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By Will Harris
Special to ESPN.com
Will Oregon or Ohio State win the first ever College Football Playoff title game?
Capital One Bowl Mania game will be familiar to those who have played ESPN's College Pick 'em. The principle is the same: Pick the winner of each game during the bowl season (including the College Football Playoff national championship game), then rank the games in the order of your confidence in those picks. For each correct pick, you'll earn the confidence points you assigned to that game. The twist, of course, is that Capital One Bowl Mania requires you to rank 39 games in order of confidence rather than the usual 10. There is also a straight-scoring option, where each game counts the same.
You'll always be able to access your entry from the drop-down menu under the fantasy tab on the ESPN.com front page. Play against others from around the country or create your own private group to compete against your friends. The bowl season kicks off with five games on Dec. 20.
Handicapping bowl games can be both easier and trickier than regular season games. Each team is a known commodity with a full season's body of work to dissect. However, the true stakes of each contest are not always readily apparent.
College football is unique in that teams compete for something other than the sport's overall championship during the postseason. That "something" is different from bowl to bowl, and each game's prize is not always valued equally by the contestants. The college football postseason presents the only scenarios in the major sports where one team that views a game as a meaningless exhibition might be pitted against another team that views it as a championship-type opportunity.
If you understand what the game means to each team and which teams are highly motivated to prepare and play their best, you'll be well on your way to Bowl Mania success. You'll then know which teams will likely play better or worse than their usual performance baseline, and that's the hard part. But first you must establish that baseline. To decipher which team has the overall advantage, you'll need a comprehensive approach. Consider each team's credentials independently, then break down the matchup. Finally, put that information in the context of all the game's intangibles. Here's how, in five steps: ... MORE
If you need more help making your picks, check out the following:
• Insider bowl betting guide
• College Football PickCenter
• Football Power Index bowl projections
• Overview of all 38 bowls
• Schlabach: Ranking all 38 bowl games
• Complete 2014-15 bowl schedule
Join Our Capital One Bowl Mania Message Boards
Have a group you'd like others to join? Do you think the right teams were selected for the right games? Let yourself be heard or just see what others have to say on the Capital One Bowl Mania message board.