NCAA Football: Best Early Bowl Odds and Matchups

The most important part of the college football season has finally arrived. All the teams have been chosen for the 40 FBS bowl games on this year’s schedule – including the four teams who will compete in the College Football Playoff. With so many people lining up to bet on NCAA bowl games, this is easily the best time of the year to make some quick cash with sharp picks.

Have you figured out your picks yet? NCAA football odds for all of these games (except the National Championship Game, for now) are available at Bovada Sportsbook; here are the 10 early bowl games we think are most worth paying attention to, with their odds at press time attached.

NCAA Odds: Best Early Bowl Odds and Matchups

1. Holiday Bowl: No. 22 USC Trojans vs No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes

Friday, December 27 at 8 PM ET, SDCCU Stadium (San Diego, California), FS1

Iowa –2; O/U 55.5

Bowl game betting is even more fun when two ranked teams are involved. The Hawkeyes (9-3 SU, 5-7 ATS) are the favorites coming out of the Big Ten, which was the strongest of the Power Five conferences this year; however, the Trojans (8-4 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) actually played a tougher schedule despite the relative weakness of the Pac-12. That experience could help USC put a halt to their four-game ATS losing streak in bowl games.

2. Texas Bowl: No. 25 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs Texas A&M Aggies

Friday, December 27 at 6:45 PM ET, NRG Stadium (Houston, Texas), ESPN

Texas A&M –7; O/U 54

The Aggies (7-5 SU and ATS) almost cracked the Top 25 – their five losses were against very stiff competition – but it looks like they’re overvalued on the NCAA football lines, representing the SEC in this matchup against the Cowboys (8-4 SU, 8-3-1 ATS) of the Big 12. QB Spencer Sanders could return for Oklahoma State after having thumb surgery last month. Will RB Chuba Hubbard join him, or sit out to protect his NFL Draft status?

3. Las Vegas Bowl: No. 19 Boise State Broncos vs Washington Huskies

Saturday, December 21 at 7:30 PM ET, Sam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas, Nevada), ABC

Washington –3.5; O/U 50

This is a reunion of sorts for the Broncos (12-1 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) and former head coach Chris Petersen, who will step away from the Huskies (7-5 SU and ATS) after this game. Boise State remain one of the better mid-major programs with Bryan Harsin at the helm, and while they didn’t face much competition in the Mountain West, the Broncos always seem to get up for these bowl games against the Pac-12; they beat Washington 28-26 at the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl as 4.5-point favorites.

4. Boca Raton Bowl: Southern Methodist Mustangs at Florida Atlantic Owls

Saturday, December 21 at 3:30 PM ET, FAU Stadium (Boca Raton, Florida), ABC

SMU –3.5; O/U 70.5

The Mustangs (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) also came very close to being ranked at the end of the regular season, but they slowed down a bit and dropped four of their last five games ATS. Unfortunately for the Owls (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS), head coach Lane Kiffin has left the program to take over at Ole Miss – and they’ve replaced him with Willie Taggart, who was fired last month by Florida State. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, who was reportedly the players’ choice for the job, will coach FAU for this bowl game.

5. Bahamas Bowl: Buffalo Bulls vs Charlotte 49ers

Friday, December 20 at 1 PM ET, Thomas Robinson Stadium (Nassau, Bahamas), ESPN

Buffalo –6.5; O/U 58

Bowl season kicks off in the Bahamas with what should be a historic game for one of these teams. It’s the first time the 49ers (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) have ever gone bowling, while the Bulls (7-5 SU and ATS) are looking for their first postseason victory. Although Buffalo have the stronger team on paper, they also come from the MAC, which was the weakest conference in the FBS this year – even worse than Conference USA, where Charlotte faced a more difficult schedule.

6. Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs Brigham Young Cougars

Tuesday, December 24 at 8 PM ET, Aloha Stadium (Honolulu, Hawaii), ESPN

BYU –2; O/U 63.5

It’s nice to have your bowl game at your own stadium, but the Warriors (9-5 SU, 7-7 ATS) are just 1-3 SU and ATS in this spot since June Jones left as their head coach after the 2007 season. The Cougars (7-5 SU, 4-8 ATS) played one of the tougher schedules among the independent FBS teams, and tougher than what Hawaii faced in the Mountain West, but still nothing to write home about. At the very least, this should be an entertaining high-scoring game between two evenly-matched teams.

7. Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State Spartans vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Friday, December 27 at 3:20 PM ET, Yankee Stadium (New York City, New York), ESPN

MSU –4.5; O/U 49

It’s been 10 years since the first “Yankee Bowl” was held in the Bronx, four days after they were hit by an epic blizzard; it’s too early to say what the conditions will be like this year, but the Spartans (6-6 SU, 3-9 ATS) should have at least some advantage over the Demon Deacons (8-4 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) if Old Man Winter rolls through again. Otherwise, Wake Forest are one of just nine FBS teams to win bowl games in each of the past three seasons, and they’re 5-1 ATS in their last six postseason appearances.

8. Military Bowl: North Carolina Tar Heels vs Temple Owls

Friday, December 27 at 12 PM ET, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, Maryland), ESPN

UNC –4.5; O/U 53

This was one of last year’s most exciting bowl games, but it’ll be up to the Owls (8-4 SU and ATS) to prove they can get the job done for head coach Rod Carey, who lost each of his six postseason games SU and ATS as head coach at Northern Illinois between 2012-18. The Tar Heels (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS) played the tougher schedule of the two this year, even if the ACC played at a worse level overall than the AAC.

9. Cure Bowl: Liberty Flames vs Georgia Southern Eagles

Saturday, December 21 at 2:30 PM ET, Exploria Stadium (Orlando, Florida), CBSSN

Georgia Southern –4.5; O/U 58.5

This game is all about the offense. Liberty (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) are going bowling in their first year of eligibility since moving up from the FCS in 2018; their head coach is Hugh Freeze, who enjoyed success at Ole Miss before resigning three years ago as part of the larger scandal involving himself and the previous head coach, Houston Nutt. The Eagles (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS), meanwhile, have returned to their traditional triple-option offense under second-year coach Chad Lunsford. This is the same school that produced Paul Johnson (Navy, Georgia Tech) and Jeff Monken (Army), both masters of the flexbone.

10. Camellia Bowl: Florida International Panthers vs Arkansas State Red Wolves

Saturday, December 21 at 5:30 PM ET, Cramton Bowl (Montgomery, Alabama), ESPN

Arkansas State –3; O/U 63

Again, don’t be put off by the lack of marquee names in this matchup – they should both bring plenty of offense to the table. The Panthers (6-6 SU, 4-8 ATS) pulled off an incredible 30-24 upset over the Miami Hurricanes (–21.5 at home) in Week 13, while the Red Wolves (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) were second in the Sun Belt at 305.3 yards passing per game, even with freshman Layne Hatcher taking over at quarterback for the injured Logan Bonner.

*Odds as of December 19, 2019