For the fourth year now, I have applied a score projection formula to the bowl season. It has been both pretty good and pretty consistent.
In 2010, it went 23-12 straight up and 19-14-2 against the spread. In 2011, it went 22-13 straight up and 20-14-1 against the spread. Last year, it went 24-11 straight up and 19-14-2 against the spread. In total, that's 69-36 (.657) straight up and 58-42-5 against the spread (.576).
You can see how it works by following the link in the first paragraph up there, but it's basically a way to predict games based on points score and points allowed with a fairly crude adjustment for opponent. I've attempted to fancy it up to make it less crude over the years, but I've found that the simpler method always wins. Go figure. If you're looking for a more intellectually rigorous (and apparently inconsistent), try Bill Connelly's F/+ picks.
This year, I am making these my entry into the Yahoo! bowl pick 'em group (don't delay, join today!). The contest doesn't use point spreads, but it does use confidence points. To deal with that, I lined the games up by margin of victory and gave the most confidence points to the largest projected MOV and went on down. See if your judgment is better than that of a systems administrator's dodgy math work.
The way to read this table is that the "Projection" column covers the games straight up and the "Pick" column covers the games against the spread. In the latter, I like to put "Team + points" to emphasize when the system picks an underdog. There is no special meaning beyond that. The colors, as they appear, will be self explanatory. The spreads are from 5dimes as reported here, and they reflect the lines as of the evening of December 16 when I finished the projections and got to doing this writeup.
|New Mexico||Washington State vs. Colorado State||WSU -4.5||CSU 36-29||CSU + points|
|Las Vegas||Fresno State vs. USC||USC -7||Fresno 35-29||Fresno + points|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Buffalo vs. San Diego State||Buffalo -1||Buffalo 32-21||Buffalo|
|New Orleans||Tulane vs. UL-Lafayette||Tulane -1||Tulane 27-25||Tulane|
|St. Petersburg||Ohio vs. East Carolina||ECU -13.5||ECU 41-26||ECU|
|Hawaii||Boise State vs. Oregon State||OSU -3||BSU 36-27||BSU + points|
|Little Caesars||Pitt vs. Bowling Green||BGSU -5||BGSU 33-14||BGSU|
|Poinsettia||Utah State vs. NIU||NIU -1.5||NIU 28-26||NIU|
|Military||Marshall vs. Maryland||Marshall -2.5||Marshall 41-23||Marshall|
|Texas||Syracuse vs. Minnesota||Minn -4||Minn 26-16||Minnesota|
|Fight Hunger||BYU vs. Washington||UW -3||UW 29-25||UW|
|Pinstripe||Rutgers vs. Notre Dame||ND -15||ND 33-21||Rutgers + points|
|Belk||Cincinnati vs. UNC||UNC -3||Cincy 27-24||Cincy + points|
|Russell Athletic||Miami (FL) vs. Louisville||UL -3||UL 35-21||Louisville|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Michigan vs. Kansas State||KSU -3.5||KSU 33-29||K-State|
|Armed Forces||MTSU vs. Navy||Navy -6||Navy 30-28||MTSU + points|
|Music City||Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech||Miss -3||Miss 29-27||GT + points|
|Alamo||Oregon vs. Texas||Oregon -13.5||Oregon 40-26||Oregon|
|Holiday||Arizona State vs. Texas Tech||ASU -14||ASU 45-32||TTU + points|
|Advocare V100||Arizona vs. Boston College||Zona -7.5||Zona 33-27||BC + points|
|Sun||Virginia Tech vs. UCLA||UCLA -7||UCLA 24.45-17.43||UCLA|
|Liberty||Rice vs. Mississippi State||MSU -7||Rice 26-22||Rice + points|
|Chick-fil-A||Duke vs. Texas A&M||A&M -12||A&M 41-33||Duke + points|
|Gator||Nebraska vs. Georgia||UGA -8.5||UGA 37-32||NU + points|
|Heart of Dallas||UNLV vs. North Texas||UNT -6.5||UNT 35-20||North Texas|
|Outback||Iowa vs. LSU||LSU -7||LSU 27-23||Iowa + points|
|Capital One||Wisconsin vs. South Carolina||Wisc -1||Wisc 27-20||Wisc|
|Rose||Stanford vs. Michigan State||Stan -5||Stan 17-16||MSU + points|
|Fiesta||UCF vs. Baylor||Baylor -17||Baylor 45.47-28.37||Baylor|
|Sugar||Oklahoma vs. Alabama||Bama -15.5||Bama 30-16||OU + points|
|Cotton||Oklahoma State vs. Missouri||Mizzou -1||OSU 32-30||OSU + points|
|Orange||Clemson vs. Ohio State||OSU -2.5||OSU 39-34||Ohio State|
|BBVA Compass||Vanderbilt vs. Houston||VU -2.5||UH 32-21||UH + points|
|GoDaddy||Arkansas State vs. Ball State||BSU -8.5||BSU 38-24||BSU|
|BCSNCG||Auburn vs. Florida State||FSU -8.5||FSU 49-24||FSU|
The SEC doesn't come out of this looking so great, with a projected 5-5 record. It's really bad in the national title game, as the margin of victory there is the largest of bowl season by a touchdown. On the latter point, I will refer you to my SEC Championship Game post where I emphasize that the details of the formula make it bad for projecting games with teams like this year's FSU and Auburn. It picked Missouri back then, for what it's worth.