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Friday College Football Best Bets | Our Top Picks for Today’s Bowl Games, Including Maryland vs NC State and Clemson vs Tennessee

Friday College Football Best Bets | Our Top Picks for Today’s Bowl Games, Including Maryland vs NC State and Clemson vs Tennessee article feature image
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Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: The Clemson Tigers football team.

  • College football bowl season approaches a fever pitch for Friday's slate of games, which notably includes the Duke's Mayo Bowl at noon ET and the Orange Bowl to cap off the night.
  • If you're looking for the best ways to bet today's bowl games, then you're in luck. Our NCAAF betting staff has delivered six picks spanning four of today's games.
  • Below, you'll find comprehensive analysis and strike prices for each of our NCAAF staff's best bets on Friday, Dec. 30.

Friday’s college football slate is the largest one of the 2022 bowl season.

With bowl games kicking off as early as 12 p.m. ET and running through the first New Year’s Six bowl of the season, there are plenty of bets to be made. That’s where we come in.

Whether you’re looking to place a bet before a college football coach gets his head doused with mayonnaise or you want to celebrate the orangest Orange Bowl in history, we have you covered.

Read on for all six of our college football best bets for Friday’s bowl games, and be sure to check back tomorrow for our College Football Playoff betting coverage.


Friday College Football Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the bowl games that our college football staff is betting on Friday. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time (ET)
Pick
12 p.m.
NC State -115
12 p.m.
Under 46.5
2 p.m.
UCLA Player Prop
3:30 p.m.
Notre Dame -150
8 p.m.
Clemson -4.5
8 p.m.
Under 63.5
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Maryland vs NC State

Friday, Dec. 30
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
NC State Moneyline -115

By Stuckey

After UCLA pulled out of its bowl matchup with NC State at the last second last season, the Wolfpack have been itching to get back to a bowl for this veteran group.

I expect a fully motivated squad for this game, and it appears that MJ Morris will be healthy enough to start at quarterback, which I think gives Dave Doeren’s group the best shot at a win sans Devin Leary.

Not only will NC State hold a coaching advantage here, but it will also have the best unit on the field with its defense.

I think that’s ultimately the difference against a Maryland team that will be missing a few key receivers and defensive starters.

Pick: NC State ML -115

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Maryland vs NC State

Friday, Dec. 30
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
Under 46.5

By Patrick Strollo

Questions abound heading into this game as to what each offensive unit will look like after opt-outs and transfer portal activity.

NC State will be without the services of former starting quarterback Devin Leary and second-leading receiver Devin Carter. True freshman MJ Morris appears to be on track to get the start after suffering an injury in mid-November.

While the status of the offense is up in the air, the Wolfpack defense looks primed to toe the line in the name of mayonnaise after finishing the season tied for 14th in the nation in scoring defense (19.4 PPG).

Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will take the field without his top three route runners after Rakim Jarrett, Dontay Demus and Jacob Copeland all declined the offer to participate.

It’s hard to envision Tagovailoa having a productive afternoon with the fourth, fifth and sixth receiving options being at the top of the depth chart.

On defense, the Terrapins will be without their top cornerback, Deonte Banks. While Maryland’s defense isn’t as good as its counterpart, it does rank 36th in the nation in Finishing Drives and has a favorable matchup against an NC State team that ranks 94th in the same metric offensively.

Based on a season-long data set, my model projects the total for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at 43.5 points. This is three points under the total in available markets right now, and most importantly, does not reflect the aforementioned absences at skill positions for both teams.

I recommend taking the under, as the questions loom large for both teams on offense, while defense remains a source of stability for both programs heading into the season finale.

Pick: Under 46.5 ⋅ Play to 44



Pitt vs UCLA

Friday, Dec. 30
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
Zach Charbonnet Over 100.5 Rushing Yards

By Cody Goggin

I think I took Zach Charbonnet overs in our player props articles more than any other bet this season. So, what better way to close out the season than taking our old friend one more time?

This is going to be the last hurrah for Charbonnet, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the rest of the Bruins as they move on with their careers after this weekend.

UCLA has all of the motivation it could want, and as 7.5-point favorites, there’s a good chance it’ll find itself in a positive game script, meaning its star running back should receive plenty of opportunities.

This season, Charbonnet ran for 1,359 yards and 14 touchdowns on an impressive 7.0 yards per carry. In eight of the 10 games he has played this season, he went over 100 rushing yards and has consistently seen a heavy workload, averaging 19.5 carries per game.

Pitt’s defense has been wonderful this season, ranking 12th in Defensive Success Rate and 14th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

While UCLA doesn’t have a single reported opt-out, Pittsburgh has been hit hard. The Panthers will be missing their two highest-graded defensive players from this season in Calijah Kancey and SirVocea Dennis. These are the only two players on the defense with PFF grades over 85. Dennis’ 92.1 PFF run defense grade is the second-highest in FBS among qualified linebackers.

Defensive end Deslin Alexandre and safety Brandon Hill are also opting out for Pitt on the defensive side of the ball.

On the offensive side, it will be without both Gabe Houy and Carter Warren on the offensive line, as well as running back Israel Abanikanda. Quarterback Kedon Slovis is transferring as well, leaving Pitt with a pair of quarterbacks who combined for 32 pass attempts this season.

UCLA has the second-highest run-blocking grade in the country, and everything lines up well for it to come out of this game victorious.

I’d expect Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet both to have strong showings in their last college games.

Pick: Zach Charbonnet Over 100.5 Rushing Yards (Play to 114.5)


South Carolina vs Notre Dame

Friday, Dec. 30
3:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
Notre Dame ML -150

By Mike McNamara

Notre Dame will be without two of its best players in Michael Mayer and Isaiah Foskey as they prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft. That seems to explain why this line has moved in favor of the Gamecocks.

When you look deeper into the matchup, however, it becomes evident that South Carolina is actually the team that will be more affected by personnel losses.

MarShawn Lloyd and Austin Stogner, two of the most important pieces in Shane Beamer’s offense, have entered the transfer portal. Additionally, Zacch Pickens, Cam Smith, Darius Rush and a few other key defensive pieces for the Gamecocks have chosen to opt-out of the Gator Bowl.

Aside from Mayer and Foskey, Marcus Freeman should have most of his roster available, and Tyler Buchner is actually expected to come back and start this game at quarterback for the Irish.

Notre Dame should be able to have its way on the ground in this game behind one of the best offensive line groups in the country, going up against a South Carolina front that won’t be at full strength.

On the other side of the ball, look for Al Golden to dial up some pressure to get Spencer Rattler off schedule and create some negative plays.

Ultimately, I expect Audric Estime to feast in this game, and South Carolina will not be able to keep pace without some of its best playmakers.

Notre Dame will get it done in Jacksonville, giving Marcus Freeman his first bowl win as a head coach in the process.



Clemson vs Tennessee

Friday, Dec. 30
8 p.m. ET
ESPN
Clemson -4.5

By Cody Goggin

Clemson and Tennessee both come into the Orange Bowl off of strong seasons, but the teams playing in the bowl game will look different than the teams that got them here, specifically at quarterback.

Cade Klubnik took over for DJ Uiagalelei in the middle of the first quarter in the ACC Championship. From the time he came into the game, Clemson’s offense looked immensely better and cruised to a 39-10 win.

In this game, Klubnik completed 20 of his 24 pass attempts for 279 yards and a touchdown, averaging an impressive 0.77 EPA per play on dropbacks.

Even with Myles Murphy and Trenton Simpson opting out of this game, Clemson still has one of the strongest defensive fronts in the country. Its overall efficiency ratings for the season don’t fully reflect what this unit is because of the number of injuries it dealt with, specifically early in the year.

Clemson has the No. 12 defense, per PFF, due in large part to the country’s sixth-best pass rush and 16th-best run defense.

Unfortunately for the Volunteers, when their storybook season stalled against South Carolina, they also lost star quarterback Hendon Hooker for the year.

Joe Milton, who previously played at Michigan, took over for Hooker in that game and started their finale against Vanderbilt. He didn’t need to do too much in that game as Tennessee rolled to a 56-0 victory, but Milton put up an unimpressive stat line of 11-of-21 for 147 yards and a touchdown.

Milton will also be dealing with a lack of help. The Vols have struggled on the offensive line this year, as they rank 90th in PFF pass-blocking grade and 70th in run-blocking grade.

Two of their top receivers, Jalin Hyatt (1,267 yards, 15 TDs) and Cedric Tillman (417 yards, 3 TDs), are both opting out of this game.

To make matters worse for the Vols, Tennessee will also be without offensive coordinator Alex Golesh, who was hired away to USF as its next head coach.

With Klubnik getting his first career start under center against a depleted Tennessee team, everything aligns perfectly to take Clemson.

By the end of Friday night, I think that we will see Dabo Swinney take home his fourth Orange Bowl title in convincing fashion.

Pick: Clemson -4.5 ⋅ Play to -6


Clemson vs Tennessee

Friday, Dec. 30
8 p.m. ET
ESPN
Under 63.5

By Thomas Schlarp

In the all-too-appropriately-named Orange Bowl featuring a matchup of different hues of orange, both offenses will be lacking a bit of juice.

Tennessee is without the services of Hendon Hooker at the quarterback position and will turn to Joe Milton as the starter for the second time this year.

In the regular-season finale against Vanderbilt — the SEC’s second-worst pass defense — Milton went just 11-of-21 for 147 yards and a lone score. That was with leading receiver Jalin Hyatt, who has opted out of this game alongside fellow wideout Cedric Tillman in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.

With Milton against the Commodores, Tennessee leaned on its ground attack, rushing for 362 yards and six touchdowns. The Volunteers aren’t going to find that type of success against a Clemson defense that will have nine of its normal starters on a unit that ranked second in the ACC in run defense.

Clemson’s offense, meanwhile, will also be turning to a backup quarterback after Cade Klubnik makes his first career start in the wake of DJ Uiagalelei’s transfer to Oregon State.

The public generally views Klubnik as an upgrade, and while he looked great against one of the worst passing defenses in the nation in North Carolina, the freshman struggled in limited action against Syracuse and Notre Dame this season. Uiagalelei was far from the only problem on this offense.

Klubnik is getting too much love as some sort of offensive panacea, and the Vols are without some serious pieces from their offense.

This game will likely be close with both teams probably scoring in the mid-to upper-20s, so I’m comfortable taking this down to 61.

Pick: Under 63.5 ⋅ Play to 61


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