College Bowl Game Betting Underdogs: Best Teams to Bet on Moneyline
There is nothing I love more when betting than betting on a moneyline underdog and cashing a ticket. The better-than-even-money payoff is satisfying, and even more satisfying is the feeling that you have somehow outsmarted oddsmakers. You haven't, of course, but it still feels like a victory.
Every day is a good day for moneyline underdogs, but bowl season is particularly good. With so many unnatural matchups, and so much variation in motivation and preparation levels, it is far from uncommon to see underdogs come through with a win. Often those wins aren't nearly the surprise that the odds suggest.
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Here are three underdogs that seems very live to me at this point:
Purdue (+3.5 ) vs. Arizona, Foster Farms Bowl, Dec. 27: Purdue has a heck of a coach in Jeff Brohm, and it is frankly a bit of a miracle that they managed to keep him over this offseason. Tennessee should have pushed much harder to attract him. He's a better coach than Rich Rodriguez, and he's a more inspired one at this point in their respective careers, too. Purdue has won their last two and has been seasoned by a Big Ten schedule that is tougher than what Arizona has faced in the Pac-12. The Wildcats have lost their last two and have looked fairly lifeless in doing so. This means more to Purdue than Arizona because they are clearly on a path towards something, while Arizona has been this mediocre for a long time now. Arizona's defense is just lousy, so Purdue will be able to move the ball well enough to keep what could be a shootout interesting, and Purdue isn't a pushover defensively. I like the underdog here a lot.
Iowa State (+3.5) vs. Memphis, Liberty Bowl, Dec. 30: Memphis is 10-2 and just went to double overtime against an unbeaten team in their conference championship game, so their support here is no surprise. They have a good coach in Mike Norvell, too, and he has a new extension that makes him the highest-paid coach outside of the Power 5. Still, though, I have to like Iowa State - at least as a gamble. The Cyclones are far from consistent, and they are not coming into this in good form with three losses in the last four games. This team has wins against both Oklahoma and TCU this year, though, so they can be very dangerous when they are prepared and motivated. They should have no excuses not to be either in this game. Matt Campbell is a very good coach as well, so Norvell won't have an advantage here. Memphis has played a much weaker schedule, and so they obviously lack the caliber of wins. I know it seems odd that I am discounting the level of competition for Memphis here, and then I am about to pick their conference champion as an upset pick over an SEC team, but Memphis lost to UCF twice and is not on the same level. Iowa State is dangerous here.
UCF (+9.5) vs. Auburn, Peach Bowl, Jan. 1: Let's start with what I don't like. Reports right now indicate that Scott Frost and his staff intend to coach this game despite the fact that most of them are heading to Nebraska. That's atypical, and it ensures that the team isn't going to have the level of preparation and intensity that they typically would. You can't blame Frost, either - he has a program to rescue and recruiting work to do. It's the school that is intending to allow this that has the issue. So, we can't know if the Knights will be as ready as they should be. But there is a lot to like. Auburn will be really frustrated after getting crushed by Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. It wasn't just a decisive loss to a team they had already beaten but also the end of the national title dreams they all surely had. Now they have to regroup and get excited for a game that means very little to them. A Peach Bowl win is meaningless, and the difference between three losses and four is mostly academic. Coach Gus Malzahn flirted with Arkansas at least to some extent, and that has been a distraction as well. UCF has a potent and very creative offense, and they have done well with maintaining their offense regardless of the situation and of overcoming adversity. If they can overcome the Frost situation and be ready here then they could catch an Auburn team -- that could easily be at less than full effort -- off guard. This is the third biggest line on the board in bowl season this year, but I can't help but be intrigued.
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