2018 First Responder Bowl
The 2018 First Responder Bowl was first played in 2011 and each matchup since has been decided by at least 7 points. The total in this year’s edition has dropped sharply as both teams run the ball more often yet have strength on defense stopping the run. Boise State has also played five straight games under the total entering this bowl matchup while the under has cashed in four of the last five Boston College games.
Boston College Eagles (7-5) vs. Boise State Broncos (10-3)
Wednesday, December 26th – Dallas, Texas 1:30pm ET (ESPN)
Betting Line: Boise State -1.5 (51.5)
Boston College entered the bowl season tied for the most interceptions in the nation with 18. But the Eagles allowed 264.4 yards passing per game vs. FBS opponents this season including 316.6 ypg in their five losses. Boise State senior QB Brett Rypien is the superior quarterback in this bowl match-up and Rypien has 3,705 passing yards and 30 touchdown passes to just 7 interceptions this season. He is the all-time passing leader in Mountain West Conference history with 13,581 passing yards.
Boston College relies heavily on their rushing attack and big offensive line while running the ball 59% of their plays averaging 173.2 rushing yards per game vs FBS opponents. However, the Eagles lost their final three games to ACC opponents and rushed for just 79.7 per game. Boston College QB Anthony Brown is not a proficient or accurate passer relying more on underneath passes. Brown is completing just 55.4% of his passes and a 2/9 TD-to-INT ratio. The Eagles entered bowl season 115th in in the nation in 3rd-down offense (33.9%).
Boise State rushed for 167.5 yards per game, but the Bronco’s run defense was solid holding FBS foes to 122.9 yards rushing per game. The Broncos opportunistic defense also led FBS in fumbles recovered.
Boise State won 10 games before losing in the Mountain West Championship game in the snow, and the Broncos have played in 18 straight bowl games going 12-6 SU/ATS and have now won at least 10 games in 16 of the past 20 seasons.
Boise State is also 93-6 SU since 2000 against teams below .600 from game 6 out, and 6-3 SU/ATS vs. Power 5 opponents in bowl games.
Key ATS Info: Bowl teams with 10 or more wins are 7-0 SU/ATS the past two bowl seasons prior to Dec. 21 including 4-0 SU/ATS in 2018 with all double-digit victories.
Boston College is just 1-15 SU from Week 6 out since 2010 vs. better than .750 opponents while being out-scored by 15 points per game.
2018 First Responder Bowl Free Pick – Boise State -1.5
2018 Quick Lane Bowl
Minnesota was less than mediocre most the season before winning two of their final three games against bowl teams Purdue and Wisconsin as double-digit underdogs to become bowl eligible. But the Gophers weakness on run defense plays into the Georgia Tech strength with the Yellow Jackets option offense.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-5)
Wednesday, December 26th – Detroit, MI 5:15pm ET (ESPN)
Betting Line: Georgia Tech -6.5 (56)
The Gophers allowed 170.7 rushing yards per game versus FBS opponent’s and 5.2 yards per rush against ranked bottom 20 in the country. Minnesota head coach Fleck fired the Gophers defensive coordinator following an embarrassing loss at Illinois in early November, and the defense did play better down the stretch. Wisconsin had a top-10 rushing offense in the country, but the Badgers fell behind with turnovers and big special teams plays and had to pass more against Minnesota while rushing for 170 yards.
Against three other top tier rushing offenses on the road, the Gophers were torched in defeat while allowing at least 315 rushing yards.
- Maryland – 315 rushing yards at 8.5 yards per rush. Minnesota lost 42-13
- Nebraska – 383 rushing yards at 8.9 yards per rush. Minnesota lost 53-28
- Illinois – 430 rushing yards at 12.3 yards per rush. Minnesota lost 55-31
All three of those Big Ten opponents finished below .500 and did not make a bowl game. The Gophers were also just 3-6 in Big Ten play, and Minnesota’s roster is filled with a nation-high 52% of freshman, and 7-8 will start on offense and 5-6 on defense in the bowl game.
Georgia Tech led the nation in rushing with 325.5 rushing yards per game versus FBS opponents. Minnesota rarely sees the triple option attack which is another concern in preparation. So is the Gophers’ absence of linebacker and leading tackler Blake Cashman, who is skipping the bowl game along with offensive tackle Donnell Greene in preparation for the NFL draft. At least one other unannounced starter with miss the bowl game for Minnesota due to a rules violation. Minnesota’s spread style attack does function with a run-pass option at the line of scrimmage, and the Gophers will need a big game from All-Big Ten wide receiver Tyler Johnson to string the Yellow Jackets.
But that’s not likely with some key players missing and the matchup edges for Georgia Tech in the running game. Motivation also matters. The Yellow Jackets players will clearly want to push harder as much respected 11th year head coach Paul Johnson is coaching his final game for Georgia Tech.
It may be quick work for Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl.
2018 Quick Lane Bowl Free Pick – Georgia Tech -6.5
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.