Almost Perfect Picks Faces Bowl Challenges

The Almost Perfect Picks panel has to bear down when it comes to bowl season. In regular season, most non-conference games for Southeastern Conference teams are easy pickin’s because about three out of four are against cupcakes. Otherwise, two out of three games are against other SEC teams, about which we have some knowledge. Not so in bowl games.

Even though the APP panel has put in hours and hours of study of Alabama and Ohio State in the only bowl game involving an SEC team that matters, there is still something of a hunch aspect in making predictions. It’s not as bad as those who pick based on which mascot would defeat the other in a fight (elephant vs. a buckeye, which is akin to a hickory nut), but there is some instinct involved.

For instance: Alabama has its number one quarterback, Blake Sims, while Ohio State is down to its number three quarterback, Cardale Jones.

That’s study.

On the other hand: Alabama has Nick Saban and Ohio State has Urban Meyer.

That’s instinct.

Alabama went through the toughest division in the toughest conference and emerged as the number one team in every poll, including the College Football Playoff Selection Committee seeding. Ohio State went through the Big Ten.

Alabama (12-1) vs. Ohio State (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans at 7:30 p.m. CST Thursday, Jan. 1, with television coverage by ESPN -- The Tide and Buckeys have met three times previously, all in neutral sites, and once before in the Louisiana Superdome, and Bama has won all three. Alabama 35, Ohio State 17.

The APP has done very well just in picking SEC winners, 91 right and 21 wrong, but many of those weren’t too difficult. For those interested in how Las Vegas would have looked upon the APP, against the point spread and against the over/under (number of points by both teams), the record was not so good, only 100-76.

Regarding those gambling opportunities, some of our followers have asked that we include the betting line (spread) and the over-under. Probably so they can verify the predictions of the APP panel. We strongly suggest not using them for any other purpose.

To wit, Alabama is a 9-point favorite and the over/under is 58. So our prediction of Tide 35, Buckeyes 17 has Bama winning straight up, winning against the spread, and the two teams combining for 52 points, the under.

CLICK HERE for your amazing Sugar Bowl package.

Prior to Jan. 1, there will be SEC teams involved in seven bowl games. On Jan. 1 in addition to the CFP Sugar Bowl, SEC teams will be in two minor bowls. And two conference tams will be in bowl games after New Year’s Day.

Here are the Almost Perfect Picks for the 11 bowl games involving SEC teams not named Alabama:

South Carolina (6-6) vs. Miami (6-6) at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday, Dec. 27, with television coverage by ABC – If only 780 South Carolina fans (the number who bought tickets) care about this game, why should we? Our research has revealed that Miami can run and pass and that South Carolina can’t stop either one. The Hurricanes are favored by 3 ½ and the over/under is 61. Miami 38, South Carolina 17.

Texas A&M (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5) at 1 p.m. CST Monday, Dec. 29, at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on ESPN – Alabama had a hard time beating West Virginia (33-23) and the Crimson Tide destroyed the Aggies (59-0). Although A&M is currently without a defensive coordinator, based on the way the Aggies have always played defense, no one will notice. West Virginia is a 3 ½ point favorite and the over/under is 67. Upset! Texas A&M 42, West Virginia 31.

Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6) at 8 p.m. CST Monday, Dec. 29, in the Texas Bowl in Houston on ESPN – When both teams were in the Southwest Conference, Texas pretty much owned Arkansas. The Razorbacks have toughened up a bit by joining the SEC. Texas has the Longhorn Network AND got rid of Mack Brown. The Hogs are a 6-point favorite and the over/under is 45 ½. Texas 24, Arkansas 17.

Notre Dame (7-5) vs. LSU (8-4) in the Music City Bowl in Nashville at 3 p.m. CST Tuesday, Dec. 30, with television coverage by ESPN – If there is one bowl game that will have Bama fans cheering “SEC! SEC!” in bowl games this year, it’s this one. Playing half its schedule in the ACC, the Fighting Irish haven’t seen any Catholics the likes of Leonard Fournette, who plays for the Fighting Tigers. LSU is a 7 ½-point favorite and the over/under is 52. Louisiana State University 35, Notre Dame 24.

Georgia (9-3) vs. Louisville (9-3) at 5:30 p.m. CST (6:30 eastern) Tuesday, Dec. 30, at the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on ESPN – Georgia was part of that humiliating end to regular season play when four SEC East Division teams lost to four ACC teams. Louisville (playing Kentucky) was one of the winners for the ACC that weekend. Bulldogs Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo will be moving on to Colorado State as head coach after this game, but he’ll have a plan for the Cardinals. That plan is Nick Chubb. Georgia is a 7-point favorite and the over/under is 56 ½. Going against the Mark Richt factor, Bulldogs 31, Louisville 17.

Ole Miss (9-3) vs. TCU (11-1) at 11:30 a.m. CST (12:30 eastern) Wednesday, Dec. 31, in the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with television coverage by ESPN – The Rebels have the distinction of being the only team to defeat Alabama this year, and that counts for a lot more than anything TCU has done. The Horned Frogs aren’t just playing a bowl game. TCU felt slighted by not making the College Football Playoff and has the idea a trouncing of Mississippi will make its case. TCU is a 3 ½-point favorite and the over/under is 56 ½. We don’t look for Good Bo. TCU 38, Ole Miss 24.

Georgia Tech (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (10-2) at 7 p.m. CST (8 p.m. eastern) Wednesday, Dec. 31, in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., with television coverage by ESPN – Getting ready for the triple option in just a week is a hard task, but Mississippi State has had plenty of time to prepare for Georgia Tech’s offense. If the Bulldogs need a late touchdown for the win, we know that Dan Mullen can run the three-minute offense to perfection. If the Bulldogs need two scores, they’d better have a lot more time. Mississippi State is a 7-point favorite and the over/under is 62. It’s hard to pick a team that lost the Egg Bowl to win the Orange Bowl, but Mississippi State 38, Georgia Tech 21.

Auburn (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (10-2) at 11 a.m. CST (noon eastern) Thursday, Jan. 1, at the Outback Bowl in Tampa with television coverage on ESPN2 – Dairy farmers and other farmers will be interested in this game, which is being played on the same day as the College Football Playoff semifinal games. This is a tough game to pick. The last time Auburn faced a team that had lost 59-0 (Texas A&M), the Tigers lost to that team at home. Wisconsin has a man who has run for over 400 yards in a game and is close to an NCAA record for yards rushing in a season, but he and his fellow Badgers scored zero in its last game and gave up 59 to Ohio State. The Tigers will have a good defensive coach, but not until next season when Will Muschamp comes aboard. The Tigers allowed 55 points to Alabama in their last game.Auburn is a 6-point favorite and the over/under is 62. Auburn 59, Wisconsin 55.

Minnesota (8-4) vs. Missouri (10-3) at noon CST (1 p.m. eastern) Thursday, Jan. 1, in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and televised by ABC – Quick, which team is in the SEC? Okay, by now we all know it’s Missouri, particularly since the Tigers from Columbia have been in the SEC Championship Game the past two years. The Minnesota Gophers (what it is with these rodent nicknames, Badgers and Gophers?) weren’t in the Big Ten Championship Game. Missouri is a 5 ½-point favorite and the over/under is 48. Missouri 28, Minnesota 14.

Iowa (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-4) at 2 p.m. CST (3 eastern) Friday, Jan. 2, at the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville and televised by ESPN – Didn’t former Tennessee football star Johnny Majors coach at Iowa before he coached at Tennessee? Did anyone try to stab him in the back when he was in Iowa? And wasn’t it really at Iowa State? Tennessee seems to be on the upswing. One of the members of the APP panel (Condi Rice?) was supposed to research Iowa, but said there wasn’t time. Tennessee is a 3 1/2 –point favorite and the over/under is 51 ½. Tennessee 28, Iowa 21.

Florida (6-5) vs. East Carolina (8-4) at noon CST Saturday, Jan. 3, in the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field and televised by ESPN – At the beginning of the season, horrible weather prevented the Gators from playing their scheduled season-opener against Idaho. Nonetheless, Florida paid Idaho $975,000. So, obviously, they are not playing the Birmingham Bowl for the money. The Gators had to upset Georgia just to be bowl eligible. East Carolina would love nothing more than to beat an SEC team, even one that doesn’t have a working head coach. Florida is a 7-point favorite and the over/under is 57. East Carolina 24, Florida 21.

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