For mid-major teams, bowl games can represent many things. For the Georgia Southern Eagles and the Buffalo Bulls, this trip to Montgomery presents an opportunity to finish the season above .500.
That may not mean too much to many programs, but for first-year head coach Clay Helton and second-year head coach Maurice Linguist, it would be a measurable sign of progress to hang a hat on for the offseason.
Here are our free college football picks and predictions for Georgia Southern vs. Buffalo on December 27.
Buffalo vs Georgia Southern best odds
Buffalo vs Georgia Southern picks and predictions
Mixing and matching conferences is the best part of bowl season. It's also the most confounding evaluation test in handicapping. A struggling Sun Belt team against a decent MAC team means...what, exactly?
That is not to diminish either Georgia Southern or Buffalo. It is simply the quandary long-presented by bowl games.
In this exact situation, there is at least a reason to expect both teams to be motivated (a bowl-game rarity). Clay Helton has had a strong first season in Statesboro, turning a 3-9 triple-option team into a functional 6-6 team that also upset Nebraska in the second week of the year. Ending the season with a shootout win over Appalachian State furthered Helton’s quick culture-building, and a seventh win would keep that momentum going.
At 4-8, Maurice Linguist’s first season at Buffalo did not go well, but he rebounded to a 6-6 showing this season despite a three-game losing streak to start November. The Bulls, like the Eagles, could use this win to strengthen the program as a whole.
Those intangibles at least allow the handicap to proceed along somewhat traditional lines, not trying to pencil out thoughts in a psychologist’s notebook.
For that matter, neither team has been undone by opt-outs or transfers, though both will still be without a couple of notable players. Buffalo will be down two of its top three running backs to injuries. The Bulls will also be down their No. 3 receiver in Jamari Gassett.
Georgia Southern will be without its No. 2 and No. 4 receivers, both due to injury. Derwin Burgess and Amare Jones combined to catch 13 touchdowns this season, which accounts for exactly half of the Eagles’ total scores through the air.
Buffalo losing running back depth and Georgia Southern no longer having red-zone chemistry creates reasoning to back the Under.
The total on this game opened at 64, ticking all the way up to 67.5. Buffalo’s middling offense has not broken 30 points in its last four games. That included scoring 50 combined points against Kent State and Akron in its last two games against defenses that rank No. 114 and No. 112, respectively, per SP+. That's hardly better than the Eagles’ No. 124 ranking.
Then we have Georgia Southern also trying to work in new weapons, probably after a few days of light or no practice, thanks to Christmas. Yet, the total has climbed by a field goal in the last couple of weeks.
The new offensive pieces should be particularly questionable early in the game, and bowl-game wackiness usually comes after halftime. Let’s fade the amount of scoring in the first half, despite the Eagles’ bad defense.
My best bet: First half Under 32.5 (-110 at Caesars)
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Buffalo vs Georgia Southern spread analysis
When looking at this as a normal game, the Eagles being favored by 3.5 or 4.0 makes sense, and the line has hung around those marks all month. Give some respect to the advanced math coming up with that spread because otherwise, it is rather difficult to compare the two conferences.
There may be an argument that Georgia Southern deserves some home-field advantage here. Montgomery is only a five-hour drive from Statesboro, and there's a possibility many Eagles fans will make the trek.
However, our Covers Consensus currently shows that 58% of the public is currently picking Buffalo at +3.
Buffalo vs Georgia Southern Over/Under analysis
The first-half choice above is designed to protect against bowl-game quirkiness, but there is also reason to support the full game Under.
Buffalo’s top-two backup quarterbacks are in the transfer portal. Starter Cole Snyder will still line up behind center, and if he takes any hit or needs to be sidelined for any reason, Buffalo’s offense may need to resort to a Wildcat package.
To make matters worse, that would be a Wildcat package without two of its top-three running backs.
No bet should be made that is dependent upon any injury, but when the total has edged upward, recognizing this possible catastrophe makes sense. If Snyder falters for so much as a moment, the already struggling Bulls offense should completely collapse.
Buffalo vs Georgia Southern betting trend to know
Buffalo is 0-4 ATS in its last four games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Buffalo vs. Georgia Southern.
Buffalo vs Georgia Southern game info
|Location:||Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AB|
|Date:||Tuesday, December 27, 2022|
|Kickoff:||12:00 p.m. ET|
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