The Almost Perfect Picks Department of BamaMag.com is a little towards the insufferable side this week. The nerds are even suggesting a name change, taking the “Almost” off their office door. The precedent is we previously took “Broom Closet” off that door.
Once upon a time the broom did a lot better job than our boys with the pocket protectors and calculators on belt loops.
So what has brought about this attitude?
The unthinkable. We asked the kids to predict the 10 bowl games in which Southeastern Conference teams were involved, and to be particularly vigilent in dissecting the Cotton Bowl game between Alabama and Michigan State. That wasn’t just because we are first and foremost about the Crimson Tide, but also because this was one of the two bowl games that really mattered from the standpoint of the national championship.
We asked the APP to also pick the other College Football Playoff Semifinal Game, the Orange Bowl pitting Clemson against favored Oklahoma. The APP picked the upset.
It has been an excellent bowl season for the SEC, an NCAA record-setting 8-2 record.
The SEC has now won 15 bowl games in the last two seasons, also a record. Seven of the eight bowl victories this season came versus major conference opponents, including a 3-1 record versus Top 25 teams. The average margin of victory in the SEC's eight bowl wins this postseason is 26 points.
With ten teams advancing to bowl games this season, the SEC became the first conference to send at least 10 teams to postseason games in three consecutive seasons. The SEC sent an NCAA-record 12 teams to participate in bowl games in 2014 and has sent no fewer than eight teams to bowls in each of the last ten seasons.
The SEC owned the previous record for postseason bowl victories with seven wins in 2007, 2013, and 2014.
Only Texas A&M, which lost both of its quarterbacks before the Music City Bowl, and Florida, which finished the year with three consecutive losses, were unable to win in bowls. The APP had those figured.
So in 11 bowl games, the APP was correct on all 11.
They pointed out that they therefore predicted the national championship game combatants. No. 1 seed Clemson, 14-0, will meet No. 2 Alabama, 13-1, a week from Monday – Jan. 11 – in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale.
Of course, there is more to it than just predicting the winners, and the APP was pretty good on one side, not so good on the other. The picks are also judged against the betting line, or spread, the number of points by which a team is favored; and the over/under, the number of points expected to be scored by both teams in a game. There were a few pushes, meaning the pick and the line were the same and thus no bet.
The APP was 7-2 against the line, but only 3-7 vs. the over/under.
For the year, the APP finished at 94-28 in picking SEC winners and 61-46 against the over/under, but only 52-56 vs. the spread.
Here are the predictions and results for the 11 bowl games (with pre-bowl records):
LSU (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5) in Texas Bowl (LSU favored by 7 points, over/under 73 ½) – PREDICTION: LSU 35, Texas Tech 24. ACTUAL: LSU 56, Texas Tech 27. Correct on winner and against the spread, wrong on o/u.
Auburn (6-6) vs. Memphis (9-3) in Birmingham Bowl at historic Legion Field (Auburn favored by 2 ½, o/u 62) – PREDICTION: Auburn 31, Memphis 30. ACTUAL: Auburn 31, Memphis 10. Correct on winner and vs. o/u, wrong on line.
Mississippi State (8-4) vs. North Carolina State (7-5) in Belk Bowl (MSU favored by 5, o/u 60) – PREDICTION: Mississippi State 35, North Carolina State 17. ACTUAL: MSU 51, NC State 28. Correct on winner and vs. spread, wrong on o/u.
Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Louisville (7-5) in Music City Bowl (Louisville favored by 5, o/u 47) – PREDICTION: Louisville 30, Texas A&M 12. ACTUAL: UL 27, Aggies 21. Right on winner and against line, wrong on o/u.
Tennessee (8-4) vs. Northwestern (10-2) in Outback Bowl (Tennessee favored by 8 ½, o/u 47 ½) – PREDICTION: Tennessee 30, Northwestern 17. ACTUAL: UT 45, Northwestern 6. Correct on winner and spread, wrong on o/u.
Florida (10-3) vs. Michigan (9-3) in Citrus Bowl (Michigan favored by 4 ½, o/u 40) -- PREDICTION: Michigan 21, Florida 17. ACTUAL: Michigan 41, Florida 7. Right on winner, wrong vs. spread and o/u.
Ole Miss (9-3) vs. Oklahoma State (10-2) in Sugar Bowl (Mississippi favored by 7, o/u 68) – PREDICTION: Mississippi 38, Oklahoma State 31. ACTUAL: Ole Miss 48, OSU 20. Correct on winner, push on spread and o/u.
Georgia (9-3) vs. Penn State (7-5) in TaxSlayer Bowl (Georgia favored by 7, o/u 41 ½) – PREDICTION: Georgia 17, Penn State 7. ACTUAL: Georgia 24, Penn State 17. Correct on winner and o/u, push on spread.
Arkansas (7-5) vs. Kansas State (6-6) in Liberty Bowl (Arkansas favored by 12 ½, o/u 55) – PREDICTION: Arkansas 45, Kansas State 17. ACTUAL: Arkansas 45, KSU 23. Right, right, right.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SEMIFINALS
Clemson (13-0) vs. Oklahoma (11-1) in Orange Bowl (Oklahoma favored by 4, o/u 64) –PREDICTION: Clemson 45, Oklahoma 31. ACTUAL: Clemson 37, OU 17. Correct on winner and against the line, wrong on o/u.
Alabama (12-1) vs. Michigan State (12-1) in Cotton Bowl (Alabama favored by 9 ½, o/u 46 ½) – PREDICTION: Alabama 31, Michigan State 17. ACTUAL: Alabama 38, MSU 0. Correct on winner and against the spread, wrong on the o/u.