Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
Walk-On's Independence Bowl
Thursday, Dec. 27 - Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
1:30 PM EST. Lots to go over here so let’s start with the conferences. We have Temple, a resident of the AAC going up against an ACC resident. It almost goes without saying that Duke played the much tougher schedule. We should also point out the early returns of some other residents of both conferences that have already played in a bowl game this season.
In the AAC, Houston played and got absolutely annihilated by Army. The South Florida Bulls also competed in a bowl game this year and they also got destroyed, 38-20 by Marshall. Memphis is another AAC team that has competed in a bowl game and although it was close, the Tigers lost to Wake while surrendering 37 points in the process. The only team that has had success thus far in the American Athletic Conference this bowl season is the Green Wave from Tulane, who beat Louisiana Lafayette in the “Who Gives a F**k” bowl.
Of the 14 teams in the ACC, 11 of them are going bowling this season with only Louisville, Florida and North Carolina missing out. None of them have played yet because the closer it is to New Year’s, the more prestigious the game is. Other than the final game of the season after an emotionally charged penultimate game against Clemson, not one of Duke’s losses can be considered disturbing. They competed all year with great teams, which included a loss to Virginia, Va Tech and Pittsburgh and the aforementioned defeat to Clemson. Pay no attention to Duke’s 59-7 loss to Wake in the final game of the season, as it meant nothing, the Dukies showed up in body only and again, it came the week after playing Clemson. The great news is that the market is putting heavy emphasis on that final game and on the fact that Duke lost four of its last six games.
Temple head coach Geoff Collins has taken the job at Georgia Tech, so for the second time in three years, Ed Foley will serve as the interim head coach for the Owls. In the Military Bowl in 2016, Collins coached Temple as a 12-point favorite but lost outright.
Duke has the clear edge at head coach, with David Cutcliffe guiding them to four straight bowl covers. Heading onto this season, the Duke offense looked like the best in a decade. David Cutcliffe has sent pupils Erik Ainge, Thaddeus Lewis, Sean Renfree, Anthony Boone and Thomas Sirk on to NFL contracts in the past decade, but it's 6-foot-5, 220-pound redshirt junior Daniel Jones who is the best quarterback Cutcliffe has fielded since he last coached a Manning. Jones is smart, strong-armed, accurate, mobile and physical -- and unfortunately broke his collarbone at Northwestern in Week 2 in a game in which the Devils also lost preseason All-America safety Mark Gilbert to a season-ending injury.
Jones was the team's leader and best player, and Gilbert's loss is a huge blow that further thinned a defense that was already hit with injuries. The postgame injury news at the time was as bad as any team had received and most would show some sort of collapse in the face of that kind of adversity but Duke was one of two ACC teams (along with Boston College) that stood out in fall camp as having the potential for some really special chemistry. We like this outfit's mojo as well as the defensive depth that is finally strong enough to compete hard. Duke proved already that it was tough enough to keep its season on the rails after a fatal blow to what were legitimate conference championship aspirations. Furthermore, Jones returned in Week 5 and although he was injured in the final game of the season, he is absolutely ready to suit up for this one. That shows that he has game because he is a highly touted NFL prospect that could sit it out and declare himself eligible for the NFL draft but instead, Jones declared, “No way am I missing or sitting out the Independent Bowl”. That’s leadership and it shows the true colors of a player that puts the team before himself. NFL teams want guys like Daniel Jones, not only for his talent but for his character too. His teammates know that he could have chosen to sit this one out but he didn’t. That matters too. This is a Duke team that wants to play, figures to be ready to play and we’re suggesting that the market has not adjusted appropriately for all the intangibles that favor the better team.
Open an account today at and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
Duke +3½ -103 (Risking 2.06 units - To Win: 2.00)