College Football Bowl Picks – December 30, 2016
There are five bowl games on the slate today. We went 2-1 with yesterday’s picks. All our odds are quoted from BetOnline.ag (Full Review) and are accurate at the time of publishing. We encourage bettors to line shop for the best price before placing a wager.
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Sun Bowl – North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Stanford Cardinals (18) -2.5 Total: 54.5
The Sun Bowl kicks off the bowl games involving ranked teams on Friday, with the Stanford Cardinals taking on the North Carolina Tar Heels in El Paso, Texas.
Stanford is coming off a disappointing season. Most expected them to build off last year and win their conference and possibly contend for a spot in the playoffs. After they started the season 3-0, the Cardinals lost their next three games. They did end up running the table the rest of the way, to finish 9-3 on the season, but those early defeats hurt their chances of a major bowl.
Perhaps the biggest story in this game will be the absence of Stanford running back, Christian McCaffrey. The hybrid running back and receiver will sit out the game to prepare for the NFL Draft.
North Carolina had lots of talent coming into the season, but like Stanford, their year has to be a disappointment to their fans. They had some notable wins this year, but they still finished the season with a subpar 8-4 mark.
UNC’s offense was one of the better units in the league. They averaged just over 33 points per game and over 440 yards of offense. However, they will be without their top running in in Elijah Hood who will miss the game due to injury.
Stanford opened this game as -3.5 favorites, but the line dropped to Stanford -2.5 shortly after opening. Betting action on the sides so far has been split down the middle for the most part.
This profiles as a spot where UNC makes plenty of sense. Ideally, we wanted the Tar Heels with at +3 or better, but this spot still looks good for them. Offensively, they’re potent and even without their workhorse running back – I expect them to have no issues scoring this afternoon.
UNC defensive prowess doesn’t seem to be known nationally. In addition to their offense, they were quite good defensively, holding opposing offenses to under 25 points a game. The Cardinals have struggled against teams with tougher defenses.
Pick: North Carolina Tar Heels +2.5
Music City Bowl – Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Tennessee Volunteers (21) -7 Total: 57.5
Nebraska makes their way to Nashville to take on the Vols in a game that is a short distance for Tennessee. Not only are the Volunteers a ranked team, but this is essentially a home game for them.
Tennessee was favored to win the SEC East before the season began, but a multiple of injuries this season kept them from reaching their full potential. The Volunteers finished the season with an 8-4 record, which included three impressive wins in winding down the season, before losing to Vanderbilt on Nov. 26th. They finished 21st in the AP poll.
Nebraska started the season off with a bang, winning their first seven games, but they have stumbled in a big way down the stretch. The Cornhuskers have lost three out of their final last five games, including a 10-40 defeat at Iowa to close out the year with an 8-4 record.
The biggest issue surrounding this game for Nebraska is the health of quarterback, Tommy Armstrong. It appears he will not play in Friday’s contest but may be available as an emergency quarterback. However, that could change leading up to game time.
This game opened with Volunteers as -3.5 favorites, but that has swelled to -7 at most sportsbooks. Betting action between the two teams is still around 50/50 with a slight edge to the Volunteers.
It’s fair to wonder about the Volunteers motivation after a disappointing season. Yes, they’re in a bowl game, but this is not where they envisioned themselves at the start of the season. Nebraska likely missing their starting quarterback is a problem, but in many cases, that motivates and rallies a team to play better.
They’re not a better team without Armstrong, obviously. However, with the Volunteers with questionable motivations and the matchup still close – I like the Huskers in this spot.
Pick: Nebraska Cornhuskers +7.5
The Wolverines will face the Seminoles in one of the most anticipated games of the Bowl Season in the Orange Bowl, which will be held at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Florida expected to challenge Clemson for the ACC title but fell short after several key losses this season. However, the Seminoles are rounding into form at just the right time. They are in the midst of a four-game win streak. They finished the season with a 31-13 beat down of their rivals, the Florida Gators to end the year with a 9-3 mark.
In total, they’re ranked 23rd in the country in total yards per game. They are scoring just over 35 points per game. Defensively, they have also been impressive, giving up just 24.4 points per game.
The Michigan Wolverines looked like a team that would make it to the College Football Playoff after starting the year 9-0, but they began to falter after their epic run to start the year. They lost a brutal game at Iowa and then lost their final chance at a spot in the playoff when they lost to Ohio State in overtime in the final game of the season in dramatic fashion. They finished the year with a 10-2 record.
The Wolverines can score points. They average 41 points per game, but it’s their defense that has led them for much of the season. They’re 1st and 2nd in several defensive categories, including giving up just 12.5 points per game, good for 2nd in the country.
Betting action has been even on both sides in this game for the most part. The Wolverines opened as -7 favorites. That is where they stand for the most part now at most bookmakers, with some at -6.5.
If you can get your money down on Michigan at -6.5 – we suggest you do that. Seven is obviously a key number in football and with several sharp bookmakers teetering between these two numbers as of this writing, getting -6.5 is super important.
There is plenty of reason to like Wolverines as well. They’re one of, if not, the best defensive team in the country. The total has already dropped significantly (58 to 51) in this game, and I think that bodes well for the team that can keep this one close. They may even win this one outright.
Pick: Michigan Wolverines -7