College Bowl Picks 2017-18: Latest Odds and Predictions Against the Spread

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 7, 2017

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 24:  Drew Lock #3 of the Missouri Tigers runs the ball during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on November 24, 2017 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

We're days away from the betting frenzy that is college football bowl season. 

Matchups that would have been looked at as meaningless during the regular season will become all the rage, especially if a bowl game is the only sporting event on television on a Tuesday afternoon.

It all starts with a quintet of contests on December 16 and ends with the National Championship Game on January 8. 

There are only four days off from the start of bowl season to New Year's Day, with a one-week break occurring between the national semifinals and the National Championship. During that stretch, money will be lost, won back and lost again. 


December 16

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (1 p.m. ET)

Troy (-5.5) vs. North Texas


Prediction: Troy 24, North Texas 17


AutoNation Cure Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET )

Western Kentucky (-4.5) vs. Georgia State

TV: CBS Sports Network

Prediction: Western Kentucky 24, Georgia State 19


Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET)

No. 25 Boise State (+5) vs. Oregon


Prediction: Boise State 49, Oregon 27


Gildan New Mexico Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET)

Marshall vs. Colorado State (-5.5)


Prediction: Colorado State 37, Marshall 21 


Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (8 p.m. ET)

Middle Tennessee (+3.5)  vs. Arkansas State 


Prediction: Middle Tennessee 31, Arkansas State 24


December 19

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (7 p.m. ET)

Akron vs. Florida Atlantic (-17)


Prediction: Florida Atlantic 45, Akron 10


December 20

DXL Frisco Bowl (8 p.m. ET)

Louisiana Tech vs. SMU (-5) 


Prediction: SMU 31, Louisiana Tech 21


December 21

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (8 p.m. ET)

Temple vs. Florida International (+8)


Prediction: Temple 24, Florida International 20


December 22

Bahamas Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET)

UAB (+7) vs. Ohio


Prediction: UAB 34, Ohio 31


Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (4 p.m. ET)

Central Michigan (Even)  vs. Wyoming


Prediction: Wyoming 37, Central Michigan 23


December 23

Birmingham Bowl (12 p.m. ET)

Texas Tech vs. South Florida (-2.5)


Prediction: South Florida 55, Texas Tech 49


Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET)

San Diego State vs. Army*


Prediction: San Diego State 30, Army 23


Dollar General Bowl (7 p.m. ET)

Appalachian State vs. Toledo (-7)


Prediction: Toledo 27, Appalachian State 17


December 24

Hawaii Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET)

Fresno State vs. Houston (-1.5)


Prediction: Houston 34, Fresno State 31


December 26

Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (1:30 p.m. ET)

West Virginia vs. Utah (-4.5)


Prediction: Utah 38, West Virginia 24


Quick Lane Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET)

Duke vs. Northern Illinois (+2.5)


Prediction: Northern Illinois 31, Duke 20


Cactus Bowl (9 p.m. ET)

Kansas State vs. UCLA (+3)


Prediction: UCLA 37, Kansas State 34


December 27

Walk On's Independence Bowl (1:30 p.m. ET)

Southern Miss (+14) vs. Florida State 


Prediction: Florida State 31, Southern Miss 24


New Era Pinstripe Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET)

Boston College vs. Iowa (-3)


Prediction: Iowa 17, Boston College 13


Foster Farms Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET)

Arizona vs. Purdue (+4.5)

TV: Fox

Prediction: Purdue 37, Arizona 34


Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl (9 p.m. ET)

Texas vs. Missouri (-1)

TV: ESPN          

Prediction: Missouri 37, Texas 31       


December 28

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (1:30 p.m. ET)

Virginia vs. Navy*


Prediction: Navy 24, Virginia 21


Camping World Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET)

No. 22 Virginia Tech vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State (-6.5)


Prediction: Oklahoma State 31, Virginia Tech 21


Valero Alamo Bowl (9 p.m. ET)

No. 13 Stanford (+2) vs. No. 15 TCU 


Prediction: Stanford 24, TCU 21


San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (9 p.m. ET)

No. 18 Washington State vs. No. 16 Michigan State (+4.5)

TV: Fox                  

Prediction: Michigan State 26, Washington State 23


December 29

Belk Bowl (1 p.m. ET)

Wake Forest (-2.5) vs. Texas A&M


Prediction: Wake Forest 35, Texas A&M 21


Hyundai Sun Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET)

No. 24 NC State (-5) vs. Arizona State


Prediction: NC State 28, Arizona State 21


Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET)

No. 21 Northwestern (-6.5) vs. Kentucky


Prediction: Northwestern 37, Kentucky 24


Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET)

Utah State (-3) vs. New Mexico State

TV: CBS Sports Network

Prediction: Utah State 20, New Mexico State 17


Goodyear Cotton Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET)

No. 5 Ohio State (-6) vs. No. 8 USC

TV: ESPN                

Prediction: Ohio State 27, USC 21


December 30

TaxSlayer Bowl (Noon ET)

No. 23 Mississippi State vs. Louisville (-5.5)


Prediction: Louisville 41, Mississippi State 16


AutoZone Liberty Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET)

No. 20 Memphis (-3) vs. Iowa State


Prediction: Memphis 21, Iowa State 17


PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (4 p.m. ET)

No. 9 Penn State (-4.5) vs. No. 11 Washington


Prediction: Penn State 31, Washington 21


Capital One Orange Bowl (8 p.m. ET)

No. 6 Wisconsin (-5.5) vs. No. 10 Miami (FL)

TV: ESPN          

Prediction: Wisconsin 21, Miami (FL) 14   


January 1, 2018

Outback Bowl (Noon ET)

Michigan (-7.5) vs. South Carolina


Prediction: Michigan 27, South Carolina 19


Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET)

No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF (+8)


Prediction: Auburn 34, UCF 31


Citrus Bowl presented by Overton's (1 p.m. ET)

No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU (-1)


Prediction: LSU 31, Notre Dame 27


Rose Bowl (National Semifinal, 5 p.m. ET)

No. 2 Oklahoma (-1.5) vs. No. 3 Georgia


Prediction: Oklahoma 17, Georgia 14


Sugar Bowl (National Semifinal, 8:45 p.m. ET)

No. 1 Clemson (Even) vs. No. 4 Alabama

TV: ESPN               

Prediction: Clemson 31, Alabama 20


January 8, 2018

National Championship Game (8 p.m. ET)



Expect High-Powered Offenses to Steal Early Headlines

Entertainment won't come at a premium during the middle of bowl season as some of the nation's best offenses take the fieldagainst each other in some cases

The Birmingham Bowl between Texas Tech and South Florida features a pair of top-20 offenses, but that's only the start for enticing showdowns. 

The Foster Farms Bowl showdown between Arizona and Purdue could be an early look at two up-and-coming teams experts will have their eyes on in 2018.

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate could end up being a favorite for next season's Heisman Trophy depending on which talented upperclassmen depart for the NFL. 

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Quarterback Khalil Tate #14 of the Arizona Wildcats warms up before the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty I
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Missouri may not seem like one of the most exciting teams in the nation if you haven't paid a ton of attention to the Tigers, but they will give Texas every bit of a challenge with Drew Lock, who threw for 43 touchdowns, leading the charge. 

Also keep an eye on the nation's leading passer, Mason Rudolph, and Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl as they take on Justin Fuente's Virginia Tech team. 


Liberty Bowl Will Not be a High-Scoring Game

Speaking of teams with a tremendous offensive output, the Memphis Tigers are playing at home in the Liberty Bowl on December 30 against Iowa State. 

It may be one of the boldest predictions of bowl season to claim Memphis won't score a ton of points, but that could be the case against an Iowa State defense that held six teams to 20 points or less, including TCU and West Virginia. 

AMES, IA - OCTOBER 28: Defensive back Kamari Cotton-Moya #5, right, celebrates with wide receiver Allen Lazard #5 of the Iowa State Cyclones after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs at Jack Trice Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Ames, Iowa. The Iowa State Cyclo
David K Purdy/Getty Images

We're not saying Matt Campbell's team has the most impenetrable defensive unit in the nation, but it's risen to the occasion a few times and will be more than motivated to ruin Memphis' bowl homecoming as the underdog. 

Campbell, who will be going up against another hot upcoming name in coaching circles, Mike Norvell, will have a month to prepare for the high-flying offense of the Tigers led by Riley Ferguson.


New Year's Six Games Should Be Mostly One-Score Contests 

After the chaos of the early part of the bowl schedule fades away, the top programs in the nation will take center stage in the New Year's Six games. 

Most of the games should be one-score contests, and they could be decided by fewer than three points in some instances. 

Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Auburn are all listed as comfortable favorites, but don't expect each member of the quartet to cover. There's a chance none of them cover and the underdogs prevail throughout the New Year's Six. 

When you take a glance at the pair of national semifinals, the margins will be even slimmer, but the lines are representative of that with Oklahoma being a slight 1.5-point favorite and the line in the Sugar Bowl being even. 

Taking the underdogs isn't a bad strategy if the lines stay as high as they are. If they creep down to three or four points, then the favorites in each game seem like more reasonable selections. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

All odds via Oddsshark.com

All statistics obtained from ESPN.com.