By: Travis Pulver
NCAA Football Odds for Bowl Games: Who IS Going Bowling?
At one time, there were only a handful of bowl games every year in college football. But as the number of games grew (currently 40 with 78 slots to fill), what it took to qualify for one became easier. Teams use to need at least a winning record. But now 6-6 teams and even 5-7 ones can get invites.
So, if it is that easy to go to a bowl game, why do teams still care about them?
Bowl games give every team another chance to end their season on a high note, with a win. For seniors, it means an opportunity to play one more time before hanging the shoulder pads up for good. As for underclassmen, ending the season with a win means they head into the offseason with hope for next year.
For a team trying to rise from the ashes, making a bowl game is a sign that you are doing something right. You may still be far from being a conference or title contender, but at least you are on the right track.
While the Bahamas Bowl, Frisco Bowl, Camellia Bowl, Quick Lane Bowl, and Redbox Bowl don’t have the prestige the Rose Bowl has, the teams that played in those games last season were probably ecstatic to do so.
So— who is going to go bowling this season?
College Football Bowl Game Odds: Any Newcomers Out There?
It is not too hard to figure out many of the teams that will be bowl-bound at the season’s end. Many, if not most, of the usual suspects will probably qualify again. However, it is not as easy to figure out who the newcomers are going to be.
Of the 50 teams that did not go bowling last season, which ones have a good shot at qualifying this season (odds via FoxBet.com)?
- Army Yes -286 No +225
Army loves to control the ball on the ground and play good defense. If the other team does not touch the ball much, they can’t score much. It worked very well in 2018 when they went 11-2. But t did not so go well last year when they went 5-8.
However, four of their losses were by a touchdown or less. Had one or two more plays gone their way, they could have easily gotten the one win they would have needed to become eligible.
This season they will be replacing a few key players on both sides of the ball. But they have guys ready to step in that could do the job. As close as they were to becoming bowl eligible last season, it is not hard to see them winning one more game and becoming eligible this season.
- West Virginia Yes +275 No -350
With a new coaching staff and quite a few new starters, expectations were low for the Mountaineer in 2019. But considering the circumstances, a 5-7 finish was not too bad. Five of the losses were bad, but two were by a touchdown or less.
So, they were not too far from being bowl eligible last year.
Both sides of the ball are going to be a lot better this year, with quite a few starters coming back for both units. But the offensive line and running game are going to be significant question marks heading into the season.
Assuming the returners are better, they could steal another win from a Big 12 opponent. However, there are several good teams in the Big 12 this season. So, that will be easier said than done.
Some Old School Football Teams to Look at for NCAA Football Odds and Bowl Games
- Syracuse Yes +220 No -275
Not much was expected of the Orange last season as the team was in a rebuilding year. But the talent was there to do better than they did. While they did finish with a 5-7 record, they struggled to move the ball and had just as much trouble stopping opponents.
If the running game can pick up where it left off last season, and the offensive line can give quarterback Tommy DeVito a little time, there is hope for the offense. However, the defense has a lot of work to do in the front seven.
But as long as the offensive line and defense can improve, they could get the one additional win they need to become bowl eligible.
- Rice Yes +155 No -188
The Owls were a young team playing a brutal schedule last season, and it showed in their 3-9 finish. But those three wins all came at the end of the season, giving the appearance that things finally came together.
If that is indeed the case, and that young team can pick up where they left off when the new season starts, they could win six or seven games this season. At the same time, it is not hard to imagine them struggling to another 3-9 finish, too.
- Oregon State Yes +275 No -350
The Beavers took quite a few steps in the right direction last season but failed to become bowl eligible when they lost three of their last four (5-7 record). On the defensive side, they have quite a few starters returning on a good overall unit from last season.
But the problem will be on the offensive side of the ball as they try to replace their quarterback, their No.1 running back, and No.1 receiver. Their offensive line is going to need some work, too. However, if they can, they will have a good shot at getting that elusive sixth win and returning to the postseason.