Oct 25, 2014; Hattiesburg, MS, USA; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs head coach Skip Holtz celebrates their win against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Louisiana Tech won, 31-20. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
While everyone is done opening their Christmas gifts, here come the Pinstripe Bowl warm-up acts. The December 26 college bowl picks involve three games: the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit as well as the Heart of Dallas Bowl and the St. Petersburg Bowl; you should be able to guess where those are.
The Quick Lane involves an ACC program, and thankfully, it is not us. So does the St. Petersburg Bowl, which took in the NC State Wolfpack. We at Boston College got the bowl we wanted, and the Wolfpack and UNC Tar Heels ended up where they ended up.
Will there be high-fives all around in the Greensboro home office on December 26, or will the conference take a black eye or two as they seek to have a strong bowl season?
December 26 College Bowl Picks: Heart of Dallas Bowl
Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech (-6) | Dallas, TX | 1pm ET (ESPN)
The first game is probably the least interesting of the three matchups on Sunday from any sort of Boston College or ACC rooting perspective. The good news is that it’s a 1:00 kickoff, and at that point, you may still be immersed in trying to chase the remaining relatives out of your house so you can get ready for the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday.
One of the first things people will notice about the Illinois Fighting Illini is that they are not a good team. 6-6 in a conference like the Big Ten is going to get you into a bowl game 24 times out of 25, but their list of successes is brief and unremarkable.
Illinois has the number 83-ranked offense and the 109th-ranked defense, as well as the 114th-ranked rushing offense. They played two ranked teams this season and got blown out by both, while their two best wins of the year were narrow victories over Minnesota and Penn State. Notably, all of their losses were by double digits.
On the other hand, Louisiana Tech seems in every way like the better team, except for them also getting blown out by the two ranked teams they faced. Aside from that, their 13th-ranked offense accumulated many of those stats thanks to their miserable conference. Six times they exceeded 40 points, including 76 against Rice on November 29.
Illinois played the tougher schedule in the tougher conference, but their defense is scary from a picks perspective. Cody Sokol outduels Wes Lunt in the quarterback battle as Louisiana Tech covers the spread with ease.
Louisiana Tech -6