Bowl game betting primer: Volume 2

That 1-3 start to the 2013 college football bowl campaign wasn’t exactly what we had in mind coming off a solid regular season, but thankfully, we’ve still got more than a dozen games remaining on the schedule. So let’s try to right the ship starting today with a couple of games we’ll be keeping a real close eye on.

Note: While there are only four games in today’s primer, I posted Boston College +7.5 on twitter early Tuesday and will likely add some more games over the next few days using the same platform. In addition, we’ll be back soon to cover the championship showdown between Auburn and Florida State.

CLICK HERE to check out all of the current lines.


Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4, 4-1 road) vs. #17 UCLA Bruins (9-3, 4-2 road)

When: Tuesday, 2:00pm ET
Open: UCLA -7.5
Current: UCLA -8

Virginia Tech in 2013: 4-7-1 ATS, 7-4-1 to the OVER
UCLA in 2013: 8-4 ATS, 7-5 to the OVER

Analysis: How stoked is UCLA to play in the Sun Bowl when this team could have earned a second-consecutive trip to Pac-12 title game had they not dropped their home finale to Arizona State, 38-33? That’s the big question to ponder here, as motivation is the most important factor to consider when handicapping bowl games. However, Virginia Tech dropped three of their final five contests and fell short of expectations for the 2013 campaign, so it’s not as if the Hokies have been lights out this season. For me, this game comes down to the fact that I can catch eight points with a defense that surrendered an average of just 17.4 points per game this year (eighth in NCAA).

Notable Trends: Virginia Tech is 3-1-1 ATS over their last five bowl games, while UCLA is 6-1 ATS over their last seven non-conference games.

Pick: Virginia Tech (+8)

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL (Atlanta, Georgia)

#24 Duke Blue Devils (10-3, 5-1 road) vs. #21 Texas A&M Aggies (8-4, 2-2 road)

When: Tuesday, 8:00pm ET
Open: Texas A&M -11.5
Current: Texas A&M -12.5

Duke in 2013: 10-3 ATS, 8-5 to the UNDER
Texas A&M in 2013: 5-7 ATS, 8-4 to the OVER

Johnny ManzielJohnny Football takes the field for Texas A&M one last time on Tuesday.

Analysis: I’d love to pepper you with a bevy of trends and insight as to why I’ll be siding with the Aggies come Tuesday night, but the reality of the situation is that this is a play straight from the gut. Don’t get me wrong, Duke has been a hell of a football team in 2013. But this is star quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s final collegiate contest before the dual-threat signal-caller takes his game to the professional ranks. We’re betting that Johnny Football goes out with a bang.

Notable Trends: Duke is 8-3 ATS over their last 11 non-conference games, while Texas A&M is 4-1 ATS over their last five non-conference games.

Pick: Texas A&M (-12.5)

OUTBACK BOWL (Tampa, Florida)

Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4, 4-1 road) vs. #16 LSU Tigers (9-3, 2-3 road)

When: Wednesday, 1:00pm ET
Open: LSU -7
Current: LSU -8

Iowa in 2013: 7-5 ATS, 8-4 to the OVER
LSU in 2013: 5-6-1 ATS, 9-3 to the OVER

Kirk FerentzICONFerentz has been dangerous in bowl games while at Iowa.

Analysis: The Hawkeyes bounced back from a disastrous 4-8 campaign in 2012 to post an 8-4 mark this season en route to a New Year’s Day bowl bid. So not only does this team possess the requisite amount of motivation we look for this time of year, but they’ve also got a head coach in Kirk Ferentz who is 7-3 ATS in bowl games during his time at Iowa. Give this guy a month to prepare for an opponent and he can hang with just about anybody. Meanwhile, LSU enters Wednesday’s matchup down quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who tore his ACL against Arkansas in the season finale. Note that Iowa has covered the number in seven of their last ten games overall, while LSU is just 1-5-1 ATS over their last seven contests following a victory.

Notable Trends: Iowa is 4-1 ATS over their last five bowl games, while LSU is 1-4 ATS over their last five games overall.

Pick: Iowa (+8)

ROSE BOWL (Pasadena, California)

#5 Stanford Cardinal (11-2, 4-2 road) vs. #4 Michigan State Spartans (12-1, 4-1 road)

When: Wednesday, 5:00pm ET
Open: Stanford -3
Current: Stanford -6.5

Stanford in 2013: 7-6 ATS, 8-5 to the UNDER
Michigan State in 2013: 8-4-1 ATS, 8-5 to the UNDER

Kevin HoganStanford quarterback Kevin Hogan has completed 65% of his passes since taking over in 2012.

Analysis: 2013 has been a hell of a ride for the Spartans, who try to put the icing on the cake Wednesday in the school’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 26 years. But Michigan State will be without team captain and All-Big Ten middle linebacker Max Bullough, who has been suspended for the Rose Bowl. On the other side of the field sits the battle tested Stanford Cardinal, who are marking their fourth-consecutive BCS bowl appearance and are 4-0 ATS over their last four bowl games. Stanford has the big game and big stage experience, while Michigan State could get tripped up early in this one courtesy of some BCS jitters. Be advised that Stanford is 11-4 ATS over their last 15 non-conference games, while Michigan State is 0-4 ATS over their last four outings against Pac-12 opposition.

Notable Trends: Stanford is 35-16-1 ATS over their last 52 games overall, while Michigan State is 5-11-1 ATS over their last 17 games played on grass.

Pick: Stanford (-6.5)

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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