We’ve split out four bowl bets thus far, as Boston College’s collapse against Penn State last week ruined what would’ve been a very profitable start to bowl season. Never fear, though– we’ve got four more games on deck, so let’s ring in the New Year with some winners:
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl Thursday 1/1, 6:00pm GMT
Minnesota vs. Missouri
Line: Missouri -4.5 (BetVictor)
The Missouri Tigers won the SEC East for the second consecutive year, an impressive feat for a program that was an also-ran in the Big 12. However, the East has been down (and that’s an understatement) in recent years, and the fact that Mizzou was able to win the division twice only illustrates that. Another thing that Missouri’s appearances in the SEC Championship Game have done is raise their national profile, which has in turn inflated their value in the betting marketplace. The facts are this: Missouri is an overrated team with a bad offense (104th nationally in total offense) and a defense that’s can’t hold up in the trenches against big, physical, run-first teams. In other words, teams like Minnesota. The Gophers average nearly 225 rushing yards per game and they should have their way with the Missouri front seven, which is fairly useless when they aren’t rushing the passer (something they do very well). The wrong team may be favored here– Minnesota could win this one outright– but I’m not complaining. Gimmie those points.
Allstate Sugar Bowl/Playoff semifinal Friday 1/2, 1:30am GMT
Alabama vs. Ohio State
Line: Alabama -8.5 (BetVictor)
I think there’s value in one of the two College Football Playoff games, as Alabama is simply a much, much better team than Ohio State. Yes, I realize that no one likes laying more than a touchdown in situations like this– everything on the line, both teams having nearly a month to prepare, etc.– but in this case the line is warranted. It’s easy to glaze over some of Ohio State’s regular season struggles in light of their dominating performance in the Big Ten Championship game, but it would be unwise to do so. The Buckeyes had trouble passing the football even when they had their top two quarterbacks healthy, and now that they’re down to 3rd-stringer Cardale Jones the passing attack is even more rudimentary. Plus, their defense surrendered nearly 140 rushing yards per game this season, which was problematic at times in Big Ten play and will most definitely be an issue against Alabama’s latest tandem of NFL-caliber running backs, T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry. And remember– this year’s Alabama offense is about much more than the running game. Wideout Amari Cooper could be the best offensive player in all of college football, and the Tide average nearly 500 total yards and 37 points per game. This one will not be close. Alabama in a rout.
Taxslayer Bowl Friday 1/2, 8:20pm GMT
Iowa vs. Tennessee
Line: Tennessee -3.5 (William Hill)
Two middling teams face off in the newly-crowned Taxslayer Bowl (formerly the Gator Bowl), but I believe one team is significantly better than the other. Tennessee played some good football down the stretch, winning three of their last 4 games and nearly beating SEC East champ Missouri in the other. They have a stout defense that held six opponents below 20 points this season and allowed fewer than 200 passing yards per game, and their offense came alive when sophomore quarterback Josh Dobbs was inserted into the lineup. Dobbs is a dual threat who is especially adept as a runner, and the Iowa defense has struggled with mobile quarterbacks this season. That’s not the only issue for the Hawkeyes, either– they’ve lost 4 of their past 6 games and haven’t beaten an FBS (formerly Division 1-A) team with a winning record all year. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has an impressive bowl record against SEC opponents, but his team won’t be up to the task this time around. I’m on Tennessee here.
Ticketcity Cactus Bowl Saturday 1/3, 3:15am GMT
Washington vs. Oklahoma State
Line: Washington -5.5 (William Hill)
The Cowboys are lucky to be here– needing a season-ending win over arch-rival Oklahoma to clinch bowl eligibility, things were looking bleak: the Sooners led by a touchdown with less than a minute remaining. However, the “Bedlam” rivalry lived up to its nickname, as Oklahoma State’s Tyreek Hill returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown and the Cowboys went on to win. Hill is the team’s most explosive player and an All-Big 12 performer, so it was fitting that he was the one to deliver the decisive blow in the Oklahoma game. Unfortunately, though, Hill was subsequently arrested for punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend and has been dismissed from the program. That was the latest incident in a rough year for Mike Gundy’s Cowboys, a year that included a season-ending injury to the starting quarterback, a 5-game losing steak that lasted throughout most of October and November, and some truly atrocious defensive performances. Oklahoma State ranks 96th nationally in yards allowed, 113th in passing defense, and 100th in points allowed. They just haven’t been able to stop anybody, and they’ll have trouble with a Washington offense that is averaging over 35 points and nearly 200 rushing yards per game. The Huskies aren’t particularly good on defense either, but they’re much better on that side of the ball than Oklahoma State. Washington is favored for a reason here, and I don’t think the number is big enough.
Recommended Bets (1-3 unit scale)
1 unit Minnesota +4.5 at 1.91 (BetVictor)
1 unit Alabama -8.5 at 1.91 (BetVictor)
1 unit Tennessee -3.5 at 1.95 (William Hill)
1 unit Washington -5.5 at 1.91 (William Hill)