Last Week: 2-2-1
Lock of the Week: 13-3
LSU (-3) vs. Louisville
I am feeling a little jaded that this game is on New Year’s Eve and not New Year’s Day/January 2nd. While the Citrus Bowl isn’t as well thought of as the Big Six Bowls it has given us a lot of great memories over the years of some classic SEC vs Big Ten showdowns. Nowadays of course it is the SEC vs. the ACC.
Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has had an unbelievable season and it’s always somewhat of a suicide mission going against him. However, I don’t believe that he has faced as many good defensive units like this LSU defense. Specifically, outside of FSU and Clemson, I don’t think he has gone against a front seven that can chase him down like LSU’s can, and I actually think LSU has a better defense than either of those two teams.
With LSU the concern is always about the offense and it doesn’t help that Leonard Fournette is sitting this one out. Don’t forget though that Derrius Guice will suit up and he has actually had a better year than Fournette in terms of yards, touchdowns and yards per carry.
Tax Slayer Bowl
Kentucky (+3.5) vs. Georgia Tech
On paper it looks like GT had a pretty good year as they enter this corporate named bowl game with an 8-4 record. I choose to look at it as the Yellow Jackets have been pretty fortunate this year. GT somehow avoided FSU and Lousiville from the Atlantic division so that helps pump up its record in the ACC. Secondly, as all BC fans know, GT was also very fortunate to escape Dublin with a win over the Eagles. Thirdly, as Phil Steele points out, GT was actually outgained in yardage in its three wins over VT, Virginia and Georgia to end the year. That isn’t exactly a formula for success.
I know Kentucky isn’t a football powerhouse but it did knock off South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Louisville this season. Kentucky’s offense put up 31 points per game and was 3rd in the SEC in rushing and gets the job done for the cover.
Alabama (-13.5) vs. Washington
Typically in college football when you have a high powered offense against a suffocating defense I go with the offense. I don’t have stats to back it up but I just feel like more times than not the offense figures out a way to get it done. The exception to the rule is when that suffocating defense is Nick Saban’s club that has the #1 scoring defense, #1 rushing defense, #15 passing defense and #1 total defense. Guess they don’t miss Kirby Smart that much, huh?
For me there’s a little bit of bias here too because I watched Washington against Utah and USC and what I saw was an offense that came in with a ton of hype but struggled to get things going consistently against good defenses. Alabama should be able to slow down Jake Browning and I think this game gets away from the Huskies in the 2nd half.
Clemson (+3) vs. Ohio State
I need to take a deep breath before I fire against Urban Meyer getting such a long time to prepare for a game. I think the bottom line for me here is this seems like a coin flip game and I’d rather have the points. In addition, I think I’m getting the better quarterback in this game with Deshaun Watson vs. J.T. Barrett.
Lock of the Week
Florida State (+7) vs. Michigan
Back in the day Brent Musburger would’ve been assigned for the call of this game and been hyping it pregame with something like, "This is a very possible preview of next year’s National Championship. These two teams are certainly top five teams for next year." If you are under 35 please ignore this reference.
This is a classic Pros vs. Joes game as the wise guys are all over FSU and the public likes Michigan. Either I’m out to lunch or I’m dead nuts that FSU is not 7 points worse than Michigan. I think FSU has the edge at the skill positions of quarterback, running back and wide receiver while the Wolverines have the edge on the lines and that leads me to believe this line should be three or four.
As a bonus, the FSU defense has been playing much better of late. Down the stretch in the last three games the defense gave up under 200 yards per game, and while I think that the ‘Noles defense isn’t as strong as Michigan’s I think it’s only a notch below.
The bottom line here is that these two teams are almost even so the value is with FSU. It doesn’t hurt either that the ‘Noles enter this game as the "disrespected" seven point underdog.