Top bowl game trends

By Bruce Marshall  () 

LOUISIANA TECH vs. GEORGIA SOUTHERN

(New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 23)

Skip Holtz has remarkable bowl record, 6-0 SU with Louisiana Tech, and has won seven in row outright dating to USF tenure. Holtz 2-3 as dog in 2020 but entering this season was 19-8-1 in role with Bulldogs.  GSU no covers last two bowls, also just 2-6 vs. spread last eight away from Statesboro. Tech edge: Louisiana Tech, based on team and bowl trends.

 

MEMPHIS vs. FLORIDA ATLANTIC

(Montgomery Bowl, Dec. 23)

Memphis no covers last six as chalk vs. FBS opposition, 2-10 vs. spread last 12 vs. FBS foes. Also 0-5 SU and vs. line last five bowls. FAU remarkably 4-0 SU and vs. line in bowls under Howard Schnellenberger (2007-08) and Lane Kiffin (2017 and ‘19). Willie Taggart surprisingly yet to cover in bowl (0-2 with USF, left Western Kentucky and Oregon before bowls in 2012 and ’17). Owls no covers last three in 2020 though were 1-0 as dog (Kiffin 2-1 as dog last year). Tech edge: FAU, based on bowl and team trends.

HAWAII vs. HOUSTON 

(New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 24)

Houston no wins or covers last three bowls, and Dana Holgorsen was 1-5 SU, 0-6 vs. spread last six bowls with West Virginia. Holgorsen just 7-12 SU, 9-10 vs. line since taking over Cougars last year. Hawaii only 2-5 vs. line last seven for Todd Graham, also Under 6-2 in 2020. Rainbow Warriors 9-4 Under since late 2019, also were 2-1 SU and vs. line in bowls during Nick Rolovich years. Tech edge: Under and Hawaii, based on totals and team trends.

MARSHALL vs. BUFFALO

(Camellia Bowl, Dec. 25)

Both teams’ unbeaten runs ended late in 2020, Buffalo against Ball State in MAC title game. Bulls were 4-1 vs. line prior, and even with loss to Cardinals, Lance Leipold 30-14-2 vs. spread since late 2016. UB also 8-3-1 as dog since 2017, and Leipold 1-1 SU and vs. line in bowls. Bulls also on 18-7 Over run since mid-2018. Herd dropped three of last four vs. line this year but had won seven bowls in row SU (last six for Doc Holliday) before getting blown out by UCF in Gasparilla Bowl last year. Marshall also on 16-8 Over run. Tech edge: Over and Buffalo, based on totals and team trends.

LIBERTY vs. COASTAL CAROLINA

(Cure Bowl, Dec. 26)

Teams were scheduled to meet Dec. 5. Coastal 8-2-1 vs. line this season, though Liberty enters with seven covers in row. Flames also 3-0 as dogs in 2020 and 6-1 last seven getting points. Tech edge: Slight to Liberty, based on team trends.

LOUISIANA vs. UTSA

(First Responder Bowl, Dec. 26)

Ragin’ Cajuns covered last three in 2020, but that got them to only 5-5 vs. number this season. ULL just 1-2 laying points away from home this year and 1-4 last five in role. Also no covers last two years in bowls for Billy Napier. Roadrunners 4-2 as dogs this season for Jeff Traylor, now 9-3 last 12 in role. Cajuns Under 7-3 in 2020, UTSA Under 8-3. Tech edge: UTSA and Under, based on team and totals trends.   

WESTERN KENTUCKY vs. GEORGIA STATE

(LendingTree Bowl, Dec. 26)

Hilltoppers covered last two in 2020 but were 1-8-2 vs. line in preceding 11 games. WKU 2-3-1 as dog this year, and Tyson Helton was 6-2 in role last year. Georgia State covered last three this year and was 3-1 vs. spread outside Atlanta. Rematch of 2017 Cure Bowl won by GSU 27-17. Tech edge: Slight to Georgia State, based on recent trends.

OKLAHOMA STATE vs. MIAMI

(Cheez-It Bowl, Dec. 29)

Hurricanes slowed down late in season, just 2-5 last seven vs. line, though OSU only 1-5 last six vs. spread. Cowboys also on 3-11 Under run since late last season. Mike Gundy has covered four straight bowls, while Miami has lost and failed to cover eight of last nine bowls. Tech edge: Oklahoma State and Under, based on team and totals trends. 

COLORADO vs. TEXAS

(Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29)

Tom Herman 4-0 SU and vs. line in bowls (3-0 with Texas). Buffaloes were 4-1 vs. line for Karl Dorrell this season. CU 0-5 SU (1-4 vs. line) last five bowls, and no SU wins since ’99 Insight.com Bowl vs. BC. Tech edge: Texas, based on bowl trends.

WISCONSIN vs. WAKE FOREST

(Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Dec. 30)

Badgers no covers last four in 2020, longest spread skid since beginning of 2012 (reached six, including last two of 2011). Meanwhile, Wake 6-2 vs. line in 2020. Wisconsin had won and covered five bowls in row before close Rose Bowl loss to Oregon last season. Tech edge: Wake Forest, based on recent trends. 

MISSOURI vs. IOWA

(Music City Bowl, Dec. 30)

Mizzou cooled off late in 2020, lost last three vs. line. Tigers just 1-3 vs. line away from Columbia, now 1-9 vs. spread last 10 away from home. Iowa 6-0 SU, 5-1 vs. line last five in 2020, and Kirk Ferentz has won and covered last three bowls. Tech edge: Iowa, based on team trends.

FLORIDA vs. OKLAHOMA

(Cotton Bowl, Dec. 30)

Sooners won last seven outright, covered last six in 2020. But OU just 2-4 vs. line last six bowls and 3-2 last five in rare dog role. Dan Mullen 4-5 vs. line in bowls. Tech edge: Slight to Oklahoma, based on recent trends.

MISSISSIPPI STATE vs. TULSA

(Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 31)

Tulsa outstanding 7-1 vs. line this season, 11-3 last 14 vs. number since late last year. Golden Hurricane have covered last three bowls (not since 2016, last two for Philip Montgomery). MSU played better down stretch, covering three of last four after dropping five in row vs. number. At that point, Mike Leach was 5-16 in last 21 vs. spread. Bulldogs Under 7-3 this season. Leach only 2-4 SU and 1-5 vs. spread in bowls with Washington State. Tech edge: Tulsa, based on team trends.

BALL STATE vs. SAN JOSE STATE

(Arizona Bowl, Dec. 31)

San Jose 6-0 SU and vs. line in 2020 (counting UNLV as a win), now 15-4-1 vs. spread since late 2018. Spartans also Under last seven since late 2019. Cards won and covered last four in 2020 after dropping five of previous six vs. spread. Tech edge: SJSU and Under, based on team and totals trends. 

ARMY vs. WEST VIRGINIA

(Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31)

Jeff Monken 3-0 SU in bowls for Army, also Under 7-4 this year. Mounties failed to cover their last six bowls under ex-coach Dana Holgorsen. Tech edge: Army and slight to Under, based on bowl and totals trends. 

ARKANSAS vs. TCU

(Texas Bowl, Dec. 31)

Old Southwest Conference matchup! Hogs cooled a bit late in 2020, lost last four outright, covered only one of those. Had covered first six. TCU won and covered last three and five of last six this year. Gary Patterson 10-3 SU last 13 bowls, 3-2 vs. line last five. Tech edge: Slight to TCU, based on recent trends. 

CINCINNATI vs. GEORGIA

(Peach Bowl, Jan. 1)

Luke Fickell 10-5 as dog since 2017 with Bearcats, and Cincy 2-0 SU, 1-1 vs. line in bowls last two years. Bearcats Over last three and four of last five in 2020. Georgia Over last four in 2020. Kirby Smart 3-2 SU, 4-1 vs. line in bowls (counting 2017 title game vs. Alabama). Tech edge: Slight to Over, based on totals trends. 

AUBURN vs. NORTHWESTERN

(Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1)

Wildcats 7-1 vs. line in 2020, NU on 8-1-2 spread run since late 2019. NU also Under 8-1 last nine since late 2019. Pat Fitzgerald has won outright last three bowls. Auburn 2-4 vs. spread last six bowls, and Tigers Under 8-2 in 2020. Tech edge: Northwestern and Under, based on team and totals trends.

NOTRE DAME vs. ALABAMA

(Rose Bowl, Jan. 1)

Nick Saban 8-3 vs. line this year, on 9-3 run since late 2019. Bama, however, just 4-7 vs. number last 11 bowls/title games. Irish were only 5-6 vs. line this year and 3-5 last eight vs. line in bowls. Brian Kelly 5-4 as dog since 2016. Tech edge: Alabama, based on team trends.

OHIO STATE vs. CLEMSON

(Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1)

Clemson has won and covered all three bowl/playoff meetings since 2013, 4-0 if going way back to ’78 Gator Bowl. Buckeyes 1-3 vs. line last four bowls, just 4-7 last 11 overall vs. line since late 2019. Dabo Swinney 14-3 vs. line in ACC title/bowl/playoff games since 2012. Tigers surging again with three wins and covers in row. Tech edge: Clemson, based on team trends.

KENTUCKY vs. NC STATE

(Gator Bowl, Jan. 2)

UK only 4-6 SU, 4-5-1 vs. line this year, though Mark Stoops 2-0 SU last two and 3-0 vs. line last three bowls. Wolfpack 7-4 vs. spread in rebound year for Dave Doeren. Tech edge: NC State, based on recent trends.

MISSISSIPPI vs. INDIANA

(Outback Bowl, Jan. 2)

Hoosiers spotless 7-0 vs. line in 2020, have covered last eight and 11 of last 13 since late 2019. Lane Kiffin only 4-5 SU and vs. line this year with Rebels, though he did win and cover bowls with FAU in 2017 and ’19. Tech edge: Indiana, based on recent trends.

OREGON vs. IOWA STATE

(Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2)

ISU on 8-4-1 Under run since late last year. Ducks only 1-4 vs. line last five bowls/playoffs. Tech edge: Slight to Under, based on totals trends.

TEXAS A&M vs. NORTH CAROLINA

(Orange Bowl, Jan. 2)

Jimbo Fisher won and covered last four away from Kyle Field this year. UNC had dropped three in row vs. line before Miami blowout. Mack Brown only 5-6 vs. spread in 2020. Tech edge: Slight to A&M, based on team trends. 

 

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