New Year's Day Bowls Betting Primer at Bovada
The most popular day in college football, other than perhaps Opening Day, has always been New Year's Day. The NHL tried to infringe on a little of that space with the Winter Classic, but that won't be an issue this year. Here is a look at the six games on the schedule to kick off 2013.
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*-Gator Bowl: Northwestern versus No. 20 Mississippi State (-2): The Wildcats (9-3, 11-1 ATS - tied for best ATS mark nationally in regular season) are one of five Big Ten teams playing on New Year's Day and they are looking to end a rather amazing bowl drought: the school's last victory was the 1949 Rose Bowl. That's only a streak of nine straight bowl losses, however, with Northwestern's pretty lousy football history. And the team has come close in recent years. It lost the 2008 Alamo Bowl to Missouri in overtime and dropped the 2010 Outback Bowl again in overtime, 38-35 to Auburn. Northwestern went for a win on fourth down at the end of OT instead of kicking a field goal to send it to second extra session. The Wildcats would come up 2 yards short of the end zone. Mississippi State (8-4, 6-6 ATS) could be ripe for the picking. The Bulldogs started 7-0 but didn't beat a single quality opponent in that stretch. Then they closed losing four of their final five, each defeat by double digits. That included a 17-point loss to a mediocre Ole Miss team, the Bulldogs' first loss in the Egg Bowl in four years.
*-Heart of Dallas Bowl: Purdue versus Oklahoma State (-16.5): The Boilermakers (6-6, 6-6 ATS) are the biggest bowl dogs of the entire postseason. They had designs on winning the Big Ten's Leaders Division because Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible. But after going 3-1 in non-conference play, including a near-upset of Notre Dame, the Boilers lost their first five Big Ten games, four in lopsided fashion, and that was that. Purdue did close with wins over doormats Iowa, Illinois and Indiana to get bowl eligible, but it wasn't enough to save head coach Danny Hope's job. Assistant Patrick Higgins will coach Purdue in the bowl game, and then former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell takes over. Oklahoma State (7-5, 7-5 ATS) was in and out of the Top 25 all season but still had one of the nation's top offenses (No. 4 in scoring) despite losing star QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. In fact, three OSU QBs threw for at least 1,000 yards this season, a Big 12 first (Clint Chelf is the current starter). Running back Joseph Randle is one of the nation's best at his position, rushing for 1,351 yards and 14 scores this year. The Cowboys won't have offensive coordinator Todd Monken in this game. He took the Southern Miss head coaching job. OSU has trouble stopping people, allowing at least 34 points in six games.
*-Outback Bowl: No. 18 Michigan versus No. 10 South Carolina (-5.5): The only two losses for the Gamecocks (10-2, 8-4 ATS) were to Top-10 teams LSU and Florida, and USC routed No. 5 Georgia and won at No. 11 Clemson. The team finished the season without star running back Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a very severe knee injury. He won't be returning to school, instead choosing to rehab in the NFL. A win gets South Carolina its second straight 11-win season - it had never hit that mark before 2011. Michigan (8-4, 5-7 ATS) had national title hopes as well before the year but those were dashed in the opener, a 41-14 loss to Alabama at Cowboys Stadium. It's the final game in the stellar career of Michigan QB Denard Robinson, a lock future College Football Hall of Famer. He was injured in U-M's 23-9 loss at Nebraska and played mostly running back when he returned as Michigan turned to its future, Devin Gardner, under center. Look for "Shoelace" all over the field in the bowl game. He needs a little less than 100 yards rushing to break former West Virginia star Pat White's FBS record of 4,480 for a quarterback.
*-Capital One Bowl: No. 16 Nebraska versus No. 7 Georgia (-10): It will be interesting to see the motivation of both teams in this game after each lost in its conference title game in vastly different fashion. Georgia (11-2, 7-6 ATS) played No. 2 Alabama nearly to a standstill in the SEC Championship Game, coming up just 5 yards short of a possible national title appearance. Nebraska (10-3, 6-6-1) was totally overmatched in the Big Ten Championship Game, allowing 70 points and a school-record 539 rushing yards in being blown out by Wisconsin. So instead of heading to the Rose Bowl, Nebraska is in this bowl game for the second year in a row.
*-Rose Bowl: Wisconsin versus No. 6 Stanford (-6.5): Notice a trend here? Every Big Ten team is an underdog on New Year's Day. The Badgers (8-5, 6-7 ATS) played their best game of the season in the Big Ten title game, swarming Nebraska for 70 points and gashing the Huskers for 539 yards rushing. It's the third straight Rose Bowl appearance for UW and final collegiate game for star running back Montee Ball, who has scored more rushing TDs than any other player. Wisconsin already has been rocked by the shocking departure of coach Bret Bielema to Arkansas. Former coach and current AD Barry Alvarez will coach this game, with Utah State's Gary Andersen then taking over. Stanford (11-2, 8-5 ATS) withstood the loss of Andrew Luck to the NFL to shock Oregon during the regular season and beat UCLA for the Pac-12 title. It's the third straight BCS game for the program (1-1 in previous two) and NFL teams likely will come calling on head coach David Shaw.
*-No. 15 Northern Illinois versus No. 12 Florida State (-12.5): NIU (12-1, 9-3-1 ATS) made history by becoming the first Mid-American Conference team to crash a BCS bowl. The Huskies, who enter on a 12-game winning streak, have one of the best players in any conference in quarterback Jordan Lynch, who leads the nation in rushing and total offense. Northern Illinois lost head coach Dave Doeren to NC State, however. Offensive coordinator Rod Carey takes over full-time. Florida State (11-2, 4-9 ATS) won its first ACC title in seven years, but some wonder how "up" the Seminoles will get in playing a MAC school. FSU has one of the nation's top defenses but lost coordinator Mike Stoops for the Kentucky head coaching job. The Seminoles are a disappointing 1-5 in BCS bowls overall and BCS busting teams have had success in recent years against major programs.
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