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The Book 2016: The Bowls

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The Book looks at its picks for the 2016 bowl games, including BC-Maryland and College Football semifinals

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As ESPN would say, it's the most wonderful time of the year...college bowl season!  41 games over a 24 day period which will provide a backdrop to the holiday season, a national champion and one more look at Boston College as they take on the Maryland Terrapins in Detroit in the Quick Lane Bowl.

This week I've left out the Book rankings, there was very minimal change this week, only needing to account for the Army-Navy game and that allows us to focus just on the bowl game spreads.

Bowl games are unique for several reasons.  1) In most cases, teams are getting 2-3 weeks or more off in between their final regular season game and their bowl game.  Unfortunately, this can make the on the field product a bit less than optimal where penalties, turnovers, dropped passes, etc become more the norm than the exception.  2) We are comparing teams we don't usually see play against each other. I see this a lot with the Book where the ratings have gotten grooved to teams playing similar competition for the last 10 weeks or so and now we cross boundaries with less than optimal results. 3) Which teams want to be there and which don't?  Hard right now for instance to imagine that Baylor is overly excited about playing another football game or how about teams like Tennessee, Texas A&M or Louisville, all of which come in on a slide.  Are they there for bowl SWAG and go home or will they show up to play?  One never really knows, but when in doubt, stay away!!

All of which has made predicting bowl games using this method pretty challenging through the years. Having meddled with the formula the past two years, I have actually gotten better results related to ranking teams, but slightly worse results when it comes to picking games and I expect this bowl season to be more of the same.

Boston College's Quick Lane Bowl game against Maryland opened as a toss up, with most of the parlors now showing Maryland a 1 1/2 -2 point favorite.  The Book is very bullish on the Eagles though and sees Maryland as very overrated in this one, with BC a solid 8 1/2 point favorite.

Here are some interesting facts/Book facts about BC-Maryland

  • The Book was 7-3-1 picking Boston College games this year (no pick on any FBS vs FCS games) and 9-2-0 picking Maryland games this year
  • Book power rating:  BC 67th Maryland 85th (only three power five teams are actually ranked below Maryland:  Arizona, Illinois and Kansas)
  • Book strength of record rating:  BC 63rd, Maryland 65th
  • Book strength of schedule rating:  BC 65th Maryland 55th
  • Good against bad, bad against good:  BC had 8 games decided by 21 points or more (4-4 in those games) and 4 single digit spread games (2-2 in those).  Maryland had 8 games decided by 21 or more points (3-5 in those) and only 2 single digit spreads (1-1 in those)

In the CFP, the Book likes Alabama over Washington, no shock there, but only by a bit over five points, so signficantly below the spread.  Right now, in the power rankings, the Huskies are actually #2 to the Tide.  The other semi it leans toward Ohio State, as just over a point favorite against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

Enjoy the games, we will see you on January 3 after the CFP semifinals and Go Eagles!

BOWL GAME SPREADS
FAVORITE SPREAD UNDERDOG
at New Mexico 12.7 Texas-San Antonio
Houston 3.8 San Diego State
Toledo 0.1 Appalachian State
Central Florida 6.9 Arkansas State
Louisiana-Lafayette 6.5 Southern Mississippi
Tulsa 19.7 Central Michigan
Western Kentucky 4.8 Memphis
BYU 16.8 Wyoming
Colorado State 14.5 Idaho
Old Dominion 4.7 Eastern Michigan
Navy 7.7 Louisiana Tech
Troy 0.1 Ohio
Middle Tennessee 3.2 at Hawaii
Mississippi State 16.1 Miami Ohio
Boston College 8.5 Maryland
North Carolina State 0.3 Vanderbilt
Army 10.6 North Texas
Temple 19.0 Wake Forest
Washington State 7.6 Minnesota
Boise State 1.5 Baylor
Pittsburgh 7.3 Northwestern
Miami FL 8.8 West Virginia
Utah 9.5 Indiana
Kansas State 6.4 Texas A&M
South Florida 16.5 South Carolina
Virginia Tech 13.6 Arkansas
Colorado 0.7 Oklahoma State
Georgia 3.3 TCU
Stanford 0.9 North Carolina
Tennessee 7.4 Nebraska
Air Force 22.9 South Alabama
Florida State 0.3 Michigan
LSU 4.9 Louisville
Georgia Tech 4.8 Kentucky
Alabama 5.3 Washington
Ohio State 1.2 Clemson
Wisconsin 13.0 Western Michigan
USC 3.0 Penn State
Oklahoma 11.0 Auburn