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December 29, 2017

There are two picks today.

 

#1: Take Wake Forest -4 spread against Texas A&M for 3% of the bankroll.

The Texas A&M Aggies have recently made some offseason moves that rocked the college football world, starting with the firing of head coach Kevin Sumlin and then the hiring of Florida State's Jimbo Fisher to a 10-year 75-million-dollar deal. The firing of Sumlin has come with mixed emotions for players, and without a head coach to guide them in this bowl game, we expect them to be out of sorts as they take on an under-rated and much improved Wake Forest team this afternoon.

The Demon Deacons are no doubt a team on the rise and had a much better 2017 campaign than most had expected. Wake Forest won their first four games, but then lost their next three against quality ACC teams in Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech. The final five games however got the fan base excited for next year as they posted a 3-2 record with impressive wins over Louisville, Syracuse, and NC State. The team should be salivating at the opportunity to test their mettle against a high-caliber SEC team and we expect them to use this as a momentum builder into what appears to be an extremely promising upcoming 2018 season for the team.

While Lamar Jackson was receiving much of the ACC quarterback spotlight, Wake Forest's John Wolford was quietly putting together an impressive season of his own. He earned himself second-team All-ACC recognition after leading the conference in passer rating (157.5), tying for first in touchdown passes (25) while throwing just six interceptions all season long. Wolford is certainly capable of beating teams with his arm and accuracy but if not spied-on during designed runs or when a play breaks down, he also can make plays with his legs. He ran for a season-high 136 yards and three touchdowns in the Demon Deacons' 64-43 win over Syracuse. Wolford and company should be able to make some things happen through the air against a Texas A&M defense that ranks near the bottom of the SEC against the pass. Besides giving up 224 yards per game on average through to air to opposing quarterbacks, the Aggies have surrendered 24 touchdown passes and recorded just 10 interceptions on the season.

The Aggies have a long history of late season collapses that have carried into their bowl games and we expect another one this afternoon. The rollercoaster ride of emotions will have taken a toll on the team and with Wake Forest on the rise and playing close to home, we believe they will be the more motivated team in this contest and should come away with a convincing win and cover.

 

#2: Take Northwestern -9 spread (buy the half point) against Kentucky for 3% of the bankroll.

On paper, we believe this matchup has all the makings of a blowout. The Northwestern Wildcats have flown under the radar this season but have a ton of momentum against their backs as they are currently riding a seven-game winning streak. Northwestern features an outstanding defense that is limiting opponents to an average of only 111 rushing yards per game, ranking them ninth in the country. The Wildcats got even better in the latter part of the season and during their seven-game winning streak to close out the regular season, gave up just one rushing touchdown, allowing only 94.3 rushing yards per contest. That's bad news for a very lackluster Kentucky offense that relies heavily on their running game. Kentucky has a stud RB in Benny Snell, however, if Fitzgerald can contain Snell, it will make things very difficult for Kentucky to move the chains.

The Kentucky defense completely fell apart over the final two games of the season as they allowed both Georgia and Louisville to completely gash them on the ground. They rolled up a combined 727 rushing yards and eight touchdowns to close out the regular season. Georgia alone rushed for 381 yards and five touchdowns, more than the Wildcats allowed in their first five games combined. In this matchup they will have to face another high-level running back in this contest in Justin Jackson. Jackson is not only Northwestern’s career leader in rushing yards (5,283) and rushing touchdowns (39), he is just the ninth player in college football history to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons (second player in Big Ten history to do it). His 6,131 career yards from scrimmage rank second in Big Ten history, trailing only College Football Hall of Famer Ron Dayne. If Kentucky cannot find their run defense, Jackson could be in for a monster performance this afternoon.

A win in this matchup will also give the Wildcats just their fifth 10-win season in school history, but the third such campaign under head coach Pat Fitzgerald. This is an important game for the Wildcats and we expect them to play like it. Kentucky suffered back to back blowout losses to end the season and even though they are playing close to home, that is likely the only advantage the Wildcats have in this contest. We don't see the Wildcats being able to put many points on the scoreboard against the Wildcat defense, so if Northwestern don't beat themselves, they should come away with the win and cover.




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