You might be surprised to learn that bowl games haven’t gone well for sports books so far. Normally, dog-heavy results are a windfall for us. The public loves betting favorites, particularly in bowl games.
But, Western Kentucky ruined Saturday for us right off the bat. That was a big mover. The Hilltoppers were a dog on most bets but won easily 59-38. Utah State was a popular dog that also won and covered comfortably. Liberty was a popular favorite that won a blowout.
Some early bowls went our way. Not enough to celebrate.
Let’s look at early betting for the next batch of games that begins Tuesday afternoon. This report will cover all bowls from Tuesday through next Monday. We’ll go to multiple bowl articles per week when the schedule intensifies after Christmas.
Tuesday, Dec. 21
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (in Boise)
Wyoming (-3, 59) vs. Kent State
ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET
Looks like a nice day in Boise, so neither team will be bothered by cool temperatures with no rain or wind in the forecast. My opener of Wyoming -3.5 was bet down to the key number of 3by a sharp. I’ve been writing pretty even business at Wyoming -3. That’s the number I see all over the market right now. My total nudged up from an opener of 58.5 to 59 on an accumulation of Over bets. Very stable numbers for an early bowl.
San Diego State (-2.5, 49) vs. Texas-San Antonio
ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
Frisco is a suburb of Dallas, so UTSA will probably have a good crowd, but it won’t feel like a home game 275 miles away from campus. I opened UTSA -2. Star running back Sincere McCormick announced he would forgo the rest of his college eligibility and declare for the NFL draft. That’s a big reason we’ve flipped favorites. Money on SDSU, plus that news. I’m now at SDSU -2.5. I see some 3’s out there. UTSA is more than just a one-man team. The Roadrunners beat Western Kentucky twice. San Diego State is in a bounce-back spot after losing the Mountain West championship game to Utah State (which impressed in its bowl). Could be a great game. My opening total of 49.5 is down to 49 after a sharp Under bet.
Wednesday, Dec. 22
Armed Forces Bowl (in Fort Worth)
Missouri vs. Army (-4, 57.5)
ESPN, 8 p.m. ET
I opened Army -3.5 way back before the Army/Navy game was played. Army looked awful in that upset loss. But, it still has a run-heavy option attack matched up against the poor Missouri rush defense. Sharps laid -3.5 and I’m at Army -4 now. We’ve talked all season about how important it is when a game moves AWAY from a key number. Sharps didn’t want the dog and the hook (like they did with Kent State vs. Wyoming in today’s first write-up). That’s a big indicator for Army to play well. My opening total of 60 has been bet all the way down to 57.5. Weather is supposed to be nice in Fort Worth. That drop has to be based on an assumption that Army will be able to run a lot of clock.
Thursday, Dec. 23
Gasparilla Bowl (in Tampa)
Central Florida vs. Florida (-6, 55.5)
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
Looking forward to this one. I opened Florida -7 and the first bet from a sharp was on the favorite, so I went to -7.5. Dog lovers jumped in then. Sharps bet UCF + 7.5 and + 7. I’m down to 6 now and writing pretty even business. This game should mean much more to the underdog. But, both teams have been overrated by the market this season. UCF is 4-8 ATS. Florida is 3-9 ATS, dropping its last six vs. the number. My opening total of 57 was bet down to 56, then 55.5. Not a weather move. Conditions should be gorgeous Thursday in Tampa.
Frisco Football Classic
Miami-Ohio (-3, 54.5) vs. North Texas
ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET
Note that conditions are supposed to be much windier Thursday in Frisco than for Tuesday’s SDSU/UTSA game. Be sure you’re checking game-day forecasts for all outdoor matchups the rest of the way. North Texas is located in nearby Denton (less than 30 miles). Sharps are betting like that’s important. My opener of Miami -4 was bet down to -3.5, and then -3. Driven hard toward the key number. I’m writing even business at the 3. My opening total of 53.5 was bet Over by a sharp. I moved straight to 54.5. We’ll see these next few days if the windy forecast influences money.
Friday, Dec. 24
Hawaii Bowl (in Honolulu)
Memphis (-8.5, 56) at Hawaii
ESPN, 8 p.m. ET
Big mover here. My opening line of Memphis -3.5 gave Hawaii 3.5 points credit for home field advantage. Sharps are betting like Memphis is the home team! Wiseguys bet Memphis at -3.5, -4, -5, -6, -6.5, -7 and -8. That’s not just away from the key number of 3, but THROUGH the key number of 7! The Tigers are just 2-7 ATS their last nine games. But, sharps believe the absence of key Hawaii contributors QB Chevan Cordeiro and RB Dae Dae Hunter (both entered the transfer portal) will greatly hinder the host’s offense. That’s influenced Over/Under betting as well. My opening total of 61 was bet down to 60, 59, 57 and 56. Note that strong winds are in the forecast, common for this time of year in Honolulu.
Saturday, Dec. 25
Camellia Bowl (in Montgomery)
Ball State vs. Georgia State (-5, 50.5)
ESPN, 2:30 p.m. ET
Weather can be tricky in these southeast bowl games. Forecast looks good now, but be sure you check again late in the week. Sharps laid the chalk at my opener of Georgia State -4 and they kept betting at -4.5. Some are still laying -5, but not enough for me to move the line at the South Point. I see as high as -6 elsewhere. I expect we’ll be higher soon. My opening total of 49.5 went straight to 50.5 on a sharp Over bet.
Monday, Dec. 27
Quick Lane Bowl (in Detroit)
Western Michigan (-6, 56) vs. Nevada
ESPN, 11 a.m. ET
We’ve had to make a huge line adjustment here. Most importantly, star Nevada quarterback Carson Strong declared for the NFL Draft. He won’t be playing. Secondly, Nevada head coach Jay Norvell was hired away by Colorado State. Some players have decided to move right along with him. My opener of Nevada -6.5 has flipped all the way to Western Michigan -6 on a combination of sharp bets and those developments. We’ve taken some Nevada bets at + 6 here at the South Point. But, I do see Western -6.5 or -7 in other spots. Personnel turmoil also influenced the total. My opener of 66 is down to 56 because Nevada is likely to be much less explosive. No weather influence there, as the game is indoors in Detroit.
Military Bowl (in Annapolis)
East Carolina vs. Boston College (-3, 51)
ESPN, 2:30 p.m. ET
It’s too early to trust weather reports for Annapolis a week from now. Be sure you stay on top of that. Sharps like the dog here at anything above the key number of 3. My opener of East Carolina + 4 was bet down to + 3.5, then + 3. I’m still taking dog bets at the new price. But, some BC money is starting to trickle in. My opening total of 49 was bet up to 49.5, 50, 51 and now 51.5 as I was writing this report Monday morning (12/20).
Should be a fun week. All the big blockbusters are still ahead. My next bowl report will be a week from now to cover a stretch that begins Tuesday Dec. 28. I’ll see you sooner this coming Friday for our weekly NFL report.
If you’ve been following all the headlines, you know this is going to be a wild week for sports bettors. Stay safe and bet smart!
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.