Dec. 23 Dollar General Bowl: Toledo (11-2) vs. Appalachian St (8-4)

The Dollar General is a rematch of last season’s 2016 Camellia Bowl, where Appalachian State defeated Toledo 31-28.  Toledo came into last season’s match-up as a point favorite and the over and under was 59.5.

Both teams are very strong and experienced at the quarterback position. Appalachian State is led by fourth year starter Taylor Lamb at quarterback. Lamb threw for 119 yards and rushed for 126 yards last season against Toledo. In his career Lamb has scored a total of 113 touchdowns for Appalachian State and is the Sun Belt all-time record holder with 90 career touchdown passes.

Toledo senior quarterback Logan Woodside has thrown for 93 touchdowns and over 10,000 yards in his career. The Rockets will be the highest ranked offensive team that the Mountaineers have seen this season. Toledo averages 510 yards per game and 39.4 points.

Appalachian State ranked second in the Sun Belt conference with 215 rushing yards per game and first with 5.4 yards per carry. This could be a problem for the Rockets rushing defense.

Toledo is 1-4 against the spread in their last five non-conference games and the over is 6-2 in Rockets last eight non-conference games.  Appalachian State is  4-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record.

Last season I picked Toledo -1 and the under 59.5 point. The Toledo pick lost, but the under won but just a half point. In this 2017 match-up season Toledo is currently a 7.5 point favorite and the over/under total is 63 points.

Appalachian State ranked second in the Sun Belt conference with 215 rushing yards per game and first with 5.4 yards per carry. This could be a problem for the Rockets rushing defense.

I think the 7.5 point line, with the availability to buy a half point and get these to 8 points, is a bit high. I like Appalachian State to cover and the over.

 

Lines: Toledo -7.5

Get Sports Strong Predictions: Toledo 34 Appalachian State 31

Recommended Plays: Appalachian State +8 buying the hook if available and OVER 61 points

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Dec. 22 Idaho Potato Bowl Prediction: Central Michigan Chippewas (8-4) vs Wyoming Cowboys (7-5)

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Central Michigan Chippewas (8-4) vs Wyoming Cowboys (7-5)

I usually like to stick with facts more than opinions. Opinions however, will always play a big role when analyzing and talking sports. We are all different, and as humans we all have our own unique perspectives, so often we can watch the same things. at the same times. and still view things totally different.

As someone who has watched Wyoming several times these past two seasons, I do not understand the Josh Allen hype. The young man simply does not look like a top 20 player to me when you look at on the field production. When I see Josh Allen, I see former Cleveland Browns and Raiders quarterback Charlie Frye, and honestly Frye was a better college player in my opinion. I could go deeper but I don’t want this to turn into a Josh Allen article. However, Allen’s hype is a major reason why I think Wyoming is now a three point favorite.

Behind NFL prospect Josh Allen, the Wyoming Cowboys rank 126th in the nation in total offense with 286 yards per game. The only offense that ranks worse that Central Michigan has seen this season was Kent State, who ranks 128th. Central Michigan defeated Kent State 42-23 on Nov. 14.

Wyoming’s strength has been their defense which ranks number three in the Mountain West and 21st in the nation. Wyoming ranks fifth nationally allowing only 160 passing yards a game and 55th nationally against the rush, allowing 172 yards a game.

On offense the Chippewas are led by former Michigan Wolverine quarterback Shane Morris who has thrown 14 touchdowns against only two interceptions during the Chippewas five game winning streak.

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With a high of 31 degrees expected in Boise, Idaho Friday and with both teams having strong defenses against the pass, expect both teams to try to establish the rushing game. CMU running back Jonathan Ward will lead the way, he has 990 rushing yards on the season and is averaging six yards a carry.

Wyoming running primarily uses two running backs Trey Woods and Kellen Overstreet, who have 870 rushing yards on the season and a 3.9 yards per carry average between them both.
Central Michigan ranks 54th nation defensively, 23rd against the pass and 91st against the run allowing over 190 rushing yards a game. Central Michigan is tied for second in the nation defensively as a team with 19 passes intercepted.

Central Michigan has won its last five games in a row both straight up and against the spread. In three of those five games Central Michigan came in as the underdog. The last loss for the Chippewas came on Oct. 14, when they fell to the Toledo Rockets 30-10. Toledo ranks eighth in the nation in offensive total yardage and has more firepower than what Central Michigan will see from Wyoming.

The over/under is 2-10 in Wyoming games this season and 7-5 in Central Michigan games. Every game during the Chippewas current five game winning streak has gone over the total. Wyoming has seen the point total go under in their last six games.

This is a good opportunity for Josh Allen to impress his critics and NFL scouts. However, Allen has not yet thrown for over 240 yards against a FBS team all season. I like Central Michigan +3 to be able to grind out more offense in a cold defensive match-up. I am also leaning towards the under.

Lines: Wyoming -3 O/U 45.5

Get Sports Strong Predictions: Central Michigan 24 Wyoming 17

Recommended Play: CENTRAL MICHIGAN +3

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Dec. 21 GASPARILLA BOWL PREDICTION: Temple Owls (6-6) vs FIU Panthers (8-4)

Temple Owls (6-6) vs Florida International Panthers (8-4) 8 pm EST

The Butch Davis led FIU Panthers will be playing in their first bowl game since 2011, when they take on the Temple Owls in the Gasparilla Bowl. Temple is led by first year head coach Geoff Collins, but will be making their third consecutive bowl appearance as a team. The Owls have lost their last two bowl appearances, last year Temple fell to Wake Forest 34-26 in the Military Bowl, and also to Toledo 32-17 in the 2015 Boca Raton Bowl.

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Temple and Florida International face two common opponents this season, UMass and Central Florida. Temple defeated UMass 29-21 on Sept. 15 and FIU defeated UMass as well 63-45 on Dec. 2. FIU opened their season with a 61-17 lost to Central Florida and Temple also lost to Central Florida 45-19 on Nov.18.

The Temple offense got off to a poor start on the season but did show improvement down the stretch when they made the switch to Frank Nutile at quarterback. The Owls rank 81st in the nation in offensive yards per game and 93rd in scoring. Florida International ranks 74th in the nation in scoring and 63rd in offensive yards per game. Defensively Temple has allowed 27.7 yards per game and Florida International is averaging 28.5 points per games.

Both FIU and Temple are 6-6 against the spread this season, however each team finished stronger than they began the season. FIU is 5-1 against the spread in their last six games as an underdog and 4-0 ATS as an underdog of less than eight points this season. Temple finished 6-2 ATS in their last eight games of the season. Going back further, the Owls program has also covered the spread in their last four games against opponents from Conference USA.

The over/under is 6-6 in Temple games this season. However, Temple’s last five straight games all went over to end the regular season. The over/under is 8-4 in FIU games this season, with the last four games all going over the total.

Both teams finished the season strong against the spread. With Temple currently being a seven point favorite I am leaning toward FIU +7. I actually would not be surprised to see FIU win this game. However, my favorite play here is the OVER 56 points and that is where my confidence lies.

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Dec. 20 DXL FRISCO BOWL: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (6-6) vs SMU Mustangs (7-5)

The Southern Methodist University Mustangs will head into the Frisco bowl with a new head coach,  after Chad Morris accepted the head coaching job at Arkansas on Dec. 6. The Mustangs announced former California and also former Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes as their new head coach on Dec. 11, and Dykes will actually be making his head coaching debut for the Mustangs in this bowl game. The Mustangs will be playing this game in Frisco, Texas less than 30 miles from their campus.

This is game will be Louisiana Tech’s fourth straight bowl appearance under fifth year head coach Skip Holtz. The Bulldogs are 3-0 in bowl games under Holtz. This season the Bulldogs qualified for a bowl by winning their last two games of the season, against 0-12 UTEP and against 6-5 UT San Antonio.

SMU will be making their first bowl appearance since 2012. SMU five losses came to teams with a combined record of 45-15, which included three teams with at least ten wins, and no loses to any teams with a losing record. Louisiana Tech’s six losses came to teams with a combined record of 51-23, with no team finishing with worse than an 8-4 record.  Both teams did face North Texas this season. Louisiana Tech lost to North Texas at home 24-23 on Nov. 4 and SMU defeated North Texas at home 54-32 on September 9.

Offense has been the strength of the Mustangs this season. SMU has scored at least 31 points in each of their wins this season and are averaging just over 40 points a game, but also allowing over 35.  The Bulldogs are averaging almost 29 points per game and allowing almost 27.

Louisiana Tech is 6-6 against the spread this seasoned the over/under is also 6-6 in their games this season. SMU is 6-6 against the spread and has a 7-5 over/under record. SMU did however get off to a 5-0 start against the spread, but finished 1-6 in their last seven games ATS.

Louisiana Tech is 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games as an underdog of between 3.5 to 10 points and 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games. 

SMU is 11-4 in their last 15 games as a favorite and 4-1 against the spread in in their last five games against Conference USA. However, SMU is only 5-13 ATS in their last 18 games as a favorite of between 3.5 and 10 points.

I expect the Mustangs to be motivated to play their first bowl game since 2012 and to play for a new head coach. This is also close to a home game for SMU. However their is still the coaching change distraction to deal with.

Louisiana Tech has had stability at the head coaching position and has taken care of business in bowl games over Holtz, however this team is not as talented as the previous years.  Due to the coaching change, I see value on the side of Louisiana Tech. Overall, there is not a side that love enough either way to wager on this game without forcing anything. So I am not recommending a wager, but of course I will still make my prediction.

Lines: SMU -5 O/U 70

Get Sports Strong Predictions: SMU 38 Louisiana Tech 35

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Dec. 19 Boca Raton Bowl: Akron Zips (7-6) vs Florida Atlantic Owls (10-3)

The Las Vegas bookmakers believe that this will be the biggest mismatch among all of the bowl games. The Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic Owls are currently are a 22.5 point favorite against the Mid-American Conference runner up Akron Zips. The line originally opened up with the Owls as a 17 point favorite, which would have been the best time to make a play if you like the Owls.

 

Both teams are 9-4 against the spread this season. FAU is 8-2 ATS as a favorite, however they were only greater than a 20 point favorite once this season and failed to cover in a 31-12 win over Charlotte on Nov. 25. FAU also failed to cover against the spread in a 34-31 loss in their one game against a Mid-American Conference opponent this season, the Owls were a 1.5 point underdog heading into that game.

Akron defeated the one common opponent that these two teams had, Buffalo 21-20 on Oct. 28. Akron was 6-3 as an underdog against the spread this season.

This match-up to me has similarities to the way Akron matched up with Mid-American Conference Champion Toledo. Toledo defeated Akron 48-21 on October 21 and then again 45-28 in the conference championship game.

Akron has only averaged 329 yards per game this season which ranks them 118th out 130 FBS teams and ten of their 13 games have gone under the Vegas points total this season. FAU ranks 14th in yards per game this season. The over/under is 6-7 in Owls games this season.

The Owls are 2-6 in their last eight non-conference games and the Zips are 6-1 in their last seven games against teams with winning records. Overall I am not recommending playing this game. I expect Florida Atlantic win, but for Akron to cover. I’m not sure how high the Owls motivation will be to face the Zips in at hime, and they will need to be motivated to win by more than three touchdowns. Still, Akron does not match-up with Florida Atlantic well enough for me to recommend betting on the them either.

Lines: Florida Atlantic -22.5  O/U 64.5

Get Sports Strong Predictions: FAU 45 Akron 24

Do I recommend playing this game against Vegas:  NO

 

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Dec. 16 College Bowl Predictions

New Orleans Bowl: Troy Trojans (10-2) vs North Texas Mean Green (9-4) 1pm EST

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The line has now climbed to Troy -7, but I made this pick on Dec. 5 when Troy still only -5.5 favorite to my subscribers. The Troy Trojans have faced better competition this season and have a much better defense than North Texas. The Trojans defense ranks 11th in the nation in points allowed, giving up less than 18 points per game, while North Texas ranks 105th in the nation allowing almost 34 points per game.

The Trojans were 3-1 in non-conference games overall this season including a 24-21 win over LSU on September 30.

Get Sports Strong Predictions: Troy 38 North Texas 24

Pick: Troy -5.5 

Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (6-6) vs Georgia State Panthers(6-5) 2:30pm EST

This is not one of the match-ups that I am looking forward to actually watching but I definitely think there is a good play here.Georgia State has not beaten a team with a winning record all season. Georgia State’s six wins came against teams with a combined overall record of 16-56. The Panthers have also dropped their last four games against the spread.

Western Kentucky’s best win came against 6-6 Middle Tennessee State and ll their six wins have come against opponents with a combined record of only 18-53. The Hilltoppers are only 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite, which makes them a risky play on paper. The Hilltoppers have also dropped four of their last five games straight up, however all to teams who are better than Georgia State.
Both of these teams have been poor against the spread this season, but I feel that the Western Kentucky passing game will be the difference in this game. If the Western Kentucky offense can get going, the Panthers could have a hard time keeping up.

Get Sports Strong Predictions: Western Kentucky 34 Georgia State 20

Pick: Western Kentucky -5

 

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State Broncos (10-3) vs Oregon Ducks (7-5) 3:30pm EST

The Oregon Ducks have been a different team with Justin Herbert under center this season. Oregon is 6-1 overall and 5-2 against the spread when Justin Herbert has started for them at quarterback this season. The Ducks have scored at least 35 points in all of those games averaging just over 52 points per game in his starts.However Oregon will be without their head coach Willie Taggart, who has taken the Florida State head coaching job, and I think there maybe some distractions due to the coaching turnover.

Boise State faced one Pac-12 team this season, week two Boise State lost to Washington State 47-44. Oregon lost to Washington State 33-10, however quarterback Justin Herbert was injured in that game.

Oregon did defeated Mountain West opponent Wyoming 49-13 this season. Boise State defeated Wyoming 24-14.

The Broncos are 4-1 against in their last 5 bowl games as an underdog.

Get Sports Strong Predictions: Oregon 35 Boise State 34

Picks: OVER 61 and Boise State +7

 

 

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Celebration Bowl Prediction (Grambling State vs North Carolina A&T)

North Carolina A&T Aggies vs Grambling State Tigers (December 16 Noon EST)

The Celebration Bowl, features the MEAC Champion North Carolina A&T Aggies (11-0) and the SWAC Champion Grambling State Tigers (11-1). Even though the Aggies are ranked #7 in the nation and Grambling is ranked #12 in the FCS coaches poll, the MEAC and SWAC met in this game for the Black College National Championship, instead of completing in the playoff.

 

This may not be a FBS game, but the Celebration Bowl could very well end up being the most exciting bowl game played on Saturday.

The Aggies are averaging 36.4 points a game and only allowing 12.3 to their opponents. The Tigers come in averaging 32.7 points per game and allowing 20.4.

Both teams have benefited from very strong quarterback play this season. Grambling is led by former Ole Miss transfer Devante Kincade at quarterback. Kincade has thrown 21 touchdown passes verus only three interceptions on the season. Kincade has also rushed for six touchdowns on the season.

North Carolina A&T quarterback Lamar Raynard has thrown for 26 touchdowns against only five interceptions and three rushing touchdowns. The Aggies also have the MEAC leading rusher Marquell Cartwright who comes in with 1080 yards on the season.

This will be the third Celebration Bowl, with each of the first two match-ups between the SWAC and MEAC being decided by a touchdown or less. North Carolina A&T defeated Alcorn State 41-34 in 2015 and Grambling State defeated North Carolina Central 10-9 last season.

Currently North Carolina A&T is an 8.5 point favorite. I see this match-up as a toss-up between to very talented and evenly matched teams, with neither side deserving to be favored by more than a touchdown. Over the last two seasons, Grambling is 22-2 overall, with one loss each season coming to a FBS team; Arizona and Tulane. respectively. Grambling State will be the toughest competition the Aggies have faced this season. There is great value in the Tigers here who I believe have better than a 50% chance of winning this game outright.

Get Sports Strong Prediction:

Grambling State 27 North Carolina A&T 24

Recommended Vegas Play: Grambling State +8.5

 

 

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