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January 22, 2018

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Bowl Pick’em Against The Spread: National Championship Edition



Auburn’s Nick Fairley (90) claps as he warms up with teammates during NCAA college football practice, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Fairley and the Tigers defensive front is a big reason why I’m picking Auburn to cover against Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game Monday night.

One predominant lesson has emerged in this space over the last month: Everyone loves a loser.

When I staggered through a handicapping slump where I couldn’t win a bet on which shoe went on my right foot at the start of bowl season, interest peaked. The 1-5 start coincided with a number of (dis)encouraging e-mails and page views.

The marked improvement to 4-10 brought similar results. Then, it disappeared with the New Year’s run to get back around even.

Luckily, I have one last chance to entertain with my betting non-prowess. The last three bowl games of the 2010-2011 season look hard to pick — especially the national championship.

In each of the last four years, I had strong betting feelings on the national championship. Not this year. Auburn vs. Oregon could end up as a classic we’re still talking about a decade from now.

UNR vs. Boston College in the Pre-Packaged Cheese Shootout? Eh, maybe not so much.

BBVA Compass Bowl: Kentucky (+3.5) vs. Pittsburgh

9:00 Saturday, Legion Field Birmingham, Ala., ESPN

Who is even coaching Pittsburgh in this game? Not Dave Wannstedt. Not Michael Haywood. Don’t like backing teams with coaching turmoil, plus Kentucky is better than its reputation. This is the same team that lost by only a field goal to Auburn and beat South Carolina a week after it stunned Alabama.

Pick: Kentucky +3.5

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: No. 15 UNR (-7.5) vs. Boston College

6:00 Sunday, AT&T Field San Francisco, ESPN

I actually have a strong feeling about this game. Love the Wolf Pack. They should win by two touchdowns. Boston College has an elite defense, but hasn’t seen anything like the UNR offense this year.

Pick: UNR -7.5

BCS National Championship: No. 1 Auburn (-2.5) vs. No. 2 Oregon

5:30 Monday, University of Phoenix Stadium Glendale, Ariz., ESPN

Oregon’s defense isn’t as poor as some make it out to be. The Ducks have actually forced a ton of turnovers this year and haven’t allowed teams to run the ball well. From top to bottom, I’ll take Oregon as the better team.

But Cam Newton is by far the best player on the field and this is a perfect matchup for Auburn. The Tigers defense stuffs the run, which is the Ducks foremost strength. Nick Fairley is a star and the nation will learn that Monday night.

The SEC isn’t going to win every national championship for the rest of the time. The conference has accounted for four straight champions, but its postseason performance this season has been underwhelming. A piece of me believes the streak ends this year, but I can’t pass up Auburn at less than a field goal.

Pick: Auburn -2.5

Bowl Season Record: 16-16

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