These College Football Teams Are Hungry for a Bowl Berth

There are two weeks left in college football’s regular season, meaning it’s a great time for bettors to figure out the teams who are motivated to finish the season strong.

Luckily for you, I’ve broken down the remaining schedules and compiled a list of seven bowl-hungry programs that bettors should become acquainted with during the last days of November.

Minnesota

Minnesota improved to 5-5 after beating Purdue 41-10 as 11-point underdogs on Saturday. It was a puzzling result considering that the Golden Gophers lost 55-31 the week before at Illinois.

The win over Purdue knocked the Boilermakers out of Big Ten West contention and helped Northwestern clinch the division. Minnesota now gets to play Northwestern, and the Golden Gophers are 2.5-point home underdogs this week.

The situation sets up well for Minnesota, who’s catching a Northwestern team that might already be thinking ahead to their date in Indianapolis against either Michigan or Ohio State.

Knowing a victory would mean an invite to a bowl game, Minnesota will look to build off the Purdue win with another strong showing against the Wildcats. Since Minnesota plays at Wisconsin in Week 13, the players know they have their best chance to get a sixth win on Saturday against Northwestern.

Indiana

Indiana kept their bowl hopes alive with a 34-32 victory over a Maryland team that was one away from reaching six wins on the season. Although the Hoosiers were outgained in the game 542-374, they benefitted from forcing four turnovers and holding the Terrapins to short field goals after two long drives in the first quarter.

It’s very unlikely that Indiana will get to six wins after this weekend because they face Michigan, who’s a 28-point favorite. While IU won’t win, there could be value on betting them against the spread as big underdogs with Michigan likely focused on their highly anticipated matchup with Ohio State on November 24.

Week 13 is the real opportunity for Indiana to obtain their sixth win, as they host a Purdue team that handed them a tough loss last season. Don’t be shocked if Indiana extends their season with a victory against their in-state rival.

Baylor

There probably isn’t a team in the country that wants to reach a bowl game more than Baylor. Second-year head coach Matt Rhule, who took over the program amidst a sexual assault scandal, has his team playing inspired football after finishing 1-11 in his first season.

Baylor currently sits at 5-5 with a home game against TCU in Week 12 and a matchup with Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium to close the regular season. At 4-6, TCU still has a chance to make a bowl game, but is trending in the wrong direction after losing four of their last five games.

Take Baylor as the two-point favorite in this one or pass on the game.

Wake Forest

Wake Forest pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Week 11, but it fell under the radar because the game was played on Thursday. The Demon Deacons knocked off No. 14 North Carolina State 27-23 in a game where Wake Forest was an 18.5-point underdog.

Wake Forest is now 5-5 with games against Pittsburgh and at Duke to close the season. Pitt opened as a six-point road favorite against Wake Forest in Week 12, but that line is now down to Pittsburgh -4. The Panthers are in unfamiliar territory only needing one win to clinch the ACC Coastal, and they’ll be a favorite for just the fourth time this season on Saturday.

Returning home off a huge upset win, I would look for Wake Forest to cover the spread and clinch a bowl bid with their sixth victory of the season.

Tennessee

Tennessee’s bowl hopes are alive after the Volunteers upset Kentucky in Week 11. Sitting at 5-5, the Vols have a home game against Missouri on deck and a regular season finale against Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Making a bowl game was always going to be a tough task in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season considering the lack of talent he inherited and a schedule that featured a four-game stretch of Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. But Tennessee was able to pull off a massive upset at Auburn to put them in position to eventually contend for six wins in 2018.

The Volunteers are currently a five-point underdog against Missouri, who became bowl eligible last week. The line might be too small to bet on UT, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they won straight up and extended their win streak to three games.

Vanderbilt

With a 4-6 record, Vanderbilt needs to win two games to reach a bowl game, which could potentially save head coach Derek Mason’s job.

Vanderbilt, who’s 3-0 against the spread in their last three games, is a 2.5-point favorite against Ole Miss in Week 12. If Vanderbilt comes through as the favorite on Saturday and Tennessee loses to Mizzou, then their aforementioned matchup in Week 13 could decide Vandy’s bowl eligibility and Mason’s future with the Commodores.

Arizona

After playing football for 10 straight weeks, Arizona was able to take a breather during their bye in Week 11. This was a very unlucky scheduling situation for the Wildcats, who have Kevin Sumlin calling the shots in his first season with the program.

Before Arizona’s much-needed break, quarterback Khalil Tate returned from injury and flashed the play-making abilities we expected to see going into this season, as he racked up three touchdowns against Oregon and five against Colorado.

The 5-5 Wildcats will get their first shot at their sixth victory of the year with a tough test against Washington State in Pullman. An outright win will be a challenge, but I think the Wildcats can cover as 9.5-point ‘dogs. The pressure of being in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings could lead to a poor performance by Washington State, who plays Washington in the always important Apple Cup the following week.

If Arizona can’t win in Week 12, then they’ll get another chance to pick up their sixth ‘W’ of the season when they host Arizona State in Week 13. Herm Edwards and Arizona State just became bowl eligible over the weekend, so the motivation factor could strongly favor Sumlin and Arizona in that spot.