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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
As I mentioned in last week’s Bowl Season preview, if you’re a TRUE diehard CFB fan you really are salivating at the most meaningless of bowl games ahead, right? Sure, we’re all amped for Georgia vs. Ohio State and Michigan vs TCU on New Year’s Eve, but if you’ve been grinding out full Saturday cards since week zero in August as we have, now is the time for the little guys to get their deserved postseason shine and for us to sink our teeth into some intriguing (and often random) bowl game matchups. We’ve collectively spent months on end betting MACTion Tuesdays, Mountain West Friday night tilts, and everything else in between the bigger games, and now those often overlooked programs get their national television spotlight.
As we enter bowl season and FORTY-THREE games ahead, I’m a hair below 47% ATS but there’s certainly time to recover. What bowl season allows us to do is take an eagle-eyed look at each game, question the true motivation of each team playing, see exactly who’s in and who’s out of the lineups, and understand who’s coming out the hungrier team each day. These are the incremental bits of knowledge to take your picks from ignorant to informed. Without further ado, let’s dive in and go bowling!
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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16th
Hometown Lenders Bahamas Bowl – UAB (-11) vs Miami Ohio – 11:30 am ET
A bright and early kickoff to bowl season in paradise – so fitting. This game has no crowd outside of friends and family, there’s a track and field setup around the football field and the game has been host to some wild finishes. Basically, it’s the perfectly awkward way to get bowling going. Both teams won 2 of their last 3 to become bowl eligible. UAB is in between coaches so you do wonder what their disposition is here. Alex’s Play: UAB -11
Duluth Trading Cure Bowl – Troy (-1.5) vs UTSA – 3 pm ET
Day 1 and we’re blessed with a top-25 matchup. Great hustle by the Cure Bowl team to concoct a matchup of “group of 5” powerhouses that deserve some more shine. Both teams had double-digit win seasons and will want to put the punctuation on a successful year. With dynamic QBs on both sides, it’s hard to ignore the potential for a shootout in this one. Alex’s Play – Over 54.5 points
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17th
Wasabi Fenway Bowl – Louisville (-1) vs Cincinnati – 11 am ET
Day 2 of bowl season is chock full with SIX games on the slate, and we start it off at…America’s most beloved ballpark? Yes, that’s right, we’re back at Fenway Park for college football. The first thought on this game is to check and double-check Cincinnati player statuses leading up to kick, and question their motivation. Luke Fickel has left his post and after an underwhelming 9-3 campaign, do the Bearcats get up for a December 17th bowl game with an 11 am kickoff in Boston? Alex’s Play: Louisville -1
SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl – Oregon State (-10) vs Florida – 2:30 pm ET
Another motivation spot here for betters – why on earth will the Gators care to win this game? You’re braver than I am if you take Florida to cover in this one; the game will mean tons more to a Beavers team looking to cap a successful upward trend in 2022. Also of note, the Gators are digging DEEP down their depth chart for a QB to start in this one. Alex’s Play: Oregon State -10
Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel – Fresno State (-2.5) vs Washington State – 3:30 pm ET
The late-night talk show host throws his name on a rather meaningless bowl game, but don’t tell that to Fresno State! The Mountain West champs come rolling into LA on a heater and are led by future NFL QB Jake Haener, who should be looking to ball out on this stage against a PAC 12 defense that was susceptible to big plays. Alex’s Play: Fresno State -2.5
LendingTree Bowl – Southern Miss (-6.5) vs Rice – 5:45 pm ET
This one is for the true degenerates out there – it’s quite tempting to live dangerously and lay a little on the 5-7 Rice Owls, who are clearly stretching the eligibility requirements for bowl games. Unfortunately, the schedule comp does not stack well for Rice, who have been blown away against any form of top-tier competition in Conference USA. Southern Miss is much more battle-tested and should wear them down here. Alex’s Play: Southern Miss -6.5
New Mexico Bowl – SMU (-4) vs BYU – 7:30 pm ET
This one should be a beauty to watch: great uniform contrasts, and the starry night New Mexico night as the backdrop on ABC. On visuals alone, this could be the game to enjoy most, and on the field, it should be a grind. The high over/under total is mostly directed at SMU’s offensive potential, but the point total is quite the climb in bowl season against unfamiliar competition and was immediately bet down from 70. Check Tanner Mordecai’s status before the game on this one. Alex’s Play: Under 65.5
Frisco Bowl – Boise State (-10) vs North Texas – 9:15 pm ET
Having seen this Mean Green squad twice this year, I can tell you that they’re pesky and don’t give up on any game. They’re only 30 minutes from campus and should have a good crowd on hand. If you’re looking for a dog to back on Saturday this may be the one – QB Austin Aune should be able to put points up against a beleaguered Boise State squad. Alex’s Play: North Texas +10
MONDAY, DECEMBER 19th
Myrtle Beach Bowl – Marshall (-10) vs UConn – 2:30 pm ET
No misprint there – UConn FOOTBALL is playing in the postseason, against all odds. Now they face arguably their toughest test of the season against a Marshall squad that gets gritty in between the lines and plays stiffer competition. The Herd are the tougher and more poised team, so it will be hard for UConn to keep this within single digits. It’s okay, basketball season looks more promising for them than usual. Alex’s Play: Over 41 points
BOWL SEASON – TIME TO GET HOT
I’ve avoided true disaster with my picks throughout the regular season, but I’ve yet to deliver one of those “sweep the board, drinks on me” types of slates. All in all right at about 47% ATS so far, and Bowl Season presents the opportunity to do some deeper dives on individual games than you normally would. Not thrilled with the output, but 50% ATS is within sight!
Bowl Season: 0-0 ATS, Season Overall: 35-40 ATS
Each week you can look forward to “This Week in Bowling” pieces where I’ll have plays and a breakdown for EVERY. SINGLE. BOWL. GAME. No exceptions! Plus here’s your reminder that our Bowl Pickem Pools are LIVE, so Get on it!
Tune-In Game of the Week: Troy vs UTSA in the Cure Bowl – we may never be blessed with a day 1 top 25 matchup during Bowl Season again.
Funniest Bowl Game Sponsor: the Wasabi Fenway Bowl – they’re a cloud storage company but I just want sushi now.
Weirdest Line: Southern Miss -6.5, that one could be a snoozer fast.