During the college football season, the Stadium staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice in this roundtable. Here are our thoughts on the bowl games played from Dec. 28 to Jan. 2.
Note: Ben and Nate will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
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Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: North Carolina (+13.5) over Oregon in Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28
A game with both QBs opting in! This game should actually be a really fun one, and with both offenses having their top guy, I think it’ll end up being closer. I know UNC had a disastrous end of the season, losing three straight games and getting embarrassed by Clemson and Georgia Tech. But almost two touchdowns in this type of bowl game is just too many points. Plus, UNC is a much better team away from home this season, going an astounding 6-0 on the road.
This is the first time all season UNC will be a double-digit underdog, which makes me think this number might be a bit off. The Ducks’ defense will be without three key players, which could prove important given Drake Maye is one of the best QBs the Ducks will have faced all season. Give me the Tar Heels in a closer-than-expected contest.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Washington (+3.5) over Texas in Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29
This line has come down a little bit from the +6 range, but I still side with Washington at +3 or better. Washington won 10 games in Kalen DeBoer’s first season and hit a home run in the transfer portal with QB Michael Penix Jr. reuniting with DeBoer from their days at Indiana. Texas went 8-4 and failed to make the Big 12 Championship Game in a season where they had lofty goals going into it.
Washington got big news weeks ago that Penix Jr. was going to return for another season instead of going to the NFL Draft, and he’ll play in this game. Texas has had numerous opt-outs, including RB Bijan Robinson. I have Washington winning this game in San Antonio on Thursday night.
BW: UCLA (-5.5) over Pitt in Sun Bowl on Dec. 30
By all accounts, it seems like the Bruins should be mostly present for this one. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson seems likely to play, and his leading WR Jake Bobo also should get some time. There’s some solid motivation factors for UCLA as this game is the first time Chip Kelly can get a bowl win with the Bruins after having last year’s Holiday Bowl cancelled.
And it’s not like their opponent will be fully loaded. Pitt comes into this one severely lacking in the starter category, especially on defense. UCLA has the motivation and is the better team — so let’s go with the Bruins to cover.
NJ: Texas Tech (+3.5) over Ole Miss in Texas Bowl on Dec. 28
This is another bowl game where one team has a huge motivational edge because they want to be playing. Texas Tech’s expectation with first-year head coach Joey McGuire was to make a bowl and they got there with a 7-5 record. This matchup in their home state should mean a lot for a Red Raiders program that just brought in a stellar recruiting class last week with a top-25 national ranking.
On the other side, I don’t think Ole Miss is excited to be in Houston on Wednesday night. The Rebels started the season at 7-0 and had a golden opportunity to win the SEC West, but they closed the season 1-4. I don’t think Lane Kiffin’s team will be motivated after they were in the Sugar Bowl last season. The coaching staff also had their focus on National Signing Day last week instead of the Texas Bowl, so I like Texas Tech to win outright.
BW: Kansas State (+215) over Alabama in Sugar Bowl on Dec. 31
I’ve followed Nick Saban and Co. into battle too many times this season only to be let down immensely. Well, no more! Let’s go with the Wildcats to pull off the upset. How much does Saban and Bama want to be in this game? If it’s not the College Football Playoff for the Tide, it’s essentially a losing season.
And Kansas State is ROLLING right now. They’re coming off a Big 12 Championship, plus they’re riding a four-game winning streak. The key to actually pulling off the upset here will be takeaways. Bama loves to give the ball away, while KSU has had success in forcing turnovers. If the Tide continue their carelessness with the ball, Kansas State will be in a good position to win. The Wildcats continue to be undervalued by the market and a game like this is a perfect time for an upset.
NJ: Ohio State (+225) over Georgia in Peach Bowl on Dec. 31
Ohio State’s loss to Michigan in the last week of the regular season creates an opportunity to buy low on the Buckeyes. That 45-23 loss to their biggest rival is the most recent game Ohio State played and there’s been an overreaction in the point spread of Georgia -6.5 for this College Football Playoff semifinal.
The 45-23 final score was embarrassing for Ohio State, but it was a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. Outside of Michigan scoring five touchdowns on explosive plays, the Buckeyes did a fine job containing Michigan down-to-down. The Buckeyes also had opportunities to get out to a bigger lead early, but settled for a number of field goals before losing control of the game.
Georgia definitely has the upside to blow out Ohio State, but if this game was played before Ohio State lost to Michigan, this point spread would be closer to Georgia -3. Ohio State has the offense to challenge Georgia’s defense and enough talent on defense to make plays. They’ll have to finish in the red zone and limit explosive plays, but I like the price on the Buckeyes to advance.