Money Making Tips For The Cotton, Compass, and Kraft Bowls



We have three "bowls"left before the official BCS Championship game (which isn't a bowl) goes Monday Night in Arizona. We'll have an in-depth stat preview of that game for you in Auburn/Oregon in our Monday edition of the NOTEBOOK. Our NFL previews for WILDCARD WEEKEND will run Saturday morning. The first game Saturday isn't until 4:30 p.m. ET.

Today, we'll look at:

Tonight's Cotton Bowl matching LSU and Texas A&M
Saturday's BBVA Compass Bowl matching Pittsburgh and Kentucky
Sunday's Kraft Fight Hunger bowl matching Nevada and Boston College

Let's jump right in...

LSU (10-2) vs. TEXAS A&M (9-3)

LSU: 89th offense, 8th defense, 63.8 plays, 24th schedule
A&M: 20th offense, 51st defense, 80.8 plays, 11th schedule
ATS Records: LSU 5-7, Texas A&M 8-4
Vegas Line: LSU by 2, total of 49

Notebook: Both of these teams played very tough schedules. And, those rankings would seem to be legitimate considering how well their respective divisions have done so far in the postseason.


  • Alabama crushed Michigan State
  • Mississippi State crushed Michigan
  • Arkansas hung tough with Ohio State
  • Auburn hasn't played yet, but is favored in the BCS championship game!

Folks...that's a division!


  • Oklahoma dominated Connecticut
  • Oklahoma State was never threatened by Arizona
  • Texas Tech beat Northwestern worse than the score suggested
  • Baylor was a disappointment vs. Illinois

We wouldn't put the Big 12 South on par with the SEC West by any means. NOBODY'S ON PAR WITH THE SEC WEST! But, it's clear that both of these teams have played tough schedules based on the bowl results thus far. Note that Texas A&M faced Arkansas of the SEC West as one of it's non-conference games too. LSU played North Carolina and West Virginia early on. The Aggies and Tigers are battle tested...heading into the virtual Roman Coliseum that Jerry Jones built for his Cowboys and special events like this.

We want to pay special attention here to tempo. You'll note that the offensive plays per game numbers show LSU as one of the slower bowl teams out there in terms of pace...while A&M is one of the fastest. Some of that is A&M running into fast break football teams like OU and Okie State. They can slow down if they need to. The Aggies may prefer to speed things up to keep LSU's highly regarded defense off-balance. That's probably their best shot here. If the game opens up, the Aggies will take advantage. If LSU can keep a lid on things, we'll have a defensive-minded field position battle that plays into the hands of the Tigers.

Our sources on site are paying close attention to preparation and focus. Last year's Cotton Bowl teams were overwhelmed by the location, and had real troubles adjusting to the very unique environment. That led to an extremely low scoring game between Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. If we see the same thing this year, we'll go Under fairly strong. If one team is clearly less in awe than the other, that team will be a major release for us. You can purchase tonight's NETWORK KNOCKOUT a few hours before kickoff here at the website with your credit card.


PITTSBURGH (7-5) vs. KENTUCKY (6-4-2)

Pittsburgh: 73rd offense, 11th defense, 63.8 plays, 48th schedule
Kentucky: 26th offense, 49th defense, 70.2 plays, 61st schedule
ATS Records: Pittsburgh 6-4-2, Kentucky 6-6
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh by 3.5, total of 52.5

Notebook: Normally we would have a big bias towards the SEC in a game like this. The problem with that line of thinking this year is that the SEC East really hasn't impressed. South Carolina was sloppy in its loss to Florida State. Florida almost lost outright to Penn State and was lucky to cover. Tennessee played spirited but not super football vs. North Carolina. Georgia lost outright to Central Florida. Kentucky isn't better than THOSE how excited can you get about the Wildcats. That may be one reason why this line has surged above a field goal in recent days.

You regulars know we're not fans of the Big East in bowls either, except when they're stepping down in class to face a mid major. Louisville did beat Southern Miss of Conference USA. Connecticut and West Virginia didn't win or cover. South Florida struggled offensively but did survive Clemson.

Given the indicators, we're going to look at the Under because of quality defenses and a projected slow pace. If the weather in Birmingham is going to help us, then an Under could be a serious play. Bowls have been fairly high scoring this year it's a debate that will continue right up until release time. Our on site sources are helping us with background on that market support for Pittsburgh. Talks with them and our Wise Guys sources could yield something special for us Saturday morning. You've seen often the past month that INFORMATION REALLY MATTERS IN THE BOWLS!

NEVADA (12-1) vs. BOSTON COLLEGE (7-5)

Nevada: 3rd offense, 66th defense, 80.9 plays, 86th schedule
B-College: 105th offense, 14th defense, 62.9 plays, 54th schedule
ATS Records: Nevada 7-6, Boston College 5-7
Vegas Line: Nevada by 9.5, total of 55

Notebook: We're interested to see how that 3rd ranked defense of Nevada fares against the 14th ranked defense of Boston College. Of course, you have to make adjustments for context with both of those numbers.

  • Nevada played fast break football with almost 81 plays per game
  • Nevada played a below average schedule

  • Boston College played slow down football, which meant fewer defensive plays too
  • Boston College played in a conference that featured a lot of struggling offenses

So, Nevada really doesn't have the third best offense in the nation. And, nobody would think that if they played in the SEC or the Big 10. And, Boston College really doesn't have the 14th best defense. If they were in the SEC, you'd see them run over more often, and worn down from attrition. That's why we present the strength of schedule indicators...and why we added tempo into the mix this year.

We'll say it this way. Nevada does have a good offense, and BC does have a good defense. We're interested in seeing them go at it. We're not under delusions like some TV announcers that we're really looking at the very best in the country.

This has historically been a bowl where field conditions have played a big roll. It's been a wet Winter in California, but rain hasn't been in the news so much lately. Nevada thrives on fast surfaces. Mud or slippery conditions would favor grinders like Boston College more. This particular factor may loom larger than any other in our handicapping process for this particular game. We're glad we can wait until Sunday to make a release for clients so we can make sure we have the freshest information possible.

In terms of bowl action so far, Nevada's WAC hasn't really impressed. Boise State was sloppy and sluggish for more than a quarter before getting their bearings against outmanned Utah. Hawaii was embarrassed on its home field by Tulsa. Fresno State was embarrassed in the Humanitarian Bowl by Fresno State. Boston College's ACC has been competitive if not impressive. It's a conference of grinders this year, which makes it tough to blow them out unless Andrew Luck of Stanford is your quarterback. Something near 10 is a steep line to give to a grinder unless the track is just too fast for them to compete.

It's easy to lose sight of the bowl games this weekend with all the buzz about the Wildcard games. We'll be buzzing ourselves in the Saturday NOTEBOOK. Just be aware that there IS money to be made in college football Friday through Monday. And, it's YOUR JOB to make it!

If you're not up to the up with the man whose job it is to win every day!  You can purchase game day selections from JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK right here at the website with your credit card. Or, purchase the rest of football through the Super Bowl at a great rate. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about basketball when you call. We'll talk more about college hoops next week once college football is in the books. We're still picking winners daily on the hardwood even if we don't have space in the NOTEBOOK to give it full coverage just yet.



Today’s Hot Plays