2015 NCAAF New Year’s day – Betting preview

Northwestern and Tennessee at the Outback Bowl in Tampa.
Most books opened Tennessee (8-4 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) as a nine-point favorite. As of Dec. 9, a few books had adjusted the line to 8.5 and a couple of offshores were down to eight. Meanwhile, some offshores had the total at 45. The Wildcats were in the +275 range on the money line (risk $100 to win $275).

Butch Jones’s team has won five in a row after losing four gut-wrenching one-possession games in the early going. The Volunteers allowed double-digit leads to get away in their first three defeats vs. Oklahoma (31-24 in overtime), at Florida (28-27) and vs. Arkansas (24-20). They recovered to beat Georgia 38-31 and then gave Alabama its toughest game since losing to Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa.

UT had an open date after the win over the Bulldogs. With two weeks to prep for the Crimson Tide, the Vols came to Bryant-Denny Stadium ready to play. Jalen Hurd’s 12-yard touchdown run put them in front 14-13 with 5:49 remaining. However, Derrick Henry would answer with a 14-yard run to paydirt with 2:24 left.

Since then, UT has won four of its five games by 11 points or more. With that said, we can’t help but note that the Vols always play their weaker portion of the schedule, which includes Kentucky and Vanderbilt, in the month of November. Their five-game winning streak has been composed of triumphs over teams that all have losing records.

Junior QB Josh Dobbs has a 15/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s also rushed for 623 yards and nine TDs. Hurd has run for 1,155 yards and 11 TDs with a 4.6 yards-per-carry average. Alvin Kamara has produced 1,040 all-purpose yards and 10 TDs, while Evan Berry earned SEC Special-Teams Player of the Year honors.

Pat Fitzgerald’s team is back in the postseason following consecutive 5-7 campaigns. The Wildcats opened the season with a dominant 16-6 win over Stanford as 12-point home underdogs. Their losses came at Michigan (38-0) and vs. Iowa (40-10).

Northwestern (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) is seventh in the country in scoring defense, allowing only 16.4 points per game. However, the Wildcats are ranked No. 115 in total offense, No. 120 in passing and No. 112 with their 20.7 PPG average.

Two of the country’s top defenses will be on display at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, where Michigan and Florida will collide in a rematch of this same event in 2007 when Chad Henne made more play than Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow in a 40-35 win to send Lloyd Carr into retirement as a winner.

Most books had Michigan (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS) listed as a four-point favorite on Dec. 9. The total was 41 at one offshore after opening at 43, while the Gators were +160 on the money line.

Florida (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) has dropped back-to-back game against Florida State (27-2) and Alabama (29-15) at the SEC Championship Game. UF’s offense has been an unmitigated disaster since the team suffered its first loss of the season at LSU in its first game without starting QB Will Grier, who was suspended for one year after testing positive for a banned substance.

UF put three defensive players on the All-SEC first team. Senior DT Jonathan Bullard, sophomore CB Jalen Tabor and junior CB Vernon Hargreaves III collected those honors. Bullard had 63 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and six QB hurries. Tabor had four interceptions, including a pair of pick-sixes, while Hargreaves had four interceptions. Marcus Maye didn’t capture SEC honors, but he was named a first-team All-American by USA Today. Maye, a junior safety, produced 73 tackles, four forced fumbles, 1.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, three QB hurries and six passes broken up.

UF has been an underdog five times this year, going 3-2 ATS with a pair of outright victories at home over Tennessee (28-27) and Ole Miss (38-10).

Michigan has been a single-digit ‘chalk’ three times, posting a 2-1 spread record.

Ohio State saw Iowa get the Big Ten’s bid to the Rose Bowl, but the Buckeyes have only themselves to blame for not making the playoffs. They couldn’t beat Michigan State at home when the Spartans were playing without star QB Connor Cook.

Urban Meyer’s team salvaged the season by blasting arch-rival Michigan 42-13 at the Big House in the regular-season finale for both schools. However, it must settle for a New Year’s Six game in Glendale at the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl. The machup has to be pleasing, though, as Ohio State will collide with Notre Dame’s storied program.

As of Dec. 10, most spots had Ohio State favored by 6.5 with a total of 53.5 points. The Fighting Irish were available for a +225 payout if it wins outright.

Ohio State (11-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) was a money burner for its backers for most of the season, but it did hook up its supporters at a 4-2 ATS clip in its last six outings. The Buckeyes were favored by 13.5 points or more in every game except their blowout win over the Wolverines as one-point road ‘chalk.’

Notre Dame (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) had a stellar season, especially when considering the fact that it lost six starters to season-ending injuries by mid-October. Brian Kelly’s team was in the hunt for CFP berth, only to see those hopes evaporate when Stanford made a last-second field goal to dust off the Irish 38-36 in the regular-season finale.

Notre Dame was an underdog three times this year, producing a 3-0 spread record with one outright victory. The defeats came by four combined points, as it lost 24-22 at Clemson.

Iowa was chosen ahead of OSU for the Rose Bowl after nearly going unbeaten and winning the Big Ten Championship Game. But Michigan State was able to rally late in the fourth quarter to scalp the Hawkeyes, 16-13.

Nevertheless, Kirk Ferentz’s team enjoyed a remarkable season and will be rewarded with a trip to Pasadena to take on Stanford, the Pac-12 champ which trashed Southern Cal by a 41-22 count in the league title game.

As of Dec. 9, most betting shops had Stanford (11-2 SU, 9-4 ATS) installed as a 6.5-point favorite. The Cardinal has been a single-digit ‘chalk’ four times this season, compiling a 2-2 spread record. They have seen the ‘over’ go 7-6 overall after cashing in back-to-back outings and three of their last four.

Iowa (12-1 SU, 7-5 ATS) has been an underdog just twice, going 1-0-1 ATS with an outright win at Wisconsin (10-6) as a five-point puppy. The Hawkeyes’ best victories include vs. Pitt (27-24), at Northwestern (40-10) and the aforementioned win at Camp Randall.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl will feature an SEC-Big 12 encounter between Ole Miss (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) and Oklahoma State at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Most books have had the Rebels listed as seven-point favorites.

Hugh Freeze’s club owns quality wins at Alabama (43-37), against Texas A&M (23-3), at Auburn (27-19), against LSU (38-17) and at Mississippi State (38-27). However, Ole Miss came up short at Florida (38-10), at Memphis (37-24) and vs. Arkansas. The Rebels lost to the Razorbacks in double overtime due to a pair of unfortunate plays. On fourth and 25 in double OT, Arkansas TE Hunter Henry caught a pass short of the first-down marker, but he lateraled the ball across the field before going down.

Alex Collins eventually got the ball and rumbled across the field for a first down. After scoring to pull within one, the Hogs chose to go for two. Ole Miss appeared to have QB Brandon Allen sacked, but the defender grabbed Allen’s facemask to give Arkansas one more chance. Allen ran in the subsequent conversion attempt to lift the Hogs to a miraculous 53-52 win.

Oklahoma State (10-2 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) won its first 10 games, only to see its CFP hopes dashed with consecutive setbacks at home to Baylor (45-35) and Oklahoma (58-23). The Cowboys have compiled a 2-2 record both SU and ATS in four games as underdogs this year. They have watched the ‘over’ hit in six straight games.

December 11, 2015 by : Posted in College Football, Sportsbook No Comments

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