2021-2022 Bowl Game Best Bets

Betting on college football bowl games adds several layers of complexity that the regular season doesn’t have.

From the coaching carousel to key players opting out or entering the transfer portal, there are some serious edges to be found when evaluating these matchups that look completely different than they did just weeks earlier.

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Here are our five bowl game best bets for the remainder of the 2021-22 college football postseason.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Dec. 28: Minnesota vs. West Virginia

It’s a battle of two Jekyll and Hyde teams–8-4 Minnesota upset Wisconsin and gave Ohio State a game for three quarters, but also dropped games to lowly Bowling Green and Illinois. Likewise, 6-6 West Virginia beat ranked Iowa St. and nearly took down Oklahoma while still losing to Big 12 bottom-feeders like Texas Tech.

The X-factor here will be Minnesota’s ninth-ranked scoring defense vs. WVU’s #78 scoring offense. Worse yet for the Mountaineers is that leading rusher Leddie Brown has opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft. Compounding matters even more is that Minnesota hired 2021 WVU offensive analyst Kirk Ciarnocca to serve as offensive coordinator for the Golden Gophers. With the deck stacked like that against West Virginia, we think the first-ever meeting for these two programs will be a blowout in favor of the Golden Gophers.

The pick: Minnesota -4

Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29: Oklahoma vs. Oregon

Both of these 10-win teams have lost their head coaches in recent weeks to other programs. Long-time Sooners legend Bob Stoops will lead Oklahoma as interim head coach for this game, while the Ducks coaching staff (most of which will join Mario Cristobal in Miami after the game) will be led by wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon.

Both sides also have several stars opting out and declaring for the NFL Draft, particularly among the defensive lines. But strip all these losses on the sideline and the field away and we think Oklahoma still has the talent edge to cover comfortably in San Antonio, as does SportsLine’s computer model.

The pick: Oklahoma -4.5

Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 30: Wisconsin vs. Arizona St.

Wisconsin has the top rushing defense in the country. Arizona State will be missing its two leading rushers to the NFL Draft and the transfer portal. That recipe for disaster will leave the Sun Devils and their 97th-ranked passing attack to try and air it out against a Badger defense that has only allowed 9 TDs through the air–good enough for third-best in the nation.

The Badgers don’t blow many teams out, including short-staffed opponents that might look mismatched on paper. That could make the spread a little close for comfort, but we feel comfortable that Paul Chryst and his 5-1 bowl record with Wiscy can win by at least a touchdown. Our favorite of our bowl game best bets.

The pick: Wisconsin -6.5

Orange Bowl, Dec. 31: Michigan vs. Georgia

New Year Eve’s second semi-final could be like watching someone try to fight themselves in a mirror–both Michigan and Georgia lean heavily on the run game, prefer to avoid passing, and have top-four scoring defenses. And unlike the other games on this list, both rosters will be at full strength.

The big question mark then is who will be taking the snaps (and handing the ball off) for Georgia. Head coach Kirby Smart basically declared an open race between J.T. Daniels and Stetson Bennet ahead of bowl practices after the latter disappointed in the SEC Championship. While we still think Georgia has the big-game experience to win outright, Michigan should be able to take advantage of a probably not-so-confident quarterback (whoever gets the start) to keep things within a touchdown.

The pick: Michigan +7.5

Texas Bowl, Jan. 4: LSU vs. Kansas State

Both of these programs also have major QB questions. Kansas State star Skylar Thompson is still recovering from a late-season injury that has prevented him from practicing with the team. Likewise, LSU is losing QB1 Max Johnson to the transfer portal and backup Myles Brennan is still recovering from injury. That leaves either burning freshman Garret Nussmeier’s redshirt or turning to a walk-on.

On the sidelines, K-State will be operating with an interim offensive coordinator, while LSU will have offensive line coach Brad Davis is serving as interim head coach. On top of all of the player losses and coaching chaos, we think this game is a safe bet for the under between two teams that were both near the bottom of their respective conferences in scoring offense.

The pick: Under 47.5