College Bowl Picks 2021-22: Recent Odds and Predictions Against the Spread

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 12, 2021

College Bowl Picks 2021-22: Recent Odds and Predictions Against the Spread

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    Chris Seward/Associated Press

    Sam Howell and the North Carolina Tar Heels came into the 2021 college football season with loftier expectations compared to most programs. 

    UNC failed to live up to its ACC title aspirations. It ended the regular season with a 6-6 record and a berth in the Duke's Mayo Bowl. 

    Howell opted to stay with the program for the bowl matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks, instead of preparing for the NFL draft. That decision should go a long way in deciding the winner of that postseason matchup.

    The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are not in the same boat as North Carolina, as they will be without at least two of their star players for the Fiesta Bowl against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Running back Kyren Williams and safety Kyle Hamilton, who could be a top-10 draft pick, announced they will be focusing on their professional prospects. 

    Those decisions puts new Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman at a bit of a disadvantage going into the clash with the Big 12 runner-up.

    All of the odds for the 42 FBS bowl games can be found here on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Duke's Mayo Bowl: North Carolina (-7) vs. South Carolina

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Howell's decision to play in the Duke's Mayo Bowl gives North Carolina an advantage over South Carolina. 

    The Tar Heels have one of the best quarterbacks in the FBS, while South Carolina struggled to find consistency at the position all season. 

    Howell threw for 2,851 passing yards and 23 touchdowns this season. South Carolina had 20 team passing touchdowns and none of its three quarterbacks had more than eight scoring throws. 

    Despite those struggles, South Carolina found a way to upset the Auburn Tigers and Florida Gators to become bowl-eligible. Florida was not itself all season, and Auburn was playing without Bo Nix against South Carolina. 

    South Carolina showed its flaws in a 30-0 loss to the Clemson Tigers and a 44-14 defeat to the Texas A&M Aggies.

    Shane Beamer's Gamecocks have been unable to keep up with some of the best programs on their schedule, and if North Carolina plays up to its level, it could outclass them.

    UNC averages 159.3 more yards per game on offense and scored 15.1 more points per contest than its postseason foe from the SEC.

    Had Howell opted out of the game in Charlotte, North Carolina, the gap between the two teams would have been smaller, but UNC is now in a position to roll to a victory to finish off a disappointing campaign. 

    Howell could use the Dec. game as one more audition for NFL draft scouts, and the program as a whole needs a win to set the tone for the 2022 season. 

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame (-2)

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    The Fiesta Bowl has all sorts of dynamics at play.

    Notre Dame and Oklahoma State missed out on the College Football Playoff for different reasons. The former was one spot short after suffering a regular-season loss to Cincinnati, and the latter fell in the Big 12 Championship Game to Baylor. 

    Notre Dame changed head coaches between its final regular-season game and the Fiesta Bowl, setting up a unique debut for Marcus Freeman, who was promoted from defensive coordinator. 

    The Fighting Irish will be at a disadvantage without their top running back and star safety, but they should manage those absences well enough to defeat Oklahoma State.

    Notre Dame's defense played a few games without Hamilton in November and is going up against an Oklahoma State offense that can be prone to turnovers. Baylor intercepted Spencer Sanders on four occasions. 

    Sanders threw six of his 12 interceptions in his last two games and that could be a concerning sign for Oklahoma State's Fiesta Bowl success. 

    Notre Dame is yet another high-quality opponent for the Cowboys and the Irish defense allowed 23 points in the last four games. 

    The Irish could manage without Williams as well if they put in a game plan for quarterback Jack Coan to have success against an Oklahoma State defense that can be hard to break down.

    Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer presents one of the toughest individual matchups the Oklahoma State secondary will see all season, and he could have a massive New Year's Day. 

    Oklahoma State's motivation to win the Fiesta Bowl could also come into question since it suffered a major letdown in the Big 12 Championship Game. 

    If the Cowboys do not approach the game with the right mindset off the bat, Notre Dame could hurt them early and often as its players look to make a first impression under Freeman the head coach. 


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