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NCAA New Year’s Six Bowl Preview

The college football bowl season is upon us, and this installment aims to get you ready for it by previewing the very best matchups, dubbed the New Year’s Six. Continuing a rich history that officially began with the Rose Bowl in 1923, participation in one of these six bowls is what every college football player dreams of the very first time he steps foot on campus. Granted, some of the teams and players may be disappointed not to have made the Playoff, but it’s a privilege to be competing in either one of these historic bowl affairs. 

The teams aren’t the only ones excited about the upcoming bowl season. With so many top-level matchups, bettors get one last shot to get in the action before the season is officially over. When deciding the best way to bet on NCAA bowl games, make sure you know how well the team has been performing of late and what key players are playing or sitting out because they’re declaring for the draft. There are also many coaching changes at this time of the year, so be aware of who’s in charge of the program come game time. Here are the most anticipated bowl games of the year. 

NCAA New Year’s Six Odds and Matchups 

Cotton Bowl: No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2) vs. No. 17 Memphis Tigers (12-1)

December 28, Noon ET ESPN

Arlington, TX

Favourite: Penn State —7

With Mike Norvell leaving the Tigers for (hopefully for him) the greener pastures at Florida State, it's time for newly promoted Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield to make his mark on the program as head honcho. Silverfield previously served as the Tigers’ offensive line coach, so this will be quite the jump in responsibility as he looks to put a nice cap to a highly successful season for the nation's best Group of Five programs of 2019.

That'll be a tall order against a strong Penn State squad, and the NCAA football odds reflect that, giving the Nittany Lions a touchdown advantage. James Franklin's team has faced tougher competition than its Cotton Bowl opponent and fields a stingy defense, but Memphis QB Brady White combined with an elite receiver group should be able to deliver a few blows to Penn State. It's tough to predict exactly what will happen at AT&T Stadium in this season's first major bowl matchup, but it promises to be an exciting one.

Peach Bowl: No. 1 LSU Tigers (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1)

December 28, 4 PM ET ESPN

Atlanta, GA

Favourite: LSU —14

All eyes will be on freshly minted Heisman winner Joe Burrow when the top ranked LSU Tigers take on Oklahoma in the first playoff semifinal in Atlanta. The NCAA football lines reflect how outstanding this LSU team has been all season long, with the Tigers pegged as two-touchdown favourites over their lower ranked opponent.

Former Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts, who's been excellent this season throwing for over 3,600 yards and 32 touchdowns, will look to relive his glory days at Alabama in this one. Whether or not he's successful will depend on wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who leads the team with over 1,200 receiving yards. If the Tigers can find a way to contain the explosive receiver, Oklahoma will be in for a long and painful contest.

Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-0) vs. No. 3 Clemson Tigers (13-0)

December 28, 8 PM ET ESPN

Glendale, AZ

Favourite: Clemson —2

With Clemson taking on Ohio State in the second semifinal as two point NCAA odds favourites, the Tigers are hoping for a repeat of what happened three years ago. Back then, Dabo Swinney’s squad humiliated the Buckeyes in a 31-0 blowout and went on to best Alabama in the national championship. Expect a much closer outcome this time around as this year’s iterations are very evenly matched.

Both teams are outstanding defensively, especially against the passing attack, so it'll be interesting to see how each star quarterback adjusts. The Tigers will be relying on college football's top breakout star from a year ago in QB Trevor Lawrence and established veteran running back Travis Etienne, who leads the nation at 8.24 yards per rush. Ohio State, meanwhile, will look to let their star QB Justin Fields and RB JK Dobbins do the talking on the field.

Orange Bowl: No. 24 Virginia Cavaliers (9-4) vs. No. 9 Florida Gators (10-2)

December 30, 8 PM ET ESPN

Miami Gardens, FL

Favourite: Florida —14.5

Despite facing a daunting 14.5-point bowl game betting spread in their opponent’s favour, the Virginia Cavaliers will have something to play for in this year’s Orange Bowl: pride. After getting destroyed in the ACC championship game against Clemson by a score of 62-17, they’ll want to have a better showing in a marquee bowl game. 

Conversely, motivation will be a question for a respectable Florida team whose only losses came against juggernauts like LSU and Georgia (by just seven points). If the Gators come to play, especially defensive NFL prospects Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga, Virginia’s offensive line will have a tough time protecting their skilled assets. This tilt may very well hinge on how comfortable (or uncomfortable) the Gators make Virginia’s quarterback Bryce Perkins, who’s leading the team in both passing and rushing. 

Rose Bowl: No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (10-3) vs. No. 6 Oregon Ducks (11-2)

January 1, 5 PM ET ESPN

Pasadena, CA

Favourite: Wisconsin —2.5

Ringing in the New Year means getting excited for a pair of excellent college football games, the first of which is the legendary Rose Bowl that’ll be contested between the Wisconsin Badges and the Oregon Ducks this season. Both teams are coming off of impressive showings, though with different results. Oregon overcame the odds and outclassed Utah by a score of 37-15 in the PAC-10 championship game, while Wisconsin held on for as long as they could before falling to Ohio State 34-21 in the Big Ten title game after failing to protect a 21-7 halftime lead. 

There are two massive stars to watch in this matchup: Oregon’s QB Justin Herbert and Wisconsin’s workhorse RB Jonathan Taylor. Herbert is expected to be a high draft selection in the upcoming 2020 NFL draft, while Taylor is second in the country in rushing yards at 1,909. The Badgers get a small 2.5-point edge at Pasadena, so this one can go either way. 

Sugar Bowl: No. 7 Baylor Bears (11-2) vs. No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (11-2)

January 1, 8:45 PM ET ESPN

New Orleans, LA

Favourite: Georgia —6

It was close but no cigar for this season’s Sugar Bowl participants, both of whom would have much rather preferred to be in the Playoff, but got tripped up in their respective conference title matchups. 

Baylor had high hopes going into the Big 12 championship against Oklahoma in an effort to avenge an earlier season loss, but they ultimately came up short again in a 23-30 showing. Georgia, meanwhile, was ranked fourth heading into the SEC championship against LSU and were unable to keep their playoff spot after a 37-10 drubbing. Regardless, this should be an exciting game between two quality squads that deserves your betting consideration. 

*Odds as of December 27, 2019