Football Forecast Early Bowl Edition
KELSO STURGEON’S FOOTBALL FORECAST
Volume 18, Edition 17… December 17-20, 2016
SPECIAL COLLEGE BOWL KICKOFF EDITION
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Three Important Foundation Factors To Handicap College Bowl Season Plus The 5 Factors That Will Then Give You The Winning Edges
By Kelso Sturgeon
The 40-game college football bowl season begins with five games Saturday and I am going to release three of them, with one of those contests a 50-unit play. Highlight of the first week of the college post-season will be a 100-unit stunner that will prove sometimes there are easy winners. While this newsletter is dedicated to the bowl season keep in mind the NFL and basketball are not being neglected.
This Sunday I am going for the big money again with another 100-unit play that will get the job done just as easily as did underdog Green Bay (+3) when it stunned Seattle, 38-10, in a big-time beat-down last week.
On Saturday and Sunday I will be firing the big guns again for my basketball highrollers with two more 50-unit bests. For the record I have released 20 of those games this season and stand 15-5 in them.
My Chairman's Club will continue to focus on the NBA with 25-unit releases on most days and my Best Bets Basketball Club will continue to get the money with 2-3 best bets in basketball each day, offering bets most on college games, but with an NBA move every 3-4 days. In other words, the winning continues - and continues.
Before getting into how one can win in the bowl season, I want to remind you your best bet of the entire football and basketball is available right now in the form of my 2,500 Stars of Profit Package. Here is what it includes.
- College Bowl games every day they are played, rated from 10 units to a 200-unit play on my Bowl Game of the Year.
- At least six NFL Best Bets Club plays each week for the next three weeks.
- Daily Best Bets Basketball plays (2-3 a day) right through the Super Bowl in February.
- Plus my 200-unit Bowl Game of the Year, my 100-unit Bowl Upset Game of the Year, my 100-unit Favorite Game of the Year and my Grand Slam that should beak the bank.
- Plus that bonus 100-unit Bowl Blowout Game of the Year that wins opening week.
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The Two Foundation Factors Of Handicapping The Bowls
There are three things to first determine before you get in to actually handicapping a bowl game.
- Make certain you know with what you are working. Is the team you are betting on have the same set of players that got it through the regular season? For instance Minnesota will take the field December 27 against Washington State in the Holiday Bowl minus 10 players who have been suspended.
- Make certain you have determined how each team is approaching the game. Are teams just glad to be in the post season and feel quite satisfied by the fact they are there, or are they coming with fire in their eyes and expecting to win.
- How hard are both teams in each game practicing and? A team that is coming to win will be serious about everything, most of all how it is practicing and whether it is participating in all the hoopla surrounding the game. Intensive practices means a team is focused on winning. If it is opposing a team that is having fun, enjoying the experience, attending and staying forever at the social events, beware. He first team will have a tremendous edge.
Figure out those three things and then it is on to handicapping each contest.
The Five Things That Will Determine The Winning Team
It goes without say it is a new season for every team involved in the post-season but the elements of winning are the same. Five factors will usually point out which team has what it takes to get the money and here they are.
- The team with the most blue-chip skill players - quarterbacks, running backs and receivers - will have an edge. Find a team that has 3-4 proven blue-chip skill players and its opponent has one or none and you have an automatic winner. One skill player can seldom beat you; three or four will will work you over, wear your out and bury you. It is possible one good skill player can be stopped while a team with 3-4 cannot.
- Forget about a team's won-loss record. Focus on who the team beat or lost to during the regular season. A 6-6 team that played a tough schedule has an edge over a 9-3 team that played mostly cream puffs.
- What is the experience level of the offensive line? Five battled-tested senior starters who have played together for 3-4 years will generally perform far better for its offense, even a mediocre one. It takes a long time to develop the chemistry for an offensive line and the longer it has played together the more consistent and efficient it is. This element is lacking in a line made up of underclassmen and will most of the time hurt its offense.
- A strong defense is another edge in a game involving teams from different conference that have seldom if ever played one another. A good example of this is Army's Heart of Dallas Bowl game against North Texas State. Army has given up an average 282.8 yards and an average of 18.9 points per game while North Texas gives up 432.0 yards and 32.2 points per game. A defensive mismatch such as this opens the door to a win.
- How successful as a coach been in post-season games? You can rest assured the coach who has a record of winning these games take them very seriously and offers the bettors an edge. I cannot speak for the others.
There obviously are more elements that determine the outcome of bowl games but I assure you if you take the time to focus your attention on these you will have an edge that can win for you and most certainly cover.
The Early Bowl Schedule
SATURDAY, DEC. 17
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
University Stadium (39,224), Albuquerque, NM
Texas-San Antonio (6-6) vs. New Mexico State (8-4)
2:00 Eastern Kickoff On ESPN
Comments: Guided by fifth-year coach Bob Davie, 8-4 New Mexico is in the midst of its best season in a decade and is seeking the fifth nine-win campaign in the program's 85-year history. The Lobos, however, are 3-8-1 in bowl games, including 1-2 in the New Mexico Bowl, and its 2007 New Mexico Bowl win over Nevada stands as its only bowl victory since 1961. The Lobos went 5-1 in Albuquerque this season, and won six of its last seven games overall to earn a share of the Mountain West Mountain Division title at 6-2. On the legs of running backs Teriyon Gibson (120.9 yards per game, 12 TDs) and Tyrone Owens (98.5 yards, seven TDs), the Lobos and their option attack lead the FBS in all the major rushing categories, including total yards (4,331), yards per game (360.9) and yards per carry (6.81).
Raycom Camellia Bowl
Cramton Bowl (21,000), Montgomery. AL
Appalachian State (9-3) vs. Toledo (9-3)
5:30 Eastern...On ESPN
Comments: Appalachian State will return to familiar grounds and aim for similar results when it plays Toledo on. The Mountaineers, co-champions of the Sun Belt Conference, faced Ohio last season in the second year of the Camellia Bowl and came away with a 31-29 victory. Toledo, runner-up in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, will be making its sixth bowl appearance in the last seven years, most recently beating Temple 32-17 in last season's Marmot Boca Raton Bowl - the first game as coach for Jason Candle. Both teams feature 1,300-yard rushers, but Appalachian State has a second running back that's topped 1,400 each of the last two seasons in senior Marcus Cox. He'd likely be nearing that mark again if not for a four-game absence caused by a left quadriceps injury. His injury opened the door for Jalin Moore to receive more playing time, however, and the sophomore responded by rushing for at least 100 yards in eight of the last nine games, giving the Rockets two explosive ball carriers on which to focus. Behind the nation-leading 43 touchdown passes by Toledo junior quarterback Logan Woodside enters the bowl season ranked eighth in the nation in passing offense at 329.1 yards per game and fourth in total offense at 529.8. Appalachian State, by comparison, was 10th in the Sun Belt Conference in pass offense during the regular season (184) and second in total offense (429.6).
Geico Storylines Las Vegas Bowl
Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800), Las Vegas, NV
Houston (9-3) vs. San Diego State (10-3)
3:30 Eastern...on ABC
Comments: Houston interim coach Todd Orlando guides the Cougars into the Las Vegas Bowl matchup with San Diego State after Tom Herman departed to become Texas coach. Houston has never won bowl games in three consecutive seasons so the current group has plenty to play for against the Aztecs. San Diego State is attempting to match the school mark for victories and is participating in a bowl for the seventh straight season, the longest streak in school history. San Diego State senior running back Donnel Pumphrey (6,290 yards) sits 108 yards away from surpassing Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (6,397) as the all-time leading career rusher in FBS history. Pumphrey rushed for 2,018 yards in the regular season but figures to be tested by the Cougars, who rank third nationally in rushing defense (97.9 yards per game) and allow just 2.9 yards per carry. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. is playing the final game of his spectacular career and ranks fifth in school history in both passing touchdowns (52) and passing yardage (8,476). Ward accounted for 31 touchdowns (22 passing, nine rushing) this season while throwing for 3,328 yards and rushing for 518. His health is something to watch as Ward has been dealing with shoulder soreness for most of the campaign but leg soreness could have an effect as well on a player who has 38 career rushing touchdowns.
Autonation Cure Bowl
Camping World Stadium (65,000), Orlando, FL
Central Florida( 6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)
5:30 Eastern...On CBS Sports Network
Comments: Arkansas State and Central Florida both made major turnarounds to arrive in Orlando, for the AutoNation Cure Bowl. UCF went 0-12 in 2015 but won six of its first 10 games this season under first-year coach Scott Frost before losing to Tulsa and South Florida. Meanwhile, the Red Wolves began the season 0-4, including a 51-14 loss to Auburn, before winning seven of their last eight to gain a share of their fifth Sun Belt Conference title in six years. The teams are led by their defenses, which both rank in the top 50 in yards allowed per game and are among the top 15 in sacks. The Knights allowed a total of nine points to American Athletic Conference rivals Tulane and Cincinnati in the first two games of November and are led by linebacker Shaquem Griffin (85 tackles, 11 sacks). Arkansas State has allowed an average of 13.7 points over its last seven contests while defensive ends Chris Odom and Ja'Von Rolland-Jones have combined for 24 sacks.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Superdome (72,003), New Orleans, LA
Southern Mississippi (6-6) vs. UL-Lafayette (6-6)
9:00 Eastern...On ESPN
Comments: Louisiana-Lafayette needed to win its final two games to become bowl eligible and did just that with triumphs over Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe in the last two weeks. Southern Miss dropped three in a row beginning in November to fall out of the bowl picture before stunning Conference USA West champion Louisiana Tech in the regular-season finale to even its record. The Ragin' Cajuns should feel right at home in the Superdome after making four straight appearances in the New Orleans Bowl from 2011-14. Louisiana earned the win on the field in all four trips - beating San Diego State, East Carolina, Tulane and Nevada. Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens is playing his final college game after setting a school record with 85 career touchdown passes. Running back Ito Smith rushed for 1,321 yards and 15 TDs while adding 42 receptions to an offense that averages 33.4 points. The Ragin' Cajuns will start a senior at quarterback as well in Anthony Jennings, who remarkably guided his team to a win in the regular-season finale without recording a passing yard (2-of-5 for zero yards). Running back Elijah McGuire rushed for over 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season and has recorded 52 career touchdowns (10 receiving). Louisiana turned things around on the defensive end down the stretch en route to bowl eligibility and totaled three defensive TDs in its final
MONDAY, DEC. 19
Miami Beach Bowl
Marlins Park...(36,742), Miami, FL
Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Tulsa (9-2)
2:30 Eastern...On ESPN
Comments: The Central Michigan Chippewas are led by senior quarterback Cooper Rush, who has completed 254-of-416 passes for 3,299 yards and 23 touchdowns. Wideout Corey Willis is his favorite target with 1,028 yards receiving and nine touchdowns while Devon Spalding is the team's top rusher with 737 yards and six scores on 131 carries despite missing two games. Cornerback Amari Coleman, who led the MAC in passes defended (19) and tied for first in the conference with four interceptions, and inside linebacker Malik Fountain (84 tackles, 10 tackles for loss) both were First Team All-MAC selections.
Tulsa features two 1,000-yard rushers in senior James Flanders (1,529) and D'Angelo Brewer (1,330), who finished 1-2 in the AAC, a 3,000-yard passer in senior Dane Evans (3,044) and a 1,000-yard receiver in senior Keevan Lucas (1,108). If senior wide receiver Josh Atkinson (927) reaches the 1,000-yard mark in the bowl game, Tulsa would become the first team in FBS history with a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers. Senior linebacker Trent Martin leads the defense in tackles (94) and interceptions (two) while defensive lineman Jesse Brubaker tops the team in tackles for loss with 12.5 - including 4.5 sacks - to go along with 54 tackles.
TUESDAY, DEC. 20
Boca Raton Bowl
FAU Football Stadium (20,000), Boca Raton, FL
Memphis (8-4) vs. Western Kentucky (10-3)
7:00 Eastern...On ESPN
Comments: Western Kentucky is making its third straight bowl appearance. Head coach Jeff Brohm, who led the Hilltoppers to their second straight Conference USA championship this year, was hired by Purdue on Dec. 5 and defensive coordinator Nick Holt takes over in the interim for the bowl game. Memphis is making its third consecutive bowl appearance after finishing tied for third in the American Athletic Conference West Division. Memphis won three of the last four games to improve its bowl position, including knocking off then-No. 20 Houston 48-44 in the regular-season finale. The Tigers average 39.5 points and rolled up 555 yards of total offense in the win over the Cougars. Western Kentucky closed out the season on a seven-game winning streak, capped by a 58-44 victory over Louisiana Tech in the C-USA championship game. The Hilltoppers are second among FBS teams with a scoring average of 45.1 points and bumped that number up to 52.1 over the last nine contests. Western Kentucky is aiming for its third straight bowl win after knocking off Central Michigan 49-48 in the 2014 Bahamas Bowl and beating South Florida 45-35 in the 2015 Miami Beach Bowl. Memphis QB Riley Ferguson saved his best performance for last, passing for 409 yards with four TDs and no interceptions against Houston to cap a 3,326-yard season. Western Kentucky's defense held three of its last five opponents under 10 points and recorded as many sacks (five) as rushing yards allowed against Louisiana Tech.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 21
San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium (54,000), San Diego, CA
BYU (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)
9:00 Eastern...On ESPN
Comments: 1. There will be a new quarterback under center when BYU meets Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego after Taysom Hill when down in the last game with a season-ending injury for the fourth time in five years. The Cougars fortunately have an experienced backup as sophomore Tanner Mangum completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 3,377 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a freshman while replacing Hill, who missed all but the first half of last season's opener with a fractured foot. BYU appears in its 12th straight bowl but hasn't won one since a 23-6 victory over San Diego State in the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl. The game could come down to who better stops the run as Cowboys junior Brian Hill rushed for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns but faces a stiff challenge in a Cougars' rushing defense that is eighth in the country at 108.4 yards allowed per game. BYU senior Jamaal Williams rushed for 1,165 and 11 TDs despite missing three of the last five games with an ankle injury and faces a Wyoming defense that allows 34.8 points per game - 24th-most among the 128 FBS teams in the nation - and an average of 464 total yards (17th-most). Williams rushed for 618 yards and nine scores in a three-game stretch versus West Virginia, Toledo and Michigan State this season, including a school-record five TDs and a career-high 286 yards against Toledo, and seems healthy again after rushing for 131 and a score on 18 carries in a 28-10 victory over Utah State on Nov. 26 in the Cougars' last contest. Only one of the Cougars' eight victories came against a winning FBS team (9-3 Toledo) while the four-game winning streak they ride saw them outscore clubs with a combined 15-32 record 136-29. Wyoming's non-conference schedule included a 40-34 triple-overtime victory over Northern Illinois and a 52-17 loss at Nebraska. It is of note three o BYU's losses came by a total of six points - to Utah 20-19, to UCLA 35-32, and to Boise State, 28-27.
THURSDAY, DEC. 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Albertson's Stadium (36,387), Boise, ID
Idaho (8-4) vs. Colorado State (7-5)
7:00 Eastern...On ESPN
Comments: Idaho is concluding its next-to-last season as an FBS program before dropping levels with a matchup against Colorado State. The Vandals qualified for a bowl game for only third time in 21 seasons in the FBS by winning six of their last seven games. The Rams have been torrid down the stretch, winning four of their last five contests - including a 63-point eruption in a triumph over Mountain West champion San Diego State. The Rams are playing in a bowl for the fourth consecutive season, the second-longest streak in school history behind a string of five under Sonny Lubick from 1999-2003. Colorado State averaged an impressive 47.4 points and 520.6 yards over its final five games, with the four victories during the stretch coming by an average of 26.5 points
The Friday-Saturday Betting Menu
(Click on the link below for more info.)
Friday, December 16
50-Unit College Basketball Blowout: 15-5 In First 20...75% Winners
50-Unit 2-Team NBA Parlay: Go 3-0 With 2 Teams That Have 90% Chance To Win
2-0 Best Bets Club Basketball Night: One Of These Plays Is An Absolute Shocking Winner
Saturday, December 17
50-Unit College Basketball Blowout: 15-5 In First 20...75% Winners
25-Unit Game Kicks Off Bowl Season On 3-0 Saturday : There Are 5 Bowl Games Today And My Figures Say We Win 3 Of Them
25-Unit Play On Dolphins (8-5) at Jets (4-9): Mimi QB Ryan Tannehill Out With Knee Injury
Complete NFL & Basketball Coverage Will Be Covered In 2nd Weekend Edition That Will Be Available Saturday Morning