Stuckey & Wilson: Our 2 Favorite Bowl Moneyline Underdogs
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baylor head coach Matt Rhule
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Each week on The Action Network Colleges Podcast, Collin Wilson and I picked our two favorite moneyline underdogs for each Saturday’s college football slate. Well, were not done just yet with bowl season now in full effect.
We also wanted to share our two favorite moneyline underdogs for bowl season, which will both kick off next week. If you’re feeling lucky, a moneyline parlay of both pays just under 7-1.
- 2018: 16-28 +3.95 units
- 2019: 13-17 +2.05 units
Wilson: Florida State +165
- Spread: Arizona State -4.5
- Over/Under: 54
- Date: Tuesday, Dec. 31
- Time: 2 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
- Location: El Paso, Texas
The roster situation for each team could be described as “fluid.”
Freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels has been electric this season thanks to the help of his two best skill position players: running back Eno Benjamin and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
However, Benjamin and Aiyuk will sit out the Sun Bowl in preparation for the NFL Draft. Benjamin represents 71% of the total rushing yards on the roster — a number that climbs to 91% if you remove Daniels’ 319 yards on the ground.
And Aiyuk had 65 receptions for 1,192 yards to represent 39% of the Sun Devils passing game production. The combination of Aiyuk and Benjamin absences in the Sun Bowl leaves Daniels with just 52% of his targets and 51% of his total receiving yards.
Additionally, head coach Herm Edwards fired most of the offensive staff, including coordinator Rob Likens.
Meanwhile, Florida State will be without star running back Cam Akers. However, leading wide receiver Tamorrion Terry is practicing and on track to play, stating his decision on the NFL may come after the Sun Bowl.
There have been other roster moves on the FSU roster as well. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook and linebacker Dontavious Jackson have moved on from the team, while offensive lineman Jauan Williams has missed practices due to personal reasons.
I expect both offenses (neither of which were elite when fully healthy) to take a step back here with some of the missing pieces. However, the loss of production is worse on the ASU side.
Also, what really hampered the Florida State offense this year was subpar play along an offensive line that ranks outside the top 100 in Sack Rate. But I’m not as worried about that here against an Arizona State defense that doesn’t get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks as it also ranks outside the top 100 in the same category.
The Sun Devil advantage on special teams is a bit of a concern but Florida State could more than make up for that discrepancy with how much better it has been in the finishing drives department on both sides of the ball.
Ultimately, the difference could come down to Florida State’s coordinator combination of Kendal Briles and Harlon Barnett against an undermanned ASU staff. Expect Florida State to have the edge in mid-game and halftime adjustments.
There’s just too much value here to pass up on against an Arizona State offense that should struggle without its two best position players. Expect this coin flip to go right down to the wire as most ASU games seem to anyway.
Pick: FSU +165
Stuckey: Baylor +195
- Spread: Georgia -5.5
- Over/Under: 41
- Date: Wednesday, Jan. 1
- Time: 8:45 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Location: New Orleans, La.
Well, I’m going right back to the team I backed last year as my favorite bowl moneyline underdog and backing the Baylor Bears.
From a motivational perspective, I have serious questions about a Georgia team that had dreams of making the playoff while avenging its collapse in last year’s SEC championship. The Bulldogs achieved neither and now find themselves in the same bowl game against a Big 12 team once again. And we all know how that ended last year against Texas.
On the other hand, I’m confident that Baylor will be fully motivated here to take on an SEC team in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. This is an enormous game for a program that is just two years removed from winning one game.
This is also a spot where Matt Rhule thrives in as a head coach against the spread. Just take a look at these two nuggets:
- 29-15-1 ATS on the road or on a neutral
- 33-15 ATS as an underdog
In fact, Rhule is the second-most profitable coach as an underdog since 2005 among 527 coaches in our Bet Labs database. He will have his troops ready for this one.
Not only are their motivation questions on the Georgia side, its offense will look completely different. All-American LT Andrew Thomas won’t suit up in preparation of the NFL Draft. (He will likely go as a first-rounder.) Starting RT Isaiah Wilson then followed suit and also won’t play. Oh, and it doesn’t end there. Starting guard Ben Cleveland was ruled academically ineligible. That’s three starting offensive linemen from the clear strength of the offense.
Kirby Smart’s bunch will also be without its top two receivers. Lawrence Cager and Dominick Blaylock had season-ending injuries. And the passing attack is nowhere close to as efficient without Cager in particular.
How about the running back position? Well, Georgia may not have two of its top five backs, including leading rusher DeAndre Swift, who has been dealing with an injury and could skip the game for the NFL draft. Also, we may see a suspension announced in regards to James Cook, who recently got pulled over with brandy and a gun in his car.
To me, all of this news adds up to Georgia as a whole not really caring about this game. And the offense is a shell of itself.
The excellent Georgia defense will still make life difficult for Baylor. But I trust Charlie Brewer to make enough plays to give Baylor a great shot to pull this out in a likely low-scoring affair.
Pick: Baylor +195