By: Travis Pulver
NCAA Football Bowl Game Odds: Who is Not Going Bowling This Year?
If you are looking for a game to watch late in the season, try watching one featuring two five-win teams. Players from both sides are going to enter the game thinking about one thing—win and qualify for a bowl game.
Win and they get to play one more game.
Every year, there are several teams in that situation. Several more win a couple of games by the skin of their teeth and qualify for a bowl with seven or eight wins. While Lady Luck may have smiled down on them last year, maybe they will not be a fortunate this year.
NCAA Football Bowl Game Odds: From Bowling to Not Bowling?
For many teams, the difference between earning a bowl bid and not earning one can be something as simple as one game, one busted play, or one key player on offense or defense. Fortune may shine on them one year but not the next.
When that crucial superstar or two moves on to the NFL or graduates, a good enough team can quickly become a bottom-feeder. Maybe this year, instead of being part of the 60 percent that goes bowling, they are part of the 40 percent that does not.
Odds are for teams to make a bowl game (odds via FoxBet.com):
- Tulane Yes +100 No -120
The Green Wave got off to a good start last year, going 5-1 in the first half of the season. But then a 1-5 slide in the second turned a promising season into one that barely made them bowl eligible. Part of the problem was the defense failing to get the job done.
The other part was the inconsistent play of quarterback Justin McMillan.
Some experts are high on Tulane because of the depth at running back and some of the talents they have at wide receiver. No one seems to think McMillan will be the starting quarterback this season—which could be a good or a bad thing.
Do you really want to back a team that experts say will be better just because returning players got experience last season? Experienced sub-par players could become decent players. But they could just as easily remain sub-par.
- Nevada Yes -167 No +138
The Wolf Pack were not a bad team last year (7-5), but when they were bad—they were terrible. Four of their five losses can best be described as ‘embarrassing’ while the other gave UNLV its fourth win of the year.
Offensively, they could be a lot better this season, but only if quarterback Carson Strong can continue to develop after a good but inconsistent freshman season. Most of the starting offense is back, which is usually a good thing.
But if the defense can’t play better, they could easily go from being a 7-5 team to 5-7.
The Demon to Pay Attention to for this Year’s NCAA Football Bowl Odds
- Wake Forest Yes +333 No -450
For a team that has gone to four straight bowl games, it would be shocking to see the Demon Deacons miss out this year. But with all the personnel losses head coach Dave Clawson will have to cover for, the idea becomes a lot less shocking.
The offense has to practically be rebuilt after losing the starting quarterback, best running back and wide receiver, three linemen, and tight end. On the defensive side, the losses are not as numerous, but could still loom large (two starting cornerbacks and the team’s best linebacker).
With depth being a severe issue in the last two seasons, do you really want to trust that Clawson will be able to fill all the holes?
- Boston College Yes +150 No -182
The Eagles have been a fixture in bowling games in recent years, going to six in the last seven seasons. However, to become eligible last year, they needed a win over a decent but unimpressive Pitt team (which they got).
The big problem last year was the defense. But the school is hoping new head coach and former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley can turn that around. After being a run dominant team in recent years, the offense will look to throw a lot more under new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, Jr.
Can a new head coach turn his defense around in one year? It’s possible, but usually takes a year or two of recruiting the right players. Can a running team become a good passing team in one season? That task is going to be a lot harder.
- Temple Yes +135 No -162
The Owls were a good team last season that finished 8-4 in the regular season last year. With a record like that, Temple would appear to be a good bet to go bowling again this year. However, while the offense has quite a few starters returning, it was not too impressive last season.
But when the defense holds seven opponents to 17 points or less (in which they went 6-1), the offense does not have to be great. However, the defense they counted on last year has been gutted. They lost their two new defensive ends, starting linebackers, and a pair of defensive backs.
If the offense can step up, maybe they can cover for the defense while it figures out who it can count on.
- Florida Atlantic Yes -900 No +600
On the one hand, the Owls are one of the last teams that should miss out on bowl season this year. They’ve won their conference in two of the previous three seasons, including last year (when they won 11 games). They have a good quarterback coming back in Chris Robison and a lot of depth at running back.
It sounds like a recipe for success, right?
Maybe, but the offensive line has to be revamped, and they don’t have much at wide receiver. Combine that with the loss of seven defensive starters and head coach Lane Kiffin, and the recipe for a fall from grace is most certainly present.