December 31, 2016
A total of 4 bowl plays were released earlier for Saturday and Monday games.
Take Georgia Tech -3 spread (buy half a point) against Kentucky for 3% of the bankroll.
There are few coaches in the nation that needed this Bowl bid more than Kentucky's Mark Stoops. In Stoops' 4-year tenure at Kentucky, this is the first time that his team has finished the season with a winning record and subsequent bowl appearance. This will also be Kentucky's first bowl game dating back to 2010. There is no question that Stoops' team will be fired up for this contest, however their enthusiasm may be short lived as this is arguably the worst possible matchup for the Wildcats.
Kentucky pulled off a somewhat improbable upset over reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson's Louisville Cardinals in the final game of the season and while that victory must have instilled confidence in this team, it could also set them up for a huge letdown in this bowl game. Georgia Tech is not a team that can be overlooked. They come into this bowl game having won 5 of their last 6 games which include victories over both the ACC Coastal Champion Virginia Tech and in-state SEC rival Georgia to end the season. Tech has one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the country utilizing the Triple-Option.
The Triple-Option is run through the Quarterback and Tech will have the best QB in the Paul Johnson era under center in Justin Thomas. Thomas has been around a long time and been part of many big games and this will be his final one on the College Gridiron. There is no question that he will want to go out on top. He currently leads the team with 128 rushing attempts and has been extremely solid with his decision making on when to distribute the ball and when to keep it himself. He has also proven to be a proficient passer for a team that runs the Triple-Option as he has passed for 1453 yards and 8 touchdowns versus just two picks.
Stopping the run is going to be paramount for Kentucky in this contest and they have been one of the poorest teams against the rush this season allowing opposing teams to average 227.8 yards per game on the ground. Defending the Triple-Option is all about assignment football, penetration up front and taking good angle in the open field. That is something that Kentucky has struggled with all season long and even with a month to prepare for this vaunted ground attack, even if the Kentucky defenders happen to have success early on, we don't believe it will be something that they will keep up for 4 quarters. The consistent pounding of the football should be able to eventually wear down the Kentucky front 7.
Georgia Tech has the better ground game, better QB and arguably the better defense as Tech defenders have held their last 3 opponents to just an average of 23 points per game. In Thomas' last college game, we expect him to have a solid showing in this contest as he leads his team to an eventual win and cover.
Take Washington +14 spread (buy half a point) against Alabama for 3% of the bankroll.
The Washington Huskies have the 'unfortunate' task of going up against the number 1 ranked team in the country, the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round of the College Football Playoff. There is no question that Alabama is the best team in the country and the odds-on-favorite to win the National Title this season, however we expect that they will have a tougher time than expected against this Washington Huskies team.
For much of the season, many have doubted the playmaking ability of Washington. Looking at their roster, they are not a team that is filled with 5-star recruits and simply loaded with talent like their counterparts are, however there is something special about this Huskies team this season. They are a team that simply plays the game of football; as a team! Next to Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, Chris Petersen is arguably the next best coach in college football. He is doing to Washington exactly what he did to the Boise State Broncos and that is bring them to prominence by believing in his system.
The Crimson Tide, for as good as they have been this season is not the prototypical powerhouse on the offensive side of the football. They have dominated this season due to their defense and their ability to simply wear down their opponents and beat them into submission. They are a very methodical offensive unit; however, they are not unstoppable. Jalen Hurts is the one person who makes that offense go and a majority of the big plays that Alabama has been able to come up with has been when the opposing defense fails to account for Hurts. We saw what LSU was able to do to Alabama on the defensive end already this season and Washington's defense is arguably much more opportunistic. This will be a huge test for the Bama offensive line as Washington sports one of the top defensive units in the country in tackles for loss as well as takeaways.
What this matchup is really going to come down to is Washington's Jake Browning. This will be the best defensive unit that Browning has faced this season; without question. The USC Trojans, who found their groove on the defensive side of the ball absolutely destroyed Washington in their meeting and we expect Browning and Coach Petersen to have learned a valuable lesson from that matchup. It's difficult to run on Alabama so Petersen will have to get creative in getting Myles Gaskin involved. Petersen is no stranger to big games and knows a thing or two about trickeration. All you need to do is look back and watch the 2007 Fiesta Bowl where Petersen's Broncos took down the Oklahoma Sooners.
Alabama may very well win this matchup and punch their ticket to the National Championship game, however we expect Washington to be more than ready to contend. A lot can happen in a month for both teams to prepare and while Washington may fall short of pulling off the outright victory, we expect that they will be able to hold their own in this matchup and stay within the generous two-touchdown spread the oddsmakers have given them.
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