CFB YTD: 131-114-5 (53.47%) +4.92u
Bowl SZN is here. I apologize for getting the preview out a day late but Friday caught up to me really fast and I didn’t manage to get a preview up in time but my picks went out on Action days ago and I had 1.5u on NIU +10 and 1u on Toledo -9.5 so it was a small profit backing the MAC on day one of Bowl SZN. Starting with today, I’ll have a preview out the day before or the morning of each new slate of games (I have it scheduled to be 6 total previews including giving the semifinals their own preview). There are a ton of games today as it’s the first Saturday of the SZN so this preview will just be covering the 7 Saturday bowl games and then with Sunday off for the NFL I’ll have the next set of games previewed late Sunday or night Monday morning before ODU kicks off.
This will be the only place to get my real analysis on each game but if you just want the picks, I have them in on the Action app for almost every single bowl game. Also in case of any COVID or unexpected opt-outs, it’s a good idea to be following on Action in case of any hedge, middle opportunities, or quick bets before line moves. Now let’s get into the games.
Western Kentucky (+2.5) vs. App State o/u 66.5
One last ride with Zappe Hour. We don’t really have a choice but I like it on its own- I’m rolling with the ‘Toppers here. Both teams are coming off a conference championship loss so the key is finding who will manage to bounce back and be motivated for this early bowl game. App State was one of the favorites to win their conference and was favored in the conference championship game while WKU was a Cinderella longshot who had a magical season. I think from that perspective App State will just see their season as lost while WKU will really want to top it off with a bowl win. WKU has their OC leaving for a new job, Bailey Zappe heading to the NFL, and multiple players in the transfer portal but they have all committed to being there for this game which makes me think this team has a special bond and wants to win one more as a group before they go their separate ways as all parties could just split early if they had nothing left to play for.
Play: 1.5u WKU ML (+110)
UTEP (+11) vs. Fresno State o/u 51.5
Fresno State will be without both their Head Coach and OC for this game who have left for Washington. To make it even more complicated, their stud QB Jake Haener announced he’d be heading to Washington along with his old coaches and then was told by the NCAA that he wouldn’t be granted a waiver (I believe because he had already transferred from Washington to Fresno so he’d have to sit a year??? I don’t get the NCAA) so is staying at Fresno for next season. There is chatter that his teammates are not exactly thrilled about his decision to leave and now walking back through the door like nothing happened. It is not clear if Haener will start or not but I would guess because he missed practice and may have (at least temporarily) lost the locker room, they will roll with one of their two freshman QBs. Regardless of who plays QB, I like what UTEP can do defensively and they have not been to a bowl game since 2014 and haven’t won a bowl game since 1967 so this is a BIG DEAL to folks in El Paso. I think we could see two teams at opposite levels of motivation here. Picks up.
Pick: 1.5u UTEP +13.5 (got this line early, like at 10 or better)
UAB (+6.5) vs. BYU o/u 54.5
BYU is an ELITE team at home. This year at home they beat Utah, Arizona State, and UVA to propel to a great 10-win season. However, away from home was a different story. They beat USC, Washington State, and Arizona all by one score and lost by two TDs to Baylor. I love their coach Kalani Sitake but he is very much a Mike Tomlin, rah-rah, type guy. BYU are great as underdogs when no one expects anything out of them but they are 2-5 ATS as favorites this season. Bill Clark always has his guys ready to go and if DeWayne McBride plays for UAB I think I’ll sprinkle some ML here.
Pick: 1.5u UAB +7 (if you can get +7 at -120 or better do it, but I like this at any #)
EMU vs. Liberty (-9.5) o/u 58
Malik Willis is basically confirmed to be starting this game for Liberty and as a guy who is a top-level NFL prospect but is not a guy who has been able to play a lot in the national spotlight this year, I think he’ll take this opportunity on national TV game against a meh MAC defense to put up some huge numbers. I look for Liberty to score basically at will and have that elevate their defense to roll against this EMU team that really does nothing for me.
Pick: 1.5u Liberty -8 (like to 10)
Utah State vs. Oregon State (-7.5) o/u 67.5
Both of these teams are at relatively full strength from a personnel and coaching perspective (other than OSU missing their stud LB to injury) and exceeded expectations this year so should be at full motivation full for this game. The only small thing from a non-football perspective is Utah State is coming off an improbable Mountain West Championship Game win as dogs over SDSU so they could be somewhat hungover for this random bowl game but overall these are two programs on the rise and I think they’ll both be up for it. That honestly takes the hard part out of the cap and it all comes down to football. To make a long story short, Oregon State matches up well with Utah State. Oregon State has a really balanced offense and can exploit your weakness and Utah State doesn’t really have a strength on D… I think this will allow OSU to really mix up the pass game with Chance Nolan and run game with BJ Baylor and keep the Aggies on their toes.
Pick: 1u Oregon State -7
ULL vs. Marshall (+4) o/u 55.5
Billy Napier is gone and a lot of his staff is halfway out the door or all the way out the door. I think ULL comes out flat after their MASSIVE win in the Fun Belt Championship Game. The seniors have waited their whole careers to finally win that game (they had lost twice and had it canceled last year) and clearly were motivated to win one last game for their coach. With him gone and that chip off their shoulder I think we see a less than stellar effort from the Cajuns here. Grant Wells seems good to go and the line move corresponds with that. While Billy Napier left for Florida, Marshall HC Charles Huff apparently was offered the Duke HC job and turned it down to stay at Marshall. I think his guys will see that and get up big for their coach.
Pick: 1.5u Marshall +6 (like at 3.5 or better)
SC State vs. Jackson State (-10) o/u 42.5
This is the annual FCS bowl game between the MEAC and SWAC champions headlined by Coach Prime’s Jackson State squad. I think Coach Prime is going to put on a show with his team getting to play in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on ABC with the whole country watching. I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about these teams but Jackson State is 9-2 ATS while SC State is 4-7 ATS and kind of tripped into this game.
Pick: 1u Jackson State -10
BONUS: I am taking the Colts -2.5 for 1.5u Saturday in the now only NFL game of the day. Fuck the Pats.
That’s it for the Saturday slate! I’ll have the preview for the next slate out late Sunday or early Monday! BOL!