Previewing the LendingTree Bowl: Rice vs. Southern Miss
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This is the preview for the LendingTree Bowl
Date: Saturday, Dec. 17, 5:45 p.m. ET
Hancock Whitney Stadium (Mobile, Alabama)
Betting splits: 81% of bets, 95% of handle on Southern Miss -6.5
Some of my favorite bowl game handicaps feature teams that don’t get to go bowling often. Take the LendingTree Bowl between Rice and Southern Miss as an example. This is the first bowl game for the Owls since the 2014 Hawaii Bowl, a 30-6 win over Fresno State when David Bailiff was still the head coach. Rice has only been to five bowls since 1961.
Southern Miss is actually bowling for the 15th time in the 2000s, but the Golden Eagles have lost five of their last seven bowl appearances. Rice would seem to be quite motivated to come away with a win and make a little program history, but the Owls face fairly long odds to do it as about a touchdown underdog.
The Owls are the only 5-7 team in a bowl game and looked rather bad down the stretch in blowout losses against Western Kentucky and UTSA and a loss to a North Texas team with nothing to play for. Given that the Owls had five wins and were vying for bowl eligibility in all three games, they’re really fortunate to be here. Rice also has one of the worst defenses among bowl participants by yards per play, finishing the regular season 118th with 6.22.
Fortunately, Southern Miss has a pretty bad offense that ranked 103rd with 5.18 YPP. A lot of sharp bettors like the Golden Eagles here, but they actually played a worse schedule despite being in a better conference according to Jeff Sagarin. Of course, Southern Miss also beat Tulane on the road in one of the strangest results of this season, so they have a much higher ceiling than the Owls.
Matchup page for LendingTree Bowl
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