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FEATURE PICKS ARCHIVES
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Each week, Mike Mitchell examines the computer's picks and selects those which he believes have the best chance of being correct. Lines in parenthesis are the opening lines as reported at docsports.com. Later lines are used in the event of a "pick 'em" opening. The Congrove Computer Rankings' pick is shown outside the parenthesis. The HOME TEAM is in CAPS. An explanation of how the computer's SU and ATS wins and losses are scored can be found at Weekly Picks Help.


EASY PICKINS:
The computer likes the favorite with room to spare.
2012 Regular Season: 94-27 SU (.777), 67-54 ATS (.554)
2013 Regular Season: 111-18 SU (.860), 78-51 ATS (.605)
This Week: 4-3 SU (.571), 2-5 ATS (.286)
PAST RECORDS

Thursday, December 26
Bowling Green (-4.5) by 13 over Pittsburgh (Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl) - BGSU would have been a 5.67-point favorite in the preseason. Now, the trend line on this game is off the charts at 20.33, but head coach Dave Clawson has left to assume the head coaching duties at Wake Forest. The Falcons will be under the direction of Adam Scheier who coached special teams and tight ends and was Clawson's assistant head coach.
Pittsburgh won 30-27. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Friday, December 27
Marshall (-2) by 12.58 over Maryland (Military Bowl) - Maryland was forecasted to go just 3-9 this season, but finished 7-5 instead. Before you get too impressed with that over-achievement, consider that 3 of the 4 extra wins came against UConn (3-9), West Virginia (4-8) and Virginia (2-10). The lone impressive win was a 27-24 OT victory at a Virginia Tech team that had more than its share of kicking woes and offensive inconsistency. Marshall ranked 13th nationally in total offense with a balanced attack that ranked 21st throwing and 22nd rushing.
Marshall won 31-20. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Minnesota (-4.5) by 5.74 over Syracuse (Texas Bowl) - Minnesota has lost 5 straight bowl games (last win was 2004) while the 'Cuse has won 4 of its last 5 postseason games. The Golden Gophers had the tough task of closing the regular season with games against Wisconsin and Michigan State so they enter this affair on a 2-game losing streak. But, Minnesota did post wins over Nebraska and Penn State, and crushed a bowl-bound UNLV squad. Syracuse saved its best for last when it picked up its only semi-quality win by eking out a 34-31 home victory over Boston College, but the Eagles' stud rusher and Doak Walker winner, Andre Williams, left the game in the 3rd quarter with an injury.
Syracuse won 21-17. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Saturday, December 28
Notre Dame (-17) by 17.80 over Rutgers (Pinstripe Bowl) - Notre Dame would have been a 16.42-point preseason favorite. Rutgers barely qualified for the postseason at 6-6 with a win over a 2-10 USF team in the season finale. That win snapped a 3-game losing streak and was only its 2nd win over the last 7 games after a 4-1 start.
Notre Dame won 29-16. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Louisville (-3.5) by 5.29 over Miami (Fla.) (Russell Athletic Bowl) - The 'Ville would have been a 2.39-point preseason favorite and the computer's trend line is now over 8 for the Cardinals. The story of this game could be Miami's 72nd ranked pass defense trying to stop Louisville's 18th-ranked passing attack led by Terry Bridgewater. The Louisville "d" ranks 2nd nationally, though it's a stretch to claim that their 102nd-ranked schedule offered much offense to contain.
Louisville won 36-9. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Sunday, January 5
Ball State (-8) by 8.31 over Arkansas State (GoDaddy.com Bowl) - The computer's trend line for Ball State is over 14 points as the Cardinals appear poised to pick up their first bowl win (0-6) in history.
Arkansas State won 23-20. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Monday, January 6
Florida State (-7.5) by 16.67 over Auburn (BCS Championship at Pasadena) - The 'Noles would have been 12.43-point favorites in the preseason if this game had been on the map from the start, so even though a 16.67-point projection may seem ludicrous to many, the trend line is an even crazier 20.91. I'm not saying it's right, but it's hard to pass up when the computer says this is the second-highest bowl season blowout prediction and FSU only needs to win by 9 to do the trick if the current 8-to-8-1/2-point line holds.
Florida State won 34-31. The computer won SU, lost ATS.


HOLD YOUR HORSES:
The computer likes the favorite, but by fewer points than the oddsmakers.
2012 Regular Season: 52-17 SU (.754), 42-27 ATS (.609)
2013 Regular Season: 70-12 SU (.854), 41-41 ATS (.500)
This Week: 5-1 SU (.833), 2-4 ATS (.333)
PAST RECORDS

Saturday, December 21
USC (-7) by 0.24 over Fresno State (Las Vegas Bowl) - USC would have been a 0.39-point preseason favorite so not much has changed after 13 USC games and 12 Bulldog games. Fresno State boasts the nation's leading QB in Derek Carr who has thrown for 4,866 yards with 48 TD's and just 7 INT's and didn't get a sniff of the Heisman or any serious consideration for the other QB awards. His 48 TD passes are 10 more than his closest competitor and his 405.5 yards per game is also 40 yards per game more than the No. 2 QB on the list (Sean Mannion of Oregon State). When you also consider that Fresno State ranked 92nd in total defense, you see how instrumental Carr was in leading his team to an 11-1 record and the Mountain West title. USC won't have Ed Orgeron, the man the players rallied around after Lane Kiffin was fired a 3-2 start, on the sideline and will instead be led by Clay Helton
USC won 45-20. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Saturday, December 28
North Carolina (-2) by 0.63 over Cincinnati (Belk Bowl) - I can see Cincinnati as the outright winner. The Bearcats are 9-3 while UNC barely qualified for the postseason at 6-6. The Bearcats are 9th nationally defense (UNC is 69th) and 20th on offense (UNC is 44th).
North Carolina won 39-17. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Kansas State (-3.5) by 0.42 over Michigan (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl) - The computer trend line favors Michigan by a little more than 1 point. Kansas State has lost 5 straight bowl games with the last win coming in 2002.
Kansas State won 31-14. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Tuesday, December 31
Mississippi State (-7) by 3.15 over Rice (Liberty Bowl) - The computer trend line is 1.80 in favor of the Bulldogs which is less than the computer's current projection of a 3.15-point win. These teams are ranked 48th and 49th in total offense with MSU holding a 0.6 yards per game edge. Rice outranks 24 to 33 on defense.
Mississippi State won 44-7. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Texas A&M (-11.5) by 8.48 over Duke (Chick-fil-A Bowl) - The computer trend line favors the Aggies by just 4.82, even after Duke's 45-7 blowout loss to Florida State in the ACC title game. Texas A&M ranks 106th on defense out of 125 FBS teams (Duke is 72nd), and 89th in scoring defense (Duke is 45th).
Texas A&M won 52-48. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Thursday, January 2
Alabama (-14.5) by 2.93 over Oklahoma (Sugar Bowl) - The computer trend line is 8.73 which is well under the line which had risen to as much as 16 at the time of this writing.
Oklahoma won 45-31. The computer lost SU, won ATS.


UPSETS:
The computer likes the underdog as the outright winner. I don't select the games in this category. Instead, we list every upset projected by the computer.
2012 Regular Season: 36-50 SU (.419), 42-44 ATS (.488)
2013 Regular Season: 47-48 SU (.495), 59-36 ATS (.694)
This Week: 4-3 SU (.571), 4-3 ATS (.571)
PAST RECORDS

Saturday, December 21
Colorado State by 2.86 over Washington State (-4) (New Mexico Bowl) - The computer would have taken CSU by a narrow margin in the preseason and that still holds true today. Both teams had up-and-down seasons as the Rams won back-to-back games twice while Wazzu had a 3-game win streak early in the year and a 2-game set at the back end vs. Arizona and Utah to salvage a bowl trip.
Colorado State won 48-45. The computer won SU, won ATS

Louisiana-Lafayette by 3.66 over Tulane (-1) (New Orleans Bowl) - This is Tulane's first trip to the postseason since 2002 while UL-L is making its 3rd straight visit to the only bowl it has ever played in, the New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin Cajuns are also hoping to reap the same reward that the last two visits produced - a "W". UL-L would've been a huge 15.76-point favorite in the preseason, but now finds itself favor by only 3.66. The computer trend spread leans to Tulane by a TD or more.
Louisiana-Lafayette won 24-21. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Thursday, December 26
Utah State 4.04 over Northern Illinois (-1.5) (Poinsettia Bowl) - A 5.88 Utah State preseason computer margin has dropped to 4.04, but it still puts the Aggies safely inside the trend line. NIU won its first 12 games against a schedule that rated 119th nationally. Utah State played the 79th-toughest schedule and overcame the loss of star QB Chuckie Keeton for the season on October 5th, yet still managed to rebound to play for the Mountain West title.
Utah State won 21-14. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Monday, December 30
Georgia Tech by 4.63 over Mississippi (-1.5) (Music City Bowl) - Just about any game that involves the dinosaur one-dimensional offense of Georgia Tech is a tough game to call. For the most part, the good teams have learned how to slow it down. But Georgia Tech did throw 24 times for 232 yards in its double-OT loss to Georgia in the last game of the season after throwing an average of 14 times per game in the other 11 games, and 12 times or fewer in half of its contests. Both of these teams achieved what was expected of them this season as the computer's preseason forecast nailed the 7-5 record of Ole Miss and over-shot by one win on the Georgia Tech record of 7-5.
Mississippi won 25-17. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Wednesday, January 1
South Carolina by 0.41 over Wisconsin (-1) (Capital One Bowl) - South Carolina still hasn't won a conference title since 1969 and has played for the SEC title just once (2010). The Gamecocks would have been a 5.07-point preseason pick and now only find themselves getting an ever-so-slight 0.41-point edge. That means the computer trend line clearly points to Wisconsin by more than 5 points.
South Carolina won 34-24. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Friday, January 3
Oklahoma State by 7.20 over Missouri (-3.5) (Cotton Bowl) - I'm not a strong believer that the Cowboys are a TD favorite over Missouri, as the computer projects, but I'm not sold on Missouri either after getting gashed in the SEC title game by Auburn. The computer trend line, however, is a believable 1.86-point spread for Oklahoma State.
Missouri won 41-31. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Saturday, January 4
Houston by 0.95 over Vanderbilt (-1.5) (BBVA Compass Bowl) - Both teams enter at 8-4 to give the BBVA Compass Bowl a good matchup on paper. Even the stats don't give either team a significant advantage as the Cougars outrank the 'Dores on offense 56 to 95, while Vandy has the defense ranking edge 25 to 86. However, the trend line points heavily in Houston's favor by a pair of touchdowns.
Vanderbilt won 41-24. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.



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