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Northwestern a bargain laying single digits over Kentucky

Updated December 22, 2017 - 7:30 pm

I made Northwestern a 14-point favorite for its Music City Bowl matchup against Kentucky. The line is inexplicably 7½ points, so let’s pounce on the Big Ten school in what’s my strongest opinion of the postseason.

Northwestern has been college football’s best-kept secret in October and November. Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s squad has won seven in a row straight up and against the spread, with each victory by at least seven points.

Kentucky is mired in a 1-7 ATS slump and has lost four of its past six games outright. The victories were against Vanderbilt and Tennessee, who went a combined 1-15 in Southeastern Conference play.

Running back Bennie Snell garnered first-team All-SEC honors for Kentucky, but he will be facing a Northwestern defense that’s ranked ninth in the nation against the run and 19th in scoring defense (19.8 points per game).

Kentucky has produced only one TD pass in the past six games, and has been outscored 86-30 in its past two games. Northwestern has outscored its past two foes by a combined score of 81-7.

Northwestern is the vastly superior team. Look for it to win by at least two TDs in the game, which will be played Friday.

Four more plays (home team in CAPS):

South Florida-Texas Tech (Over 65½), Birmingham Bowl, Saturday: I made this number 72. We have two outstanding QBs in the Red Raiders’ Nic Shimonek and the Bulls’ Quinton Flowers. Shimonek has thrown 30 TD passes with eight interceptions. Flowers has thrown for 21 TDs with six interceptions, and he’s also rushed for 972 yards and 10 TDs.

Missouri (-2½) over Texas, Texas Bowl, Wednesday: The Tigers, riding a 7-1 ATS run, have won six straight games, and five have been by at least 29 points. Drew Lock has thrown 33 TD passes and only six interceptions during the win streak. The Longhorns have lost four of their past seven and are mired in a 1-3 ATS slump. Texas is ranked No. 108 of 130 FBS teams in pass defense and will be without starting safety DeShon Elliott, who will miss the game to stay healthy for the NFL draft. Starting cornerback Holton Hill also is out with an injury.

Washington State (-1) over Michigan State, Holiday Bowl, Thursday: The Cougars are 5-2 against teams that made the postseason, and the Spartans went 3-3. We have a huge advantage at quarterback with Luke Falk, who has a 119-to-39 career TD-to-interception ratio. Washington State is gunning for its first 10-win season in Mike Leach’s tenure.

Memphis-Iowa State (Over 66½), Liberty Bowl, Dec. 30: The over is 9-3 overall for Memphis, which has seen its games average scores of 81.1 points. The over has hit in five of the Tigers’ past six games. Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson has thrown for 36 TDs with nine interceptions. The Tigers also have the best kick returner in the country in Tony Pollard, who has four special-teams TDs.

Last week: 3-2 against the spread

Season: 41-34-2

Brian Edwards of VegasInsider.com and BrianEdwardsSports.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Follow @vegasbedwards on Twitter.

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