B/R College Football 2021 Betting Locks with Adam Kramer: Bowl Season Part 2

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterDecember 22, 2021

Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach waves to fans after they defeated Auburn in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

'Tis the season for winners, holiday cheer and picking college football games against the spread.

Sure, the holidays are about family and giving and joy. This is also a time of college football exhibitions, and we shall celebrate these occasions accordingly. 

Locks of the Week, of course, never takes a vacation. We debuted Part 1 of our bowl season breakdown last week, focusing on the first batch of games. 

Part 2 features bowl games that will be played between Wednesday, December 22, and Tuesday, December 28. That's a total of 12 games, which is more than enough to make some money.

Have no fear. Major bowl games and playoff picks are coming. We're simply taking our time and celebrating this robust lineup in all of its glory.

Let's pick some winners. (And happy holidays.)


Hawai'i Bowl: Hawai'i vs. Memphis (Under 55) 

Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

This game will be played on Christmas Eve, which is exactly when the Hawai'i Bowl should be played each year. This is a tradition, and forcing my family members to sit through a college football game most of them know nothing about is part of the holiday celebration.

Now, rooting against touchdowns is not something I normally do. In this instance, however, that's the plan.

For regulars of this bowl, you know that wind will be a factor. It always is, and it will be once again. Beyond that, I could see both defenses playing much better—particularly after a multiweek break. And rust could be an issue for the offenses.

Neither defense was superb during the regular season. It's worth noting, however, that both offenses rank outside the top 50 in scoring. 

The over has only hit once in Memphis' last six games. Hawai'i has hit the under in seven of 12 FBS games this year. 

Celebrate this game by hoping for punts. What a way to bring in the holiday.


Holiday Bowl: NC State (-1) vs. UCLA

Chris Seward/Associated Press

Both teams flashed during the regular season. 

UCLA was the darling of CFB for a couple of weeks following an upset over LSU. While the Bruins fell off at times throughout, they closed out the season with three straight wins (and covers). 

NC State toppled Clemson early on and followed that up with some strong performances across the board. Even two of the three losses—Miami and Wake Forest—came by a combined four points.

The Wolfpack, led by quarterback Devin Leary, can really score. UCLA certainly can as well, although the trust (at least for me) just isn't there as much. 

The total, which is hovering around 60, tells us what kind of game this will likely be. There will be touchdowns—likely many of them—although NC State just feels like the more complete, seasoned team as we finish out the year.


Military Bowl: East Carolina (+3) vs. Boston College 

Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

First, an admission. 

I have a soft spot for East Carolina, and I am not ashamed to admit it. If you read this column during the year, you probably already knew this.

The Pirates have gotten so much better in such a short period of time—something that was on display throughout the 2021 season. And before failing to cover in the final two games, they covered the spread in six straight.

And their losses? Largely against quality teams. Cincinnati, Houston, App State, Central Florida and South Carolina all beat ECU, although many of those games were tight. 

Enter Boston College, which has failed to score 20 or more points in six of the past eight games. That offense is a concern, and I expect this game to be on the lower-scoring side. 

For East Carolina, this is good news. The Pirates close out the year with a cover and an outright win.


Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State (-9.5) vs. Texas Tech

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

The strategy here is somewhat simple. I think Mississippi State is much, much, much better than Texas Tech. 

Now, that can be dangerous logic in a bowl game. I thought BYU was better than UAB and Oregon State was better than Utah State, and both of those games were losses in our first installment. 

Bowl season sometimes gets weird, and it did that weekend.

Still, I love Mississippi State in this game. The Bulldogs were dreadful against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, although this will be a much cleaner performance against a team that frankly doesn't possess nearly the same talent. 

Sure, Texas Tech played hard in the regular-season finale against Baylor. The Red Raiders nearly pulled an outright upset as a double-digit underdog.

But Mississippi State's level of competition throughout the year was on an entirely different level, and I think it shows in this game. 

Mike Leach's team wins by more than two touchdowns.


Birmingham Bowl: Auburn (-2.5) vs. Houston 

Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

Things look different for Auburn these days. 

For starters, Bo Nix now plays for Oregon. One of the most exciting players in the sport was injured late in the year, entered the transfer portal and will now take his talents out west. 

Without him, Auburn put up one heck of a fight against Alabama. One could argue that the Tigers should have won that game. Regardless, it was not to be. 

Still, Auburn held the potent Alabama offense in check and nearly won as a 20.5-point underdog.

Although the Tigers lost four straight games down the stretch, three of those games came against Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Yikes. 

Houston, of course, was superb this season. After losing the opener, the Cougars won every game up until the finale against Cincinnati. And even that one was close for a while. Well, until it wasn't.  

To me, this one boils down to talent. While Auburn is a middling SEC team, the depth and size and speed are simply on another level. 

Even with the injuries, the Tigers win (and cover).


Other Games on the Card 

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

First Responder Bowl: Air Force (+1.5) vs. Louisville: The Falcons closed strong with three consecutive wins and quietly finished out the regular season with nine overall. They cover the small spread and pull a slight upset over the ACC.

Gasparilla Bowl: Central Florida vs. Florida (Over 55.5): With all the moving parts at Florida, it's hard to know what kind of performance we're going to get. But I envision points from both teams and a potentially scoreboard-friendly outcome. 


Odds via DraftKings and accurate as of Tuesday.

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