One of the best plays left on the college football bowl odds schedule takes place Christmas Eve in Honolulu where the Rice Owls battle the Fresno State Bulldogs.
With a combined 13-12 record, the Fresno State Bulldogs and Rice Owls certainly don't qualify in the must-see column of this year's bowl schedule. Heck, we don't even expect many of their own fans to make the trip to Honolulu where there should be plenty of empty seats at Aloha Stadium.
Still, the Hawai'i Bowl does present a golden opportunity for college football bettors, and if nothing else, gridiron fans in general will have something to watch other than It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve when ESPN's cameras begin coverage of the game at 8 PM (ET).
SBR's live NCAA football odds have been following this matchup since the numbers first went out a little more than two weeks ago, and what they've shown is a complete 180º turn since Fresno State opened as 2 point chalk. Action on Rice has steadily moved that line over to the Owls who are presently favored by 2½.
There has not been much change to the total which first went out on 59. Most sports books are now sporting 59½ point figures, a couple of 60's also beginning to show up.
Former Conference Foes Meeting For 7th Time
A collision between the Bulldogs and Owls was recently an annual occurrence when both schools were members of the Western Athletic Conference. They met six consecutive seasons from 1999-2004, and each of those battles went to Fresno State.
Rice was only favored in one of the matchups, giving up two on the road for the initial clash in 1999, but did manage to cover three of the six encounters. Each and every meeting went past the totals, and both teams enter Tuesday's tilt with slight 'over' leans on the 2014 college football betting campaign.
Bulldogs Need Win To Avoid Losing Record
Seven of the 12 losses the two teams combine for are on Fresno State's side, that 6-7 record way out of whack compared to what the Bulldogs did in their first two seasons under head coach Tim DeRuyter. Mountain West Conference titles were added to the school's trophy case in 2012 and 2013, along with a 20-6 record in DeRuyter's first two seasons.
We do need to take into account the responsible parties for many of the losses this year, starting with a pair of defeats at that hands of a Boise State team that is headed to one of the New Year's Six parties at the Fiesta Bowl. Another loss came to Utah, big winners over Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl, and two more came to USC and Nebraska, this year's combatants in the Holiday Bowl.
DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth are going to Hawaii without several key members of the roster, mostly due to suspensions and specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Curtis Riley -- 7th on the team with 53 tackles -- is doubtful with a foot injury while linebackers Xavier Ulutu (20 tackles) and Michael Lazarus plus lineman Maurice Poyadue (23 tackles) have all been suspended.
Will Weather Play A Factor In Outcome?
Fans of either side making the trip to Honolulu for this game might be disappointed in Mother Nature's plans for Christmas Eve. Kickoff comes at 3 PM local time, and the weatherman is currently calling for a 60% shot of showers under what are supposed to be cloudy skies all day long. College football bettors will want to get the latest update available before getting down on the contest.
Putting money on a team with a losing record at this point of the season, especially one with a slew of injuries or suspensions on the defensive side of the ball, might not sound like a good idea. I like the Bulldogs for my free NCAA Football pick, however, and totals bettors might want to add a play on the 'over' given the history between these two schools.
Free College Football Pick: Fresno State +2.5 at Pinnacle Sports
Season: 62-43-1 (+14.70)