December 26, 2015 (11:57 AM ET)
Today's two bowl picks were released back on Thursday.
One NFL Sunday pick has been posted. Please log in between 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM ET tomorrow for additional picks as we await key injury updates before finalizing the rest of Sunday's selections!
1) Take Southern Mississippi at +9 spread against Washington for 3% of the bankroll.
The Washington Huskies are a team that has survived mainly because of their defense this season. They rank 12th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow just 17.8 points per contest. They are also tied for 28th in total defense allowing 350 yards per game and were 54th in against the pass, allowing just 216 yards per game through the air. As good as their defense has been, the Huskies have shown their struggles on offense this season as come into this contest ranked 54th in the nation in passing offense, averaging 235.5 yards per game through the air and just 92nd in rushing offense as they average 152.8 yards per game on the ground. They were fortunate to reach bowl eligibility this season and needed victories in both of their final two games in order to reach a .500 record. They defeated a completely overmatched Oregon State team and then had the favorable scheduling spot of taking on the Washington State Cougars without their star QB Luke Falk. The fact that they are somewhat limited on offense could potentially be their downfall as they take on an extremely solid and very well balanced Golden Eagles offensive attack.
The Golden Eagles come into this contest ranked 12th in the nation in passing with an average of 327.9 yards per game. As good as they have been through the air; they are just as potent on the ground as they are 41st in the nation in rushing with an average of 191.9 yards per game. As a team they have averaged 40.6 points per game, which is tied for 12th best in the nation. Nick Mullens has quietly put together a solid season under center for the Golden Eagles and has connected on 63.4 percent of his passes and has thrown for 4,145 yards with 36 touchdowns this season. In the passing game, Casey Martin is the team’s leading receiver with 74 grabs for 855 yards and seven scores this season. Michael Thomas is a solid #2 receiver who leads the team in yardage with 1,201 on the season and 12 touchdowns.
The Golden Eagles also have a competent ground game with a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in Jalen Richard and Ito Smith, who have combined for nearly 2,200 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns this season. As good as they both have been in rushing the football; they also have a huge impact in the passing game. Smith has hauled in 44 catches for nearly 500 yards and 3 touchdowns while Richard has caught 30 passes in the backfield which gives Mullens two solid safety valves should nothing develop downfield. This is an offense that knows how to spread out a defense and pick up chunk yards at a time as Mullens and the passing game averages nearly 9 yards per passing play and will surely force the Huskies to play disciplined coverage.
This is a big matchup for the Golden Eagles against a well-recognized Power 5 school. This is no doubt their biggest game of the season and their chance to put a stamp on what has been an extremely solid season for them. The Huskies are only the favorites in this matchup given their stature in the PAC-12. The Golden Eagles are the better overall team in our opinion and should not only be able to keep within this generous point spread, but even challenge for the outright victory.
2) Take Tulsa at +14 spread against Virginia Tech for 3% of the bankroll.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane and Virginia Tech Hokies will meet in Shreveport, Louisiana for the Camping World Independence Bowl and VT Head Coach Frank Beamer's legacy at Virginia Tech will end in the same place where it started – in Shreveport – where the Hokies beat Indiana in 1993 to start one of the five longest current bowl streaks in college football. The legendary coach is set to retire after 29 seasons at his alma mater, where he turned the program around to finish with a 235-120-2 overall record. Beamer left his mark on the game of college football, revolutionizing the way coaches thought about special teams. Known for his prolific kick and punt blocking units, Virginia Tech developed a penchant for scoring touchdowns on defense and special teams during Beamer’s tenure. The style of play that would later become known as "Beamerball" led to Virginia Tech blocking more kicks than any program during the 1990s. Coaches from across the country and even the NFL have made trips to Virginia Tech to learn what makes Beamerball so special. There is no question that his players will be extremely motivated to send their coach off with one final win and in all likelihood they will do so; however this is an extremely big point spread against a very capable Tulsa offense.
The Golden Hurricanes are a team that live and die by the pass, so being effective through the air early is key. Evans will look to target Keyarris Garrett as often as he can as there is not a cornerback in college who can cover him by themselves. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound senior has turned in six games of 100 or more yards this season, including two where he eclipsed the 200-yard mark. His best game was in a losing effort against Memphis, where he hauled in 14 passes for 268 yards and three scores. If the Tulsa line can give Evans time, he can take enough shots against the Hokie defensive backs to have them playing on their heels, possibly turning the game into a shootout.
The Hokies were supposed to have one of the nation's more formidable defensive fronts this season which was supposed to be heralded as one of the more effective pass rushes in the country. That hasn't been the case as they've only logged 21 sacks in 2015. The first series in this contest will likely set the tone for the entire ballgame. If Evans can move the ball through the air and his offensive line gives him time, Tulsa should be able to keep this game relatively close. If the Hokies defense finally steps up and wind up camping out in the Tulsa backfield, it could be a long day for the Golden Hurricane. Two touchdowns is a wide margin to expect a team to win by, especially in a Bowl Game. Even if Virginia Tech finds themselves up by 20 in the final minutes of the game, all it takes is for a meaningless touchdown by Tulsa to stay within this point spread and cover this number. We expect the Virginia Tech players to rise to the occasion and send their coach off into the sunset with one final win, however we believe Tulsa will keep things closer than expected and cash our tickets at the end.
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