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September 16, 2014

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Bowl Pick’em Against the Spread Entry 1

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNR’s Jordan Hanson, left, and Charles Garrett, right, celebrate linebacker Dray Bell’s interception during their game against Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 at Sam Boyd Stadium. UNR came from behind and won the game, for the eighth consecutive time, 42-37.

It would take at least five sets of hands to count all the NFL regular-season betting contests offered by sports books around town.

One index finger is all that’s needed when it comes to the college football bowl season. William Hill is the lone Las Vegas sports book operator jumping into the bowl contest game, running the first ever “20/20 college bowl challenge.”

For $20, bettors pick 20 of the 35 bowl games against the spread. First-place earns a minimum of $10,000, with more depending on the number of participants.

William Hill throws in a $50,000 bonus if anyone can go a perfect 20-for-20.

“This contest is not just one-of-a-kind, but it will be fun because bowl season is just so unpredictable,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, William Hill spokesman and veteran oddsmaker. “Plus, a $20 bill gets you action for more than three weeks, which is hard to top.”

There’s no limit on entries, which are accepted up until the kickoff of the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29, when 20 games remain.

“This bowl contest, it’s something we’ve thought about for a while,” Vaccaro said.

At Talking Points, we’re just thrilled someone chose to join the party. We’ve analyzed and picked every bowl game against the spread for the past two years with positive results.

Last year, our final tally against the number for bowl season was 20-14-1. We’re much more proud of that mark than this regular season’s disappointing 44-43-2 mark in the blog.

Redemption starts Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M., and Boise, Idaho, with this year’s first two bowl games. Find picks and a short preview of the first two bowls below and check back for the same on every game until the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: UNR +9.5 at Arizona; over/under 76.5

10 a.m. Saturday, University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M.

Betting on either of these teams sounds about as appetizing as eating some of the dishes on “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.” The offenses have bettors patting themselves on the back one second before the defenses get on the field and switch it to kicking themselves in the leg. The top two rushers in the nation, Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and UNR’s Stefphon Johnson, square off here. The Wolf Pack have been one of the worst teams to bet on in the nation with a 3-9 against-the-spread record. But they covered in their finale against Boise State and actually possess the slightly less pathetic defense.

Pick: UNR +9.5

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Toledo +10.5 at Utah State; over/under: 58.5

1:30 p.m. Saturday, Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho

The most profitable team of the 2012 season takes to the blue turf in this afternoon affair. Utah State was one point away — it beat Idaho by 36 points as a 37-point favorite — from a flawless against-the-spread record. Toledo was a not-so-bad 7-5 versus the number, including 4-0 as an underdog. All the pressure is on Utah State as it looks to win only the second bowl in school history to validate its best season ever. But Toledo running back David Fluellen could make a case for being the best player on the field, with apologies to Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Rockets should be able to keep it close.

Pick: Toledo +10.5

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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