College football betting nuggets – Bowl season betting trends


Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook

– Michigan was 100-1 to win the College Football Playoff entering the season, while Cincinnati was 80-1. They are the two biggest preseason long shots to ever make the College Football Playoff.

– Cincinnati is a 13.5-point underdog against Alabama in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. The Bearcats are the second team since the 1978 FBS/FCS split to be at least a 13-point underdog despite entering the game with a record of 10-0 or better.

– The outright winners in College Football Playoff games are 17-4 ATS. Alabama has accounted for all four ATS losses. Excluding the Crimson Tide, outright winners are 13-0 ATS in College Football Playoff history (6-0 ATS as a favorite).

– Since the College Football Playoff’s inception in 2015, the No. 3 team has never won the title. No. 3 Georgia has the second-shortest odds (+135) to win the College Football Playoff behind Alabama (+120).

– Alabama has played 15 previous bowls with a closing total below 60 under Nick Saban. The over is 11-4 in those games. The total in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is 58.

– Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham make up the top four best career cover percentages in bowl games among participating head coaches this season (min. 10 bowl appearances). A couple of other notables who don’t meet the minimum are Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck (3-1-1 ATS) and Penn State’s James Franklin (6-3 ATS).

– Houston’s Dana Holgorsen, Utah State’s Blake Anderson, Middle Tennessee State’s Rick Stockstill, Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson and Mississippi State’s Mike Leach make up the top-5 worst career cover percentages in bowl games among participating head coaches this season (min. 5 bowl appearances).

– The Pac-12 is 8-22-1 ATS in bowl games since 2016, the worst cover percentage among any FBS conference over that span. Six Pac-12 schools will play in a bowl game this season and all but one (Oregon State) is an underdog.

  • Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel: Utah State vs. Oregon State (-7), Dec. 18 at 7:30 ET on ABC

  • San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: 18 NC State vs. UCLA (+1), Dec. 28 at 8 ET

  • Valero Alamo Bowl: 14 Oregon (+4.5) vs. 16 Oklahoma, Dec. 29 at 9:15 ET on ESPN

  • SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State (+7), Dec. 30 at 10:30 ET on ESPN

  • Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Washington State (+2.5) vs. Miami, Dec. 31 at Noon ET

  • Rose Bowl Game Pres. by Capital One Venture X: 6 Ohio State vs. 11 Utah (+6.5), Jan. 1 at 5 ET on ESPN

– SP+ second-order wins provides a way to assess “lucky” and “unlucky” teams this season. The idea is a team with a negative difference between its 2nd-order wins and its actual wins has been lucky while a team with a positive difference has been unlucky.

For games with a closing spread of 3 points or less, lucky teams are 41-15-1 ATS since 2009, including 25-6-1 since 2014 when facing an unlucky team in bowl games (h/t Bill Connelly). Note, these records exclude the 2020 season. The teams that met this criteria in 2019 went 5-0 ATS. Nine games that meet this criteria as of Dec. 12 are (“lucky” team in bold):

  • RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State (-3), Dec. 18 at 11 AM ET on ESPN

  • Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Kent State (+3) vs. Wyoming, Dec. 21 at 3:30 ET on ESPN

  • Frisco Football Classic: North Texas (+3) vs. Miami (OH), Dec. 23 at 3:30 ET on ESPN

  • TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: 20 Houston (+3) vs. Auburn, Dec. 28 at Noon ET on ESPN

  • SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: Air Force (+1.5) vs. Louisville, Dec. 28 at 3:15 ET on ESPN

  • San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: 18 NC State (-1) vs. UCLA, Dec. 28 at 8 ET

  • Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Washington State vs. Miami (-2.5), Dec. 31 at Noon ET

  • Outback Bowl: 21 Arkansas (+2) vs. Penn State, Jan. 1 at Noon ET on ESPN2

  • TaxAct Texas Bowl: LSU (+1) vs. Kansas State, Jan. 4 at 9 ET on ESPN

– Service academies have covered 21 of their past 30 bowl appearances (since 2003), including a 9-2 ATS mark since 2015. The over is 19-11 and 9-2 respectively in each of those spans. Two service academies will be in action this bowl season:

  • SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: Air Force (+1.5, 55.5) vs. Louisville, Dec. 28 at 3:15 ET on ESPN

  • Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Missouri vs. Army (-3.5, 58.5), Dec. 22 at 8 ET on ESPN

– Since 2000, Mountain West teams are 12-5-1 ATS as underdogs of six points or more in bowl games, including 5-0 ATS since 2016. Two Mountain West teams meet this criteria as of Dec. 12:

  • Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel: Utah State (+7) vs. Oregon State, Dec. 18 at 7:30 ET on ABC

  • EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl: Memphis at Hawai’i (+7), Dec. 24 at 8 ET on ESPN

– Keep an eye on Wyoming as a 3-point favorite versus Kent State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Cowboys are led by coach Craig Bohl, who sports a 10-3 career ATS record in the postseason (7-3 ATS with FCS North Dakota State, 3-0 ATS with Wyoming).

– Three head coaches who have had success as underdogs in their careers and find their teams getting points in a bowl game are Arkansas’ Sam Pittman (11-4 ATS), Arizona State’s Herm Edwards (11-6 ATS) and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham (38-22-1 ATS).

– Three head coaches who have had success as favorites and find their teams laying points in a bowl game are Kansas State’s Chris Klieman (9-4-1 ATS), Liberty’s Hugh Freeze (48-29-1 ATS) and Ohio State’s Ryan Day (20-13-1 ATS). Liberty’s 23-12-1 overall ATS record under Freeze (since 2019) is tied for the best cover percentage in FBS over that span with Oklahoma State.

– Notre Dame enters bowl season with the longest active cover streak in FBS at seven games. The Fighting Irish will face Oklahoma State in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on January 1 at 1 ET on ESPN. Notre Dame is a 2-point favorite as of Dec. 12. The Fiesta Bowl will also feature two of the five teams with a cover percentage of .750 or better this season.

– Among bowl teams, Florida enters with the longest active ATS losing streak in FBS at six games. The Gators are 7-point favorites against UCF in the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl. That game is scheduled for Dec. 23 at 7 ET on ESPN.

– In the past five seasons, the over is 15-5 in bowl games with a closing total of 46 or less. As of Dec. 12, six games meet this criteria:

  • Guaranteed Rate Bowl: West Virginia vs. Minnesota (-4, 45), Dec. 28 at 10:15 ET on ESPN

  • Cheez-It Bowl: 19 Clemson vs. Iowa State (-1, 45.5), Dec. 29 at 5:45 ET on ESPN

  • SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin (-7, 42) vs. Arizona State, Dec. 30 at 10:30 ET on ESPN

  • CFP Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl: 2 Michigan vs. 3 Georgia (-7.5, 43.5), Dec. 31 at 7:30 ET on ESPN

  • PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: 5 Notre Dame (-2, 45.5) vs. 9 Oklahoma State, Jan. 1 at 1 ET on ESPN

  • Vrbo Citrus Bowl: 15 Iowa vs. 22 Kentucky (-3, 44), Jan. 1 at 1 ET on ABC



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