Have you ever thought that there might be too many bowl games? It’s something that I pondered a while back in a column you can read here.
With so many bowls, I’ve decided to break down this year’s predictions into those that occur between now and December 27th and those that occur after.
Of the 18 bowl games during that time, the only one with two ranked teams is the Frisco Bowl, in which #18 UTSA (12-1) is favored by one possession over #25 San Diego State (10-3) on December 21st.
There’s a lot to like about UTSA. The Roadrunners have Associated Press All American running back Sincere McCormick. The 5’9″, 205 lb. junior is fifth in the nation for most yards gained on the ground (1479) at over six yards a clip.
They also have quarterback Frank Harris who has been shaded by anonymity despite passing for over 2900 yards, completing 66% of his attempts, and posting an interception rate of just 1.3%. All of those place him among the five most-accurate passers in the nation. He’s also the team’s second-leading rusher.
Despite all of that and in defiance of Savvy and the betting lines, I think the Aztecs will win the Frisco bowl partially because they played three opponents that attained national ranking in 2021, whereas UTSA has played none. Also, SDSU is ranked third in the nation for stopping rushing attacks (2.68 ypc), which bodes well as an antidote for the likes of McCormick.
The next best bowl game matches UAB (8-4) against #14 BYU (10-2) in the Independence Bowl. Both teams have performed so close to our preseason projections that both are still ranked within six positions of where we started them four months ago.
UAB will try to win this on the ground as the Blazers have one of the highest rush-to-pass ratios (65/35%) in college football. BYU will turn to sophomore quarterback Jalen Hall to take advantage of UAB’s porous pass defense.
BYU is a seven-point favorite by the oddsmakers and a 31-23 favorite in our Index.
We agree with the betting lines on most games but not with the following:
Oregon State (7-5) by 7 over Utah State (10-3)
Our system has two disagreements with this one.
First, Oregon State being favored defies Utah State’s evident pre-eminence in national ranking, wins vs. losses, and the Aggies’ hot winning streak that now extends to seven of its last eight games.
OSU has lost three of its last five and hasn’t won a single game outside of Corvallis since September. The Beavers can run the ball, but if forced to the air, they struggle with inconsistency.
Second, the over/under for total points is 67.5, yet Utah State hasn’t had a game that high since September, and OSU has had only two. Our system sets the line at 61.
App State (10-3) by 3 over Western Kentucky (8-5)
Both of these teams have been played above expectations in the second half of the regular season, but Western Kentucky is the only one to have done it all season long.
Much of that success has come from the stellar play of former Houston Baptist senior quarterback Bailey Zappe who leads the nation in touchdown passes (56), passing yardage (5545), and is second in the country for number of completions (443). His 69% completion ratio and .017 interception rate are also among the best in the nation. He is in position to break the all-time major college record for touchdown passes (60) thrown in a season set by Joe Burrow.
Boston College (6-6) by 3 over East Carolina (7-5)
Boston College has won just two games since September, and performance trend lines have been steadily dropping throughout the late season.
Miami O (6-6) by 3 over North Texas (6-6)
North Texas produced the highest performance metrics of any team in the Group of Five over the final month of the regular season, and that included a shocking 22-point upset of UTSA right after Thanksgiving.
Miami has played well all season, but I disagree with the experts and agree with the Index that UNT wins this.
Western Michigan (7-5) by 3.5 over Nevada (8-4)
The two problems that I see in the Vegas betting lines for this one are:
1. Nevada’s late season trends have been excellent, whereas Western Michigan lost four of its last seven, struggled with anemic Akron, and was buried by Toledo and Ball State. It’s fair to point out that the Broncos beat both Northern Illinois and nationally-ranked Pittsburgh, but the Pit win was months ago.
2. Oddsmakers setting the total points line at 59 presents a striking opportunity for gamblers. The majority of games for BOTH of these teams in the last half of the season were well above 59. Our system says it will be 64. I personally think it will be above 66.
Wyoming (6-6) by three over Kent State (7-6)
Wyoming actually has good metrics in our Savvy system, but it’s hard to overlook that the Cowboys are 2-6 since September.
To see all of our predictions for the first part of the bowl season, please visit us here.