Today's Free Picks for
Posted Tuesday at 11:45 AM EST
Wednesday, December 26 - Chase Field, Phoenix
9:00 PM EST. TCU came into the season ranked #16, but through 10 games the Horned Frogs stood at 4-6 needing to win their final two games to get to 6-6 and make a bowl. They did that with victories over Baylor and Oklahoma State. That shows how determined they were and they might not be done yet.
California was hoping to get to a bowl game this year and did so by going 7-5 to earn just its second bowl berth in eight years. Is this a case of one team just happy to be here (Cal) against another one that is playing with a big chip on its shoulder? TCU had an injury-plagued year and should be healthier for this game. TCU has taken on nine bowl teams while Cal has faced just five bowl teams. In other words, TCU faced the tougher slate.
That said, this one figures to be a low scoring affair that will almost surely come down to which team gets the calls and bounces (turnovers) because both pedestrian offenses will play against strong defenses. That sends us in the direction of where it always sends us --trying to figure out where the value lies and in that regard, we must take the Horned Frogs, a team that was projected to be a real threat to get to the College Football Playoff and whose stock has plummeted after underachieving this season due to significant injuries from the start.
By contrast, Cal has overachieved in a big way and we’re quite not sure if the teams they beat (Washington and USC for instance) took them seriously. The Huskies lost to Cal, 12-10 and USC lost to Cal 15-14. However, when teams’ took the Golden Bears seriously (UCLA beat them 37-7, Stanford beat them 23-13 and Oregon beat them 42-24), for the most part it wasn’t pretty. Lastly, and we like this significant nugget too, Head coach Gary Patterson is 9-7 in bowl games, while this is the first bowl game for Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox. 16 bowl games experience against none matters when it figures to be close. Then again, maybe it won’t be close and if that’s the case, it won’t be the Bears running away.
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TCU -105 (Risking 2.1 units - To Win: 2.00)