Celebration Bowl-Alcorn State vs North Carolina A&T (Preview 12-19)

The College Football bowl season kicks off with the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.

Motivation for both the SWAC Champion Alcorn State Braves and MEAC Champion North Carolina A&T Aggies, will be high.  Both teams compete in conferences that receive very little national attention. This game will allow both teams to showcase their talents in the national spotlight with an afternoon kickoff at the Georgia Dome on ABC.

players750x341N.C A&T comes in ranked 5th in the FCS in scoring defense allowing only 15 points per game, and this includes a 53-14 loss to ACC runner-up North Carolina early in the season. The Aggies rushing defense ranks as well as any team in the FCS, allowing only 84 yards a game. On offense the Aggies are heavily led by their ground game and MEAC offensive player of the year, running back Tarik Cohen. Riding Cohen will be a key to success for the Aggies who rank only 112 of 123 FCS teams in passing offense.

The Alcorn State defense is solid, but the Braves come in as more of an offensive juggernaut, averaging 40 points per game. The Braves also primarily look to the ground first, averaging 309 rushing yards a game, which led the SWAC. Since rebounding from a 69-6 week one loss at Georgia Tech, the Braves have had very little trouble scoring this season.

This is the only bowl game featuring FCS teams and there is no point spread for this game. This game has no value from a gambling standpoint, but should still be entertaining nevertheless. I look forward to watching these two HBCUs square up on national television.

There is no money that can be wagered on this game in Vegas, but I will give a prediction. The Aggie defense is tough, but I see the advantage at quarterback giving the Braves the edge in this game.

(Alcorn State 24 North Carolina AT&T 20 )

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SEC Championship Game-Florida vs Alabama (Pick against the spread 12-5)

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The Southeastern Conference and national dominance of the Alabama Crimson Tide dynasty under Nick Saban began in 2009 with 32-13 victory over the Florida Gators in the conference championship game. Alabama would go on to defeat Texas for the national championship a month later. The victory avenged a 31-20 loss from the 2008 SEC title game, when Alabama fell to the Gators. Florida went on to win the national championship a month later against Oklahoma.

Saturday will be Florida’s first appearance in the SEC Championship since their 2009 lost to Alabama, while Alabama will be playing for its fourth SEC title under Saban.

The Gators come in looking as vulnerable as a 10-2 SEC team can look. The Gators defense has been the team’s strength this season, while the Florida offense has been on a steady downward spiral since the suspension of quarterback Will Grier. In three of the last four games, the Gators offense has been atrocious. The last four games for Florida include a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt, an overtime win over Florida Atlantic-which just finished the season at 3-9, and 27-2 loss to arch-rival Florida State.

Unlike the Gators, the Crimson Tide are rolling.  The Tide are playing for a birth in the college football playoff for the second consecutive year of its existence, and for a chance to win their fourth national title under Nick Saban.

Anything can happen on any given Saturday, but I can’t get how bad the Gators looked in wins over Vanderbilt and Florida Atlantic out of my mind.

The Gators will struggle scoring, and the defense is Florida’s only chance to keep this game from getting out of hand.  Both teams are 7-5 against the spread this year, but Alabama has been much better down the stretch. The  majority of the Gators success against the spread came earlier this season. The Gators are only 1-3 against the spread in their last four games, while Alabama has now covered the spread in four straight games. I look for Alabama to roll over Florida in a big way.

Taking the points and Alabama -17,

(Alabama 31 Florida 6)

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