Numbers can be volatile in bowl games

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When I first moved to Las Vegas over 31 years ago, there was a famous or infamous (depending on how you looked at it) man that already resided in town for decades who was known as the biggest bookmaker in the country. Being that I was just a kid and he was a friend of the family he took me under his wing.

This charming and lovable old-timer gave me advice on such things as where to eat, who to watch out for, and about gambling. He taught me many things about sports betting. If you’re taking bets, all you have to do is move the line accordingly and you’ll always be on the plus side. If you’re betting games, it’s never about the team. It’s always about the number.

As a handicapper and professional sports bettor, I always think back to his advice. Having said that, it is true that this college football season was very unique. At the start of the campaign, oddsmakers were as in the dark as much as us bettors. The first few weeks, some of the lines were off and they paid the price for it. But as the season progressed the numbers became sharper.

This Bowl season, we are experiencing some participating teams not only with losing records, but downright atrocious records. And in many cases, they are truly overmatched.

Tread lightly here though as the oddsmakers know this too. Just because a representative from a significantly stronger conference with a better record is facing a lesser foe, does not mean they will cover those huge numbers. It doesn’t mean they won’t either. But keep in mind that some of these smaller schools know that this is their one chance to make a national name for themselves that will help in recruiting, perhaps get some televised games in future seasons and maybe even some Bowl invitations.

And if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we must expect the unexpected.

Here are this week’s Best Bets (Lines are as of Tuesday and can change. If a line is around a Hot Number or moves against us, be smart):

Wednesday

Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern, Total 49: It’s the New Orleans Bowl and Tech head coach Skip Holtz has done wonders with this year’s 5-4 squad. Following the departure of three-year starter J’Mar Smith, the Bulldogs “O” have accounted for over 29.3 PPG.

The most battle-tested team in the nation, the Eagles are college football’s only team to complete a 12-game regular season. Their 7th ranked rushing unit will shred the lax 88th ranked run defense of Louisiana Tech.

The Bulldogs have played three straight overs while the Eagles enter this matchup having played to four overs in their last five outings. OVER

Memphis -9 vs. Florida Atlantic: Memphis brings an explosive, well-balanced offense (31.6 PPG) into the Montgomery Bowl. Granted, the FAU “D” is one of the best in the nation (16.5 PPG allowed). However, their offense is so bad (20.0 PPG) it just doesn’t eat up any clock to give their stop-unit and rest.

By the second half, the Owls’ defense will be gasping for air. Tigers quarterback Brady White (3,096 yards passing 28/9) and running back Rodrigues Clark (563 yards rushing) will put up career stats here. Memphis is 6-1 ATS the last seven vs. C-USA. FAU is 1-4 ATS the last five overall. MEMPHIS

Friday

Marshall vs. Buffalo -4.5: We’ll stay in Alabama for this Christmas Day matchup in the Camellia Bowl.

 Teams have figured out how to shut down the Marshall offense (13 total points scored the last two games) thus resulting in their defense spending way too much time on the field.

Well, no team in the nation can keep a defense busy and on the field like the No. 1 rushing unit of Buffalo. The Bulls come in here looking for vengeance following their first loss of the season. The Bulls’ star running back Jaret Patterson hurt his right knee in the MAC championship game last week but he’s expected to play against Marshall, which is not good news for the Thundering Herd.

The Bulls are 6-2 ATS the last eight vs. C-USA, 4-0 ATS the last four following a SU loss, and 11-3 ATS the last 14 overall. Look for a strong bounce-back effort here in Montgomery and a merry Christmas for the guys from Western New York. BUFFALO

Saturday

Liberty +6.5 vs. Coastal Carolina: Things changed for Cinderella at midnight. And the same will happen for Coastal Carolina here in Orlando at the Cure Bowl. Liberty’s sole defeat was a 15-14 cover against NC State. Superstar Malik Willis (2,040 yards passing ,20 TDs/4 INT, 807 yards rushing and 10 TD’s on the ground) has the offensive personnel to control the clock and keep the Coastal Carolina offense off the gridiron.

When the Chanticleers do have the ball, they will be threatened by one of the best and most well-balanced defenses (10th vs. the pass, 26th vs. the run) in the nation. The Flames are 21-7 ATS the last 28 as an underdog, 5-1 ATS the last six vs. the Sun Belt, and 7-0 ATS the last seven overall. LIBERTY

Louisiana Lafayette vs. UTSA +13.5: I love that hook here in the First Responder Bowl at Fort Worth. This is way too many points for a Ragin’ Cajuns team to lay against the competitive and feisty Roadrunners squad.

UTSA covered big numbers against such notables as BYU and UAB. They have the ground game to keep this one close.

ULL is 2-5 ATS the last seven vs. winners and 1-4 ATS the last five following an ATS win. UTSA is 5-1 ATS the last six vs. winners and 6-1 ATS the last seven vs. nonconference opponents. UTSA

Last week: 3-0

Season: 28-22

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