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September 30, 2014

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Bowl Pick’em Against The Spread Entry 2

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Leila Navidi

The Race & Sports Book at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson on Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

With bowl season a quarter of the way finished, the point spread is yet to come into play.

Four underdogs have won straight-up in the first eight postseason games. And the four favorites who won all held up to cash tickets.

Here’s a bonus prediction for this entry of the bowl pick’em: That streak ends in the next couple days. Let’s just hope we’re all on the right side of it.

No complaints so far, as the blog is off to a 5-3 start picking every bowl game against the spread.

Find selections for the next seven games below.

Military Bowl: Marshall minus-2.5 vs. Maryland; over/under: 63

11:30 a.m. Friday, Navy Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

The Terrapins play in their first bowl game in three years 30 minutes from their campus, which is bad news for the Thundering Herd. Marshall notoriously struggles on the road, including a 1-5 against the spread mark away from John C. Edwards Stadium this year.

Pick: Maryland plus-2.5

Texas Bowl: Syracuse plus-5 vs. Minnesota; over/under: 47

3 p.m. Friday, Reliant Stadium in Houston

The vast majority of tickets are on the Golden Golphers, but most sports books haven’t moved the line at all while the minority has only shifted a half-point. That feels fishy and hints that the sharp money is on Syracuse. Bookmakers underestimated Minnesota all season long, however, as it’s gone 9-3 against the spread with covers in each of its final six games.

Pick: Syracuse plus-5

Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU plus-3.5 vs. Washington; over/under: 61

6:30 p.m. Friday, AT&T Park in San Francisco

Few coaches consistently deliver in bowl games better than Bronco Mendenhall, who’s won and covered in four straight years while going 6-2 both straight-up and against the spread overall at BYU. That’s an issue for Washington, which plays this game under interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo, who was an anonymous quarterbacks coach a few months ago. Interim coaches are usually bet-against candidates in bowl games and, sure enough, have started 1-2 against the spread in 2013.

Pick: BYU plus-3.5

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers plus-14 vs. Notre Dame; over/under: 52.5

9 a.m. Saturday, Yankee Stadium in New York

Forget about the three other bowl games being played before the calendar gets flipped to 2014 with identical spreads. This is the biggest matchup of them all. Notre Dame ranks No. 25 in Football Outsiders’ F/+ ratings and covered against four teams in the top 12 including two outright victories. Rutgers falls at No. 90 in the advanced-metrics poll and failed to cover against three of the rare teams behind it, including one outright defeat.

Pick: Notre Dame minus-14

Belk Bowl: Cincinnati plus-2.5 vs. North Carolina; over/under: 56.5

12:20 p.m. Saturday, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte

Anyone who religiously bet on these two teams in the second half of the season came away happy. The Tarheels and Bearcats combined to go 9-3 against the spread down the stretch behind rapidly improving quarterbacks Brendon Kay and Marquise Williams, respectively. North Carolina became only the sixth team to start 1-5 and still make a bowl game under the current regular-season structure. Coach Tommy Tuberville led Cincinnati to its fifth straight postseason berth in his first year at the helm.

Pick: North Carolina minus-2.5

Russell Athletic Bowl: Miami plus-3.5 vs. Louisville; over/under: 57

3:45 p.m. Saturday, Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, likely the top pick in the NFL Draft, is one of more than 20 Cardinals who hail from Miami. Although Bridgewater spurned Miami by decommitting to go to Louisville, the opposite was true for several of his teammates. They were left to pick from backup options when Miami passed on recruiting them. That’s why motivation should be high for the Cardinals when it could otherwise be a concern for a team who set out to make a BCS game this season.

Pick: Louisville minus-3.5

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan plus-5.5 vs. Kansas State; over/under: 55

7: 15 p.m. Saturday, Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

For all of Kansas State coach Bill Snyder’s successes — a 146-100-4 against the spread record not the last of them at least in Las Vegas — he’s regularly failed in bowl games. The Wildcats haven’t won a postseason game since 2002 and haven’t covered in one since the 2000 season. This should present an excellent opportunity, what with Michigan trotting out freshman quarterback Shane Morris for his first career start.

Pick: Michigan plus-5

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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