What Sharps Think About Wed-Thu Bowls

DIRECT FROM NEVADA
With Oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich

WHAT SHARPS ARE THINKING ABOUT
THE NEXT SEVEN COLLEGE BOWLS

As promised I'll continue through the week with notes on what the sharps (professional wagerers) are thinking about the busy college bowl slate. We'll look at the SEVEN games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in this report. I'll be back Thursday morning to look at the very busy New Year's Eve and New Year's Day schedules. My NFL report this week will go up Saturday morning. There aren't any pro football games until Sunday in Week 17.

We start with the early kickoff Wednesday…

WEDNESDAY

EAGLE BANK BOWL: East Carolina vs. Maryland
We've had some interesting action here. Maryland opened at -9, and it got bet down to -7 fairly quickly. That was strong support for East Carolina, because nobody bought back once it reached a critical number. Well, that buyback finally happened over the weekend, possibly on thoughts that Maryland was going to try to win for head coach Ralph Friedgen on his way out. We're now seeing Maryland -7.5. One way of reading that is that the East Carolina money bet early…and the Maryland money waited until a favorable line and word that Maryland was going to show up. The total opened at 69, but is down to 68. The game is being played in Washington, DC, so keep an eye on weather reports.

TEXAS BOWL: Illinois vs. Baylor
Weather won't be a factor here because of the retractable roof in Houston. Baylor opened at -2, but has been bet down to -1 as I write this. You'd think Baylor would have a home area advantage…but it's not really a program with a big football following in the state of Texas. They'll be represented. Just don't expect a boisterous crowd. The total of 61.5 is up to 62. Given all the Overs we've seen so far, the public may hit this Over on game day. Conditions will favor scoring. Just remember that Illinois runs the ball a lot now, which will eat up clock. To this point not much excitement from sharps about this game. They may not trust either team in a situation where your pick MUST win the game to cover.

ALAMO BOWL: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Some support for the dog this week, as Arizona +6.5 on the opener has moved down to +5. Oklahoma State is unproven as a bowl favorite of this size vs. quality. Sometimes teams have to get embarrassed in a challenge bowl game before showing up the next time. That happened to this Arizona team last year in the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska. Remember this is a dome game in San Antonio though, which may favor the up tempo style of Okie State. Early money doesn't seem concerned with that in terms of the team side. But, we have seen the total rise from 64 to 65.5 or even 66. All the dome games have gone Over so far…though three of the first five outdoor games did too for that matter.

THURSDAY

ARMED FORCES BOWL: Army at SMU
Remember that SMU is playing on its home field here. They opened as 8-point favorites as a result. If your Power Ratings only had SMU as five points better, you're on the money! Early action has supported the dog, and I'm now seeing Army +7 as I write this. Maybe we'll see game day money come in on the favorite now that we're at a key number. Hard to say in advance. This is an early kick (9 a.m. out here in Nevada, and 11 a.m. at the stadium!). The public may not get involved very much here because it's a relatively low profile game on a non-holiday weekday. The total has held at 52.

PINSTRIPE BOWL: Kansas State vs. Syracuse
There was a lot of interest right off the bat when Syracuse was bet from +2.5 on the opener down to pick-em. That happened in the early days…based I think on enthusiasm for the New York state team playing in Yankee Stadium. The line hasn't moved since then. Results involving the Big 12 may influence game day decision-making, as Missouri, Baylor, and Oklahoma State will all have played before this one starts. Louisville is the only Big East team to see action so far. They held their own in a tight win over Southern Miss. The total is at 47.5 as I write this, up a tick from the opener. The game is being played at Yankee Stadium, so check the New York weather. Also, remember that Syracuse is a dome team that may not be that well-suited to poor conditions if they come up.

MUSIC CITY BOWL: North Carolina vs. Tennessee
North Carolina was bet up from an opener of -1 to -2, which surprised some because the game is being played in Nashville, Tennessee. The Vols do travel well for out of state bowls, so you'd expect a lot of local support. The math guys seemed to like North Carolina, from what I've learned in discussions with sharps. They have better stats vs. a tougher schedule. Can that counteract the home state crowd for the Vols? No move on the total, which opened at 50. Be sure to check the weather here too.

HOLIDAY BOWL: Nebraska vs. Washington
You don't normally have to check the weather in the Holiday Bowl, but it's being played on the same field that was under water last week for the Poinsettia Bowl! California (and all of us here in Nevada) have been soaked by rain for several days. Look for new reports on field conditions before making your final decisions. Nebraska opened at -13.5 and sat there for awhile, suggesting sharps didn't want the favorite. But, I'm seeing -14 is most places now…so at least position-takers are stepping in below the key number. Normally this is an actively bet bowl. It's in prime time, and often features marquee teams from two popular conferences. This year's game is a regular season rematch though. And, Nebraska won't even be in the Big 12 any more after the final gun.

We have several more great matchups coming up in Friday and Saturday action. I'll discuss those the next time we're together.

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