The college football bowl games are set, the national semi-finals are locked for New Year's Eve and the books have released betting odds on all the matchups. Let the fun & discussion start!
While there might be as big a fan of the bowl season, rest assured there is none bigger than this football handicapper. No, I do not bet every game, that is lunacy, but I do study the College Football Odds and have thoughts on every single contest, plus I signed Larry from Dr. Pepper's petition to hand out championship trophy since he came up with the playoff idea.
With 5Dimes the first odds I could find, here are early thoughts, plus what I think about the Army vs. Navy number also.
Orange Bowl - No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Clemson
I am sure many people making College Football Picks or not were surprised to see No.1 seed Clemson a 3.5-point underdog to Oklahoma. On the surface this does look like a mistake, however, anybody who studies and watches the game closely and puts together power ratings like yours truly, has the Sooners has a favorite. Though the Tigers are without a loss, if a point spread is a measuring stick of skill, in a more simplified approach, Oklahoma was stronger by virtue of 9-3 ATS, versus Clemson at 6-6-1 ATS and closing 1-4 ATS.
Cotton Bowl Classic - No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Alabama
Alabama also looks heavy at -9.5 over Michigan State, but as mentioned above, power rankings do tell the same story. If you go purely on ability, the Crimson Tide are without a doubt one of the top four most talented teams in the country. When you look at the Spartans, having gotten healthier on defense in November, they improved quite a bit and it is not a coincidence they closed 4-0 and 3-0-1 ATS, after starting 2-6 against the number. Do not read too much into this line, because it will likely go down, especially if QB Conner Cook injured shoulder is deemed 100 percent by Dec. 31st.
Navy -22.5 point Favorite over Army
This battle opened at 20.5 and quickly surged to 22.5. This might be Navy's best team in a very long time and they played in a quality conference and were tested with just losses to Super Six bowl teams Notre Dame and Houston. Looks like another noncompetitive affair, though the Army has covered four of six.
Cure Bowl - San Jose State vs. Georgia State
This seems odd the CBS Sports Network has the first bowl game of the season with this matchup (ESPN has Utah vs. Duke in hoops at 12:00 Eastern Dec. 19th). San Jose State opened as -2-point favorites but Georgia State roll down the stretch at 4-0 SU and ATS and whipped a very good Georgia Southern club 34-7 on the road as 20.5-point underdogs. Georgia State finishing eighth in the country in passing.
Rose Bowl - Stanford vs. Iowa
Not disagreeing with oddsmakers making Stanford 6.5-point favorite over Iowa necessarily, more thinking about what this means. Michigan State was just a 3-point favorite over the Hawkeyes on neutral field, which could have meant Stanford would be about a field goal favorite over the Spartans, interesting.
Russell Athletic Bowl - North Carolina vs. Baylor
This could labeled the 'Disappointment Bowl' with who these teams ended up. Maybe the oddsmakers know something I don't, which is possible, but Baylor just a field goal underdog with how their quarterback situation looks, for sports picks, this looks like give the points with North Carolina or pass at this price.
Birmingham Bowl - Auburn vs. Memphis
Understand the crowd will have more Auburn fans and Memphis does not have head coach who left, but the Tigers beat a much better team out of the SEC in Ole Miss than Auburn. Taking the Auburn Tigers at -2 would make me uncomfortable at first thought.