The college bowl season kicked off this past Saturday with the first two of the 35 college bowl game on this year’s slate. The betting public continues to focus much of its attention on the upcoming BCS Bowl series and national title game. However, I continue to focus mine on the bowl games that feature teams exclusively from the mid-majors. These matchups tend to stay well under the radar but often times offer a tremendous amount of value to your overall betting strategy if you know how to properly handicap the games.
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I cashed in on Utah State’s demolition of Toledo this past Saturday to move to 22-19-2 on the year. With picks already in for Ball State and UL-Lafayette for this week’s bowls, the following are my final three mid-major selections for this year with lines provided by 5Dimes.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State Bulldogs (-12) vs. SMU Mustangs
Fresno State earned a share of the Mountain West title this season with a 7-1 straight up record in conference play. The Bulldogs went 9-3 SU overall and were an extremely profitable 11-1 against the spread this season. They have gotten the job done behind an offense that is ranked 12th in the nation in both passing yards (322.6) and points (40.3) per game.
SMU stumbled to a 2-2 SU finish to end the regular season an even 6-6 SU and 5-3 SU in Conference-USA play. The Mustangs did beat conference champion Tulsa 35-27 in their season finale as 5.5-point home underdogs to end-up 7-5 ATS. They averaged 29.5 points a game while giving-up 27 points a game on defense.
The Bulldogs are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games overall and 4-0 ATS in their last four games following a SU win. SMU is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against the Mountain West but in over its head in this matchup. The Mustangs’ defense will struggle to slow Fresno State down enough to keep this less than a 12-point game.
Take #214 Fresno State (-12) over SMU (Monday, Dec. 24, 8 p.m.)
Little Caesars Bowl: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (-5) vs. Central Michigan Chippawas
Western Kentucky wrapped up a 7-5 SU season overall and a 4-4 SU record in the Sun Belt Conference with a 25-24 victory over North Texas as an 11-point home favorite. The Hilltoppers went a respectable 8-4 ATS but were just 2-4 ATS in their final six games.
The Chippawas rallied to become bowl eligible with three-straight victories down the stretch both SU and ATS to close out the regular season 6-6 SU and 5-7 ATS. Quarterback Ryan Radcliff threw for 2,905 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing just 58.9 percent of his throws. He should have one of his top targets back for this game as wide receiver Titus Davis continues to recover from an injured ankle.
The Hilltoppers are 21-7 ATS in their last 28 games and a perfect 5-0 ATS in their last five nonconference games. Central Michigan is just 8-24 ATS in its last 32 overall games and 1-6 ATS in its last seven games played outside the Mid-American Conference. The Chippawas have covered the spread in just one of their last 10 games against a team with a winning record and will fail to do so again in this one.
Take #216 Western Kentucky (-5) over Central Michigan (Wednesday, Dec.26, 7:30 p.m.)
Military Bowl: Bowling Green Falcons vs. No.24 San Jose State Spartans (-7)
The Falcons turned a 1-3 SU start into a 7-1 SU run to finish second to Kent State in the MAC-East. They went 8-4 SU overall and 6-2 SU in conference play. Bowling Green also covered in seven of its final eight games to go 8-4 ATS as well. This team lived and died with a defense that was able to hold its opponents to an average of just 15.8 points a game.
San Jose State’s only conference loss in the WAC this season was to eventual champion Utah State. The Spartans ended the year 10-2 both SU and ATS while covering in five of their final six games. David Fales led a passing attack that averaged 327.5 yards a game. He threw for 3,798 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing an impressive 72 percent of his attempts.
Bowling Green is 5-1 ATS in its last six games following a SU win but just 4-11-1 ATS in its last 16 games against a team with a winning record. The Spartans are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 nonconference games and primed for another big win this time around. Look for Fales to pick the Falcons secondary apart to help his team secure a win by more than seven points.
Take #218 San Jose State (-7) over Bowling Green (Thursday, Dec.27, 3 p.m.)
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