150 CFB bowl betting nuggets

It's a holiday tradition: finishing a solid 11th in the office bowl pool, behind Sue from accounting.

With 39 total bowls and a new College Football Playoff, there is a ton of information out there and it can be overwhelming. That's why we're here: to help you beat Sue.

Below are 150 nuggets of information on betting bowls this season. Read this and ESPN Insider's CFB Bowl Betting Guide and you should be all set this bowl season.

10 biggest strength-of-schedule mismatches

(Strength-of-schedule ratings from ESPN Stats & Info)

Utah (10) vs. Colorado State (100)
Boise State (79) vs. Arizona (16)
Auburn (2) vs. Wisconsin (63)
East Carolina (89) vs. Florida (29)
Arizona State (19) vs. Duke (73)
Iowa (67) vs. Tennessee (14)
TCU (53) vs. Mississippi (4)
Ohio State (52) vs. Alabama (5)
Kansas State (39) vs. UCLA (1)
Houston (103) vs. Pittsburgh (58)

14 teams that attracted early limit bets in Vegas

As of Tuesday afternoon, two and a half times more money had been wagered on Oregon than Florida State at the MGM sports book, including a $10,000 limit bet on the Ducks at minus-8. The line was up to Oregon minus-9.5 two weeks before the Rose Bowl.

In the other national semifinal, the early action was siding with the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl. MGM assistant manager Jeff Stoneback said one and half times more money had been bet on the underdog Buckeyes than Alabama, but it was just an accumulation of smaller bets, with no limit wagers. The Crimson Tide were 9.5-point favorites across the board this week.

Several bowl teams had attracted early limit bets. Limits are $5,000 on some of the smaller bowls and $10,000 on the bigger games. Limits will increase closer to kickoff.

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On Tuesday, Stoneback, who estimated that only 10 percent of the bowl action had been placed, broke down which teams had received early limit wagers at his book.

Colorado State (vs. Utah): "We took a couple of [limit plays] on Colorado State," Stoneback said. "We opened them plus-4.5 and are now down to 3.5."

Air Force (vs. Western Michigan): "We've taken a few on Air Force. We opened Western Michigan as a 1.5-point favorite, and now Air Force is a 1-point favorite."

South Alabama (vs. Bowling Green): "We opened South Alabama as a 1.5-point favorite. They are up to 3 now."

Memphis (vs. BYU): "Memphis we opened as a pick 'em, and now we're at minus-1."

Northern Illinois (vs. Marshall): "We opened Marshall at minus-10.5. Now it's down to 10."

San Diego State (vs. Navy): "They laid 2 with San Diego State [Tuesday] and we're at 2½ now."

Rice (vs. Fresno State): "Rice opened up as a 1½-point 'dog and now [the Owls are] 1 over Fresno. We took a couple pops on that one."

Louisiana Tech (vs. Illinois): "Louisiana Tech, we opened them at 5 and took a pop on them. We're at 5½ now."

Rutgers (vs. North Carolina): "We took a play on them at 3½. We're at 3 now."

Virginia Tech (vs. Cincinnati): "We took a bet on Virginia Tech. We opened them at [plus] 3½ and are down to 3."

Miami (FL) (vs. South Carolina): "This game has received by far the most action, besides the playoff games. We opened Miami 1½, and it's grown all the way to 3½."

Notre Dame (vs. LSU): "They took the 8 against LSU. We're down to 7½."

Auburn (vs. Wisconsin): "We opened Auburn at 5 and have taken a couple hits on them at 5 and 5½. We're up to 6 now on that game."

Oregon (vs. Florida State): "We took a play on Oregon minus-8 and moved straight up to 9. We're up to 9 now."

10 statistical mismatches

Oklahoma State's pass protection against Washington's pass rush: The Cowboys have surrendered 3.1 sacks per game, ranking them 114th in the nation in sacks allowed. Washington, led linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha, the national sack co-leader, averages 3.5 sacks per game.

Missouri's fifth-ranked red zone offense vs. Minnesota's 112th-ranked red zone defense: The Tigers came away with points on 38 of 41 red zone trips, including 26 touchdowns. Opponents scored 32 times, including 23 touchdowns, on 36 trips inside Minnesota's 20-yard line.

Colorado State's eighth-ranked passing game vs. Utah's 89th-ranked pass defense: The Rams, led by prolific quarterback Garrett Grayson, boast a balanced, explosive attack that averages 326.2 passing yards per game. Utah has allowed an average of 245.0 passing yards per game and surrendered 22 touchdown passes.

Mississippi State's No. 1 red zone defense vs. Georgia Tech's No. 86 red zone offense: Teams scored only 15 touchdowns on 40 trips inside the Bulldogs' 20-yard line. Georgia Tech had a nation-high 69 trips into the red zone, but came away with points only 79.7 percent of the time.

Arkansas' No. 3 kickoff return team vs. Texas' No. 125 kickoff coverage: The Razorbacks averaged 25.32 yards per kickoff return and scored one touchdown. The Longhorns allowed 30.08 yards per kick return and one touchdown.

Nebraska's No. 3 punt return unit vs. Southern California's No. 122 punt coverage: The Cornhuskers averaged 16.11 yards per return and had three touchdowns. The Trojans allowed 17.10 yards per punt return, the most of any bowl team.

Nebraska's depth vs. Southern California's depth: The Cornhuskers outscored opponents 119-62 in the fourth quarter this season. The Trojans were outscored 78-72 in fourth quarters this season.

Stanford's No. 24 third-down defense vs. Maryland's No. 116 third-down offense: Teams picked up first downs just 35.6 percent of the time on third down against the Cardinal's defense. Maryland converted on just 32.2 percent of third downs, the lowest success rate of any bowl team.

Stanford's punt protection vs. Maryland's punt rush: Stanford has had three punts blocked, tied for the most of any bowl team. Maryland has blocked two punts this season, tied for the most of any bowl team.

Florida State QB Jameis Winston vs. Oregon's opportunistic defense: Winston tossed 17 picks and the Seminoles lost 27 turnovers overall. Only West Virginia and Central Florida lost more turnovers than Florida State, among bowl teams. Oregon lost only eight turnovers all season, the fewest in the nation, and created 25 turnovers.

Nine talent mismatches

(Number of draft-eligible prospects ranked in ESPN Insider Todd McShay's Top 200).

Oregon (7) vs. Florida State (13)
UTEP (5) vs. Utah State (10)
Memphis (4) vs. BYU (14)
Arizona State (5) vs. Duke (10)
Rice (4) vs. Fresno State (8)
Boise State (2) vs. Arizona (8)
Georgia Tech (6) vs. Mississippi State (14)
East Carolina (7) vs. Florida (16)
Arkansas State (3) vs. Toledo (10)

Coaches' ATS records in bowl games

Bowl scoring

Scoring is up in bowl games, but oddsmakers have kept pace.

Last season, the bowls averaged 57.21 points per game, a four-year high. Yet, 19 of the 35 games stayed under the total with one push, depending on the numbers that were bet. The average bowl game over/under total last season closed just over 57.

Over the past three years, as the up-tempo offense has taken over college football, 56.7 percent of the 104 bowls games have stayed under the total.

As of Tuesday, the average over/under on this season's bowls was 58.22. Games averaged 58.82 points during the regular season.

Plays per game
AAC: 70.90
ACC: 70.38
Big 12: 75.63
Big Ten: 69.90
CUSA: 70.43
Independent: 70.88
Mid-American: 71.34
Mountain West: 72.12
Pac-12: 76.00
SEC: 70.73
Sun Belt: 73.43

Nonconference straight-up records vs. FBS competition
AAC: 8-28
Atlantic Coast: 28-14
Big 12: 15-7
Big Ten: 31-14
Conference USA: 17-26
Independent: 21-19
Mid-American: 8-31
Mountain West: 27-24
Pac-12: 23-6
SEC: 34-7
Sun Belt: 4-30

Best and worst ATS records vs. bowl teams

Louisiana Tech (7-0)
Oregon (6-1)
Georgia Tech (7-2)
Missouri (7-2)
Ohio State (7-3)
Stanford (1-6)
Navy (1-6)
Texas A&M (2-7)
Auburn (3-7)
Bowling Green (0-4-1)
Florida State (2-7)

Odds and ends

• The favorite has won 65.21 percent of bowl games SU since the 2005-06 season. Teams favored by 7 or more have won 66.9 percent bowl games SU since the 2005-06 season.

• Favorites are 145-147-7 ATS in the past nine bowl seasons.

• Teams playing in bowls in their home state are 49-34-2 ATS the past six seasons.

• Eleven of Ohio State's 13 games have gone over the total.

• Eleven of San Diego State's 12 games have gone over the total.

• ESPN Football Power Index gives Marshall (79 percent), Stanford (79 percent) and Georgia (77 percent) the best chance of winning their bowl game.

• Stanford is the biggest favorite on the board. The Cardinal are laying 13.5 to Maryland.

• Double-digit bowl underdogs went 6-2 ATS last season and are 25-19 ATS since 2005-06. Maryland (vs. Stanford), Northern Illinois (vs. Marshall) and UTEP (vs. Utah State) are double-digit 'dogs this season.

• All 10 Big Ten bowl teams are underdogs.

Statistical information from the following sources was used in this story:

College football data analyst Josh Doust
BetLabs on SportsInsights.com
ESPN Insider Phil Steele's college football preview magazine