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2023 B1G ATS: Bowl Games

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Welcome to the 2023-24 SEC / Big Ten Challenge (Ben Flannagan / AL.com)

With the 2023 regular season and conference championship games in the books, bowl game season is here. Results on the field (and/or in the classroom, in the case of Minnesota) have opened the door. The number of fans trekking to such destinations as Orlando, Nashville, Las Vegas, the South Bronx, and downtown Detroit determine who goes where for the 2023-24 post-season.

Michigan's in the Final Four (and wouldn't it be fun if Jim Harbaugh lifts a National Championship Trophy that will be vacated in 6 12 18 24 36 48 months). Ohio State and Penn State are in the New Years Six. I_wa, wisconsin, Northwestern, Maryland, and Rutgers got enough wins to go to a bowl game. And Minnesota's APR scores will have them rowing their boats for some Motown MACtion.

Trivia Question - Pete Carroll won the Rose Bowl and Super Bowl as head coach (of Southern Cal and the Seattle Seahawks, respectively). Who's the only other head coach to win the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl?

Michigan's win in the Big Ten Championship Game got me another much-needed win in the ATS. Washington got me a 100 Simoleon bonus in the final PAC 12 Championship Game they'll ever play in. (As a note: those who picked Washington got the 100 Simoleon bonus. Those who picked Oregon didn't lose anything, as this was a bonus pick. The 3 folks who picked I_wa lose 120 Simoleons.)

A fair number of folks - including moi - correctly took Michigan and Washington. In the Week 14 standings the first 2 numbers are the obligatory B1G Championship Game pick. If one also has a '+ 1' in the Week 14 cell, they correctly took the Dogs over the Birds in the PAC 12 bonus pick. Here's how things stand heading into the bowl games:

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And with that, as it's better to give than receive at Christmas time; here's my chance to give away more money with these picks:

December 23, 2023:

Utah versus Northwestern (+9.5) in the Las Vegas Bowl: my pick - jTarpwestern. The PurpleCats are literally playing with house money, as nobody saw this coming back in mid-August. This has the makings of one of the better bowl game match-ups. The thought here is that this game is close all throughout, with the Utes doing just enough to claim the trophy but not cover the points.

December 26, 2023:

Bowling Green versus Minnesota (-5.5) in the Quick Lane Bowl: my pick - Row Row Row Your Boat. The Gophers got a bowl game lifeline by having a high-enough APR score to get invited to Motown for a Tuesday afternoon bowl game against a team from the MAC. While most of America returns those Christmas sweaters that don't fit, Minnesota celebrates Boxing Day by punching the Falcons.

December 28, 2023:

Miami versus Rutgers (+4.5) in the Pinstripe Bowl: my pick - Buttgers. In Big East play, The U beat The State University of New Jersey 11 straight times; including such nail-biters as 55-0 (1999), 64-6 (2000), and 61-0 (2001). So of course I'm taking the Scarlet Knights to win this thing outright. Why, might you ask? I'm guessing the folks from Coral Gables aren't looking forward to that 3-hour flight to LaGuadia to play a cold weather bowl game on a Thursday afternoon in a baseball stadium. Rutgers is happy to be there, Miami isn't. Hence the pick.

December 29, 2023:

Missouri versus Ohio State (-7) in the Cotton Bowl: my pick - THE Ohio State University. Let's see, the block M on the other team's helmets stands for Missouri, not Michigan. Thus, the Buckeyes take out their frustrations on Sheryl Crow's alma mater. This one could get ugly. The Buckeyes blow out the Tigers from Columbia, MO.

December 30, 2023:

Auburn versus Maryland (+3) in the Music City Bowl: my pick - Maryland. It was nearly 40 years ago to the day that Boomer Esiason's Terrapins took on Bo Jackson's Tigers, with Maryland hanging close but coming up short in a 35-23 loss Down on the Plains. After literally giving the Alabama game away, Auburn will either be pissed off or mailing this one in. I'm guessing the Auburn team that got boat raced by New Mexico State on Chickenshit Saturday makes the 300 mile bus ride to Nashville.

Ole Miss versus Penn State (-1.5) in the Peach Bowl: my pick - The Lane Train. These two teams are mirror images of each other. Both rolled through their schedules with two notable exceptions (Alabama and Georgia for Ole Miss; Ohio State and Michigan for Penn State). Both teams are lead by head coaches who put the hype in Coach Hype. Thus, I'm going with the more experienced quarterback in this one. Jaxson Dart (gotta love that name!) outplays wunderkind Drew Allar and the Rebs win this one.

January 1, 2024:

Tennessee versus Iowa (+7.5) in the Citrus bowl: my pick - Rocky Top. One team has a pretty good defense and plays absolutely no offense. The other team has a Madden 2024 offense and a high school defense. Since a team has to score some points to win these things, I'll go with the Volunteers in this one. Plus, this game gives one an opportunity to re-live this moment:

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LSU versus Wisconsin (+11.5) in the Reliaquest Bowl: my pick - LSU. Everything's pointing to wisconsin getting smoked in this one. LSU's 3 losses were to teams either in the playoffs (or who SHOULD be in the playoffs) or are in the New Years Six. wisconsin's five losses include hairballs coughed up against 5-7 Wazzu and 3-9 Indiana. In a match-up of former Cincinnati Bearcat head coaches, Brian Kelly gets the better of Luke Fickell by a lot of points. Geaux Tigers!

Alabama versus Michigan (-1.5) in the Rose Bowl: my pick - Harbaugh! Question - why didn't Bo Schembechler eat cereal for breakfast? Answer - he lost the bowl. (dropping the mic...) Despite Jim Harbaugh's college coach being an underwhelming 2-8 in 'The Granddaddy of Them All' the thought here is that 'Bama shot their wad knocking off Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The third time's the charm for Jimbo, as Michigan advances to the College Football Championship Game.

Trivia Answer - Dick Vermeil. Vermeil's UCLA Bruins defeated Woody Hayes' Ohio State Buckeyes 23-10 in the 1976 Rose Bowl (the final Rose Bowl Woody Hayes coached in). 24 years later, Dick Vermeil's "Greatest Show on Turf" St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl 34.

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