Take Small Favorite Miami Over Sagging West Virginia In Athletic Bowl

Miami Hurricanes team running in field

Saturday, December 10, 2016 9:28 PM GMT

Capper Ross Benjamin, who’s gone 48-24 ATS (66.7%) with his college football picks, previews the Russell Athletic Game Bowl between Miami and West Virginia. Want to know who’s going to cover this contest?. The numbers don’t lie, and liars don’t figure!

West Virginia Mountaineers vs Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Miami and West Virginia will meet in what shapes up to be an intriguing bowl game on Wednesday 12/28. The opening kickoff is slated for 5:30 PM ET, and it will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The game will be televised by ESPN. These schools haven't met on the gridiron since 2003.

At the time of this writing, college football betting odds at Intertops.com indicates that Miami is a 3.0-point favorite, and there's a posted total of 56.0.

Canes on a Roll

It's been a roller coaster ride for first-year Miami head coach Mark Richt and his Miami Hurricanes. They began this year with 4 straight wins, followed by 4 straight losses, and then finished regular season play on an impressive 4-0 SU&ATS run. They won those previous 4 contests by a decisive margin of 19.0 points per game. It's worth noting, 3 of Miami's 4 losses came by 7-points or less. That indicates to me that Miami is a much better team than their 8-4 record leads one to believe.

Speaking of Mark Richt, he spent the previous 15 seasons as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. During that tenure, Georgia went 9-4 straight up and 8-5 against the spread in bowl games, including 5-1 SU&ATS if they were facing an opponent coming off a win. By the way, West Virginia enters the Russell Athletic Bowl following a win over Baylor in its regular-season finale.

Finishing Flat and Uninspiring

West Virginia (10-2) started the season with 6 consecutive wins and appeared to be a possible college football playoff sleeper. However, they finished 4-2 and looked anything but that part. The Mountaineers were blown out at Oklahoma State 37-21 and were shellacked 56-28 on their home field against Oklahoma. They finished their regular season slate with a narrow 3-point home win as a 17.0-point favorite versus Baylor. That was a Baylor team which entered that contest on a 5-game losing streak, and a football program that was in total disarray.

Final Analysis and Pick

I love the direction this Miami Hurricanes football program is heading under Mark Richt, and they enter this bowl game riding a wave of momentum. Contrarily, I'm not enamored whatsoever with how West Virginia finished its regular season slate, and for all the reasons which have been already touched upon. My early lean on this contest goes to the small favorite, and one of my college football predictions will follow suit.

Free NCAAF Pick: Miami -3.0

Best Line Offered: at Intertops

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