ATSSkinner | Sun 24/12/2017 - 05:13 EST

College Football Bowl Predictions (Dec 26-30)

College Football Bowl Predictions (Dec 26-30)

Plethora Of Bowl Games During Final Week Of December

Twenty college football games in the span of five days means it's going to be a busy week for sportsbooks and bettors alike, and all of these games are like the appetizer before the CFB Playoff games start on January 1st. The 20 different Bowl games feature some elite matchups across the board and with Top 25 ranked teams making appearances on a near daily basis, there will be no shortage of opinions on nearly all of these games.

With that in mind, there are about a handful of games during this period of days that I believe are the better bets out there for the whole CFB Bowl season and hopefully we can all start 2018 with a few extra units in our bankrolls. So let's get right to the plays as more often than not it's best to get on these numbers while you still can.

CFB Bowls Free Betting Picks 

Heart Of Dallas Bowl - Tuesday, Dec. 26 (1:30 pm)

Utah Utes (-6.5) vs West Virginia Mountaineers; Total: 57

West Virginia suffered a huge hit this week when it was announced that QB Will Grier will be out with his hand injury and he really was the guy that makes this Mountaineers team go. The silver lining in all that is the fact that backup QB Chris Chugunov has had plenty of time practicing with the first teamers, but the drop off in talent between him and Grier is enormous. This point spread has already moved two points in Utah's favor because of the news, as the Utes defense is already a nasty unit as it is.

But rather than back a side in this game, it's this total of 57 that hasn't been adjusted since the Grier announcement and quite frankly it should have. West Virginia is going to struggle to put up points in this game against a Utes defense that allowed an average of 23.9 points/game facing some elite offenses in the Pac-12. Now they get to face a back-up QB that will have a limited playbook at his disposal and that's a perfect recipe for a lower scoring game.

Furthermore, West Virginia's defense doesn't have eye-popping numbers as playing in the Big 12 will do that to any program, btu that entire unit knows it's up to them to carry most of the weight in this Bowl game if they want to come out victorious. Utah employs a balanced attack for the most part, but prefers to run the ball when they can, and I expect them to do just that in this one. Lots of running leads to the game clock draining away, and with Utah's offense scoring about five points less on average away from home this year, it's not like they'll be able to run up the scoreboard either.

With Utah 1-4 O/U after covering the point spread in their last outing and 2-5 O/U in thier last seven non-conference games, I am really surprised we haven't seen this total drop yet. West Virginia's defense knows how to respond after a poor outing with a 1-6 O/U record after allowing 40+ last time out, and this game should top out in the low 50's for scoring and staying a score or two below this current total of 57 points.

Bet Under 57 Play

Foster Farms Bowl - Wednesday, Dec. 27 (8:30 pm)

Purdue Boilermakers vs Arizona Wildcats (-3.5); Total: 66

This is another game where I believe the total is much too high as it's a classic clash of styles. Purdue loves to play smash-mouth, run the ball Big 10 football, while Arizona is your prototypical Pac-12 team that prefers the game to get into the 30's. With Arizona being the slight favorite and being closer to home with this game in San Francisco, oddsmakers were forced to put the total closer to the typical Arizona game as opposed to Purdue.

Arizona was 8-4 O/U this year overall, but most of those 'overs' came during conference play against other Pac-12 schools that know how to put points up in a hurry. Purdue is the exact opposite of that as they prefer slow, methodical drives down the field having only scored 30 or more four times this year, and only one of those came since the first week of October. The Boilermakers are going to do everything they can to dictate the pace and tempo of this game to give themselves the best chance to win, especially with them having a decided edge on defense. Purdue didn't allow more than 28 points against in each of their final 11 games and held six of those opponents to 17 points or less.

Arizona should be able to score in the 20's but I wouldn't put it much past that, especially if Purdue is successful at dictating the tempo, limiting Arizona's big play ability, and keeping the entire Wildcat attack off the field for as much as possible. Purdue understands that the bulk of Arizona's offense comes from QB Khalil Tate's legs, and containing him and forcing someone else to beat them is going to be their blueprint to success. 

Purdue cashed plenty of 'under' tickets all year long (3-9 O/U), and with a 1-6 O/U run coming into this Bowl game, a 1-4 O/U run against teams with a winning record, and a 2-8 O/U run after giving up 450+ yards, expect Purdue to be the ones to be highly successful in achieveing their goal of controlling the pace of play in this game as it should stay well under this inflated total of 66 points.

Bet Under 66 points Play

Holiday Bowl - Thursday, Dec. 28 (9 pm)

Washington State Cougars (-1) vs Michigan State Spartans; Total: 46

Michigan State spent the first part of Bowl season complaining about their placement in the Holiday Bowl as they felt they should be featured in a bigger game at a later date. That displeasure stems from the fact that the Spartans beat their hated rivals the Michigan Wolverines head-to-head this year, finished with a better record than Michigan overall, yet it's the Wolverines who get to be featured in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.

Right off the bat that's a telling sign to me that Michigan State could show up in one of two fashions this game. The Spartans are either going to be so fired up that they want to make a huge statement to add weight to their complaints, or they are going to be completely uninterested in this game, feeling they were slighted and knowing they'll never get the benefit of the doubt in the selection committee's eyes no matter what. Although early movement on this spread - it opened at -4.5 for Washington State - suggests the majority believe the former, I'm actually going with the latter here as this smells like a complete flat spot for the Spartans.

Washington State has had a month to get over their loss against their rival (Washington), and this is the perfect spot for them to bounce back and finish a very good season on a high note. The Cougars are a much better offensive unit in this game and while Michigan State's defense is quite stout, the lack of motivation I'm betting on will show up in spades for them on that side of the ball. With Washington State 8-2 ATS off a SU loss, including a 5-1 ATS run after losing by 20+ points, look for the Cougars to win this game by a field goal.

Bet Washington State -1 Play

Cotton Bowl - Friday, Dec. 29 (8:30 pm)

USC Trojans vs Ohio State Buckeyes (-7.5); Total: 64.5

This is the first Bowl game we get that pits two Top 10 teams against one another as the #5 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are laying more than a TD against #7 USC. Both of these teams had hopes of being in the CFB playoff, and Ohio State had a legitimate argument up until the end, but it was the lack of focus they had for one week this year (blowout loss @Iowa) that squashed those hopes and forced the committee to keep them ranked at #5. How Ohio State reacts to that remains to be seen, but don't be surprised to see them play one of their best games of the year in this one.

Casual bettors tend to base some betting decisions on the rankings of teams which is more often a mistake then not. In this case they'll see two relatively even teams at #7 and #5 with one of them getting more than a TD and flock to grabbing the points. But Ohio State clearly deserves to be laying this big number (if not more) as they are the more talented team and only get in trouble when they get in their own way. USC's defense does not have the talent to slow down the Buckeyes attack here and although the rankings may suggest otherwise, this game could very easily be a blowout in favor of Ohio State. Lay the chalk.

Ohio State -7.5 Play

Orange Bowl - Saturday, Dec. 30 (8 pm)

Wisconsin Badgers (-6.5) vs Miami Hurricanes; Total: 45

The Miami Hurricanes were the talk of the CFB world for the first 10 weeks of the year with their "turnover chain" and perfect record. But then a trip to Pittsburgh happened when the Hurricanes looked flat and downright awful, suffered their first loss of the year, and followed that up with another blowout loss in the ACC Championship game against Clemson. Now bettors everywhere don't want to touch Miami with a 10-foot poll as this line on Wisconsin continues to climb closer and closer to a full touchdown.

Teams that nobody wants are often the most dangerous this time of year, and with oddsmakers knowing they aren't going to likely get a lot of wagers on the Hurricanes they had to come out with a bit of an inflated number. But it's those same bettors who are looking to lay the chalk in this game that are quick to forget that Wisconsin suffered just as disappointing of a loss in their conference championship game when the defeat to Ohio State erased their bid for a perfect campaign and effectively knocked them out of the CFB Playoff.

Wisconsin has likely spent the past month picking up the pieces of "what could've been" this year and now they've got to go to Miami for the Orange Bowl, disinterested and playing in the Hurricanes back yard. That's about as bad as a situational spot gets for a collegiate football team this time of year and here we are getting nearly a touchdown on the home side. That makes Miami a very live underdog here for the outright upset, and with a perfect 7-0 SU record in this stadium this year, I've got no problem grabbing all these points.

Miami +6.5 Play
*All times are EST.

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