12 Best Bets of the New Year
Ranking your best remaining bets of the college football season is a challenge. Doing so knowing most of your season long analysis has led you to conclusions much different than your boss Clay Travis? Potentially a career limiting move. Then again if picking winners was about making friends and going the easy route, we'd all be retired on a beach with cold frozen drink in hand. Until that day, you're stuck with my analysis to bet (or fade) like your financial freedom depended on it. With only 12 games to go, it's imperative to get our final college football fix.
#12: Heart of Dallas Bowl
Where: Cotton Bowl - Dallas, TX
Line and Total: Oklahoma St opened -17 and 70, Current -17 and 70
Who they're betting: Oklahoma 60%
Trend: The favorite in Oklahoma St bowl games is 14-2 ATS since '81
What bettors need to know: Purdue was 3-6 at one point and needed wins over 3 football powers (Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana) just to get into the postseason. Oklahoma St ranks 7th in the nation averaging over 41 PPG and if focused should be able to score every time they get the football. Oklahoma St ranks 5th nationally in yards per game, Purdue a distant 64th. Purdue was -189 yards per game against the other bowlers on their schedule while OSU was +89. Can you say mismatch if both teams show up?
Why to watch: There aren't many outside of the fact this is the first game of the new year but don't feel bad if you sleep through the first half. Scary to lay lumber but there's no reason this game won't be like the burial Arizona St applied to Navy in the Fight Hunger Bowl
Watchability: 1 (Macy's Parade)
The Bet: Oklahoma St -17
#11 Orange Bowl
Where: Sun Life Stadium - Miami Gardens, FL
Who: Northern Illinois (12-1 SU * 8-3-1 ATS) vs Florida State (11-2 SU * 3-8 ATS)
Line and Total: Opened Florida St -14.5 and 57, Current -13 and 58.5
Who they're betting: 54% Florida State
Trend: Bowl teams > .916 winning percentage off championship game win are 17-7 ATS
What bettors need to know: NIU shouldn't be scapegoated for getting to this bowl game. The finished the year 2-1-1 ATS vs other MAC bowl teams while FSU was 1-5 ATS against the other bowlers on their schedule. Jordan Lynch may be the best QB you've never heard of and will be challenged by a fast athletic front. He called out the FSU defense in comments last week; probably not ideal to poke a sleeping giant in the ribs.
Why to watch: This is a David vs Goliath type BCS game and in the past its yielded interesting results: Utah upset Alabama and Boise beat Oklahoma but we also saw UGA absolutely shred an outclassed Hawaii team. If Florida State wants to be there, this could get ugly however I'd be concerned about motivation. Bang for my buck, I have to side with the talent here especially since the Huskies enter this game without a coach.
Watchability: 2.5 (The Replacements)
The Bet: FSU -13
#10 Go Daddy.Com Bowl
Where: Ladd Peebles Stadium - Mobile, AL
Who: Arkansas St (9-3 SU * 7-4 ATS) vs Kent St (11-2 SU * 9-2-1 ATS)
Line and Total: Opened Arkansas St -3.5 and 61.5, Current -4 and 61
Who they're betting: 54% Arkansas St
Trend: Sun Belt Teams are 0-5 SU in Bowl Games against teams with win % > .666
What bettors need to know: Neither team will enter the bowl game with the coach who led them to such successful seasons. All things being equal, these teams combined for 20 wins this year and made people a small fortune as bettors. Both teams rely heavily on their ground games averaging over 215 ypg of the pedestrian variety.
Why to watch: By the time we get to this game, its almost the end of the college football season. Savor every second of it, even if it will feel like the 400th MAC vs Sun Belt bowl game.
Watchability: 2 (ESPN Playmakers)
The Bet: Arkansas St -4
#9 Compass Bowl
Where: Legion Field - Birmingham, AL
Line and Total: Opener Ole Miss -3.5 and 52.5, Current -3.5 and 52
Who they're betting: 61% Ole Miss
Trend: Bowl dogs returning to the same bowl they lost in LY are 11-2 ATS vs opponent off a DD win
What bettors need to know: Both teams deserve a ton of credit for even getting to the postseason. Pittsburgh started their season with a loss to Youngstown St while many projected Ole Miss to finish dead last in the SEC West. The Rebels allowed 267 or more yards passing in each of their last 5 games. Pitt QB Tino Sunseri was intercepted only 2x all season long throwing his last pick in the Panthers 3rd game. Over the last 9 games he has attempted 266 passes without being picked off.
Why to watch: These are both programs on the rise under new head coaches trying to take the next step. In what seems like an annual ocurrence, Pittsburgh is back to the same bowl game for the 3rd straight year.
Watchability: 2.5 (SEC Big East Hoops challenge)
The Bet: Pittsburgh +3.5
#8 Sugar Bowl
Where: Superdome - New Orleans, LA.
Who: Louisville (10-2 SU * 5-5-1 ATS) vs Florida (11-1 SU * 7-4 ATS)
Line and Total: Opened Florida -13.5 and 45.5, Current -14 and 45.5
Who they're betting: 58% Florida
Trend: SEC 1-8 SU and ATS L13 years vs Big East (Florida covered vs Cincinnati)
What bettors need to know: Teddy Bridgewater and Jeff Driskel will be 2 of the hottest QB's headed into 2013. Florida was 7-1 against the 8 bowl teams on their schedule but only won 3 games by a margin bigger than the 14 they're laying to the Cardinals. Florida was 4th in the country behind Alabama, Notre Dame, and BYU in points per game allowed.
Why to watch: We know Teddy Bridgewater is good but he hasn't seen an elite defense like this. There are Strong ties (pun intended) between Louisville's head coach and the Gator program. For Florida to be back in the thick of the conference race next year, Jeff Driskel needs turn the corner as a passer especially against a much maligned Louisville defense.
Watchability: 4 (Point Break)
The Bet: Florida -14 and Over 45.5
#7 BCS National Title
Where: Sun Life Stadium - Miami Gardens, FL.
Who: Alabama (12-1 SU * 6-6 ATS) vs Notre Dame (12-0 SU * 7-5 ATS)
Line and Total: Opened Alabama -7.5 and 42, Current Alabama -9.5 and 41.5
Who they're betting: 67% Alabama
Trend: The dog in AP #1 vs AP #2 matchups is 20-8-1 ATS.
What bettors need to know: I won't even try to out do the extensive coverage Clay will provide here on these OKTC pages in the next week. Defense wins championships and both these teams hold opponents to under 100 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game. Buckle your chin straps, this won't be a shootout.
Why to watch: Arguably the 2 most polarizing programs in all of college sports. We'd just need to add in a Duke vs Kentucky hoops game before and every hater out there would find some reason to get fired up.
Watchability: 5 (Diehard Trilogy....in one sitting)
The Bet: Alabama -9.5
#6 Outback Bowl
Where: Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, FL.
Line and Total: Opened South Carolina -3.5 and 48.5, Current South Carolina -5.5 and 48
Who they're betting: 77% South Carolina
Trend: South Carolina 5-9 ATS their last 14 bowl games.
What bettors need to know: Devin Gardner is the X factor at QB for Michigan. His development as a pocket passer gives the Wolverines an element they desperately lacked when they met Alabama the first week of the season. You can't stop Clowney so Michigan needs to contain him by forcing the all world defensive lineman to respect the run game. Both teams hold their opponents to less than 19 points per game but only South Carolina ranks in the top 25 for allowing their opponents points in the redzone.
Why to watch: Michigan needs this game to make the nation respect them as an emerging program. South Carolina had their way with Nebraska last year so at the risk of incurring SEC wrath I'm not quite sure what a win here means to the Gamecocks. This line climbed as high as -6 before there was resistance in the market. The public will push the price back up so anyone interested in betting the dog should wait as long as possible.
Watchability: 4 (Saved by the Bell: The College Years)
The Bet: Michigan +5.5
#5 Capital One Bowl
Where: Citrus Bowl Stadium - Orlando, FL.
Who: Nebraska (10-3 SU * 5-6-1 ATS) vs Georgia (11-2 SU * 7-5 ATS)
Line and Total: Opened Georgia -9.5 and 57, Current Georgia -8.5 and 60
Who they're betting: 73% Georgia
Trend: Bowlers who allowed > 65 points in their last game are 6-2 ATS
What bettors need to know: John Jenkins, one of UGA's best defensive linemen, will be suspended for the game because of academic issues. He is one of the nation's most disruptive forces on the d-line and his presence will be sorely missed. Nebraska was embarrassed in the Big 10 championship yielding 70 points to Wisconsin. Expect the Huskers to be much more focused than the Bulldogs who were within a few plays of competing for the national championship.
Why to watch: Points, Points, and more Points. I'm not sure Nebraska can consistently stop the UGA ground attack nor if the NFL laden defense of UGA sees the Huskers as a challenge that warrants their undivided attention. I'll gladly look for fireworks when one defense doesn't want to be there and the other is simply swiss cheese.
Watchability: 3.5 (The Longest Yard)
The Bet: Nebraska +8.5 and Over 60
#4 Gator Bowl
Where: Everbank Field - Jacksonville, FL
Line and Total: Opened Mississippi St -3 and 52, Current Northwestern -1 and 52
Who they're betting: 76% Northwestern
Trend: The last bowl win for Northwestern was in 1949
What bettors need to know: The Wildcats were pointspread darlings this year and made their bettors a heap of cash. Northwestern used 2 QB's that nearly split reps during the regular season but only mustered 14 TD passes between them and 161 yards passing a game. Mississippi St started the year hot as a pistol winning 7 straight before losing to Alabama. The Bulldogs dragged themselves to the finish with a 1-4 mark but should see the Gator Bowl as an opportunity to salvage the season.
Why to watch: This gives us reason to take our eyes off the Heart of Dallas Bowl, take the opportunity and run with it!
Watchability: 2 (Eastbound and Down - Third Season)
The Bet: Mississippi St +1 and O52
#3 Rose Bowl
Where: Rose Bowl Stadium - Pasadena, CA.
Who: Wisconsin (8-5 SU * 6-6 ATS) vs Stanford (11-2 SU * 8-5 ATS)
Line and Total: Opened Stanford -6.5 and 47.5, Current -6.5 and 47.5
Who they're betting: 65% Stanford
Trend: Pac 12 bowl teams are 15-3 ATS vs Big 10 opponent off SU win
What bettors need to know: For Wisconsin to be successful, they need to establish a ground and pound attack. Unfortunately for the Badgers the Cardinal are 3rd in the nation against the run and will force the Badgers to throw the football. Wisconsin didn't break the 200 yard passing mark since October 13, a span of 7 games to close out the season. Stepfan Taylor is the man to watch for Stanford, he will be playing on Sundays next year along with Wisconsin's lead running back Montee Ball. If Kevin Hogan, Stanford QB continues to improve the way he did down the stretch David Shaw will have an added dimension for his Cardinal offense in this game.
Why to watch: Barry Alvarez goes back to the sidelines for one last hurrah as a football coach. Wisconsin lost their leader to Arkansas this offseason so it will be interesting to see how the players rally around the program's athletic director taking the reigns.
Watchability: 4 (Godfather 2)
The Bet: Stanford -6 and Under 47.5
#2 Fiesta Bowl
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium - Glendale, AZ.
Who: Kansas St (11-1 SU * 8-2-1 ATS) vs Oregon (11-1 SU * 7-4 ATS)
Line and Total: Opened Oregon -7.5 and 75, Current Oregon -9.5 and 75.5
Who they're betting: 58% Oregon
Trend: Kansas St 7-0-1 ATS vs an opponent with winning record at gametime
What bettors need to know: This game very easily could have been the national title game if not for a fateful November 17 where both sides went down. These are 2 of the best teams in the nation in terms of protecting the football combining for a +41 turnover differential in 2012.
Why to watch: The quarterbacks: Colin Klein (Heisman runner up) against 2013 darkhorse Marcus Mariota will be worth the price of admission. Each team relies so heavily on the decision making of their quarterbacks that if either one of them struggle, it will make for a long night. The battle of wits along the sidelines should be equally compelling with one of college football's hottest commodities Chip Kelly possibly coaching his last game at the college level matched up against the Manhattan legend Bill Snyder.
Watchability: 5 (Craig James against Mike Leach in a celebrity death match)
The Bet: Under 75.5
Where: Cowboys Stadium - Arlington, TX.
Who: Texas A&M (10-2 SU * 6-4 ATS) vs Oklahoma (10-2 SU * 5-6 ATS)
Line and Total: Opened Texas A&M -3.5 and 72, Current Texas A&M -3 and 72
Who they're betting: 63% Texas A&M
Trend: Heisman Trophy winning bowl teams are 6-20 ATS vs opposition with > .667 Winning percentage
What bettors need to know: These two teams are no stranger to each other having met annually as Big XII rivals. Until this meeting, Oklahoma's been favored in 12 straight going 10-2 SU during that span. Expect Manziel as the first ever freshman to win college football's highest honor to have a target on his back. Texas A&M enters the game without Kliff Kingsbury and while Kevin Sumlin is more than capable to mastermind this offense, the Aggies may have some hiccups. Landry Jones is the key for Oklahoma; the once top prospect needs to reassert his prowess under center to make NFL scouts believe he's a worthwhile commodity.
Why to watch: Manziel against the underachieving Sooners defense. Will the Heisman regalia have distracted the young QB over the last month and will the offense be slowed down without their offensive coordinator?
Watchability: 5 (Tony Romo post game press conferences)
The Bet: Oklahoma +3 and ML
Best of luck with all your bets to close out the college football season, may we all cash tickets with a high rate of success in 2013.