2018 College Football Bowl Betting: Odds, Picks for 5 Saturday Games

2018 College Football Bowl Betting: Odds, Picks for 5 Saturday Games article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Zac Thomas and Jordan Love

College football’s 2018-19 bowl season kicks off on Saturday with five games that will carry bettors from 1:30 p.m. ET to after midnight. That’s a full day.

Below we’ve compiled all our bowl betting guides for Saturday in one place. They’re available absolutely free in The Action Network app.

JUMP TO: ULL-Tulane (-3.5) | North Texas-Utah State (-7.5) | Arizona State-Fresno State (-6) | EMU-Ga. Southern (-3) | MTSU-App State (-7)

And don’t forget to join our free bowl betting contest. Pick every bowl game against the spread for a chance to win $500.

College Football Bowl Betting Odds, Picks for Saturday (December 15)

Cure Bowl Betting: UL Lafayette vs. Tulane

  • Odds: Tulane -3.5
  • Over/Under: 59
  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 15
  • Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS Sports Network

>> All odds as of Thursday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets.

Two Louisiana schools will head down I-10 to Orlando to meet in the Cure Bowl to kick off the 2018-19 FBS postseason.

UL Lafayette has been tested this season against Alabama, Mississippi State and Appalachian State twice, while Tulane finished strong under a new quarterback and became bowl eligible on a successful do-or-die 2-point conversion to end the season.

ULL ranks 12th nationally in yards per play on offense but 96th on defense, while Tulane ranks 64th on offense and 57th on defense.

Odds Movement for Tulane-UL Lafayette

By Danny Donahue

Tulane has drawn the slight majority of bets (57%) and an even higher percentage of actual money (70%), but this line is sitting in the same spot at which it opened. A few books did drop the line to -3 for brief moments during the past week, but ultimately oddsmakers have felt more comfortably listing the line with a hook at +3.5.

The market activity relating to the total has arguably been even more of a yawn. Many books have yet to budge the number from its opener of 59. Those that have though, have done so by dropping the number to 58.5 despite a significant majority of bettors (67%) playing the over (see live betting data here).

Cure Bowl Trends to Know

By John Ewing

Since 2005, underdogs in bowl games have gone 239-218-6 (52%) against the spread. Dogs of more than field goal have gone 163-136-2 (55%) ATS.

By Evan Abrams

Tulane enters bowl season on a three-game ATS losing streak. Over the last five years, teams who are listed as the favorite on at least a three-game ATS losing streak entering bowl season are only 4-8 straight-up and against the spread, failing to cover the spread by 4.1 PPG, including losing four of the last five outright.

Bowl Motivated?

By Stuckey

Both teams should be happy to be here, as neither made a bowl last season.

However, I think Tulane will have a slight motivational edge here, as this will be the first bowl appearance for its 20 seniors who locked up their first and only bowl spot in the final game of the season in dramatic fashion over Navy. Lafayette played in a bowl two years ago.

Look Out for Big Plays

By Steve Petrella

This game pits two of the country’s most explosive offenses against each other. And neither team contains big plays all that well. Here’s how each unit ranks in S&P+’s explosiveness measure:

  • ULL Offense: 7
  • Tulane Offense: 5
  • ULL Defense: 85
  • Tulane Defense: 113

Both teams rank in the top 20 in percentage of touchdowns that come from 20-plus yards, as well, per CFBAnalytics.com.

But Tulane and ULL do run the ball way more than the national average. That helped Tulane, along with its excellent defense, go under the betting total in nine of 12 games this season. ULL went 6-6-1 to the under.

How Improved Is Tulane’s Offense?

By Steve Petrella

  • Tulane in its first four games with Jonathan Banks as the starter: 5.81 yards per play.
  • Tulane’s last eight games, with Justin McMillan as the starter: 5.83 yards per play.

The Green Wave offense has had some monster rushing performances with 300-plus yards against Memphis, Tulsa and South Florida, but hasn’t been consistent week to week. And it hasn’t been consistent in the passing game even with McMillan, who has topped a 50% completion rate or 150 yards in just two of his eight starts. It’s been the defense that’s carried the Green Wave.

Tulane is also breaking in a new play caller in Alex Atkins, who has never held that role before.

ULL is better against the run (78th per S&P+ than the pass (113th). While the Tulane offense has seemed better in the last month, I don’t think it can exploit ULL like some teams have this season.

Bet to Watch for Tulane-UL-Lafayette

By Ken Barkley

The decision for Tulane to start and continue to play Justin McMillan at quarterback proved to be the right one, and really turned its season around. Against poor defenses like East Carolina and Navy, he played well enough, and Tulane somehow got to six wins.

Well, guess who has a defense nearly as bad as Navy, and worse than East Carolina? That’s right, the Ragin’ Cajuns!

Statistically, this will be one of the worst defenses Tulane has played all year. Tulane has a small talent edge overall, as well. The Green Wave are basically dropping down a weight-class for this game, and this line appears to be handicapping their recent play with McMillan, as opposed to the season as a whole.

Still, strength-of-schedule aside, from a metric standpoint, I struggle to see where the major advantages for Tulane are in this game that would make them more than a 3-point favorite.

If you look at the S&P+ statistical profiles, the unit mismatches that stand out are both in favor of the Ragin’ Cajuns — their offense is reasonably better than Tulane’s defense, and they have an advantage in special teams.

Tulane has also been awful as a short-favorite all season against teams in this talent range. They lost outright to UAB (Green Wave -4), lost outright at home to SMU (Wave -7), and almost lost the finale to Navy were it not for a courageous 2-point call late in the game (Tulane closed -6 in that game, and again didn’t cover).

Neither head coach has prepped for a bowl as the main guy, but Billy Napier comes with the best kind of experience, being on Nick Saban’s staff during a couple title runs. I think on a neutral field, getting more than a field goal with two teams that really appear even on paper, I would take the Cajuns getting more than 3.

Tulane hasn’t justified favoritism in this type of situation all season, even if it is a little more talented.

Barkley’s Pick: ULL +3.5

New Mexico Bowl Betting Odds: Utah State-North Texas

  • Odds: Utah State -7.5
  • Over/Under: 67.5
  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 15
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
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