I started off the new year on a positive note, as the Hawkeyes cashed for me on New Year's day. While I wrote up the Bearcats as well, I decided against actually putting some coin down on them, which turned out to be a good idea as they went down in flames 20-7.
For Jan. 2 Bowl games, I'm not sure if I'll be making any wagers just yet, but here are some thoughts.
Cotton Bowl: Mississippi (24) vs. Texas Tech (8)
Ole Miss pts for/agst = 30.8/17.8
Texas Tech pts for/agst = 44.6/26.2
First, what scares me the most about this game is that while Texas Tech seems like the superior team, which also reflects in their ranking, the money seems to be coming in on the Rebels. This line opened -7 in favour of the Red Raiders but has crept down to -4, and I've even seen a -3.5 pop up.
Depending where you look, anywhere from 76 to 85 percent of the public are piling up on Texas Tech. Texas Tech may be the better team, but I never want to be on the same side as that much of the public, and someone is betting Ole Miss to make that number drop. Thing is the time to bet the Rebels may have passed, as the value of getting them at a touchdown underdog is no more.
* Rebels have beaten Florida and LSU on the road and played Bama tough.
* Rebels coach Nutt is 15-8 ATS vs. top 10 ranked teams with six SU wins as well.
*Ole Miss is 3-1 ATS on grass, while Texas Tech is 0-4 ATS on grass this year.
* No Rebels have been to a bowl game before, while the Red Raiders have 17 seniors playing in their last game. Depending which side you're on, there's some motivational factors.
* We all know Texas Tech's story: Their 65-21 loss to Oklahoma kept them out of a possible championship game, but they are still trying to finish with the school's best end of year ranking and could be motivated to prove they should've been in a better bowl game.
Liberty Bowl: East Carolina vs. Kentucky
No huge opinion on this game, but laying -3 with East Carolina could be something I'm looking at.
The Pirates come into the game on a solid finish to the year and upset Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Tulsa along the way to qualify for the Liberty Bowl. Kentucky, on the other hand, stumbled in losing their last three games and are facing some injury concerns. RB Derrick Locke, top WR Dicky Lyons Jr., and QB Randall Cobb will all be out for this one.
This means QB Mike Hartline will regain his starting job, which he lost after eight games. The fact that Wildcats will be starting a QB who was benched and booed during this season gives me no reason to back Kentucky in this matchup. If I make a bet, I'm leaning to East Carolina, but I may have missed the value as I'll have to lay a field goal now.
East Carolina pts for/agst = 23.8/20.8
Kentucky pts for/agst = 22.4/21.7
Sugar Bowl: Utah (7) vs. Alabama (4)
Utah pts for/agst = 37.4/17.2
Bama pts for/agst = 31.2/13.0
The Utes come into this one on a 13-game win streak and winners of 20 of their last 21 games overall. This season they have already beaten six bowl teams to get to this bowl on Jan. 2 (Michigan, Oregon St., TCU, BYU, Colorado St., and Air Force).
They could have some extra motivation as Bama coach Nick Saban has stated the Crimson Tide at 12-1 "are the only undefeated team in regular season who plays in a real BCS conference." Utah finished at 12-0 in the Mountain West.
For the Crimson Tide, their beefy lines could prove to be too much for the Utes. However, star LT Andre Smith will be out for violating team rules, and that could prove to be a huge loss.
Line Movement = While roughly 67 percent of bets are coming in on the Crimson Tide, the line has dropped from its opening -11 for Bama down to -9.5.
Overall I generally try to find value in dogs, and for the sake of this article my pick would be Utah.
Right now my biggest lean for Jan. 2 would be towards East Carolina, but overall these three matchups seem tough. If anyone has any strong leans, please let me know.
Best of luck.