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College football's bowl season always provides some tough handicaps.
With key players sitting out for the draft, differing team motivations, and coaching changes taking place, there are more factors to account for compared to matchups during the regular season.
Amid those extra considerations, here are some initial betting plays that stand out.
Air Force vs. Washington State (Cheez-It Bowl)
Date: Dec. 27
Line: Air Force -2.5
With multiple weeks to prepare for a bowl game, you'd think defenses would have more answers for the triple-option. But recently, they haven't. Though it's a small sample size, the last 10 triple-option teams (Air Force, Navy, Army, and Georgia Tech) to play in a bowl averaged north of 40 points in those games, while nine of the 10 went over their team total. Washington State ranked 107th in opponent rush yards per attempt this season, so Air Force's top-ranked rush offense should score plenty of points.
Meanwhile, this will be easily the toughest test for Air Force's defense this season. The Cougars rank No. 5 in SP+ offense and should move the ball against an undersized Falcons secondary.
Pick: Over 66.5
Central Michigan vs. San Diego State (New Mexico Bowl)
Date: Dec. 21
Line: San Diego State -3
I get to simultaneously fade a MAC team in a bowl game and back a team that fares well in the postseason? Sign me up. Central Michigan did some solid things this season under head coach Jim McElwain, but I see no way to back the Chippewas in this spot. They faced one of the easiest schedules in terms of opposing defenses this season, which included seven teams that rank No. 90 or worse in SP+.
Well, San Diego State's defense ranks No. 17 heading into the postseason, and I just can't envision Central Michigan moving the ball enough to be even close to this number.
Pick: San Diego State -3
Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan (SERVPRO First Responder Bowl)
Date: Dec. 30
Line: Western Kentucky -1
A subjective factor during bowl season is team trajectory. Bettors love fading squads on the decline and playing those on the upswing. In this case, we have a Western Kentucky team that shattered its regular-season win total, nabbed four victories as an underdog, and netted a victory over an SEC team. On the other hand, preseason MAC favorite Western Michigan started off hot but was plagued by inconsistencies down the stretch.
Though the Hilltoppers are likely to be more popular in the market, I think they're far and away more talented than the Broncos. They certainly have the resume to support that notion.
Pick: Western Kentucky -1
Virginia vs. Florida (Orange Bowl)
Date: Dec. 30
Line: Florida -14
Why are we still treating Florida and Virginia like defense-first teams? The Gators averaged 33.1 points per game over their final nine contests with Kyle Trask running the show, and three of those came against defenses that rank top 20 in SP+.
Meanwhile, Virginia's defense has fallen off a cliff since losing cornerback Bryce Hall, allowing more than 35 points per game since mid-October. The offense is still a respectable No. 53 in SP+ and has played with more tempo recently. I don't understand this total whatsoever.
Pick: Over 51
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKoIodziej.