Every year The Thirsty Beagle organizes a quaint little bowl picking contest among friends and family. Usually, I’m in the running until the end. This year, not so much. If my life had depended on picking games against the spread this year, I’d be dead. How does 2-for-10 sound? I know. Ouch. But, due to the magic of this thing called “running your own beer and sports blog,” I’m giving myself a second chance. Since Texas A&M and Georgia will kick off the Independence Bowl any minute now, and since that’s the first of eight bowl games involving Big 12 schools, I’m going to wipe the slate clean and pick these eight games like I’ve never picked before. Or at least better than I’ve been doing so far. Hopefully.
1. Independence Bowl: Georgia (-7) vs. Texas A&M
Georgia could be in line to really mail this one in. They went from preseason national favorite to 7-5 and Shreveport in December within the span of about 16 months. Meanwhile, Texas A&M can really score, they played well offensively against Texas in their last game, but defensively they’re certainly no world-beaters.
The pick: I think A&M will lose, but cover the spread. Georgia 29, Texas A&M 28.
2. Holiday Bowl: Arizona (-1.5) vs. Nebraska
There was so much parity in the Pac 10 this year, it’s hard to tell how good Arizona really is. One thing is certain, though: It’ll be a miracle if the Wildcats score more than 15 points against Nebraska’s defense.
The pick: I’m going to take Nebraska to win straight up, 12-9.
3. Sun Bowl: Oklahoma (-8) vs. Stanford
No secret that OU did not fare well in its two non-conference games against non-cupcake opponents. Then throw in the fact that OU surely must feel a let-down when you go from several straight BCS games to the Sun Bowl. And believe me, something like “giving a crap about the game you’re about to play” really does make a difference. But with Stanford’s quarterback situation uncertain and OU’s defense in good shape, this really isn’t that hard of a choice in terms of who’ll win. Who will cover? Of course that’s not as easy.
The pick: I’m going to go with an OU win, but a Stanford cover. Final score: 27-21.
4. Texas Bowl: Missouri (-6.5) vs. Navy
Missouri started to put things together a little bit as the year progressed, and having the quarterback Gabbert healthy will be a big plus. Navy doesn’t really do anything for me.
The pick: Missouri wins and covers, 31-20.
5. Insight Bowl: Minnesota (-2.5) vs. Iowa State
I do not want to pick Iowa State in this game. I repeat: I DO NOT want to pick them. If there was an award for most average team, this might be your winner. This is a team that is only 6-6, and would have been 5-7 and out of the bowl picture pretty easily if Nebraska hadn’t turned the ball over EIGHT(!) times on its home field. So I really don’t want to pick Iowa State. But this is a Big 10 opponent we’re talking about. If I had one rule all year, it was that the Big 10 sucks. So, here goes. I just can’t win this one.
The pick: Minnesota wins a thriller, and covers, 17-14.
6. Cotton Bowl: Mississippi (-3) vs. Oklahoma State
I don’t know what to make of Oklahoma State. Except for the Houston game, the defense really did pretty well all year. The unit wasn’t terrible against Texas, which was gifted a couple touchdowns by Zac Robinson and his band of receivers. They weren’t bad against Oklahoma, which only pulled away after the offense left the D hanging out to dry. So perhaps they won’t be bad against Ole Miss. Problem might be the aforementioned offense, which for the most part went into hiding when it got smacked in the mouth.
The pick: Mississippi takes a relatively low-scoring affair, 23-17.
7. Alamo Bowl: Texas Tech (-8) vs. Michigan State
This will most certainly feel like a home game for Texas Tech. Will they score like they’re at home? Maybe they won’t light up the scoreboard, but there’s no way I’m taking two Big 10 teams.
The pick: Texas Tech wins and covers, 34-24.
8. BCS Championship Game: Alabama (-5) vs. Texas
Texas ran into probably the country’s best defense in the Big 12 title game, and all the sudden everyone jumped off the bandwagon. In my view, they might be a little underrated at this point. Not saying Alabama’s not good, just that the five-point line might be a little high. That being said, I’ve got a certain feeling about Texas. Let’s just hope it’s not the same feeling I had when I made my original bowl picks.
The pick: Texas 24, Alabama 20