College Football Bowl Game Betting Advice: Biggest Point Spreads
Now that the bowl lineup is set, we have a couple of weeks to sit back and look at what is to come from all sorts of different angles. Our job today is simple. We are going to look at the three biggest mismatches and what the games have in store. There is nothing objective here - we are just looking at the three biggest spreads to see if they are warranted.
Boca Raton Bowl, Tuesday, Dec. 19: Lane Kiffin is no stranger to getting attention, so it isn't a surprise that he and his Florida Atlantic squad is favored here against Akron. But they are favored by a massive number - 22.5 points. The number opened as low as 17 but has quickly been on the climb, suggesting that action is tilted heavily towards the favorite. And that is indeed the case - more than 80 percent of early bets have been on the Owls.
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Akron won their division, but it wasn't impressive. They were just 7-5, they lost to Toledo twice, including in the conference championship game, and they were absolutely crushed by Penn State and Iowa State in the only two real games they played. Florida Atlantic lost three of their first four games, but they haven't lost since. They have a Top 10 scoring offense and an excellent running attack, and that has led them to nine straight wins and a C-USA title. Seven of those nine wins were by at least 18 points, so they certainly know what big wins are all about - which they will need here to cover.
FAU is 9-4 ATS, which is an obvious positive. Of course, Akron is as well, so we can't rely on that at all. If the public gets the game they want here, though, this one could get ugly.
Independence Bowl, Wednesday, Dec. 27: My biggest issue looking at this game is that I just can't figure out why in the world anyone would want to bet on this one. It's just ugly in every possible way. Florida State, which started the season ranked 12th in the country, needed all 12 games just to get to bowl eligibility. Their high-profile coach seemingly checked out in October, quit recruiting in November, and left the school hanging before doing what everyone knew he was going to do and jumped to Texas A&M for even more crazy money than he was already getting. Players are angry and can't be particularly focused.
They played their final game for interim coach Odell Haggins, and the defensive tackles coach will be the interim boss for this game as well. Players will struggle to care about what he has to say to them, though, as new coach Willie Taggart is in place, and Haggins likely won't be a part of the new staff. To expect Florida State's best in this game seems just foolish - we haven't seen anything close to their best on a consistent basis this year, and that was before all of these changes. And motivation will be very tough to find against this Southern Miss team.
The Golden Eagles were 8-4, but they didn't have an impressive win and were beaten up in early November by a Tennessee team that had a boatload of issues of their own. Florida State is favored by 15, and based on talent they should be. But to trust them to exploit the advantages they have seems foolish. The Seminoles are the second-biggest favorites on the board according to the odds, but they feel like about the 38th best bet among the 39 bowl games.
Peach Bowl, Monday, Jan. 1: The third biggest spread on the board is by far the most interesting on this list. Auburn, who would have been in the playoff if they had beaten Georgia for a second time in the SEC Championship Game, is favored by nine points against Central Florida, which has the distinction of being the only undefeated FBS team. The Knights are absolutely a legitimate team with a lot going for them, and in normal circumstances they would be a tempting pick against a number like this. But Scott Frost has left town for Nebraska, and the conference title game felt like a celebration not just of the win but of him and his role on the team. It would be very easy for the team to experience a letdown after that.
They have hired Josh Heupel to replace Frost, and that's a good hire. But this is where it gets strange. Frost is planning to coach this game, and his staff, most of which is going to Nebraska with him, is sticking around, too. Their attention will obviously be divided, though, and that could have an impact on the team's readiness.
Of course, Auburn may not be anywhere near their best, either. They have kept their coach after his flirtations with Arkansas, but they could easily feel a letdown after the disappointing and decisive loss to Georgia. They had grand aspirations, and now they are in a Peach Bowl game that surely wasn't what they dreamed about. So, it is easy to have a lot of respect for both teams, but hard to trust that either will be at full strength. This is a fun game to handicap.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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