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CFB bowl season opening look: Wild moves in the market

Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The good news is that I'm almost positive all the bowl games will be played this year. The bad news is that in the transfer portal era, it's anyone's guess who'll be playing in their respective bowl games. When we add the players who opt out to prepare for the NFL draft and the coaching carousel to the mix, we can basically throw out our season-long power ratings.

Instead, we'll play amateur psychologist and try to determine where teams' heads are at and take an educated guess on where early lines will go before each game kicks off during the holiday season. Don't believe me? Here are the games I've already bet that moved out of range.

Las Vegas Bowl Oregon St. -6 -9
Frisco Bowl Boise -7 -9.5
Boca Raton Bowl Toledo -1 -4
Hawaii Bowl San Diego St. -3.5 -6
First Responder Bowl Utah St. +10.5 +8
Birmingham Bowl East Carolina -7 -9
Rose Bowl Utah -2 -3

The opening lines for bowl season are a "Ferris Bueller" situation - life comes at you fast. Only there's no time to stop and look around. Alas, here are the games I've bet at lines that are still available:

Cure Bowl: Troy +1.5 (vs. UTSA)

I have Troy favored in this contest based on a power rating of its Sun Belt record being more impressive than UTSA winning Conference USA. The Roadrunners beat North Texas for that title, and then the Mean Green fired their head coach days later. The Trojans beat Coastal Carolina; days later, the Chanticleers coach got a better job.

Fenway Bowl: Cincinnati +2 (vs. Louisville)

In maybe the most bizarre example of the coaching carousel, Louisville's Scott Satterfield left to be the head coach at Cincinnati. The Bearcats have a month to get pinch-hitting sophomore quarterback Evan Prater ready. I think they'll have him prepared and get another one over on the Cardinals.

Jimmy Kimmel Bowl: Washington St. -1 (vs. Fresno St.)

In the throes of winning a conference title, Fresno quarterback Jake Haener said he'd play in the Bulldogs' bowl game. With a pro career on the horizon and already having suffered a pretty serious injury this season, it would seem foolish to put his value at risk. Even if Haener plays, this line has adjusted too heavily from as high as Washington State -4.5.

Quick Lane Bowl: Bowling Green -2 (vs. New Mexico St.)

This line has moved from New Mexico State as the favorite, but it's still bet-able. The Aggies scheduled FCS Valparaiso to get a sixth win and qualify for the trip, but Matt McDonald and Bowling Green should have their way on offense against a truly awful defense.

Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern -3.5 (vs. Buffalo)

Buffalo edged 2-10 Akron by one point in a make-up game just to get bowl eligible, so I'm not expecting its best effort against Kyle Vantrease. He's ranked fifth in the country in passing yards.

Liberty Bowl: Kansas +5 (vs. Arkansas)

Arkansas beat Penn State in a New Year's Day bowl game last year, but this season was disappointing, with turmoil in the locker room and a starting quarterback in KJ Jefferson who may opt out. We saw the Hogs' QB situation without him when they played LSU. Meanwhile, Kansas is thrilled to be in its first bowl game since 2008.

Holiday Bowl: North Carolina +10.5 (vs. Oregon)

It's too early for freshman Drake Maye to be thinking about his pro future, so he gets a chance to show out against a pass defense that probably cost Oregon a Pac-12 title. We may also see some Ducks opt out.

Alamo Bowl: Washington +3.5 (vs. Texas)

Michael Penix announced he's in for next year and said he's excited to play in his first bowl game. Meanwhile, Texas star Bijan Robinson is noncommittal on his availability given he's likely the top tailback in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Duke's Mayo Bowl: North Carolina State +1.5 (vs. Maryland)

Taulia Tagovailoa said he's playing, but that's not enough for me to favor Maryland over N.C. State's defense.

Sun Bowl: Pittsburgh +4.5 (vs. UCLA)

UCLA doesn't have much defense, so Pittsburgh might be willing to grind on the ground against a Bruins team that had bigger hopes before losing to USC. There's no guarantee Dorian Thompson-Robinson or Zach Charbonnet will play, either. Their absences would flip the favorite.

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: Ohio -3 (vs. Wyoming)

Kurtis Rourke isn't coming back, but Ohio has time to get CJ Harris' skill set more integrated into its offense. Wyoming's 111th-ranked offense, according to Football Outsiders, doesn't have a card like that to play.

Reliaquest Bowl: Illinois -1 (vs. Mississippi St.)

The market will eventually catch up to Mike Leach's porous bowl record against the spread, and they'll weigh in on Illinois and Bret Bielema's 7-4-1 postseason ATS mark.

Citrus Bowl: Purdue +7 (vs. LSU)

Purdue was an unpopular pick last year but beat Tennessee in a thriller. Money has come in on their SEC opponent again, so you can take the Boilermakers at +7 or better after out-gaining Michigan in the Big Ten title game.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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