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College Bowl Refresher

Having hammered UCLA 49-26, Baylor is one of four sides so far to have upset the odds this bowl season.

With the completion of Friday’s trio of bowl games, we’re now 40 percent of the way through this season’s epic bowl schedule. Here at BettingSports.com, we believe that’s gives us enough source material to explore trends that may have emerged, and how these might impact bettors ahead of the remaining 21 games.

Trends: Straight Up

28 sides have taken to the field to contest 14 separate bowl games. All but one of these games opened with a decisive favorite. The one game that did not open with a favorite – the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl – opened with Baylor and UCLA at Evens. The Bruins became favorites ahead of kickoff.

The schedule so far has seen 10 favorites secure straight up victories, with four underdogs upsetting bookmakers’ odds.

29 percent of games have therefore seen an upset. If this number holds true, we can expect another six upsets before bowl season is over.

Undoubtedly the biggest of these upsets came as Baylor defeated UCLA 49-17, an absolute drubbing if ever there was one. Elsewhere, SMU’s upset of 12-point favorite Fresno State came as a surprise to almost everybody.

Underdog Winners: SMU (vs. Fresno State); Central Michigan (vs. Western Kentucky); Baylor (vs. UCLA); Ohio (vs. Louisiana Monroe)

Trends: Against the Spread

Bowl favorites may have had their may for the most part straight up, but it’s a different matter when it comes to the spread.

So far this bowl season, only seven favorites have covered the spread, meaning seven underdogs have done likewise.

The largest margin covered by an underdog was the +12.5 which Minnesota opened at against Texas Tech. The Golden Gophers lost the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas by a difference of three points (34-31). With plenty of larger spreads on the table, there’s still plenty of opportunity for some ‘smaller’ sides to make a betting impact.

Those betting on the likes of No. 3 Florida (-14.5), No. 12 Florida State (-13.5), Oklahoma State (-18), and Alabama (-8.5) might want to consider whether betting in favor of the spread is that sensible a decision.

Trends: Totals

The bowl season so far has seen the total go over just six times in 14 games. The total has gone under seven times, leaving one game where oddsmakers got it just right; Ohio and Louisiana-Monroe combined for 59 points, the exact amount predicted at opening. Of course, most oddsmakers expected it to be the Warhawks doing the scoring, not the Bob Cats.

With the total going under 50 percent of the time, we can expect another 11 games in which the final tally fails to reach the projected number, if these numbers remain true. Nine more games would see the total go over, and one more would finish even. Of course, things won’t go exactly this way, but the under seems the smarter bet this year.


  • In a farewell to football in the Western Athletic Conference, the WAC’s two bowl representatives – No. 22 Utah State and No. 24 San Jose State – both secured victories in their respective bowl games, ensuring the conference’s last footballing season wasn’t in vain.
  • Friday afternoon’s Advocare V100 Independence Bowl saw a Mid-American Conference win for the first time this bowl season. Ohio upset Louisiana-Monroe giving the MAC a 1-4 record this season. The conference’s biggest game comes in the form of the Discover Orange Bowl, when No. 15 Northern Illinois challenges No. 12 Florida State (Jan. 1). One other MAC team still awaits action; No. 25 Kent State will take on Arkansas State in the penultimate game of bowl season, the GoDaddy.com Bowl (Jan. 6).
  • The Southeastern Conference is the only conference yet to field a side. That changes on Monday (Dec. 31) as Vanderbilt and No. 8 LSU bookend the New Year’s Eve schedule. The Commodores will face North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl, while the Fighting Tigers will face Clemson in the much-anticipated Chick-fil-A Bowl. Nine SEC teams will play before the bowl schedule comes to an end.
  • Saturday (Dec. 29) sees the biggest slate of bowl games so far, with five games taking place. Rice clashes with Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl (11:45 AM ET); Syracuse and West Virginia collide in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (3:00 PM ET); Arizona State takes on Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (4 PM ET); No. 23 Texas and No. 13 Oregon State meet in the Valero Alamo Bowl (6:45 PM ET); and finally, Michigan State challenges TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (10:15 PM ET). Things get even bigger on New Year’s Day as six games fill the bowl schedule.


Bowl Results

New Mexico Bowl Arizona 49, Nevada 48 (Dec. 15)

Potato Bowl No. 22 Utah State 41, Toledo 15 (Dec. 15)

Poinsettia Bowl BYU 23, San Diego State 6 (Dec. 20)

St. Petersburg Bowl UCF 38, Ball State 17 (Dec. 21)

New Orleans Bowl Louisiana-Lafayette 43, East Carolina 34 (Dec. 22)

Las Vegas Bowl No. 19 Boise State 28, Washington 26 (Dec. 22)

Hawaii Bowl Southern Methodist 43, Fresno State 10 (Dec. 24)

Little Caesars Bowl Central Michigan 24, Western Kentucky 21 (Dec. 26)

Military Bowl No. 24 San Jose State 29, Bowling Green 20 (Dec. 27)

Belk Bowl Cincinnati 48, Duke 34 (Dec. 27)

Holiday Bowl Baylor 49, No. 17 UCLA 26 (Dec. 27)

Independence Bowl Ohio 45, Louisiana-Monroe 14 (Dec. 28)

Russell Athletic Bowl Virginia Tech 13, Rutgers 10 (OT) (Dec. 28)

Texas Bowl Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 31 (Dec. 28)


Current Bowl Records by Conference

ACC 1-1 (.500)

Big 12 2-0 (1.000)

Big East 1-1 (.500)

Big Ten 0-1 (.000)

C-USA 1-2 (.333)

Independent 1-0 (1.000)

MAC 1-4 (.250)

MWC 2-2 (.500)

Pac-12 1-2 (.333)

SEC 0-0 (N/A)

Sun Belt 2-1 (.666)

WAC 2-0 (1.000)

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