Wilson: 2 Early College Football Bowl Bets & Full Projected Lines

Wilson: 2 Early College Football Bowl Bets & Full Projected Lines article feature image
Credit:

Timothy Flores-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rasheen Rice

The College Football Playoff Playoff field was released early Sunday, triggering plenty of oddsmakers to post spreads on the national semifinals. Then, there was a long break, before the flurry of announcements and opening lines, and I made a handful of bets right away.

Oregon and Wisconsin will square off in the Rose Bowl, while Georgia heads to the Sugar Bowl for a second straight year. The Bulldogs will look to avoid the yearly curse of SEC runner-up against Baylor.

Dan Mullen will look to continue his dominance of the state of Florida in recruiting and on the field with an Orange Bowl trip against Virginia. Penn State was awarded an at-large spot in the Cotton Bowl against the best Group of Five team in Memphis.


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Sunday was not without its share of coaching changes. Among the names moving is Eli Drinkwitz of Appalachian State. That did not deter oddsmakers from making the Mountaineers a 17-point favorite against UAB in the New Orleans Bowl, which App State covered with an interim coach last year.

Bowl season can be a hectic time for a gambler trying to stay on top of news. Administrators, coaches and players at any program can look to move toward greener pastures. The Dec. 18 early signing date also limits preparation for the pre-Christmas bowls.

Here are the projections and totals for every  single bowl game. The numbers are based upon power rating with no home-field advantage integrated. Sorry, Hawai’i.

Below that are a few bets I made out of the gate. Catch all the bowl wagers I make on the Action App.

Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern

  • Line: Georgia Southern -6
  • Our Line: Georgia Southern -3.5
  • Total: 55.5
  • Our Total: 50.6
  • Date: Dec. 21
  • Location: Orlando, Florida

If there was a number that jumped off the page during bowl openers, it was Liberty getting more than a touchdown against Georgia Southern. Plenty of factors led to a wager without hesitation.

First, this is the only bowl Liberty was eligible to play over the past two seasons with the transition from FCS. A deal put in place before the 2018 season allowed Liberty the chance to play in the postseason under the right conditions.

Considering the Flames’ meteoric rise from NAIA Independent to the Big South Conference and now FBS Independent, this will be the biggest game in the history of the program.

As of this writing, Hugh Freeze is still the coach at Liberty. Freeze has a proven track record on the field of rebuilding programs.

A 7-5 mark eclipsed a preseason win total of 5.5 while improving plenty of offensive categories. The Flames offense finished top 30 in rushing success rate, line yards and finishing drives.

Freeze returned from bedside/dentist chair coaching against Buffalo to lead Liberty to 5 straight victories.

Beyond Freeze getting a lucrative contract extension or this being Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert’s last collegiate game, the Flames have additional motivation because of slight from the Sun Belt Conference.

Liberty was shunned by both Conference USA and the Sun Belt when transitioning to the FBS. The University was set to depart with 24 million dollars to join either of the conferences, but was ultimately rejected.

Liberty opened the 2018 season with a rout of Old Dominion and later gave full focus in victory over a Troy team that finished 9-3.

 

Liberty will have two weeks to prepare for the Georgia Southern triple option, as well. The Flames rank 15th in defensive power success, which measures the percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or fewer to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown.

Speaking of Georgia Southern, this has not been the most efficient season for the triple option. The Eagles are outside the top 75 in rushing success rate, rank 116th in first downs, 123rd on third down conversions and 92nd in finishing drives.

The statistics are not much better on defense, ranking 127th in opponent red zone points per attempt and 96th in sack rate.

Pick: Liberty +6

Boca Raton Bowl: SMU vs. Florida Atlantic

  • Line: SMU -3
  • Our Line: SMU -6
  • Total: 71.5
  • Our Total: 61.4
  • Date: Dec. 21
  • Location: Boca Raton, Florida

The departure of Lane Kiffin to Ole Miss was made official once the Conference USA title was official on Saturday.

Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was tabbed as the interim coach for the Owls, as the coach is also on Kiffin’s short list for the same role in Oxford. As for players being unmotivated without a coach and playing their home stadium, the opposite is true for Sonny Dykes and the SMU roster.

The Mustangs completed a historic 10-win season and have plenty of bowl motivation after a 5-7 season in 2018. Boca Raton was the desired destination for SMU players and coaches.

Outside of the coach and destination motivation factors on both sides, there should be plenty of points in this game.

Florida Atlantic has fielded a defense that is top 10 in rushing success rate, but the key to stopping SMU is through the air. The Owls are outside the top 75 against explosiveness.

Florida Atlantic ranks outside the top 100 in passing plays allowed over 30-plus yards, while SMU is top 20 in pass explosiveness, ranking second in the nation in passes of 30 yards or more.

Pick: SMU -3