New Year’s Day is always one of the most exciting days of College Bowl season and this year is no exception. There are plenty of exciting matchups on the card, starting with the intriguing Sun Bowl between Stanford and Pittsburgh. Titans Oregon and Michigan State also clash in the Redbox Bowl, whilst Utah and Northwestern meet in the Holiday Bowl in two other standouts. Let’s take a look at our best spread bet in each of these 3 contests.
Stanford enter this one off the back of an 8-4 season that saw them finish with 3 impressive wins. QB K.J Costello has been solid all season, throwing for 3400 yards and 29 touchdowns to just 11 picks. Bryce Love and Cameron Scarlett combined for a nice duo in the rushing game, totalling 12 touchdowns between them. Defensively, the Cardinal have also been very solid all season. LB Bobby Okereke is the heart of this defence, registering 40 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Paulson Adebo has been a ballhawk in the secondary, picking off 4 passes this year.
Pittsburgh come into the Sun Bowl with a 7-6 record, despite two heavy losses to finish the campaign. QB Kenny Pickett has been very efficient, throwing for over 1800 yards and 12 touchdowns to just 6 picks. The RB duo of Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall has also been excellent, totalling over 2000 yards and 20 scores. Defensively, the Panthers have been a mixed bag this season. Rashad Weaver has been the standout player, totalling 30 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Unless they can stop this Cardinal offence, it could be a long day for Pitt.
Prediction: Stanford -5.5
I think Stanford is the significantly better and more motivated team in this one. With K.J. Costello at QB, they should be able to easily move the ball here. Laying less than a touchdown, I’m all over the Cardinal.
Oregon enter this one off an 8-4 season that featured some very impressive wins. QB Justin Herbert has been fantastic all year, throwing for a shade under 3000 yards and 28 touchdowns to just 8 picks. RB C.J. Verdell has also been solid, going over 5.2 yards per carry with 10 total scores. The Ducks also have their fair share of playmakers on defence. Linebacker Troy Dye has led the way this season with a very impressive 107 combined tackles. The secondary has also been very opportunistic, with 4 players registering 3 or more interceptions.
Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans enter this one off a middling campaign that saw them finish 7-5. Both Brian Lewerke and Rocky Lombardi haven’t inspired confidence at QB with very middling seasons. Connor Heyward remains a solid option at RB, averaging 4.6 yards per carry with 5 touchdowns. One area where the Spartans can count on is their excellent defence. Kenny Willekes has emerged as one of the nation’s best pass rushers, totalling 8.5 sacks on the year. He’s formed a nice combination with Linebacker Joe Bachie, who has 94 tackles this season.
Prediction: Oregon -2.5
I think Oregon is far and away the better team here. Neither Lewerke or Lombardi has the talent or arm strength to score on this very solid defence. At under a field goal, this is well and truly my best bet.
Utah enter this one off a solid 9-4 campaign that saw them finish first in the Pac-12 South. This was despite a QB injury that saw Jason Shelley come in for Tyler Huntley. The running game was excellent all year, with stalwart Zack Moss going over 6 yards per attempt for 11 touchdowns. Defensively, the Utes also have a ton of excellent prospects. Chief among these are Linebackers Chase Hansen and Cody Barton, both of whom went over 100 tackles this season. Bradlee Anee also emerged as a very solid pass rusher, registering 8 sacks on the campaign.
Northwestern also enter this one off a decent campaign that saw them finish 8-5, good enough for first in the Big Ten West. QB Clayton Thorson was solid but turnover-prone, throwing for 2900 yards and 15 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. The rushing attack was also very solid, going over 1500 yards and 24 touchdowns on the campaign. Northwestern really shined on the defensive side of the ball. Linebackers Blake Gallagher and Paddy Murphy were both excellent, each going over 100 total tackles. If the Northwestern defence wins their matchup, they’ve got every shot at the upset here.
Prediction: Northwestern +7.5
Through the key number of 7, I’m very confident in Northwestern here. I just don’t think Jason Shelley is good enough at QB to dominate this game. Expect a solid rushing day from the Wildcats in a tight affair.