three losses came against Tulsa by 8, Memphis by 1 and Cincinnati by 3. But, BYU is a top ten team statistically on both sides of the ball, ranking 8th in total offense and 9th in total defense. UCF ranks 2nd on offense, but 117th on defense. The old adage was "defense wins championships", but this has been a season where offense has ruled.

SUATSBYU won 49-23.

Marshall by 4.71 over Buffalo (-3) - Camellia Bowl. Friday, December 25 (Christmas Day). We're still a bit stunned that both of these teams didn't win their respective conference championships. Marshall was upset 22-13 by UAB and Buffalo was surprised 38-28 by Ball State. The Herd ended with two losses after a 7-0 start to the season, while Buffalo went 5-1. Marshall QB Grant Wells for much of the year, but as just 26-of-58 with 2 TD's and 5 INT's in the two losses. Meanwhile, Ball State held the nation's leading rusher, Jaret Patterson, to 47 yards in its upset win and Marshall's rushing defense ranks 2nd nationally. 

SUATSBuffalo won 17-10.

Western Kentucky by 1.80 over Georgia State (-4.5) - Lending Tree Bowl. Saturday, December 26. Western Kentucky (5-6) was suppose to compete the CUSA title, but was just 2-6 after 8 games. However, the Hilltoppers are a hot team coming into this game after winning their last 3. Georgia State (5-4) pretty much matched expectations all season long and the computer was 8-1 picking their games straight-up, but we still can't figure out what happened in the 51-0 thumping they took at the hands of Coastal Carolina. Throw that one out as an anomaly. The computer trend line has WKU by just 0.29.

SUATSGeorgia State won 39-21.

Oklahoma by 0.87 over Florida (-2.5) - Cotton Bowl. Wednesday, December 30. The one and only previous meeting between these teams came in the 2009 BCS Championship game which the Gators won 24-14. Oklahoma (8-2) rides in on a 7-game winning streak after avenging an early-season loss to Iowa State with a 27-21 win over the Cyclones in the Big 12 Championship game. Florida (8-3) enters on a 2- game losing skid, falling first to LSU 37-34 and then 52-46 to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. The Sooners outrank the Gators 19 to 63 in total defense. On offense, the Gators rank 10th and Oklahoma ranks 18th.

SUATSOklahoma won 55-20.

Mississippi State by 8.12 over Tulsa (-2.5) - Armed Forces Bowl. Thursday, December 31. This is one of those strange matchups that can only be attributed to this 2020 season of football during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bulldogs are playing a postseason game despite a 3-7 record in their first season under Mike Leach as head coach and are ranked 95th in last computer rankings. Tulsa (6-2) fell from 29th to 43rd in the rankings after losing 27-24 to Cincinnati in the American Conference championship game, but ranked 24th in the final playoff committee polling. Golden Hurricane linebacker Zaven Collins is this year's Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, having registered 53 tackles, 11.5 TFL's, 4 sacks, and 4 interceptions, including a 96-yard pick-six for the game-winning score in OT against Tulane.

SUATSMississippi State won 28-26.

Auburn by 7.62 over Northwestern (-2.5) - Citrus Bowl. Friday, January 1. Two teams who actually both deserved a bowl bid will clash in Orlando on New Year's Day. Auburn (6-4) last played in this game in 2006 (2005 season), losing to Wisconsin, and is 3-2 all-time in Citrus Bowl appearances. Northwestern (6-2) lost in its only previous appearance in 1997 (1996 season). The Tigers had a decent season but still fired head coach Gus Malzahn and have since plucked Bryan Harsin away from Boise State. For the bowl game, Auburn will be led by DC Kevin Steele who was also a candidate for the head coach job. The Wildcats concluded the season with a loss in the Big Ten title game against Ohio State for the second time in the last 3 years. Statistically, Auburn outranks Northwestern 75 to 100 in total offense, but the 'Cats outrank the Tigers on defense 23 to 61. Northwestern has a 3-bowl win streak after going 0-9 in bowl games from 1949-2011. Auburn has won just 2 of its last 5 bowl games.

SUATSNorthwestern won 35-19.

Oregon by 7.09 over Iowa State (-4) - Fiesta Bowl. Saturday, December 2. Iowa State is going bowling for a school record 4th straight season under Matt Campbell as head coach, but the Cyclones' last bowl win came in Campbell's second season in 2017. The Cyclones (6-2) ended the season with a 27-21 loss to Oklahoma in the Big Championship game after having defeated the Sooners earlier in the year. Oregon (4-2) enters on the heels of an upset win over USC in the PAC-12 Championship game after becoming a substitute entry to that game when Washington had to back out for Covid issues. The Ducks are in their fourth straight bowl game with Mario Cristobal as head coach after he was promoted just prior to their 2017 appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. They've won their last two. Iowa State outranks Oregon 29 to 69 in total defense, and 31 to 38 on total offense.

SUATSIowa State won 34-17.

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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. Since 2002, our picks in this category are 1,238-421 (.746) SU, 834-825 (.503) ATS. Bowl game records are 62-24 SU (.721), 40-46 ATS (.465).

SU ATS
This Week 3-0 (1.000) 2-1 (.667)
Last Week 0-1 (.000) 0-1 (.000)
This Season 38-15 (.717) 26-27 (.491)
Last Season 63-15 (.808) 34-44 (.436)

Memphis (-10) by 16.12 over Florida Atlantic - Montgomery Bowl. Wednesday, December 23. FAU may be 5-3 but the Owls are not a good football team. Memphis (7-3) has underperformed this season but, hands down, has better talent. This bowl-game is a one-off stand-in for the Fenway Bowl which was scheduled to debut this year until Covid hit.

SUATSMemphis won 25-10.

Louisiana-Lafayette (-12.5) by 24.41 over Utsa - SERVPRO First Responder Bowl. Saturday, December 26. The Ragin' Cajuns were picked to go 8-2 and went 9-1. UTSA was picked to go 4-7 and finished 7-4. That makes it sounds like the Roadrunners would've closed the gap on Louisiana, but the computer would've had them as a 26-point underdog in September and they're still a 24-point computer underdog today.

SUATSLouisiana-Lafayette won 31-24.

Wisconsin (-7) by 20.31 over Wake Forest - Duke's Mayo Bowl. Wednesday, December 30. Duke's Mayo Bowl was formerly the Belk Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl and the Continental Tire Bowl. Whatever you want to call it, the Badgers should be able to have their way with Wake Forest. The only advantage the Demon Deacons have is the 80-mile travel distance to the stadium in Charlotte. Though Wisconsin's offense went M.I.A. after the first couple of games, the defense tops the nation while Wake Forest ranks 107th on that side of the ball..

SUATSWisconsin won 42-28.

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. Since 2002, our picks in this category are 978-248 (.798) SU, 652-574 (.532) ATS. Bowl game records are 39-19 (.672) SU, 30-28 (.517) ATS.

SU ATS
This Week 1-2 (.333) 3-0 (1.000)
Last Week 2-1 (.667) 3-0 (1.000)
This Season 32-14 (.696) 31-15 (.674)
Last Season 44-18 (.710) 36-26 (.581)

Houston (-10.5) by 4.16 over Hawaii - New Mexico Bowl at Frisco, Texas. Thursday, December 24. The opening 10.5-point spread for Houston had moved to up 12.5 by Monday, which makes it a lot easier to take Hawaii. The big concern here is that the Warriors have lost 3 straight this year on the mainland by 11 or more. The computer trend line has the Cougars by just over 5 points.

SUATSHawaii won 28-14.

San Jose State (-7) by 3.31 over Ball State - Arizona Bowl. Thursday, December 31. Will Ball State finally win a bowl game? The Cardinals are 0-fer in 7 previous tries and this is their first chance since 2013 to turn that bowl frown upside down. Meanwhile, the Spartans have been victorious on their last four bowl trips, and haven't lost one since the 1987 California Raisin Bowl. San Jose State is 7-0 for the first time since 1939. Ball State is 6-1 for the first time since 2013. The computer trend line has SJSU by 4-1/2.

SUATSBall State won 34-13.

Alabama (-19.5) by 5.97 over Notre Dame - Rose Bowl at Arlington, Texas. Friday, January 1. The whopping spread is just begging for us to take the bait, and we will. Notre Dame had an off-night in the sequel vs. Clemson. We won't go out on a limb and pick an outright upset, but Notre Dame has an Irish chance in this fight. The computer trend line has Alabama by 7-1/2.

SUATSAlabama won 31-14.

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