Top 10 betting plays for college football bowl season

Photo of Top 10 betting plays for college football bowl season

After dialing up a bowl season cheat sheet earlier in the week, we return one final time to give our best wagers for the postseason.

Oklahoma vs. Alabama

Wagers: Alabama -14, Alabama team total over 48.5 and over 81

This will be the first-ever triple dip of the year, on the most high-profile game of the bowl season.

In a matchup between the No. 1 (Oklahoma) and No. 2 (Alabama) scoring offenses in the country, it's the latter that should have a remarkable advantage in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 29.

The Sooners rank No. 89 in S&P defense and have given up the second-most passing yards per game in the entire country. They may reside in the pass-heavy Big 12, but their defense is just that short on talent.

Now Oklahoma will face a Crimson Tide offense that's racked up yards on every team they've played this season while residing in a tougher conference than the Sooners. It should be a cakewalk for Alabama.

Although Oklahoma's offense is averaging 49.5 points per game this season, it doesn't figure to touch that number against S&P's No. 8 defense. However, it should avoid getting completely clamped with a Heisman winner at quarterback and athletic wide receivers on the outside. As for the Crimson Tide, whether it's quick scores or three-and-outs from the Sooners' side, they're going to get a ton of possessions, and there's no reason they shouldn't register points every time they touch the ball. In addition, they'll play on a neutral field, where head coach Nick Saban is 19-5 to the team total in his career at Alabama.

Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech

Wager: Over 60

Think additional time to prepare for Georgia Tech's triple option gives Minnesota's defense the advantage? Think again. Offenses that run the triple option are averaging roughly 41 points per game in bowl games since 2015, putting to rest the stale narrative that teams with more preparation for an intricate offensive scheme have an edge.

Expect a lot of points with the total over 60 in a Georgia Tech game. The Yellow Jackets are 10-2 to the over the previous 12 games with a total of 60 or higher, including a 3-0-1 clip this season with an average of nearly 73 points combined per contest.

Northwestern vs. Utah

Wager: Utah -7

It's difficult to imagine Northwestern having any sort of offensive rhythm against one of the most underappreciated defenses in the entire country in the Holiday Bowl.

S&P+ lists the Wildcats as the No. 108 offense in the country, the sixth worst of any bowl team on the slate. The Wildcats lack speed and should find it tough to create extended time in the pocket for quarterback Clayton Thorson, who's facing the No. 5 defense in the country in terms of front-seven havoc rate.

All in all, we have Utah as a double-digit favorite in this one, opening up an edge on the Pac-12 club.

Extra Points

Recommended Pick: Mississippi State -7

The Outback Bowl will feature a pair of 8-4 teams when Mississippi State takes on Iowa, but we feel the Bulldogs are clearly the better team. Mississippi State may have underachieved in the SEC, but they played the fifth-toughest schedule in the entire country, while the Hawkeyes slipped past playing the Michigans and Ohio States of the Big Ten.

The smash-mouth style of football that Iowa plays isn't going to work against an SEC defense ranked No. 5 in the nation in terms of collective havoc rate.

Boston College vs. Boise State

Recommended Pick: Over 55

Boston College closed the year on a low note offensively, scoring 21 points or fewer in its final three games after doing so once in its first nine. However, an offense predicated on establishing the run was dealing with a banged-up A.J. Dillon while facing the likes of Florida State (No. 30 S&P+ rush defense) and Clemson (No. 1). Extra rest for Dillon, and Boise State's No. 18-ranked S&P+ offense, should get this one past the number.

Florida vs. Michigan

Recommended Pick: Under 50.5

You can likely - and hopefully - expect a better effort from Michigan's defense after it surrendered a whopping 62 points to Ohio State in The Shoe to close out the season. Florida doesn't have the creativity or the quarterback play to churn out offensive success against the nation's No. 1 defense in terms of total yards allowed per game, nor is Michigan explosive enough to score at a torrid pace against an athletic Gators defense.

Cal vs. TCU

Recommended Pick: Under 40.5

Cal and TCU will need to dig deep into the bag of tricks to score enough points to go over the number in this one. The Cheez-It Bowl features two of the most offensively-challenged teams in the postseason; the Golden Bears ranked No. 121 in S&P+ offense - the worst mark of any bowl team - while the Horned Frogs ranked No. 99. This one would've been fun in 2015, but the current teams are defensive-minded. Expect an ugly game.

Stanford vs. Pitt

Recommended Pick: Over 52

Although Stanford has typically been a run-first team that plays great defense, it successfully aired it out down the stretch this season while struggling on the other side of the ball. The Cardinal dabbled in some shootouts in 2018, playing in five games that combined for more than 60 points. Needless to say, this isn't the typical Stanford team that we've seen in years past.

Pitt's offense caught fire down the stretch before its ground-based attack ran into brick walls in the form of Miami and Clemson, two of the best run defenses in the country. The Panthers should have more success against a Stanford defense that allowed 415.6 yards of total offense per game in 2018.

Top plays: 31-24-1 (56.4 percent)

Overall record: 61-59-1 (51.2 percent)

Alex Kolodziej is theScore's betting writer. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 11 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AlexKoIodziej.

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