Who cares if there are now 42 games? So what if there are almost as many 6-6 teams involved (21) as there will be players on the field at kickoff of the first bowl game — in the Bahamas, where else? — on Dec. 17? And as for letting in a team with a sub .500 record this year (hello, Hawaii!), well, why not?
A bettor, after all, can have just as much fun assessing the odds, trying to beat the house, and watching the game to the finish in the big Tulsa-Old Dominion clash in Myrtle Beach on Dec. 20 as he can with the Georgia-Michigan Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
To help such bettors, who should always be line shopping if they know what’s best for them, US Bets took the trouble Tuesday to scan odds on six of the major online sites operating in multiple states (FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBET). We identified — and list below — the best value in point spreads for either team, as well as the best value on point totals in either direction. In some cases, the best site altered its customary -110 vig, and we note where that’s occurred.
With the games still weeks away, the odds on all of those will change, but it’s a good guide for those wanting to put money down early, before hearing of key players who opt out to protect their NFL draft status, or injuries during practices, or still more coaches leaving their programs before their bowls take place.
As for the College Football Playoff involving Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, and Cincinnati, for which the Orange and Cotton Bowls serve as the semifinals, the sites also have odds posted on the eventual champion.
Alabama is the favorite, with WynnBET offering the best price among the six sportsbooks at +121. It also offers the best return on Georgia (+141) and Michigan (+801), while BetRivers is best for Cincinnati at +2000. In BetRivers’ case, it’s worth noting that its original odds are supplied by Kambi, which has a broad number of other U.S. customers (Unibet, TwinSpires, Barstool, Parx, SugarHouse) whose posted odds are customarily similar.
Now here’s the bowl rundown, along with a fact about each game that may or may not be relevant to anyone doing betting.
MTSU (6-6) vs. Toledo (7-5)
Fact: Before losing to Notre Dame (now ranked No. 5 nationally) on Sept. 11, Toledo led with just 1:10 remaining in the game.
MTSU: +11 (BetRivers)
Toledo: -10 (FanDuel, BetMGM)
Over: 53 (BetRivers)
Under: 54.5 (FanDuel)
Northern Illinois (9-4) vs. Coastal Carolina (10-2)
Fact: Coastal Carolina is the only school using the Chanticleer as its mascot, which it derived from the name used for a rooster by Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales.
Northern Illinois: +10.5 (Caesars, WynnBET)
Coastal Carolina: -10 (FanDuel -114)
Over: 62.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 64 (FanDuel, Caesars)
Boca Raton Bowl
Western Kentucky (8-5) vs. Appalachian State (10-3)
Fact: Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe threw for 5,545 yards and 56 touchdowns, far more than Heisman Trophy favorite Bryce Young or any other QB in the nation.
Western Kentucky: +3 (FanDuel)
Appalachian State: -2.5 (Caesars)
Over: 67 (BetRivers -109)
Under: 68.5 (FanDuel)
New Mexico Bowl
UTEP (7-5) vs. Fresno State (9-3)
Fact: Having not won a bowl game since the 1967 Sun Bowl, UTEP holds the longest bowl victory drought in the nation.
UTEP: +12.5 (FanDuel, BetMGM)
Fresno State: -10.5 (BetRivers -109)
Over: 50 (WynnBET)
Under: 51.5 (BetRivers, BetMGM)
UAB (8-4) vs. BYU (10-2)
Fact: With its No. 12 ranking in the latest AP poll, BYU is the highest-ranked team in the 45 years of the Independence Bowl and went 6-1 against Power 5 schools.
UAB: +7.5 (BetRivers -121)
BYU: -7 (FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBET)
Over: 54.5 (BetRivers -109)
Under: 56 (FanDuel)
Eastern Michigan (8-5) vs. Liberty (7-5)
Fact: Before becoming a Division 1 program, Liberty’s first win ever against an FBS opponent was versus Eastern Michigan in 1989.
Eastern Michigan: +8.5 (DraftKings, Caesars, WynnBET)
Liberty: -8 (BetMGM)
Over: 57.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 59.5 (DraftKings -115)
Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl
Utah State (10-3) vs. Oregon State (7-5)
Fact: In acquiring naming rights to the inaugural bowl at SoFi Stadium, late night talk show host Kimmel became the first living person to have a bowl named after him.
Utah State: +7.5 (BetRivers -109)
Oregon State: -7 (Caesars)
Over: 64.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 66.5 (WynnBET)
New Orleans Bowl
Marshall (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (12-1)
Fact: Marshall’s .750 winning percentage (12-4) in NCAA-sanctioned bowl games is the best in the nation among programs to have participated in at least seven of them.
Marshall: +6 (FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, WynnBET)
Louisiana-Lafayette: -5.5 (BetMGM)
Over: 51.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 53.5 (FanDuel)
Myrtle Beach Bowl
Old Dominion (6-6) vs. Tulsa (6-6)
Fact: Old Dominion went 1-11 in 2019, went winless last year because it did not play, and won just one of its first seven games this year.
Old Dominion: +9.5 (DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBET)
Tulsa: -8.5 (FanDuel)
Over: 51.5 (BetRivers -105)
Under: 53.5 (FanDuel)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Kent State (7-6) vs. Wyoming (6-6)
Fact: The coach of the winning team in this game has been doused with a French fry bath instead of Gatorade.
Kent State: +3.5 (FanDuel -105)
Wyoming: -3 (Caesars, WynnBET)
Over: 58 (FanDuel)
Under: 59 (DraftKings)
SDSU (11-2) vs. UTSA (12-1)
Fact: Only the Orange and Cotton Bowl games that represent the College Football Playoff semifinals have two teams with better records this year than this game played in Texas.
SDSU: +2.5 (FanDuel -105)
UTSA: -2.5 (DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBET)
Over: 49.5 (FanDuel, DraftKings)
Under: 50.5 (BetMGM)
Armed Forces Bowl
Missouri (6-6) vs. Army (8-3)
Fact: For SEC fans, the game involves the first of 13 different conference teams that will play in bowls this year.
Missouri: +3.5 (DraftKings, WynnBET, both -105)
Army: -3.5 (FanDuel -105)
Over: 58.5 (Caesars)
Under: 59.5 (BetRivers -109)
Frisco Football Classic
North Texas (6-6) vs. Miami Ohio (6-6)
Fact: Not to be confused with the Frisco Bowl above, the game was only created spontaneously by the NCAA, to be played at the same stadium, when an unexpectedly high 83 teams became bowl-eligible.
North Texas: +4 (BetRivers -112)
Miami Ohio: -3 (FanDuel, Caesars)
Over: 52.5 (BetRivers -108)
Under: 55 (FanDuel)
UCF (8-4) vs. Florida (6-6)
Fact: The two Sunshine State schools have met twice in their history, each time with Florida hosting and winning.
UCF: +7.5 (BetRivers -109)
Florida: -7 (FanDuel)
Over: 56.5 (BetRivers -108)
Under: 57 (DraftKings, WynnBET)
Hawaii (6-7) vs. Memphis (6-6)
Fact: Normal NCAA rules don’t allow teams under .500 in sanctioned bowl games, but Hawaii was added because an additional team was needed due to there being 83 bowl-eligible schools.
Hawaii: +6.5 (Caesars)
Memphis: -5 (DraftKings, BetRivers)
Ball State (6-6) vs. Georgia State (7-5)
Fact: This is the only bowl game on Christmas Day, kicking off in Montgomery, Ala., at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Ball State: +4.5 (Caesars, WynnBET)
Georgia State: -4 (FanDuel, BetMGM)
Over: 49.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 51 (FanDuel)
Quick Lane Bowl
Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Nevada (8-4)
Fact: Western Michigan beat ACC champion Pitt in Pittsburgh as a 15-point underdog on Sept. 18, but lost at home by 25 points to Ball State on Oct. 9.
Western Michigan: +2.5 (BetRivers -109)
Nevada: -1 (FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars)
Over: 60 (FanDuel)
Under: 61.5 (DraftKings)
ECU (7-5) vs. Boston College (6-6)
Fact: Only Duke had a worse record within ACC conference play than Boston College’s 2-6.
ECU: +3.5 (DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars)
Boston College: -3 (FanDuel -115)
Over: 49.5 (BetRivers -109)
Under: 51 (FanDuel, Caesars, WynnBET)
Houston (11-2) vs. Auburn (6-6)
Fact: One of the best names in this year’s bowl games is Auburn running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who ran for 1,003 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Houston: +3.5 (Caesars -105)
Auburn: -2.5 (BetRivers -118)
Over: 51.5 (WynnBET)
Under: 54.5 (BetRivers -105)
First Responder Bowl
Air Force (9-3) vs. Louisville (6-6)
Fact: Air Force rushes for 342 yards per game and lost only to opponents (Utah State, San Diego State, Army) with three or fewer losses themselves.
Air Force: +1.5 (DraftKings, BetMGM, WynnBET)
Louisville: -1 (FanDuel, Caesars)
Over: 54.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 56 (FanDuel)
UCLA (8-4) vs. NC State (9-3)
Fact: This is the first football game ever in the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park.
UCLA: +1.5 (BetMGM)
NC State: -1 (FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, WynnBET)
Over: 59.5 (BetRivers -109)
Under: 60.5 (Caesars)
Texas Tech (6-6) vs. Mississippi State (7-5)
Fact: Texas Tech fired coach Matt Wells when the team was 5-3, and it went 1-3 under interim coach Sonny Cumbie, who it has already been announced will be coaching at Louisiana Tech next year.
Texas Tech: +9.5 (BetRivers)
Mississippi State: -8 (DraftKings)
Over: 59.5 (BetRivers -109)
Under: 60.5 (BetMGM)
Guaranteed Rate Bowl
West Virginia (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4)
Fact: Kirk Ciarrocca, who has been employed as an offensive analyst by West Virginia this season, has been rehired to become offensive coordinator next year at Minnesota, where he formerly held the same position.
West Virginia: +5 (FanDuel)
Minnesota: -4 (DraftKings, Caesars, WynnBET)
Over: 43.5 (BetRivers -120)
Under: 45 (FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, WynnBET)
SMU (8-4) vs. Virginia (6-6)
Fact: Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall made an unexpected announcement last week that while he would coach in the upcoming bowl game, he would resign from coaching and leave the program afterward for personal reasons.
SMU: +1.5 (FanDuel)
Virginia: -1 (DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBET)
Over: 72 (BetMGM)
Under: 72.5 (WynnBET -105)
Maryland (6-6) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
Fact: The two schools were former ACC foes with a rivalry dating to 1919, but they haven’t met since 2013.
Maryland: +2 (BetRivers)
Virginia Tech: -1 (WynnBET)
Over: 54 (DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars)
Under: 54.5 (BetRivers, WynnBET)
Iowa State (7-5) vs. Clemson (9-3)
Fact: Clemson missed out on a College Football Playoff berth for the first time since 2014.
Iowa State: +1.5 (BetMGM)
Clemson: +0.5 (WynnBET)
Over: 44.5 (FanDuel -105)
Under: 45.5 (BetRivers, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBET)
Oregon (10-3) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)
Fact: Both teams’ coaches during the 2021 season are now employed at other universities, with Oregon’s Mario Cristobal shifting to Miami Florida and Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley hired by USC.
Oregon: +4.5 (DraftKings, Caesars)
Oklahoma: -4 (FanDuel)
Over: 60.5 (FanDuel)
Under: 62 (Caesars)
Duke’s Mayo Bowl
South Carolina (6-6) vs. North Carolina (6-6)
Fact: The sponsor has offered a $10,000 donation to the charity of the winning team’s choice if its coach is doused in a mayonnaise bath after the game.
South Carolina: +7 (FanDuel, BetMGM, both -105)
North Carolina: -6.5 (Caesars)
Over: 57 (FanDuel)
Under: 58.5 (BetMGM)
Music City Bowl
Purdue (8-4) vs. Tennessee (7-5)
Fact: Tennessee has won its last four bowl games, all against Big Ten opponents.
Purdue: +3.5 (BetRivers -108)
Tennessee: -3 (FanDuel, Caesars)
Over: 62.5 (BetRivers -107)
Under: 64.5 (FanDuel)
Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (8-4)
Fact: This is Wisconsin’s 20th straight year playing in a bowl, which trails only Oklahoma and Georgia.
Arizona State: +8 (FanDuel)
Wisconsin: -6.5 (BetRivers -118)
Over: 42 (FanDuel)
Under: 43.5 (BetRivers -112)
Michigan State (10-2) vs. Pitt (11-2)
Fact: Pitt last won 11 games 40 years ago and has won 12 only once, in its 1976 national championship season.
Michigan State: +4 (FanDuel, BetRivers)
Pitt: -3 (WynnBET)
Over: 62.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 63.5 (FanDuel, WynnBET)
Wake Forest (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)
Fact: The two teams met in a wild 2017 Belk Bowl won by Wake Forest 55-52.
Wake Forest: +7 (FanDuel -115)
Texas A&M: -5.5 (BetMGM -115)
Over: 58.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 60 (BetRivers -115)
Central Michigan (8-4) vs. Boise State (7-5)
Fact: Barstool Sports, the media site that handles marketing of Penn National Gaming’s Barstool Sportsbook, took over sponsorship of the bowl game this year and will be livestreaming it instead of the game having a customary network broadcast.
Central Michigan: +9.5 (BetMGM)
Boise State: -7.5 (FanDuel)
Over: 53 (BetMGM)
Under: 55.5 (FanDuel)
Washington State (7-5) vs. Miami Florida (7-5)
Fact: Players will rise early for a game to be played at 10 a.m. local time (noon Eastern) in El Paso, Texas, to accommodate broadcast scheduling of the College Football Playoff games that follow.
Washington State: +2.5 (DraftKings, WynnBET, both -105)
Miami Florida: -1.5 (BetMGM)
Over: 59 (BetRivers -108)
Under: 60 (FanDuel, DraftKings)
Michigan (12-1) vs. Georgia (12-1)
Fact: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is the brother-in-law of Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean.
Michigan: +8.5 (FanDuel)
Georgia: -7.5 (BetMGM, Caesars)
Over: 43.5 (BetMGM, Caesars)
Under: 44 (FanDuel, WynnBET)
Cincinnati (13-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)
Fact: Cincinnati is the first Group of Five participant since the modern College Football Playoff format began in 2014, while Alabama is making a record seventh playoff appearance.
Cincinnati: +14 (BetMGM)
Alabama: -13.5 (Caesars, WynnBET)
Over: 58 (FanDuel -105)
Under: 58.5 (BetMGM, Caesars)
Arkansas (8-4) vs. Penn State (7-5)
Fact: Early in the season, Penn State reached a No. 4 national ranking after winning its first five games and Arkansas reached No. 8 after winning its first four games.
Arkansas: +3 (BetMGM)
Penn State: -1.5 (FanDuel -115)
Over: 45.5 (BetRivers, BetMGM)
Under: 47 (FanDuel)
Iowa (10-3) vs. Kentucky (9-3)
Fact: Kentucky coach Mark Stoops played defensive back for Iowa in the late 1980s.
Iowa: +2.5 (DraftKings -105)
Kentucky: -1.5 (BetRivers -113)
Over: 44 (FanDuel)
Under: 44 (DraftKings, WynnBET both -105)
Mississippi (10-2) vs. Baylor (11-2)
Fact: Baylor’s Abram Smith was a linebacker in 2020 but converted to running back this year and rushed for 1,429 yards.
Mississippi: +1.5 (DraftKings, Caesars)
Baylor: +1.5 (BetRivers -120)
Over: 52.5 (BetMGM)
Under: 54 (FanDuel)
Utah (10-3) vs. Ohio State (10-2)
Fact: Utah lost two players to shooting deaths over the past year, after defensive back Aaron Lowe was slain at a house party in September and star running back Ty Jordan died in an accidental shooting last December.
Utah: +6.5 (FanDuel -105)
Ohio State: -6.5 (BetRivers -109)
Over: 66 (WynnBET)
Under: 67.5 (BetMGM)
Oklahoma State (11-2) vs. Notre Dame (11-1)
Fact: Notre Dame has not had a win in a major bowl game in 26 years.
Oklahoma State: +2.5 (BetMGM and Caesars, both -105)
Notre Dame: -2 (DraftKings)
Over: 45.5 (BetRivers -108)
Under: 45.5 (DraftKings -105)
Kansas State (7-5) vs. LSU (6-6)
Fact: LSU is trying to avoid its first losing season since 1999.
Kansas State: +3 (Caesars)
LSU: -2 (FanDuel, WynnBET)
Over: 46.5 (DraftKings, Caesars)
Under: 48 (FanDuel)