Commentary

Picking winners for early bowl games

Evaluating upset odds for Boise State-ASU and others from the first week of bowls

Updated: December 15, 2011, 5:03 PM ET
By Will Harris | ESPN Insider
TY Hilton/Kellen MooreIcon SMIFIU's T.Y. Hilton and Boise's Kellen Moore are both playing in the first week of bowl games.

Every week during the season, Will Harris conspires with the computers (using TeamRankings' game predictor) and the wiseguys to evaluate the upset possibilities in college football's most compelling games and give his picks for who'll come out on top.

Upset Picks finished one game over .500 against the spread this season, and now we turn our attention to the bowls. There aren't many large favorites this season, with only four teams laying double digits and with 21 of the 35 games sporting prices between 1.5 and 3.5.

We'll break down all the matchups in stages as we go through the postseason, looking for mismatches and live dogs.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: TCU Horned Frogs vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Dec. 21

TCU is favored by 10.5 points.
TeamRankings win odds for Louisiana Tech: 23 percent
Watch | Pick Center analysis

For Louisiana Tech, the Poinsettia is a coveted destination reserved for the WAC champion. But for a TCU team that earned Rose and Fiesta berths the past two seasons, it's a ho-hum assignment that the Frogs already have conquered twice in the past five years. The TCU defense is still very good, but the 21 points per game allowed are its most since 2004. This is a less experienced group that's nowhere near the standards of the shutdown units of the past three seasons.

A quarterback change to Colby Cameron at midseason sparked the passing game as Louisiana Tech won and covered seven straight. The Bulldogs are hurting at running back, but Cameron can move the chains with his legs, and the Frogs have struggled with mobile quarterbacks this season. More importantly, Tech has the run defense to slow TCU's three-headed tailback monster as well as standout special teams that won't let TCU run away with the game when its offense isn't on the field.