College Football Bowls -- This Week's Best Bets

Since it's Week 17 of the NFL season, we're changing it up a little bit this week. I don't know about people who actually know what they're doing when it comes to wagering, but my experience with the NFL in Week 17 is that it's a good time to stay the hell away. There's a reason most fantasy leagues shut it down after 16 weeks -- it's because the final week is full of teams who have cashed it in and are making vacation plans or playoff teams resting key guys.

The league has tried to legislate against this as best they can by making all of the Week 17 games division games (a logical step), but still....I mean, look around the league. Starting quarterbacks include Trent Edwards (dumped in Buffalo, now trying to keep the Jags in the playoff hunt), Charlie Whitehurst (trying to clinch a playoff spot for 6-9 Seattle), Rex Grossman, Jon Kitna, Joe Webb, Troy Smith, Derek Anderson, Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow (sorry, I'm still not a believer). And this doesn't include the possibility that Michael Vick and Mark Sanchez may not play for the Eagles and Jets, respectively.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Indeed, Week 17 of the NFL is such a crapshoot, I'm going to bank on the stability of 18-22 year old college students to go get me my New Year's cheese!

So with all due respect to the various practice squadders and third stringers getting their chance at the professional spotlight this weekend, let's go bowling, shall we?

Notre Dame +3 over Miami It's hard to believe that there are actually people of drinking age who have no concept of what this rivalry meant back in the 1980's. (Note: If you're going to watch this game, my blog on the 30 for 30 about "The U" is required reading, and the documentary itself if you have a couple hours is my favorite of the series.) It frankly makes me feel very old, since I was in the stadium the last time these two teams played.

Showing perhaps the staying power of the rivalry and the strength of the brands of the respective schools, the game sold out in 21 hours. Best subplots this week -- both coaches being continually asked about keeping players out of Juarez (drug cartel murder capital of the world) and Brian Kelly's incessant, uncomfortably giddy tweets (@CoachBrianKelly) about his new Sun Bowl cowboy boots. I actually really like the under (47) in this game, but I'll homer up a nice one for you here and say take the Irish over the coachless Hurricanes.

Texas Tech -9.5 over Northwestern Northwestern had maybe the most bittersweet play of the season when their quarterback Dan Persa completed a pass to beat Iowa 21-17 and ruptured his Achilles in the process. Seriously, players are going crazy because they were about to pull off a huge upset and yet the hopes and dreams for finishing the season strong went up in smoke. Since then, they've lost 48-27 to Illinois and 70-23 to Wisconsin. I'll lay the heavy lumber on the Red Raiders in Dallas.

Florida -7 over Penn State So if I had told you before the season that these two teams would be facing each other in a New Year's Day bowl and the storyline would be the final game for one of the most successful coaches in college history stepping down....actually, I probably still would have said Urban Meyer. I'm pretty sure at this point that Joe Paterno could jump into a pool of hot lava on Friday night and survive to coach on Saturday.

Michigan State +10 over Alabama I'll take the double-digit points with the coach who survived a heart attack earlier this season. I'm pretty sure Nick Saban doesn't even have a heart. Most droids don't.

Oklahoma -16.5 over UConn I grew up in Connecticut and have family ties to the university, and finally had the pleasure of attending my first UConn home game this fall on a Friday night against West Virginia. I had a blast, but noticed that they didn't open up the tailgating parking lot until four hours before the game (south of the Mason-Dixon Line you would change "hours" to "days") and then there was actually brie and Chardonnay at the tailgate I attended. In other words, Connecticut is still wrapping its brain around this whole "big time football" thing. Oklahoma...well, they play big time football.

Ohio State -3.5 vs Arkansas Really, football gods? You're making me either root for the players that traded their amateur athletic souls for a few tattoos or the guy who quit the Atlanta Falcons via post-it note? Screw you, gods. I hate you.

Last Week: 4-2 Season Record: 56-39-1

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast