The Betting Notes You Need To Know For Every College Football Bowl Game

We go through each of the 42 bowl games one by one, bringing you the best betting notes, trends, things to look for, and much more — info you'll want to read before making your bowl game bets.

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2021 7:33 PM ET Read Time: 8 min
Nick Saban Alabama Crimson Tide college football
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There aren’t much crazier times in sports than college football leading up to bowl season. With the coaching carousel, the transfer portal, signing day, and players opting out for the NFL Draft, it can be tough for bettors to stay on top of it all and handicap bowl season.

But we’re here to help you out. We’ve stayed on top of the latest college football news and compiled a list of all the best betting notes, tidbits, trends, stats, and more. So, before you run to the betting window here is everything you need to know for every college football bowl game.

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Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Toledo

  • The Blue Raiders offense stinks if its defense, which leads the country with 2.4 takeaways per game, isn't creating turnovers. But the Rockets turn over the ball less than anyone (0.5 per game). As long as Toledo doesn't join the fans and hit the booze early in Nassau, MTSU could struggle to move the ball.
  • The Rockets take flight with RB Bryant Koback (6.7 ypc). And while it might look like the Blue Raiders have a good run defense. They, in reality, haven't played anyone who can run in the second half of the season. In their first five Division I games they got trampled for 206.2 ypg.

Cure Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Coastal Carolina

  • Despite being the MAC champ, the gritty Huskies were a little lucky this season with seven of their nine wins coming by eight points or less and they have a defense that ranks 117th in yards allowed per play. QB Grayson McCall and the Chanticleers rank 2nd in yards per play.
  • McCall might be the big name, but this game will be about running and ball control. NIU ranks fifth in run-play percentage in the country (64.02%) and 11th in time of possession while CCU ranks 14th and 13th in those categories, respectively.

Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State

  • If you like points, then the Boca Raton Bowl is for you. The total of 68 is the highest of the opening weekend of bowl season. The Hilltoppers are the second-highest scoring team in college football putting up 43.1 points per game. The Mountaineers rank 23rd coming in at 34.2 ppg.
  • Did you know the most prolific QB in college football is in this game? WKU's Bailey Zappe led the nation in passing by over 1,000 yards and threw 13 more touchdowns than Heisman winner Bryce Young. App State didn't face too many great QBs so Zappe will be a completely new test.

New Mexico Bowl: UTEP vs. Fresno State

  • It was a weird week for Fresno State. Head coach Kalen DeBoe and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb left for Washington, and it sounded like QB Jake Haener was going to do the same. But the Bulldogs re-hired Jeff Tedford and it was enough to keep Haener in Fresno.
  • That's a huge boon for a Fresno State offense that, along with stud wideout Jalen Cropper, was the ninth-ranked passing offense. The Bulldogs' dynamic duo will be a problem for a UTEP team that has gone 1-3 ATS as a double-digit dog this season giving up 42 ppg.

Independence Bowl: UAB vs. BYU

  • UAB is all about running the football. BYU's run defense is average at best but, unfortunately, the Blazers will be without top back DeWayne McBride (1,185 yards, 12 touchdowns), who suffered a late-season injury.
  • BYU is going for a second consecutive 11-win season, and you can make the argument they were better than any team in the Pac-12 after going 5-0 against the conference. The Cougars rank 6th in yards per play going against a statistically strong UAB, but BYU has performed well vs. strong defenses all year.

LendingTree Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Liberty

  • Despite being a projected first-round pick in next April's NFL Draft Liberty, QB Malik Willis is expected to play. But which Willis will we get in this bowl? The one who has pro scouts salivating or the one who has struggled with turnovers in the second half of the season?
  • The problem for EMU is they don't cause turnovers, they don't pressure the QB, and they can't stop anyone, ranking 107th in yards allowed per play.

L.A. Bowl: Utah State vs. Oregon State

  • Utah State comes into this one as the surprising Mountain West champion. QB Logan Bonner leads one of the nation's best passing attacks going against an Oregon State team that ranks 75th in opponent yards per pass.
  • The Beavers should be able to run on the Aggies. OSU ranked ninth with 5.3 yards per carry going against a USU defense that ranks 88th in opponent yards per carry. And yes, Jimmy Kimmel is actually sponsoring this bowl.

New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana vs. Marshall

  • Billy Napier may have moved on to Florida, but everyone else is sticking around for the Ragin' Cajuns in this bowl game in their backyard. Louisiana is the Sun Belt Champion and the hottest team in the country after winning 12 straight games.
  • Marshall relies on QB Grant Wells and the passing game but goes against a Louisiana defense that rages against the pass, ranking 16th in the country in opponent yards per attempt.

Myrtle Beach Bowl: Old Dominion vs. Tulsa

  • Ah, one of those "why are there 42 bowl games?" bowls as Old Dominion takes on Tulsa with identical 6-6 records and a spread nearing double digits.
  • Tulsa is a big fave because Old Dominion loves to turn over the ball (two or more in eight of its last nine games) and it has a balanced offense. And you want a nonsensical deciding factor? ODU has just one win against a bowl-eligible team while Tulsa nearly knocked off Cincinnati.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Kent State vs. Wyoming

  • If you like running the football, this bowl is for you. Wyoming and Kent State run the ball the 11th and 29th most, respectively, in the country, while their rush defenses rank 85th and 102nd in opponent yards per carry.
  • The Under is 20-6-1 in Wyoming's last 27 games against a team with a winning record and is 4-0 in Kent State's last four non-conference games.

Frisco Bowl: UTSA vs. San Diego State

  • This bowl sees the C-USA champion (UTSA) go up against the Mountain West runner-up (SDSU) in what will amount to a home game for the Roadrunners.
  • Both teams love to run the ball and stop the run and both stink against the pass. But the Aztecs really can't throw the ball at all, ranking 119th in passing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Roadrunners rank a respectable 46th.

Armed Forces Bowl: Missouri vs. Army

  • Mizzou has one of the worst run defenses in college football (229.3 rush yards allowed per game) and now have to face the Army triple-option offense that was second in the nation in rushing? No thanks.
  • While Mizzou went 3-1 ATS down the stretch, it was still one of the worst bets in the country this season at 3-9 ATS. They also snapped an 11-game ATS losing streak by only losing to Georgia by 37 as 40.5-point underdogs back on Nov. 6.

Frisco Football Classic: North Texas vs. Miami (OH)

  • Confused yet? Yes, this is the second Frisco Bowl this bowl season. It was created so every bowl-eligible team could participate in the bowl season. So, our reward is another watered-down bowl between a pair of 6-6 teams.
  • North Texas won its final five games to create this new bowl thanks to a run game that lives up to its Mean Green nickname. North Texas has the nation's third-ranked rushing attack and faces a Miami run defense that just got gouged for over 300 yards against Kent State.

Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs. Florida

  • Talk about a fall from grace. A year removed from falling just short in the SEC Championship, the Gators went 6-6 and the Dan Mullen era is over. Now, QB Anthony Richardson (knee injury) and DE Zachary Carter (NFL Draft) won't be available.
  • Dillon Gabriel is moving on from UCF but the Knights won five of six down the stretch while leaning on the running game. Florida ranks 77th in opponent yards per rush. Plus, Gus Malzahn should have his team motivated to defeat a big in-state rival.

Hawai'i Bowl: Memphis vs. Hawaii

  • This game will be losing much of its luster with a couple of key players missing. Memphis will be without stud wideout Calvin Austin, who is preparing for the NFL Draft while Hawaii starting QB Chevan Cordeiro is transferring to rival San Jose State.
  • Even without Austin, Memphis QB Seth Henigan, who threw for 3,322 yards and 25 TDs, should be able to pick apart a Hawaii pass defense that ranks 125th in the country.

Camellia Bowl: Georgia State vs. Ball State

  • How is it that the lone bowl game on Christmas Day has 7-5 Georgia State going up against 6-6 Ball State?
  • At least we get the gift of watching the Panthers dynamic running back duo of Tucker Gregg and Jamyest Williams. They and the Panthers' eighth-ranked rushing attack go against a Ball State run defense that ranks 92nd in yards per game.

Quick Lane Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Nevada

  • The Wolfpack opened this game favored by nearly a touchdown. Then news came out that quarterback Carson Strong will skip this bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft. Without Strong, it's now the Mustangs that are favored by about a field goal.
  • The Mustangs had one of the most potent offenses in the MAC but inconsistency held them back. They actually crushed MAC champion NIU in their final regular-season game. Now, they face a Nevada team that ranked 83rd in total defense and really struggled against the run.

Military Bowl: Boston College vs. East Carolina

  • BC got a huge boost to its program when QB Phil Jurkovec announced he would return for another season at Chestnut Hill and the NFL prospect is expected to play in this matchup.
  • Jurkovec and the Eagles will face off against an East Carolina defense that ranks 95th in the country in opponent yards per play.

Birmingham Bowl: Houston vs. Auburn

  • Houston is a balanced and dangerous team that won 11 games in a row at one point this season. They get solid QB play from Clayton Tune and arguably have the best defensive front in the AAC.
  • Auburn lost its final four games of the regular season to finish 6-6. Now, QB Bo Nix has entered the transfer portal which means turnover-prone TJ Finely gets the start. The Cougars rank 21st in the country in takeaways.

First Responder Bowl: Air Force vs. Louisville

  • Air Force had a great season. Their losses came to rival Army in OT, San Diego State, and Utah State, who faced off for the Mountain West crown. The Falcons option offense should have success against a Louisville defense that ranks 91st in opponent yards per carry.
  • Louisville got some good news when QB Malik Cunningham announced he was going to return for his senior season. Cunningham will have to try and beat the Falcons with the arm as Air Force allows just 3.3 yards per carry.

Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech

  • The Bulldogs went an impressive 5-3 SU and 6-2 ATS down the stretch in the SEC. Now, Mike Leach's air raid offense that threw for 385.7 yards per game goes against a Red Raiders pass defense that ranks 118th in the country.
  • Texas Tech became bowl eligible thanks to a soft non-conference schedule but went just 3-6 in Big 12 play and their offense sputtered down the stretch, scoring just 22 points per game over their last five contests.

Holiday Bowl: UCLA vs. NC State

  • Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Zach Charbonnet, and a great UCLA O-line could do some good work against an NC State defense that has allowed nearly 700 rushing yards in recent games against UNC, Syracuse, and Louisville.
  • Wolfpack QB Devin Leary will do his best to keep his team in this game. He leads the country's 19th-ranked passing offense against UCLA's 111th-ranked pass defense (look hard at the Over).

Guaranteed Rate Bowl: West Virginia vs. Minnesota

  • This should be one of the better defensive battles this bowl season. Minnesota ranks fourth in total defense and gives up just 18.3 points per game. West Virginia ranks 41st in total defense and 33rd against the run (the only way Minnesota can move the ball).
  • On offense, West Virginia ranks 77th in total yards while Minnesota comes in at 97th (hint, hint, look at the Under).

Fenway Bowl: SMU vs. Virginia

  • It's appropriate the bowl game played at Fenway Park has the highest total on the board this bowl season at 71 because this game is going to see some home runs.
  • This game features two of the most prolific passers in the country in SMU's Tanner Mordecai and UVA's Brennan Armstrong. They will face pass defenses that rank 124th and 88th against the pass, respectively.

Pinstripe Bowl: Maryland vs. Virginia Tech

  • An ACC rivalry gets reborn at Yankee Stadium in this one, but Virginia Tech will be playing without its head coach after dismissing Justin Fuente. Defensive line coach J.C. Price will be the head coach for the Hokies in this bowl game. 
  • The Hokies defense looks so-so against the pass but have been lit up the last two games allowing 414 and 357 yards to Virginia and Miami. Terps QB Taulia Tagovailoa and the country's 14th ranked passing attack will try to let it fly against Virginia Tech.

Cheez-It Bowl: Clemson vs. Iowa State

  • You could have convinced me this would be a Playoff matchup before the season. But now, it’s the Cheez-It. This is a matchup of two of the best defenses in the country. Both ranks in the Top 10 in total yards but the offenses are a different story. The Tigers look stripless while the Cyclones have NFL prospects in RB Bryce Hall and QB Brock Purdy. Both are expected to play.
  • Dabo Swinney is all by himself. He has seen defensive coordinator Brent Venables take the top job at Oklahoma only to be followed by offensive coordinator Tony Elliot do the same at Virginia. Somewhat surprisingly, Matt Campbell has stayed put at Iowa State.

Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs. Oklahoma

  • Talk about a bowl where you wish you could fade both teams. Both coaches quit on their teams. Mario Cristobal bolted for Miami, Lincoln Riley for USC. Top prospect Keyvon Thibodeaux is prepping for the draft. Spencer Rattler is off to South Carolina. Yeesh.
  • With so much uncertainty in this game look for both teams to lean on the running game with backs Travis Dye and Kennedy Brooks. The Under is also 5-1 in Ducks' last six games as a dog. This total might be too high with both teams having little to play for and even less direction.

Duke's Mayo Bowl: North Carolina vs. South Carolina

  • In somewhat of a surprising move UNC QB Sam Howell is expected to play this game. But why not? He can only raise his draft stock at this point after what some would say was a disappointing season for the Tar Heels.
  • Shane Beamer pulled a big move getting Spencer Rattler from the transfer portal but that won't help him here. Particularly with QB Jason Brown entering the transfer portal. Not to mention top back ZaQuandre White has opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Music City Bowl: Tennessee vs. Purdue

  • Tennessee went 5-3 SU down the stretch thanks to an offense that ranked ninth in scoring (38.9 ppg). The losses came against Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. All Top 10 teams. The Over is 5-0 in the Vols' last five games.
  • Purdue's passing attack won't be as potent in this bowl as NFL-bound WR and arguably one of the best wideouts in the country, David Bell, will sit this one out to focus on the draft.

Peach Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State

  • Pitt QB Kenny Pickett hasn't officially said he won't be playing to prep for the NFL Draft but the line says otherwise. The Panthers opened this matchup as 3-point favorites but the line has since jumped the fence and it's now the Spartans who are 1.5-point chalk.
  • We may as well call this the "keep an eye on the stars status bowl" (still not the longest bowl name. MSU head coach has said he is unsure if Doan Walker winning RB Kenneth Walker III will play. He is battling some injuries and could still declare for the NFL Draft.

Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State

  • The Sun Devils need to run the ball efficiently to be successful. The Badgers allow a country-low 2.2 yards per carry. The Sun Devils will be without their top two running backs in Rachaad White (NFL) and Deamonte Trayanum (transfer portal).
  • The Badgers also rely on the run (215.3 yards per game). And while the Sun Devils' defense has good overall numbers against the rush, good running teams like UCLA, Utah and Oregon State ran all over them.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M

  • Sam Hartman was oh so close to an ACC title and lead a Demon Deacons offense that ranked fifth in scoring putting up 41.2 points per game. But they are facing an Aggies defense that ranked third in points allowed, giving up just 15.9 per contest.
  • Talk about being shorthanded. The Aggies will be without NFL prospects DeMarvin Leal, Leon O’Neal and Isaiah Spiller. QB Haynes King is still recovering from an injury, while Zach Calzada entered the transfer portal. Walk-on freshman Blake Bost is expected to start.

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Washington State vs. Miami

  • The Cougars enter this game with some stability and momentum as Jake Dickert was promoted to head coach. Wazzu went 6-2 in their last eight conference games and were one of the best bets in the country down the stretch going 7-1 ATS during that span.
  • Miami unceremoniously canned head coach Manny Diaz for Oregon's Mario Cristobal. It will be interesting to see what the coaching change does to the momentum of a team that won five of its last six games (4-2 ATS).

Arizona Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Boise State

  • Ah, a bowl matchup fitting of its sponsor. This game will likely get drunk and offensive. Thanks to the potential of an obscene amount of points that is.
  • Broncos QB Hank Bachmeier got a big boost when future wideout and NFL Draft pick Khalil Shakir decided to play in this game. The Broncos dynamic duo goes against a Western Michigan pass defense that ranks 114th in yards allowed per game.

Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal 1): Cincinnati vs. Alabama

  • Cincy made history becoming the first Group of Five team to make the CFP. Can they shock the world and upset Alabama as 13.5-point underdogs? The Bearcats will need to win in the trenches and Desmond Ridder will have to take advantage of a Bama secondary that has struggled at times.
  • It won't matter what Cincy does if Heisman winner Bryce Young plays the way he did against Georgia in the SEC Championship game. But Young will be down one of his best weapons as WR John Metchie III suffered a torn ACL in that game.

Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal 2): Georgia vs. Michigan

  • The biggest question heading into this game will be who will start at QB for Georgia? Stenson Bennett struggled against Alabama in the SEC Championship. Will Kirby Smart give JT Daniels another shot under center instead? (Hint: He should).
  • Can Aidan Hutchinson and Michigan match the Georgia defense? The Wolverines rode that defense and the run game led the Wolverines to their first Big Ten Championship since 2004. Michigan has also been one of the best bets in college football this season going 11-2 ATS.

Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. Arkansas

  • Arkansas is a run-first offense that rumbles for 223.6 yards per game and dual-threat QB KJ Jefferson is a load to bring down. Penn State ranks 23rd in the country allowing just 3.6 yards per carry.
  • Penn State could be missing some key components for this game. Star wideout Jahan Dotson has not yet confirmed if he will play in this game and the Nittany Lions will also be without defensive coordinator Brent Pry, who took the top job at Virginia Tech.

Citrus Bowl: Iowa vs. Kentucky

  • If you hate good quarterback play and great defense then the Citrus bowl is for you. Iowa ranks 123rd in total offense and faces Kentucky's 26th ranked defense. While the Wildcats rely on RB Chris Rodriquez Jr. to move the ball and face a Hawkeyes team that allows just 3.2 yards per carry. *Cough, Under, Cough.*
  • To make matters worse for Iowa, its only real weapon, RB Tyler Godson has opted out of this bowl in favor of preparing for the NFL Draft.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame

  • Notre Dame did a great job promoting Marcus Freeman as its new head coach after Brian Kelly bolted for LSU. His team looks motivated to play for him but unfortunately, the Irish will be without their top player on both sides of the ball as S Kyle Hamilton and RB Kyren Williams will instead prepare for the NFL draft.
  • The Pokes came within inches of the Big XII title but the defense that led them there is losing its leader as defensive coordinator Jim Knowles left for Ohio State. QB Spencer Sanders (16 TDs, 12 INTs) will need to play better if OK State wants to win this one.

Rose Bowl: Utah vs. Ohio State

  • Utah is exactly the type of team Ohio State has had trouble with this season. A physical team that can pressure the QB and can run the ball. Just like Oregon or Michigan. Utes QB Cam Rising provides just enough balance for the offense to be a problem. Utah is a live dog in this one.
  • Keep an eye on the status of stud Ohio State wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Both are projected first-round picks in the upcoming NFL draft and have yet to confirm if they'll play in this game.

Sugar Bowl: Baylor vs. Mississippi

  • In a somewhat shocking move, Rebels QB Matt Corral has said he will play in this bowl game. Corral has the potential to be the first QB taken in this April's NFL Draft.
  • Baylor's dramatic goal-line stand secured the Big XII title. But the Baylor defense has been susceptible vs. the pass ranking 70th in the country. The Bears should be able to run the ball against the Rebels but it might be hard to keep up with Corral if he gets in a groove.

Texas Bowl: LSU vs. Kansas State

  • The Brian Kelly era is here at LSU but who will be under center for LSU in this bowl? Both starting QBs Myles Brennan and Max Johnson have entered the transfer portal. You can also expect most of the Tigers draft prospects to sit this one out as well.
  • QBs will be the theme in this bowl. Can Kansas State QB Skylar Thompson recover from his injury in time to start this game? If he does he'll get a chance to put up some yards against an LSU defense that ranked 76th in passing yards allowed per game.

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