In part 1 of a special bowl series, DFF Vegas Lines expert Joey Knish (@JoeyKnish22) breaks down the first Saturday of college football bowl action. This series will take a look at the current and opening spreads for the entire bowl season then compare with Knish’s Power Ratings to offer a market analysis along with a pick for each game. The current lines are provided by Vegas Insider, with the opening lines taken from 5dimes. Be advised most books still have reasonably low limits on each game until closer to kickoff, once limits open up you will see more line movement.
North Texas vs Troy – New Orleans Bowl – Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, LA
Current Line: Troy -7, Total: 62:
5dimes Opener: Troy -6.5
Knish Power Rating: Troy -6
One of the sharper bowl openers, this line has stayed rather stagnant until the last few days where a little Troy money took it up to -7. Expect some North Texas buy back if this heads north of 7. Overall, not much line value at the moment, but wait this one out and look for a North Texas above 7 for a small wager.
MARKET WATCH: 77% of the early total bets are on Troy
The Pick: North Texas at +7 or better
Georgia State vs Western Kentucky – Cure Bowl – Camping World Stadium – Orlando, FL
Current Line: Western Kentucky -6.5, Total 53.5
5dimes Opener: Western Kentucky -5
Knish Power Rating: Western Kentucky -7.5
In what might be the worst bowl matchup of modern football history, the line opened short at -5 and I locked in a wager on WKU, and has slowly ticked up to 6.5. I would expect to see a 7 by game day. Georgia State’s best victory came over S&P+ 97th rated team in South Alabama. Even in a rather disappointing season for the Hilltoppers, they are by far the more talented team, and if they’re up for this game, they should handle a poor Georgia State squad who really should not be bowling.
MARKET WATCH: 73% of the early action is on WKU.
The Pick: WKU -6.5 or lower
Oregon vs Boise State – Las Vegas Bowl – Sam Boyd Stadium – Las Vegas, NV
Current Line: Oregon -7, Total 61
5dimes Opener: Oregon PK
Knish Power Rating: Oregon -7.5
One of the worst bowl openers, Oregon opened PK vs Boise State, and was quickly pounded by early bettors above -7. It has ticked back some, but I can’t see this dipping below 7. I have my largest wagers of the bowl season on Oregon PK and Oregon -2. Boise capitalized on a weak MWC and were very fortunate to finish 10-3 with an MWC title. But Oregon is a different team with Justin Herbert, don’t let the absence of Royce Freeman deter you, lay the -7 with the Ducks.
MARKET WATCH: 59% of the early action on Oregon.
The Pick: Oregon -7
Marshall vs Colorado State – New Mexico Bowl – Dreamstyle Stadium – Albuquerque, NM
Current Line: Colorado State -5.5, Total 58
5dimes Opener: Colorado State -2
Knish Power Rating: Colorado State -6
Colorado State opened short at -2 and has moved steadily up to -5.5. The Marshall defense may look solid on paper, but a steady stream of poor opposing offense throughout the season inflated their stats. CSU will provide a stiff test offensively, with maybe college football’s best WR, Michael Gallup, on the outside. I don’t foresee too much movement on this game, but some small Marshall buy back would not surprise me.
MARKET WATCH: 60% of the early action on Colorado State.
The Pick: CSU -5.5 or better
Middle Tennessee State vs Arkansas State – Cramton Bowl – Montgomery, AL
Current Line: Arkansas State -3.5, Total 63.5
5dimes Opener: Arkansas State -3.5
Knish Power Rating: Arkansas State -4
In one of the only bowl games that hasn’t moved an inch, Arkansas State opened -3.5 and has remained there. This would be my lowest confidence pick of the first Saturday, and I have not placed a personal wager on this game myself. Would not expect this to move much either way, but I have a small edge with the Red Wolves.
MARKET WATCH: 66% of the early action on Arkansas State
The Pick: Arkansas State -3.5
Follow Joey Knish on twitter @JoeyKnish22 for up to the minute picks, the best lines, and more analysis.