Key betting numbers for Dec. 23-27 bowls

ByBen Fawkes ESPN logo
Friday, December 23, 2016

Looking to bet on any college football bowls this holiday season? We've got plenty of terrific content to help you make your picks at [url TARGET="_blank" HREF="" ]Chalk[/url], including a graphical representation of some key betting numbers for the bowl games on Dec. 23 through Dec. 27.[br /][br /][h2][url TARGET="_blank" HREF="" ]Bowl betting guide[/url] | [url TARGET="_blank" HREF="" ]Vegas Rankings[/url] | [url TARGET="_blank" HREF="" ]Betting nuggets[/url][/h2][br /][Ads /][br /]Dec. 23[/h2][br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]It's the first bowl game for an Old Dominion program that revived football in 2009 after a 70-year hiatus, then moved up to the FBS and Conference USA in 2014. The 9-3 Monarchs closed 2016 with five straight wins and were in the hunt for the Conference USA title right until the season's final week. Long-suffering MAC entrant Eastern Michigan's 7-5 season is the program's best since a 10-2 campaign in 1987, and the result is the school's second bowl berth. These teams met in nonconference play in each of the past two Septembers, with Old Dominion winning both times.[br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]Louisiana Tech, 8-5, won the Conference USA West division and lost in the league title game for the second time in three years, this time to Western Kentucky. Navy, 9-3, likewise won the American Athletic West division but fell to Temple in its conference championship game, losing standout quarterback Will Worth to injury as well. The only previous meetings between these schools are a pair of Navy victories in 2009 and 2010.[br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]A game effort against unbeaten Western Michigan wasn't quite enough, and Ohio found itself MAC East champs but losers in the MAC Championship Game for the fourth time in coach Frank Solich's 12 years at the school. The Bobcats finished 8-5 and are bowling for the seventh time in eight years. Troy was 8-1 and ranked in the top 25 at one point but lost two of its past three to miss out on a share of the Sun Belt title. First-year coach Neal Brown has the Trojans bowling for the first time since 2010.[br /][br /][h2]Dec. 24[/h2][br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][Ads /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]Hawaii, eligible at 6-7 via an exemption, is bowling for the first time since 2010. The Rainbow Warriors finished alone in second place in the MWC West division this year and are 4-4 in bowl games played at home in Aloha Stadium. Middle Tennessee was 6-2 and was still in the hunt for the Conference USA title when star quarterback Brent Stockstill - the son of longtime coach Rick Stockstill - was lost for the season in Week 11. The Raiders then lost two straight but scored 115 points in their final two games to finish 8-4 and in third place in CUSA East.[br /][br /][h2]Dec. 26[/h2][br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]Miami became the first team in FBS history to start a season 0-6 and finish it 6-0. The Redhawks surged behind sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland, who took the reins midseason after returning from a spring injury. Miami's first bowl assignment since 2010 will be a tall order against SEC entrant Mississippi State, who clinched a bowl berth at 5-7 with a season-ending whipping of Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl and an APR score strong enough to earn the Bulldogs' seventh consecutive postseason appearance, one of only two awarded to five-win squads this year.[br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]Boston College would have cracked the postseason lineup at 5-7 thanks to a sky-high APR score, but the Eagles moved to 6-6 with a road win at Wake Forest, winning consecutive ACC games for just the third time since 2010. Maryland started the season 4-0 but needed a season-ending home win over Rutgers to earn a bowl berth at 6-6. Boston College won seven of nine in this series when the two were ACC league-mates from 2005 to 2014.[br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris: [/b] Vanderbilt earned the first bowl berth of third-year coach Derek Mason's tenure with a convincing win over Tennessee in the season finale. The Commodores beat NC State in the 2012 Music City Bowl. This year's Pack edition was Dave Doeren's fourth, and like Vandy, used a season-ending upset win over an in-state rival, North Carolina, to reach the postseason at 6-6.[br /][br /][h2]Dec. 27[/h2][br /][Ads /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]North Texas thought it had blown its chance at the postseason when it lost at UTEP to close the season, but the Mean Green got a reprieve thanks to its high APR score and became one of just two bowl-bound 5-7 teams. Army sits at 6-5 entering its season-ending game with Navy. The Black Knights played a Texas team in the Metroplex when they last bowled in 2010, beating SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl. North Texas' last bowl appearance was a win over UNLV in this game in 2013.[br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]American Athletic Conference champion Temple returns to the scene of its last game, a 34-10 win over Navy in the AAC title game. The Owls are gunning for the first 11-win season in school history. Wake Forest clinched a bowl berth back in Week 11, then lost three straight to finish at 6-6. It's the Deacs' first bowl berth since Jim Grobe's last six-win campaign in 2011, which ended in a Music City Bowl loss to Mississippi State.[br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]Minnesota was one of the trio of 5-7 teams invited to last year's postseason party, each of which won its bowl game. The Gophers knocked off Central Michigan in Detroit to close 2015 and rode that momentum to an 8-4 mark this year and the school's second winning record in Big Ten play since 2003. Washington State was in the driver's seat for its first Pac-12 championship since 2002 all the way up to the season's final week, but the Cougars couldn't get past Washington in the Apple Cup, finishing 8-4 and alone in second place in the Pac-12 North.[br /][br /][img SRC="" ][br /][br /][b]Will Harris:[/b]Baylor started a trying season 6-0 before losing quarterback Seth Russell and six straight games, four by at least three scores. Interim coach Jim Grobe and Art Briles' former assistants will guide the Bears one last time in the bowl game. Former WAC overlord Boise State won 10 games for the 14th time in 18 seasons but still has just one outright conference title since moving up to the Mountain West in 2011. Third-year coach Bryan Harsin has thus far continued predecessor Chris Petersen's record of strong bowl performances, beating 12th-ranked Arizona and demolishing MAC power Northern Illinois in his first two postseason chances.[br /][br /][h2][url TARGET="_blank" HREF="" ]Bowl betting guide[/url] | [url TARGET="_blank" HREF="" ]Vegas Rankings[/url] | [url TARGET="_blank" HREF="" ]Betting nuggets[/url][/h2]