The college football bowl season begins Dec. 16, with five games on the slate. The teams are mostly also-rans, but it's bowl season, so why not get festive and partake in some handicapping?
Here's my take on the five bowls on Dec. 16 to open the college football bowl season.
Troy (-7) vs. North Texas
The public likes Troy. Oddsmakers set the number at 5.5, only to see it bet up to a touchdown. With a week remaining, that number may not be finished climbing.
It's not surprising that the public likes Troy. Nobody knows anything about North Texas, but Troy beat LSU earlier this season, so that's working in their advantage in the odds department. And while that's a foolish way to bet, based on one game, Troy is the best bet in this situation.
Troy's actually not terrible. They lost by 11 points to Boise State earlier this season and beat LSU. Their only other loss came a week after the LSU game against a South Alabama with talent. Most importantly, Troy's offense is just as good as North Texas', and the Trojans are far better on defense.
This is a mismatch and the spread should be much higher than seven points. Take this game with confidence. — Go Chalk with Troy
Western Kentucky (-6) vs. Georgia State
I tripped up with Western Kentucky earlier this season when they ran out of gas against Florida International.
But I won't let that loss cloud my judgement.
On paper, these teams are pretty similar. Both offenses and defenses are decent. The only glaring difference is the strength of schedule. Western Kentucky has racked up six wins against better competition, while Georgia State's offense disappears against decent competition.
I'll hammer home the Hilltoppers in this one with little confidence. — Go Chalk with Western Kentucky
Oregon (-7) vs. Boise State
Finally, two teams that actually play on television.
Boise State made it to the Las Vegas Bowl by winning a better-than-advertised Mountain West Conference, while the Ducks got hot at the right moment, winning three of the final four games.
Oregon's offense has been explosive in recent weeks, going for 6.8 yards per play en route to a 2-1 record. The Broncos aren't bad either, going for 6 yards per play in the last three games.
This game will come down to which team can stop the other. And I don't trust the Ducks. Boise has the better defense, so take the points, and let the betting public wager on nostalgia. — Go Against The Chalk with Boise State
Marshall vs. Colorado State (-5.5)
The New Mexico Bowl will feature a tale of two different teams. Marshall is really good on defense. Colorado State is horrible.
The Rams, though, are really good on offense. The Thundering Herd are terrible.
Usually I take really good defense over offense any day. In this case, though, how good is Marshall's defense? Is it a byproduct of a schedule or is it truly elite? I'm guessing it has more to do with the schedule.
I'm buying into points, so I'll back Colorado State's ability to outscore Marshall. — Go Chalk with Colorado State
Middle Tennessee State vs. Arkansas State (-3.5)
Both teams come in with similar defenses, but there's one major flaw that Arkansas State will expose.
The Red Wolves are going to throw the ball all over the yard. And while Middle Tennessee's defense isn't horrible, it's susceptible to the pass, especially recently. For the season, the Blue Raiders allow 6.7 yards per pass attempt. In the last three games, that number has ballooned to 7.8 yards per attempt.
That's a major issue against Arkansas State, which also can make some stops on the defensive side of the ball. I hate taking this many favorites on bowl season's opening weekend, but I can't pass this one up. Take this with confidence. — Go Chalk with Arkansas State
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH