Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, December 27, 2018 at 12:00 AM
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT –
WE’RE INCHIN’ CLOSER TO SATURDAY’S
PAIR OF PLAYOFF GAMES PLUS
HERE ARE THURSDAY’S BOWLS
We are – give or take – about 48 hours away from the College Football playoffs pitting #2 Clemson against #3 Notre Dame (Cotton Bowl) and #1 Alabama versus #4 Oklahoma (Orange Bowl) and yet there’s been very little movement on the Las Vegas big board lately when it comes to these dynamic games:
In fact, Clemson opened as an 11-point betting favorite and shot up to – 13.5 in the first few days – the Tigers have settled into being a 13-point fav even though there’s been some drug test-related suspensions; The totals price on this Cotton Bowl clash with a 4 p.m. ET kickoff opened at 56, went down to 55.5 and then 55 points and has stayed right there for the past week.
In the nightcap, Alabama went from – 13.5 to -14 right away and the number’s not moved since; the totals price opened at 79 points, zoomed up to as high as 81 points and has comfortably settled in the past several day at 77.5 points in this 8 p.m. ET Orange Bowl kickoff.
Compare this with last year’s playoff semifinals:
Georgia was a 2.5-point Rose Bowl favorite against Oklahoma with a totals price of 61 points … Georgia won 54-48 in double overtime;
Alabama was a 3.5-point fav against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl with a totals price of 47.5 points … ‘Bama won 24-6.
So, a pair of low, single-digit betting favorites in last year’s playoffs and this year a pair of two-TD-like prices and uber-high totals price in the Orange Bowl.
Hmm, gotta feeling a lot of folks will be playing teasers – and expect to hear on Sunday/Monday that a lot of folks grabbed Alabama and Clemson at the teased prices – not exactly something we’d recommend if you really like to know!
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the College Football Bowl winners this week/weekend plus there’s NFL Week 17 winners this Sunday – just call us game days at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here at www.jimhurley.com and also cash in with NBA / NCAA hoops.
COLLEGE BOWLMANIA – THURSDAY, DEC. 27
INDEPENDENCE BOWL – at Shreveport, LA
DUKE (7-5) vs. TEMPLE (8-4) – 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, so here’s yet another bowl game in which a coaching change takes center stage – Temple’s Geoff Collins is off to Georgia Tech, former assistant Ed Foley is coaching this one game and defensive whiz Manny Diaz assumes full command of the Owls’ program once this bowl bash is done. If Temple RB Ryquell Armstead (1,098 yards rushing and 13 TDs) can slice-and-dice a Duke defense that ranked a putrid 117th nationally against the rush (222.3 ypg), then the 3-point favorite Owls could score 35+ points for a seventh time this year. Duke QB Daniel Jones – who could be a second-day NFL Draft pick next spring -- has thrown for 47 career TDs and he shook off a mid-season shoulder injury. P.S., the Blue Devils have covered their last four consecutive bowls while the Owls are 8-2 ATS (against the spread) overall since their 0-2 spread start.
PINSTRIPE BOWL – at The Bronx, NY
MIAMI (7-5) vs. WISCONSIN (7-5) – 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Remember when this 2018 season started? The Wisconsin Badgers were #4 in the preseason AP poll and the Miami Hurricanes were #8:
Well, now neither’s ranked as they stagger into Yankee Stadium hoping to salvage truly lost seasons.
The ‘Canes just announced that their 109th-ranked passing offense has replaced starter QB N’Kosi Perry with one-time starter Malik Rosier (1,007 yards passing with 6 TDs and 5 INTs this season) but the real key to who gets into the winner’s circle is what Wisconsin QB Jack Coan does as he replaces concussion-prone lefty Alex Hornibrook. The Badgers may ask workhorse RB Jonathan Taylor (1,989 yards rushing / 7.1 ypc average / 15 TDs) to tote the ball 40 times here as Wisky looks to bang out a second straight bowl win against Miami (see 34-24 Badgers’ win/cover in last year’s Orange Bowl). Take note that the Big 10 guys enter this game at 3-9 against the odds this year.
TEXAS BOWL – at Houston, TX
VANDERBILT (6-6) vs. BAYLOR (6-6) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, SEC, it’s finally time to take the bowl stage: In all, there’s 10 SEC bowl teams this year and here Vandy – without a bowl win since 2013 under former boss-man James Franklin -- is the 4-point betting favorite even though the Commodores lost five-of-six games SU (straight-up) this season between Sept. 15th and Oct. 20th. If fifth-year head coach Derrick Mason can get a decent run/pass balance here with RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn (1,001 yards rushing / 7.0 ypc average / 10 TDs) and QB Kyle Shurmur (2,844 yards passing with 23 TDs and 6 INTs), than Vandy should “cash” but Baylor’s a real hit-or-miss squad this year: The Bears scored 35 points twice in the back half of this ’18 season and were held to 17, 14, 14 and 9 points in the other four games from Oct.13th on – can QB Charlie Brewer (17 TDs / 8 INTs) make the right red-zone reads here? Keep in mind Vanderbilt’s covered nine of its last 11 games under Mason when placed in the chalk role.
NOTE: More Bowl Previews comin’ your way in tomorrow’s Jim Sez – and we’ll get to NFL Week 17 action too!