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WRNL Bowl-a-Thon

I've enlisted my friend and fellow Las Vegas Native, Twitter handle @Prodsweatpants, to assist me this Bowl Season. We will bring you coverage of all bowl action from beginning to end.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation 2014 College Football Guide

Long before I covered Big XII betting lines for Wide Right Natty Lite, I moonlighted as an even lesser known blogger on my friend's football-centric site, The format was very similar to what I provided weekly here and gave me some experience in writing a weekly betting article. Granted, nobody outside our circle of friends read the damn thing, but that wasn't the point.

So, this holiday season, I asked my friend, who also wagers on college football here in Las Vegas, if he could help cover the various bowl games offered to us and he agreed. However, I feel obligated to tell you he is an avid B1G viewer, and Michigan fan, so I make no claims that his opinions and views are valid or should be listened to.

Basically, I used the Tom Sawyer approach to get him to write these summaries for me to publish and claim credit.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Saturday, December 20th @ 10:00 AM Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA. ESPN
Nevada (7-5, 4-4 MW) vs Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4, 7-1 Sun Belt)
Line: Nevada -1

The Wolf Pack make a triumphant return to bowl season after a seventh place finish in the Mountain West.

Their opponent, Louisiana-Lafayette, is back in the Big Easy due to a controversial NCAA rule that prohibits teams new to the FCS from competing in bowls during their first year. This left the Sun Belt's regular season champion, Georgia Southern, back in Southern Georgia and allowed the Ragin Cajuns the chance to end the year with their fourth consecutive win.

The Numbers:

Nevada boasts an offense ranked 59th in the nation. It relies heavily on its ground game (32nd) for the majority of its production. Their F+ ranking (F+ rankings focus on meaningful possessions, eliminating first half clock kills and garbage time stats to determine a more accurate efficiency rating) is 53rd, which sits slightly north of average. Look for senior QB Cody Fajardo to have some running success out of the pistol. If they are hoping to win they'll need him, because defensively, they're just not good. Surrendering 28.2 points per game, good for 105th in total defense, the Wolf Pack's main weakness is pass defense. Their defensive F+ ranking is 84. To put perspective to that number, Iowa State's defensive F+ rank was 113.

The story is pretty similar for the Cajuns. Their offense dropped 30.6 ppg (ranked 55th) on their opponents, also primarily done on the ground with their two-headed monster of Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris combining for 229.4 ypg. Although their defense is ranked ahead of Nevada at 87th, their F+ ranking is well below at 111th. This team too can get got through the air.

One Random Fact:

A Cajun, or Acadian-Creole, is considered to be a descendant of French speaking Acadian outcasts, and predominantly reside in southern Louisiana. I, for one, have never met a Cajun, but understand they can be terrifying and difficult to understand. I'm also convinced, based on their cuisine, they eat whatever kind of animal, dead or alive, is available. However, New Orleans' culture of drinking and boob showing is something I can certainly associate with so they must not all be bad people.

The Vegas Edge:

This game opened at Nevada -1. These teams had similar ATS records (NV 7-5, ULL 6-5-1) yet the Pack was 3-0 when favored by 1 or 2. ULL, however, also carries a 2-0 record ATS as the dog with a similar line.  To complicate the issue further, Nevada is 14-4 ATS in their last 18 where ULL is 15-5 ATS against teams with a winning record.

Basically, your guess is as good as ours.

The Sweatpants Verdict:

I think the Wolf Pack is moving in the right direction. The offenses are so close, they balance each other out. Nevada has an edge defensively. It's going to be a heck of a kick off to the bowl season, but I like Nevada 33 - 30.

Cyclown Says:

I'll take the home state favorite, Nevada -1.

PS Bowl-A-Thon 2014: Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Saturday, December 20th at 2:20 PM ET. University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM. ESPN
Utah State Aggies (9-4, 6-2 MW) @ UTEP Miners (7-5, 5-3 C-USA)
Line: Utah St -10

Utah State slips into the Mountain West's spot in Albuquerque with a fourth place finish in conference play. This marks the Aggies tenth overall bowl appearance and fourth in a row. Their bowl record is 4-5

UTEP joins the Aggies after a similar fourth place finish in Conference USA. This is their fourteenth bowl appearance, yet first since 2010. They will be looking for their sixth bowl victory, hoping to break a current five-game bowl losing streak.

The Numbers:

Offense isn't the strong suit of the Aggies this season. It's not that it's bad, it just isn't sufficiently not bad to say it is good. But what can you expect when you are on your fourth starting QB, who happens to be a freshman, and don't have a Buckeye as a mascot? Kent Myers, the aforementioned freshman, is the current Aggie under center leading their 78th ranked scoring offense with 27.4 ppg. Their offensive F+ ranking is 81. So so. Where the Aggies excel is on defense. They are 21st in the nation giving up 20.8 ppg with a F+ rank of 33. Not too shabby.

UTEP isn't going to scare you with offense. They put up 28.3 ppg and rely heavily on the rushing attack to make them go. Ranked 34th in the nation, sophomore RB Aaron Jones leads the team in rushing. Defensively they are slightly below average in scoring and rush defense, but do a nice job locking down the pass.

One Random Fact:

Did you know that UTEP's mascot is named Paydirt Pete?  I mean come on. How awesome is that? Paydirt Pete. So great.

The Vegas Edge:

Utah State is the heavy favorite (-11) in this one. On the year the Aggies were just 6-7 ATS. The Miners were 9-3 with six of those nine coming at home. As a favorite with a line of this size, Utah St is 2-0. The Miners went 2-2 as comparable dogs.

The Sweatpants Verdict:

I don't think this game ends up being that competitive. After layoffs like this the defense usually shines a bit more. Utah St has the edge defensively. Utah St wins, but doesn't cover. Utah St 27 - 20.

Cyclown Says:

I did a summer class up at Lake Okaboji my senior year with some Utah State folks. One of them was hot. This pick's for you, hot Aggie girl from '99. Utah State -11.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

Saturday, December 20th at 3:30 PM ET. Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV. ABC
(22) Utah Utes (8-4, 5-4 Pac-12) @ Colorado State Rams (10-2, 6-2 MW)
Line: Utah -3.5

The Las Vegas bowl features teams from the Pac 12 and Mountain West. This year's contest pits the Utes of Utah (6th place finish in the Pac 12) against the Rams of CSU (3rd in Mountain West). Utah is playing its 18th bowl game, its first since 2011, when interestingly enough it played in this bowl as a member of the Mountain West. CSU returns to bowl play for the second year in a row under the leadership of Florida's new head coach, Jim McElwain.

The Numbers:

It's a classic offense vs defense battle. Utah comes in with a defense that looks statistically average, but is loved by the advance stats. With an F+ ranking of 27, their defense is 61st, 56th, 91st and 75th in scoring, rush, pass and total defense respectively. Seems odd until you think about the offenses in the Pac-12. Leading the way for the Utes are senior DL Nate Orchard and junior LB Jared Norris. Offensively, the Utes are a run first team, with average rankings across the board.

The Rams are all about the "O". Their 22nd ranked scoring offense scores 35.9 ppg mostly through the air (ranked 8th). Senior QB Garrett Grayson leads an offense that puts up 497.8 yds per game. It's pretty impressive. On the defensive side they surrendered 23.4 points and 414.8 yards per game.

One Random Fact:

Utah, the state, is named after the Ute tribe. Utah's athletic teams are known as the Ute's and are represented by a red tailed hawk named Swoop. Not sure why they couldn't get an actual member of the tribe the state and university are named after to be the mascot, a-la Florida State, but I guess using a bird in place of a more representative mascot is not something we Cyclones can mock too much.

The Vegas Edge:

The Utes sit as a 4 point favorite in this one. Both teams were 8-4 ATS on the year. In the role of the favorite for this line Utah is 1-1 where CSU is 2-0 as the dog. Utah leads the series ATS 6-1-1. The over/under is 58. The under might be the play here as these teams combine to go 10-13-1 against the O/U.

The Sweatpants Verdict:

In these games when a team loses their head coach you never know how they will respond. And for a team that relies on offense that was brought in by that head coach, it's never a good sign. Utah is a nasty bunch and I don't see that changing. Utah wins comfortably 35 - 23.

Cyclown Says:

Utah gonna Ute. Take the favorites.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Saturday, December 20th at 5:45 PM ET. Albertsons Stadium, Boise ID. ESPN.
Western Michigan Broncos (8-4, 6-2 MAC) @ Air Force Falcons (9-3, 5-3 MW)
Line: Air Force -1.5

The fourth bowl game featuring a Mountain West team showcases fourth place MAC finisher, Western Michigan, combating fifth place Air Force from the aforementioned Mountain West. Chances are, if you watch each of these early bowl games, it will double the total MWC action you've viewed over the past five years, and that's not a bad thing.

Coach PJ Fleck has gotten the directional Michigan Broncos back to a bowl game following a two-year hiatus and is seeking the first bowl win in school history (0-5).  Air Force is back bowling after torpedoing (wrong academy?) their season last year and is looking for their 11th win over 23 bowl appearances.

The Numbers:

The Broncos are a true MACtion team. Above average offensively and average defensively. In freshman RB Jarvion Franklin they have a special running back. They are 53rd in the nation in rush offense. But the Broncos will just as easily throw it on you. Sophomore QB Zach Terrell leads the 37th ranked passing attack. They have actually been good against the run defensively as well at 37th, giving up 4.2 yds/rush.

They'll be tested with the Falcon triple option attack. Sophomore RB Jacobi Owens leads the way for Air Force and the 8th ranked rushing attack. No surprise, they rank 118th in passing, but that one pass they throw each quarter usually goes a long way. On the defensive side of the ball the Falcons rank 32nd in F+ and are solid against the run, so look for the Broncos to take advantage of the 101st ranked pass defense.

One Random Fact:

Did you know that Bill Parcells coached Air Force in 1978? They went 3-8 that year. You're welcome.

The Vegas Edge:

Western opened as a 1 point favorite. They are 10-2 ATS and are 1-0 as the favorite in this number range. Air Force is 7-5 ATS overall and 1-1 as the dog. Keep in mind Air Force is just 3-7 ATS against teams with a winning record.

The Sweatpants Verdict:

Never bet against a service academy. Especially when they're playing a MAC team. This line has been bet to AF -1, which makes more sense. Jump on it now before it gets any higher. Air Force 30 - 28.

CyClown Says:

Nellis Air Force Base is located somewhat close to my house. I get to see the Blue Angels practice. It is awesome. Oh, and ironically, Air Force employs a pretty fantastic ground game to dominate their opponents. They take this one by a touchdown.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Saturday, December 20th at 9:15 PM ET. Crampton Bowl, Montgomery, AL. ESPN.
South Alabama Jaguars (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt) @ Bowling Green Falcons (7-6, 5-3 MAC)
Line: South Bama -3

Well, I'm not sure why, but the Camellia Bowl returns after a 33 year hiatus when it was a 1AA Championship game featuring Boise State and Eastern Kentucky and played in Sacramento which, as I just Googled, is the Camellia City. This edition is in Montgomery, Alabama for some reason that even the most powerful algorithm couldn't figure out, and features teams from the Sun Belt and MAC.

I'll pause for your celebration.

Okay then. So the South Bama Jags finished fourth in the Sun Belt in just its second year in FBS, making this their first bowl appearance. Bowling Green finished second in the MAC after getting pasted in the championship game by NIU. This makes 11 bowl appearances for the Falcons and their third straight. They have not had a bowl victory since 2004.

The Numbers:

South Bama is a run and play defense kinda team. The Jags only put up 22.1 ppg and rank 90th in total offense. Defensively they're better. As the 53rd ranked F+ team they can hold down the pass (32rd) and are giving up 25.8 ppg good for 58th. Look for senior DB Terrell Brigham to clean up anything that gets by the front seven.

Bowling Green is MAC to the core. 62nd, 55th, 45th and 49th in scoring, run, pass and total offense shows they want to get you in a shoot out.  Sophomore QB James Knapke leads the Falcon attack and is more of a passer than a runner. They need to score because defense is not so much a strength. Bowling Green's 107th ranked scoring defense gives up 33.9 ppg. They are in triple digits in all other defensive categories. Truly MACtastic!

One Random Fact:

Is there a better name for a stadium than the Crampton Bowl? Apparently it used to be a landfill before it was a stadium. Correlation to this game...made.

The Vegas Edge:

The Jaguars open as the 1.5 point favorite. But neither of these teams were sure things. Both teams went 4-8 ATS. The total is set at 53.5 right now. Take the under. These two combined to go 10-15 against the total.

The Sweatpants Verdict:

Like I said, bet the under. But if I had to pick a winner of this thing, I have to go with South Bama by a nose.  Do yourself a favor and knock something off your honey do list when this thing is on. South Bama 27 - 24.

Cyclown Says:

I'm sorry, but if it doesn't involve a Mountain West team on opening day of bowl season, I'm just not that into it. So go with Bowling Green, because my son likes green.