College Football Bowl Betting Guide: Thursday, December 29th
Remember the fantasy scene from Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd Christmas fights the chef after dispatching the waiter that hits on Mary Swanson? The finishing move, where Jim Carrey rips out his heart, wraps it in a doggy bag, and hands it back to him, is how my betting day went yesterday.
✓ Duke Adjusted -6.5 (W 30-13)
✕ Kansas Moneyline (L 55-53 3OT)
✕ Oregon 1H -7 (L 21-14)
✕ UNC 2H TT OVER 14.5 (6 POINTS!)
After a 2-1 start to the week, that 1-3 performance brings me to a crushing 3-4 record. Hand up; that was as bad of a day as it gets. The Kansas Moneyline loss in triple overtime hurt me worse than getting the entire UNC/Oregon game wrong.
The good news is it can only get better from here as I spent a sleepless night in the lab trying to find an edge in these Thursday’s college football bowl slate.
Make sure you’re signing up and taking advantage of all the free bets and risk-free offers this week as we continue to roll with some (responsible) degenerate bowl action.
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Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium, NY)
Minnesota (-10.5) vs. Syracuse | O/U 44
The big story heading into the Pinstripe Bowl is the status of Minnesota’s quarterback Tanner Morgan. The super senior hasn’t played since early November after suffering an upper-body injury against Nebraska. Yesterday, head coach PJ Fleck announced that Morgan is clear to play but will “see how the game unfolds.”
Backup QB Athan Kaliakmanis went 3-1 in his four starts but threw only three touchdowns to four interceptions. The Golden Gophers’ bread and butter is their do-it-all running back, Mo Ibrahim, complemented by their stout defense. Ibrahim ranked 2nd in the nation with 19 rushing touchdowns and finished 4th in rushing yards with 1,594.
Minnesota’s defense holds opposing quarterbacks to a 57.4 completion percentage, giving up only eight touchdowns to 13 interceptions this season. On the ground, they allow just 3.7 yards per rush and 105.8 total yards per game (15th in FBS). With Syracuse’s laundry list of opt-outs and a vulnerable offense, the Gophers might be smelling blood in the soil.
Syracuse’s primary offensive weapon and star left tackle are both out for the Pinstripe Bowl. RB Sean Tucker accounted for 1,310 scrimmage yards and 13 total touchdowns as the engine for the Orange offense. Replacing him will not be easy, especially with Matthew Bergeron entering his name into the NFL Draft (PFF’s 9th OT prospect). In more bad news, Syracuse has surrendered 41 sacks already this season (120th in FBS) while losing five of their last six games.
The only saving grace for the Orange is that they also possess a dangerous defense. Syracuse brings the 2nd ranked passing defense in the country to Yankee Stadium (188.8 yards/game) and gives up a lowly 3.8 yards per rush while totaling 31 sacks.
This game screams an adjusted parlay play, with Minnesota winning in a low-scoring affair, as is a tradition in the Pinstripe Bowl.
UNDER 44 (-110)
Minnesota -2.5 + UNDER 42.5 = +160
The Cheez-It Bowl (Orlando, Florida)
Florida State (-10) vs. Oklahoma | O/U 65
From its humble beginnings as the Blockbuster Bowl to its identity crisis in the 2010s, the third annual Cheez-It Bowl is here to stay. Sadly, some Oklahoma Sooner players don’t respect the pageantry of the Cheez-It Bowl just yet and decided to train for the NFL draft instead.
Eric Gray served as Oklahoma’s bell-cow running back, and his 90.6 PFF season grade is in elite company. The Sooners will miss his 6.4 yards per carry average, but maybe, more importantly, both of their starting tackles. Anton Harrison and Wayna Morris will forgo the prestigious Cheez-It Bowl for said NFL Draft, leaving QB Dillon Gabriel as a sitting duck against Florida State’s destructive front seven which ranks 20th in the country with 34 sacks.
Gabriel still will have his favorite target, WR Marvin Mims Jr, and terrific pass catcher/blocker, TE Brayden Willis. But the Seminoles boast the 2nd best passing defense in college football, allowing just 158.9 yards per contest. Florida State also brings in the ACC’s top-ranked offense and rushing attack, averaging 217.8 yards per game.
QB Jordan Travis continued to trend upward as a premier dual-threat quarterback, completing over 63% of his throws for 22 touchdowns to four interceptions and rushing for 4.9 yards per carry plus another seven scores on the ground. Sophomore RB Trey Benson has rushed for 80 or more yards in five straight games and should have a field day against the Sooners’ 108th-ranked run defense (189.0 yards per game). Lastly, the Seminoles finished the season scoring at least 38 points in their last five straight games.
OVER 65 (-110)
Florida State Total Points 41-50 (+210)
Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
Texas (-3) vs. Washington | O/U 66.5
In a defacto home bowl game for the Longhorns, this spread seems very suspect at the surface level. However, Texas will be without PFF’s 30th overall draft prospect in RB Bijan Robinson, and PFF’s 10th running back on their big board, Roschon Johnson.
Both backs accounted for 2,576 scrimmage yards, making up nearly half of the Longhorns’ total yards this season. They will try to replace that production with redshirt freshman Jonathan Brooks and true freshman Jaydon Blue, a four-star recruit. But all eyes will be on Ohio State transfer and redshirt freshman QB Quinn Ewers.
Ewers started the season on a heater, winning four of his first six starts with a 13 to 5 touchdown to interception ratio. Over his last three starts, his record is still 2-1, but he’s thrown just one touchdown to one interception and has been sacked seven times to only two in those previous six games.
Despite not having half of the offensive weapons he relied upon for most of the season, Ewers has standout sophomore WR Xavier Worthy who blossomed into one of the top pass catchers in the Big 12. His nine touchdowns topped the conference, and he finished seventh in receiving yards (676) and receptions per game (4.4). He also serves as Texas’ punt returner and changes a game’s momentum with a 10.4 yards per return average.
The Huskies come into this game on an absolute tear and are geared up for a potential Pac 12 Championship run next season with start QB Michael Penix announcing his return. It shows, too, as Washington has a grand total of zero opt-outs for the Alamo Bowl. They hung 50 burgers in their last two games against Colorado and Washington State and topped 40 points in six games this year.
Fifth-year senior Michael Penix runs the show for the Huskies and will be in talks for a Heisman contender next season. He’s completed 66% of his 500 passes for 4,354 yards and 29 touchdowns to seven interceptions. That’s good for a 106.3 NFL passer rating, and he’s only been sacked five times on the season.
Penix has two stud sophomore receivers at his disposal in Rome Odunze (6-3, 201 lbs) and Jalen McMillan (6-1, 182 lbs), who both went over 1,000 receiving yards and 70 catches this season. That bodes well for a Husky air-raid offense going against the 90th-ranked pass defense in college football, allowing almost 240 yards per game through the air. However, Washington does not bode well in that category either, trailing them at 92nd in pass defense.
Ultimately, I think a fully stocked Washington Huskies roster will be too much firepower against Quinn Ewers and the Longhorns, who will be searching for an identity heading into next season.
Washington Moneyline (+130)
OVER 66.5 (-110)
Lucky Lucciano Lottery Ticket = +707
- Minnesota -5.5
- UNDER 47.5 Minnesota/Syracuse
- OVER 60 Florida State/Oklahoma
- Washington Moneyline