Alabama lost quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to a hip injury in mid-November in a blowout win at Mississippi State, which might have kept Nick Saban’s squad out of the CFP. Two weeks later at Auburn, the Crimson Tide (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS) fell just short 48-45 as 3.5-point favorites.
Had ‘Bama won that Iron Bowl matchup, it would’ve been interesting to see how the CFP selection committee rated the Tide against one-loss Oklahoma.
Michigan had a nice October/November stretch in which it won four in a row SU and five consecutive ATS, but the regular season ended with a big thud at the Big House. The Wolverines (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) got trucked by Ohio State 56-27 as 9-point home underdogs.
“We opened this number at ‘Bama -6.5. As you could expect, there isn't a ton of Michigan interest early, and ‘Bama money has driven us up to -7,” Lindeman said of this New Year’s Day game. “We've also seen a flood of Over money that's pushed the total up from 54.5 to 59.5. This is an intriguing game, because both teams could potentially have players sitting out in preparation for the NFL Draft.
“Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines didn't show any interest in their bowl game against Florida last season,” Lindeman added, alluding to a 41-15 Peach Bowl loss. “But the Crimson Tide have questionable motivation after missing out on the playoff for the first time in years.”
Las Vegas Bowl
The bowl committee in Vegas spiced this up by having Washington coach Chris Petersen, who resigned Dec. 2 but will coach in this Dec. 21 tilt, go up against a Boise State program he put on the national roadmap.
Washington got some preseason chatter as a potential CFP contender, but a stunning Week 2 home loss to California and a midseason three-losses-in-four-weeks stretch doomed any such hopes. The Huskies (7-5 SU and ATS) capped the regular season with a 31-13 win over Washington State laying 7.5 points at home.
Boise State is on a six-game winning streak that followed its only loss of the year, at Brigham Young as a touchdown chalk in Week 8. The Broncos (12-1 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) rolled over Hawaii 31-10 giving 14 points in the Mountain West Conference championship game.
This line was on the move immediately, opening Washington -6.5 last Sunday and dropping to Huskies -3.5 in less than an hour.
“The market did not like our opener on this game, as our Washington -6.5 number was quickly bet down,” Lindeman said. “We're currently sitting at -3.5 and will be rooting for Chris Petersen in his swan song. It's been a down year for the Huskies, and Boise State loves getting its shot at Pac-12 opponents in bowl season. But I haven't been terribly impressed by Boise State, and I wouldn't be surprised if this number goes back up.”
Heading into Week 12, Minnesota was surprisingly undefeated and in the Big Ten title chase, and therefore was a possible CFP contender if things broke right. But they didn’t. The Golden Gophers (10-2 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) lost at Iowa that week, and in the regular-season finale two weeks later, they tumbled at home to Wisconsin 38-17 as 3-point pups.
Auburn faced a stretch of SEC games in which it traveled to Florida and LSU, then hosted Georgia in a span of six weeks, and Gus Malzahn’s troops lost all three games. However, the Tigers (9-3 SU and ATS) finished the regular season with a big exclamation point, outlasting Alabama 48-45 catching 3.5 points at home in the Iron Bowl.
“There has been some Auburn support early, as they've bet the game from -7 to -7.5,” Lindeman said. “P.J. Fleck's squad has been a pleasant surprise this year, but doesn't quite stack up to Auburn from a talent standpoint. This could be one of the best defenses Minnesota has faced yet.”
Lindeman said the total spiked from Sunday’s opener of 49 up to 52.5 by Saturday, with Over money coming in early for this Jan. 1 affair.
Quick Lane Bowl
PITTSBURGH VS EASTERN MICHIGAN (+16.5)
Pittsburgh dropped its last two games and three of its last five, so coach Pat Narduzzi’s squad doesn’t bring much momentum into this Dec. 26 contest at Ford Field in Detroit. The Panthers (7-5 SU and ATS) went off as 9-point favorites at Boston College in Week 14 and were dealt a 26-19 outright loss.
Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan barely reached bowl eligibility in the Mid-American Conference, needing wins in two of its last three games to do so. The Eagles (6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS) closed with a 34-26 loss at Kent State laying 4 points.
“This game was our biggest disagreement with the offshore market, as we opened it Pittsburgh -16.5 and other books opened it -9.5,” Lindeman said. “We were quickly bet down under 14 and have now settled in at 10.5. Eastern Michigan is getting to play in its home state, but this looks like a serious mismatch. The MAC typically struggles during bowl season.”
MIAMI VS LOUISIANA TECH (+10)
Miami likely had higher hopes than landing in this Dec. 26 game in Shreveport, La., but that’s what happens when a team falls to .500 after losing its last two games as a sizable favorite. The Hurricanes (6-6 SU and ATS) went off as 21-point faves at Florida International and tumbled 30-24, then lost at Duke 27-17 giving 9.5 points.
Louisiana Tech had a four-game midseason SU and ATS streak, then rebounded from a two-game hiccup to finish with a Week 14 win. The Bulldogs (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) pulled away from Texas-San Antonio in the second half to claim a 41-27 victory, though they failed to cash as hefty 21-point home favorites.
“We've seen a big move on the ‘dog here, as Louisiana Tech is playing an hour from campus and Miami is traditionally a horrible bowl bet,” Lindeman said. “We opened the game Miami -10 and have been bet down to 6.5. The Hurricanes are obviously the more talented team, but really struggled down the stretch and have major questions at quarterback. It's hard to make a strong case for them in this one.”
Below are opening/current lines at Circa Sports for all other bowl games. Asterisk (*) denotes College Football Playoff matchups.
Bahamas Bowl, Dec. 20: Buffalo from -4 to -6.5 vs. Charlotte.
Frisco Bowl, Dec. 20: Utah State from -8.5 to -7 vs. Kent State.
New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 21: San Diego State from -2 to -3.5 vs. Central Michigan.
Cure Bowl, Dec. 21: Georgia Southern from -6 to -5 vs. Liberty.
Boca Raton Bowl, Dec. 21: Southern Methodist from -5.5 to -3 vs. Florida Atlantic.
Camellia Bowl, Dec. 21: From pick to Arkansas State -2.5 vs. Florida International.
New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 21: Appalachian State from -15 to -16.5 vs. Alabama-Birmingham.
Gasparilla Bowl, Dec. 23: Central Florida -17 vs. Marshall, no move.
Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24: From pick to Brigham Young -1.5 vs. Hawaii.
Military Bowl, Dec. 27: North Carolina from -7.5 to -4.5 vs. Temple.
Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 27: Michigan State -3 to -5 vs. Wake Forest.
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Texas A&M from -4.5 to -7.5 vs. Oklahoma State.
Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27: From pick to Iowa -2 vs. Southern California.
Cheez-It Bowl, Dec. 27: Air Force from -1.5 to -3 vs. Washington State.
Camping World Bowl, Dec. 28: Notre Dame -3.5 vs. Iowa State, no move.
Cotton Bowl, Dec. 28: Penn State from -9.5 to -7 vs. Memphis.
* Peach Bowl, Dec. 28: Louisiana State from -11 to -13 vs. Oklahoma.
* Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 28: Clemson from -1 to -2 vs. Ohio State.
First Responder Bowl, Dec. 30: Western Kentucky from -1 to -3.5 vs. Western Michigan.
Music City Bowl, Dec. 30: Mississippi State -3.5 vs. Louisville, no move.
Redbox Bowl, Dec. 30: California from -7 to -6, back to -7 vs. Illinois.
Orange Bowl, Dec. 30: Florida from -14 to -13.5, back to -14 vs. Virginia.
Belk Bowl, Dec. 31: Virginia Tech -3 vs. Kentucky, no move.
Sun Bowl, Dec. 31: Arizona State from -2.5 to -4.5 vs. Florida State.
Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31: Navy from -1.5 to -2.5 vs. Kansas State.
Arizona Bowl, Dec. 31: Wyoming from -7.5 to 7 vs. Georgia State.
Alamo Bowl, Dec. 31: Utah from -10 to -8 vs. Texas.
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin from -3.5 to -3 vs. Oregon.
Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1: Georgia from -9 to -7.5 vs. Baylor.
Birmingham Bowl, Jan. 2: Cincinnati from -4.5 to -7 vs. Boston College.
Gator Bowl, Jan. 2: Tennessee -1.5 vs. Indiana, no move.
Potato Bowl, Jan. 3: Ohio from -7 to -7.5 vs. Nevada.
Armed Forces Bowl, Jan. 4: Tulane from -7.5 to -7 vs. Southern Mississippi.
LendingTree Bowl, Jan 6: Louisiana-Lafayette from -14.5 to -14 vs. Miami-Ohio.