Betting Stuff: How to bet every remaining bowl game
Betting Stuff is a regular sports gambling column here at Saturday Down South with a focus on college football wagering (though don’t be surprised to see some non-college football insights from time to time). Did you know that sports betting is now legal in Tennessee? You can view the best Tennessee sportsbook apps here.
For most of the season, I’ve opened my weekly column with a gambling history lesson or emerging trend to keep an eye on. But in the thick of bowl season, everyone is looking for actionable intel and plays. So far be it from me to fail the readers now. Here’s how I’m playing every single bowl game between Wednesday afternoon and Saturday night.
Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Wake Forest Under 51.5
The fly in the ointment for any successful under can be turnovers. They flip field position and in some cases create points instantly. Wake Forest simply doesn’t turn the ball over. The Demon Deacons’ 0.37 giveaways per game is one of the lowest figures in the last 30 years in college football. Wisconsin is one of the least explosive offenses in the country, and they rarely got burned by the big play when they were on defense. I foresee a game played in the lower 20s while wet and soggy conditions slow the pace of play in under-bettor’s favor.
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma-3 vs. Florida
If you read my column last week, I was all over OU+130 on the moneyline. The line has since moved 6.5-points, but there’s still value on the Sooners here. Trevon Grimes, Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts have all decided to focus on the NFL Draft and Jacob Copeland is out, too, which means the Florida offense suddenly has some major holes. The Pitts-Toney-Grimes trio accounted for 151 catches for 2,343 yards and 31 receiving touchdowns this season, and even without Pitts, this offense looked human against LSU. Given the recent personnel news, I would play this all the way up to OU-6.5, and would consider an OU-10 play at +185.
Arizona Bowl: Ball State vs. San Jose State Over 64
When you pair teams that feature explosive collections of skill-position talent with units that don’t get behind the sticks or turn the ball over, you have a relatively safe over bet. San Jose State’s receiving corps, in particular, will be an issue for a suspect Ball State secondary that finished 118th against the pass this season. Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither combine to average 11 receptions, 181 yards and a touchdown per game and had little trouble giving Boise State’s secondary fits. Boise fielded one of the best Group of Five secondaries before running into SJSU, so I have little doubt that they’ll do the same to the Cardinals.
Armed Forces Bowl: Tulsa vs. Mississippi State+2.5
An overused cliche in the sports gambling world is that “Vegas is sending a message” with certain spreads. But in this case, the fact that Mississippi State is just a short underdog after a disastrous 3-7 campaign, I have to agree … this message here is that MSU is the team to back in this spot. Tulsa is down the best linebacker in the country for my money (Zaven Collins) and the Bulldogs were decidedly competitive once Will Rogers took the reins (323 ypg, last 4 starts). I’ll take the bait and ride with the MSU moneyline.
Liberty Bowl: West Virginia vs. Army+7
As I pointed out last week, the Service Academies are 20-9 ATS in bowl games since 2003. Army is 4-0 in bowl game straight up during that stretch and were thrilled to receive an invite this time around. Don’t let this year’s ugly Army-Navy game fool you. When Army gets a chance to carve up a defense without triple-option experience, they often gut teams. Under head coach Jeff Monken, Army is 3-0 SU and ATS in bowl games and his offenses average 475 (!!) rushing yards per game. Gimme the Cadets.
Peach Bowl: Georgia-7 vs. Cincinnati
I have total respect for Cincinnati and head coach Luke Fickell, but this is setting up like the January 2008 Sugar Bowl, in my opinion. Hawai’i was ranked high enough to crash the BCS party after an undefeated 2007 campaign and was “rewarded” with a Georgia team that was red hot and mad as hell. Colt Brennan and the ‘Bows were steamrolled on the Superdome Carpet and I foresee a similar fate for Desmond Ridder in this spot. To make matters worse for UC, Georgia is just a different animal now that JT Daniels is running the show. Cincy will hold their own for three quarters, but Georgia’s offense will be too much in the final 15.
Citrus Bowl: Northwestern-3 vs. Auburn
Just like some folks always take two 12-5 upsets when filling out their March Madness brackets, I never miss an opportunity to fade a team coming off of a conference championship game loss. Things are complicated by the head coaching switch on The Plains, but to me that means either the Auburn kids will play their hearts out in a pseudo audition or pack it up and wait for spring ball. I’ll probably hedge by taking two separate alternate lines: NW-10 (+225) and Auburn-7 (+375). That leaves a massive middle to get caught in, but I really believe we’re in for a blowout either way.
Rose Bowl: Alabama-20.5 vs. Notre Dame
Alabama has been a juggernaut in so many ways this season, but its performance against the spread in the 1st half really stands out. Week after week they kept covering big 1st-half numbers, forcing books to slant their 1st-half spreads (which are usually just ½ the full game spread) in favor of the Crimson Tide’s opponents. This game is no different, with a full game spread of 20.5 shifting into a -14.5 1st-half number. It’s a steep price in a national semifinal, but I’m willing to pay it. Roll Tide.
Sugar Bowl: Clemson vs. Ohio State+7.5
If you track lookahead lines, this game was hovering around Clemson-2 to Clemson-4 for most of the season. But the combination of Clemson blowing out Notre Dame, and Ohio State struggling through the air against Northwestern, was enough to shoot this spread past a touchdown in favor of the Tigers. That’s too many points for an Ohio State offense that has the capacity (with a full deck) to play at an elite level. I’ll take the points and sprinkle a .5 unit on the moneyline in this spot.
Gator Bowl: Kentucky vs. NC State Under 50.5
If you believe in UK’s ability to muck up games, this is the one to play the under. When Mark Stoops is an underdog, UK unders have hit 58% of the time. NC State, meanwhile, started the season playing very high scoring games week in and week out, but has since come back down to earth. Under has paid out in 3 of the Wolfpack’s last 4 games, including a pair of sub-37 point contests. I’ll stick with that trend and an opponent that wants to beat NC State in an ugly game.
Outback Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Indiana Over 65.5
Ole Miss games went over the closing number 6 out of 9 times this season, but for the season they played above the Vegas total by an average of 10.9 points per game. That’s incredibly rare for a Power Conference team to consistently blow past expectations like that. The Rebels are just the second P5 team to beat the Vegas total by double digits over the course of a season since 2017. There’s reasonable concern that Indiana will go into a shell without Michael Penix Jr., but I believe the extended layoff has given their staff time to craft an effective enough gameplan for Jack Tuttle to put up some points here.
Fiesta Bowl: Iowa State vs. Oregon+4
Iowa State suffered a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and have had to deal with non-stop rumors about their head coach leaving for greener pastures. Oregon is in a more stable position and is excited to return to a major bowl game for the second straight season. I loved what I saw from Tyler Shough this season and I think the Anthony Brown short-yardage package has the potential to help the Ducks pull the outright upset in this spot.
Orange Bowl: Texas A&M-7.5 vs. North Carolina
As I mentioned in the Citrus Bowl, motivation can be difficult to pin down. But if A&M comes out angry in the wake of its CFP snub and takes advantage of a UNC team playing without several key playmakers, this thing could get really ugly. I’m going to bump this line all the way up to the -20 range which could return +300 on my money.
For the Parlay inclined
If you’re looking for an interesting parlay with big payout upside to get you back in the black, here’s what I had in mind:
- Ohio State ML+245
- Oklahoma-6.5 (+125)
I’m more bullish than most on the Buckeyes, but the timing of this parlay works out nicely. If you can connect on the first two games you’ll have at least four hours to hedge out before the kickoff of Ohio State-Clemson on Friday night.