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The 41 Bowl Games And Their Best Odds


Once again, it’s time to go bowling — and not the kind where you show up at some alley that dates to prior generations and realize upon examining the available balls just how oddly the fingers of some humans are configured.

No, we’re talking the NCAA’s upcoming 41 college football bowl games in a span of 17 days, not counting the eventual CFP championship game on Jan. 8. (The semifinal games for it were already well covered by Sports Handle Tuesday, with Michigan favored over Alabama in the Rose Bowl and Texas favored over Washington in the Sugar Bowl.)

We’re talking everyone from the Mountaineers to the Chanticleers getting involved among the 82 teams, in locales as diverse from one another as El Paso and Honolulu, with bowl sponsors ranging from Scooter’s Coffee (slogan: “Scoot in and scoot out!”) to Lockheed Martin (possible slogan: “Bombs away!”).

Heck, just to satisfy the complainers who dare say there are too many bowl games, we’ve even got something called the Famous Toastery Bowl on Dec. 18 in Charlotte, North Carolina, matching Western Kentucky (7-5) against Old Dominion (6-6). And if you’re knowledgeable enough about college football to realize the Monarchs will be seeking revenge for a 23-point home loss to the Hilltoppers the last time they met, well, we’d just have to question your priorities in life.

But when it comes to sports betting, the names of the teams, bowls, and sponsors hardly matter. Every game can be worth as much as any other.

While some will receive more viewers than others, here at Sports Handle we don’t carry any bias. We examined early odds listed Tuesday for all of the games by five of the top national sports betting sites — FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and ESPN BET — to try to bring readers some actionable information.

The key concern with bowl games is all of the changes that take place between now and kickoff about who’s going to play, or even who’s going to coach. There are transfer portal-identified players galore, plus those dealing with injuries, plus those who don’t want to risk new injury due to hopes of selection in the NFL Draft. Lines for the various bowls will shift day to day, accordingly, and bettors may want to wait until closer to the game to have all of the essential information to consider.

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But below we list the betting options that could be weighed as of Tuesday using the widely available sports betting apps.

The Edge Bowls

While the sportsbook odds were closely aligned in most cases, in the four instances below one listed a point spread a full point different from its competitors. We have no idea who’s right and who’s wrong in such cases, but in line shopping we generally like to follow the herd and assume the 80% of sportsbooks listing one spread are collectively smarter than the 20% standing alone.

Gasparilla Bowl, Dec. 21: Georgia Tech +5.5 vs. UCF (DraftKings -110)

Liberty Bowl, Dec. 29: Iowa State -7.5 vs. Memphis (FanDuel -120)

Peach Bowl, Dec. 30: Mississippi +4.5 vs. Penn State (FanDuel -115)

Citrus Bowl, Jan 1: Iowa +8.5 vs Tennessee (DraftKings -110)

The No-Line-Shopping Bowls

Most of the time there’s at least a little variance in odds among these five major sportsbooks, but in the following point spreads they lined up identically (although bettors might want to shop anyway for vig differences, such as -105 compared to -110):

Myrtle Beach Bowl, Dec. 16: Georgia Southern -3.5 vs. Ohio University

Famous Toastery Bowl, Dec. 18: Old Dominion -2.5 vs. Western Kentucky

Hawai’i Bowl, Dec. 23: San Jose State -9.5 vs. Coastal Carolina

Birmingham Bowl, Dec. 23: Troy -7 vs. Duke

Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27: Louisville -7.5 vs. USC

Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Texas A&M -3.5 vs. Oklahoma State

Pop-Tarts Bowl, Dec. 28: Kansas State -3.5 vs. North Carolina State

Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 28: Miami (Fla.) -2.5 vs. Rutgers

Sun Bowl, Dec. 29: Notre Dame -8.5 vs. Oregon State

Gator Bowl, Dec. 29: Clemson -7 vs. Kentucky

Music City Bowl, Dec. 30: Auburn -2.5 vs. Maryland

The Hoped-For-Better Bowls

Sometimes, teams counted on a better fate than where the bowl selection committee placed them. Georgia and Oregon would have made the four-team CFP playoff if they had won their conference championship games. Florida State and Liberty both went undefeated. The question is whether where they ended up gives them more motivation or less.

Orange Bowl, Dec. 30: Georgia -14 (on four of the sites) vs. Florida State (listed +14.5 on DraftKings)

Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1: Oregon -15.5 (FanDuel, Caesars) vs. Liberty (+16.5 on BetMGM)

The Barn-Burner Bowls

With 41 bowl games being played, some are sure to be snoozers. But the high point totals for the following suggest they are more likely to be worth watching for action of the on-the-field variety, regardless of betting action.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Dec. 26: Over/under 65.5 (BetMGM) for Kansas -11.5 (FanDuel) vs. UNLV (+12.5 at BetMGM)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Dec. 23: Over/under 63.5 (all but Caesars, which is 63) for Georgia State -2 (DraftKings, ESPN BET) vs. Utah State (+2.5 at FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars)

Alamo Bowl, Dec. 28: Over/under 62.5 (all but DraftKings, which is 62) for Arizona -2.5 (FanDuel) vs. Oklahoma (+3.5 at BetMGM)

Also, among games previously listed above, the Oregon-Liberty points total is 65.5 at all sites except FanDuel, which is at 64.5. In the Gasparilla Bowl between UCF and Georgia Tech, ESPN BET’s points total of 64.5 is higher than competitors.

The Wake-Me-When-It’s-Over Bowls

The opposite of the above, these are games with the lowest point totals. Even bettors with money at stake may want to take a pass on watching, unless they love 1950s-era football like the Big Ten is so fond of presenting.

Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26: Over/under 37.5 (FanDuel) for Minnesota -3.5 (DraftKings, ESPN BET) vs Bowling Green (+4.5, FanDuel)

The previously mentioned Citrus Bowl pitting Tennessee against Iowa has 35.5 listed everywhere except DraftKings, at 36.5.

The Who’s-Favored-Here-Anyway? Bowls

Three pairings are deemed so close that the sportsbooks lacked consensus on who the favorite is.

Camellia Bowl, Dec. 23: Arkansas State is a 1.5-point favorite over Northern Illinois on FanDuel but Northern Illinois is -1 at DraftKings.

Cotton Bowl, Dec. 29: Ohio State is a 1.5-point favorite over Missouri at FanDuel, but the Tigers are favored by 1 at DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars.

Arizona Bowl, Dec. 30: Wyoming is a 1.5-point favorite over Toledo at FanDuel, but DraftKings and ESPN BET favor the MAC team by a point.

The Blowout Bowls

The oddsmakers view some contests as one-sided by giving them double-digit point spreads. That’s already been noted for Georgia-Florida State, Oregon-Liberty, and Kansas-UNLV. These are others that may be tuned out quickly for lack of drama by those without bets on the game:

68 Ventures Bowl, Dec. 23: South Alabama -15.5 vs. Eastern Michigan (+16 at DraftKings)

Fenway Bowl, Dec. 28: SMU -10.5 (FanDuel, Bet MGM) vs. Boston College (+11.5 at DraftKings)

ReliaQuest Bowl, Jan. 1: LSU -10 (DraftKings) vs. Wisconsin (getting 10.5 points everywhere else)

Every other game’s best odds

L.A. Bowl, Dec. 16: UCLA -2.5 (BetMGM) vs. Boise State (+3 at others)

New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 16: Jacksonville State -3 (DraftKings, Caesars, ESPN BET) vs. Louisiana (+3.5 at FanDuel, BetMGM)

Cure Bowl, Dec. 16: Appalachian State -5.5 vs. Miami (Ohio) (+6.5 at FanDuel)

New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 16: New Mexico State -2.5 (FanDuel) vs Fresno State (+3 everywhere else)

Independence Bowl, Dec. 16: Texas Tech -2.5 (FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars) vs. California (+3 DraftKings, ESPN BET)

Frisco Bowl, Dec. 19: UTSA -9 (ESPN BET) vs. Marshall (+9.5 everywhere else)

Boca Raton Bowl, Dec. 21: Syracuse -3 (DraftKings) vs. USF (+3.5 everywhere else)

Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 23: Utah -6.5 (BetMGM, Caesars) vs. Northwestern (+7 FanDuel, DraftKings, ESPN BET)

Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 23: James Madison -2.5 (FanDuel) vs. Air Force (+3 everywhere else)

First Responder Bowl, Dec. 26: Texas State -4 (DraftKings, ESPN BET) vs. Rice (+4.5 FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars)

Military Bowl, Dec. 27: Virginia Tech -7.5 vs. Tulane (+8 ESPN BET)

Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Dec. 27: West Virginia -3 (DraftKings, Caesars) vs. North Carolina (+3.5 at FanDuel, BetMGM, ESPN Bet)

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