Bowl Rankings: Betability

Welcome to your bowl mania gambling special! I spent entirely too much time trying to dissect a bunch of meaningless games that often come down to which team actually wants to be playing football anymore that year. Won’t stop me from laying action on every game, though.

I’m not gonna ramble for too long because this thing will already be entirely too long to be entertaining, so let’s get to the point.

On the day all the lines came out, I went through the lines of every game and wrote down my first reaction without getting into the research at all. I either picked a side of the spread or total and ranked them based on confidence. I then spent the past few days or so doing the exact same thing with the adjusted lines and spent much more time doing my typical research for games, once again ranking them based on confidence. Finally, I looked over the percentages of public plays and chose the most played side (based on percentage, NOT number of plays) in each game (spread or total) to put together a public confidence ranking. This one is based mainly on curiosity to see how the heavy public sides play and whether fading the public would’ve been a good strategy for this bowl season.

When it’s all said and done, I’ll go tally them all up and see which strategy would have been the best. Obviously, the exercise has a heavy bias toward my brain, but it’s an elite brain if you ask me.

Three last things:
1. The championship game was not included because I have no idea who’s actually going to be in it.

2. I got rid of the Texas A&M-Louisville game because A&M had their top two quarterbacks transfer while I was beginning to organize this whole thing and the line has swung eight points since that news dropped.

3. Confidence points are listed in parentheses.


Arizona – New Mexico

Final – Zona -9.5 (3)
Initial – NM +11.5 (23)
Public – Over 65 (13)

I hate absolutely everything about this game. It’s 11 a.m. local time for both of these teams. New Mexico is playing at home. Arizona is sporadic. Ultimately took the Cats because the Lobos are so poor in the passing game on both sides of the ball.

BYU – Utah

Final – Utah -2.5 (22)
Initial – Utah -3 (24)
Public – Under 50.5 (12)

The Utes have won four straight in this rivalry series and covered eight of the last ten. The early season Heisman darkhorse, Devontae Booker, is still out for Utah, but Joe Williams has been a more than adequate replacement.

Ohio – Appalachian State

Final – App St. -7.5 (30)
Initial – Ohio +9.5 (3)
Public – Under 55 (4)

I think I just needed a couple of weeks to get over App St. fumbling away the cover in the last week. The Mountaineers are sixth in the country in rushing and the Ohio defense is 99th in rushing yards per attempt. Hopefully it’s a long day for the Bobcats.

Arkansas State – Louisiana Tech

Final – LT -2 (12)
Initial – Over 67 (9)
Public – Over 68.5 (27)

Arkansas State loves to run the ball, but Louisiana Tech is 16th in the country stopping the run. Bulldogs are also 9-0 SU in their last nine against the Sun Belt conference.

San Jose State – Georgia State

Final – Ga St. +3 (18)
Initial – Over 58 (28)
Public – Ga St. +3 (6)

This one is a fairly even matchup, but Georgia State has been a more explosive offensive team. They’re 6-0 ATS when they’re away from home. Bad news is this line keeps shrinking towards a pick ’em.

Western Kentucky – South Florida

Final – Over 66.5 (38)
Initial – Over 64 (39)
Public – Over 66.5 (28)

I’m not even gonna bother you with stats because this one has ELECTRICITY written all over it.

Akron – Utah State

Final – Akron +7 (4)
Initial – Akron +6.5 (1)
Public – Under 51 (38)

And then there’s this. I took Akron because they’ve won and covered their last four and Utah State has almost done the exact opposite.

Temple – Toledo

Final – Toledo +1.5 (2)
Initial – Temple -1 (37)
Public – Toledo -1 (15)

I have no feel for this game at all. Went with Toledo because they were catching points at the time and their offense has more potential to get loose in Boca Raton.

Boise State – Northern Illinois

Final – Boise -8 (21)
Initial – Under 59 (32)
Public – Boise -8 (7)

Boise is better in just about every facet of the game and NIU has had a tough run of injuries at quarterback. The Broncos scare me though because they recently lost a game they were favored to win by more than 30 points.

Georgia Southern – Bowling Green

Final – BG -7 (37)
Initial – BG -7.5 (17)
Public – Over 66 (32)

Southern loves to run the ball and their most recent test was an inferior Georgia State team that loves to throw it. They got blown out. Not a good sign when you’re going up against the best passing team in the country.

Middle Tennessee – Western Michigan

Final – MTSU +4 (29)
Initial – WMU -3 (10)
Public – WMU -3.5 (14)

WMU is bad defensively against the pass and the run and they haven’t covered a bowl game in their six attempts. MTSU has won and covered their past four games.

Cincinnati – San Diego State

Final – SDSU +1.5 (35)
Initial – SDSU +2.5 (8)
Public – SDSU +1.5 (30)

The reason for the spike in confidence is that QB1 Gunner Kiel is officially out for the Bearcats. SDSU’s starting QB is also out, but they’re a much more run-oriented team and Cinci has real problems stopping the run.

UConn – Marshall

Final – Marshall -4 (23)
Initial – Over 43 (7)
Public – Under 44.5 (11)

UConn is just so bad offensively. They’re 7-17 in their last 24 ATS.

Miami (FL) – Washington State

Final – Over 62 (15)
Initial – Over 61 (33)
Public – Wazzu -2.5 (23)

Both these defenses are pretty poor and the offenses both put up over 400 yards per game. I’m looking for things to get weird in El Paso.

Washington – Southern Mississippi

Final – USM +8.5 (25)
Initial – USM +8.5 (34)
Public – Under 56 (18)

Washington has a pretty good defense, but USM’s puts up over 40 points a game. If location means anything to you, this one is being played in Texas.

Indiana – Duke

Final – IU -2 (28)
Initial – Over 64 (29)
Public – Over 69.5 (34)

Duke’s All-American safety, Jeremy Cash, is out and if Duke has an AA, they have to be incredibly important. That’s especially bad when you’re playing an explosive offense like Indiana’s. Duke will most likely get its points – everyone does against IU – but they’ve been on a slide since the stripes took that Miami game from them.

Virginia Tech – Tulsa

Final – Over 62 (24)
Initial – Under 63 (4)
Public – Under 62 (19)

The public really likes the under and initially I did as well. Tulsa can score against anyone, though, including 38 against Oklahoma earlier in the year. Virginia Tech isn’t great offensively, but they’ve shown they can shred a weak defense (43 against Duke, 51 against Purdue). It’s Frank Beamer’s last game and I expect this one to get extra Beamer-y with a special teams touchdown or two.

Nebraska – UCLA

Final – Nebraska +7 (7)
Initial – Nebraska +6.5 (16)
Public – Over 61 (26)

Nebraska is 5-7, but the six losses they’ve had while Tommy Armstrong is under center have only combined for 21 total points. They’ve lost four games on essentially the last play of the game.

Navy – Pittsburgh

Final – Navy -3 (34)
Initial – Navy -5 (19)
Public – Under 52 (9)

Keenan Reynolds last game is a lock for the Midshipmen. The best way to beat Navy is to throw the ball (losses this year came to Notre Dame and Houston) and Pitt ranks 95th in passing YPG.

Minnesota – Central Michigan

Final – CMU +6 (8)
Initial – CMU +6 (12)
Public – Under 49.5 (33)

Minnesota’s offense stinks and they’ve haven’t beaten a MAC team by more than six points in their last five tries. They beat a 3-9 Kent State team this year by a 10-7 score. Detroit is the capital city of the MAC and the Chippewas will represent.

California – Air Force

Final – Cal -7 (20)
Initial – Cal -6.5 (15)
Public – Over 66.5 (25)

I’ve decided I’m just going to take passing teams to beat running teams. That’s just a thing I’m doing now. Plus, Jared Goff really needs to play well more than anybody in this game because it could be the difference between him being a top-10 pick or not.

Baylor – North Carolina

Final – UNC +3 (11)
Initial – UNC +3.5 (30)
Public – Over 69.5 (36)

I was much more confident about UNC until I realized they lost by 19 to RUTGERS in the Quick Lane Bowl last year. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your pick. The public loves the over, but Jarrett Stidham isn’t going to play for Baylor and it’s unclear whether Chris Johnson is capable of leading an offense to score many points.

Nevada – Colorado State

Final – Under 56 (1)
Initial – CSU -3.5 (2)
Public – CSU -3 (17)

Pick made exclusively because I assume this game is going to be as awful as I imagine it to be.

Texas Tech – LSU

Final – LSU -7 (36)
Initial – Under 74 (27)
Public – LSU -7 (10)

Texas Tech obviously scores a lot of points, but it wasn’t as effective when they played the best defense in the Big 12, Oklahoma, and scored 27 points. The Tigers sport a top 25 defense. The Red Raiders are the third worst in the country against the run and LSU has Leonard Fournette. He legitimately might run for 400 yards like Texas did against Tech.

Memphis – Auburn

Final – Memphis +2.5 (27)
Initial – Memphis +2.5 (14)
Public – Under 63 (24)

Auburn still stinks. They rank in the 90s in both total offense and defense. They got four wins against soft non-conference opponents and their two SEC wins came against Kentucky and Texas A&M when they didn’t have their starting QB. They’re 2-9-1 ATS. Meanwhile, Memphis already beat Ole Miss (10th in Sagarin ratings) by 13. It’s a big game for Memphis QB Paxton Lynch.

North Carolina State – Mississippi State

Final – MSU -5.5 (39)
Initial – MSU -7 (20)
Public – MSU -5 (21)

My favorite pick of the bowl slate. It mainly has to do with the Wolfpack being total frauds. They went 0-5 against bowl teams and they lost four of those games by double digits. The only thing that made me slightly hesitant about this game is the fact that it’s being played in Charlotte.

USC – Wisconsin

Final – USC -3 (33)
Initial – USC -3 (22)
Public – USC -3 (29)

Wisconsin has a great defense, but they played the weakest schedule in the Big Ten. They were 2-3 against bowl teams and their wins were on a last second field goal to beat Nebraska and a 10 point win over Minnesota. Meanwhile, USC has played the third toughest schedule in the nation and their ratings suggest a much better team than their 8-5 record.

Houston – Florida State

Final – Under 55.5 (19)
Initial – Houston +7 (11)
Public – Houston +7.5 (2)

Each defense is better than the opposing team’s offense and they both like to run the ball, which should minimize possessions in the game. The Cougars have gone under in five of their last six and the Seminoles have done the same in 8 of their last 11.

Oklahoma – Clemson

Final – Over 64.5 (6)
Initial – Over 65 (31)
Public – Over 64 (20)

Both of these teams have been a frequent over play, but the reason for the loss of confidence is the fact that both of their defenses are pretty good. I thought about switching to Oklahoma covering, but I couldn’t shake the fact that Clemson beat Oklahoma 40-6 in a bowl game last year. Baker Mayfield obviously is a huge upgrade over Trevor Knight, but it still gave me too many scaries.

Michigan State – Alabama

Final – MSU +9.5 (31)
Initial – MSU +8.5 (38)
Public – MSU +9.5 (16)

It’s scary as hell to bet against Alabama, especially with this much confidence. But Michigan State always seems to thrive in an underdog situation. They’re 4-0 SU in their last four bowl games and they were underdogs in each game. Now, they started that streak after losing five years ago to Alabama by 42 points. Sparty was more of a well-coached team back then, though, and less of a talented one. This one still doesn’t match the talent level of the Tide, but they’re A LOT closer. They just held Ohio State to 132 total yards a few weeks ago. Yes, Alabama’s front seven is ridiculous and they give up less than 100 yards on the ground, but they were basically at the same level a year ago heading into the playoff and Ohio State racked up over 500 yards of offense. I’m not saying MSU is going to match that, but they can certainly do enough to keep this a one score game.

Northwestern – Tennessee

Final – Under 47.5 (32)
Initial – NW +9 (13)
Public – NW +8.5 (22)

Northwestern really sucks at scoring points, but they’re AWESOME at not giving up points.

Michigan – Florida

Final – Michigan -4 (9)
Initial – Michigan -4 (21)
Public – Under 40.5 (31)

I think you’re certifiably insane to bet on Florida to cover any spread right now. Michigan has been shaky in the last half of the season, though.

Stanford – Iowa

Final – Iowa +7 (5)
Initial – Iowa +6.5 (25)
Public – Stanford -6.5 (5)

Everyone wants to keep doubting Iowa, but they proved they belong against Michigan State. I feel like we’ll know the outcome of this one by the end of the first quarter. If Iowa slows down McCaffrey, they’ve got a shot to win the game outright.

Oklahoma State – Ole Miss

Final – Over 67.5 (13)
Initial – Over 68.5 (35)
Public – Over 67.5 (3)

Both teams average over 40 points a game and this one’s in a dome. Let it rain.

Notre Dame – Ohio State

Final – OSU -6.5 (14)
Initial – OSU -5 (6)
Public – Over 55 (39)

If you look at injury reports for the bowl games, most teams have one or two guys at the most. Notre Dame has a “See More” option because this team has been so banged up. Urban Meyer is awesome in bowl games and Brian Kelly is not. The Buckeyes seemed like they were moving in slow motion all year, but they still have a 21 point margin of victory and they’re second in the nation by only allowing 14 points a game.

Georgia – Penn State

Final – Under 42.5 (10)
Initial – UGA -7 (26)
Public – UGA -6.5 (1)

I’m just envisioning a 14-3 game or something.

Arkansas – Kansas State

Final – Arkansas -11.5 (26)
Initial – Kansas St. +13 (5)
Public – Arkansas -11.5 (8)

K-State ranks in the 100s in total offense and defense. Arkansas is going to run and throw all over them.

TCU – Oregon

Final – Oregon Pick em (17)
Initial – Oregon Pick em (36)
Public – Over 78 (37)

Oregon has been a different team when Vernon Adams plays and he’s suiting up for the Alamo Bowl. Same goes for TCU with Josh Doctson and he’s questionable at best. The reason I lowered by confidence so much is it’s hard to totally trust Oregon with their defense and how many points they give up. That’s why the public loves the over so much. I still say Doctson is the key, though. Since he went down, TCU hasn’t scored more than 29.

West Virginia – Arizona State

Final – ASU Pick em (16)
Initial – ASU Pick em (18)
Public – Under 65 (35)

This one’s being played in Phoenix and Todd Graham has a 5-2 record in bowl games. Dana Holgorsen won his first one with Rich Rod’s players, but they’ve been sloppy the past couple of years in the postseason.

 

Final Picks

39. Mississippi St. -5.5
38. WKU-USF over 66.537. Bowling Green -7
36. LSU -7
35. SDSU +1.5
34. Navy -3
33. USC -3
32. NW-Tenn under 47.5
31. Michigan St. +9.5
30. App St. -7.5
29. MTSU +4
28. IU -2
27. Memphis +2.5
26. Arkansas -12.5
25. Southern Miss +8.5
24. Tulsa-VT over 62
23. Marshall -4
22. Utah -2.5
21. Boise St. -8
20. Cal -7
19. Houston-FSU under 55.5
18. Georgia St. +3
17. Oregon Pick em
16. Arizona St. Pick em
15. Miami-Wazzu over 62
14. Ohio St. -6.5
13. Ole Miss-OkSt. over 67.5
12. LaTech -2
11. UNC +3
10. UGA-PSU under 42.5
9. Michigan -4
8. CMU +6
7. Nebraska +7
6. Clemson-OU over 64.5
5. Iowa +7
4. Akron +7
3. Arizona -9.5
2. Toledo +1.5
1. Nevada-CSU under 56

First Glance Picks

39. WKU-USF over 64
38. Michigan St. +8.5
37. Temple -1
36. Oregon Pick em
35. Ole Miss-OkSt. over 68.5
34. Southern Miss +8.5
33. Miami-Wazzu over 61
32. Boise-NIU under 59
31. Clemson-OU over 65
30. UNC +3.5
29. IU-Duke over 64
28. SJSU-GSU over 58
27. LSU-TT under 74
26. Georgia -7
25. Iowa +6.5
24. Utah -3
23. New Mexico +11.5
22. USC -3
21. Michigan -4
20. Mississippi St. -7
19. Navy -5
18. Arizona St. Pick em
17. BG -7.5
16. Nebraska +6.5
15. Cal -6.5
14. Memphis +2.5
13. Northwestern +9
12. CMU +6
11. Houston +7
10. Ohio +9.5
9. ArkSt.-LaTech over 67
8. SDSU +2.5
7. Marshall-UConn over 436. Ohio St. -5
5. Kansas St. +13
4. VT-Tulsa under 63
3. Ohio +9.5
2. Colorado St. -3.5
1. Akron +6.5

Public Picks

39. ND-OSU over 55
38. Akron-USU under 51
37. TCU-Oregon over 78
36. Baylor-UNC over 69.5
35. WV-AzSt. under 65
34. IU-Duke over 69.5
33. Minn-CMU under 49.5
32. BG-GSU over 66
31. Michigan-Florida under 40.5
30. SDSU +1.5
29. USC -3
28. WKU-USF over 66.5
27. ArkSt.-LT over 68.5
26. Nebraska-UCLA over 61
25. Cal-AF over 66.5
24. Memphis-Auburn under 63
23. Wazzu -2.5
22. NW +8.5
21. Mississippi St. -5
20. OU-Clemson over 64
19. VT-Tulsa under 62
18. Washington-USM under 56
17. Colorado St. -3
16. Michigan St. +9.5
15. Toledo -1
14. Western Michigan -3.5
13. AZ-NM over 65
12. BYU-Utah under 50.5
11. UConn-Marshall under 44.5
10. LSU -7
9. Navy-Pitt under 52
8. Arkansas -11.5
7. Boise -8
6. Georgia St. +4
5. Stanford -6.5
4. Ohio-AppSt. under 55
3. OkSt.-Ole Miss over 67
2. Houston +7.5
1. UGA -6.5

 

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