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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 12:00 PM

The bowls are here! A truly humongous college football bowl slate gets underway Saturday with FIVE matchups. The big highlight of course is right here in the gambling capital of the world where longtime blood rivals BYU and Utah square off in the Las Vegas Bowl. Today I’ll talk about tonight’s NFL and those five college games. We’ll have a very active reporting schedule between now and the New Year to provide fresh coverage of the bowl campaign as it happens.

As always, we take the games in Nevada rotation order. That means we start with tonight’s NFL…

 

THURSDAY

TAMPA BAY AT ST. LOUIS (on NFL Network): Funny how this one is working out the exact opposite of last week’s game involving the St. Louis Rams. Versus Detroit this past Sunday, St. Louis opened a small favorite but the line was pounded the other way. The Lions would ultimately be a 3-point favorite. Here, Tampa Bay opened up as a small favorite on the road, but the Rams have been pounded all the way to -2.5. I’d be surprised if the three was brought into play. Particularly after that happened last week and the dog won outright. Sharps would definitely jump in on the Bucs +3. For now, Rams money was happy to be in early, while the Bucs will be popular at +8.5 in two-team teasers that allow you to move the line six points. Crossing both the 3 and the 7 in one fell swoop is the hallmark of the “basic strategy” teaser approach. The Over/Under has been bet down from 42 to 41 on the assumption that TB quarterback Jameis Winston will struggle on the road against the stout St. Louis defense.

 

SATURDAY’S BOWL GAMES

NEW MEXICO BOWL: ARIZONA VS. NEW MEXICO (in Albuquerque on ESPN)

Yes, this is a home game for New Mexico. Weather’s supposed to be fairly cold, which looks to be having an influence on the lines. Arizona opened at -10, but is now just 8 or -8.5 in many spots. The opening Over/Under of 68 has been bet all the way down to 65. Sharps generally aim to root for Dogs and Under anyway in bowls because of historical tendencies. Cold weather, plus the possibility that Arizona comes in flat as a pancake for what has to be a disappointing bowl invitation has created a lot of early buzz for the home dog. That, and the tendency for old school guys to jump on any bowl double digit dog they see.

 

LAS VEGAS BOWL: BYU VS. UTAH (on ABC)

A lot of excitement for this one here locally. The game sold out in minutes. The fan bases of both teams travel well…particularly when playing in Vegas! Plus, this is a heated rivalry where the teams, programs, and universities really don’t like each other. BIG GAME! Though, it’s true that some of the luster is gone because Bronco Mendenhall won’t be coaching BYU. He’s on his way to Virginia. Utah opened at -2.5. We’re generally seeing -2 or -2.5 in most spots now. BYU would get pounded if the three came into play. The opening total of 54 is down to 52. That’s not weather related because it’s supposed to be sunny and in the 50’s Saturday afternoon, without much wind.

 

CAMELLIA BOWL: OHIO VS. APPALACHIAN STATE (in Montgomery on ESPN)

Appalachian State opened at a steep -9. That’s been bet down to -7.5 in most places. The key number of seven may be tested because nothing’s bringing in money on the favorite yet. Sharps respect this underdog coach with preparation time…and were happy to get more than a touchdown. It’s not like Appalachian State is a “public” favorite that will bring in square action. Either we’ll have a tug-of-war around the seven on game day…or sportsbooks will keep trying to find the number that triggers some interest on the favorite. The total is up a point from 54 to 55 in what should be pleasant weather conditions. Note that a lot of bowl totals see BIG line movements…so one point represents tepid interest on the Over from a handful of quants.

 

CURE BOWL: SAN JOSE STATE VS. GEORGIA STATE (in Orlando on CBS Sports Network)

Big move here to Georgia State. The opener of San Jose State -5 has been bet all the way down to -2.5 and even -2 in spots. That didn’t just move toward the key number of three…but blew through it hard! Sharps think Georgia State will be greatly helped by its proximity to the site (short trip, compared to San Jose State flying cross country). This was one of the most popular “upset” calls for early pundits because of likely motivation and geography.  Nothing happening yet on the total.

 

NEW ORLEANS BOWL: ARKANSAS STATE VS. LOUISIANA TECH (on ESPN2)

While Utah/BYU is clearly the “best game” of the day given the Power Ratings of the teams, this one has a chance to be the “most exciting” because it’s a virtual toss-up with a very high total. The openers of Louisiana Tech -1 and 66 are now up to -2 and 68. This bowl is played indoors on a fast track in the Superdome, which should help magnify scoring potential.

Obviously my college bowl selection package begins Saturday. You can purchase my BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Thursday or Friday.

Our busy December schedule continues tomorrow. Here’s what’s on the immediate horizon…

Friday December 18: NFL Week 15, regular report.

Monday December 21: I’ll look at SEVEN weekday bowls that run from Monday through Christmas Eve on Thursday (Miami Beach, Idaho, Boca Raton, Poinsettia, Go Daddy, Bahamas, and Hawaii Bowls)

Tuesday December 22: My weekly NFL “Futures” report looking at Super Bowl prices. That’s been a very fun storyline to monitor this season!

Thursday December 24: A look at Thursday nights’ NFL rivalry matchup of San Diego and Oakland, as well as Saturday’s important Washington/Philadelphia showdown in the NFC East…plus SIX more bowl games (St. Petersburg, Sun, Heart of Dallas, Pinstripe, Independence, and Foster Farms all on Saturday).

Saturday December 26: I’m moving the NFL report back a day because Christmas lands on a Friday this year. This will be the rest of Week 16 in the NFL.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

 

Be sure to follow:

Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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