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2012 College Football Bowl Score Projections

Back for the third year and ready to go.

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

For each of the past two years, I have used a formula to project the outcome of all of the bowl games. Combined, they're 45-25 straight up (.643) and 39-28-3 (.579) against the spread. That's noticeably better than random guessing, and as I understand it, the ATS mark is above the magic 55% threshold for making money. They also are consistent; the straight up marks are 23-12 and 22-13, while the ATS marks are 19-14-2 and 20-14-1.

The normal caveats to any kind of bowl picking apply. Some of these are going to be way off because the method doesn't account for things like coaching changes or motivation and the lack thereof. Some teams are going to flop because they just don't care or because a key coach or two took the first bus out of town. Besides, 19 of these projections are within a field goal of the point spread, so they're not completely unsound. Also keep in mind that Clemson was favored to win the Orange Bowl last year before getting splattered 70-33. Being way off here and there is to be expected.

I (won't) be entering these into the bowl pick 'em group (sign up before it's too late!) with the largest projected margin of victory having the most confidence points going down to the slimmest having the fewest confidence points. See if you can beat the formula. (Note: Yahoo! changed the rules so you can only put one entry in a group. So, find them here instead once the picks lock.) The point spreads below are the consensus from here, as of December 13 when I posted this.

Here goes nothing, and remember, this is for entertainment purposes only.

Bowl Teams Favorite Projection Pick
New Mexico Nevada vs. Arizona Arizona -9.5 Nevada 43-41 Nevada + points
Famous Idaho Potato Toledo vs. Utah State USU -10.5 Utah St. 32-20 Utah State
Poinsettia BYU vs. SDSU BYU -2.5 BYU 23-21 SDSU + points
St. Petersburg UCF vs. Ball State UCF -7 UCF 36-28 UCF
New Orleans ECU vs. LA-Lafayette ULL -6 ULL 38-31 LA-Lafayette
Las Vegas Washington vs. Boise St. BSU -5.5 BSU 26-9 Boise St.
Hawaii Fresno St. vs SMU Fresno -12.5 Fresno 40-21 Fresno St.
Little Caesar's WKU vs. Central Michigan WKU -5.5 WKU 34-27 WKU
Military SJSU vs. Bowling Green SJSU -7 SJSU 24-13 San Jose State
Belk Cincinnati vs. Duke Cincy -7 Cincy 39-21 Cincinnati
Holiday Baylor vs. UCLA Pick UCLA 43-41 UCLA
Independence Ohio vs. LA-Monroe ULM -7 ULM 34-28 Ohio + points
Russell Athletic Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech VT -2.5 Rutgers 19-14 Rutgers + points
Car Care of Texas Minnesota vs. Texas Tech TTU -13 TTU 34-24 Minn + points
Armed Forces Rice vs. Air Force AFA -1 Rice 30-28 Rice + points
Pinstripe West Virginia vs. Syracuse WVU -4 Syracuse 41-40 Syracuse + points
Fight Hunger Navy vs. Arizona St. ASU -14.5 ASU 29-21 Navy + points
Alamo Texas vs. Oregon St. OSU -2 OSU 29.4-26.8 Oregon St.
Buffalo Wild Wings TCU vs. Michigan St. TCU -2.5 MSU 16-13 MSU + points
Music City NC State vs. Vanderbilt Vandy -7 VU 25-19 NCSU + points
Sun USC vs. Georgia Tech USC -10 USC 38-30 GT + points
Liberty Iowa State vs. Tulsa Pick Tulsa 25-19 Tulsa
Chick-fil-A LSU vs. Clemson LSU -4 Clemson 31-30 Clemson + points
Gator Miss St. vs. Northwestern MSU -2 N'western 27-24 N'western + points
Heart of Dallas Purdue vs. Oklahoma St. OSU -16.5 OSU 43-30 Purdue + points
Capital One Georgia vs. Nebraska UGA -10 UGA 37-26 Georgia
Outback South Carolina vs. Michigan SC -5 SC 24-22 Michigan + points
Rose Wisconsin vs. Stanford Stanford -6.5 Wisconsin 21-20 Wisconsin + points
Orange NIU vs. Florida St. FSU -13 FSU 29-28 NIU + points
Sugar Louisville vs. Florida Florida -13.5 Florida 28-16 Louisville + points
Fiesta Oregon vs. Kansas St. Oregon -9.5 Oregon 41-32 KSU + points
Cotton Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma TAMU -4.5 TAMU 38-31 Texas A&M
BBVA Compass Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss Miss -3.5 Pitt 28-24 Pittsburgh + points
GoDaddy Kent St. vs. Arkansas St. ASU -4 ASU 33-32 Kent St. + points
BCS NCG Alabama vs. Notre Dame Bama -10 Bama 21-12 Notre Dame + points

Green in the "Projection" column indicates a correct pick straight up; green in the "Pick" column indicates a correct pick against the spread. You can guess what red means.