Push for bowls could impact CFB situational spots

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

November 16, 2021 08:30 PM
burke

It’s hard to believe we’ve already made it to Week 12. There are only two regular-season weeks left for 126 of the 130 FBS teams. That means that we’ll see senior day festivities this week and next. Those don’t seem to get as much run in college football as they do in college basketball, but they can make for emotional days for some teams.

Bowl eligibility is a major motivating factor in the next two weeks. Teams not destined for a bowl are bad teams that were already hard to wager on, but may not have much focus. Another angle with those teams is that coaches may play more underclassmen to get a look for next season.

Remember that these situational angles are not sole justifications for a play. They are just part of the handicapping process to go along with stats, coaches, trends, whatever you focus on.

Let’s check out some situational spots for Week 12.

BOWL ELIGIBILITY

You may pay a premium of a point or two on teams vying for that magic sixth win to become bowl-eligible.

Here are the teams with exactly five wins (excluding Tuesday MACtion): Memphis, Louisville, Syracuse, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Maryland, Rutgers, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, Middle Tennessee, Ball State, Wyoming, San Jose State, Washington State, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia State, Troy and South Alabama.

These teams are not created equal. Most are used to going to bowl games. The ones you may want to consider are Charlotte (one bowl appearance since joining FBS in 2015), South Alabama (last bowl in 2016), Maryland (last bowl in 2016) and Rutgers (last bowl in 2014).

Teams with big bowl droughts or those that don’t go frequently may have just a little more incentive, especially against an opponent that may not be as invested.

Oregon at Utah (-3, 59.5)

This is a fascinating game because these teams are likely to meet again in Las Vegas on Dec. 3 in the Pac-12 championship game. Oregon officially punched a ticket to the title game with a win over Washington State, as the Ducks have the head-to-head tiebreaker and nobody else can get to six wins.

Utah beat Arizona State earlier in the season and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. A win here locks up the Pac-12 South Division title after the Utes beat Arizona last week. The big difference is that, while Oregon has already clinched a spot in the title game, the Ducks are looking at the College Football Playoff as well. Both teams will be sufficiently motivated, but what makes this spot really intriguing is that the teams play again in two weeks. They don’t want to show everything, but they’ll have to show something because of the importance of this game.

Texas at West Virginia (-2.5, 57.5)

There are serious questions as to whether or not the Longhorns will show up this week in Morgantown. Star running back Bijan Robinson suffered a dislocated elbow in the overtime loss to Kansas last week. Kansas. A loss. To. KANSAS.

So, yeah, you really have to wonder if Steve Sarkisian’s team shows up for an early kickoff in Appalachia against a West Virginia team playing with a sense of urgency with bowl eligibility on the line the next two weeks. Texas has no margin for error to get to a bowl game, but much like I talked about with Florida last week, scraping by to get to six wins and some lower-tier bowl game is not the standard for this program.

Texas has QB issues. The best player on the team is done for the season. The defense just gave up 57 points to Kansas. This may be a total no-show from the visitors.

UCLA (-3, 66) at USC

Most bettors have spent a while wondering about USC’s motivation for the rest of the season. The early firing of Clay Helton signaled huge changes on the horizon. The injury to wide receiver Drake London was a huge blow to a team that has a bad defense. If USC is going to get off the mat, this is the week.

This game has huge recruiting implications for both schools. USC has won two in a row and five of the last six in this rivalry. USC is off of an unexpected bye after the game against Cal was rescheduled due to COVID-19 issues with the Golden Bears. UCLA is fresh enough after a bye two weeks ago, but Dorian Thompson-Robinson is still dealing with a hand injury.

It is tough to know how engaged USC will be, but we’ll get a good idea pretty quickly and maybe this game sets up better for live betting than a pregame wager.

Kent State (-13, 74) at Akron

It’s time for the Wagon Wheel rivalry. Akron already fired head coach Tom Arth, but we saw the Zips come with a big effort for interim head coach Oscar Rodriguez Jr. last week against Western Michigan. Rodriguez is a two-time cancer survivor.

The last two games have been very lopsided in Kent State’s favor. The Golden Flashes won 69-35 last season and 26-3 the last time the game was in the Rubber City. Kent State may ultimately become bowl-eligible, but you know the Zips would absolutely love to keep their hated rivals from getting to six wins at InfoCision Stadium.

Kent State will still control its own destiny for the MAC East Division with Miami of Ohio on deck, but the Zips can at least make life tougher on the Golden Flashes. I like this spot for Akron, especially with an interim coach they can rally behind.

Louisiana-Monroe at LSU (-29, 57.5)

We had serious questions last week about LSU’s motivation going into the game against Arkansas. The Tigers had put absolutely everything they had into the game against Alabama and came up just short, despite several chances to win. What does LSU have left for this game against a Louisiana-Monroe team that has already pulled a couple of big upsets this season over Troy and Liberty?

Will LSU be sufficiently motivated to hang a big number on UL Monroe? The regular-season finale of Ed Orgeron’s tenure is against Texas A&M next week. The Tigers can completely overpower the Warhawks if they want to, but there are no guarantees. The Warhawks plus the points seems like the play here.

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