Whenever I hear the words to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” I drift off into a dreamy vision of Boise State’s Statue of Liberty play. The one that beat Oklahoma during the 2007 Fiesta Bowl that had us all jumping off our couches, hands pulling out our own hair, delirium in our eyes, yelling “Holy (cow)!” or something to that effect.
A mile-wide grin washes over my face and my eyes glaze over like I’m some kind of happy psychopath.
When my wife asks me what I’m thinking about, I simply reply: “The holidays, honey.” And then she rolls her eyes and sighs because she knows my love for the holidays is synonymous with college football.
That play was pure, unadulterated joy. It was Christmas morning and I was 10 years old, Nintendo awaiting its unveiling.
And I had Oklahoma in that game.
But I digress. It’s Bowling for Dollars time again, where I give you my picks for every bowl game on the board and open myself up to ridicule and shame.
Before I begin, I want to give you a few betting tips for the holidays. Ignore me at your own peril. These are based purely on personal pain from my past. No need for you to endure the same.
1. Tell your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend (I don’t judge) or other family members right frigging now which bowl games you are going to watch and when they are. Declare it up front and save yourself a world of misery later.
There is nothing worse than sitting down, icy cold man-soda in one hand, remote in the other, only to hear a voice from behind you say: “You’re not ready yet?! Hurrry up, it’s my former co-worker’s cousin’s party today! I told you last week!”
Save yourself a Chris Henry domestic dispute. (Too soon?). Declare right now that you aren’t missing whatever B-list bowl games are highest on your list. For me, it’s Nebraska-Zona and Navy-Missouri this year.
2. Set aside $50 or $100 of play money with an online account that has a nice offering of props and halftime lines. Use this whenever you are watching games while drinking, puffing, snorting or huffing whatever you have lying around.
It’s for those times when you get the sudden urge to double down in the second half or that Navy’s Ricky Dobbs is going to throw for over 100 yards. It will satisfy your need to say “I was right!” without having to pillage the sofa cushions after the holidays in search of your bankroll.
3. Set a goal. This is an oversight I make way too often. But if you set a profit goal and a loss limit for the holidays, I can almost guarantee you’ll come out with more money in the end than if you don’t.
It’s amazing how the money management and discipline part of it tends to take care of itself when you have a vision.
4. Don’t bet the NFL. Just don’t. It’s hard enough to win at the best of times in the pros, let alone the end of the season.
Don’t throw your hard-earned funds away on one NFL afternoon that took you a week of grinding it out on the college gridiron to attain. To me, it’s like kicking it through the end zone on a bad pooch punt when all you had to do was knock it out of bounds at the five.
That’s all I got for now. Feel free to help out and add your own tips in the discussion below.
Happy holidays. Good luck and stay safe.
On to the picks, where I will refuse to acknowledge bowl name-wrecking sponsors.
New Mexico Bowl, Wyoming vs. Fresno State (-11.5, 55.5) – Proceed to that party you don’t want to go to and do not waste one of your B-list bowl game freebies on this one. Pick: Fresno State
St. Petersburg Bowl, Central Florida vs. Rutgers (-2.5, 44.5) – It's not home for UCF, but close enough. Pick: UCF
New Orleans Bowl, Middle Tennessee St. vs. Southern Miss (-3.5, 57.5) – OMG! Southern Miss has missed 10 extra points this year. The Eagles are so bad, coach Larry Fedora says he might not even use the kicking unit this game. Pick: over 57.5
Las Vegas Bowl, BYU vs. Oregon State (-2.5, 60.5) – In Sin City, it’s best to go with God. Pick: BYU
Poinsettia Bowl, Utah vs. Cal (-3.5, 52) – No Jahvid Best. Pick: Utah
Hawaii Bowl, Southern Methodist vs. Nevada (-15, 74) – If there’s one thing SMU coach June Jones knows how to do, it’s win in Hawaii. Pick: SMU
Pie Bowl, Ohio vs. Marshall (+2.5, 49) – I dunno. Marshall? Pick: Thundering Herd, I guess.
Car Care Bowl, North Carolina vs. Pitt (-3, 44.5) – Auto parts bowl is a long fall from the Orange Bowl in just one game for Pitt. Pick: UNC
Emerald Bowl, Boston College vs. USC (-9.5, 44.5) – If you saw Pete Carroll jumping around after a late, meaningless touchdown against UCLA, you know the Trojans still care. Pick: USC
Music City Bowl, Kentucky vs. Clemson (-7.5, 53) – This is the game that will make you say “Oh. The ACC really does suck.” Pick: Kentucky
Independence Bowl, A&M vs. Georgia (-7, 65.5) – PETA has asked Georgia to make Uga VIII a robot. Not kidding. I just don’t know how the Dogs will be able to focus on the game now. Pick: A&M
Bank Bowl, UCLA vs. Temple (3.5, 46) – In an old tradition that dates back to 1980, several UCLA players went “over the wall” at practice recently and skipped out. “We’ll make this a positive,” coach Rick Neuheisel said afterward. Umm, OK. Pick: Temple
Sports Bowl, Wisconsin vs. Miami (-3, 59) – Do you have any idea how cold it is in Wisconsin this time of year? Football takes a back seat for the Badgers in Orlando. Pick: Miami
Humanitarian Bowl, Bowling Green vs. Idaho (+1.5, 68.5) – It will be nice for Idaho to have the blue turf as home-field advantage for a change. Pick: Idaho
Holiday Bowl, Nebraska vs. Arizona (-2, 40) – Warm weather. A month to prepare. Should be enough to squeak out more than 40. Pick: over
Armed Forces Bowl, Air Force vs. Houston (-4.5, 63) – Seriously, this is getting old already. Pick: Houston
Sun Bowl, Stanford vs. Oklahoma (-8, 55.5) – Stanford is out of Luck in this one. Pick: Oklahoma
Texas Bowl, Navy vs. Mizzou (-6.5, 52.5) – So Mizzou would consider an invitation to the Big Ten? I’m fading the Tigers for even thinking about it. Pick: Navy
Insight Bowl, Iowa State vs. Minnesota (-2.5, 48.5) – This game needs to be moved back some because it is way too bad to be on New Year’s Eve. Pick: Iowa State
Bowl Formerly Known as The Peach, Va. Tech vs. Tennessee (-4.5, 49.5) – Tennessee’s recruiting broads will propel the Vols to victory. Pick: Tennessee
Bowl Formerly Known as The Hall of Fame, Northwestern vs. Auburn (-7.5, 54.5) – Good things happen when you fade the Big Ten. Pick: Auburn
Gator Bowl, Florida State vs. West Virginia (-2.5, 60.5) – So fitting isn’t it? Pick: Florida State
Bowl Formerly Known as The Tangerine, LSU vs. Penn State (-3, 44) – Still fading the Big Ten. Pick: LSU
Rose Bowl, Ohio State vs. Oregon (-3.5, 50.5) – You win Big Ten, I’m not fading you here. Pick: under
Sugar Bowl, Cincinnati vs. Florida (-10.5, 57.5) – Seriously, did somebody set this line while drinking or something? I like Cincy and all, just not here. Pick: Florida
International Bowl, Northern Illinois vs. South Florida (-6.5, 50) Pick: USF
Pie Bowl II, UConn vs. South Carolina (-4.5, 51) – Taking an inspired UConn team to finish the season strong. Pick: UConn
Cotton Bowl, Ole Miss vs. OK State (+3, 50.5) – Don’t be fooled by the rankings. Ole Miss is the better squad. Pick: Ole Miss
Liberty Bowl, Arkansas vs. East Carolina (+7.5, 63.5) – Take the points with a balanced ECU team that’s strong on both sides. Pick: ECU
Alamo Bowl, Michigan State vs. Texas Tech (-8, 60.5) – Finally, I have to submit. Pick: Michigan State
Fiesta Bowl, Boise State vs. TCU (-7, 55) – TCU is a touchdown better? Not against the Boise State team I watched this year. Pick: Boise State
Orange Bowl, Iowa vs. Ga. Tech (-4.5, 50.5) – Oh, this pains me but I have to take another Big Ten team. Pick: Iowa
Bowl Formerly Known as The Mobile Alabama, Troy vs. Central Michigan (-3.5, 65) – This bowl is clearly lost. It does not belong here. Somebody please, please help it find its way back to Dec. 17 or something. Pick: Central Michigan
BCS Natty Championship Game, Texas vs. Alabama (-5, 45) – Don’t care what conference Texas played in this year, this is too many points. Final score: Texas 24, Bama 20.