Bowl season college football best bets and predictions
We’re nearing the end of the college football season and VSiN has been pumping out more content for it than ever. All of our college football stories and resources are available at our bowl season CFB Bet Hub, and we’re doing individual bowl game betting previews for every single bowl game. So, that’s a page you’ll want to bookmark and refresh on a daily basis. That’s also where you’ll get best bets from all of my incredibly talented colleagues. However, I’m going to be putting all of my bowl game best bets in this column, which I’ll be updating over the next couple of weeks. That said, you’ll want to keep coming back here to get my favorite picks for the most exciting time of the year.
Losing Laiatu Latu (13 sacks) is going to hurt the UCLA pass rush, but the Bruins are actually in good shape as far as opt-outs and transfers go. That means UCLA will have most of its starters playing, and that’s significant considering this was the 15th-best scoring defense in the country. This Bruins defense is borderline elite and I think they’ll be fine even without defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn here. Lynn is one of the brightest defensive minds in college football, but he was hired away by the USC Trojans a few weeks ago. But the fact of the matter here is that the Bruins have talent all over the field, and it’s Pac-12 level talent. That should be overwhelming for a Broncos team that is down to third-string quarterback CJ Tiller under center. The freshman has never played a college snap.
Of course, I should mention that Boise State’s defense can be rather good. But this is a lot of time to be giving Chip Kelly, a brilliant offensive coach, time to prepare for an opponent. And it’s not like UCLA will be working in a new quarterback. Ethan Garbers will be getting the nod after a season in which he threw for 984 yards with nine touchdowns and three picks in mostly five games. I think Garbers will have a good game here, and I also think the Bruins will run all over the Broncos — with or without Carson Steele. On top of all of that, Kelly is an experienced football coach and has been part of huge games in the past. Boise State head coach Spencer Danielson did well enough to have his interim tag removed, but this is a tricky time of year and he might not know how to get his team prepared. It’s also just a little hard to ignore that this game will be played in Los Angeles. The Bruins should be plenty comfortable with their surroundings.
Bet: UCLA -4 (-110) – WIN
After having gone 1-11 last season, going 6-6 and making it to a bowl game is a huge success for South Florida. So, I expect the Bulls to be fired up in this game, as even becoming bowl eligible seemed like a long shot before the season. That said, South Florida should be excited about playing in this game and potentially finishing above .500. The same can’t be said for Syracuse, which fired Dino Babers a few weeks ago. This program is heading in the wrong direction after having gone 10-3 in 2018, and these players probably feel like playing in Boca is a letdown after opening the season with a 4-0 record.
It’s just hard to ignore the fact that South Florida should be the more motivated team here, and this matchup should also be great for the Bulls on the field. Over the last two seasons, the Orange are 0-6 ATS when facing teams that average at least 425.0 yards per game. They have lost those games by an average of 23.7 points per game, and that speaks to Syracuse’s inability to keep up against high octane offenses. Well, that shouldn’t be any different here, as the Orange were just 92nd in EPA per play this season. And overall, I don’t think Garrett Shrader is a good enough quarterback to give his team a chance to win against Byrum Brown and an explosive South Florida offense.
The Bulls play an uptempo style and Brown is one of the more electric dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. His ability to extend plays should be a real problem for the Orange in this one. This is a guy that is coming off a game in which he threw for 253 yards with four touchdowns and also rushed for 43 yards and a score against Charlotte. He has had quite a few massive games for this team, and I think he’ll do his thing in the Boca Bowl. Not only do I like USF to cover the spread here, but I also think the team will win outright.
Bet: USF ML (+130)
2023 Record: 54-56-1 (+2.18 units)