College Football Odds, Predictions, Best Bets: Our 4 Favorite Picks for Wednesday’s Bowls (Dec. 29)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalil Farooq.
Editor’s note: Looking for our favorite bowl game bets on Thursday’s slate? Click here.
The days of one or two sporadic bowls are done for the foreseeable future. Yesterday began a five-day stretch with at least three bowl games per day, and today marks Day 2 of this incredible time.
With some early afternoon action on the docket, our crew is getting started early with a prop pick for Maryland vs. Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Then, the action gets heated as our experts take opposite sides in the Cheez-It Bowl between Clemson and Iowa State. To close the night out, we have one spread pick for the Oregon-Oklahoma Alamo Bowl.
So, join us for this ride, and be sure to check back tomorrow — because we’ll be back with even more best bets for Thursday’s four-game slate.
Wednesday College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|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.|
Virginia Tech vs. Maryland
Tagovailoa notably flopped back in Week 5 in Iowa, tossing five picks and totaling a season-low 157 yards in the Terps’ 37-point beatdown. It also snapped the team’s red-hot 4-0 start.
Maryland may have fallen off the rails to the tune of a 2-6 mark down the stretch, but Tagovailoa has posted big numbers virtually all year: 3,595 passing yards (good for 12th nationally) and almost 38 attempts per contest.
He had thrown for more than 272 yards in the four games prior to the Iowa debacle, then five of the next seven, including three with 350 or more in the latter span.
Virginia Tech’s defense, meanwhile, ranks 102nd nationally in tackling, 96th in coverage and 92nd in Middle 8. The secondary allowed north of 300 yards per game on average through the air in the final three.
Pick: Taulia Tagovailoa Over 271.5 Passing Yards
Clemson vs. Iowa State
Reports of Clemson’s great demise may have been slightly exaggerated.
Sure, a 9-3 record is a huge disappointment for the Tigers and their most losses since 2014. But nine wins is still more than the majority of the country and good for 15th in our Action Network Betting Power Ratings.
Clemson will be without defense coordinator Brent Venables, who is returning to Oklahoma, but the Tigers defense is still the best unit in this game by a wide margin.
Clemson is dominant against the run, ranking fourth in Success Rate and sixth in Line Yards. This stout unit gets the added bonus of not having to deal with All-American runing back Breece Hall, who opted out of this game.
That leaves all the pressure on Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy. The veteran is a very good college QB, but he has been a bit careless with the football this season. He posted 11 turnover-worthy plays to just 10 big-time throws.
Purdy being forced into passing situations will mean trouble against a Tigers defense that is 14th in Passing Success, and excels at creating Havoc.
I know this Clemson offense has been abysmal this season, but it put up at least 30 points in each of its final five games. It really got its run game going with Will Shipley and Kobe Pace, who should continue to find success against an Iowa State defense that took a big step backwards and ranks just 71st in Rushing Success Rate.
While this season was a huge disappointment for Clemson, it also was for an Iowa State team that went just 7-5 despite expectations of being the best team in program history.
Clemson is the much more talented team here, and I like it to get it done against the Cyclones.
Pick: Clemson -1.5
Iowa State +1.5
The Cheez-It Bowl is consistently one of the more underrated games we see during bowl season. This year, we get another solid matchup with Iowa State and Clemson set to face off in Orlando.
There are a couple of interesting storylines that have unfolded leading up to this game.
For Clemson, it’ll be without both its offensive and defensive coordinators in this contest. Brent Venables is the new head coach at Oklahoma, and Tony Elliott is off to Charlottesville to take over the Virginia program.
Both of these coaches have been key components of Clemson’s success throughout the last 5-plus seasons, so it will be interesting to see how the Tigers transition on both sides of the ball.
As far as the Cyclones are concerned, the big news for this game is that star running back Breece Hall has opted out to begin preparation for the 2022 NFL Draft. The Clones will also be without defensive starters Kym-Mani King and Isheem Young, who both entered the transfer portal.
Despite the absence of Hall and some defensive pieces, I still love Iowa State’s chances of winning this bowl game. Brock Purdy, Charlie Kolar, and Mike Rose lead a senior class that will be determined to end their careers with another bowl victory.
The Clemson offense has struggled for much of the season, and with Elliott’s departure, things won’t get any easier against a still formidable Cyclone defense.
On the other side of the ball, Clemson has been fantastic all year defensively. That said, I expect Purdy to be able to make some plays through the air, likely to his two most reliable targets in Kolar and Xavier Hutchinson.
Lastly, from a motivation standpoint, I expect the Cyclones to want this one just a little bit more. Clemson is not used to playing in bowl games before New Year’s Day, and Matt Campbell will really want to send this senior class out with a victory.
I’m backing the Cyclones to get it done in the Cheez-It Bowl on Wednesday night.
Pick: Iowa State +1.5
Oregon vs. Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Sooners (10-2) face off against the Oregon Ducks (10-3) in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, with the Sooners designated as the home team. Oklahoma went 5-6-1 against the spread this season, while Oregon went 5-8 through the regular season.
To say that both of these teams faced some turmoil at the conclusion of the offseason would be an understatement. Both programs lost their standout head coaches, with former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley departing for USC and former Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal reuniting with his alma mater in Miami.
Interim head coaches Bob Stoops and Bryan McClendon will lead Oklahoma and Oregon, respectively. A number of key assistants departed for USC with Riley, while Oregon’s coaching staff has pledged to stay intact for the bowl game sans Cristobal.
Both teams have NFL hopefuls that have reasonably opted out of the bowl game, but Oregon is at the disadvantage with over 30 scholarship players missing from the lineup due to injury, transfer or NFL prep.
After replacing quarterback Spencer Rattler in the game against Texas, Caleb Williams has done nothing but impress for Oklahoma. Williams, a true freshman, threw for 1,572 yards and 18 touchdowns to only four interceptions after usurping Rattler as QB1.
Running back Kennedy Brooks has excelled in the back half of the season, averaging 113.3 yards per game and scoring six touchdowns in the final seven games of the year for the Sooners.
Williams and Brooks anchor a Sooner offense that ranks 10th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 38.4 yards per game. The Ducks will have their hands full as they have a defense that ranks a middle-of-the-road 59th in scoring defense, allowing 25.5 points per game.
Oklahoma will have an advantage because of its explosiveness, which ranks 28th nationally.
The Oklahoma defense shouldn’t have a problem stymieing an Oregon offense that ranks 54th in the nation in total offense. Oregon is one of the least explosive offenses in all of FBS, so look for Oklahoma to get enough stops against the Ducks to put its offense in a position to succeed.
My model has Oklahoma as 10.5-point favorites in this game. Look for big plays early and often from Williams.
Lay the seven points in San Antonio as Oklahoma states its case for being a National Championship contender next season.