Bowl season is one of the most enjoyable two-week stretches of the year for college football fans. It’s also filled with misleading results that are caused by a variety of factors including motivation, coaching changes and players sitting out.
Teams who had strong wins in bowl season have a better chance of being overvalued in the preseason betting markets and early next season.
The prime example of this was when Oklahoma upset Alabama 45-31 as 16.5-point underdogs in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. Alabama wasn’t motivated to play in that game; they lost the Iron Bowl on the “Kick Six” after all, missing their shot to play in the BCS National Championship Game.
Oklahoma entered the following season No. 4 in the rankings. The Sooners finished 8-5 that year and were unranked by the end of the season. Oklahoma’s bowl win inflated the Sooners’ stock and betting against them the following season proved to be profitable.
There were four teams that won this bowl season where bettors should be cautious when looking at their outlook for next year. I’ll be looking to fade the hype and bet against the following five teams early in 2019:
I was dead wrong about the Music City Bowl between Purdue and Auburn. I thought Purdue would be the more motivated team and had a shot to win outright as 3.5-point underdogs. The Tigers scored 28 points apiece in the first and second quarters to embarrass the Boilermakers and make me look foolish.
The 63-14 bowl game win could lead to some point spread value betting against Auburn early in the season. The Tigers open the season in Arlington, Texas against an Oregon team that will return quarterback Justin Herbert.
The rest of the Auburn schedule features early road games at Texas A&M and Florida. Those figure to be challenges with uncertainty at the quarterback position. A play on under the Auburn win total will be another way to look when those numbers become available.
There will be a lot of excitement for Florida after their 41-15 Peach Bowl win over Michigan. It was a dominating win that will be mentioned in every preview for the 2019 Gators.
There were several elements going against Michigan in this game. Three key defensive starters didn’t play and Michigan had their College Football Playoff dreams crushed in the regular season final against Ohio State. The Peach Bowl wasn’t where they wanted to be.
Florida will have expectations to take a big leap in Dan Mullen’s second season. However, I would question if quarterback Feleipe Franks can take the next step as the starter. Franks was benched in early November during a three-touchdown home loss to Missouri. He got job back after backup Kyle Trask suffered a season-ending injury in practice, and Franks led the Gators to a 4-0 finish.
I can see a few bold predictions in the offseason suggesting that Florida can overtake Georgia and win the SEC East because of the Peach Bowl result. I don’t think Florida is at the level of Georgia yet.
The Gators will play in Orlando in Week 1 against Miami. The perception of the Hurricanes is down so there could be an opportunity to take Miami plus the points if the spread is big enough.
I already thought Northwestern would be a good team to fade in 2019 after they won the Big Ten West in 2018 despite an 0-3 non-conference record. Now I’m really looking forward to betting against the Wildcats after their 31-20 Holiday Bowl win over Utah.
Northwestern rallied from a 20-3 halftime deficit against a team missing their starting quarterback and running back to complete a nine-win season.
Now Northwestern will have expectations next year and they will get every team’s best effort after winning their division.
The schedule will test the Wildcats immediately. They open at Stanford and then host Michigan State in Week 3. After that they have road trips to Wisconsin and Nebraska. Northwestern has a bye after the two away games and then host Ohio State on a Friday night. A 2-4 start is a real possibility.
I’ll be interested to see where the win total opens up, but I can see the Wildcats taking a step back in 2019 and only winning six games.
There are two similar traits between Oklahoma’s 2014 Sugar Bowl win and Texas’ 2019 Sugar Bowl triumph.
Both were double-digit underdogs.
Both were facing SEC teams that were disappointed to not be playing for a national championship.
Hopefully for Longhorns fans, they won’t have a five-loss season after being highly ranked in the preseason.
Texas ended up beating Georgia 28-21 in the Sugar Bowl. It was a game where the Longhorns led from the opening drive and the Bulldogs scored two late touchdowns to make the final score look better.
There won’t be much value on betting Texas going into next season. They were one of the most popular teams to bet on in the season win total market last season and I suspect they’ll be favorites to win the Big 12 this coming season.
Tom Herman is one of the best underdog coaches in the country, but now there will be few opportunities where they’re in the underdog role. Texas is 7-9 against the spread as favorites in the two seasons since Herman became the coach.
The expectations will be higher in Austin, and I can see opportunities to fade Texas next season.