The college football postseason kicks off this week with the start of 40 bowl games kicking off Friday night. Bowl season eases us into the action, with the smaller games and weaker teams going first. That means plenty of teams that just squeaked past the postseason cut. Here’s a look at some handicapping tips and teams to be wary of when capping the college football bowl odds this week:
Kent State Golden Flashes (6-6- SU, 8-4 ATS)
The Golden Flashes are playing in one of two bowl games on Opening Night of bowl season, taking on the Utah State Aggies as touchdown underdogs in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl on Friday, Dec. 20.
The Golden Flashes got hot at the end of the season, finishing with a three-game winning streak including a season-ending victory over East Michigan that gave Kent State its all-important sixth win – making it eligible for a bowl game. That hot streak also paid out for football bettors as well, with KSU closing 2019 on a four-game ATS tear.
It will be three weeks off before the Golden Flashes return to action against the Aggies Friday. Kent State enters this game in Frisco, Texas as 120th-ranked defense and allowing more than 31 points per game. Utah State can fill up the scoreboard with a strong passing game and an offense scoring 28.3 points per outing on the season.
Florida International Golden Panthers (6-6 SU, 4-8 ATS)
Florida International had a chance to make it to seven wins in the season finale but fell for a big letdown versus Marshall a week removed from its upset over Miami as a 21-point underdog. The Golden Panthers had to settle for a spot in the Camellia Bowl where they take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves as 2.5-point pups on Dec. 21.
FIU has one of the worst rushing defenses in college football, giving up more than 205 yards on the ground per game and 5.2 yards per carry. That’s led to a poor time of possession for the Panthers offense (28:21 average TOP), which struggled down the home stretch of the season and averaged only 21 points over the final five games.
Arkansas State doesn’t pose too much of a threat with the run game but can get downfield in a hurry with the passing offense, which averages 305.3 yards through the air per contests. Receiver Omar Bayless and freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher were one of the best passing tandems in the country. If this game turns into a shootout, FIU will have trouble keeping up with Arkansas State’s fire power.
Miami Hurricanes (6-6, 6-6 ATS)
The Hurricanes are not used to this. Miami, which challenged for the ACC last season and had hoped to stay competitive in the conference in 2019, is settling for a spot in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl on Dec. 26. Miami is a 6-point favorite versus the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The Hurricanes lost their final two games of the regular season, falling to FIU in a huge upset and then losing to Duke in the season finale. Miami’s once-vaunted defense crumbled at the end of the season, allowing an average of 360 yards and 28 points against during that span. That’s a severe collapse when compared to the Canes season averages of 307.8 yards allowed and just 20.8 points against.
Miami finds itself as the favorite in this “neutral site” game, which just so happens to be held just an hour from Louisiana Tech’s campus in Ruston. The Bulldogs stumbled a bit toward the end of the schedule but beat UTSA in the last game of the season to get a nod for this bowl matchup. They will test that broken Miami defense with an offense that scores 34 points per outing.