The college football postseason is well underway and it continues with three bowl games that are worth a look in your sportsbook on Thursday. We start to get into some big brand names as UCLA, Cincinnati and Baylor – all who were competitive in their power conferences – are in action.
San Jose State Spartans @ Bowling Green Falcons
Thursday, 3:00 PM ET
Odds: San Jose State -7
Both programs return to the postseason after a few years’ off (the Spartans were last bowling in 2006, the Falcons in 2009), and neither has played in the short history of the Military Bowl. This will be a matchup of the pass-heavy offense of San Jose State, which is ranked 30th in total offense (and 11th through the air) against Bowling Green’s defense, which is seventh overall and ninth in sacks. However, the Spartans’ defense is pretty solid in their own right while Bowling Green’s offense is sub par and that’ll be the difference in Thursday. Look for the Spartans to cover the college football betting spread.
Pick: Spartans -7
Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Duke Blue Devils
Thursday, 6:30 PM ET
Odds: Cincinnati -7
The Blue Devils may have a slight home-field advantage playing in Charlotte but they’re also in their first bowl since 1995. You can bet that there are a lot of nerves within the program right now. Meanwhile, the Bearcats are in their fourth straight bowl games and the seniors on the team should be preparing their younger teammates.
Duke managed to sneak into the postseason despite having a defense that is ranked 103rd in total defense, 102nd against the run and 96th against the pass. They also took advantage of the fact that the ACC was particularly weak this season. Cincinnati’s offense is ranked 44th, along with a very good No. 12 ranking in total defense. They are the more balanced team.
The Blue Devils may keep it close for the first half of the game but this year’s Belk Bowl goes to Cincinnati, who has kept plugging along just fine since Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame.
Pick: Bearcats -7
Baylor Bears @ UCLA Bruins
Thursday, 9:45 PM ET
Odds: UCLA -1
The Bears may be the most entertaining team to watch in all of college football, ranking first in total offense and 119th in total defense: they may be the only team ever to score 50 or more points twice in a season, and still lose both games.
The Bruins lost to Stanford twice down the stretch and wound up in the Holiday Bowl instead of a BCS bowl. However, they should have an edge in crowd support.
On the season, most bettors would say that the Bruins are the more balanced of the two teams but they fell off the table down the stretch. Their defense was exposed later in the season and the offense couldn’t pull the team out of it. Baylor comes into this game in a different mood after winning their last three games and four of their last five overall.
Not much was expected of Baylor after they lost Heisman winner and eventual No. 2 pick (and potential NFL Rookie of the Year) Robert Griffin III to the next level but the Bears have been game all season and they’re not going to stop coming at UCLA. The Bruins will be sour after missing out on the BCS and that will show.
Pick: Bears +1