The Black Heart Gold Blogpoll Bowl Challenge: December 26-28

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This is not going well.

After a regular season where we thought we were doing pretty well, the first week of the bowl season was a bloodbath. As a refresher, we used three years of BHGPoll data to regress game results in the hope of finding a pattern. We then applied our new formula to the upcoming bowl games and (virtually) bet them based on the difference between our expected results and the point spread.

We won one game. We're down $190.

That doesn't mean we're not going to see this out, because there's plenty of opportunity for us to get back to even or something close to it. But yeah, it's starting to look like our hypothesis isn't going to play out.

LITTLE CAESARS BOWL
Western Kentucky (-6) vs. Central Michigan
Our projection: Western Kentucky -7
Our wager: Western Kentucky $10

This has double trouble written all over it: Not only is Central Michigan playing in its own backyard, but it's playing a team without its program-changing head coach. It's changes like this -- coaching changes, semi-home games, etc. -- that make bowl games so difficult to project, which is why it's obvious that these contests six weeks after the end of the regular season should absolutely determine who is the national champion.

MILITARY BOWL
San Jose St. (-7) vs. Bowling Green
Our projection: SJSU -11.5
Our wager: SJSU $45

Another game, another overachieving mid-major with a departed head coach. SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre, who took this program from 1-11 to 10-2 in three seasons, is now at Colorado (Rod Caragher, who was hired for the job, but defensive coordinator Kent Baer will be the interim coach Thursday). Bowling Green still has its coach, and is giving a lot of points. I don't like anything so far.

BELK BOWL
Cincinnati (-7) vs. Duke
Our projection: Cincinnati -14
Our wager: Cincinnati $70

Hey, guess what? Another temporary head coach! I still love this play, though, especially because the line started at Cinci -10.5 and moved down to -7, giving us even more room to be complete contrarians. Can you sense my sarcasm?

HOLIDAY BOWL
UCLA (-1) vs. Baylor
Our projection: UCLA -3.5
Our wager: UCLA $25

Baylor really found its form late in the year, beating Kansas State and Oklahoma State en route to bowl eligibility. UCLA damn near made the Rose Bowl and is playing 150 miles from home. And just how bad are the Pac-12's bowl tie-ins that their runner-up is playing here? Purdue is playing on New Year's Day, people.

INDEPENDENCE BOWL
Louisiana-Monroe (-7) vs. Ohio
Our projection: Louisiana-Monroe -2
Our wager: Ohio $50

Well, look: An underdog. Too bad it's a road dog, as the game is in Shreveport, 111 miles from ULM's campus. Not much more to say here: ULM beat Arkansas, beat Western Kentucky, lost to everyone else with a pulse, and needed overtime to beat Florida International in the season's final week. Ohio lost three of their last four after a start that included a win at Penn State. This game could be a mess.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
Virginia Tech (-2.5) vs. Rutgers
Our projection: Rutgers -7
Our wager: Rutgers $95

I do genuinely love this game. Rutgers has the better record, the better stats, the more visible on-field talent, the quarterback who isn't Logan Thomas, the conference that beats the tar out of the other conference. There is no reason to take Virginia Tech beyond the fact that they are Virginia Tech and the other team is Rutgers. Can't wait to watch our future most hated rival win a bowl game that's so poorly named that PROPERTY OF ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT Bowl can't be far behind.

MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS
Texas Tech (-13) vs. Minnesota
Our projection: Texas Tech -9
Our wager: Minnesota $40

I never want to be in a position where I'm betting on Minnesota, but I can think of worse circumstances to be taking the Gophers. Tommy Tuberville is gone at Tech, the Red Raiders lost four of their last five, and the only Tech win since October 20 was an overtime victory over Kansas. In fact, Tech hasn't won a game in regulation since their 49-14 win over West Virginia sent them into orbit. It turned out neither team was particularly good. Just like this game.

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