College football picks, bowl games: Tulsa vs. Old Dominion, San Diego State vs. UTSA highlight best bets


Bowl season is upon us and that means we have 42 games to bet over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, betting on bowl games is nothing like betting on regular-season college football games. It’s much more difficult because you need to consider so many other factors.

There are teams playing under interim coaches who might’ve spent more time trying to find their next job rather than preparing for the game. Players with NFL futures may opt-out of playing in the bowl game, meaning you need to figure out how valuable that player is and how it impacts the team. Plus, you know, there’s that whole “do they even want to be there” angle that you rarely need to consider in the regular season but becomes a significant factor in a bowl game.

So my advice is this: don’t go into bowl season thinking you will win money. You might, but you probably won’t. Even if you won all season long, it doesn’t mean you have any idea what’s going to happen now. So just have fun and try to hold on to some of your winnings from the regular season.

Games of the Week

No. 24 San Diego State vs. UTSA

Featured Game | San Diego State Aztecs vs. UTSA Roadrunners

Frisco Bowl — Tuesday, Dec. 21: This is far and away one of my favorite bowl matchups of the season, as these two have been among the best Group of Five teams all season long. San Diego State came up short of a Mountain West title while UTSA won Conference USA, and now two good teams with conflicting styles battle.

After seeing what Utah State did to it, I have some concerns about the San Diego State defense, but this should be a better matchup for the Aztecs. While the UTSA offense is balanced and can beat you in multiple ways, it all flows through Sincere McCormick and the run game. San Diego State has one of the best rush defenses in the country, ranking second in EPA and first in success rate. That, at a minimum, should keep the Roadrunners within range. UTSA 24, San Diego State 23 | San Diego State +2.5

Gap Year Team of the Week

Old Dominion vs. Tulsa

Featured Game | Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Old Dominion Monarchs

Myrtle Beach Bowl — Monday, Dec. 20: It’s too many dang points! Old Dominion is another nice story for the 2021 season. The Monarchs did not play in 2020 due to COVID and I guess those fresh legs worked out for them. The early-season rust saw Old Dominion start 1-6, with its sole win against FCS Hampton, but the Monarchs won their final five games to attain bowl eligibility.

Tulsa is playing well, too, as the Golden Hurricane won three straight to finish the year to get to 6-6, but there’s a betting trend with this Tulsa team that’s difficult to ignore. As underdogs, Tulsa was 4-0 against the spread. As favorites, it was 3-5. Compare that to Old Dominion, one of the best teams in the country against the spread all season long, going 9-3. Only Michigan and Pitt were better. Tulsa 28, Old Dominion 24 | Old Dominion +9.5

SportsLine Pick of the Week

Missouri vs. Army 

Featured Game | Army West Point Black Knights vs. Missouri Tigers

Armed Forces Bowl — Wednesday, Dec. 22: I’ve run out of room in The Six Pack, but I have one more pick for the week to come. If you want to know what it is, you’ll have to check out my SportsLine page.

Games of the Week

1-1

15-13

Lock of the Week

0-1

8-6

Overall

2-4

48-36

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,700 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.





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