We first got our first taste of bowling season over the weekend and now the action continues all week.
We’ve played some really good games and a few clunkers so far. But that’s the nature of these bowl games. Some teams don’t show up at all (looking at you, Florida), while others are extremely motivated to get a postseason win.
There’s at least one game every day this week except Christmas, so college football will be there to keep you company. For these picks, we’re focusing on the nine games on the schedule from Monday, December 19 through Monday, December 26.
Let’s see if we can come up with some winners.
(All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Myrtle Beach Bowl: Marshall vs. UConn
Date: Dec. 19 (2:30 p.m.) | Line: Marshall -10.5 | Total: 40.5
Nick Bromberg: The work that Jim Mora Jr. did at UConn to get the Huskies to a bowl game for the first time in seven years was remarkable. UConn has outscored by more than six points per game this season, losing to Army by 17 to close out the season. But with the total for this game so low at 40.5, I’m counting on the UConn defense to keep it close, especially as the Huskies get over 10 points.
Choice: UConn +10.5
Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo vs. Liberty
Date: December 20 (7:30 PM) | Line: Toledo -5 | Total: 54
Sam Cooper: It’s hard to ignore how poorly Liberty played in the season finale vs. New Mexico State, but I think Hugh Freeze-Auburn’s distraction played a big part in that day’s effort. With Freeze out of the picture and almost a month to reset, Liberty will have a chance to finish the season on a high. Toledo won the MAC title, but did so against an Ohio team without the starting quarterback. Dequan Finn is a dynamic player for the Rockets, but I don’t think Toledo is five points better than Liberty. I’ll take the underdog.
Choose: Freedom +5
New Orleans Bowl: South Alabama vs. West Kentucky
Date: December 21 (9pm) | Line: US -4.5 | Total: 56
Nick Bromber: Both teams score more than 30 points per game and WKU gives up almost 24 points per game. This rule would be much different had QB Austin Reed not announced that he would stay with WKU after taking his name off the transfer portal. Reed threw for 36 TDs in 2022. With Reed on the field, I think this game is over.
Choose: over 56
Sam Cooper: South Alabama is having its best season as an FBS member and can make it even better by earning its first-ever bowl win. The U.S. has suffered just two losses this season – a one-point loss on the road to UCLA and then a 10-6 loss to Sun Belt champion Troy. I have a lot of faith in Kane Wommack’s defense to contain a powerful WKU offense even as Austin Reed pulls out of the transfer portal. And Reed wasn’t the only member of WKU’s program with wandering eyes. Tyson Helton’s name came up in multiple coaching searches, including Purdue last week. I like the consistency and focus that shines through for the Jaguars.
Select: South Alabama -4.5
Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor vs. Air Force
Date: December 22 (7:30 PM) | Line: Baylor -5.5 | Total: 48
Nick Bromber: No one has scored more than 20 points in a game against Air Force since Utah State won 34-27 on October 8. That’s a streak of six consecutive games, though all of them were against non-Power Five competition. Baylor’s attack is better when he runs the ball and two running fouls can mean a pretty quick game. And a relatively low scoring one.
Choose: under 48
Sam Cooper: There are reasons to question Baylor’s level of motivation. After winning the Big 12 and the Sugar Bowl last year, BU is now 6-6 and will face an options team in a bowl played on the campus of one of its rivals in the state (who happens to be in the College Football Playoff sit). At the same time, Baylor is frustrated with the way the season ended with three losses in a row. Dave Aranda fired defense coordinator Ron Roberts and will call the defense. Before becoming head coach, he was one of the top coordinators in the country. BU should be able to handle the option while leaning on its own hasty attack. Baylor was 1-4 in games where Blake Shapen had 30 or more pass attempts. In a game where I expect a lot of running, the under is the game.
Choose: under 48
Independence Bowl: Houston vs. Louisiana
Date: December 23 (3pm) | Line: Houston -7 | Total: 58.5
Sam Cooper: There’s no way you can trust Houston to cover this spread. UH has been the most fickle and unpredictable team in the country and Dana Holgorsen is 2-7 all time against the spread in bowl play. This team had big ambitions when the season started. It was even said that UH could make a Cincinnati-esque run. Instead, UH is 7-5 and wraps up the season in beautiful Shreveport. Louisiana, meanwhile, played much better late in the year. UL nearly upset Troy and then became eligible to bowl with convincing victories over Georgia Southern and Texas State. Playing in its home state, I think Louisiana will be much more interested in playing this game. I’m landing.
Dial: Louisiana +7
Gasparilla Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Missouri
Date: Dec. 23 (6:30 p.m.) | Line: Wake Forest -1.5 | Total: 60.5
Sam Cooper: There were some weird vibes with Wake Forest during the last half of the season. The Demon Deacons lost four of five starting with that game where they had six third quarter turnovers in the loss to Louisville. Dave Clawson has already said this will be Sam Hartman’s last game at Wake – whether he goes to the NFL or the transfer portal. Missouri, meanwhile, played much tougher competition in the SEC and appeared to turn the corner on an attack late in the year. The difference was the use of Brady Cook’s legs. The freshman starting QB combined for 315 rushing yards in Missouri’s last three games. During that 1–4 stretch, the Wake Forest defense allowed an average of 36.6 points per game.
Choose: Missouri +1.5