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Black Shoe Degenerates: Bowl Season Week 1

Bowl season is upon us!

Michigan State v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to the first week of bowl season at Black Shoe Degenerates, your weekly gambling column written by the smartest gambling expert you know.

It’s bowl season! The most wonderful time of the year! I love watching games that I would never watch normally on random weekdays, with half of them falling in work hours. It’s great. Enjoy this, all.

Before we get into this week’s slate, let’s take a look back and review last column’s performance.

Last column’s picks:

ARob’s championship week: 1-5 (44-41-3 this season)

  • Texas/Oklahoma over 78 (loss)
  • Marshall +3.5 (loss)
  • UCF -3 (win)
  • Alabama/Georgia over 64 and Alabama -13.5 (loss, loss)
  • Northwestern +15 (loss)

Michael Jordan didn’t make every shot he took. Adam Vinatieri doesn’t make every field goal he kicks. Derek Jeter didn’t get a hit during every at-bat. I have 1-5 weeks sometimes. Frankly, it happens.

This week’s picks:

New Mexico Bowl: Utah State vs. North Texas, Saturday 2 p.m.

My pick: North Texas +7.5

This is sneakily a really great game to help kick off the bowl season (Tulane vs. Louisiana technically starts first by a half-hour, but hold off until this one starts.) North Texas is #31 in S&P+, while Utah State is #21. The Aggies are losing their head coach to Texas Tech though, which makes me not really excited about their chances here. I feel like the combination of the early bowl, the outgoing coach, and the Mean Green’s top-50 defense means you should take the points.

Las Vegas Bowl: #21 Fresno State vs. Arizona State, Saturday 3:30 p.m.

My pick: Fresno State -5

Fresno State won the Mountain West, and is a really good team. Arizona State is talented, played a tougher schedule, and overachieved compared to its preseason expectations in Herm Edwards’ first year, but I don’t see this one being close. I don’t think the Bulldogs are a top-10 team in the country, which is what S&P+ says they are, but they’re good enough to give 3.5 points.

Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan, Saturday 5:30 p.m.

My pick: Eastern Michigan +1.5

Georgia Southern runs the triple-option. That normally would be a game-changer for me, if its opponent only had a week to prepare. Eastern Michigan has had multiple weeks to prepare, and it has a surprisingly good defense. I don’t think they’ll have a problem here. Take those points.

New Orleans Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Middle Tennessee, Saturday 9 p.m.

My pick: App State -7

This is another gut feeling game. App State is really good, and I just feel like, for some reason, it’ll come out fired up about losing its long time coach. QB Zac Thomas is really good (as Penn State fans know all too well), and RB Darrynton Evans has stepped up really admirably in the place of injured starter Jalin Moore. This may be the result of me seeing App State play more than Middle Tennessee, but I’m betting on the Sun Belt champs here.

Boca Raton Bowl: UAB vs. Northern Illinois, Tuesday 7 p.m.

My pick: under 43

This is a matchup of two top-30 defenses. Northern Illinois had 50 sacks on the year and gave up less than 3 yards per carry. UAB isn’t far behind, with 39 sacks on the year and giving up 3.5 ypc. Combine those defenses with two less than stellar offenses (NIU is 115th in offensive S&P+!!! How do you make a bowl with that???) and I don’t expect a lot of points.