College Football Picks: Winning Plays For Monday's Bowl Games

David Lawrence

Thursday, December 24, 2015 3:32 PM GMT

The college football season has produced some special stories and some odd stories. A special one is involved in Monday’s first bowl game. An odd story is involved in the second one. 

Military Bowl: Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Navy Midshipmen
This is a game in which Navy is playing on its home field due to the location of the game. The Midshipmen have often played in the Poinsettia Bowl and have at times played in the Armed Forces Bowl and bowl games in Houston and San Francisco. This time, though, they don’t have to travel at all. That’s going to be a source of excitement for them and their fans, who get a bonus home date in the postseason. What will also add to Navy’s enthusiasm is that quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who made a run at the Heisman Trophy this season, will play his final college game with the Midshipmen. Everyone wants to see him go out a winner in Annapolis, and that will be a major story to watch against Pittsburgh. Reynolds will be highly motivated to go out in style and create one more special memory for his team.

The biggest story of all might be that Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo decided to remain at the Naval Academy instead of going to BYU, where his Mormon faith would be highly valued and where he has a son who plays on the football team. Navy’s players are very happy to see their coach return. That should give the Midshipmen another push in a game which should be close. Pittsburgh made improvements this past season under first-year head coach Pat Narduzzi, but the Panthers ran out of steam late in the season. Both teams have seemed tired of late, and so the break for the bowl should really help them. Pittsburgh should make this a close game through three quarters, but Navy is more likely to make big plays in the fourth. Take Navy with your college football picks.

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College Football Pick: Navy -3.5 
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

 

Quick Lane Bowl: Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
The key point to make here is that Minnesota is a 5-7 team, one of three teams with losing records to play in a bowl game this season. This doesn’t automatically mean the Golden Gophers are the inferior team or that they’re going to lose. They have a very good chance to win and can quite justifiably be seen as the better team, if only because Central Michigan did not separate itself from the rest of the pack in the Mid-American Conference. However, there’s a reason Minnesota is only 5-7. The Golden Gophers’ offense struggled throughout the season with very few exceptions. Quarterback Mitch Leidner, despite being a veteran, struggled often in the passing game, and it’s hard to shake off the idea that Minnesota will not be able to pull away from Central Michigan. The Gophers might win, but it will be by only a field goal. Take the Chippewas against the college football odds.

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College Football Pick: Central Michigan +6 
Best Line Offered: at Heritage