The bowl season began Friday (Dec. 16) with the Bahamas Bowl, and now we’re into the home stretch, including the college football semifinals on Saturday. We here at Home Field Sports decided to have a little fun with our second annual Bowl Pick ’Em, which offers no prizes whatsoever, but plenty of bragging rights.
We offered you our picks with Part 1 which went through the games on Dec. 29, and here we are with our second part that runs through Monday, Jan. 2.
Sports Betting Director Zach Ewing and staff writers Jim Derry, Spencer Urquhart and Gabe Henderson are having a little competition for fun, and we thought we’d let our readers in on the action.
Each of us has started with $1,000 fake bucks, and we are making plays on each of the 42 bowl games, including the two aforementioned semifinal games. When it’s over, with whatever money we have left, we will each have a “Final Jeopardy” type pick, where we can bet all, some or none of our remaining bucks on the National Championship Game in Inglewood, Calif., on Jan. 9.
The winner will get to brag, while if you pay attention to who is hot, we can help you make a little REAL money.
Here are the final 13 bowl games on the list. If you want to go back and check out Part 1, you can do so by clicking here.
NOTE: These predictions are based on lines and spreads as of early afternoon on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Caesars Sportsbook.
2022-23 COLLEGE BOWL PREVIEW, PICKS (PART 2)
DUKE’S MAYO BOWL
NC State (8-4, -115) vs. Maryland (7-5, -105)
When/TV: Dec. 30, noon, ESPN
Line/Total: NC State +1, O/U 46
Zach Ewing: NC State has a strong defense, but Maryland boasts a better D than you think, too. The difference? The Terrapins can actually move the ball from time to time. How long before people actually learn that Tua’s little brother’s name is Taulia? The bet: Maryland ML (-105) for $31.50.
Jim Derry: The line has moved the way of the Wolfpack, and I know Maryland has had some opt-outs, but I think baby Tua still gets the job done. I’ll play this only to keep from being bored Friday morning. The bet: Maryland -105 for $21 to win $20.
Spencer Urquhart: Maryland was the early favorite here, but I’m going to follow the line movement and roll with NC State. Maryland has folded this season when facing tough competition, whereas NC State has competed in almost every game. The bet: NC State -1 for $33.
Gabe Henderson: I really don’t feel like stressing over the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Both teams are as inconsistent as they come, but they’re capable of greatness on their best days. I hate betting on anything NC State, as well, so I’ll stay away. The bet: None.
UCLA (9-3, -220) vs. Pittsburgh (8-4, +180)
Where: El Paso, Texas
When/TV: Dec. 30, 2 p.m. CBS
Line/Total: UCLA -5.5, O/U 53.5
Zach Ewing: Tough to gauge the motivation here for UCLA, which was in the College Football Playoff race all the way into mid-November and now finds itself in El Paso. The ACC was terrible this year, but Pitt might actually be underrated. The bet: Pittsburgh +5.5 for $22.
Jim Derry: It is tough to bet this line with as far as it has swung in the Bruins’ direction, but with the key opt-outs for the Panthers, it’s tough to look their way. I sort of like the under, because I don’t think Pittsburgh will be able to score all that much, but I will just stick with my original pick and take UCLA, who will have their top players on offense in the fold. The bet: UCLA -5.5 for $33.
Spencer Urquhart: UCLA struggled down the stretch, especially on defense, which isn’t ideal against a Pitt offense that found its rhythm in November. I’ll take the points with Pitt since they should be able to score enough to keep the game close even if UCLA’s offense lives up to its potential. The bet: Pittsburgh +5.5 for $11.
Gabe Henderson: Pittsburgh’s defense is a lot better than people tend to give the Panthers credit for. That said, UCLA can score at an alarming rate and the total is tempting. I’ll take the bait and bet the over for Tony the Tiger’s sake. The bet: Over 53.5 for $22.
South Carolina (8-4, +115) vs. Notre Dame (8-4, -135)
Where: Jacksonville, Fla.
When/TV: Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Line/Total: Notre Dame -2, O/U 52
Zach Ewing: Both teams were much better as the year went on. I can’t figure out South Carolina’s season for the life of me. Blown out by Arkansas. Beat Kentucky. Lose at home to Missouri. Blown out by Florida. Stun Tennessee and Clemson. The Gamecocks played great in their bowl game last year, though, so we’ll try to ride that wave of momentum. The bet: South Carolina +2 for $22.
Jim Derry: This very late line move tells me the sharps are on Notre Dame, and South Carolina indeed has quite a few opt-outs. However, the Irish strength is in their run defense, and the Gamecocks aren’t even going to pretend to run the football here. Assuming quarterback Spencer Rattler doesn’t decide to sit out at the last minute, I love the way USC has played as of late, and I think they have something to prove. The bet: South Carolina +115 for $20 to win $23.
Spencer Urquhart: South Carolina has been a tough team to gauge this season, but I see them carrying over their late-season momentum into this matchup. Notre Dame’s defense has been solid but can be scored upon, so I’ll bank on South Carolina’s SEC pedigree to give them enough of an edge to win outright. The bet: South Carolina ML +115 for $20 to win $22.
Gabe Henderson: Both teams had relatively disappointing seasons until they earned wins over Clemson to end the year. I’m not convinced that Notre Dame is two points better than South Carolina, but I’m also not convinced that the Gamecocks can come out and replicate their late-season performances. The Fighting Irish traditionally play well in bowl games, I like them to cover the small spread. The bet: Notre Dame -2 for $22.
Ohio (9-4, -130) vs. Wyoming (7-5, +110)
Where: Tucson, Ariz.
When/TV: Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m. Barstool Sports
Line/Total: Ohio -1.5, O/U 41
Zach Ewing: The MAC has been better than expected in bowl season, so we’ll bet against the line movement here and take the Bobcats. Better question: Will anyone bother finding the Barstool feed considering this game is at the same time as the Gator and Orange Bowls? The bet: Ohio -1.5 for $11.
Jim Derry: When I see unders this low, someone is begging me to take the over. I never was a good listener. The bet: Under 41 for $22.
Spencer Urquhart: I don’t have a lean either way with the spread due to Ohio missing their starting quarterback and Wyoming being inconsistent, but I’ll take the under since neither offense projects to light up the scoreboard. The bet: Under 41 for $33.
Gabe Henderson: Wyoming’s offense averages just under 21 points a game, which is horrendous given some of the opponents it played throughout the year. Ohio’s offense averages significantly more, but again, against the MAC. I don’t want to bet against the Mountain West during bowl season and the total for this game is awfully small — life’s too short. The bet: Over 41 for $22.
Tennessee (10-2, +170) vs. Clemson (11-2, -205)
Where: Miami Gardens, Fla.
When/TV: Dec. 30, 8 p.m. ESPN
Line/Total: Clemson -4.5, O/U 63.5
Zach Ewing: This line would have been completely shocking a month ago, with Clemson scuffling and Tennessee in the national title chase. Changes at quarterback for both teams, however, have changed the equation, with Hendon Hooker injured and Clemson finally turning to Cade Klubnik. Still, it’s hard to imagine the Volunteers getting blown out. The bet: Tennessee +4.5 for $33.
Jim Derry: Sorry Vols fans, but this might be the best value of the entire bowl season. Clemson is clearly a better football team than Tennessee, and I’m not sure what kind of push the Volunteers will even have here. Why do they care? Dabo Swinney has always put an emphasis on winning bowl games, and they’ll win this one … in a BIG way. The bet: Clemson -4.5 for $110.
Spencer Urquhart: Clemson is still a top 10 team in the country, but they’re not at the elite level that they usually are, which is why it’s puzzling to me why they’re favored by more than a field goal here. The line has shifted toward Tennessee and rightfully so, and I’ll roll with the Vols since they showed they could still put up points without Hendon Hooker. The bet: Tennessee +4.5 for $66.
Gabe Henderson: Tennessee will be without Hendon Hooker for this contest and Dabo Swinney finally made the change at quarterback that fans have been crying out for all season long. Clemson should be able to beat the Volunteers by more than a touchdown without the Heisman candidate under center. I liked the Tigers at the opening line of -6.5, I love them at -4.5. The bet: Clemson -4.5 for $33.
MUSIC CITY BOWL
Iowa (7-5, -135) vs. Kentucky (7-5, +115)
When/TV: Dec. 31, noon, ABC
Line/Total: Iowa -2, O/U 31
Zach Ewing: I can’t believe I’m betting an under 31. I also can’t believe the total for this game isn’t even lower than this. Will Levis opted out for Kentucky, and no team leans into its reputation more than Iowa. Neither team will reach 20. The bet: Under 31 for $33.
Jim Derry: Neither team can move the football. Both teams do a really good job of stopping the other from moving the football. OK, seems easy. The bet: Under 31 for $33.
Spencer Urquhart: Kentucky’s quarterback Will Levis will sit this one out, which explains why they’re underdogs against defensive-minded Iowa. While the total is absurdly low, I’ll bank on Iowa suffocating a Kentucky offense that scuffled down the stretch even with Levis. The bet: Parlay, Iowa -2 and under 31 for $30 to win $78.
Gabe Henderson: I’ve taken the bait and bet on Iowa games throughout the season to hit the low over totals — those were not smart decisions. Brian Ferentz is still the offensive coordinator at Iowa and Will Levis is opting out of this game. We’re in for an ugly football game. The bet: Under 31 for $11.
Alabama (10-2, -267) vs. Kansas State (10-3, +215)
Where: New Orleans
When/TV: Dec. 31, noon, ESPN
Line/Total: Alabama -6.5, O/U 56
Zach Ewing: Alabama has a reputation of rolling over in non-BCS/CFP bowl games (a Sugar Bowl loss to Utah comes to mind) but the Tide actually is 3-2 ATS in this situation under Nick Saban. Bryce Young and Will Anderson are both playing, which tells you everything you need to know about how Bama wants to finish. The bet: Alabama -6.5 for $44.
Jim Derry: I do not like – AT ALL – that I am with the betting public here, especially with the line moving so much in Alabama’s favor. But how can anyone like anything but the Crimson Tide here? Bryce Young decided to play for some unknown reason, along with many of his teammates. They ain’t comin’ to New Orleans to lose. Give me Alabama to beat Michigan in the first semifinal game. Wait, what? Kansas State? Sugar Bowl? Sigh. The bet: Alabama -6.5 for $55.
Spencer Urquhart: This line shifted dramatically toward Alabama with the news that star players Bryce Young and Will Anderson would play. This Alabama team isn’t at the level of excellence that Nick Saban teams usually possess, but they’ve got plenty enough juice to boat race a Big 12 school that lost to Tulane earlier in the year. The bet: Alabama -6.5 for $66.
Gabe Henderson: All of the talk about Alabama not being deserving of a playoff spot — they weren’t, sorry, Jim — will add fuel to the fire. It’s rat poison if you ask Nick Saban, the players will eat it up though. There’s no way Kansas State beats SEC teams in back-to-back years, right? Gimme the Crimson Tide against almost anybody in the country when Nick Saban has a month to prepare. The bet: Alabama -6.5 for $22.
FIESTA BOWL (NATIONAL SEMIFINALS)
No. 2 Michigan (13-0, -320) vs. No. 3 TCU (12-1, +250)
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
When/TV: Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ESPN
Line/Total: Michigan -7.5, O/U 58.5
Zach Ewing: Michigan’s beatdown of Ohio State was phenomenal, but the Wolverines’ résumé is awfully thin beyond that. Can they rise to that level again? TCU will force them to, especially if it comes down to covering a spread of more than a touchdown. The bet: TCU +7.5 for $33.
Jim Derry: Both of these teams have outstanding offenses, as Michigan ranks 27th in college football, while TCU is 16th. The Horned Frogs have likely a second-round draft pick and potential NFL starter in Max Duggan. And while the Wolverines’ defense is also outstanding, I am not sure they measure up to fully stop TCU, who shouldn’t even be here in the first place. (See the 22 points they allowed to Purdue and 23 to Ohio State.) I like Michigan to roll, but I love the over. The bet: Over 58.5 for $33 and parlay Michigan money line and over 58.5 for $20 to win $30.20.
Spencer Urquhart: This might be the toughest matchup of any handicap, as there’s a chance Michigan dominates from start to finish, but something tells me that this TCU team will keep it close. Michigan has the upper hand on defense, but they might struggle to score points without star running back Blake Corum and allow TCU’s passing attack to sneak up on them. The bet: TCU +7.5 for $22.
Gabe Henderson: TCU has a tendency to play teams close and, Ohio State aside, Michigan does too. There’s no telling how the Wolverines’ offense will look in this game without Blake Corum in the backfield. Both teams can score with the best of them, though, so I like them to reach at least 60 total points. The bet: Over 58.5 for $22.
PEACH BOWL (NATIONAL SEMIFINALS)
No. 1 Georgia (13-0, -267) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (11-1, +215)
When/TV: Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ESPN
Line/Total: Georgia -6.5, O/U 62
Zach Ewing: This is a tough one. If the spread were above 7, I’d like Ohio State a lot more. Analytics love the Buckeyes, and Georgia hasn’t played a team this good. Ohio State has struggled at times in big games, and Georgia is so, so good. I’m torn, so without a ton of confidence, I’ll take the points. The bet: Ohio State +6.5 for $22.
Jim Derry: There is no question in my mind the Bulldogs are the best team in college football. However, I said back in October that if it went this far the worst matchup for them would be Ohio State. I think Stetson Bennett with his experience playing against Ryan Day and his ability to find ways to lose in big games is too much for the Buckeyes to overcome, but I think it’s a lot close than many are predicting. Oh, and I am buying the hook. I HATE that hook. The bet: Ohio State +7 (at -133) for $53.20 to win $40.
Spencer Urquhart: Ohio State profiles as one of the scarier CFP No. 4 seeds, but CJ Stroud and company have a daunting task in front of them in No. 1 Georgia. The Georgia defense is as dominant as ever and should be able to contain an Ohio State offense that hasn’t been as explosive as expected, and Stetson Bennett has the offense scoring enough for them to cover. The bet: Georgia -6.5 for $55.
Gabe Henderson: We have yet to see the best from Georgia this season. I’m of the mindset that the Bulldogs are keeping their hand close to the vest and they’re going to pull out all of their tricks in the College Football Playoff — similar to LSU in 2019. Ohio State has a lot of talent, but Georgia is the most complete and best team in the country from top to bottom. The bet: Georgia -6.5 for $22.
Mississippi State (8-4, -115) vs. Illinois (8-4, -105)
When/TV: Jan. 2, noon, ESPN2
Line/Total: Miss. State -1, O/U 46
Zach Ewing: Mike Leach’s death casts a pall on this one. In an even matchup on paper, Mississippi State either folds in their grief or uses it as fuel. It seems to me the latter is more likely. The bet: Mississippi State ML (-115) for $34.50.
Jim Derry: This is a tough one. I have no idea how Mississippi State will respond following the death of their coach, Mike Leach. Meanwhile, Illinois is pretty darned good. I’ll play it, but only super small. The bet: Illinois ML -105 for $10.50 to win $10.
Spencer Urquhart: This is a tough one to handicap with Mississippi State having tragically lost Coach Mike Leach, but their players will almost certainly be motivated to perform well in memory of their fallen coach. Illinois is a tough opponent due to their stingy defense, but the Bulldogs should be able to cook up enough offense to make coach. The bet: Mississippi State -1 for $33.
Gabe Henderson: This one’s simple: I love Mississippi State to get it done in honor of Mike Leach. Some storylines in sports write themselves and this is one of them. The bet: Mississippi State ML -115 for $23 to win $20.
LSU (9-3, -600) vs. Purdue (8-5, +430)
When/TV: Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ABC
Line/Total: LSU -14.5, O/U 56
Zach Ewing: Everything points LSU here, with Purdue’s coach gone and many of its best players opting out. The Tigers, like USC, will hope to use this to start a big year ahead. But if you didn’t get this when the line was down near a touchdown (or even below), you’ve missed the boat. I’m uncomfortable laying this many points. The bet: LSU -14.5 for $11.
Jim Derry: No way I can play a side here, as I think this spread is inflated, but I want no part of Purdue, either. I don’t think the Boilermakers will be able to do all that much on offense, while I think the Tigers could take their feet off the gas in the second half. That means fewer points. The bet: Under 56 for $33.
Spencer Urquhart: This line shifted to LSU being a heavy favorite once it was known how shorthanded Purdue would be both personnel-wise and on their coaching staff. While Drew Brees could add some extra juice for Purdue as far as motivation, that will only go so far against an LSU team that clearly has the superior talent and will be looking to close out Brian Kelly’s first season on a positive note. The bet: LSU -14.5 for $44.
Gabe Henderson: I originally had my alma mater to cover the 10.5-point spread quite confidently — I think LSU will still win comfortably. However, the new spread of 14.5 and all of the opt-outs for the Tigers make me less confident in their ability to cover. Regardless, I’ll bet the total instead of playing the risky spread in an unpredictable bowl game. The bet: Over 56 for $33.
Tulane (11-2, +115) vs. USC (11-2, -135)
Where: Arlington, Texas
When/TV: Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ESPN
Line/Total: USC -2, O/U 62
Zach Ewing: This line doesn’t make sense, and usually, that means you go with what the oddsmakers (and the sharp bettors who are truly forming the line) are telling you. But with Caleb Williams playing and USC likely tired of hearing all month about how it was a fluke, here’s betting the Trojans use this as a springboard into a big 2023. The bet: USC -2 for $44.
Jim Derry: Something I would have never said until recently: I really want Tulane to win. It is a special moment for many of my Tulane friends, and I think this even tops the 13-0 season of 1998. However, USC in a “don’t care” bowl is still a major step up from anything the Wave has seen this season except for the win at K-State. Winning in Manhattan, Kan., in September is much different than beating a Heisman Trophy winner in January on a national stage. The bet: USC -2 for $55.
Spencer Urquhart: USC Heisman quarterback Caleb Williams says he plans to play in this one, so something doesn’t add up with this betting line. USC would be favored by more than two points if the oddsmakers thought Williams was playing, so I’ll bank on him sitting out and hope that Tulane’s running game takes over against USC’s weak defense. The bet: Tulane +2 for $22.
Gabe Henderson: I have a feeling in my gut that USC doesn’t care about this game in the slightest. I expect the Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams, to be out, and Tulane is highly motivated in this historic year. Give me the Green Wave to cover. Have some faith this holiday season, people! The bet: Tulane +2 for $11.
Utah (10-3, -135) vs. Penn State (10-2, +115)
Where: Pasadena, Calif.
When/TV: Jan. 2, 5 p.m. ESPN
Line/Total: Utah -2.5, O/U 52.5
Zach Ewing: The Rose Bowl has been a classic more often than not lately, including Utah’s crazy loss to Ohio State last year. This one projects to be close on paper, too, but I’ll take Penn State given the Nittany Lions’ propensity to play well in bowl games under James Franklin and the fact that I’m getting points. The bet: Penn State +2.5 for $33.
Jim Derry: Zach Ewing stole his pick from James Carville, so I am stealing it too. I mean, it’s the holiday season and sharing is caring. The bet: Penn State ML +115 for $46.80 to win $53.80.
Spencer Urquhart: This matchup appears close to even, as both Penn State and Utah have upped their level of play down the stretch, especially on offense. We’ll take the over in this one since both offenses have consistently put up points against quality competition. The bet: Over 52.5 for $22.
Gabe Henderson: The Rose Bowl never ceases to entertain. Penn State and Utah have two of the top 20 defenses in the country, but they also both rank in the top 35 for total offense, as well. I’ll take the over. The bet: Over 52.5 for $33.