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Harry’s College Six Pack of Plays for Saturday

Harry's College Six Pack

This week starts bowl season, but it also provides us with some intriguing college basketball matchups on neutral sites. I’ve done my homework and hopefully with some winning plays this weekend in college football and basketball I can make your pockets heavier with some more Christmas money to spend. Here are my bullet points and predictions for this Saturday’s full day of action.

College Football

Cure Bowl: Liberty vs Georgia Southern -5

1. The Liberty Flames are seventh-worst in the nation against the run and Georgia Southern, with the No. 18 ground attack in the country at 261 yards per game, has won six of its last eight games.

2. Georgia Southern beat conference champ Appalachian State on the road and lost at Minnesota by only a field goal, while Liberty beat the likes of Hampton, Maine, UMass and New Mexico State (twice). This game seems like a mismatch on paper.

3. Georgia Southern should be able to pound the ball down Liberty’s throats. It had three players go for over 650 yards on the ground this season (totaling 23 rushing TDs combined) and on defense is led by senior linebacker Rashad Byrd, who had 117 tackles, two sacks and two picks, including a pick-six.

Prediction: Georgia Southern 34, Liberty 20

Boca Raton Bowl: SMU vs FAU OVER 71

1. Florida Atlantic gets to play this game in its backyard and will be used to the environment. The Owls finished the season winning six games in a row and averaged 39 points per game over that span. Florida Atlantic was led by QB Chris Robison (28 total TDs) and WR Harrison Bryant, who had over 1,000 yards receiving.

2. SMU was second in the American Athletic Conference with 516 points and finished 12th in the nation in total yards.

3. SMU was led by QB Shane Buechele, who had over 3,600 yards passing and 35 total touchdowns. Mustangs RB Xavier Jones had 23 total touchdowns and WR James Proche had over 1,100 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns. This game should be an offensive display with both teams going up and down the field constantly.

Prediction: SMU 41, Florida Atlantic 37

New Orleans Bowl: UAB vs Appalachian State -17

1. UAB lost in the Conference USA championship game by 43 points to Florida Atlantic and lost by an average of 22 points in its other three defeats.

2. As a unit, the Blazers threw more interceptions than touchdown passes for the season.

3. Appalachian State scored 512 points and gave up just 263 this season. The Mountaineers beat North Carolina (UNC barely lost to Clemson) and South Carolina (the Gamecocks beat Georgia on the road in Athens) on the road this year. RB Darrynton Evans had over 1,300 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. The Mountaineers had three players record 110 or more tackles and those three players combined for 9.5 sacks and three interceptions. This Appalachian State team played a much tougher schedule and has flat-out better players than UAB.

Prediction: Appalachian State 49, UAB 17

College Basketball

No. 1 Kansas 9-1 vs No. 18 Villanova 8-2

The Jayhawks’ only loss came by two points on a neutral court against Duke. Kansas is also limiting opponents to just 34 percent shooting from three-point range but this game is in Philadelphia and the Wildcats need a statement victory. Villanova is led by Saddiq Bey and Collin Gillespie, who average a combined 31 points per game and have made 37 three-pointers. Whatever the point spread is, take the Wildcats and ride them in an upset of No. 1 Kansas. This is the big-time statement win Villanova and the Big East need.

Prediction: Villanova 66, Kansas 63

No. 5 Ohio State 9-1 vs No. 6 Kentucky 8-1

This should be a great game in the desert between two solid hoops programs. Kentucky has five players averaging 10 or more points through nine games. The Wildcats are led by Nick Richards, who is getting 14 points, eight rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Before Saturday’s clash with the Buckeyes, Kentucky will play the Utah Utes in Las Vegas on Wednesday, so maybe a little long of a stay in Sin City might not be great for college kids, but we will see. The Buckeyes are loaded and rank 13th in the nation in three-point field-goal percentage at 41 percent. Ohio State has also played and beaten Villanova, North Carolina and Penn State (Penn State beat Maryland) in impressive fashion. On a neutral court, Ohio State may just have too much firepower, especially in the second half, vs Kentucky and will win this one going away.

Prediction: Ohio State 82, Kentucky 71

No. 13 Dayton 8-1 vs Colorado 8-2

Both of these teams have a common opponent early in the season. They both fell to Kansas, with Dayton losing to the Jayhawks in an epic overtime game in the Maui Invitational championship game for its only loss of the season. Dayton leads the nation with an average of 21 assists per game, almost two full assists more than second-place Michigan State. The Flyers are led by Obi Toppin (21 ppg) and Trey Landers, who are both shooting over 63 percent from the field. The Buffaloes have had a nice start but have scored more than 76 points just once this season, so Dayton should be too much for them offensively in Chicago. Guard Tyler Bey leads Colorado not only in scoring but in rebounds as well. The Buffaloes’ next-closest forward or center when it comes to rebounding is Evan Battey, who gets just six a game. That will prove to be the difference in the contest as I expect Dayton to control the boards and second-chance points.

Prediction: Dayton 72, Colorado 59