Previews, opinions and picks for the top college football bowl games
The biggest bowl games of the 2022 season are between Christmas and New Year's as the top-ranked teams match-up in the most bet bowl games of the season. Live betting will add to the huge handles, and I provide Picks, Opinions and Leans on the biggest bet bowls between Top 25 teams below.
We chipped in Top 25 matchup picks during the season with winning results going 11-7 ATS on side/spread selections. The Conference Championship games Opinions and Leans (no picks) went 3-3 ATS plus a bonus bet totals winner. Last last year's New Year's Six bowl Picks, Opinions and Leans went a combined 6-2 ATS.
College Bowl point spreads, adjustments and major market moves are factors when betting at the leading online sportsbooks. I noted this and more in the betting strategies and tips for the college bowls coverage I chipped in on these pages for Off Shore Gaming Association, where OSGA members enjoy added bonuses.
With the market moves and more uncertainty and variables in play during the college bowls, it would be a prudent play to reduce your wagers rather than bet more, unless you got in earlier at better odds and betting lines with reduced juice, and the personnel changes and other factors have worked out in your favor.
Top 25 Bowl Matchups and Betting Lines
Current lines and totals courtesy of BetOnline, and all game times Eastern.
Thursday, Dec. 29
No. 12 Washington vs. No. 20 Texas (-3), Total 67.5 | 9 p.m. | ESPN
Played in San Antonio, TX, this line is down from Texas -4.5 ten days ago and the total down a half point. That's because Longhorns All-American Doak Walker award-winning RB Bijan Robinson is skipping the bowl game and will enter the 2023 NFL Draft. Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian goes against his former team in Washington. Huskies QB Michael Penix, Jr. led the FBS with 4354 pass yards as Washington finished No. 2 in the NCAA in total offense (522 YPG). Penix and the Huskies offense was also slowed by Oregon State's strong defense in a 24-21 last second win with Penix held to less than 300 passing yards and < 6.0 yards per pass. The Longhorns still had a defensive dominator stop unit this season allowing 360 YPG at 4.7 yards per play and 21 points per game and even better against top teams Alabama and TCU in close, low-scoring defeats. Home state and home cooking for Texas.
Friday, Dec. 30
No. 19 South Carolina vs. No. 21 Notre Dame (-2), Total 51 | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN
This game is played in Jacksonville, FL and the line is down 2.5 to 3 points with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now a -2 point favorite over South Carolina. Former coaching great, master motivator and Fairway favorite Lou Holtz coached both these programs to prominence. He also was a winner for the Golden Gophers, my alma mater at Minnesota, before leaving for South Bend and Notre Dame in the 1980's, where he compiled a 100-30-2 record with five 10-win years, including a national championship in 1988.
Both teams are missing key players, and the Irish have the stronger defense. But prefer head coaching edge and Beamer Ball of South Carolina. The Gamecocks improved and rose to the occasion down the stretch including a 63-38 blowout win over Tennessee which started the Vols late season slide. Then the 'Cocks rose up as our big Week 13 Pick and rivalry winner over Clemson 31-30 as a big 14-point 'Dog.
Opinion: South Carolina
By the way, the 85-year-old Holtz is living well on Lake Nona just outside Orlando, FL where the Cheez-It Bowl between No. 13 Florida State (-9.5) and Oklahoma kicks off Dec. 29 at 5:30 p.m. That follows the Pinstripe Bowl from Yankee Stadium in NY at 2 p.m. where Minnesota (-11) tackles Syracuse in another major market move and steam of 4+ points on the spread with bettors piling on the Gophers running game and strength in the trenches in this matchup. Syracuse is missing key players at RB, OL and DB and the Orange allowed 229 rushing yards per game during their closing 5-game losing streak before beating league-worst Boston College in the season finale.
Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Florida State (-10), Total 65.5 | 5:30 p.m. | ESPN
A bonus pick with cheese and I bet earlier looking to cash in with a sportsbook payout. The Seminoles shoot for a 10 win season and first bowl win for head coach Mike Norvell (0-4 SU/ATS). Oklahoma has several key opt outs and a disappointing season for the Sooners (6-6) and first year head coach Brent Vanables. But Oklahoma is still playing in their 24th consecutive bowl game. Don't expect any improvement with missing players as the Sooners allowed just shy of 500 yards per game in Big 12 play, including 213 rushing YPG (5.0) against Big 12 opponents. Florida State became a dominant defense allowing 320 yards per game at 4.6 yards per play and 21 points per game vs FBS foes improving down the stretch before a Sunshine state shootout win over Florida to close the season, 45-38.
Opinion: Florida State
No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Clemson (-5), Total 63.5 | 8 p.m. | ESPN
This game is played in Miami Gardens, FL, and the line is down from -6.5 to -5 favoring Clemson. I planned on betting on Tennessee big, but still bet the Vols ahead of the line move and drop. But Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker is out along with a pair of WR's and LB who opted out. Clemson also plays with a backup quarterback, but QB Klubnik was the top recruit last year. Notice the Bowl theme of changes in personnel, opt-outs, injuries, coaching changes, motivation, preparation, location as you see the point spread adjustments and market moves playing bigger parts in your betting strategies. Adjust your bets accordingly, pass and/or watch with a keen eye and make in-game bets and adjustments for more winners.
Saturday, Dec. 31
No. 5 Alabama (-6.5) vs. No. 9 Kansas State, Total 56 | 12 p.m. | ESPN
This line is up a half point to 'Bama -6.5. A pair of 10 win teams with top coaches and a big difference in turnover margin for these teams. Kansas State was +14 - tied for second-best in the country. Alabama was -2. The Wildcats came through a strong schedule and won four straight to close the season including handing TCU their first loss in the Big 12 Championship game, 31-28 in OT. But Alabama is still stronger especially on defense where the Crimson Tide held foes to 90 yards below their season average. Projections are for Alabama to have a bigger day running the ball and the Heisman finalist Bryce Young leads a top strong, balanced offense and has us siding with Alabama. Adjust your bets and rating with upward line move that may hit 7.
I'll provide a separate article here at OSGA with updates and picks for the two national semifinal games. Last year the favorites went 3-0 SU/ATS and the O/U went 0-3 with all three games staying under the total in the two national semifinals and NCAA Championship Game. Georgia's dominating defense shut down the running games to beat Michigan 34-11 and then Alabama 33-18 to win the national championship.
Update: National semifinal picks (Opinion: TCU - Pick: Ohio State)
Fiesta Bowl (CFP semifinal)
No. 2 Michigan (-7.5) vs. No. 3 TCU, Total 58 | 4 p.m. | ESPN
This game is in Glendale, AZ and the spread and total have held steady.
Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal)
No. 1 Georgia (-6.5) vs. No. 4 Ohio State, Total 63 | 8 p.m. | ESPN
This game is in Atlanta and the spread is also holding steady while the total has dipped a half point.
Monday, Jan. 2
No. 10 USC (-2) vs. No. 16 Tulane, Total 62.5 | 1 p.m. | ESPN
This game is played in Arlington, TX and the line has dipped a half point to USC -2 and the total also down a half point to 62.5. Bet the Trojans and their high-powered offense, and added over the total. USC's defense allowed 400+ yards in six of their last seven games, but played stronger opponents than Tulane. The Green Wave allowed at least 24 points to five winning teams including their last four. Tulane's offense led by top RB Tyjae Spears (152 YPG last 7 games 7.9 YPR) also averaged 468 yards per game in those four contests. Tulane's pass defense stats are solid and motivation appears strong while USC plays without leading WR Jordan Addison (opt-out). But talent and hopefully limited letdown by USC still has us siding with the Trojans in a higher-scoring win with top player and Heisman-winning QB Caleb Williams, who passed for 4,075 yards and 37 TD's and is the difference maker.
Pick: Over and Opinion USC
No. 8 Utah (-2.5) vs. No. 11 Penn State, Total 52.5 | 5 p.m. | ESPN
The Rose Bowl and Granddaddy of Them All is played in Pasadena, CA. The vast majority of the online sportsbooks need Penn State to win. The money continues to support Utah, and the spread and total are both up a half point.
Utah won the Pac 12 title over USC but is without their leading receiver and rusher for the Rose Bowl. Penn State has won their last four games with stronger defensive stats as a defensive dominator, and the Nittany Lions only losses are to playoff teams Ohio State and Michigan. Prefer the sizeable coaching edge and Pac 12 Utes, who beat top team USC twice. Penn State beat no top teams in a muddling Big Ten, and didn't play any teams with stronger defenses outside CFB Playoff teams Ohio State and Michigan, who both beat the Nittany Lions by double digits with Penn State allowing 41 and 44 points in defeat.
Opinion: Utah and Under
Enjoy the biggest bowl games of the 2022 college football season and the national championship game on Jan. 9, 2023 - 7:30 p.m. on ESPN from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairayJay here at OSGA.com and on Twitter @FairwayJay for more sports and betting insights.