NCAA Football Bowl game betting primer

Dec 31, 2014 9:18 AM

Bowl season has a habit of producing some utterly insane results. So the hope is that you can either sidestep these yearly landmines by avoiding the game altogether or somehow find yourself on the correct side of an absurd outcome.

Look no further than the Christmas Eve spectacular between Western Kentucky and Central Michigan for proof, as the Hilltoppers (that’s obviously the team we were backing) blew a 49-14 fourth quarter lead, but hung on to win (and not cover) 49-48.

Twitter exploded following the 75-yard miracle that doomed our evenings, but all you can really do in those situations is shake it off as quickly as possible and hope that the gambling gods balance out your karma somewhere down the road.

Actually, to hell with all of that. I’m still pissed about that finish.



No. 2 Oregon Ducks (12-1, 5-0 road) vs. No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (13-0, 4-0 road)

When: Thursday, January 1 at 5:00pm ET

Location: Pasadena, California

Open: Oregon -8

Current: Oregon -9

Oregon in 2014: 9-4 ATS, 6-6-1 to the OVER

Florida State in 2014: 3-10 ATS, 8-5 to the UNDER

Analysis: Correct me if I have this wrong: The defending champion Florida State Seminoles, winners of 29 straight games, head to the Rose Bowl as a staggering 9-point underdog for a matchup with Oregon, per Sportsbook I get the fact that the Ducks won and covered the number in each of their final eight games of the year while the Seminoles covered the spread in just three of 13 contests this season, but that is far too many points to lay against the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner. FSU has been in the big spot before, while 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota has never come close to this grand of a stage. The Seminoles may have played down to their competition this season, but with a month to prepare and far more on the line come January 1, they’ll get up in a big way for this semifinal encounter.

Notable trends: Oregon is 5-2 ATS over its last seven bowl games while Florida State is 8-1-1 ATS over its last ten bowl games.

Pick: Florida State (+9)





No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1, 3-1 road) at No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1, 4-0 road)

When: Thursday, January 1 at 8:30pm ET

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Open: Alabama -9.5

Current: Alabama -9.5

Alabama in 2014: 5-8 ATS, 6-6 to the OVER

Ohio State in 2014: 8-5 ATS, 11-2 to the OVER

Analysis: The Crimson Tide are a juggernaut and there is no disputing that sentiment, as it’s tough to find flaws in a program that has gone 72-8 (.900) with three national championship victories since 2009. Still, this is a big number to lay on a squad that has gone just 5-11-1 ATS over its last 17 games that will be facing a well-rested and ultra-prepared Urban Meyer football club. Ohio State’s 21st-ranked scoring defense (21.2 pts/gm) will be the key to success in the Sugar Bowl, as Bama has recorded 42 or more points in each of its last three contests. And don’t think for one second that Meyer hasn’t been selling the Buckeyes on the fact that many feel they shouldn’t be playing in this game (TCU, anyone?). We’ll hold our nose here in the hopes that a +10 surfaces sometime before kickoff.

Notable trends: Alabama is 0-7-1 ATS over its last eight non-conference games while Ohio State is 6-2 ATS over its last eight non-conference games.

Pick: Ohio State (we’re waiting for +10, but will play +9.5)



Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 3-2 road) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (6-6, 2-3 road)

When: Friday, January 2 at 3:20pm ET

Location: Jacksonville, Florida

Open: Tennessee -2.5

Current: Tennessee -3.5

Iowa in 2014: 6-6 ATS, 6-5-1 to the OVER

Tennessee in 2014: 6-6 ATS, 6-4-1 to the UNDER

Analysis: Say what you will about Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes, but the reality of the situation is that the man is good with a month to prepare his team for postseason play. Ferentz is 5-1 ATS over his last six bowl games and word around the campfire is that the Hawkeyes have been putting together some exceptional practices in the build-up to the school’s showdown with Tennessee. We believe that this will be a classic situation in which the public shows heavy support for the SEC school over the Big Ten program, so we’ve got no problem backing the contrarian angle here on January 2.

Notable trends: Iowa is 6-2 ATS over its last eight neutral site games while Tennessee is 3-8 ATS over its last 11 non-conference games.

Pick: Iowa (+3.5)



East Carolina Pirates (8-4, 3-3 road) vs. Florida Gators (6-5, 2-2 road)

When: Saturday, January 3 at 12:00pm ET

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Open: Florida -7.5

Current: Florida -7

East Carolina in 2014: 5-7 ATS, 6-6 to the OVER

Florida in 2014: 6-5 ATS, 8-3 to the OVER

Analysis: East Carolina hasn’t played in a January bowl game since 2010 and missed the college football postseason entirely last year, so the assumption is that this team should be pretty jacked up at the chance to knock off a reeling SEC school that just dumped its head coach after another disappointing campaign. After opening as more than a touchdown favorite, Florida has since been knocked down to as low as -6.5 at some shops, which is a significant move since it crossed through the key number of 7. The thought process here is that we’ve got a motivated team (ECU) against a squad that probably cares very little to be playing in this game, so we might as well take the touchdown and brace for the upset.

Notable trends: East Carolina is 5-0 ATS over its last five non-conference games while Florida is 4-1 ATS over its last five bowl games.

Pick: East Carolina (+7)

Joe Fortenbaugh, worked as an NFL Agent from 2003-2006 at JB Sports, Inc. Follow Joe on Twitter @joefortenbaugh, and check out his website at You can reach him at [email protected].