Homerism pulled out a squeaker over The Skinny in this season's edition of Picks Trying Not to Suck, which means I'll be sucking down a Yuletide choctini for the third year in a row. We know how much everyone loves a little recreational fun during the bowl season, though, so here are our five favorite plays to go along with some words of wisdom from Skin.
I hate picking bowl games. It's tough to predict how a team will play in an exhibition game a month after they played their last game. Mix in coaching changes, juniors and seniors who are more concerned with their draft status than blocking and tackling, and the temptation that comes with being an 18-22 year old in destinations like South Beach and New Orleans, and you have a recipe for really bad football.
Advice of the Week: Looking for that perfect way to spend the holidays with your special someone? An evening with Transiberian Orchestra is just the ticket.
Michigan State (+10) over Alabama
*Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1
I love Sparty in this matchup. 'Bama is a better team. Actually, Bama is a much better team, but the Crimson Tide are ripe for a letdown game. The Spartans will be anxious to prove they are for real.
LSU (PK) over Texas A&M
*Cotton Bowl, Jan. 7
The Cotton Bowl got its dream matchup. Mike Sherman has done a nice job with the Aggies this season. A&M took a step up this season as a program, but it still has a ways to go. LSU is too talented. I still think the SEC is down this year and that it will play out in the bowl season, but not in this game.
Baylor (-1) over Illinois
*Texas Bowl, Dec. 29
I don't know when the Baylor Bears last played in a bowl game. My guess is that it has been awhile, but then again everyone plays in a bowl game these days. Regardless, Baylor will be up for a bad Illinois defense. I'd love to know how many Illini fans will show up for this dog of a bowl game in Texas. I'll set the over/under at 100.
Lee Greenwood Special: Navy (+4) over SDSU
*Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 23
It has been a great season for the service academies. All three teams find themselves in bowl games. The good news is that I have three games to chose from this year. The bad news is that I don't like any of these lines, but since I have to choose one, I will take Navy. You can generally count on the service academy teams to show up regardless of the venue.
Nebraska (-14) over Washington
*Holiday Bowl, Dec. 30
Why would anyone want to see a rematch of these two teams? It wasn't a close game when Nebraska played at Washington in September, and it will not be a good game in late December. I don't like taking a line this big in a bowl game, but I think the 14 points are warranted in this case. Nebraska wins big in the worst matchup of the bowl season.
Fresno State (+1.5) over Northern Illinois
*Humanitarian Bowl, Dec. 18
As I discussed with RJ Bell of Pregame.com earlier this week, I have to think the coaching change at NIU tilts this game in the Bulldogs favor. Also, Fresno has played in Boise on the blue turf once already this year. I'll take Pat Hill's club straight up.
Notre Dame (+4) over Miami
*Sun Bowl, Dec. 31
I said before the season even started that I'd take ND to cover in its bowl game no matter the circumstances, because I love betting on first-year coaches in bowls. A lame duck coaching staff at Miami makes this game look even more appealing now. Irish cover the number.
Louisville (-3) over Southern Miss
*Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, Dec. 21
Yet another first-year head coach with a team playing in a bowl game, Charlie Strong. The former defensive coordinator at Florida has injected a little life into a program that had cratered under Steve Kragthorpe. Count on the Cards to keep the momentum going here.
Syracuse (+2.5) over Kansas State
*Pinstripe owl, Dec. 30
To me, this is a great situation for the 'Cuse. Being in the Bronx, the Orangemen will have the crowd, a bunch of drunk alums who won't mind braving the cold to cheer on their squad and dine on lobster in the House That Steinbrenner Built. I say 'Cuse wins outright.
LGS: Air Force (-2) over Georgia Tech
*Independence Bowl, Dec. 27
I've loved one of these teams all season and detested the other one. Thus, I was delighted to these two pitted againsteach other in a bowl game this year. I'll go with the Falcons to beat the Ramblin' Wreck soundly.