BSN Against the Spread

Our gift to you, BSN ATS’ big game hunting Bowl edition

[get_snippet] [theme-my-login show_title=0]


We teased it on the podcast, Saturday Fun didn’t die with the regular season. We’ve simply needed some time before proposing big bowl games picks. You see everyone can make bowl picks but to find the bets against the spread that stand out you can’t just blindly pick everything.

Sure we could have stayed put, kept our winning college record on the season and ignored the Bowls entirely, something that might make sense given our use of conference YPP throughout the year. But here at BSN ATS if we’ve proven anything it’s that we never back down from a challenge, which is why we have eight picks for you all in games after Christmas.

There’s not much more to say to that, let’s dig in.

Holliday upsets

Indiana +7 vs. Utah

Foster Farms Bowl - Wednesday, December 28th

This is a big defensive matchup as both teams rank 68th (Utah) and 70th (Indiana) offensively with little separation per YPP. Defensively both units have been steady but the Hoosiers have the decided advantage, at least in YPP, ranking 24th nationally with the Utes all the way down to 61st, that’s all despite having faced Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State, and Michigan this season. That’s also a big part of why Indiana’s 6-and-6 record shouldn’t be looked down upon by any means.

Utah was playing for a potential Pac-12 South divisional title right into December but fell flat losing to Oregon at home and then getting outclassed by Colorado. Kyle Whittingham has put together a fine program and this team isn’t lacking for talent. But this isn't the best of Whittingham's Ute teams and a pesky Indiana team seems poised for the upset.

The 7 point spread is far too rich for our numbers that have Indiana as a straight up favorite.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
Indiana -1 8
Utah -7


North Carolina +3 vs. Stanford

Hyundai Sun Bowl - Friday, December 30th

This is a very interesting matchup with two teams that have quite a bit of talent. Stanford got things fixed defensively and with their bread and butter run game to right their season, while UNC has seen the emergence of Mitch Trubisky as a top quarterback prospect in the NFL.

It’s also a great matchup of opposite type teams with Stanford being a pro style, jumbo package offense facing off a Tar Heel spread out fast paced unit.

The two teams are fairly evenly stacked but we like the high powered offense from the ACC to pull through. Stanford has a significant edge defensively - though per YPP they’re 42nd in the country and UNC’s 48th - but the Tar Heels are miles ahead on offense ranking 13th in the country while the Trees are far behind ranking 60th.

That’s a significant difference and without their leader, Christian McCaffrey, we feel that much more confident. Give us the Heels in one of the more interesting post-Christmas Bowls before the big guns come out.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
North Carolina -2 5
Stanford -3


Southern Alabama +13.5 vs. Air Force 

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl - Friday, December 30th

On a day with lots of great bowl games, this one might seem like a snoozer but it’s far from it. The Jaguars have had a middling season in the Sun Belt at 6-and-6 but they’ve also shown the ability to collect some big scalps with wins against the SEC’s Mississippi State and San Diego State, while also playing Troy tough.

Air Force at face value has had a much better season as Troy Calhoun keeps on turning out impressive teams despite having the odds stacked against him. At 9-and-3, while beating Army and Navy, and finishing off the season with a big upset of Boise State the Falcons have lots to be proud of with some intriguing talents.

Yet Air Force has been anything but a force against the spread this season with a 5-and-7 record on the year and a very telling 3-7 against the spread when favored. That should tell you something.

Our metrics have the Falcons as 3.5 point favorites far from the large spread that’s offered up here. Give us the Jaguars and the points.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
South Alabama 10
Air Force -13.5 -3.5

Big Game Hunting - Bowl Edition

Louisville +3.5 vs. LSU

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl - Saturday, December 31st

Assuming our metrics aren’t skewed by corrupted numbers do to playbook spying, Louisville has ranked highly all season in YPP. They’re the fourth-ranked offense and the sixth-ranked defense, with the Heisman trophy winner and most explosive quarterback we’ve seen in college football for a long time.

So with all that it’s easy to take the points and run. Of course, this LSU team is now slouch, they’ve played much better and with budding star running back Darrius Guice they shouldn’t miss a beat without Leonard Fournette.

This is a great bowl and a fine matchup, meaning motivations will play a big part. The Tigers are under a big test with coach Ed Oregon officially the head man they’ll want to start things off right. While Louisville with this latest scandal is almost playing to legitimize their program and season after a rough couple weeks in the media.

On talent alone we like this explosive Cardinals to finish off a great season that dropped off in the end, our numbers agree having them as 2.5 point favorites.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
LSU -3.5
Louisville -2.5 6


Washington +14.5 vs. Alabama

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl - Saturday, December 31st

We’ve talked about Alabama a good amount in our Saturday Fun columns as we’ve picked games in which the Tide have been involved a few times. Bama’s been a double-digit favorite all season long and for the most part, they haven’t just covered they’ve ripped through their competition.

The Huskies are a fine team ranking as the seventh best per offensive YPP and fourth best defensive output in the nation. Alabama is the top-ranked defense but 18th offensively per YPP though they do get a significant bump in strength of schedule leading to them to still being -2.5 point favorites per our metric.

That’s a significant change from the actual spread. The issue with Alabama is that defense that'll slowly abuse teams into submission and eventually break away. I trust the Huskies can keep pace defensively, though a banged-up linebacker unit will be severely tested by read-option runs by Jalen Hurts and the rest of the Tide’s run game talent.

The big question here is how can Washington manage to get yards against Nick Saban’s best defense to date. They have the line and run game to succeed but quarterback Jake Browning will have to be a smooth operator and make a few plays beyond the Xs and Os.

We trust the metrics and believe the stats reflect that Washington’s the best opponent Alabama’s faced to date.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
Washington 12
Alabama -14.5 -2.5


Penn State +6.5 vs. USC

Rose Bowl - Monday, January 2nd

Is there anything better than the Rose Bowl? This year’s matchup shouldn’t disappoint with two of the hottest teams in the entire country going up against one another.

The matchups on the field are very intriguing as two hot quarterbacks will face off against some underrated defenses. On film, the Trojans have the slight edge defensively and on special teams, but Penn State has that offense and their quarterback, Trace McSorley’s been humming. With the help of talented running back Saquon Barkley and receiver Chris Godwin the Nittany Lions are a handful and might be the best offense USC has faced this season.

Per the numbers, Penn State is higher ranked in YPP both offensively and defensively. This is also a big game for Trojans head coach Clay Helton as he’s facing a staff that’s proven to be one of the best in halftime adjustments.

In a game that probably means a lot more to the Nittany Lions in their return to prominence than it does to the boys in Southern Cal, we’ll take the scorching hot Penn State squad.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
USC -6.5
Penn State -1 7.5

A couple bonus picks

Texas A&M -2.5 vs Kansas State

Advocate V100 Texas Bowl - Wednesday, December 28th

Motivations will play a big big part in this game, because on paper the Aggies are clearly the better team. Yet the play on the field this season from these two teams has been much more even than the talent on the rosters would suggest.

K-State finished strong and has played a pretty tough schedule even taking on Stanford in the out of conference schedule. While A&M has fallen short in the last month of the season.

With top NFL pick Myles Garrett opting to play, quarterback Trevor Knight in his last college game, and coach Kevin Sumlin in need of some positive momentum we expect the Aggies to be fully engaged in this game and playing their best.

Our numbers like A&M by 5.5 points, so we’ll take this as a sneaky underrated pick and the only favorite we like of the Bowl picks.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
Texas A&M -2.5 -5.5 3
Kansas State


TCU Even vs. Georgia

AutoZone Liberty Bowl - Friday, December 30th

The first note here is that we wouldn’t touch the Horned Frogs if Kenny Hill is not playing so wait for that to play out. He’s currently questionable but has been practicing and running around so there’s optimism.

This pick was more appealing when the Bulldogs were favored by 1 point but even here YPP likes TCU by 3. We wouldn’t bet the mortgage on it but if you’re getting favorable odds taking an even TCU we like this bet.

These two teams are completely opposite as TCU will spread you out and run wild while Georgia likes to get the ball downfield in more of a pro-style way. The SEC team can also rely on its talented stable of backs.

Ultimately though the Bulldogs have been a major disappointment and as we found in last years Alamo Bowl it’s dangerous to underestimate the Horned Frogs in final year showcase.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
Georgia Even
TCU Even -3 3

Other non-conference YPP suggested spreads

There's plenty of suggested spreads to go around here for the holidays. Interestingly enough though of the 38 bowl games, we have this year in the FBS only eight had spreads differing from our suggested spreads by a touchdown or more. For all the new-years six, the other national semi-final and all the other big bowls of the season here's our YPP spreads.

Showing again a noticable similarity to the actual spreads.

Teams Current Spread YPP Suggested Spread Difference
Virginia Tech -7 -8 1
Oklahoma State 0.5
Colorado -3 -3.5
Nebraska 1
Tennessee -4.5 -3.5
Michigan -6.5 -6.5 0
Florida State
Ohio State -3 -3 0
Western Michigan 4
Wisconsin -8.5 -4.5
Florida -3 -2
Iowa 1
Auburn 2
Oklahoma -3 -1

Not subscribed yet? Click below to for full access: