Are you ready for postseason college football? The 2017 bowl season kicks off on Saturday around the country with five games. I believe two bowl picks stand out above the rest: No. 25 Boise State of the Mountain West vs. Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl and Marshall of Conference USA vs. Colorado State of the Mountain West in the New Mexico Bowl. Here’s a look at the bowl picks, along with the latest NCAAF odds.
Top College Football Bowl Picks of the Week – December 12th Edition
— College Football (@CFB) December 10, 2017
Boise State vs. Oregon NCAAF Odds & Game Info
When: Saturday, 3:30 PM ET
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
Radio: KBOI 670 AM (Boise State) / 750 AM (Oregon)
Opening NCAAF Lines: Oregon -7.5 (59.5)
Why Choose Boise State as part of your Bowl Picks?
The Broncos’ bowl streak has reached 16 straight seasons, which is the longest among Group of 5 programs and trails only Florida State (36), Virginia Tech (25), Georgia (21), Oklahoma (19) and LSU (18) overall. BSU has one of the nation’s best defensive players in linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. The Mountain West defensive player of the year was third in the conference with 113 tackles and finished with 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Boise
Boise State is proven against elite rushing attacks. San Diego State’s 2,000-yard rusher Rashaad Penny had his worst game against the Broncos, producing only 53 yards on 2.5 yards per carry. Overall, Boise State ranks 17th in allowing 3.5 yards per carry. Their rush defense will need to keep being elite against Oregon, which is 0-6 ATS when rushing for fewer than 300 yards.
The Broncos are 11-6 against schools from the Pac-12 since 2004, including a mark of 4-1 since Bryan Harsin took over as head coach in 2014. The only loss came earlier this season to Washington State (Sept. 9), a 47-44 setback on the road in triple overtime.
Boise State and Oregon have met twice previously, with the Broncos winning each game. Boise State won at Oregon in 2008 (Sept. 20; 37-32), and then defeated the Ducks in Boise the following season (Sept. 3, 2009; 19-8). Boise State played in three-straight Las Vegas Bowl games from 2010-12, defeating Utah (Dec. 22, 2010; 26-3), Arizona State (Dec. 22, 2011; 56-24) and Washington (Dec. 22, 2012; 28-26).
Why Choose Oregon as part of your Bowl Picks?
The Ducks looked like one of the country’s best teams this season with star QB Justin Herbert was healthy – and he is now. With him, the Ducks are 6-1 and the nation’s highest-scoring team. Without him, they’re 1-4. Even with Herbert, Oregon is a run-first team. For instance, in the last two weeks of the regular season they ran 29 more times than passed vs. Arizona, and against Oregon State they had 23 more running plays than passing. Oregon’s running game ranks 20th with 5.2 yards per carry.
This will be OU’s first game since head coach Willie Taggart left after just one season for Florida State. Offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal, a former head coach at FIU, takes over the full-time role. He was originally named interim coach but after a groundswell of support from the players, that interim label was removed.
Before coming to Eugene, Oregon, with Taggart, Cristobal had spent four seasons as offensive line coach at Alabama. He has six seasons of head-coaching experience at Florida International, where he went 27-47, including 20-26 in conference, with two bowl appearances from 2007 to 2012. He was also an assistant at Miami, his alma mater. Oregon co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo will remain with the Ducks as OC and receive a three-year contract.
Ducks tailback Royce Freeman holds school records for rushing (5,621), all-purpose yards (6,435), rushing touchdowns (60), total touchdowns (64), points scored (384),100-yard rushing games (31) and rushing attempts (947).
The Ducks are playing in their 31st bowl, including their 12th in the last 13 seasons. Oregon has made the postseason 24 times since 1989 with 19 appearances in the last 21 seasons. Oregon is playing in its third Las Vegas Bowl. The Ducks beat Air Force 41-13 in 1997 and lost to BYU 38-8 in 2006. The Ducks are 13-17 all-time in bowl games.
Marshall vs. Colorado State NCAAF Odds & Game Info
When: Saturday, 4:30 PM ET
Where: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque
Radio: WDDG 93.7 FM (Marshall) / Rock 102.9 FM (Colorado State)
Opening NCAAF Lines: CSU -5.5 (58)
Why Choose Marshall as part of your Bowl Picks?
The Thundering Herd leaned on a top-20 scoring defense (19.3) and sputtered on offense (26.3, No. 81) to a 7-5 record. Junior linebacker Chase Hancock is Marshall’s MVP. He had 120 stops with nine for loss, seven pass breakups, two sacks and two fumble recoveries. Colorado State has only faced three defenses ranked higher than Marshall this season: Alabama, Wyoming and Boise State. The Rams are 0-3 in those games.
Quarterback Chase Litton and wide receiver Tyre Brady shared the team’s Offensive MVP award. Litton currently stands fourth in program history with 70 passing TDs and 710 completions. He sits fifth in the school’s career passing yardage records with 8,070. The only other Marshall quarterbacks to throw for at least 70 touchdowns and 8,000 yards are Rakeem Cato, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. Brady, who was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List this season, was named first-team all-conference after totaling a team-high 56 catches and 777 yards with seven touchdowns in just over nine games of action due to injury.
Marshall enters the game featuring an .833 winning percentage (10-2) in all NCAA-sanctioned bowl games, the highest mark nationally among programs that have made at least four appearances. (The Thundering Herd also participated in the 1948 Tangerine Bowl, at which point it was not sanctioned.) Doc Holliday is 4-0 in bowl games with the Thundering Herd, winning by an average of 14.0 points, and is appearing in his 26th overall since entering the coaching ranks.
Why Choose Colorado State as part of your Bowl Picks?
Colorado State is playing in a bowl game for the fifth consecutive season, matching the longest streak in school history (1999-2003). Head coach Mike Bobo is the only coach in school history to lead the Rams to a bowl game in each of his first three seasons, and Colorado State is one of just three Mountain West programs to play in a bowl game in each of the last five seasons, joining Boise State and San Diego State.
The Rams relied on a top-30 offense this season, which averaged 33.8 points per game, and struggled on defense (27.5, 73rd nationally). The Rams are in the 2,500/2,500 club this season – 2,533 rushing yards and 3,479 passing yards on offense.
A finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver, WR Michael Gallup ranked third nationally in receptions (94) and fourth in receiving yards (1,345) during the regular season. Gallup was the first Football Bowl Subdivision receiver to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving this year and is one of only two players with multiple 200-yard games.
That’s not to say CSU is pass-only. Colorado State averages 211 yards per game on the ground, which ranks it 29th in the nation. But the Rams won’t be running much against Marshall because the Herd boast an excellent run defense, ranking 20th in all of college football in allowing just 120 yards per game. The Rams also are on pace to set school records with Mountain West-leading numbers for first downs (305) and third-down conversions (50.6%).
Expert Prediction & Bowl Picks of the Week
Lot of distractions for Oregon with Taggart leaving so take Boise and the points. Colorado State beats Marshall by at least a TD.