We hope everyone is as excited about the college football season as we are in the Tuley’s Takes home office. This is usually one the most profitable times of the year for yours truly (and I’m not even talking about the thank-you holiday gifts LOL!) with our bets and also the bowl contests that we love to enter. Bowl season is usually pretty, pretty good to us as we can usually find edges in the matchups, plus the market often overreacts to news and there’s usually plenty of betting opportunities along the way.
We closed out the regular season last week with a winning Best Bet in the Army-Navy game with a 2-team, 6-point teaser on Navy +8.5/Under 33.5, cashing when Army won just 17-11. We mentioned that we never give out teasers in college football (couldn’t remember last time, if ever), but it certainly made sense this time, and we got paid.
Our Best Bets finished the regular season at a slightly profitable 28-24-2 (53.8%) for a net profit of 1.6 units based on laying the standard -110.
As promised in last week’s column, we’ll give our “takes” on the bowl games that run on Thursdays (when these columns are posted at VSiN.com) and through the following Wednesday, so here are our plays for this opening week (we don’t have a play on next Thursday’s Boca Raton Bowl between Syracuse and South Florida as we feel the favored Orange is the right side, so this is technically through Thursday, Dec. 21).
Myrtle Beach Bowl
Saturday, Dec. 16, 11 a.m. ET
As a graduate of Northern Illinois in 1988 (and planning to attend a reunion at our student newspaper, The Northern Star, next fall), I’ve always followed the MAC closely. Ohio is the better team here, but oddsmakers made Georgia Southern the favorite because Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke entered the transfer portal. (Breaking news: Rourke announced Thursday that he’s taking his talents across the border to Indiana in the Big Ten.)
Regular readers of mine know that we often like to take teams that lose a QB or have a coach fired as the “next man up” mentality usually kicks in and the rest of the team usually picks up the slack, too. Besides, Ohio mostly relies on its defense anyway (note: Georgia Southern QBs have also thrown a whopping 17 INTs) and should keep them in the game throughout. So, getting more than a field goal is too much to pass up. I don’t often look at bowl Over/Unders, but with my expectation that the Ohio defense will be the best unit on the field, plus more opt-outs on the offensive side of the ball, Under 49 is probably the better bet. We’ll make two separate bets instead of a parlay.
Picks: Ohio +3.5 and Under 49
Saturday, Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m. ET
Both starting QBs for these teams are in the transfer portal (such is the reality of CFB 2023), so this is a coin-flip game in my book. And I’m talking about the straight-up result, so we have value with Boise State plus the points. I know first-time bowl coaches don’t fare well (see my VSiN colleague Steve Makinen’s pieces), but Spencer Danielson has been named Boise’s full-time head coach after three games as interim and feel the Broncos will play for him just like they did in closing the regular season with wins over Utah State (45-10), Air Force (27-19) and UNLV (44-20). I expect him to ride his main horse, RB Ashton Jeanty (1,262 yards, 7 TDs), to the minor upset or at least cover in a close loss.
Pick: Boise State +4.5
Famous Toastery Bowl
Monday, Dec. 18, 2:20 p.m. ET
Unless we’re missing something, the wrong team is favored here. Old Dominion barely became bowl-eligible with a 25-24 win over Georgia State after trailing 21-0 at halftime. Western Kentucky had a disappointing season after returning the nation’s leading passer Austin Reed (I’ve been a fan of this offense since Bailey Zappe was there), as the Hilltoppers finished 7-5 and didn’t contend for the Conference USA title as expected. However, Reed still threw for 3,300 yards, with 11 TDs going to Malachi Corley. We just don’t see Old Dominion’s offense keeping up, especially if starting slow like its last game, plus WKU should keep its foot on the gas to prevent a comeback.
Pick: Western Kentucky +2.5