With two weeks remaining in last year’s college football regular season, I wrote an article about the teams that would have extra motivation to reach six wins and make a bowl game. That’s because you absolutely have to know which teams are on the cusp of bowl eligibility when handicapping games this late in the season.
There are currently eight Power Five teams that are 5-5 and each have two chances to secure the coveted sixth win. Here’s our breakdown of those eight teams and a closer look at where you might find betting value in the next two weeks.
Boston College had a great opportunity to get their sixth win two weeks ago when they hosted a Florida State team that just fired Willie Taggart, but the Eagles fell short and are now coming off a bye week. BC likely won’t get their sixth win this week, as they are 19.5-point underdogs at Notre Dame, but they hit the road again in Week 14 and have a more manageable game against Pittsburgh. That could be a spot to bet on Boston College if they lose to Notre Dame this Saturday.
TCU has had a very up-and-down year, but they saved their season with a 33-31 win at Texas Tech in Week 12. Now they just need to win one more game to get to a bowl game, but the Horned Frogs are another team that probably won’t get it done this week, as they are 18-point underdogs at Oklahoma — and the Sooners need to win by margin to impress the College Football Playoff committee. TCU closes the season with a home game against West Virginia, and they’ll be significant favorites in that matchup which makes it hard to find any line value to bet them against the Mountaineers.
Oregon State has been one of the most surprising teams of the season and clinched their win total in October. Already winning five games when their win total was set at 2.5 is a great accomplishment no matter how the rest of the season shakes out. The Beavers pulled off a big win against Arizona State in Week 12 and now have road games against Washington State and Oregon coming up. Their best shot to pull off an outright upset and reach six wins will be this week against the Cougars. Although OSU is an 11-point underdog, this might be the week to bet on the Beavers because they’ll be significantly overmatched in their finale at Oregon.
Speaking of Washington State, they are also 5-5 in what has been a disappointing season. The Cougars won 10 regular season games last year and are going to fall short of their regular season win total that was set at 8. If Mike Leach’s team is still motivated to gain bowl eligibility then they’ll want to take care of business against Oregon State this week. That’s because Washington State plays Washington next week and Leach has lost all five Apple Cup meetings against Huskies Head Coach Chris Petersen. I believe Washington State will get the outright win this week, but I wouldn’t trust them to cover a double-digit spread against a hungry Oregon State team.
California is 5-5 and their remaining two games are against a pair of 4-6 teams. First they face Stanford in a huge rivalry game in Week 13 — the Golden Bears are currently a field goal underdog at the Cardinal. Then Cal travels to play UCLA in the last week of the season. While California has a stout defense, they are a team to stay away from when quarterback Chase Garbers is out of the lineup. Garbers left Saturday’s game against USC with an injury, so check on his status for this week’s matchup against Stanford and possibly next week against UCLA before betting money on Cal.
Arizona State has been sitting on five wins since the middle of October and is now on a four-game losing streak. This week, the Sun Devils have a primetime home matchup against Oregon on national TV, and they can try to spoil the Ducks’ College Football Playoff hopes. The Sun Devils are a 14.5-point underdog, so winning outright might be unrealistic, but with bowl motivation and Oregon’s value being inflated by their College Football Playoff ranking, there could be line value on Arizona State. If they fail to beat Oregon they’ll get another shot at home when they play Arizona in the last game of the season.
The young Volunteers are definitely motivated to make a bowl game, and accomplishing it would be a great sign for Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt in his second season. The Vols pulled off crucial wins against Mississippi State, South Carolina and Kentucky to get to this point, and now they have a great chance at securing at least one more victory. It starts this week with a trip to a spiraling Missouri team that is also 5-5, but has lost four straight games (Mizzou is still in the process of appealing a bowl ban, so I didn’t include them on this list). Missouri is a five-point favorite against Tennessee, but the underdog Volunteers could win this game as they are coming off a bye week. If the Vols end up dropping the game this weekend, they’ll still be favorites at home against Vanderbilt in Week 14.
Kentucky is 5-5 and gets FCS opponent UT-Martin on Saturday. That will assuredly get them to six wins, but I’ll be very interested when they host Louisville the week after since I bet the Wildcats under 6.5 regular season wins.