College Bowl Game Betting: Top Five Value Games
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/11/2008
If you think you have conquered betting on college football during the regular season, get ready to change your mindset completely because college bowl game betting is a completely different animal. The bowl season is a unique concept that is non-existent in other sports and the games provide distinctive circumstances for most teams. Variables that can easily alter a point spread such as neutral fields, weather, long layoffs and motivation are all in play here. Looking at this year's slate of bowl games with the trends of recent bowl history fresh in mind I present the top five bowl game values this season for bettors.
5) San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
8 p.m. EST
No. 11 TCU (-2.5) vs. No. 9 Boise State
This contest should be a BCS matchup rather than a pre-December Bowl game. Both squads had dreams of busting the BCS party this year. Instead they will square off in a highly anticipated game that basically fell into the laps of the organizers for the Poinsettia Bowl, a game that usually remains under the national radar. The value in this bowl game is with TCU and the under. In the last four Horned Frog bowls, they have gone 4-0 against the spread with all four games staying under.
4) Music City Bowl
3:30 p.m. EST
Boston College (-3.5) vs. Vanderbilt
Boston College isn't one of those teams that garner nationwide attention. That lack of popularity has been a coup for their backers at the betting window, however. No matter what the Eagles achieve during the regular season, the lack of fan interest in bowl games and unwillingness to travel always sends the Eagles plummeting down the bowl ranks as bowl officials try to avoid them like a rabid raccoon. Last season Boston College lost the ACC title game that would have ensured it a trip to the Orange Bowl. The Eagles wound up playing Michigan State, a bottom-feeder from the Big Ten. This season after once again losing in the ACC title game, many bowls for which they were eligible for passed them up in favor of inferior teams.
Because of this, Boston College routinely plays in bowl games it is over qualified for and that's the biggest reason why BC carries an eight-game winning streak in bowl games to the Music City Bowl. The Eagles have also been 6-2 ATS in those eight bowl games.
3) FedEx Orange Bowl
8:15 p.m. EST
No. 19 Virginia Tech vs. No. 12 Cincinnati (-1)
This one isn't exactly the most anticipated college football game in South Beach during the first week in January. That distinction will go to the BCS National Championship Game played seven days later. The one thing the games do have in common is that they may be the only competitive BCS games. The oddsmakers have set double-digit point spreads in the other BCS bowl games. But looking at recent BCS trends between ACC representatives and Big East representatives this game may prove to be another BCS blowout. The ACC has been horrendous in BCS bowl games since the inception of the BCS. Virginia Tech's 24-21 loss in this very Orange Bowl to Kansas last year, as a three-point favorite, was the eighth consecutive loss in BCS games for the ACC. Overall the conference is 1-9 in BCS games and 3-7 ATS in these games.
The Big East, as beleaguered as it has been during the regular season, has found a way to continually perform in the January bowl games. After West Virginia's stunning upset of Oklahoma last season, 48-28, as eight-point underdogs in the Fiesta Bowl, the Big East is 6-2 ATS and 6-2 SU in its last eight BCS bowl games. The last time the Big East squared off with the ACC in a BCS game, it was once again the Orange Bowl in 2007 when the Big East's Louisville defeated ACC rep Wake Forest, 24-13, as 10-point favorites. Entering this Orange Bowl the value lies with Cincinnati.
2) Meineke Car Care Bowl
1 p.m. EST
North Carolina (pick'em) vs. West Virginia
Throw out the fact that the Big East in BCS bowls has owned the ACC. Forget about West Virginia's high profile upsets of Big 12 champion Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl last year and of SEC champion Georgia three years ago. The Mountaineers have downright struggled against ACC opponents. A come-from-behind win over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl two years ago gave WVU its first win over an ACC opponent in a bowl game in the last seven tries. Even with that win, as 9.5-point favorites, WVU is now 0-6 ATS against the ACC in bowl games dating back to 1996 and 3-10 ATS overall against ACC teams.
1) Hawaii Bowl
8 p.m. EST
Notre Dame at Hawaii (-2)
This one is the opposite of the Boston College situation. Notre Dame is the public team in college football and its rabid fans will travel far and low for a bowl game. And the high profile of the Fighting Irish constantly lands them in bowl games they have no right being in. Notre Dame carries some heavy baggage with it on the way to Hawaii including a nine-game losing streak in bowl games. The Irish have not won a bowl game since 1994 and they have failed to cover the spread in the previous seven bowl games. The Irish were overmatched, 41-14, by LSU in its last bowl game and suffered a 34-20 loss to Ohio State before that. Oddsmakers have made Notre Dame underdogs in eight of the team's last nine bowl games but the crew from South Bend has still failed to cover.