Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier.
- College football players sitting out of bowl games is a growing trend, which can impact betting odds.
- We're keeping a running list of players sitting out and injuries that happened during the season.
College football bowl games have always been exhibitions of sorts, and players have taken that to the next level over the last few years by sitting out to avoid injury and prepare for the NFL Draft.
Many players sitting out won’t affect betting lines. Others might a little bit. We’re keeping track to make sure bettors are up to date on who is playing and who is not.
Offensive Players Sitting Out
- West Virginia QB Will Grier: By far the most meaningful player sitting out for bettors — the line for the Camping World Bowl against Syracuse dropped from -7.5 to -3.5 with the news. Jack Allison, who began his career at Miami but has been with WVU for two years, will likely start. He’s thrown 10 career passes but was a top-200 recruit out of high school. WVU’s left tackle, Yodny Cajuste, will also skip the game.
- South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel: A big-play threat on offense and special teams, Samuel caught 11 touchdowns this season and led the Gamecocks in targets (97) and catches (62).
- Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry: Harry has been as consistent as any wide receiver in the country, catching 213 passes for 2,889 yards in the last three seasons. The Sun Devils are 3-point underdogs to Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
- Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill: Hill has been the Cowboys’ starter for three years and averaged at least 5.5 yards per carry in each of them. He missed the last two games because of injury and will sit out OK State’s bowl game against Missouri.
- Iowa TE Noah Fant: Perhaps the top tight end in this draft class, Fant will be missed against an aggressive and physical Mississippi State defense in the Outback Bowl.
- N.C. State WR Kelvin Harmon: Harmon led the ACC in receiving yards and was a reliable target for quarterback Ryan Finley and the Wolfpack’s excellent passing game. They play Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl.
Defensive Players Sitting Out
- Michigan LB Devin Bush: Bush has not been cleared from a hip injury he suffered against Ohio State and has announced his intentions to enter the NFL Draft. So he’ll be skipping the Peach Bowl as a precaution. Bush had 66 tackles (8.5 for loss) this season and is a projected first-round pick.
- Houston DL Ed Oliver: Considered one of the top prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, Oliver will skip Houston’s bowl game against Army. The Cougars were average against the run this season (63rd in yards per carry allowed) but got gashed by Navy, another triple-option team, for 349 yards and 36 points earlier this season with Oliver healthy.
- Michigan DL Rashan Gary: The No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2016 is NFL bound and will miss the Peach Bowl vs. Florida. Gary has 3.5 sacks and 38 tackles in nine games this season.
- LSU DB Greedy Williams: Another likely first-round pick, Williams played just two seasons for the Tigers but had eight interceptions and 19 passes defended in his career. He’ll sit out the Fiesta Bowl against UCF.
Key Bowl Game Injuries
There are way too many injuries to cover in one post, so I’ll direct you to Sports Insights’ page that tracks all college football injuries.
Here are some important ones that happened late in the year you need to be aware of if you’re betting bowl games. We’ve mainly included players we know are out for the season — we’ll update with questionable players as their statuses get more clarity.
- UCF QB McKenzie Milton: The dynamic quarterback suffered a gruesome leg injury two weeks ago, but Darriel Mack Jr. looked good in his place against Memphis. The Knights are 7-point underdogs to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.
- Houston QB D’Eriq King: King was lost for the season in mid-November. Clayton Tune went 18 of 43 for 256 yards against Memphis to end the year.
- Miami WRs Jeff Thomas and Ahmmon Richards: The Canes’ anemic passing game needs all the help it can get, but is without two of its best receivers against Wisconsin. Thomas left the team a few weeks ago, and Richards suffered a career-ending neck injury in October.
- Utah RB Zack Moss and QB Tyler Huntley: Utah’s backfield starters missed the final four games, and the offense felt the effects in a 10-3 loss to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Utes are -6.5 against Northwestern in the Holiday Bowl.