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100 college football bowl betting nuggets to know

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For the second-consecutive year, college football went to the dogs.

Underdogs went 423-390-18 against the spread during the regular season, according to sports betting database BetLabSports.com. That's the second-best ATS mark for underdogs in the past eight seasons, behind only last year.

During the 2016 regular season, underdogs pulled off 200 outright upsets and covered the spread in 52.5 percent of games -- a 12-year high. Underdogs carried that momentum into last bowl season, going 27-14 against the number, also a 12-year best.

This year's bowl slate features the biggest bowl underdog in the past 40 seasons. Akron is a 22.5-point underdog to Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl. The point spread on the game opened at FAU -17 on Dec. 4 but jumped to -22 within the first four hours of betting.

In Kiffin's first season at FAU, the Owls went 9-4 against the spread, covering the number by an average margin of 11.5 points per game, tops in the nation. The Owls and Zips kick off in the Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday.


Bowl necessities | Schedule | Lines | Picks


In the meantime, here are 100 notable Vegas-style nuggets to get you ready for the college football bowl season:

Las Vegas book report

  • Georgia winning the College Football Playoff National Championship is the worst-case scenario for Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology, which took two $5,000 futures bets on the Bulldogs on Nov. 2 at odds of 8-1 and 6-1, respectively. In February, Georgia opened at 30-1 to win the national title at CG Technology. They took 59 bets on the Bulldogs at that price.

  • William Hill's Nevada sportsbook also took a $5,000 futures bet on Georgia on Nov. 2 at +750.

  • Clemson winning the national championship is the best-case scenario for multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks.

  • The South Point sportsbook took a $20,000 futures bet on Alabama at 9-5 on Wednesday.

  • William Hill took a $5,000 bet on Alabama on Oct. 11 at +120 odds.

  • CG Technology took an $8,000 bet on Alabama at 3-1 in the offseason.

  • Since the playoff teams were announced Dec. 3, 31 percent of the money bet on William Hill's odds to win the national championship has been on Alabama. Clemson is next, with 27 percent, followed by Oklahoma, with 25 percent, and Georgia, at 17 percent.

  • Caesars Palace reported taking bets from respected players on West Virginia, LSU and Arizona.

  • CG Technology reported taking bets from respected players on Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Western Kentucky, Oregon, Louisville and Memphis.

  • CG Technology also said it took sharp action on the following bowl totals: Boise State-Oregon (over 60), Utah-West Virginia (under 57.5), Southern Miss-Florida State (under 49.5), Texas A&M-Wake Forest (under 65).

  • South Point reported taking sharp action on the Central Michigan-Wyoming under and the Akron-Florida Atlantic over.

  • William Hill took a $20,000 bet on Wednesday on USC +7.5 against Ohio State. It was the largest bet the book had taken on any bowl game.

  • More money has been bet on the Cotton Bowl between USC and Ohio State than any other bowl at William Hill, with 20 percent of the total amount wagered on all bowls sitting on the Trojans-Buckeyes showdown.

13 Largest Strength-of Schedule Mismatches

(Note: All rankings in this section are according to the Sagarin Ratings.)

  • Texas Tech (19) vs. South Florida (110)

  • Central Florida (83) vs. Auburn (3)

  • Ohio (114) vs. UAB (179)

  • Notre Dame (2) vs. LSU (63)

  • Iowa State (22) vs. Memphis (82)

  • Temple (77) vs. Florida International (130)

  • Northern Illinois (92) vs. Duke (42)

  • Alabama (56) vs. Clemson (8)

  • SMU (79) vs. Louisiana Tech (123)

  • Appalachian State (142) vs. Toledo (100)

  • Wake Forest (13) vs. Texas A&M (48)

  • Boise State (75) vs. Oregon (45)

  • Florida Atlantic (111) vs. Akron (85)

Early action

(Note: All information in this section is as of Dec. 14.)

Georgia (-1.5) vs. Oklahoma, Rose Bowl, Jan. 1

  • 59 percent of the bets at William Hill were on the Sooners, but 65 percent of the money wagered was on the Bulldogs.

  • 61 percent of the bets at CG Technology were on the Sooners, but 62 percent of the money wagered was on the Bulldogs.

Alabama (-2.5) vs. Clemson, Allstate Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1

  • 58 percent of the bets and 88 percent of the money wagered at William Hill was on the Crimson Tide.

  • 56 percent of the bets and 82 percent of the money wagered at CG Technology was on the Crimson Tide.

  • "I think Alabama is going to get to -3," says South Point sportsbook director Chris Andres.

USC vs. Ohio State (-7.5), Goodyear Cotton Bowl, Dec. 30

  • 60 percent of the bets and 59 percent of the money wagered at William Hill was on the favored Buckeyes.

Washington vs. Penn State (-2.5), Playstation Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 30

  • 66 percent of the bets and 63 percent of the money wagered at William Hill was on the Nittany Lions.

Wisconsin (-6.5) vs. Miami, Capital One Orange Bowl, Dec. 30

  • 70 percent of the bets and 69 percent of the money wagered at William Hill was on the Badgers.

LSU (-3) vs. Notre Dame, Citrus Bowl, Dec. 30

  • 72 percent of the bets and 84 percent of the money wagered at William Hill was on the Tigers.

Coaching Nuggets

  • Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is 2-7 against the spread (ATS) in bowls.

  • Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is 10-3 both straight-up and ATS in bowls.

  • A solid 14 of Nick Saban's 20 bowls have gone over the total.

  • Alabama is 4-12 ATS following a straight-up loss under coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide lost their regular-season finale to Auburn.

  • Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is 3-7 ATS in bowls. All but one of Rodriguez's 10 bowls have gone over the total.

  • Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is 10-1 straight-up and 8-3 ATS in bowls.

  • Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is 7-4 straight-up and 8-3 ATS in bowls.

  • All four of Boston College coach Steve Addazio's bowls have gone over the total.

  • Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is 3-7 ATS in bowls. In seven of those 10 bowls, the games have stayed under the total.

  • Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill is 1-5 ATS in bowls.

Statistical Mismatches

  • Florida International's No. 1-ranked red-zone offense vs. Temple's 91st-ranked red-zone defense.

  • Georgia's 4th-ranked red-zone offense vs. Oklahoma's 94th-ranked red-zone defense.

  • Wake Forest's 7th-ranked red zone offense vs. Texas A&M's 113th-ranked red-zone defense.

  • UCLA QB Josh Rosen and the Bruins' fifth-ranked passing offense vs. Kansas State's 128th-ranked pass defense (yards allowed).

  • UCF All-American kick returner Mike Hughes and the Knights' ninth-ranked kickoff-return unit vs. Auburn's 128th-ranked kick-return defense.

  • Washington State's line, which allowed 44 sacks, most of any bowl team vs. Michigan State's pass rush, averaging 2.33 sacks per game.

  • Northern Illinois's second-ranked pass rush (41 sacks) vs. Duke's 80th-ranked pass protection, which allows 2.25 sacks per game.

  • Utah State's opportunistic defense (26 turnovers gained) vs. New Mexico State's offense, which committed 26 turnovers, second-most of any bowl team.

  • Kansas State's seventh-ranked punt-return unit vs. UCLA's 123rd-ranked punt-return defense.

Talent Breakdown

(Note: Numbers in parentheses indicate the total NFL draft prospects for each school in ESPN insider Todd McShay's top 235.)

  • Alabama (11) vs. Clemson (6)

  • Georgia (7) vs. Oklahoma (6)

  • Southern Miss (0) vs. Florida State (6)

  • North Carolina State (5) vs. Arizona State (1)

  • Ohio State (12) vs. USC (10)

Conference Breakdown

(Note: The following nuggets indicate each conference's straight-up record this season against non-conference foes.)

  • SEC: 45-10 (.818)

  • Pac-12: 28-8 (.778)

  • Big Ten: 32-10 (.762)

  • ACC: 39-15 (.722)

  • Big 12: 20-10 (.667)

  • American: 25-19 (.568)

  • MAC: 21-27 (.438)

  • C-USA: 24-31 (.436)

  • Mountain West: 21-28 (.429)

  • Sun Belt: 13-33 (.283)

Odds and Ends

  • Underdogs are 66-54-1 ATS in bowls over the past three years.

  • The over is 64-55-2 in bowls over the past three years.

  • Average points scored during the regular season over the past three seasons: 58.8.

  • Average points scored in bowls over the past three seasons: 60.8.

  • Average over/under total in bowls over the past three seasons: 57.8.

  • Alabama and Oklahoma State each went 1-6 ATS vs. bowl teams.

  • Florida State went 0-7-1 ATS vs. bowl teams.

  • Fresno State went 6-0 ATS vs. bowl teams.

  • Fresno State went 6-0 ATS as an underdog. The Bulldogs are 2.5-point underdogs to Houston in the Hawai'i Bowl on Dec. 24.

  • The team that improved the most in South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews' power ratings was Mississippi State.

  • Iowa State has the best ATS record of any bowl team at 10-2.

  • USC, Kentucky and Western Kentucky are tied for the worst ATS record among bowl teams at 3-9.

  • Western Kentucky has failed to cover the spread by an average margin of 6.8 points per game, the worst such mark of any bowl team.

  • LSU has covered the spread in six straight games, the longest such streak in the nation.

  • Oklahoma State, Memphis and Utah State have each gone over the total this year in 75 percent of their games, the best "over" mark of any bowl teams.

  • Miami, Fla. and Wyoming both saw 10 of their 12 games staying under the total, the best "under" mark of any bowl team.

  • UCF's game went over the total by an average margin of 10.2 points per game, the best such mark of any bowl team.

  • Wyoming's games stayed under the total by 10.2 points per game, the best such mark of any bowl team.

  • South Florida averages 85.4 plays per game, the most of any bowl team.

  • Stanford averages 61.3 plays per game, the fewest of any bowl team.

  • Oklahoma averages 8.3 yards per play, the most of any bowl team.

  • Wyoming averages 4.4 yards per play, the fewest of any bowl team.

  • Army allows opponents 58.4 plays per game, the fewest of any bowl team.

  • Wake Forest allows opponents 85.7 plays per game, the most of any bowl team.

  • Alabama and Wisconsin each allow opponents 4.0 yards per play, the fewest among all bowl teams.

  • SMU allows opponents 6.7 yards per play, the most of any bowl team.

  • Appalachian State went 2-10 ATS in the first-half of games this season, the worst mark of any bowl team. The Mountaineers are 8-point underdogs to Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl on Dec. 23.

  • Michigan State went 8-3-1 ATS in the first half of games this season, the best mark of any bowl team.

*Statistical information from ESPN Stats & Information, BetLabSports.com, Marc Lawrence's 2017 College Bowl State Report, TeamRankings.com and Covers.com was used in this article.