College football bowl season is underway and there's already been some great and entertaining games. As a college football fan and bettor, there's nothing better than mid-week and mid-day action.
The early part of bowl season is particularly interesting. Most of the early matchups consist of Group of Five schools. While we'd like to think we know a bunch about these schools, most people have less conviction in their opinions about those schools than Power Five teams. If you don't feel confident picking a side, maybe looking toward the total is the way to go.
Overs are hitting at a very high rate
With 11 bowl games in the books, we've seen nine games go over the total and just two games finish under.
The average closing total for the first 11 bowl games has been 57.8 points. However, the first few days of bowl season have seen games finish with an average of 65.7 points. This means that games are going over the total by an average of 7.9 points per game.
It's been a maddening start to bowl season for under bettors. They've dealt with bad beats, and they've also had games in which their under tickets had no chance.
Take for example the very first bowl game, which featured Toledo and Middle Tennessee. The game was 17-14 entering the fourth quarter and looked like it would stay well under the total of 49.5 points. The teams combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter, including a garbage time touchdown in the final 90 seconds to push the game over the total.
Louisiana scored three touchdowns in the final 8:25 to beat Marshall, 36-21. After scoring just 16 points in the first three and a half quarters, the Ragin' Cajuns exploded for 20 points in half a quarter to torpedo under 55.5 tickets.
We've also seen shootouts between Northern Illinois-Coastal Carolina, Western Kentucky-Appalachian State and Wyoming-Kent State in which under bettors never had a chance. That's never fun.
I wouldn't be surprised if this hot streak for over bettors continues on Wednesday night when Army meets Missouri. The total for the game is 53.5 points. Army's triple-option attack should slice through a Missouri defense that ranked 125th against the run in the regular season.
Underdogs started hot; favorites making a comeback
Middle Tennessee got bowl season started with an outright win as a 10.5-point underdog against Toledo. UAB and Utah State also all picked up outright wins as underdogs. Western Kentucky was an underdog for over a week heading into its bowl before closing as a 1-point favorite and blowing out Appalachian State. Northern Illinois and UTEP lost their games, but they covered the spread as underdogs.
Since that hot start by underdogs, favorites have rebounded.
Louisiana, Tulsa, Wyoming and San Diego State all closed as favorites and won their games by at least 13 points. Only Tulsa was a favorite of more than four points. It's been smooth sailing with favorites over the past few days.
Will that continue on Wednesday night? Army is now a 7-point favorite over Missouri after the line opened and sat at just 3.5 points for two weeks. Is there still value in this number? That's for you to decide.
Mountain West is hot; MAC is not
One under-the-radar fun aspect of bowl season is seeing how conferences stack up against each other. These teams play very few out-of-conference games during the regular season, so it's hard to project just how conferences like the MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt compare against each other on a year-to-year basis.
With bowls, these teams get to face each other and we get to see which conferences might have been underrated all season and which conferences have been overrated.
So far, the Mountain West has showed out very well. They are 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread. Wyoming, San Diego State and Utah State all won their games and covered the spread. The only team not to cover was Fresno State. The Bulldogs beat UTEP, 31-24, as a 13.5-point favorite.
Next in line for the Mountain West is Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors are 8.5-point underdogs on Christmas Eve against Memphis.
On the other side of the equation, the MAC has struggled.
Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Kent State all lost their games and failed to cover the spread in the process. Northern Illinois lost to Coastal Carolina, 47-41, but it did cover the 12-point spread as an underdog. Overall, the MAC is 0-4 straight up and 1-3 against the spread.
Next up for the MAC is a Thursday afternoon affair between Miami Ohio and North Texas. The Redhawks are 3-point favorites over the Mean Green as Miami Ohio looks to pick up the MAC's first win of bowl season.