College Bowl Picks 2016-17: Recent Odds and Predictions Against the Spread

College Bowl Picks 2016-17: Recent Odds and Predictions Against the Spread

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In less than a week, the New Mexico Lobos and the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners kick off what will be a frenzied bowl season.

The Gildan New Mexico Bowl serves as the curtain-raiser on Saturday, with four more games sprinkled throughout the day.

College football fans need little extra incentive to get excited about the “New Year’s Six” matchups, as they have the highest stakes and the best teams in the country. The three bowl games below won’t receive anywhere near as much attention, but they should provide just as much entertainment.


Bowl Schedule

2016-17 Bowl Schedule
Date Bowl Matchup Time (ET) TV Info Spread Pick (ATS)
Dec. 17 Gildan New Mexico Bowl New Mexico vs. UTSA 2 p.m. ESPN New Mexico (-7) New Mexico
Dec. 17 Las Vegas Bowl Houston vs. San Diego State 3:30 p.m. ABC Houston (-3) San Diego State
Dec. 17 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl Appalachian State vs. Toledo 5:30 p.m. ESPN Toledo (-1) Appalachian State
Dec. 17 AutoNation Cure Bowl UCF vs. Arkansas State 5:30 p.m. CBSSN UCF (-6) Arkansas State
Dec. 17 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Southern Miss. vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 9 p.m. ESPN Southern Miss. (-3.5) Southern Miss.
Dec. 19 Miami Beach Bowl Central Michigan vs. Tulsa 2:30 p.m. ESPN Tulsa (-11.5) Tulsa
Dec. 20 Boca Raton Bowl Memphis vs. Western Kentucky 7 p.m. ESPN Western Kentucky (-4.5) Western Kentucky
Dec. 21 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl BYU vs. Wyoming 7 p.m. ESPN BYU (-8.5) BYU
Dec. 22 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Idaho vs. Colorado State 7 p.m. ESPN Colorado State (-13.5) Colorado State
Dec. 23 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion 1 p.m. ESPN Old Dominion (-3.5) Eastern Michigan
Dec. 23 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Louisiana Tech vs. Navy 4:30 p.m. ESPN Navy (-1) Navy
Dec. 23 Dollar General Bowl Ohio vs. Troy 8 p.m. ESPN Troy (-3.5) Ohio
Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee State 8 p.m. ESPN N/A N/A
Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Bowl Miami (OH) vs. Mississippi State 11 a.m. ESPN Mississippi State (-12.5) Mississippi State
Dec. 26 Quick Lane Bowl Maryland vs. Boston College 2:30 p.m. ESPN Maryland (-1.5) Maryland
Dec. 26 Camping World Independence Bowl North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt 5 p.m. ESPN2 N.C. State (-4) N.C. State
Dec. 27 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl Army vs. North Texas 12 p.m. ESPN Army (-9.5) North Texas
Dec. 27 Military Bowl Temple vs. Wake Forest 3:30 p.m. ESPN Temple (-13) Temple
Dec. 27 National Funding Holiday Bowl Minnesota vs. Washington State 7 p.m. ESPN Washington State (-7) Minnesota
Dec. 27 Motel 6 Cactus Bowl Boise State vs. Baylor 10:15 p.m. ESPN Boise State (-7.5) Boise State
Dec. 28 New Era Pinstripe Bowl Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern 2 p.m. ESPN Pittsburgh (-5.5) Pittsburgh
Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl West Virginia vs. Miami 5:30 p.m. ESPN Miami (-3) West Virginia
Dec. 28 Foster Farms Bowl Indiana vs. Utah 8:30 p.m. Fox Utah (-8) Utah
Dec. 28 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl Texas A&M vs. Kansas State 9 p.m. ESPN Texas A&M (-2.5) Texas A&M
Dec. 29 Birmingham Bowl South Florida vs. South Carolina 2 p.m. ESPN USF (-10.5) USF
Dec. 29 Belk Bowl Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech 5:30 p.m. ESPN Virginia Tech (-7) Arkansas
Dec. 29 Valero Alamo Bowl Oklahoma State vs. Colorado 9 p.m. ESPN Colorado (-3) Oklahoma State
Dec. 30 AutoZone Liberty Bowl Georgia vs. TCU 12 p.m. ESPN Georgia (-1) TCU
Dec. 30 Hyundai Sun Bowl Stanford vs. North Carolina 2 p.m. CBS Stanford (-3.5) North Carolina
Dec. 30 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Nebraska vs. Tennessee 3:30 p.m. ESPN Tennessee (-3) Tennessee
Dec. 30 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl South Alabama vs. Air Force 5:30 p.m. Campus Insiders Air Force (-13.5) South Alabama
Dec. 30 Capital One Orange Bowl Michigan vs. Florida State 8 p.m. ESPN Michigan (-7) Michigan
Dec. 31 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl LSU vs. Louisville 11 a.m. ABC Even Louisville
Dec. 31 TaxSlayer Bowl Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky 11 a.m. ESPN Georgia Tech (-3.5) Kentucky
Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Washington vs. Alabama 3 p.m. ESPN Alabama (-17) Washington
Dec. 31 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Ohio State vs. Clemson 7 p.m. ESPN Ohio State (-3) Clemson
Jan. 2 Outback Bowl Florida vs. Iowa 1 p.m. ABC Florida (-2.5) Iowa
Jan. 2 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin 1 p.m. ESPN Wisconsin (-7.5) Wisconsin
Jan. 2 Rose Bowl Game USC vs. Penn State 5 p.m. ESPN USC (-7) Penn State
Jan. 2 Allstate Sugar Bowl Auburn vs. Oklahoma 8:30 p.m. ESPN Oklahoma (-4) Oklahoma
Jan. 9 College Football Playoff National Championship TBD vs. TBD 8 p.m. ESPN N/A N/A

Sources:, OddsShark


Games to Watch

Las Vegas Bowl

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Having filled the vacancy at Texas, former Houston head coach Tom Herman won’t be on the sideline for the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl. As a result, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will serve as interim head coach. Herman’s absence shouldn’t make the Las Vegas Bowl any less exciting.

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey is enough of a reason to tune into this game by himself. The senior has rushed for 2,018 yards and 16 touchdowns and caught 26 passes for 205 yards.

As Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel tweeted, fans may see history on Dec. 17:

Although he could also compete in the Senior Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl will be one of Pumphrey’s last big opportunities to impress NFL scouts. In his most recent big board, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller ranked the Aztecs star as the No. 14 running back in the 2017 draft class.

Having a strong game against Houston, which is third in rushing yards per game allowed (97.9) and second in yards per carry allowed (2.9), might move Pumphrey up draft boards.

For Houston, the Las Vegas Bowl is a chance to get the post-Herman era off to the right start. Orlando knows the game carries an added significance, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Joseph Duarte:

Although the Cougars will lose quarterback Greg Ward Jr., they’ll return second-leading rusher Duke Catalon, leading receiver Linell Bonner and fellow wideout Steven Dunbar on the offensive side. On defense, linebacker Matthew Adams and safety Garrett Davis are back, and most importantly, Ed Oliver will only be a sophomore.

Houston could once again be among the top “Group of Five” schools in 2017, and a win in the Las Vegas Bowl would be a good start toward that goal.


Armed Forces Bowl

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Louisiana Tech vs. Navy will be a great clash of styles, as Uproxx’s Matt Hinton tweeted:

The Bulldogs are eighth in total offense (516.1 yards per game), and Football Outsiders ranks them No. 8 in S&P+ offensive rating. Quarterback Ryan Higgins, who’s averaging 350.6 yards per contest, sets the tone with the passing game.

While Navy is just as effective offensively, the running game is the Midshipmen’s calling card. They’re averaging 310.9 yards per game on the ground, fourth-best in the country, and they’ve hardly missed a beat after the graduation of Keenan Reynolds.

Neither team is exactly stout on defense, either. Louisiana Tech is allowing 418.0 yards and 32.7 points per game, while Navy is giving up an average of 429.2 yards and 29.7 points. 

Part of the fun of bowl season is watching Group of Five schools throw caution to the wind on a national stage. The Bulldogs and Midshipmen have the offensive firepower to make the Armed Forces Bowl one of the most high-scoring affairs in the month ahead.


Bahamas Bowl

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With only two games in the event’s history, the Bahamas Bowl is off to a great start.

The 2014 Bahamas Bowl featured one of the craziest finishes ever in a bowl game. Central Michigan scored 34 points in the fourth quarter—a comeback attempt that included a touchdown pass involving four different ball-carriers as time expired. Central Michigan fell short after failing to convert its two-point attempt:

The 2015 edition wasn’t nearly as dramatic, but Western Michigan running back Jamauri Bogan ran for 215 yards and four touchdowns. Wideout Corey Davis caught eight passes for 183 yards and a touchdown as well. The Broncos used their 45-31 win as a springboard for this year’s 13-0 regular-season record.

A vacation in Nassau and an 11 a.m. ET kickoff is a combination that guarantees the Bahamas Bowl will be crazy. Even Old Dominion head coach Bobby Wilder can’t help but enjoy the scenery:

Neither Eastern Michigan nor Old Dominion boasts a standout offensive star, but that shouldn’t matter, given that the Eagles and Monarchs rank 105th and 74th, respectively, in S&P+ defensive rating, according to Football Outsiders.

Neutral fans can get behind Old Dominion, which has risen quickly through the FBS ranks under Wilder. The Monarchs went 9-3 in just their third season since making the transition from the FCS. A Bahamas Bowl win would be among the biggest victories in program history.


Game spreads are courtesy of OddsShark, and statistics are courtesy of unless otherwise noted.