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Against All Odds: NCAA Bowls/NFL Wild Card Playoffs

From opening week of the NFL season through the Super Bowl, Mr. Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich, takes on his father, Michael J. Drakulich (MJD), in picking 10 games against the Vegas spread. Pitt, Penn State, and West Virginia, when they are playing, will always be on the slate among the five NCAA games chosen, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, covered by Mike Drakulich for, will be included alongside 4 other exciting NFL match-ups.

Happy New Year!

The best of the best in the Bowls are here, as New Year’s Day has the NCAA Semi-Finals on the menu, and the winner of Alabama vs Ohio State will meet the victor of Oregon v Florida State on Monday, January 12, at 8 pm. In all, 11 games are on the slate this week in the NCAA.

The NFL Wild Card Playoffs are here, too, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are back with a vengeance. What a stretch of football games we all have from today, all the way through Sunday night!

Last week, I posted a meager 10-10 record, with my dad besting me again at 11-9. The clock is running out for me to finish above .500.

Catch you all next week as we pick the NFL Divisional Playoffs, and the National Championship.


Lines as of 12/31/2014

NCAA Bowl Games (1/1/2015–1/4/2015)


New Year’s Day 1/1/2015 

Outback Bowl, Tampa Bay, FL.

(8-4) #19 Auburn (-7)  OVER #18 Wisconsin (10-3), 12:00 PM / MJD picks Wisconsin


Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX.

(11-1) #5 Baylor  (-2.5)  OVER  #8 Michigan State (10-2), 12:30 PM / MJD picks Michigan State


 Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL.

(10-3) #16 Missouri  (-4.5)  OVER  #25 Minnesota (8-4), 1:00 PM / MJD picks Missouri


National Championship Semi-Finals:

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA.

(13-0) #3 Florida State (+7.5)  OVER  #2 Oregon (12-1), 5:00 PM / MJD picks Florida State

Florida State is used to being disrespected all season, so they’re not surprised they’re +7.5 dogs in this one. Oregon, behind 2014 Heisman Winner Marcus Maritota, is superb and can light up the scoreboard…but so can the defending National Champions. The team that turns the ball over the least will be heading to the Title Game. Jameis Winston has yet to lose a game in college. Will this be the first time?

Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA.

(12-1) #4 Ohio State (+9)  OVER  #1 Alabama (12-1), 8:30 PM / MJD picks Ohio State

Ohio State is very good, but they have no business being in this game over TCU. In my opinion, it’s ridiculous  that there’s only a four team playoffs. When you have five power conferences, somebody is always going to get screwed. Let these teams decide the Title on the field, not in a board room. That said, the Buckeyes will give Alabama everything they have. +9 to Ohio State? I don’t think so Joel…

Friday, 1/2

Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, TX.

(6-6) Pitt (-3)  OVER  Houston (7-5), 12:00 PM / MJD picks Pitt

The Panthers have a new coach as they hired former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Pitt’s offensive coordinator, Joe Rudolph, will coach Pitt in the game. Pitt is healthy, and with the trio of QB Chad Voytik, WR Tyler Boyd, and RB James Conner, Pitt will overwhelm Houston. The future is very bright for Pitt. Watch out for this team in 2015.


Taxslayer Bowl, Jacksonville, FL.

(7-5) Iowa (+3.5)  OVER  Tennessee (6-6), 3:20 PM / MJD picks Iowa


Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, TX.

(9-3) #14 UCLA (-1.5)  OVER  #11 Kansas State (9-3), 6:45 PM / MJD picks Kansas State


Cactus Bowl, Tempe, AZ.

(8-5)  Washington (-6)  OVER  Oklahoma State (6-6), 10:15 PM / MJD picks Washington


Saturday, 1/3

Birmingham Bowl, Birmingham, AL.

(6-6) Florida (-6.5)  OVER  East Carolina (8-4), 12:00 PM /MJD picks Eastern Carolina


Sunday, 1/4

GoDaddy Bowl, Mobile, AL.

(8-4) Toledo (-4)  OVER  Arkansas State (7-5), 9:00 PM /MJD picks Toledo



NFL Wild Card Playoffs


(7-8-1) #4 Carolina (-6.5)  OVER  #5 Arizona (11-5), 4:35 PM / MJD picks Carolina

In a game that has the appeal of watching paint dry, somebody will be advancing to the NFL Divisional round. Arizona is decimated by injuries, and Carolina has come on strong of late. Look for Cam Newton and the Panthers to take care of business and send the wounded Cardinals home.


(11-5) #3 Pittsburgh (-3)  OVER  #6 Baltimore (10-6), 8:15 PM/ MJD picks Pittsburgh

The Steelers are holding their breath on the status of Le’Veon Bell, who is the most dynamic running back in the game. With or without Bell, I like what Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and the Steelers’ passing game are capable through the air against Baltimore. Last time out vs the Ravens, Big Ben tossed six touchdown passes. If the Steelers give Roethlisberger time in the pocket, Pittsburgh will tattoo the Ravens, who come into this game playing sub-par football the past month. The Steelers are 3-0 vs Baltimore in the playoffs.



(11-5) #4 Indianapolis (-3.5)  OVER  #5 Cincinnati (10-5-1), 1:55 PM/ MJD picks Indianapolis

This game can go either way, as both teams are capable of either being great, or terrible. Andrew Luck has struggled the past few weeks. Look for a close game and the Colts escaping with a lucky win.


(12-4) #3 Dallas (-6.5)  OVER  #6 Detroit (11-5), 4:40 PM/ MJD picks Detroit

The Steelers have Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. The only team that comes close to matching that is Dallas with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray. That trio should suffice against a Lions team that always is always close to breaking out, but never quite does.


*Home Teams in BOLD


Pick Results:

MJD: Last Week: 11-9 / Overall: 95-85-5    –

PSN: Last Week: 10-10 / Overall: 86-94-5    -9

Author Profile

Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides the best opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania.

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