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NCAA Football: Best Early Bowl Odds and Matchups

With the regular season and conference championship week concluded, it's time to get engrossed in the wonderful world of college football bowl games. When the concept was first introduced, the number of bowls was very limited, but now, the financial opportunities have taken bowl season to a whole new level. As fans, we're just fine with that: the more, the better. Now, there are over 40 bowl games to be contested, so make sure to tune in and bet on the exciting matchups.

There are a couple of things to consider when you bet on NCAA bowl games. For one, is the team, including the coach, motivated to go hard in the game, or are they disappointed to be there, which could result in a diminished effort? Are there lots of seniors on the roster ready to leave it all on the gridiron for their last hurrah? In this article, Bodog Sportsbook gets you ready for the early bowl season with a preview of the top matchups, starting with the New Mexico Bowl.

New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan Chippewas (8-5) vs San Diego State Aztecs (9-3)

When: December 21 at 2 PM ET

Favourite: San Diego State -3.5

Following a disappointing 26-21 loss to Miami (Ohio) in the MAC Championship, the Chippewas of Central Michigan will be looking to redeem themselves against San Diego State despite being 3.5-point underdogs on the NCAA football lines. The Miami game (where Central Michigan was favoured by seven points) notwithstanding, the Chippewas have been solid against the spread all season long, posting an impressive 9-4 ATS record. The Aztecs, meanwhile, have had trouble putting up points on the board this season, but have done an excellent job on defense, so be ready for an intriguing matchup at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque. 

Boca Raton Bowl: SMU Mustangs (10-2) vs Florida Atlantic Owls (10-3)

When: December 21 at 3:30 PM ET

Favourite: SMU -3.5

Like Central Michigan, the Owls of Florida Atlantic have been performing above expectations in 2019 with a 9-4 ATS record. Their last contest was a 49-6 dismantling of the UAB Blazers in the Conference USA Championship, so the Owls should be going into this home bowl full of confidence. However, a big story surrounding the matchup is the departure of head coach Lane Kiffin, who’s been named the new Ole Miss head coach following the program’s conference championship win. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will execute the head coaching responsibilities in the interim, but Willie Taggart has been named the official new coach. 

Las Vegas Bowl: No. 19 Boise State Broncos (12-1) vs Washington Huskies (7-5)

When: December 21 at 7:30 PM ET

Favourite: Washington -3.5

With a No. 13 preseason ranking and season win total set at 9.5 victories, it’s clear the Washington Huskies underachieved against expectations in 2019 with a 7-5 record. After losing multiple important players to the 2019 NFL draft, Chris Petersen’s squad has struggled to find its identify on both sides of the ball. Regardless, the NCAA odds have Washington pegged as 3.5-point favourites over Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, perhaps because this will be Petersen’s last game as head coach as he transitions into a mentorship role within the Huskies’ athletic program. Look for a high-quality matchup between two esteemed programs in this one. 

New Orleans Bowl: No. 20 Appalachian State Mountaineers (12-1) vs UAB Blazers (9-4)

When: December 21 at 9 PM ET

Favourite: Appalachian State -17

Nearly perfect in 2019 with the only blemish coming against Georgia Southern in a close 24-21 defeat, the 12-1 Mountaineers are massive 17-point favourites over UAB on the NCAA football odds board. Fielding one of the best offenses in the country with 39.4 points averaged and 229.2 rushing yards per game, Appalachian State have also covered in 9 out of 13 matchups this year, so they’ll be tough to beat at the Superdome. With that being said, UAB will be looking to save face following that embarrassing showing against FAU in the conference championship, so look for a motivated Blazers team in New Orleans. 

Gasparilla Bowl: UCF Knights (9-3) vs Marshall Thundering Herd (8-4)

When: December 23 at 2:30 PM ET

Favourite: UCF -17.5

Speaking of prolific offenses, boy does UCF excel in that area. The Knights scored an average of 43 points per game, while gaining an absurd 536.6 yards per contest, which is a big reason why the Gasparilla Bowl game betting spread is set at 17.5 points in their favour. Neither UCF (5-7) nor Marshall (4-8) have been great covering the spread, however, so who knows what will happen in Tampa. 

Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (9-5) vs BYU Cougars (7-5)

When: December 24 at 8 PM ET

Favourite: BYU -2

Featuring two evenly matched squads on paper, the Hawaii Bowl promises to deliver lots of excitement to fans. The Rainbow Warriors QB Cole McDonald has aired it out for 3,642 yards this season, which is good for fifth best in the nation, but Hawaii’s porous defense leaves much to be desired. BYU should have a chip on their shoulder after their latest contest, in which they managed a meagre three points against San Diego State.

Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State Spartans (6-6) vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-4)

When: December 27, 3:20 PM ET

Favourite: Michigan State -4.5

While the Spartans have struggled to score this season, managing just 22 points per contest, most of those struggles came against elite teams like Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan. Their bowl opponent, Wake Forest, is no slouch, but nowhere near that caliber of talent. Look for a solid showing from both teams at Yankee Stadium. 

Texas Bowl: No. 25 Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-4) vs Texas A&M Aggies (7-5)

When: December 27 at 6:45 PM ET

Favourite: Texas A&M -7

Facing a brutal regular season schedule, the Aggies' five losses all came to opponents ranked in the top eight in the nation at the time of the game; that explains why they're touchdown favourites over the Cowboys despite having suffered an extra loss and being unranked. A big reason to tune into the Texas Bowl is to see the nation's leading rusher, Canadian Chuba Hubbard, in action. He has averaged an insane 161.3 yards per game on the ground for Oklahoma State in 2019.

Holiday Bowl: No. 22 USC Trojans (8-4) vs No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes (9-3)

When: December 27 at 8 PM ET

Favourite: Iowa -2

Iowa is a slight favourite against USC in a battle of two ranked squads in San Diego. The Trojans have had a tougher schedule than the Hawkeyes this season despite being in the weaker Pac-12, so the season records are a bit deceiving. If the high scoring USC offense (33.2 points per game) can break through Iowa's resilient defense, they'll be in business.

Cheez-It Bowl: Air Force Falcons (10-2) vs Washington State Cougars (6-6)

When: December 27 at 10:15 PM ET

Favourite: Air Force -3

Watch for a bona fide contrast of offensive styles and philosophies at Chase Field when the run-heavy Air Force Falcons take on the pass-happy Washington State Cougars. QB Anthony Gordon leads the nation in passing yards at 5,228, so expect him to air it out in the Cheez-It Bowl, while the Falcons attempt to minimize the damage he causes.