You have three bowl games to watch this weekend before the BCS title game and after the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta Bowls. The action keeps on coming for college football betting handicappers before the ultimate finale.
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Odds: Texas A&M -3
One player will take center stage in this game: A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Manziel’s combination of daredevil scrambling and pinpoint passing enabled him to beat Alabama on the road. Manziel’s quick rise to prominence has been accompanied by the ascendancy of Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin, who was named SEC Coach of the Year by his new peers. Sumlin made the jump from Conference USA in no time, dazzling SEC observers and making A&M a very relevant football brand in America’s toughest conference. The Aggies were stifled in the second halves of their two losses this season against Florida and LSU, but they’ve solved every other problem that’s been thrown their way. A&M will take the field as a neutral-site favorite against Oklahoma, something that rarely if ever would have been the case during these schools’ existences in the Big 12. The reason why A&M is favored is that Oklahoma doesn’t have an imposing pass rush. If the Sooners can’t contain Manziel in the pocket, the Aggies will win. They should.
Pick: Texas A&M -3
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Ole Miss Rebels
Odds: Ole Miss -3.5
When Paul Chryst was hired as head coach, it was expected that the Pittsburgh Panthers would be able to run the ball effectively. Why not? Chryst had always been able to run the ball spectacularly at Wisconsin and Ray Graham was in the stable as his main ballcarrier at Pitt, along with highly touted freshman Russell Shell. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Graham has had nagging injuries that have caused him to miss precious time, especially early in the season. That forced Shell to be “the guy” much earlier than he was prepared for. As a result, the Pitt rushing attack ranks a subpar 87th in the nation (139.4 yards per game). The lack of a running attack has forced added pressure on a defense that’s been stout all year long. The glaring weakness is that the Panthers do not get after the quarterback, totaling just 20 sacks. They also have had plenty of crushing defeats, most notably a home loss to FCS-based Youngstown State and the heartbreaking loss at No. 1 Notre Dame on the college football betting lines. Anytime you throw a bunch of young adults into the fire and they see disappointment, you never know how they will react, but the chances are that the Panthers probably won’t handle this bowl game very well. Take Ole Miss.
Pick: Ole Miss -3.5
Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves
Odds: Arkansas State -4
Coming off a 5-7 season and playing in the East division of the Mid-American Conference that was supposed to be Ohio’s to lose, Kent State apparently never got the memo. The Golden Flashes have very few names or numbers that jump off the page to grab your attention. Yet, you look at their record and have to marvel at their ability to find solutions to just about any situation. Trayion Durham has been a workhorse for Kent State, eclipsing 200 carries on the season for over 1,000 yards and leading the team’s 15th-ranked run game. Despite a head-scratching loss to Kentucky early in the year, Kent State has bounced back with wins over Ball State and especially Rutgers on the road to remove any doubts about the team’s legitimacy. All-purpose back Dri Archer serves as one of the top all purpose players in the nation with 12 rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns, and three return touchdowns. An opportunistic team, the Golden Flashes rated at the top tier of the Football Bowl Subdivision rankings with Kansas State for the best turnover margin in the country. Fluke or not, they make plays week after week that reiterate why it is they won the MAC East and very nearly won the MAC championship in a thrilling double-overtime loss to Northern Illinois, the very same team that has cracked the BCS code and now finds itself in the Orange Bowl. You should pick Kent State here against Arkansas State – not just to cover, but to win outright.
Pick: Kent State +4