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What You Need To Know About This Weekend’s Bowl Games

  • The Draft Network
  • December 15, 2021
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It’s officially bowl season, with eight college football bowl games highlighting this weekend’s schedule. Here are BetPrep’s key trends for all eight bowl matchups, starting with the Bahamas Bowl at 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee (+10) vs. Toledo

12:00 p.m. ET, Friday (O/U: 50.5)

You might be tempted to grab the points with the Blue Raiders in the first bowl game of the season, but Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill is just 2-6 against the spread in his eight career bowl appearances. That record is among the worst for head coaches participating in bowls (minimum of five bowl appearances).

As for Toledo, the Rockets appeared in the Bahamas Bowl back in 2018 and lost 35-32 to Florida International. Toledo was a seven7-point favorite and blew a 10-0 first-quarter lead.

Middle Tennessee Key Trends

  • The Blue Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their last six bowl games.
  • Middle Tennessee is 1-7 ATS in its last eight games played in December.
  • The Blue Raiders are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games.

Toledo Key Trends

  • The Rockets are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
  • Toledo is just 2-5-1 ATS in its last eight bowl games.
  • The Rockets are 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight bowl games.

Tailgreeter Cure Bowl: Northern Illinois (+10.5) vs. Coastal Carolina

6:00 p.m. ET, Friday (O/U: 63.5)

For a second straight season, Coastal Carolina put up double-digit wins under coach Jamey Chadwell. The Chanticleers finished with a 10-2 record, losing by a combined five points in their two defeats. Quarterback Grayson McCall completed 73% of his passes this season for 2,558 yards and 23 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

On the other side, Northern Illinois is coming off a 41-23 rout of Kent State in the MAC Championship Game, covering easily as a 3.5-point underdog. The Huskies covered in three of their last four games and in four of their last six overall. One of their ATS losses came on November 23 when QB Rocky Lombardi did not play against Western Michigan. NIU lost that game 41-21 as a seven-point underdog.

Northern Illinois Key Trends

  • Northern Illinois is 3-14 ATS in its last 17 games in December.
  • The Huskies are 0-6 ATS in their last six bowl games.
  • NIU is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games overall.

Coastal Carolina Key Trends

  • The Chanticleers are 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall.
  • Coastal Carolina is 11-4 ATS in its last 15 non-conference games.
  • The Over is 14-6 in the Chanticleers’ last 20 non-conference games.

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky (+3) vs. Appalachian State

11:00 a.m. ET, Saturday (O/U: 67.5)

Western Kentucky enters this year’s bowl season on a 5-1 ATS run over its last six games. That said, the Hilltoppers’ lone ATS loss over that span came against UTSA as a 3.5-point favorite in the Conference USA title game.

The Mountaineers are also coming off a loss in a conference championship, as they fell 24-16 to UL Lafayette in the Sun Belt title game. After covering in five straight games, Appalachian State has dropped two straight against the number.

Western Kentucky Key Trends

  • The Hilltoppers 1-6 ATS in their last seven games versus Sun Belt opponents.
  • Western Kentucky is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog.
  • The Hilltoppers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight-up loss.

Appalachian State Key Trends

  • The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five neutral site games as a favorite.
  • App State is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games overall.
  • The Mountaineers are 1-5 ATS in its last six games versus Conference USA opponents.

PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl: UTEP (+11.5) vs. Fresno State

2:15 p.m. ET, Saturday (O/U: 51)

Fresno State went 9-3 during the regular season but won’t have head coach Kalen DeBoer and might not have starting quarterback Jake Haener for Saturday’s bowl matchup against UTEP. DeBoer parlayed his success at Fresno into a head-coaching job at Washington, while Haener has entered the transfer portal. If he doesn’t play, Logan Fife or Jaylen Henderson would start under center for the Bulldogs.

As for the Miners, they got off to a 5-1 start but slumped at the end, finishing 7-5 on the year. They failed to cover in three of their last four games.

UTEP Key Trends

  • The Miners are 1-4 ATS in their last five games against Mountain West opponents.
  • UTEP is winless ATS in its last four bowl games.
  • The Over has cashed in four of the Miners’ last five games overall.

Fresno State Key Trends

  • The Bulldogs are 2-6 ATS in their last eight bowl games.
  • Fresno State is 1-4 ATS in its last five bowl games as a favorite.
  • The Under is 24-11 in the Bulldogs’ last 35 games following a win.

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl: UAB (+7) vs. BYU

3:30 p.m. ET, Saturday (O/U: 54.5)

Following three straight bowl losses between 2013 and 2015, the Cougars have won three of their last four bowl matchups, including last year’s 49-23 romp of UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl. Their lone bowl loss over the past four years came in the Hawaii Bowl against Hawaii in 2019.

It’s been the opposite for UAB in terms of bowl success. The Blazers have only appeared in four bowl games, although their three bowl appearances have come under current head coach Bill Clark. They knocked off Northern Illinois 37-13 in the 2018 Boca Raton Bowl, but suffered losses to Ohio (41-6) in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl and to Appalachian State (31-17) in the 2019 New Orleans Bowl.

UAB Key Trends

  • The Blazers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as an underdog.
  • UAB is 4-0 ATS versus a team with a winning record.
  • The Under is 15-5-1 in the Blazers’ last 21 games as an underdog.

BYU Key Trends

  • The Cougars are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.
  • BYU is 2-5 ATS in its last seven bowl games.
  • The Under is 29-13 in Cougars’ last 42 games following a straight-up win.

LendingTree Bowl: Eastern Michigan (+9.5) vs. Liberty

5:45 p.m. ET, Saturday (O/U: 58.5)

Liberty has only participated in two bowl games in the history of its program, but both appearances came under head coach Hugh Freeze the last two years. In both instances, the Flames also came away victorious. They beat Georgia Southern 23-16 in the 2019 Cure Bowl, then returned to the same bowl a year later and knocked off Coastal Carolina 37-34 in overtime.

The Eagles, meanwhile, have not had much success in their bowl games, especially recently. They fell 24-20 to Old Dominion in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl, to Georgia Southern 23-21 in the 2018 Camellia Bowl and to Pittsburgh 34-30 in the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl. The good news? EMU covered in all three of those games.

Eastern Michigan Key Trends

  • The Eagles’ are 28-13 ATS in their last 41 games as an underdog.
  • EMU is 15-6 ATS in its last 21 non-conference games.
  • The Under is 5-2 in Eagles’ last seven games as an underdog.

Liberty Key Trends

  • The Flames are 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall.
  • The Flames are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
  • The Under is 5-1 in Flames’ last six vs. a team with a winning record.

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel: Utah State (+7) vs. Oregon State

7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday (O/U: 67.5)

If you follow conference trends when it comes to bowl season, then you’ll want to fade the Beavers on Saturday night.

Pac-12 teams are 8-22-1 ATS in bowl games since 2016, which is the worst cover percentage among any FBS conference over that span according to ESPN.com. Six Pac-12 schools will play in a bowl game this season, but only Oregon State is an underdog as of this writing.

Conversely, since 2000, Mountain West teams are 12-5-1 ATS as underdogs of six points or more in bowl games, which includes a perfect 5-0 ATS record since 2016. That trend applies to the Aggies on Saturday night, who are currently seven-point dogs against the Beavers.

Utah State Key Trends

  • The Aggies are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
  • Utah State is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog.
  • The Aggies are also 10-4 ATS in their last 14 non-conference games.

Oregon State Key Trends

  • The Beavers are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games.
  • Oregon State is 11-3 ATS in its last 14 games coming off a loss.
  • The Beavers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games coming off an ATS loss.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: UL Lafayette (-5) vs. Marshall 

9:15 p.m. ET, Saturday (O/U: 55)

From 2011 through 2016, the Ragin’ Cajuns appeared in five straight New Orleans Bowl games. For the first time since 2016, UL Lafayette will make its return to the New Orleans Bowl when it takes on Marshall on Saturday night. Under coach Billy Napier, the Ragin’ Cajuns are 2-1 straight up in bowl games, but are winless ATS over that span.

It’s been the opposite for the Thundering Herd, who are an impressive 7-2 against the spread in their last nine bowl games. In eight of those nine games, they were coached by their current head man, Doc Holliday.

UL Lafayette Key Trends

  • The Ragin' Cajuns are 0-4 ATS in their last four bowl games.
  • UL Lafayette is 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as a favorite.
  • The Ragin' Cajuns are 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.

Marshall Key Trends

  • The Thundering Herd is 7-2 ATS in their last nine bowl games.
  • Marshall is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games coming off a loss.
  • The Over is 22-5 in the Thundering Heard’s last 27 non-conference games.

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