College Football Odds: Friday, December 23 Bowl Picks

louisiana tech football

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 10:52 PM GMT

For the first time since the opening of the bowl season last Saturday, we have  multiple postseason games this Friday around the country, albeit all matchups among non-Power 5 schools. I'm liking the favorites in each. 

Eastern Michigan Vs. Old Dominion (-5)

It's the Bahamas Bowl from Nassau with a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPN. In many of these bowl games you question what the teams' motivation levels are when deciding your college football picks. Shoot, some star players are simply walking away from their teams to prepare for the NFL draft instead of play in a meaningless bowl. And while the Bahamas Bowl is a lower-tier game, it will mean a lot to both these programs. Eastern Michigan (7-5), from the Mid-American Conference, had just seven combined wins the previous four seasons and hadn't finished with a winning record since 1995. Coach Chris Creighton has done an amazing job getting the Eagles into their first bowl game since 1987. EMU's season took off when Brogan Roback became the starting QB four games into the season. The junior has thrown for 2,394 yards and 16 TDs. Old Dominion (9-3) was one of the best teams in Conference USA this season and is in the first bowl game in school history as the Monarchs have only been an FBS program since 2013. It's a very balanced team, passing 345 times for 2,854 yards and rushing 461 times for 2,353 yards. These schools played each other the past two years, with ODU winning by four in 2015 and 14 two seasons ago.

NCAAF Free Pick: ODU -5

Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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Louisiana Tech  Vs. No. 25 Navy (+7.5)

The Armed Forces Bowl from Fort Worth with a 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPN. These clubs go about things very differently. Louisiana Tech (8-5), which lost a shootout in the Conference USA Championship Game against Western Kentucky, is one of the high-powered passing offenses in the nation. The Bulldogs average 44.0 points per game behind quarterback Ryan Higgins, the Conference USA MVP. Higgins has thrown for 4,208 yards and 37 touchdowns this season, ranking third nationally at 351 yards per game. Receiver Carlos Henderson was both the league's offensive and special teams player of the year. He has 72 catches for 1,407 yards and 17 touchdowns to go with 133 yards and two scores rushing and two kickoff-return TDs. And he wasn't even the team's leading receiver! That was Trent Taylor, who caught 124 passes for 1,570 yards and 10 scores. Navy (9-4) enters on a two-game losing streak. It was dominated in the AAC Championship Game by Temple and then had its 14-game winning streak end against Army. The Midshipmen, who of course run the option,  have been absolutely gutted by injuries, including two starting QBs and their leading slotback.  Sophomore Zach Abey made his first career start at QB vs. Army and threw for 89 yards with two interceptions and rushed for 73 yards and two scores.  The Middies have won three straight bowl games, but they are too banged up here.

NCAAF Free Pick: Louisiana Tech -7.5

Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Ohio vs. Troy (-5)

The Dollar General Bowl from Mobile, Ala., at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Fairly certain this is the bowl with the combined shortest school names. Ohio (8-5) is a pretty good team. The Bobcats played Tennessee very tough back on Sept. 17 in Knoxville, beat a good Toledo team on its field in late October and then gave unbeaten and ranked Western Michigan all it could handle in the Mid-American Conference title game, with WMU escaping 29-23 to earn a Cotton Bowl berth. Ohio is very well-coached by Frank Solich, who is the former Nebraska coach. OU uses two QBs in Greg Windham and Quinton Maxwell, but Windham is expected to start with  Maxwell also likely to play. While Solich is 72, Troy's Neal Brown is one of FBS' youngest coaches at 36. He's a rising star in the ranks and a terrific offensive mind. Earlier this season, Troy entered the AP Top 25 briefly and barely lost at Clemson. Troy averages 34.2 points behind QB Brandon Silvers, who threw for 2,945 yards and 22 TDs and running back Jordan Chunn, who carried 259 times for 1,232 yards and 13 TDs. Ohio isn't great against the pass but is sixth nationally in stopping the run at 105.8 ypg. This is basically a home game for Troy, however.

NCAAF Free Pick: Troy -5

Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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