Betting Early College Football Bowl Games
It was not all that long ago that the college bowl season consisted of a handful of games on New Year’s Day. The schedule expanded slowly into the late 1990’s early 2000’s before exploding to its current slate of 39 games from mid-December right through the first of the year. The final college football game of the season is the College Football Playoff Championship. This year’s game will take place at Levi’s Stadium outside San Francisco on Monday, Jan. 7.
There is a whole lotta football between now and the national title game starting with the first five matchups on Saturday’s (Dec. 15) betting board at all the online sportsbooks taking action on the games. Sports bettors should treat the extended bowl season as a marathon and not a sprint.
Going from a full board of betting action each Saturday of the regular season to just five postseason matchups in the first wave of games will be an adjustment, but it still comes down to finding value in the betting lines. Betting all the games for the sake of generating some action for this Saturday (or any day for that matter) does not make sense unless you have some keen insight into the outcome of each matchup you are putting real money on.
Smart bettors always bet on the sports and matchups that they are most familiar with. If you did not know that the Appalachian State Mountaineers won the Sun Belt title game, let alone played in this Mid Major conference, then why are you betting them to cover as seven-point favorites against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, who just lost to UAB in the Conference USA Championship. This should actually be a really good game between two solid Mid-Major programs, but it is hard to judge the overall effect of the Mountaineers losing their head coach to Louisville heading into this game.
If you are bound and determined to bet on some of the early bowl games, then the best betting strategy is to do your homework on each individual matchup while also taking into consideration some general betting tips for betting postseason college football.
At the top of the list for general betting tips is each team’s motivation heading into its bowl game. Teams from a Power 5 Conference winning their final regular season game to become bowl eligible at 6-6 are not going to be as motivated as a Mid-Major coming off a very successful season with double-digit victories.
There are exceptions to every rule such as Herm Edwards as a master motivator coaching Arizona State, out of the Pac-12. The 7-5 Sun Devils have been paired against the Mountain West’s 11-2 Fresno State Bulldogs in this year’s Las Vegas Bowl. The Bulldogs recently won the MWC’s title game against Boise State as slight 1.5-point underdogs. They are currently favored by 4.5 points against Arizona State. Just as a side note, the Sun Devils won four of their last five games to become bowl eligible in Edwards’ first season at the helm.
Another general betting tip for early college bowl betting is each’s team’s attitude, which goes hand-in-hand with motivation. Some Power 5 teams are happy just to play in a postseason bowl, but elite teams in these conferences expect to be playing on New Year’s Day or at least New Year’s Eve if they failed to qualify for the four-team playoff featuring the ‘best of the best’ in college football.
The Big Ten’s Wisconsin Badgers face the ACC’s Miami Hurricanes in this year’s Independence Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 27. The Hurricanes are favored by four points in a matchup between two teams that were in the top 10 of the preseason AP Top 25 poll. This makes it really hard to gauge each team’s motivation and attitude heading into this bowl game.