Early Betting Lines for the 2018/19 College Football Bowl Games – Your Complete Guide to the Bowl Season!
Bowl season is upon us. The committee made the call to insert Oklahoma as the fourth team in the College Football Playoff despite Georgia coming oh-so-close to knocking off Alabama.
After going toe-to-toe with the undisputed #1 team in the country during the SEC Championship game, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart was emphatic that his program is one of the top four in the nation.
Instead, Georgia has been relegated to the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day versus Texas in a game where they’ve opened as double-digit favorites.
Speaking of spreads and bowl games, I’ve looked at all 40 that are on the schedule from December 15th through January 1st. I want you to know exactly where and when they are taking place, who is playing, and what the opening point spread looks like. A little preview and insight into each matchup never hurts, either.
If you are a big college football fan or just want betting advice, consider bookmarking this page. As the bowl games approach, I’ll be examining them separately and adding individual game previews, so you can stay in the loop.
You should also consider opening accounts at some of the best college football betting sites, if you haven’t already, so that you’re ready to take advantage of the value in the betting markets when it’s there.
For now, let’s just take in the slate and understand how many wagering opportunities we’ll have over the next four weeks.
All games listed are Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl – North Carolina A&T Aggies vs. Alcorn State Braves
- Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
- When: Saturday, December 15th, 12:00 pm (ABC)
- Line: North Carolina A&T -7.5 (-110), Alcorn State +7.5 (-110)
- Total: Unavailable
The North Carolina A&T Aggies open the bowl season as just over a touchdown favorite against the Braves from Alcorn State. These teams squared off in this same game back in 2015 when a gentleman by the name of Tarik Cohen (current Chicago Bears RB) stole the show.
I don’t presume that the Aggies have anyone who will go off for 295 yards in this one, but first-year head coach Sam Washington won’t be shy about pounding away on the ground. That combined with stout defense is why North Carolina A&T is laying seven and a half points to a nine-win team from the SWAC.
AutoNation Cure Bowl – Tulane Green Wave vs. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
- Where: Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Florida
- When: Saturday, December 15th, 1:30 pm (CBSSN)
- Line: Tulane -3.5 (-110), Louisiana +3.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 59.5 (-105), Under 59.5 (-115)
Take your pick between two Louisiana schools that each slipped their way into bowl eligibility this season. It should be a closely-contested battle despite the fact that Tulane has owned this matchup lifetime, winning 22 of the 28 times these teams have met.
This time around, the Ragin’ Cajuns have a sophomore running back in Trey Ragas who went over 1,000 yards averaging 5.8 yards per carry (YPC). But they also have another second-year RB in Elijah Mitchell who ran for 951 yards on 6.8 YPC, plus Raymond Calais who added 713 yards on just 78 carries (9.1 YPC).
Considering Tulane is no slouch on the ground themselves, I suspect whichever defense can create turnovers and get big third-down stops is who perseveres in this in-state tilt.
New Mexico Bowl – North Texas Mean Green vs. Utah State Aggies
- Where: Branch Field at Dreamstyle Stadium – Albuquerque, New Mexico
- When: Saturday, December 15th, 2:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Utah State -10.5 (-110), North Texas +10.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 64.5 (-115), Under (-105)
Ready for some offense? North Texas has no problem finding pay dirt, averaging more than 36 points per contest. That’s nothing compared to the 47.2 points that Utah State puts up each and every time they take the field, good for the third-highest in the country.
The Aggies head coach (Matt Wells) bolted for Texas Tech and has already been introduced as the Red Raiders’ lead man, leaving defensive coordinator Frank Maile as the man in charge for this one.
Perhaps some extra stress on D will be a good thing because Mean Green QB Mason Fine is sporting a pretty spiffy 150.5 QB rating on the heels of 27 TDs and just five interceptions.
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl – Fresno State Bulldogs vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
- Where: Sam Boyd Stadium – Las Vegas, Nevada
- When: Saturday, December 15th, 3:30 pm (ABC)
- Line: Fresno State -3 (-115), Arizona State +3 (-105)
- Total: Over 51 (-110), Under (-110)
Don’t look at the respective records here, or you’ll wonder why Fresno State is only -3. The Bulldogs picked up their 11th win of the season by beating Boise State in the Mountain West Conference Championship game that was held on the blue turf in Boise.
Now the Bulldogs ride high into Sin City, where they’ll bring a defense that allows just 13.7 points per game, tied with Clemson for the second-fewest in college football. I can’t imagine this line holding steady here.
I get that Herm Edwards has accomplished things in his first year at his alma mater that many didn’t expect, but I also know that his number-one wide receiver is skipping this game to prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft. Without N’Keal Harry, Manny Wilkins will have to be extra creative to find openings against a defense this competent.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl – Georgia Southern Eagles vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles
- Where: Cramton Bowl – Montgomery, Alabama
- When: Saturday, December 15th, 5:30 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Georgia Southern PK (-110), Eastern Michigan PK (-110)
- Total: Over 48 (-110), Under (-110)
We know the Eagles are going to win this game – we just don’t know which Eagles. Opening as a pick’em, it’s anybody’s guess as to who has the edge in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. The big advantage I see is at the line of scrimmage when Georgia Southern is on offense.
Georgia Southern has a top-10 rushing attack that rotates a bevy of speedsters, and Eastern Michigan lacks discipline in their front 7. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t allow teams to rush for 193 yards per contest against them.
It’s been one heck of a turnaround for Chad Lunsford and his university, as Georgia Southern won just two games in 2017. I’m expecting they pick up their tenth victory of the year in this one.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers
- Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
- When: Saturday, December 15th, 9:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Appalachian State -7 (-115), Middle Tennessee +7 (-105)
- Total: Over 50.5 (-110), Under (-110)
It’s a good thing that Middle Tennessee had an early-season test against Georgia and went on the road to play Kentucky. Because the defense they’ll see across the field out of Appalachian State has the quickness and leadership that replicates that of an SEC unit.
The Mountaineers finished the year 10-2 and only gave up 20 or more points twice, but don’t sleep on the Blue Raiders just yet. Middle Tennessee narrowly fell to UAB in the Conference USA title game, but that came just a week after they dismantled the Blazers 27-3.
I like what Appalachian State does on both sides of the ball, but three games against SEC competition tells me that Rick Stockstill’s bunch isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty and get physical.
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl – UAB Blazers vs. Northern Illinois Huskies
- Where: Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium – Boca Raton, Florida
- When: Tuesday, December 18th, 7:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: UAB -1.5 (-110), Northern Illinois +1.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 43.5 (-110), Under (-110)
Here are a couple of schools who are both coming off emotional victories in their respective conference championship games. UAB knocked off Middle Tennessee 27-25 (Conference USA), and the Huskies fended off the Buffalo Bulls (MAC) by the count of 30-29.
If you are looking for a high-scoring game with tons of big plays and highlights, you may have to wait until Friday when FIU plays Toledo. The Blazers and Huskies both pride themselves on playing dependable defense and running the football, meaning this game could hinge on the performances of the offensive and defensive lines.
Look for a slugfest of sorts, as evidenced by Vegas generating a slim 1.5-point line.
DXL Frisco Bowl – San Diego State Aztecs vs. Ohio Bobcats
- Where: Toyota Stadium – Frisco, Texas
- When: Wednesday, Dec 19th, 8:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Ohio -3 (-110), SDSU +3 (+110)
- Total: Over 55 (-110), Under (-110)
This is an interesting matchup between two teams that will be trying to achieve the same thing. San Diego State and Ohio both love to run the football and control the clock, so get ready for a battle of wills.
The Aztecs are one of four teams in FBS (I-A) (along with Michigan State, Texas A&M, and Clemson) who hold teams to fewer than 100 yards/game on the ground, so I’m intrigued to see if Ohio’s three-headed rushing attack can consistently move the chains.
A.J. Ouellette and Maleek Irons will have their hands full trying to eke out yards, and QB Nathan Rourke may have to lean more on his arm rather than his legs.
SDSU has top running back Juwan Washington and starting QB Christian Chapman back after both missed significant portions of the year, so there shouldn’t be any excuses on the behalf of Rocky Long’s group.
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl – Marshall Thundering Herd vs. South Florida Bulls
- Where: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Florida
- When: Thursday, Dec 20th, 8:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Marshall -2.5 (-105), South Florida +2.5 (-115)
- Total: Over 54.5 (-108), Under (-112)
Marshall caught a bad break here, as South Florida gets to play this bowl game in their home stadium. But they catch a good break in the sense that they’ll face a team who enters this game losers of five straight.
It is unclear whether quarterback Blake Barnett will be able to go for the Bulls, as the journeyman college QB is nursing a bum ankle and an aggravated shoulder.
Either way, it’ll be tailback Jordan Cronkrite who handles the burden of obtaining much-needed yards, and freshman Johnny Ford will get his touches as well.
I’m not sure how Charlie Strong’s student athletes will respond in the wake of losing five consecutive games, but I do know one thing.
Marshall is 5-0 in bowl games under head coach Doc Holliday and looking to make it 6-0 on the 20th.
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl – Florida International Golden Panthers vs. Toledo Rockets
- Where: Thomas Robinson Stadium – Nassau, Bahamas
- When: Friday, Dec 21st, 12:30 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Toledo -6 (-110), FIU +6 (-110)
- Total: Over 67.5 (-115), Under (-105)
I alluded to this game earlier as being one that should provide plenty of highlight-reel-worthy plays, and I won’t back down from that statement now.
Toledo clocks in at 11th in the nation, scoring 41.1 points per game, and hasn’t seen much of a drop-off (if any) since Mitchell Guadagni took over for an injured Eli Peters at the quarterback position.
Florida International University isn’t too shabby, either, totaling 34.6 points/game, as junior James Morgan boasts an impressive 26.7 TD/INT ratio.
In a game that could come down to which team has the ball last, get ready for an old-fashioned shootout.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Western Michigan Broncos vs. BYU Cougars
- Where: Albertsons Stadium – Boise, Idaho
- When: Friday, Dec 21st, 4:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: BYU -11 (-110), Western Michigan +11 (-110)
- Total: Over 48.5 (-115), Under (-105)
BYU had an up and down year, as they started off hot, knocking off Arizona and Wisconsin on the road.
But then the Cougars got blown out by Washington and lost to Northern Illinois, so we’ll see which Cougar team shows up in Boise. Brigham Young is starting a true freshman under center in Zach Wilson, but they have the advantage of being here before.
Kalani Sitake’s team played on this same field in early November and knows what it’s like to play on the blue turf, so look for BYU to try and flex their muscles here and overpower the Broncos.
Western Michigan has some nice players, and Tim Lester is doing a nice job with the program. But his team has looked overmatched when playing superior competition, and that’s exactly what the case is here.
Birmingham Bowl – Memphis Tigers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
- Where: Legion Field – Birmingham, Alabama
- When: Saturday, Dec 22nd, 12:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Memphis -3.5 (-115), Wake Forest +3.5 (-105)
- Total: Over 73 (-115), Under (-105)
In one of the highest totals on the entire board of bowl games, the Birmingham Bowl features a couple of teams that quite frankly don’t play a lot of defense.
Memphis ranks 93rd in FBS (I-A) in points allowed, and the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest are even worse (102nd).
On the flip side, Memphis can score with the best of them and has a running back that’s as talented as they come. Darrell Henderson rushed for 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns, while his backup, Patrick Taylor Jr., scored 15 times and went over the 1,000-yard mark.
Wake Forest lost by 60 points to Clemson and got spanked by a horrendous Florida State team. That combined with the explosiveness of Memphis’s offense is enough for me here.
Update: My final betting predictions for the 2018 Birmingham Bowl with latest odds is now published. Take a look!
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl – Houston Cougars vs. Army Knights
- Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium – Fort Worth, Texas
- When: Saturday, Dec 22nd, 3:30 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Army -3 (-110), Wake Forest +3 (-110)
- Total: Over 67.5 (-110), Under (-110)
Talk about a tale of two teams. Here you go, ladies and gentlemen. Houston loves to spread the ball out and let their highly-skilled receivers go out and make plays. Army barely throws the ball at all and averages 303 rushing yards per game, the second most in all of college football.
It won’t help that Houston’s star defensive end Ed Oliver has opted to skip the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, as he and Major Applewhite just were not seeing eye to eye. The Cougars head coach is going to wish he had Oliver’s services once Kelvin Hopkins Jr. starts triple optioning the Houston defense to death.
Not only will Ed Oliver be missing, but so will Houston’s defensive coordinator. Mark D’Onofrio was relieved of his duties after the team gave up 52 points to Memphis the day after Thanksgiving. Just way too much for the Cougars to overcome here.
Update: I’ve now released my detailed 2018 Armed Forces bowl betting preview. Have a look to see my latest thoughts on this game.
Dollar General Bowl – Buffalo Bulls vs. Troy Trojans
- Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium – Mobile, Alabama
- When: Saturday, Dec 22nd, 7:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Buffalo -3 (-110), Troy +3 (-110)
- Total: Over 53.5 (-110), Under (-110)
A strong defense versus a strong offense – which group will succeed?
Buffalo has a high-octane offense that scores 34.8 points a game and has a great balance between throwing and running the football. The problem is that Troy hasn’t allowed an opponent to score 30 points since they dropped the opening game of the season to Boise State on September 1st.
Look for Troy to try and take away Anthony Johnson and K.J. Osborn, because no other Bulls player recorded more than 25 catches on the year. When the Trojans are on offense, it’ll be the B.J. Smith and Sawyer Smith show, and that could end up being enough to push them toward a win.
I doubt I’ll be touching this one because it’s just too close to call.
SoFi Hawaii Bowl – Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
- Where: Aloha Stadium – Honolulu, HI
- When: Saturday, Dec 22nd, 10:30 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Hawaii -2 (-110), Louisiana Tech +2 (-110)
- Total: Over (-110), Under (-110)
Another bowl game where one team gets to play in their home stadium, as the Rainbow Warriors get to stay home in Honolulu for the SoFi Hawaii Bowl.
Louisiana Tech makes the long trek west across the Pacific Ocean, trying to finish on a high note after losing their past two games (and three of their last four).
Hawaii is known for their run and shoot offense, as Cole McDonald attempted the third-most passes of any college quarterback. With that being said, Nevada and Utah State traveled to the Aloha State and smashed Hawaii, so it’s not like this team is invincible playing at home.
Update: I’ve written a more detailed preview of the 2018 Hawaii Bowl now. Have a read for the latest odds and my final prediction and betting pick.
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl – Boston College Eagles vs. Boise State Broncos
- Where: Cotton Bowl – Dallas, Texas
- When: Wednesday, Dec 26th, 1:30 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Boise State -3.5 (-107), Boston College +3.5 (-113)
- Total: Over 55 (-115), Under (-105)
Boise State had been playing great football (winners of seven straight) before dropping a heartbreaker in overtime to Fresno State in the MWC title game. That “blip on the map” won’t deter Bryan Harsin from arriving at the Cotton Bowl ultra-prepared for the task at hand.
His task will be an ACC opponent in Boston College who was beaming when they were 7-2, but that was then. Now the Eagles are 7-5 after losing their last three games in succession.
Will the players in the locker room be down about landing in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl – or will they view it as an opportunity to play their best game?
I’ll be waiting patiently as December 26th approaches and be keeping an eye on where the sharp money is headed. Right now, this seems like too much of a toss-up.
Quick Lane Bowl – Minnesota Gophers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
- Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
- When: Wednesday, Dec 26th, 5:15 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Georgia Tech -4 (-118), Minnesota +4 (-102)
- Total: Over 61.5 (-110), Under (-110)
Minnesota won’t have to do any guessing as to what the Yellow Jackets’ game plan will be centered around for the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. Georgia Tech leads the entire college football landscape with a whopping 334.9 rushing yards per game and attempts fewer than ten passes per contest.
Paul Johnson has coached 287 games in his career, but #288 on Ford Field against the Gophers will be his last. Can TaQuon Marshall and company play one last great game for their acclaimed head coach, or will Minnesota’s recent momentum carry the load?
The Gophers drubbed the Badgers by 22 in Madison their last time out, forcing four turnovers and stifling the Wisconsin offense all game long.
They’ll have plenty of time to prepare, and they’ll know exactly what’s coming, but what they can’t emulate in practice is how amped up Georgia Tech will be in Johnson’s final game at the helm.
Update: My full betting preview of the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl has now been published. Check it out!
Cheez-It Bowl – TCU Horned Frogs vs. California Golden Bears
- Where: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
- When: Wednesday, Dec 26th, 9:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: TCU PK (-107), California PK (-113)
- Total: Over 40.5 (-110), Under (-110)
The total being down at 40.5 tells you all you need to know here, as it’s the lowest amongst all the bowl games on the 2018/2019 slate. TCU has always had strong defenses under Gary Patterson, and now California’s D has emerged after giving up just 21.3 points per game, which ranks 24th in the country.
The Horned Frogs winning just six games and being at .500 on the year is a testament to what losing several key players due to injury can do to a team.
Throw in a gauntlet of Big 12 games to go through like at Texas and versus Oklahoma, plus a game versus Ohio State on a neutral field. You’re looking at a team who faced a brutal schedule.
Cal didn’t have it easy, either, competing in the PAC-12 North, but wins against Washington and on the road at USC tell me this team is going to show up.
I’ll be excited to write an in-depth preview for this showdown on ESPN as we inch closer to Christmas.
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl – Temple Owls vs. Duke Blue Devils
- Where: Independence Stadium – Shreveport, Louisiana
- When: Thursday, Dec 27th, 1:30 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Temple -3 (-110), Duke +3 (-110)
- Total: Over 56.5 (-112), Under (-108)
As of November 16th, Duke was 7-3 and playing some really stellar football. They won at Northwestern and at Baylor, and they even won at Georgia Tech and at Miami! But then they got spanked by Clemson (scoring just 6 points) and managed to score just 7 points in an utterly embarrassing 52-point shellacking handed down by the Demon Deacons.
I trust that David Cutcliffe is a good head coach and suspect he has shown his team the film numerous times. Surely the Blue Devils offense won’t lay another egg in Shreveport at the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl – or will they?
Don’t look now, but after taking UCF to the brink (L 52-40), Temple beat Houston and South Florida by 10 points apiece before ending the regular season with a 50-point thrashing of UCONN.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl – Miami Hurricanes vs. Wisconsin Badgers
- Where: Yankee Stadium – New York, New York
- When: Thursday, Dec 27th, 5:15 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Miami -3.5 (-110), Wisconsin +3.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 47 (-108), Under (-112)
I’m not sure why the committee decided to have Miami and Wisconsin meet in a bowl game for the second straight year, but that’s not for me to figure out. Rather than play in the Orange Bowl in sunny weather, these two squads will head to Yankee Stadium in the Big Apple to play the New Era Pinstripe Bowl two days after Christmas.
The total tells me that we’ll see a fair number of punts, as both defenses are well-coached and littered with dynamic athletes. This should be a close one, but I’m wondering just how motivated each of these locker rooms will be.
After all, Miami and Wisconsin were both ranked in the top eight during the 2018 preseason.
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl – Baylor Bears vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
- Where: NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
- When: Thursday, Dec 27th, 9:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Vanderbilt -4.5 (-105), Baylor +4.5 (-115)
- Total: Over 55 (-108), Under (-112)
Here are a couple of Power 5 schools that had to rally late in the year just to clinch a berth to a bowl game. Baylor knocked off Texas Tech in the regular season finale to land at 6-6, while Vanderbilt had to beat Ole Miss and Tennessee to end the year just to reach this point.
Just making it to a bowl game should be considered a big win for Baylor University. When you take into account that Matt Rhule won just one game during his inaugural season as the Bears HC, fans in Waco can appreciate the drastic improvement.
In a battle where we’ll see the Big 12 pitted against the SEC, it’ll come down to who wins at the trenches.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – Purdue Boilermakers vs. Auburn Tigers
- Where: Nissan Stadium – Nashville, Tennessee
- When: Friday, Dec 28th, 1:30 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Auburn -4.5 (-105), Purdue +4.5 (-115)
- Total: Over 54.5 (-110), Under (-110)
When Auburn and Purdue clash at Nissan Stadium in Nashville the Friday after Christmas, we’ll see a pair of teams who have been tested all season long. Purdue played a ton of close games in the Big-10 and had a signature victory against the Buckeyes that came via blowout fashion.
Auburn played Washington, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama, so you don’t have to ask Gus Malzahn what top-ten competition is like. They’ll need to bring their A-game on defense if they’re going to contain true freshman Rondale Moore, as the standout WR has been tormenting the opposition all year long.
See it for yourself below.
The saving grace for Auburn is that Purdue’s secondary is extremely inefficient and allows lots of big plays. Look for Jarrett Stidham to let a few loose in some timely “play-action” scenarios.
Camping World Bowl – West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Syracuse Orange
- Where: Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Florida
- When: Friday, Dec 28th, 5:15 pm (ESPN)
- Line: West Virginia -7 (-110), Syracuse +7 (-110)
- Total: Over 74 (-110), Under (-110)
Only the Alabama vs. Oklahoma National Semifinal game has a higher total than the one we have here in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Will Grier threw 37 touchdowns and for more than 3,800 yards, and Syracuse’s pass defense ranks 111th nationally.
You do the math, but I think that means we could see the Mountaineers score seven or eight times in this one!
And while much of the attention will be on Grier and the West Virginia passing attack, QB Eric Dungey quietly has the Orange scoring 40.8 points per game, one of just 12 schools to average more than 40.
Can either of these defenses force any turnovers or come up with key stops, or will we just see a back-and-forth battle that seems to go on forever?
I suggest circling this one on your calendar because it’s got “instant classic” written all over it!
Valero Alamo Bowl – Iowa State Cyclones vs. Washington State Cougars
- Where: Alamodome – San Antonio, Texas
- When: Friday, Dec 28th, 9:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Washington State -4 (-105), Iowa State +4 (-115)
- Total: Over 54.5 (-108), Under (-112)
It’s hard to imagine two teams that are more polar opposite, but here we are. Washington State is all about passing, offense, and scoring loads of points.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones take pride in playing determined defense and taking away the opponent’s top option. Well, they certainly won’t be able to shut down Gardner Minshew completely because the Washington State QB puts up numbers that are hard to fathom.
Not only did Minshew lead the nation in completions, but he had 85 more than any other QB! The Cougars really like to throw the ball under Mike Leach’s guidance.
However, the fact that Iowa State already curbed Will Grier and the West Virginia offense should give them some hope and at least a fighting chance.
Belk Bowl – South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Virginia Cavaliers
- Where: Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, North Carolina
- When: Saturday, Dec 29th, 12:00 pm (ABC)
- Line: South Carolina -4.5 (-105), Virginia +4.5 (-115)
- Total: Over 54.5 (-110), Under (-110)
The Belk Bowl will be played in the home stadium of the Carolina Panthers. It’ll feature a stingy ACC team in Virginia that’s getting 4.5 points against the Gamecocks of South Carolina.
South Carolina played a much stiffer schedule and was actually the only team in this matchup to face off against ACC’s best in Clemson. They’ll need to use the experience they gained throughout SEC play to try and slow down Bryce Perkins, as the Cavaliers quarterback is as dual-threat as they come.
Gamecocks signal caller Jake Bentley will have a tough assignment squaring off against a Virginia defensive backfield that only allowed 12 touchdown passes in 12 games. I’m not sold yet that South Carolina wins this one, although playing this one just 92 miles from campus certainly won’t hurt.
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl – Florida Gators vs. Michigan Wolverines
- Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
- When: Saturday, Dec 29th, 12:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Michigan -7 (-120), Florida +7 (+100)
- Total: Over 50.5 (-115), Under (-105)
The first of the “New Year’s Six Bowl Games” takes place on Saturday, December 29th, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Michigan had their hopes of being a top-four seed and was ingrained as part of the College Football Playoff. But those hopes were derailed when the Wolverines got punked by Ohio State in Columbus.
After letting that loss sink in, Jim Harbaugh will now face off against the Gators and first-year Florida HC Dan Mullen.
I sense that a win in the Peach Bowl could really jumpstart the Florida program and help them get back to SEC supremacy as they embark on 2019. On the other hand, Michigan needs to win this game to avoid having the fans in Ann Arbor completely melt down.
I’ll wait to hear more, but I have a funny feeling that the Gators will be the team that comes out with more to prove, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see them pull off this upset. Plus, if you bet it right now, you get Florida at even money and don’t have to lay a single penny of juice!
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl – Arkansas State Red Wolves vs. Nevada Wolfpack
- Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
- When: Saturday, Dec 29th, 9:00 pm (CBSSN)
- Line: Arkansas State PK (-120), Nevada PK (-110)
- Total: Over 59 (-112), Under (-108)
The Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl is a matchup between two teams where the oddsmakers can’t decide who should be favored. We’ve got the Red Wolves versus the Wolfpack, so which dogs are going to hunt?
Arkansas State defeated UNLV early in the season, while Nevada was upended by their in-state rival in the final game of the regular season. But that doesn’t mean a whole lot because the Rebels were a “Jekyll and Hyde” team all year long.
Both Nevada and Arkansas State are highly efficient throwing the football down the field (ranked 20th and 23rd in the country respectively), and both defenses have been improving. After beginning the year 4-4, the Red Wolves reeled off four straight wins while holding their opposition to just 13.5 points/game during the final stretch.
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman – Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
- Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium – Annapolis, Maryland
- When: Monday, Dec 31st, 12:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Cincinnati -5.5 (-110), Virginia Tech +5.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 53.5 (-112), Under (-108)
Cincinnati was one of the better stories in college football in 2018 after going just 4-8 last season. The Bearcats already have a 10-win season locked up and will be gunning for their 11th against the Hokies in the Military Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Michael Warren rushed for 1,163 yards and 17 touchdowns for Luke Fickell’s squad, which bodes well here considering Virginia Tech was dreadful against the run all year. The Hokies allowed teams to gash them for more than 206 yards per contest, and I see no reason why Cincy won’t spoon-feed Warren the ball 25 times in Annapolis.
Ryan Willis has only completed 58% of his passes for the team from Blacksburg, and that inefficiency is part of the reason this team had to beat Marshall on December 1st just to crack a bid to a bowl game.
Hyundai Sun Bowl – Stanford Cardinal vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
- Where: Sun Bowl – El Paso, Texas
- When: Monday, Dec 31st, 2:30 pm (CBS)
- Line: Stanford -6.5 (-110), Pittsburgh +6.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 52 (-110), Under (-110)
A team from the west coast will meet a team from the east in El Paso, Texas, with the Hyundai Sun Bowl up for grabs. It’s Stanford vs. Pittsburgh for the first time since 1932, and the spread opened up at a shade under a touchdown in favor of the Cardinal.
It’s been a disappointing year for David Shaw and his men when you consider that Stanford started the year ranked inside the top 15 and had their eyes set on plans much bigger than a trip to El Paso this late in the year.
Running back Bryce Love has just a single 100+ yard rushing game after entering 2018 on the short list of Heisman Trophy candidates.
On the other hand, the Panthers won the Coastal Division in the ACC thanks to a pair of 1,000+ yard rushers in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. After coming off a loss in the ACC title game to the Clemson Tigers, look for Pitt to try to control the clock and keep Stanford QB K.J. Costello off the field.
Redbox Bowl – Michigan State Spartans vs. Oregon Ducks
- Where: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, California
- When: Monday, Dec 31st, 3:00 pm (FOX)
- Line: Oregon -2.5 (-115), Michigan State +6.5 (-105)
- Total: Over 48 (-108), Under (-112)
Ready for a couple teams on opposite ends of the spectrum?
Oregon has a big-time quarterback in Justin Herbert and loves to spread the ball around and get into shootouts. And although the Ducks are known for the play of their QB, they actually run the ball much more often – 41.8 times per game, to be exact.
But here’s the problem.
Michigan State leads the nation allowing just 81.3 rushing yards per game, and they give up just 18.0 points a night.
Oregon is by no means a strong defensive team under Mario Cristobal’s leadership, but they don’t have to be against a sputtering Michigan State offense that musters only 4.6 yards per play. To put that in perspective, that’s tied for 118th out of 130 qualifying teams.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Missouri Tigers vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
- Where: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – Memphis, Tennessee
- When: Monday, Dec 31st, 3:45 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Missouri -8 (-105), Oklahoma State +8 (-115)
- Total: Over 71 (-110), Under (-110)
When you see a total at 71, you don’t have to question what the strengths of these two programs are.
Missouri is led by their pocket-passing guru Drew Lock, while Oklahoma State leans on Taylor Cornelius to do just about everything. The senior QB from Bushland, Texas, not only threw for 3,642 yards and 28 TDs during the year, but he also leads the Cowboys with 10 rushing touchdowns.
His favorite weapon, Tyler Wallace, hauled in 79 balls for 1,408 yards and 11 scores and is a major threat to get off on the 31st. As high-flying as Missouri’s offensive attack is, they are no stranger to allowing big plays on the other side of the ball.
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl – Utah Utes vs. Northwestern Wildcats
- Where: SDCCU Stadium – San Diego, California
- When: Monday, Dec 31st, 7:00 pm (FS1)
- Line: Utah -6.5 (-108), Northwestern +6.5 (-112)
- Total: Over 45 (-110), Under (-110)
The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl should be a barn-burner between two well-coached football teams who both have really good defenses. Both teams are coming off losses in their respective conference championship games and should be hungry to finish the year out right.
So there’s a lot to like with this matchup.
Nobody expected the Wildcats to win the Big Ten West, especially in the dominating fashion in which they did. So even though Kyle Whittingham’s Utes rank 15th in the country allowing just 18.5 points per game, expect Northwestern to be gritty and fight to the end.
It seems like a toss-up kind of a situation to me, although ESPN’s matchup predictor says NW wins this one just 30.3% of the time. Keep an eye on Utah QB Tyler Huntley and see if he’s able to suit up in San Diego. Should he be absent, look to take the Wildcats and the points here.
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl – North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Texas A&M Aggies
- Where: TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville, Florida
- When: Monday, Dec 31st, 7:30 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Texas A&M -4.5 (-110), NC State +4.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 58.5 (-118), Under (-102)
An underlying tone here is that Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher has tons of experience playing the Wolfpack. The former lead man at Florida State used to battle NC State every year, so he’ll have plenty to fall back on when preparing for the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
A matchup to watch closely is how effectively the A&M secondary will play against the Wolfpack’s top two receivers, Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers. Both Harmon and Meyers went over 1,000 yards receiving in 2018, and the Aggies finished 13th (out of 14 teams) in the SEC when it comes to pass efficiency defense.
Trayveon Williams is going to have to carry the load for Texas A&M, something he has done all year long for Jimbo Fisher. Williams rushed for 593 yards on 86 carries (6.9 YPC) over the final three games.
Buckle up, folks. This should be a good one.
Outback Bowl – Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
- Where: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Florida
- When: Tuesday, Jan 1st, 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
- Line: Mississippi State -6.5 (-111), Iowa +6.5 (-109)
- Total: Over 44.5 (-108), Under (-112)
The first game to kick off in 2019 will be the Outback Bowl at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers home stadium. The Mississippi State Bulldogs finished 8-4 (4-4 during SEC play) and have opened as 6.5-point favorites against an Iowa team that Kirk Ferentz has coached since 1999.
Ferentz will be without his star tight end for this one, as Noah Fant has decided to focus on prepping for his future in the NFL. Nate Stanley was already going to have his hands full against the top passing defense in all of the SEC, and it’ll be even more arduous without the services of Fant.
I see both teams having a hard time sustaining drives and putting points up on the board, which is why we see the line way down at 44.5. The line seems a bit wide for my liking here, as these teams seem awfully evenly-matched.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl – LSU Tigers vs. UCF Knights
- Where: State Farm Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
- When: Tuesday, Jan 1st, 1:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: LSU -7.5 (+100), UCF +7.5 (-120)
- Total: Over 54.5 (-110), Under (-110)
Here the UCF Knights are – once again going undefeated throughout the season but failing to garner serious respect from the committee. It’s a shame, too, because these kids in Orlando can really play and have done everything asked of them for the second year in a row. Yet they find themselves as a 7-and-a-half-point dog to a three-loss team.
LSU had quite the eventful year, one that ended with an absolutely crazy 74-72 seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M in the highest-scoring game in FBS history. Thankfully, Ed Orgeron and his players will have had ample time to heal and rest up for their New Year’s Day showdown with Central Florida, because they are going to need it.
Without McKenzie Milton, Josh Heupel’s squad will have to continue working in Darriel Mack Jr., which shouldn’t be an issue considering how skilled the freshman is. And for all the UCF doubters, remember that the Knights beat an SEC team (Auburn) in the Peach Bowl last year.
VRBO Citrus Bowl – Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Kentucky Wildcats
- Where: Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Florida
- When: Tuesday, Jan 1st, 1:00 pm (ABC)
- Line: Penn State -5.5 (-115), Kentucky +5.5 (-105)
- Total: Over 47.5 (-110), Under (-110)
Kentucky has had a marvelous season, as the nine wins mark the most that Mark Stoops has won in Kentucky since being hired as the head coach in 2013. He’ll lean on his junior RB Benny Snell Jr. to do most of the heavy lifting, as Snell carried 263 times for 1,305 yards in 2018, finding pay dirt 14 times.
Terry Wilson is a “running and throwing” QB who will have to stay creative in order to keep a stout Penn State defense off-kilter. The Nittany Lions ended the year allowing a total of 20 points in their final three games – meaning this group is firing on all cylinders right now.
The month of December gives Penn State QB Trace McSorley plenty of time to nurse his various ailments, which is exactly why James Franklin’s group is a 5.5-point favorite here.
Rose Bowl – Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Washington Huskies
- Where: Rose Bowl – Pasadena, California
- When: Tuesday, Jan 1st, 5:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Ohio State -4.5 (-115), Washington +4.5 (-105)
- Total: Over 58.5 (-105), Under (-115)
It’ll be Urban Meyer’s last game at Ohio State, as the Buckeyes head coach announced his retirement immediately following the conclusion of the Rose Bowl. It seems as if this comes a bit late, as I think Urban should have stepped down earlier in the year amid all the drama and distractions caused by his inability to simply tell the truth.
Some of the turmoil in Columbus has faded away thanks to the utterly brilliant play of Dwayne Haskins, as the sophomore QB leads the country with a remarkable 4,580 passing yards and 47 touchdowns. One of the three Heisman Trophy finalists, Haskins might be facing his toughest defensive opponent all year in Washington.
The Huskies have a top-five unit in the nation in terms of points against (15.5/game), and Chris Petersen knows how to get the most out of his players. I’m looking for this one to be a “tooth and nail” kind of game, exactly what we’d hope for in the Rose Bowl.
Allstate Sugar Bowl – Georgia Bulldogs vs. Texas Longhorns
- Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
- When: Tuesday, Jan 1st, 8:45 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Georgia -10.5 (-120), Texas +10.5 (+100)
- Total: Over 58 (-110), Under (-110)
Georgia needs to move on from their loss against Alabama and get ready to face the Longhorns in the Big Easy. I see no coach in the country better equipped to get his players prepared for a big game than Kirby Smart, and obviously, the bookies tend to agree.
Either that or they don’t have faith that Texas belongs in a game of this caliber.
The Bulldogs are a double-digit favorite over the Longhorns, who are coming off a loss to the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship. Tom Herman is doing a nice job in Austin, but to me, Texas just isn’t in the same class as Georgia.
I don’t see value screaming out, however, as laying -120 isn’t something I’m very fond of doing. But I sincerely expect Georgia to win this one comfortably.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic – Clemson Tigers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – College Football Semifinal
- Where: AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas
- When: Saturday, Dec 29th, 4:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Clemson -11 (-110), Notre Dame +11 (-110)
- Total: Over 55 (-110), Under (-110)
Death. Taxes. Dabo Swinney gets Clemson to the College Football Playoff. Nothing new here.
Clemson is no stranger to the atmosphere of the College Football Playoff, but for true freshman QB Trevor Lawrence, this will be a first. The 6’5” Tennessee native has been nothing short of phenomenal since becoming the full-time starter, throwing for 24 touchdowns and just four picks.
Travis Etienne averages 8.3 yards a pop and scored 21 touchdowns, and he’s just “option A” in a backfield featuring a host of big-time runners. I like what Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish have on defense, but not enough to think they’ll slow down Lawrence and this group.
Ian Book is going to have to play the game of his life if Notre Dame is going to be competitive here, but I doubt it turns out that way. Expect to see Clemson in the National Championship on January 7th.
Update: I’ve now written my full betting preview for the 2018 Cotton Bowl classic. Check it out for the latest odds and lines and some more in-depth analysis of how I think the game will go.
Capital One Orange Bowl – Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Oklahoma Sooners – College Football Semifinal
- Where: Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, Florida
- When: Saturday, Dec 29th, 8:00 pm (ESPN)
- Line: Alabama -14 (-105), Oklahoma +14 (-115)
- Total: Over 79.5 (-110), Under (-110)
Get your popcorn ready, boys and girls. We’ve got the #1-scoring offense versus the #2-scoring offense with an opportunity to play in the National Championship on the line.
The Capital One Orange Bowl and College Football Semifinal game between Alabama and Oklahoma has the highest total on the entire board at 79.5. It also has the top two contenders for the Heisman Trophy Award in QBs Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray.
Need I say any more?
Tagovailoa underwent ankle surgery following the win against Georgia and is questionable for the game in Miami Gardens on the 29th. I’m going to go ahead and say he’ll be ready to go for Nick Saban, and Jalen Hurts will go back to being the backup.
But does ’Bama even need the Heisman frontrunner to play in order to get by the Sooners?
Oklahoma doesn’t play much defense at all, as they give up 448 yards and 32.4 points per game.
I can’t wait to pick apart this game in full detail, and that time is nearing!
Update: My complete Alabama vs. Oklahoma betting preview is ready and waiting for your attention. Make sure you take a look before placing your bets on 2018 Orange Bowl.
Some Final Thoughts
The college football bowl season is as exciting and invigorating a time as there is for sports bettors in America. Fans of NCAA football know exactly what a rush the second half of December and first week of January are like.
Stay calm and use this page as your starting point to know when and where the bowl games are taking place. The teams competing, the odds and totals of the games, and snippets of what might take place are all meant to get you ready for betting on bowl season.
And don’t forget to routinely check this page all the way until the National Championship, as I’ll be adding individual bowl game previews when I see a betting angle I want to attack.
Time to dive back into some research!