Best Bets for the First Week of the College Football Bowl Season

    Here are my favorite bets for the first week of this bowl season, which runs from December 15th through the 22nd. Las Vegas Bowl: No. 21 Fresno State (-5)

    December 13, 2018

    Here are my favorite bets for the first week of this bowl season, which runs from December 15th through the 22nd.

    Las Vegas Bowl: No. 21 Fresno State (-5) over Arizona State

    The highlight of the opening day of bowl season is Fresno State playing Arizona State in Las Vegas. Fresno State last played in the Mountain West title game and defeated Boise State in overtime. Jeff Tedford, who has done an incredible job of turning the program around, took over a Fresno State team that finished 1-11 in 2016 and led them to 21 wins over the last two seasons.

    Arizona State finished better than expected in Herm Edwards’ first year in charge in Tempe. Seven wins was an impressive season for a team that had a preseason win total set at 4.5.

    Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry is one of the players that is skipping their bowl game to focus on the NFL Draft. Harry is a dynamic wide receiver and his absence will make things very difficult for the Sun Devils’ offense against a strong defense. Fresno State allowed 13.7 points per game, which was tied for second in the nation with Clemson.

    The factor in this game that swayed me the most to Fresno State is their familiarity with the trip to Las Vegas. The Bulldogs played at UNLV earlier this season and cruised to a 48-3 win. With all the distractions that the city has to offer, I can see Fresno State as the more focused team on Saturday afternoon.

    Boca Raton Bowl: UAB (-2.5) over Northern Illinois

    The game I’m looking forward to on Tuesday is C-USA champion UAB’s showdown with MAC champion Northern Illinois.

    My handicap for this game is pretty simple: UAB will likely be the more motivated team as the school shut down their program in December of 2014 and was without football for a two-year period.

    Football returned in 2017, and they finished that year with an 8-5 record. This season they took another step in the right direction under head coach Bill Clark and won the conference after just their second year back in college football.

    This is Northern Illinois’ tenth bowl game in the last 11 years, which is why I don’t think they’ll be as pumped up for this matchup – especially after they won the MAC title in dramatic fashion against Buffalo. I expect for a huge letdown from the Huskies in this game.

    On top of that, the coaching trends also favor UAB, as current Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey is 0-5 straight up and against the spread in bowl games with the Huskies.

    Bahamas Bowl: FIU (+5) over Toledo

    A lot of bowl games aren’t decided by matchups on the field, but the factors off it. The main factor in this one is that the game is being played in the Bahamas.

    While it’s nice that both teams get to spend some time at a popular vacation destination, I would suspect that FIU will treat it like just another game considering that they are used to living in Miami, a fun and exciting area in itself. More importantly, the players from South Florida are used to the warm climate that they’ll be exposed to.

    That being said, I think it’s wise to side with the veteran coach in FIU’s Butch Davis. He’s in his second season with the Golden Panthers and will use this game as a building block to continue to grow his program.

    The Panthers also have a talented QB in James Morgan, who threw for 2,727 yards and 26 touchdowns this season.

    Take FIU plus the points in this game and make sure to put a little on the moneyline.

    Armed Forces Bowl: Army (-3) over Houston

    The biggest storyline surrounding this game is that Houston will be without star defensive tackle Ed Oliver. It’s the right move for Oliver as he gets ready for the NFL Draft, but it puts Houston in a tough spot for their bowl game.

    Army runs a triple-option offense, and the Cougars missing a star defensive lineman will make stopping the run much tougher. Houston faced another triple-option team in Navy earlier this season and gave up 349 rushing yards and 36 points in that contest.

    Houston will also be without quarterback D’Eriq King, who suffered a leg injury towards the end of the season. Sadly for the Cougars, their offense hasn’t been the same without him.

    The one concern with betting Army in this spot is that they’re coming off a huge 17-10 win over Navy on December 8. A big victory like that usually leads to a significant letdown, but a service academy like Army is more disciplined than most and should be focused on the task at hand.


    Have the full Stadium experience

    Watch with friends

    Get rewards

    Join the discussion