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College Football Bowl Betting Central

College football’s bowl season is upon us and we have everything you need to know to make educated wagers this year to help you rake in against your sportsbook. This page will be updated daily with the latest trends and stats on how bowl games are playing out thus far, plus the best bets for each bowl game from OddsShark college football betting analyst Scott Hastings.

Through the first five games of the bowl season, favorites have gone a perfect 5-0 SU, including 4-1 ATS, while the UNDER came through in three of those matches. Meanwhile, Scott is 3-2 for his best bets after the first Saturday.

View the entire Bowl season schedule and handicapping info in our handy Bowl Central Cheat Sheet, sponsored by Bovada.

Bet on Bowl Games Here!

BOWL SEASON QUICK LINKS

Best Bowl Bet for Tuesday, December 18

Boca Raton Bowl: Alabama-Birmingham vs Northern Illinois

Scott’s Pick: UAB -2.5

The biggest storyline will be the battle between UAB’s Spencer Brown, who set a Blazers single-season record of 16 rushing touchdowns, and the Northern Illinois defense, which is surrendering just 109.7 rushing yards per game, the 14th-fewest in the nation. The Huskies score the 11th-fewest points per game in college football this season, while the Blazers allow the ninth-fewest ppg at 17.3.

Best Bowl Bet for Wednesday, December 19

Frisco Bowl: Ohio vs San Diego State

Scott’s Pick: Ohio -2.5

Ohio had an average winning margin of 24.63 this season with its four defeats all coming on the road – against Virginia and Cincinnati, both at one point ranked in the Top 25, MAC champs Northern Illinois, and rival Miami-OH – by an average margin of 5.75 points. San Diego State has a defensive mindset but gave up 26.4 points per game through its last five games of the season, 4.6 points higher than its season average.

Best Bowl Bet for Thursday, December 20

Gasparilla Bowl: Marshall vs South Florida

Scott’s Pick: OVER 55

South Florida quarterback Blake Barnett is expected back under center after missing two of the last three games of the year. The Bulls averaged 33.33 ppg in the first nine games of the season when he was healthy but just 16.67 ppg through the final three matches since he got injured. Meanwhile, Marshall racked up 30-plus points in each of its two games against schools that rank 90th or worse in points allowed per game. USF ranks 91st, surrendering 31.5 ppg.

Best Bowl Bets for Friday, December 21

Bahamas Bowl: Florida International vs Toledo

Scott’s Pick: Florida International +6

Toledo has given up 257.8 passing yards per game, which is the 26th-most in college football, while Florida International averaged the 51st-most passing yards per game at 247.6. Additionally, the Rockets rank 84th among 130 schools in FBS for points allowed per game at 30.2. Lastly, the Golden Panthers went 9-3 ATS this season, including a perfect 3-0 in games as the underdog.

Idaho Potato Bowl: BYU vs Western Michigan

Scott’s Pick: OVER 49.5

Western Michigan has gone OVER in its last four games, allowing an average of 43.25 points per game over that span. Meanwhile, BYU has been scoring an average of 31 ppg since making a quarterback change midway through the season with five of its last six games going OVER 49 points. Lastly, the Broncos only had one game all year go UNDER 49 points, when they played to a combined score of 45 against Central Michigan.

Best Bowl Bets for Saturday, December 22

Birmingham Bowl: Memphis vs Wake Forest

Scott’s Pick: Memphis -3.5

Memphis will be without lead back Darrell Henderson, who rushed for 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns, as he has elected not to play in this game to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft. But backup running back Patrick Taylor Jr. quietly rushed for 1,012 yards and added 15 TDs, running for an average of 113.5 yards through the last four games of the season. Wake Forest surrenders the 40th-most rushing yards per game in the nation this year and it went 4-8 ATS this season.

Armed Forces Bow: Army vs Houston

Scott’s Pick: Army -3.5

Houston’s standout defensive tackle Ed Oliver will not be participating in this game as he prepares for the upcoming NFL draft and the Cougars also fired defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio at the end of the regular season. Houston allows the 33rd-most rushing yards against per game, including giving up 401 rushing yards in its season finale vs Memphis. Meanwhile, Army averages the second-most rushing yards per game at 296.3 and is on an eight-game winning streak.

Dollar General Bowl: Buffalo vs Troy

Scott’s Pick: OVER 51.5

Buffalo’s last five games of the season had a combined score that went OVER 51.5 points and it averaged 34.8 points per game this year, the 26th-most in the nation. Meanwhile, Troy went OVER 51.5 points in seven of its 12 games this year, and it averaged 29.8 ppg, ranking in a tie for 58th. Although Troy doesn’t score at the same rate as its opponent, Buffalo’s defense has surrendered an average of 28.17 ppg over its last six games, which shows some vulnerabilities.

Hawai’i Bowl: Hawaii vs Louisiana Tech

Scott’s Pick: UNDER 60 points

LA Tech has gone UNDER in eight of its last nine games, including its last five in a row, having just one match going OVER 60 points this year. The Bulldogs allow just 23.8 ppg, which is the 41st-fewest in college football, including the 29th-fewest passing yards per game. Hawaii’s defense has been bad, giving up the 20th-most ppg, but LA Tech scores the 30th-fewest ppg in the nation.

View previous picks below.

BEST Bowl BETS FOR Saturday, DECEMBER 15:

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs Arizona State

Scott’s pick: Fresno State -4 

Arizona State’s top receiver N’Keal Harry will not be playing in this game because he signed with an agent to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft, forcing the Sun Devils to rely more on their run game. The Bulldogs allows just 129.8 rushing yards per game which is 27th-fewest in the nation. Fresno State was 11-2 SU and 9-4 ATS in its 13 games this season.

Cure Bowl: Tulane vs Louisiana

Scott’s pick: UNDER 59 points  

Louisiana has a two-headed monster in the backfield in Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas who combined for over 2,000 rushing yards and had 20 touchdowns, however, Tulane allows just 152.6 rushing yards per game which is the 51st-fewest in the nation. Meanwhile, Ragin’ Cajuns quarterback Andre Nunez threw 12 interceptions this year and the Green Wave rank in a tie for 49th in college football with 11 picks, led by cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr. who had three himself. Tulane went UNDER 59 points in nine of its 12 games this season.

New Mexico Bowl: Utah State vs North Texas

Scott’s pick: Utah State -8.5

The Aggies’ strength of schedule was tougher than the Mean Green’s, with Utah State falling only to then-No. 11 Michigan State 38-31, and then-No. 23 Boise State 33-24, while North Texas’ three losses came against unranked schools. Both teams rely on a solid passing game with Jordan Love (USU) throwing for 3,208 yards with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions and Mason Fine (UNT) tossing 3,734 yards with 27 TDs and five picks. Lastly, North Texas was 4-8 ATS this season, while Utah State was 9-3 ATS.

Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern vs Eastern Michigan

Scott’s pick: OVER 47.5 points 

Eastern Michigan struggled against teams that could run the ball well, falling 37-22 to Army, 35-28 to Buffalo and 27-24 to Western Michigan. Georgia Southern averages the ninth-most rushing yards per game at 260.8, 30 yards per game fewer than Army. Meanwhile, most of Georgia Southern’s wins came against teams that struggled through the air, getting roughed up by teams like UL Monroe (44-25) which averages 247.5 passing yards per game, 52nd-most in the nation. Lastly, Eastern Michigan went OVER 47.5 points in eight of its 12 games, while Georgia Southern went OVER that total in eight of its 12 matches.

New Orleans Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs Appalachian State

Scott’s pick: Appalachian State -7 

This is the lowest spread that the Mountaineers have been given this season, outside of being a 24-point underdog vs Penn State a game in which them lost 45-38. App State surrenders the sixth-fewest points per game in the NCAA at 15.7, including allowing the third-fewest passing yards per game at 148.1. Meanwhile, most of Middle Tennessee’s attack comes through the air from Brent Stockstill who threw for 3,214 yards with 28 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. App State went 10-2 SU and 7-3-2 ATS this year with one of its losses coming against Penn State and it is 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in its last three bowl games.

NCAA Football Bowl Season 101

Most sports culminate in a big game. There’s the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup Finals, and the NBA Finals. The College Football Playoff National Championship is the big game of the NCAA football world.

The College Football Playoff National Championship

The college football post-season consists of bowl games played by teams in the NCAA’s Division I. The winners of the two semi-final games advance to the National Championship game. The College Football Playoff committee, primarily made up of athletic directors from each major conference, former players, coaches and administrators, meets in early December and ranks the Top 25 along with selecting the top four teams and seeding them into semi-final games.

Once the committee ranks the teams, they place the top-seeded team at the closest site to their home field to prevent a road-game environment. Cities can bid to host the championship game years in advance. The 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship will be played at Levi’s Stadium – where the 49ers play, also the makers of jeans – in Santa Clara, California on January 7th.

The semi-finals are assigned to a different pairing of the six major bowl games each year:

Fiesta Bowl & Peach Bowl201620192022
Rose Bowl & Sugar Bowl201720202023
Orange Bowl & Cotton Bowl201820212024

In the years that the bowl games aren’t host to the semi-finals, they host their bowl’s affiliated conferences or committee selections. The Rose Bowl usually hosts the Big Ten champions against Pac-12 champions. The Orange Bowl plays host to the ACC champion and either the second-place SEC team, second place Big Ten team or Independent Notre Dame. The Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowls are all decided by committee selection.

A Brief History of the College Football Bowl System

While bowl games have been around for over a century, the current College Football Playoff system has only been in effect since 2014. College football teams have been battling each other in front of a live audience before there were television crews to document it, but it wasn’t until bowl games became a staple of our New Year’s Day TV viewing habits that people realized they could bet on them.

Everything’s Coming up Rose Bowls

The year was 1901. New York became the first state to require automobiles to have license plates, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as President of the United States, and a Michigan schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor went over Niagara Falls in a barrel (she survived). It was also the year that the president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses decided to stage a sporting event other than the traditional porcupine wrangling experience to promote the village’s floral festival.

Instead of watching people tussle with a spiky beast, the citizens of Pasadena were treated to the first incarnation of a college football bowl.

With the two best teams from the East and West taking the field, January 1st, 1902 marked the inaugural Rose Bowl. Featuring Michigan and Stanford, the game lasted only eight minutes with Stanford begging for mercy after trailing by 49 points. In other words, Stanford quit the game.

Due to the short Michigan/Stanford game, it took 14 years for another college football championship game between East and West to return to Pasadena. It’s unclear if porcupine wrangling was brought back but hopefully for those prickly creatures and the people that tussle with them, it was not.

Television, Naming Rights, and the Death of the BCS

After a 14-year hiatus, bowl games came back with a vengeance. Here’s how things went from 1916 until present day:

  • In 1916 the Tournament of Roses featured a match between Washington State and Brown. Washington State won.
  • In 1923 the tournament was moved to a new stadium called the Rose Bowl where the New Year’s Day game would be played from then on.
  • After the success of the Rose Bowl game, other warm-weather regions decided to get in on the New Year’s Day bowl game action.
  • The Festival of Palms Bowl was played in 1933 between Manhattan College and the University of Miami.
  • The Sugar Bowl started in 1935 in New Orleans, and the Sun Bowl started in El Paso a year later.
  • 1937 saw the launch of The Cotton Bowl in Dallas and the Bacardi Bowl was played in Havana, Cuba.
  • Bowl games continued to crop up after World War ll with creative names like the Great Lakes Bowl (Cleveland), the Raisin Bowl (Fresno), the Salad Bowl (Phoenix), the Cigar Bowl (Tampa), and the Camellia Bowl (Lafayette, LA).
  • Fast forward to 1965 when the magic of television was able to capture the majority of the bowl games on a national level. Bowl directors realized they could make more money with marquee teams playing the games.
  • By the 1980s, bowl games were a sponsorship haven where sponsors from all walks of life could pay to have their name plastered everywhere, even in the name of the bowl (Sunkist Fiesta Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl, Outback Bowl, and the Scrambled Eggs Bowl – Okay, we made the last one up but give it time and Big Egg will eventually sponsor their own game).
  • In the 90s, amidst the grunge sounds coming from Seattle, a movie of talking toys, pagers and Dolly the cloned sheep, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was born.
  • From 1998 until 2013, the BCS system resulted in five bowl game matchups of the 10 top ranked College Football Division I teams. But first there was the Bowl Coalition (92-94) and the Bowl Alliance (95-97) and like the “Rachel” haircut, they fell out of favor for a more modern system.
  • The BCS saw its demise after the 2013 season and was replaced by the current system, the College Football Playoff. Four teams play in two semi-final games with the winner of each advancing to the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
  • The College Football Playoff is one of the top sports betting events of the year. There’s plenty of action throughout the playoffs, so be sure to keep an eye on our NCAA football section for odds, picks, betting trends and enough content to keep you busier than former LSU head coach Les Miles in a field of grass. Below you’ll find info one the New Year’s Six. Click on each one to learn more.