Five teams blow the dust off their bowling shoes this month after an extended absence from the postseason. Two of those programs have actually never taken those shoes out of the box.
Here’s a look at the teams bowling for the first time in a long time:
Western Kentucky (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS)
The Hilltoppers, who have only been a member of the FBS since 2008, play in their first big-boy bowl game when they take on Central Michigan in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26. Oddsmakers have tabbed WKU as a 5-point favorite at Ford Field. Western Kentucky was a golden goose for bettors early in the season, going 6-0 ATS, but finished with a 2-4 ATS mark in the final six games.
UL Monroe Warhawks (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS)
The Warhawks are another program making its bowl debut this year. UL Monroe is a 7-point favorite versus Ohio in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 28, snapping an 18-year bowl drought after jumping to Div-IA in 1994. The Warhawks don’t have to travel far with the game scheduled in Shreveport, Louisiana – just an hour and a half drive down the 20.
Kent State Golden Flashes (11-2 SU, 10-2-1 ATS)
The last time the Golden Flashes were featured in a bowl game, The Godfather was cleaning up at the Oscars, Roberta Flack topped the music charts, and former head coach Darrell Hazell was eight years old. Kent State makes its first bowl appearance since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl, in which it lost 21-18 to Tampa, when it faces Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 6. Books have KSU as a 3.5-point underdog following Hazell’s departure to Purdue.
Duke Blue Devils (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS)
The Blue Devils may be staples of the college hoops postseason but the football version of the Dukies hasn’t been bowling since the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl, when Duke lost to Wisconsin 34-20 as an 8-point underdog. This year’s team just made the bowl cut with six wins and draws Cincinnati for the Dec. 27 Belk Bowl in Charlotte. Books are dealing Duke +7 after the team stumbled into the postseason with four straight losses SU and ATS.
San Jose State Spartans (10-2 SU, 10-2 ATS)
The Spartans are one of the best bets in college football and are 7-point favorites versus Bowling Green in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27. This is San Jose State’s first bowl game since 2006 when it beat New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl, 20-12, as a 3-point underdog. Before that, SJSU hadn’t been bowling since 1990. The Spartans have fared well in bowl season, posting a 5-3 SU mark going back to the 1946 Raisin Bowl.