With almost a month between games for some teams (longer for others), we bring you a special edition of college football line watch. Covers Experts' Steve Merril takes a look at the NCAAF bowl game odds and signals out a few games to bet now, before they have another chance to move with all that extra time off.
Sharps have flagged these bowl games as early lines to keep an eye on.
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This line for the Gasparilla Bowl opened +8 and was quickly bet down to +7 before it even opened at some other major sportsbooks. Play it now before it dips below this key number. Florida International will be excited for this game after a 4-8 SU season last year. It is the Panthers' first bowl game in six years. They were a solid 8-4 SU this year and finished the regular season with back-to-back wins in which they scored 104 points combined on offense.
Temple will be less excited for this game after a mediocre 6-6 SU regular season. The Owls were 10-3 SU last year before losing their bowl game as a 12-point favorite. Temple was also 10-3 SU in the 2015 regular season when they lost by 15 points as a 2.5-point bowl favorite. The Owls were a weak offensive team this season, averaging just 24.8 points per game on 5.5 yards per play (versus opponents that allow 28.6 ppg and 6.1 yppl).
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This line for the Dollar General Bowl opened at +8 and was quickly bet down to +7.5. Play it now while it remains above the key number of +7. Appalachian State enters with solid offensive momentum as they scored 31 points or more in three of their final four regular season games. Overall, the Mountaineers averaged 33.4 points per game on 6.5 yards per play this year, while allowing just 21.9 points per game on 5.5 yards per play.
Toledo also enters off three straight wins, but might be a little flat after winning the MAC championship game. Toledo probably was hoping for a better bowl bid after a solid 11-2 SU season. The Rockets were strong offensively this year, but weak on defense as they allowed 5.6 yards per play versus a schedule of weak offensive opponents that averaged just 5.3 yppl overall. Toledo's defense is now taking a substantial step-up in class. The Rockets lost last year, 31-28, versus Appalachian State in the Camellia Bowl.
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This total for the Autonation Cure Bowl has risen a couple points higher since opening. These early minor bowl games do have a tendency to be higher scoring, but that might not be the case in this game with two weak offensive teams. Georgia State averaged a paltry 19.7 points per game this season on just 5.4 yards per play (versus opponents that allowed 26.4 ppg on 5.8 yppl). Meanwhile, Western Kentucky averaged just 26.2 points per game on only 5.3 yards per play (versus opponents that allowed 29.7 ppg on 5.8 yppl).
Both offenses were particularly weak down the stretch. Western Kentucky scored 23 points or less in three of their final four regular season games. Georgia State scored only 10 points in each of their final two games. The Panthers have a 5-1 Under mark in their past six games overall. Last year, Georgia State managed just 16 total points in this same bowl game.