Bowl Teams to Bet On: Live Underdogs for the Postseason
My favorite kind of bet, of course, is a winning one. Nothing better than cashing a winning ticket. If I had to choose just one kind of winning bet to cash, though, it would definitely be an underdog moneyline bet. You feel like you are getting away with something when you pocket a fat return on a moneyline bet - especially when you never felt like the underdog should have been the underdog in the first place. It is the opportunities for attractive underdog moneyline bets that make the bowl season so fun. Here is a look at three underdogs that stand out as particularly attractive this year:
Music City Bowl, Purdue (+4.5) vs. Auburn, December 28: Auburn is not a good team. They lost five times, including a couple of serious blowouts down the stretch. Four of their seven wins were against really bad teams - and I am being very kind by not including Ole Miss in that category even though I obviously could. They are not coming into this game in a position of strength. Purdue isn't a particularly strong team, either - they have one fewer win than Auburn. But they have a Top 10 passing attack, and Auburn's pass defense is far from a strength. They also get up for big games - they were underdogs three times this year, and they covered the spread all three times and won two, including that stunning destruction of the Buckeyes. And the team should be riding high after Jeff Brohm made the surprising decision to give up the job at his alma mater, Louisville, to stay at Purdue. That shows a whole lot of faith in the program. On top of it all, an SEC team is not that likely to be excited about a game like this one, while the dignity of Purdue is much less affected by this assignment. This feels like a very comfortable spot to jump on an underdog.
Camping World Bowl, Syracuse (+7) vs. West Virginia, December 28: West Virginia is vulnerable in this spot. Jake Spavital, the dynamic offensive coordinator, has left to become the head coach at Texas State. Spavital has a very strong relationship with star QB Will Grier, and he gets a lot of credit for the success the offense and the team had this year. There seems to be a possibility that he will be on the sidelines for this game, but that isn't yet confirmed. And even if he is, those situations are far from ideal because he will have been focused on recruiting at Texas State more than game planning for this game. On top of that, Grier is heading to the NFL as a fairly high draft choice, so he might not be entirely focused on this game. Syracuse had a serious setback when they were crushed by Notre Dame when they had a chance to make a real statement. But they bounced back strong against Boston College in their finale, and they still won five of their last six games and nine overall - with one of their losses coming in overtime. The Orange are not good defensively at the best of times, and they have serious secondary injury concerns. But their offense is strong and will face little resistance from the West Virginia defense. There is a solid chance Syracuse can at least keep this one close, and I would be a long way from surprised if they were to win the game.
Outback Bowl, Iowa (+6) vs. Mississippi State, January 1: Let's say up front that I have little hope that this is going to be a good game. In fact, I'm pretty sure it won't be. But I am also not convinced that Iowa should be a big underdog. Mississippi State does not exactly have a dynamic offense. If quarterback Nick Fitzgerald doesn't do it, then it isn't getting done. Iowa is strong defensively, and particularly good against the run, where Fitzgerald shines, so they are well set up to work against this offense. Iowa's offense is far from well-rounded, but they score points fairly well. They are up against a Bulldogs defense that is very good as well, so points could be hard to come by. In a game like this that is likely to be tightly-fought, I don't see a good reason why Mississippi State should be solidly favored, and Iowa has at least a 50/50 chance of winning - which is all you need to make for an attractive moneyline bet. On top of it all, Iowa has played against Joe Moorhead twice when he was offensive coordinator at Penn State in 2016 and 2017, so they have familiarity on their side. That levels the playing field a bit.
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