Wednesday, Dec. 30: Our College Football Bowl Game Predictions

Football Dec 29, 2020

Now that most of the garbage bowls are out of the way (a total of 26 games where scheduled), now it's time for actual championship-level games between winning teams that deserve to be in the post-season.  Recall 2-8 South Carolina was invited to a bowl game!  That's insane!  Okay, rant over.

With 14 games to be played starting today, December 30th (Wednesday), through January 2nd (Saturday), that gives us some wonderful betting opportunities.  Let's begin with today's lineup, which includes two games, both of which are tempting for bettors.

Mayo Bowl:

Wednesday at Noon EST
Wake Forest (4-4) vs. Wisconsin (3-3)
Spreads Line:  Wisconsin by 10
Total:  51

Analysis:  Although this is somewhat of a "home" game for nearby Wake Forest playing their bowl invite within North Carolina, both teams are just .500 heading into their 2020 finale.  Wisconsin had been a touchdown favorite against Wake Forest, but the line has zoomed to Badgers -10.

With this invite, Wake Forest has now appeared in five straight bowl games.  The feisty Demon Deacons are 3-1 in the post-season, their only loss a respectable 27-21 defeat to Michigan State last year.

Wake Forest began their 2020 campaign with consecutive losses to Clemson and North Carolina State and then bounced back with four straight wins in October though.  Wake also nearly knocked off North Carolina before a really bad showing in their finale against Louisville.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin – which played fewer games because they began the season later -- came out of the gate strong with huge wins over Illinois and Michigan (by a combined score of 94-18 in its first two games).  Then, inexplicably, the Badgers' offense went into hibernation scoring a grand a total of just 20 points in its next three games (three straight losses to Northwestern, Indiana, and Iowa).  Finally, Wisconsin salvaged its season by beating Minnesota in overtime to close out the schedule.

A big problem for the Demon Deacons is not have running back Kenneth Walker available for this game.  His absence was felt when Wake lost badly to Louisville.  

The bigger problem is on defence.  Wake allowed 34 PPG and 470 YPG – which are awful stats given the quality if competition (or lack thereof) they faced.  Wisconsin should easily find a way to move the ball and score.  On the other hand, while the Badgers' offense is a concern, they also have one of the best defences in the nation. The Badgers led the country in total defence allowing just 263 YPG.  Look for them to shut down Wake Forest.  

Betting Prediction: We could have played Wisconsin at -7 earlier, which had value, but now at -10, the good number is gone.  Instead, look at the UNDER which has some value since the Badgers' stingy defence will make things difficult for the Demon Deacons. The recommendation is to go UNDER 51.  

Cotton Bowl:

Wednesday at 2 pm EST
Oklahoma (8-2) vs. Florida (8-3)
Spreads Line:  Oklahoma -3.5
Total:  67.5

Analysis: The big news nearing game time is that the Florida Gators will be shorthanded offensively in the annual classic played in Dallas (actually suburban Arlington).  Four receivers won't suit up against the Oklahoma Sooners.  Accordingly, the line moved a whopping 6.5 points, swinging from Florida -3 to Oklahoma -3.5 (the current line).

Florida still has weapons.  But coming off a high-scoring loss to Alabama with a weakened lineup isn't inspiring for confidence.  Interestingly, OU's weakeness is pass defence.  But will the Gators be able to exploit that?  Oklahoma’s run stop unit is ranked third in the country, but 75th nationally at defending the pass.

Unlike the Gators, which play in the brutal SEC, OU won the Big-12 Championship Game for the fifth straight season and also the eighth time in the last nine years.  This is a program that knows how to win, and they should handle an amputated Gator team that doesn't have their usual weapons.  

Since losing back-to-back games to start off the season, Oklahoma has rolled up seven consecutive wins and often ran up the score as well, going 6-1 ATS.  Five of their seven victories have come by margins of 13 points or more.

Betting Prediction:  The Sooners should get the job done here with a win and cover.  Too bad the Gators lost all that talent with the wide outs not playing.  This might have been a wager on the other side had Florida been anywhere close to full strength.  The line on this game moved for a good reason, folks.  The recommendation is to bet Oklahoma -3.5.

Note:  Tomorrow, we'll have more plays for the New Year's Eve bowl games.