Burns 2008 Motor City Bowl Picks

Don’t miss any more of the bowl picks provided by handicapper Ben Burns.  He has been tearing up on the bowl game odds for years and is getting better and better with age.  Take a look at his Motor City Bowl pick on Florida Atlantic and why he saw this was an easy cash:

I’m taking the points with FLORIDA ATLANTIC. I successfully played on Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl last season. The Chippewas were facing Purdue. The Boilermakers had a “bigger name” and a potent offense and closed as 8.5 point favorites. I knew the Chippewas had a powerful offense of their own though and I felt the line was extremely generous. The Boilermakers ended up winning. However, they did so by only three points (51-48) meaning that Central Michigan earned the cover.

The Chippewas are back in the Motor City Bowl but this year their role has been reversed. This time, they’re the “bigger name” and the favored team. Like last year, in my opinion, the line is generous and we’re getting excellent value with the lesser known underdog.

Central Michigan has an an excellent quarterback and a potent passing attack. For the season, the Chippewas averaged 30.2 points. They also gave up a whopping 30.7 though, including an ugly 37 (463.3 total yards!) when playing on the road. Giving up 56 points at Georgia early in the year is “no big deal,” but the Chippewas gave up 56 at lowly Eastern Michigan (3-9) in their regular season finale, losing 56-52 and that’s a bad sign. Granted, the Chippewas were in “letdown mode” for the loss at Eastern Michigan as they’d just lost a tough one in a very important game vs. Ball State the previous week. That being said, good defenses simply don’t give up 56 points at Eastern Michigan, regardless of the situation.

Florida Atlantic comes in with a modest 6-6 record and is admittedly rather fortunate to be here. The Owls are a lot more dangerous than most people believe though. This is a team that was expected to be very strong this year but which stumbled out of the gate. Rather than quit, the resilient Owls got stronger and they closed out their season by winning five of their last six games, scoring 40 or more in three of their final four. While he’s not as well known as Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour, the Owls have an excellent quarterback of their own in Rusty Smith. Smith struggled early in the season when he wasn’t 100%. However, over the last six games, he has completed 116-of-199 passes for 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns. He’s got a decent running back, as Charles Pierre can top 1000 yards for the season with a decent game tonight. The defense has a true star in Frantz Joseph. Note that Joseph finished second in the nation in tackles with 141. It should also be noted that the Owls’ Coach Howard Schnellenberger is a perfect 5-0 in bowl games, including last year’s 44-27 win over Memphis in the New Orleans bowl.

Central Michigan has seen each of its last five games decided by a touchdown or less with those games being decided by an average margin of only 3.6 points. Looking back further and we find that the Chippewas have seen 10 straight games decided by 10 points or less. I expect this one to come down to the wire once again and am grabbing the points. *Best Bet