Welcome to Bowl Season, one of the most fun betting opportunities the football season provides each year. This is where homework really matters and watching how each time is treating the game is crucial before laying down your money on a pick.
Is this a business trip or a reward? How many players are declaring for the NFL draft and how many coaches have left before the game is played? Most teams haven’t played in a few weeks, so how healthy is the roster? Those are just some of the questions you should be asking before each game kicks off.
If you pay attention and enjoy the work, you can be successful in handicapping these games. Below you’ll find my picks for all 40 games on the schedule with confidence ratings (1-10, 10 being the highest) for each game.
2019-20 College Bowl Picks
Buffalo (-6.5) vs. Charlotte
Buffalo ranks fourth in the country in rushing yards allowed per game, giving up just 95.3 yards per contest. Charlotte needs to rush the ball to win but it’s hard to see the 49ers having much success.
Pick: Buffalo -6.5
Utah State (-4.5) vs. Kent State
Utah State QB Jordan Love has declared for the NFL draft already and this is his last chance to put another strong performance on tape. He needs it because Love’s junior year has not gone as planned. However, he has the talent and the weapons to put up a lot of points on Kent State.
Pick: Utah State -4.5
Central Michigan vs. San Diego State (-3.5)
Expect this game to be low scoring and a defensive struggle. SDSU is only giving up 12.8 points per game, that’s 4th best in the country. CMU gives up 26.8 points per game but SDSU only scores 19 points per game. Be care of SDSU’s recent bowl performances which have not been good.
Pick: SDSU -3.5
Liberty vs. Georgia Southern (-4.5)
Liberty just made Hugh Freeze the highest paid coach outside of Power 5 Conferences and this is the first bowl game in school history. The Flames are fired up for this game. Liberty throws the ball for over 290 yards per game while Georgia Southern gives up over 240 yards per game through the air. The Eagles went 7-5 this year but they have a losing record ATS this season. The wrong team is favored.
Pick: Liberty +4.5
SMU (-2.5) vs. Florida Atlantic
Lane Kiffin has already left for the Ole Miss job, so FAU is being coached by defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer for this game before Willie Taggart takes over. SMU’s offense is one of the best in the country. The Mustangs rank in the top 20 in passing yards and 7th in points scored per game. It’s tough to see FAU scoring enough here.
Pick: SMU -2.5
Florida International vs. Arkansas State (-2.5)
Arkansas State can score. The Red Wolves average over 33 points per game thanks to a passing offense that puts up over 300 yards per contest. FIU’s offense isn’t bad, either, as the Panthers score 26.5 points per game. FIU made headlines by beating Miami but lost its last game to Marshall.
Pick: ASU -2.5
Boise State vs. Washington (-3.5)
This game has so many storylines. Chris Petersen is retiring as the Huskies coach after this game. However, he used to coach Boise State. He REALLY doesn’t want to go out with a loss to the Broncos. Boise State is 12-1 and probably should be in a bigger bowl game than this and the team knows it. They would love to prove a point against a Pac-12 school. It’s a really hard to game to pick but I’ll take the team who should be more motivated.
Pick: Boise State +3.5
Appalachian State (-16.5) vs. UAB
The Mountaineers, out of the Sunbelt Conference, have had an incredible season and continue to put themselves on the college football map. UAB should be proud that it made a bowl game but this is a bad matchup.
Pick: ASU -16.5
UCF (-17.5) vs. Marshall
The Golden Knights score 43 points per game. Marshall scores 25.8, but the Thundering Herd’s defense was hot at the end of the season, leading to a 4-1 mark over its last five games. UCF also won four of five but did it against a tougher level of competition.
Pick: UCF -17.5
Hawaii vs. BYU (-2)
This game falls into one of my rules for betting bowl games. I love betting on teams that don’t have to travel and won’t be influenced by the environment. This is a home game for Hawaii and BYU has known all year that a trip to the islands was waiting for them if they became bowl eligible. It’s cold in Utah in December and this is one of the best vacation spots in the world. Hawaii’s offense is explosive and will have a chance to get a big bowl win here.
Pick: Hawaii +2
Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (-6)
La Tech QB J’Mar Smith is an exciting player who doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. He has thrown just four interceptions compared to 17 touchdowns but he will be tested against the Turnover Chain defense of the Hurricanes. If Smith doesn’t turn the ball over, it feels like the Bulldogs will be more fired up for this game. I’m going to take the points.
Pick: La Tech +6
Pittsburgh (-11) vs. Eastern Michigan
This isn’t the type of bowl trip that kids who go to Pitt dream of getting to play in. It’s in a Dome in Detroit. Not exactly Hawaii. And this is just the fifth bowl game ever for Eastern Michigan and the team will be very motivated.
Pick: Eastern Michigan +11
North Carolina (-4.5) vs. Temple
The return of Mack Brown to college football has been a success so far. The only team that has given No. 3 Clemson a game this year has been the Tar Heels. Temple’s defense has been stellar this season but North Carolina has seen better teams this season.
Pick: UNC -4.5
Michigan State (-4.5) vs. Wake Forest
Talk about a contrast in styles in this game. Wake Forest has one of the highest scoring offenses in the country while Michigan State has one of the top scoring defenses in the country. Defense travels, especially when the Big 10 plays the ACC. This game will be outside in New York too. That’s another advantage for the Spartans.
Pick: MSU -4.5
Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
The Aggies ended the year with back-to-back losses to Georgia and LSU but you learn a lot about your team when you play the best in the country. Oklahoma State lost to Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor this season while giving up a ton of rushing yards. Texas A&M should have a lot of success moving the ball on the ground.
Pick: Texas A&M -7.5
USC vs. Iowa (-2)
This is one of the better bowl matchups of the year. USC is keeping Clay Helton, so you know he will have his team ready to play. Iowa’s offense isn’t great but their defense is one of the best. This just feels like a bigger game for the Trojans and their young roster.
Pick: USC +2
Air Force (-3) vs. Washington State
A service academy is favored over a Power 5 school in a bowl game. That isn’t something that happens all the time but Air Force is a team to be respected. The Falcons have only lost to nationally ranked Navy and Boise State this season and will be fired up for this game. Washington State throws for over 440 yards for game but their defense will be tested to stop a triple-option attack that rushes for nearly 300 yards per game.
Pick: Air Force -3
Memphis vs. Penn State (-6.5)
This feels like a game where a non-Power 5 team had a great season but gets taken into deep water by a Big 10 power and struggles to keep their head up. Penn State’s defense is tremendous and its offense can move the ball on defenses that don’t have the athletes to match up with the Nittany Lions playmakers. Memphis has a lot to be proud of but this a big mismatch.
Pick: PSU -6.5
Notre Dame (-3.5) vs. Iowa State
Notre Dame is playing on the same day as two national semifinal games but they are on the outside looking in for the playoffs. However, the stage is a big one and a chance for the Irish to showcase their program in front of a big audience. Iowa State won’t be shy in this game but they don’t have horses to keep up with the Irish in the trenches.
Pick: ND -3.5
Oklahoma vs. LSU (-14)
LSU has had a magical season. Joe Burrow won the Heisman and the Tigers are big favorites in this game. Oklahoma needed overtime to beat Baylor in the Big 12 title game to get into the playoffs but don’t overlook the experience OU QB Jalen Hurts has in this game. The moment won’t be too big for him. However, it’s the OU defense that will be the problem.
Pick: LSU -14
Clemson (-2) vs. Ohio State
The defending champs are slight favorites over a team that has been crushing everyone in its path all season. Ohio State has not been tested much yet but will be in this game. Clemson has been rolling over every team since the scare at UNC but will finally face a team with an offense that can match its firepower. In the end, it might come down to the play of the quarterbacks and Trevor Lawrence is a slightly better player than Justin Fields.
Pick: Clemson -2
Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan (-3.5)
This a bowl game where it’s hard to know which team will be more motivated. Western Kentucky has some nice wins on its resume and a bowl win would cap a good season. WKU beat Arkansas, Army, and Middle Tennessee State this year. Western Michigan won at Ohio but was 1-5 away from home this season.
Pick: WKU -3.5
Mississippi State (-4.5) vs. Louisville
Louisville has not fared well against the SEC in recent memory. The Cardinals have just one win in the last five meetings with teams from the Southeastern Conference. Can the Cards pull off the upset in Memphis? They should have a chance to do so as Mississippi State barely was eligible to play in a bowl game this year as the Bulldogs lost all three games against ranked opponents this year.
Pick: MSU -4
California vs. Illinois (-6.5)
Lovie Smith has Illinois in a bowl game and that’s great for college football. The Illini’s biggest win of the year was against then-number 6 Wisconsin and that upset helped to shape the college football playoff picture. Cal will be playing this bowl game in their backyard and they should have a big home field advantage. The Bears defense is for real and the Illini may have a tough time scoring in this game.
Pick: Cal +6.5
Florida (-14.5) vs. Virginia
On paper, this is the biggest mismatch of New Year’s 6 Bowl games. The Gators have two losses this season, to Georgia and to LSU. Florida is one of the best teams in the country not appearing in the playoffs. Virginia played in the ACC title game for the first time but got destroyed by Clemson. Now, there is no harm in being killed by the Tigers, but Florida is a tough matchup for the Cavs in a major bowl game.
Pick: UF -14.5
Virginia Tech (-2.5) vs. Kentucky
This is the last game for legendary Va Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster who is retiring. Three other coaches were fired after the Hokies lost to Virginia in the season finale but head coach Justin Fuente has a chance to record his third season of nine wins or more with a win in this game. Kentucky has won three straight games and is led by star running back Lynn Bowden Jr. who has run for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns already this season.
Pick: UK +2.5
Florida State vs. Arizona State (-3.5)
The Sun Devils are a young team and for many, this is a big moment in their careers. ASU Herm Edwards has a staff of coaches chock-full of NFL experience and they will be treating this game like a Super Bowl trip. Florida State will not have star running back Cam Akers for this game as he has declared for the draft, and a new coaching staff will be taking over in Tallahassee next season.
Pick: ASU -3.5
Navy (-2.5) vs. Kansas State
Navy is a really good team and they just beat their archrival in Army 31-7. The Midshipmen lead the nation in rushing and their triple-option attack is not fun to face in a bowl game. Kansas State gives up nearly five yards per rush and that wasn’t against a team that rushes the ball for a living. K State likes to run as well but will they see the ball enough to win this game?
Pick: Navy -2.5
Wyoming (-7.5) vs. Georgia State
Wyoming has one of the best defenses outside the Power 5 and it will be a major challenge for Georgia State’s offense to be productive. GSU defense gives up over 36 points per game and that might be their undoing in this game.
Pick: Wyoming -7
Utah (-7.5) vs. Texas
With this game being played in San Antonio, Utah is going to have their hands full with an Alamodome full of Longhorn fans. If this game was being played in a real neutral environment, I might lean towards the stingy Utah defense controlling this game but the Utes got destroyed by Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. Tom Herman is a wizard when getting points and Texas looked amazing last year in their bowl win against Georgia.
Pick: Texas -7.5
Minnesota vs. Auburn (-7)
The big news in this game is that Auburn star defensive end Derrick Brown will play while Minnesota star linebacker Kamal Martin will not as he prepares for the NFL draft. Brown’s decision to play is a massive sign about how the Tigers are approaching this game and their desire to end the year with a big victory. The Gophers have had a great year but Auburn is battle tested.
Pick: Auburn -7
Alabama (-7) vs. Michigan
The major news before this bowl game was the announcement that star wideout Jerry Jeudy will play for Alabama and that the majority of draft-eligible players will also play for the Tide. That’s really bad news for Michigan and Jim Harbaugh who would love to get a bowl over the best program in college football. With a loaded Bama roster and a QB in Mac Jones who has already played in big games this season, it’s hard to see Michigan’s offense being able to do much in this game.
Pick: Alabama -7
Oregon vs. Wisconsin (-2.5)
Which Oregon team is going to show up in this game? The Ducks team that blew away Utah in the Pac-12 title game or the one that lost at Arizona State? It’s a tough call but Oregon is going to have to find a way to stop Jonathan Taylor from running all over them in this game. Playing in the Rose Bowl is a big deal for both these teams, so motivation won’t be a problem for either squad. I just like Wisconsin’s defense a little more.
Pick: Wisconsin -2.5
Georgia (-6.5) vs. Baylor
The public is going to be all over Georgia to blowout the Bears. However, this is a massive moment for Matt Rhule’s program and Baylor wants to forget about the overtime loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Beating Georgia would accomplish that and springboard the Bears into 2020 with major expectations. If you can get this at +7, I love this play but I’ll take the points. The Bears are sneaky good and I expect them to be in this game until very end.
Pick: Baylor +6.5
Cincinnati (-7) vs. Boston College
Boston College will have a new coaching staff after this game. The Bearcats have one of the best teams outside of the Power 5. This is a mismatch of interest.
Pick: Cincinnati -7
Indiana vs. Tennessee (-1.5)
Indiana Head Coach Tom Allen just got a seven-year contract extension for leading the Hoosiers to an eight-win season. Tennessee is in a bowl game for the first time in three years under head coach Jeremy Pruitt. I expect a lot of points in this game, so the over is definitely in play, but I will take the Vols due to fact that their fans travel more and their players will see a lot of orange in the stands.
Pick: UT -1.5
Ohio (-8) vs. Nevada
Nevada ended the year with a thud as the Wolfpack lost to the rival UNLV and brawl broke out that will result in suspensions next year. Nevada also has a negative point differential this season. Ohio’s offense is explosive and the Bobcats have won their last two bowl games by a combined score of 68-6.
Pick: Ohio -7.5
Southern Miss vs. Tulane (-7)
Tulane comes into this game losing four of their last five contest. That’s not good news as Southern Miss averages over 400 yards of offense per game and will be looking to end their season on a positive note.
Pick: Southern Miss +7
Louisiana (-14) vs. Miami
The Ragin Cajuns can score. Louisiana’s offense puts up nearly 40 points per game and throws up over 500 yards of offense per game. Miami of Ohio’s strength is not its defense, so it might be in real trouble in this game.
Pick: Louisiana -14