Heart of Dallas NCAA Football Picks: Illinois vs. LA Tech

Joe Gavazzi

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 6:11 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014 6:11 PM UTC

Join this expert College Football handicapper as he explains where the betting value is to be had with his free picks on the Heart of Dallas Bowl between Illinois and Louisiana Tech. 

Illinois vs. LA Tech (-6) 1:00 ET ESPN
60 degree temperatures and light winds will greet Illinois and LA Tech when they meet in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Friday, December 26th.  It is a matchup of a powerful Big 10 Conference against the more lightly regarded CUSA.  Based on their performances from last season, when each went 4-8 SU, and their respective starts to this season (which saw LA Tech begin 2-3 SU and Illinois 3-4 SU) it seemed improbable that these two teams would be meeting in this Bowl game. 

HC Beckman and the Illini authored a 2-0 SU ATS finish to their season against Penn St. and Northwestern, to save the job of their HC and allow the Illini to reach Bowl eligibility.  That success corresponded with the insertion of QB O’Toole, who replaced an ineffective QB Lunt.  Those consecutive dog wins that lifted the record to 6-6 SU completed a rare .500 season, after the Illini went 6-18 SU the previous 2 years.  Now, they play in only their 6th Bowl in 20 years.  Clearly, Illinois has faced the tougher schedule with their Big 10 pedigree.  But, they may also suffer from the “happy to be here” complex, along with their recent record of 4-11 ATS away. 

Before placing you College Football pick here, understand that LA Tech is not without issues of their own.  As in their previous CUSA championship against Marshall, HC Holtz was forced to suspend 6 players.  Among those are their top 2 linemen, Carter and Bell, along with RB King.  Nonetheless, this is a veteran team who has proven their mettle in a bounce back season.  The credibility of 2nd year HC Holtz declined, following his inaugural 4-8 SU, 4-7 ATS season.  But, this year’s Bulldog edition, which was 8-5 SU, 10-3 ATS, was a major turnaround in fortunes.  It was keyed in no small part by a +18 net TO margin.  Credit the work of DC Diaz (Texas), whose defensive unit allowed just 356 YPG and 4.9 YP play.  That unit featured a total of 40 takeaways, leading to a 7-1 ATS road log.  Even more impressive was their 7-0 ATS mark vs. the Bowlers they faced.  The addition of QB Sokol, balanced by the running of Dixon, led to 38 PPG on offense. 

Motivated by a Big 10 foe, look for the Bulldogs to bounce, following their 26-23 CUSA title defeat against Marshall!  Blowout, double-digit College Football odds favorite victory no surprise to this bureau! 

Free College Football Pick: Take LA Tech -6 at YouWager

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