One of the biggest betting days for college football is almost here: New Year’s Day. There are four big bowl games on the board and if you’re Handicapping Sports, looking to bet the college football odds for those marquee matchups, we have the angles and edges you need to factor into your handicapping:
Citrus Bowl – Michigan Wolverines vs Alabama Crimson Tide (-7, 58)
Two classic college powers meet in Orlando with oddsmakers setting the Crimson Tide as touchdown favorites on Jan. 1. Alabama’s motivation may be in question after missing out on the College Football Playoff for the first time ever and playing with No. 2 quarterback Mac Jones under center following the season-ending hip injury to Tua Tagovailoa on Nov. 16.
The Wolverines are coming off a bad loss to rival Ohio State and head coach Jim Harbaugh is starting to feel the pressure. However, a win over Alabama and Nick Saban could cool down his seat in Ann Arbor. Michigan and Alabama both rank among the top defenses in college football, but books are still giving the offenses respect with a 58-point total.
Outback Bowl – Minnesota Golden Gophers vs Auburn Tigers (-7, 53.5)
The Golden Gophers finish a surprise season in Tampa, getting a touchdown from the Auburn Tigers. Minnesota was on track for the Big Ten title game before stumbling down the stretch with a loss to Wisconsin. But, the program’s 10 wins has the Gophers playing on New Year’s Day, led by quarterback Tanner Morgan, who led the Big Ten is passing and has 26 touchdowns to only six interceptions.
Auburn’s only losses came to LSU and Georgia and the Tigers finished off the season with a huge win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Auburn’s offense will need to keep rolling after the departure of offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham before this bowl game, leaving head coach Gus Malzahn to call the plays in the Outback Bowl. Quarterback Bo Nix is a dual threat weapon with 15 passing touchdowns and seven TDs scored on the ground.
Rose Bowl – Wisconsin Badgers vs Oregon Ducks (+3, 51.5)
Oregon had high hopes of a spot in the CFP final four and a Heisman Trophy for quarterback Justin Herbert, but those all went bust in 2019. The Ducks did manage to secure a spot in the Rose Bowl with a victory over Utah in the Pac-12 title game. Herbert has watched his draft stock dip and will be playing impress against the Badgers, after finishing the season with less-than-impressive performances.
Wisconsin was knocked off by Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship and will try to pull the plug on an electric Oregon attack. The Badgers defense ranked Top 10 in yards and points allowed and will attempt to control the clock behind running back Jonathan Taylor. Taylor is the top back in the conference and allowed Wisconsin to dominate possession with an average TOP of 35:31 – best in all of college football. The total for the Rose Bowl is set at 51.5 points.
Sugar Bowl – Baylor Bears vs Georgia Bulldogs (-5.5, 41.5)
The Bulldogs may be hanging their heads in the Sugar Bowl – their second straight season in this New Year’s Day game after missing out on the CFP final four. Last year, the program was less-than-motivated and fell to Texas as a big favorite. Head coach Kirby Smart has already lost a number of key players with those talents leaving early to prep for the NFL Draft and has some notable injuries to his offense, leaving this UGA attack shorthanded against an explosive Baylor team.
The Bears look like they will have No. 1 quarterback Charlie Brewer on the field on Jan. 1 after he left the Big 12 Championship with a concussion. Brewer’s play under center waned at the end of the season, leaving BU to lean on its defense. The Baylor stop unit was solid, especially against the pass and finished with 17 interceptions on the season – most in the conference.